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Two interviews with Lloyd Cole: Part 1

September 18, 2010
Lloyd appears sceptical at the choice of Leon Osman on Everton’s right 
Picture: Boston Globe

I did two interviews with Lloyd Cole while working for the Liverpool Echo and Liverpool Daily Post.
In hindsight, they aren’t very good, Lloyd’s answers were great, they’re just not terribly well written. They are what they are. I’m not looking writing plaudits, ‘Good job too,’ says y’all.
Here’s the first:

FROM his Stuttgart hotel room, one of the coolest songwriters of the last 30 years is talking about his admiration for Gerry Marsden.
Lordy, Lloyd Cole , the king of intelligent 1980s pop praising the bard of Mersey River crossings?
“I have more respect for Gerry and the Pacemakers, still playing the oldies rather than writing mediocre new songs, ” he says earnestly.
Some might think that the erstwhile Commotions front man, known for his candour and wit, has gone soft prior to his first Liverpool show in donkeys’ years.
But no, the Derbyshire-born, ‘naturalised’ Scot now living in Massachusetts still airs his opinions very freely, taking in everything from The Waterboys to The Clash, and US indie band The Strokes.
For many, Cole, now 42, signifies an all-too-brief moment in the 1980s when pop music was smart, when Manchester’s The Smiths, Australia’s The Go-Betweens and Glasgow’s Aztec Camera along with Cole And The Commotions looked set to dominate the charts.

The Commotions’ three mid-1980s albums, Rattlesnakes, Easy Pieces and Mainstream spawned a handful of catchy singles like Perfect Skin and Lost Weekend that marked them down as one of the best of the crop of very good ‘uns.
But then Britain embraced dance music and moronic pop and Cole shuffled off, never to enjoy the same profile again.
Refreshingly, and unlike some of his bitter contemporaries, he doesn’t regret not becoming the world’s biggest rock star, nor does he want to revive the past for one more sniff of glory and filthy lucre.
Without a trace of bitterness, he says: “The Commotions were accidentally successful, just like some bands are accidentally good. But none of our records, except Rattle Snakes, came out at the right time.
“Right now I write for myself, I have got out of the habit of writing songs for albums. If I don’t feel like writing, I don’t.
“It’s just something that I would rather leave alone.
“I don’t want to do what Ray Davies is doing – writing mediocre new songs. As I said, I have more respect for Gerry And The Pacemakers still playing the oldies.
“Some of Van Morrison’s work is very mediocre. It sounds like he’s been given a couple of hundred thousand dollars and has had to write a record quickly in return.”
After the break-up of the Commotions in 1987/88, Lloyd moved to the States, got married to wife Beth and had two sons.
Despite an eventual split from former record company, Mercury, he made half a dozen great pop records with 1990s Don’t Get Weird On Me Babe, 1995s Love Story and The Negatives, from 2000, being my tips for those interested in catching up.
Now, he’s back with a solo acoustic tour that sees him travelling suitcase and guitar in hand, every stop neatly planned.
Cole says: “It’s been fun, I started doing this show as a stop gap between The Negatives shows and making another record. I didn’t have any income and I had to work, but it’s been fun and turned out much better than I thought.”
The acoustic date at the University’s Stanley Theatre a week on Tuesday is a mouth-watering prospect for Merseyside fans who can expect some greatest hits, neglected masterpieces and a handful of great covers, but Lloyd makes no excuses for it not being a cheesy nostalgia-fest.
He says: “It’s been a long time since I have been in Liverpool, maybe since 1993, but I remember the shows always being fun.
“I have great memories of when the Commotions were still together and the Bunnymen took us around the town and finding out we couldn’t drink as much as them.
“But, if people are turning up expecting Rattlesnakes, it’s going to be a painful evening for them.”
Lloyd is eager to emphasise he is still writing, with an album being worked on and hopefully on sale next year.
And an excellent self-designed website (www. lloydcole.com) keeps him in touch with legions of faithful fans and also allows him to sell his records.
On top of this, a recently released four CD box set, Collected Recordings 1996-2001, showcases some of his best ever songs and the solo jaunts could garner him the critical acclaim he deserves.
But the $6m question is: Will Gerry turn up and return the compliment?

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