Nov 302012
 

Our chat was like this, full of short, animated detours about various artists who still thrill Belmont to accomply or simply to see and hear. We returned to discussing the round-up of contributors to The Guest List.


MB: Carlene Carter, for example, who I hadn’t seen for 20 years – we were really close, I nearly married her sister. She was, of course, married to Nick. I got in touch with her, and she said, “Yes, I’d love to do it, but I don’t know how we’ll work it out.” As it turned out in the summer of 2007 she was doing a couple of festival in Scandinavia, and instead of flying back to the States she flew to London and spent the day in the studio with us, and did that wonderful track that her Mum had written, who I also knew very well and was fond of – and had died the year before or so – she died before Johnny.

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The only one that wasn’t done with all of us in the same room was Graham’s. He sent me a sound file of himself singing, strumming the acoustic guitar, and playing the harmonica, with, you know, that Bob Dylan harmonica holder thing. And we just played along with it.

What was and what also should have been.

The rest of the album was done as live as possible, as much as we could we did it live in the studio or, in some of the earlier tracks, in the drummer’s kitchen. Nick Lowe’s track was done live in the kitchen, everything, no overdubs – one acoustic guitar overdub, but that was it – and I think that shows, it’s got that feel that you only get recording like that. No click tracks. No drum machines. Verboten!

RTH: Like a lot of rockers from your generation you’ve noted that Elvis Presley was the beginning for you. A few years later, when the British Invasion bands hit, how did you feel about that, growing up with American rock ‘n roll first?

MB: The thing was, pop music doesn’t mean a lot before the age of 10 or 11. At that point that would have been about 1960, and I discovered Elvis Presley and that kind of stuff. But by that point he already went into the army. The very first record I ever bought, or got my mom or dad to buy me, was “Jailhouse Rock,” which was from 1957, but was the most exciting sounding thing. [Sings opening line.] That voice just tears into you, like nothing I’d ever heard before. But at that same time, in 1960, there was an awful lot of shit. I think Dylan said this, it was like every other singer was called Bobby: there was Bobby Vinton and Bobby Vee and Bobby Rydell… And then, of course, when The Beatles showed up, in 1962, I would have heard “Love Me Do” and then “Please Please Me” in ’63, that sounded so, so weird. It didn’t sound like anything else. It just sounded weird, and I didn’t get it straight up, the first two records. Then, when “From Me to You” came out I got it, and that was it. The Rolling Stones, of course, made the next big splash over here, and then there were all the others.

It’s funny, because I know you guys call it the British Invasion, but a lot of those bands that got very big – if not for very long – but very big in the States: Herman’s Hermits, Dave Clark Five, all those bands… The Beatles and the Stones were in a completely different league than those guys. Those were just sort of pop bands.

RTH: Yeah, the others all got lumped in.

MB: Yeah, they were all British and they were all having big hits over there – and let’s face it, a lot of them were having hits with American songs. The same thing happened when blues started to take off over here. You’d get Manfred Mann and the Stones, of course – all these bands doing songs that a lot of white teenagers in America never heard: Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, and those guys.

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  30 Responses to “The Rock Town Hall Interview: Martin Belmont’s Got Answers”

  1. Right On! Thanks to Mr. Mod for conducting, and even more to Martin for his extensive and informative answers.

    A rumor of a Rumour movie is captivating. Let’s hope for fruition.

    Love seeing those live clips. Always looks like Martin is really enjoying himself. The dude always has an understated but entertaining version of Mach Shau going on.
    You’d better get him the Hope and Anchor show. He earned it. I know it will live up to his recollection.

    Well done!

  2. Awesome job, Mr Mod! Great audio dugout chatter

  3. mikeydread

    Mr Mod: two big thumbs up! You are the Samuel Charters of the interwebs,

  4. Very very cool.

  5. I was under the impression that Brinsley was the lead guitarist, and Martin the rhythm guitarist for some reason. Maybe just from the couple of Squeezing Out Sparks videos I saw as a youth. You Tube and this interview cleared that up. The 2 of them really did play off each other well.

