Clint Boon At 52: The Legendary Frontman Talks Madchester, Noel And Signing On The Dole

The ex- Inspiral Carpets frontman and XFM DJ not only penned some glorious tunes in the late 80s, he played his part in the formation of The Stone Roses and Oasis...
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CS:With the Government spending cuts now with us and hitting society pretty hard, what is the future for new UK artists and bands looking to get signed? With all industries tightening their belts surely it’s going to be harder now for these artists/bands to find a contract and the financial backing they want?

CB: Well in some ways, yeah, its harder for a band to get signed these days, especially if they are not using the tools that are out there today, ten years ago MySpace was the breakthrough, leading to bands and artists being able to put their music out to the world. But now the infrastructure is wider and in that respect it’s made the new music scene healthier, but as I say, only if the band or artist is using these tools to the max. Like being well seen on the net, using it to get a local fan base as well as using it to find other out lets for your music and your band to get involved in.

If you are a new artist you have a potential audience of millions wanting to check your stuff out and its up to you to find these tools and work them as well as you can. A good example of this is the Arctic Monkeys, and the way they had packaged themselves. They made themselves very appealing to the record companies with their heavy and clever use of the internet, putting quality videos and music together and racking up the hits, in turn creating a strong fan base.

These are the moves bands and artists have to make now, and with the UK going through harsh times there’s no sympathy for those sat in moaning saying “we’re getting nowhere”, there’s a great line in ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol‘ that simply goes: ‘you got to make it happen’, and it’s so true, you have got to make it happen. The means are out there, its what can you do with them, and how well – that’s the thing.

CS:It’s right in saying that you were quite inventive and driven when you started out with the Inspirals in the early 80s, would you say being self-sufficient was a big reason in you and the band being successful?

CB: As a young lad, about 21, I started out in a large furniture store, I’m not afraid of hard work and I grafted at my job so when one of the partners of the company pulled out I was asked if I was interested in taking his place. With some money borrowed from my Mum and Dad to put my share in, I was now a partner in the business and I suppose it’s because I grafted at my job I got an early step up the ladder.

So now I was in a position to turn one of the empty rooms at work into a studio through my desire to make music. The Mill was born and many local bands would come through with me charging about £3 per hour to turn demos out and this is where I got involved with the Inspiral Carpets. It was spot on for these bands to get something down and for me, and a couple of mates, Maniand ChrisGoodwin, to get our heads round making and recording music.

Our shows and the music, even with the tunes, with the era chocka block with lyrics all about being the man, being let’s say ‘Baggy’, we wrote about deeper things, like emotions, relationships, backed up by a psycho/pop driven sound. We were a band that made the effort and it paid off in the end.

As a band we were quite on the ball, I knocked up the Cow logo from the projections we used live, we used what tools were about so we could stand out a bit, like the projections and the T-shirts we made, we touted our demo tapes real well and we became quite identifiable in what we did and how we did it. Our shows and the music, even with the tunes, with the era chocka block with lyrics all about being the man, being let’s say ‘Baggy’, we wrote about deeper things, like emotions, relationships, backed up by a psycho/pop driven sound. We were a band that made the effort and it paid off in the end.

We used our T-shirt money to record and we even set our own record label up (Cow Records) when the label we were on went bust – we were a hardy type of band. As I say, I’ve always been a grafter and the grafting didn’t stop even when we decided to call it a day as the Inspirals, we all moved on to do other things as it felt a pretty natural time to wind it up, but I didn’t realise the tough times ahead.

CS:Meaning you had a few trials and tribulations after the Inspirals?

CB: I didn’t have much in the way of investment after the band, in fact I was skint to the point I was having to sign on, I had my house but couldn’t pay the mortgage and I had my family to support so I went on benefits to help for a while; queuing up at the local supermarket with my milk tokens and being served by the same people who I knew when the band was at it’s height. Not that it bothered me or made me feel awkward as I had my family to support and as I’ve said, I’ve always worked and wanted to work but I know how it feels and I can sympathise with those who have to go to the Job Centre once a week to be asked ‘have you looked for work’, because I’ve been in that spot myself. It was a shot of reality and it really taught me how quickly life’s fate can turn on you, though again, I worked my way out of it but with us moving into harsh financial times now, its a scenario that might become even more common for the people of this country.

CS: Obviously you came back from that to give us the Clint Boon Experience, and more?

