Talking with: Graham Gouldman

Graham Gouldman is one part of 10cc, former member of Hot Wax and The Mindbenders as well being a prolific songwriter working with the likes of Neil Sedaka, The Hollies, Paul Carrack, McFly and Gary Barlow. Graham has a brand new album and is also out on the road and coming to Ipswich in October. Ahead of the tour Mark Keable (a lifelong fan) caught up with him..

Q: Where did you have your beginnings and were you from a musical family?
I grew up in Lancashire, my parents weren’t musical, but they were artistic and very much into the theatre. But my grandmother was musical and gifted, I think those kind of talents do sometimes skip a generation.
Growing up I loved the American music, people like The Everly Brothers, Eddie Cochran, Ray Charles and then thru the British skiffle era and on into my teenage years with people such as Cliff and the Shadows and then of course The Beatles.

Q: So from listening as a young boy did you progress to a ‘schoolboy band’?
Yes, that’s one of my earliest memories, we couldn’t actually play or anything, but I was playing drums at that point, I had a pair of bongos and one of the guys had a guitar with four strings on it and another lad played a double bass made up of a broomstick, a piece of string and an orange box. Then when I was 11 years old I bought a guitar and got deeply deeply interested in music and I was very lucky as growing up there were so many fantastic bands to listen to.
Academically at school I wasn’t that good, always a bit of a dreamer, but I just knew I wanted to be a musician. I never even considered anything else as a career.

Q: So did you go straight into performing when you left school?
: I had a job for two years, in a gents outfitters shop. I eventually got the sack, because I was working with Kevin Godley in a band called The Mockingbirds and I used to always being leaving work early to go to gigs and then getting in late the following morning. So my boss did me a massive favour! I’d already met someone who had offered me a retainer to go and write songs so that’s what I did.

Q: You joined The Mindbenders, who were already famous, how did that feel joining an established outfit?
It was good, they were coming to the end of their time, but I already knew Eric Stewart who was by then the lead singer, I enjoyed my time working with them and it consolidated my friendship with Eric.

Q: Of course Eric went on to join you in 10cc, how far back does the connection go with the members of 10cc?
Well with Kevin Godley it goes back to primary school, although he is a little bit older than me. I knew Lol when we left school and we used to rehearse at the same club and of course Eric through the Mindbenders. So we all knew each other for a long time.

Q: At that time in the 60s you wrote hits for The Yardbirds, The Hollies and Hermans Hermits, did you see yourself more as a writer than a performer?
I never saw myself as a performer but I always liked playing with bands. So I always felt great when other people recorded my songs and had hits with them, but I also always enjoyed performing with other people.
When we formed 10cc in 1972 that took care of everything as you could be writer, performer and producer.

Q: What’s your connection with the ”bubblegum” pop era and America?
You’re referring to my connection with Kasenetz and Katz who were the masters of that (they were responsible for Simon Says, Yummy Yummy Yummy, Green Tambourine etc). They started that who thing off and asked me to join their organisation as I think they wanted to change the direction of their operation. Artistically I thought maybe it was a mistake but I brought back some of the songs of mine that I’d written while I was in America, and went into Strawberry Studios in Stockport, which Eric and I were partners in running, and Kevin and Lol were there and we recorded lots of those songs. And that was the start of what was to become 10cc.

Q: So a string of hits through the 70s and then like so many bands you drifted to other projects, what did you do next?
I joined with Andrew Gold and we had a hit with Bridge to Your Heart under the name of Wax. I loved working with Andrew it was a wonderful period of my life

Q: You have a new album out tell us more
It’s called Love and Work I’ve actually dedicated the album to Andrew’s memory, and there’s a song on there too about our friendship. There’s a mix of stuff on there, including a little tribute to The Shadows called Black Gold and I also had great fun writing a song called Ariella about meeting my girlfriend and we went for a curry, so I manage to get the word Jalfrazi into the lyrics, I think it’s the only time that the word has been used in a song.

Q: So you’re currently touring as 10cc what can we expect?
We did perform as Graham Gouldman and Friends, but we’ve gone back to just 10cc but everyone now knows it’s just me as the original member along with an excellent set of musicians. You can expect all the 10cc hits, some album tracks and some surprises. We also do some of the songs I wrote for other people and we will also include some pieces from the new album.

Q: What do you listen to musically?
Well someone gave me the a Best of the Everly Brothers CD and they were a big influence on me, Cathy’s Clown was the first single I ever bought, so that’s on in the car at the moment.

Q: So what next for Graham Gouldman?
Well I don’t intend to retire, so more of the same, touring and performing.

• 10cc are at the Ipswich Regent on Sunday 18th November, 2012. Box office 01473 433100