  6. Mr. Moderator

    Yes, they seemed to have a pretty good split of responsibilities. I think you’re right that the videos and songs performed on Fridays when we were kids featured Brinsley on lead.

    You know what I love seeing when I watch the old GP & the Rumour clips? The movement of each band member! Natural, onstage movement is something I can’t get enough of when I see a band live. This probably ties into my somewhat bizarre thoughts on the possibilities for crossover between sports and music, but if you’re choosing sides for a pick-up game of football (American or otherwise), wouldn’t you look over at a band like The Rumour to make your first pick?

  7. Yeah. That’s the Mach Schau I noticed, too. No one is doing windmills, but everyone seems to have their own circle of energy up there.

    It’s got to be basketball for this band. MB is 6′ 5″ and Bodnar and Schwartz don’t look that much shorter. We should challenge them! I’ll cover Parker.

  8. BigSteve

    This was pretty cool. You can tell he’d be a good sideman, very easy to get along with. Wouldn’t it be great to have him as your guitar teacher?

    I think it’s interesting that punk never came up in the interview (unless it was edited out). Guys like Belmont and the Rumour seemed to be catching the wave at the time, but really they just kept doing pretty much what they’d been doing all along. Andrew Bodnar’s golden suit in that first clip was a bit much though.

  9. Mr. Moderator

    Punk itself never did come into the discussion. Throughout, such as when I asked him whether Ducks felt like part of a “movement,” his take was more along the lines of he and his mates being committed to and happy with what they were doing. Meanwhile, I was having too much fun doing what I was doing in talking to him as freely as we were to loop back and try to ask a similar question regarding punk. By the point of the punk years, I took it, the band was gunning for mainstream success.

    That’s one of the things, as a teenage fan of those bands, that I always take out of that time in my life as a rock fan: I truly hoped that, and expected that, a few of my favorites would be “The New Boss” – not Him, not Bruce, that is:) – but among the mainstream standard-bearers of the traditional forms of rock ‘n roll that I grew up loving. Tom Petty, who I liked coming out of the gate, made it, but although people like Elvis Costello and the legacy of The Clash et al are respected and still carrying critical weight and space on the “coffetable collections” of educated rock fans, they’re still not threatening to play the Super Bowl.

    Whether this would have been a good thing or not is beyond the point. When you’re a boy you tend to root for things, don’t you? I did, and from the way Belmont tells it the Rumour also felt they should be getting some of the rewards that some other artists were able to manage at that time.

    Can a teenage boy still “root” for his favorite underground bands to “make it” to this bigger level? Are there kids sitting around hoping that Vampire Weekend will succeed to a level that will cleanse the earth of all that they feel sucks about today’s popular music?

  10. sammymaudlin

    I could hear the wind leave your sails when he, appropriately, chose the Mick Taylor era.

    Nice tune-age under the chatter. Is that like our version of the Final Jeopardy music?

  11. hrrundivbakshi

    Mod, you outdid yourself! That was great!

  12. Not a particularly deep observation, but having a lilliputian lead singer with a clearly receding hairline tends to limit the overall mass appeal of an artist regardless of the quality of the music. Then again, Petty’s no cover model either. Great section about the lack of Mercury’s promotion. That played a part, too.

  13. Mr. Moderator

    My wife thinks Tom Petty’s HOT – but this is the same woman who’s digs young Woody Allen and pre-promotional baseball cap-donning Ron Howard. God, what does this say about me?

  14. 2000 Man

    That was a great interview, Mod! When I get a chance I’ll play the dugout chatter, but right now I’m listening to the Quadrajets and that really can’t be interrupted.

    I had a friend in high school that looked like Tom Petty. He even had Tom’s haircut before Tom did, and I think he enjoyed the ridiculous amount of attention girls gave him. They all seemed to think he was something else, so I just assumed Tom Petty was a good looking guy.