CB: Yeah…and it was a learning process for me, a new challenge. 1995 was one of the hardest times for me. Before I started the Clint Boon Experience I would hear Jarvis (Cocker) and Noel (Gallagher) on the radio and wonder how I got to where I now was. Staring out the window wondering how I was going to pay the mortgage. But saying that I kept believing and just got myself out there again. Got to say though when I started out DJing I wasn’t very good, in fact I was terrible, haha. Same with the radio, Jack of all trades and I just had a go really.

I was also putting music together for Granada TV, which also wasn’t my best work and in fact Dermo (Northside) actually pulled me to one side one day telling me I’d ‘sold my soul’ because of that work I did for Granada. But I knew then as I do now, it was the right thing to do, I was providing for my family and taking what opportunities I had at the time as you do when you want the best for your family and just want to work.

The Experience was real good for me as I enjoyed what we did and we had success with the two albums we put out, a couple of good singles – ‘White No Sugar‘ was probably our biggest hit. In The Experience we were once involved in a traffic accident on the motorway in ’99, I came out of it pretty bad, but I was back in a matter of months playing T.F.I Friday. I also went through a scary time when my appendix ruptured, I could have quite easily died, it was that serious, poisoning fluids from the appendix can kill you.

I was stuck in the hospital over the Christmas holidays missing the kids and in a bad way, yet I was back on the radio in 2 weeks. It seems I’m quite good at the art of bouncing back but the wanting to get back into it all after taking a hit is something that works for me. We’re not here that long and being aware of that constantly drives me, not in a negative way though because to be aware of time itself can have its rewards by keeping you focused.

We came back from Europe and we were getting ready for South America so we decided to change a few things and one of them was letting Noel go with a Golden Handshake of £2000 which he probably used to kick Oasis off.

CS: It’s a fact you have been pretty influential on the Manchester music scene since 1983. The days of The Mill and recording local bands, through to directing Mani to the Stone Roses when they were pulling their hair out looking for a new bass player. Giving Noel his introduction to working with a band and insight into the music business which he went on to master himself with with Oasis. Through to being a big supporter and player of new and local bands on XFM, how do you see it?

CB: Yeah, I liken it to a Forrest Gump scenario, either creating the situation by mistake or just finding yourself in it by good timing. The Mill was where I just had a go at wanting to record music and in the process gave the bands somewhere to get a demo together. It’s where I came into contact with the Inspiral Carpets and what they were doing.

With Mani it was simply letting Greg, Mani’s brother, know that the Roses were looking for a bass player. They were getting a bit fed up because they couldn’t find one, or rather someone that they wanted. Mani knew Ian and John anyway, I just happened to bump into Greg one day and told him to tell Mani to get himself down there, and he did.

For the last ten years now I have been doing the radio and it’s the perfect place to support local bands and new artists. It’s nice to be able to put new music out there, having these bands in to do a session, and of course I love it because I’m getting to hear what they are doing.

As for Noel I think he benefited from being with us, but we also benefited from him as we were just four ordinary lads from Oldham but Noel was from Manchester and he had a bit of an edge to him, more than us. He was a lad who had his Dad leave when he was younger and he ran about with City fans a bit so he was a clued up fella and by the time he came by us he had lived a bit, we all took to him real quick. He’s a funny guy and he was also quite inspirational as it’s your mates who sometimes get your ideas and sayings from.

He did work for us but he was also a part of the team, in with us all in the decision making and record and management meetings. He clearly took it all in but after being with us for sometime touring the world he became to begrudge it a little because he was thinking about his next step. We came back from Europe and we were getting ready for South America so we decided to change a few things and one of them was letting Noel go with a Golden Handshake of £2000 which he probably used to kick Oasis off. But that’s how much we thought of him and he was more than ready to go and do his own thing. I’m real proud that Noel started out with us and went on to what he did, he was a very good friend and we all loved him, and I’m looking forward to his album.

CS:So what’s your thoughts then on Noel’s solo album, are we in for a treat?

CB: Definitely, I’m guessing it will be really successful album, even people who didn’t buy the Oasis records will buy this record. Noel’s grown into a really well respected figure and his work appeals to so many nowadays, I could see there maybe being 3-4 life changing songs on it in the same way ‘Live Forever‘ was a big tune. Yeah, I’m betting its going to be a big album.

CS:…and your still doing the Radio and DJing?

CB: Oh yes, I’m very happy at XFM. I have been doing the radio for 10 years now and I would happily do it for another 10 years. Like playing records at South (club), it’s something that I have been doing for some time now and I’m still loving it. Plus listening and supporting the new bands and artists, all the things I do are because I love to and it fits in with my family life as Cassius, my 3 month old, keeps me busy and on my toes as well.

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