  15. Fantastic article and interview – thanks for posting! Just a few questions if anyone can answer them:
    Has Graham Parker and The Rumour’s “Heat Treatment” ever been released on CD? I’ve searched high and low to no avail.
    How long did The Rumour’s stint backing Garland Jeffreys last? Did the full line-up of the band join him on tour?
    I ask because Jeffreys has posted a good number of YouTube videos (http://www.youtube.com/gjeffreysadmin) where he’s backed by only a few members (Steve Goulding and Brinsley Schwarz) of The Rumour in 1981.
    Jeffreys, like Parker, has never received proper recognition from critics or the public.
    Thanks again!

  16. Mr. Moderator

    welcome aboard, rockandrolldetective. This isn’t a sting, is it?:) Yes, Heat Treatment is available on CD. It’s available through Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/Heat-Treatment-Graham-Parker-Rumour/dp/B00005LP1I?&camp=212361&linkCode=wsw&tag=rotoha00-20&creative=391881

    I was looking for a Jeffreys video with the full Rumour for use in this post but only came across the ones you found. Thanks for checking in.

  17. 2000 Man

    I really liked the audio Dugout Chatter. However – You sure are slow to pull the Cop Out car on a celebrity, aren’t you!

    I hope he gets a shot to play with Dylan some day. He’s paid his dues, and he’s go the chops. Bob would be lucky to have him along for a tour.

  18. Mr. Moderator

    I consider it “respectful,” 2K, but firm. I did make him choose a Stones era, didn’t I? I know, though, I let him slide on choosing ONE favorite guitar part. My apologies. For future audio chatters I’ll come up with a “Cop Out!” drop, as I think they call them in the biz, a little clip of someone yelling that phrase to cue the interview subject to make up his mind already:)

  19. diskojoe

    Thanks for the interview, Mr. Mod, which was highly entertaining & informative. I was also a big fan of GP & the Rumour.

  20. Great interview Mr. Mod and love the Dugout Chatter audio!

    He sounds like such a nice bloke. Invite him to the next RTH meetup!

  21. Just listened to Hound Dog and yeah, the second solo IS an “OH Shit! what do I play!” moment…

  22. Great job, Moddy! I really, really enjoyed that. Mr. Belmont has been a longtime guitar fave. Glad to see that he’s a real gent, as well.

  23. Anyone who knows whatever happened to Brinsley Schwarz, the man not the group I mean. Did he just quit playing after his stint in The Rumour?

  24. Mr. Moderator

    Welcome aboard, leif. From what I’ve read, Schwarz (the man) pretty much left the playing end of the music business and got into equipment design. I think he modifies and designs amplifiers, in particular. I found a good interview with him a while back, while researching for this interview with Martin Belmont.

  25. There’s a video of Garland Jeffreys performing “We the People” with nearly all the original members of the Rumour on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_s-x66caAqs. Band members include Brinsley Schwarz, Martin Belmont, Steve Goulding, Andrew Bodnar and Artie Funaro.

  26. Mr. Moderator

    Thanks for the tip, connectartists, and welcome to the fray!

  27. […] honor of the recent RTH interview with Martin Belmont I want to have a look at his first band, Ducks Deluxe, and the later careers of […]

  28. […] October to celebrate a documentary being made on the band. (Martin talked about this in his excellent Rock Town Hall interview!) In case they play together again, I figured my suggested cover might be taken into […]

  29. […] and his band (including longtime drummer Bobby Irwin and keyboardist Geraint Watkins, whom Martin Belmont raved about in these hallowed Halls) brought it down, raved it up, and covered a range of rock […]

  30. […] up loving. An update on the documentary on the band that Rumour guitarist and Friend of the Hall Martin Belmont first discussed with us as well as Parker’s upcoming appearance in an upcoming Judd Apatow movie are also covered. […]

 
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