Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The International Swingers by invitation only!

The International Swingers have finally announced the first of their very eagerly awaited UK dates....but there's a catch! When the band play the Lexington on the Pentonville Road in London on the 19th of July the audience will be by invitation only!

Keep an eye out on how you can grab tickets on the bands Facebook page and good luck to all of you....I will put my name in the hat and hope for the best!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Steve Grantley "Zed Hed" Track by Track

With the release of "Zed Hed" the brand new and frankly excellent album from his band RT-Zed Steve Grantley has stepped out from behind his SLF drum kit to take centre stage. In fact Steve not only provides his massive talent as a drummer to the band but he also sings and plays guitar as well as writing and producing the whole worked for Dave Grohl so could RT-Zed be the new Foo Fighters?

Having already reviewed and championed the album (check it out HERE) I wanted to find out a bit more about how the album came about and also get Steve's take on "Zed Hed" track by track.

Why this album, now?

Well, I had nothing to do really. (Laughs) SLF were touring but there was no recording happening. I'd been thinking about a new RT-Zed album for ages and I found myself with the time and the songs so I called my old mate Jonesy to see if he was up for recording with me. You know, it's fairly well documented now that my Father died, girlfriend buggered off, me dog died and I parted company with The Alarm all in a 3 month period so my head was mashed - sounds like a corny country and western song doesn't it? (Laughs)

When I came out of the fog and the pain of all this, I decided to make an album as I felt I'd written some good tunes during the "dark days".(Laughs and shakes head) I wrote songs to save my sanity (Laughs) yeah, I was fucked and making the album was therapy.

How did you approach the recording of "Zed Hed", was it very different to the previous albums?

Yes, it was a different approach, less emphasis on electronica and more focus on the basics. This time I wanted to eventually play the songs 'live' with just drums and guitars on stage with a band. So - most of the electronica stuff went out the window for a start. Plus, I was working with a different guitar player, Jonesy. John Magner had played on the previous two albums and now Jonesy was on board - just working with different personalities makes your approach change. We decided to go into a studio to record too, a great place called Blue Moon Studios owned and run by Mark Lee. This was new for RT-Zed because "Return To Zero" and "Honour The Barbarian" were recorded at home. It all changes when you're dealing with a studio situation, two engineers and a new band member.

I played 'live' drums on the record and I went for 'performances' rather than getting 'perfect' takes. I got Jonesy to play loads of guitar, lots of different sounds and parts. He recorded layer after layer and then in the mix process I slowly whittled them down to single ideas, chipping away revealing the most important parts. 80% of what Jonesy recorded was discarded! It was all good but I stripped it back to the bare bones of the song, only including the most important elements. I pared it down and shaved it clean of all musical clutter.

In terms of production, I kept it simple and direct - pure. I didn't want to go for the new "modern" rock drum sound; I wanted to capture the sound of this particular kit, my sound - same with Jonesy's guitar. It all had to sound genuine and authentic. I took a lot of time doing things the old fashioned way - we did use computers but there was an analogue presence the whole time - analogue vocal amps and we also mastered onto tape.

How long have you known Jonesy?

Too fucking long! (Laughs)

Since 1998 - we were room mates for a few years on the road. He's a superb musician and I respect him enormously.

How do you view RT-Zed now with the change in personnel?

Same as ever really: a modern rock 'n' roll band. It was great working with John Magner our previous guitar player and it's great working with Jonesy - and Simon Turner our 'live' bass player plus Ben Gordelier the 'live' drummer. They're all good musicians and bring something to the table.

My vision of RT-Zed does have self imposed musical limits but those limits make us use our imagination and stretch. We won't make a reggae album for example but we may well use a reggae vibe or a funk groove - in a Zed way. I rule nothing out but it's got to fit the basic remit of the group. The change in personnel doesn't make that much difference as Zed has got a life of it's own - or so it seems.

We focused totally on song writing on this album. The first two albums were, if we must put a label on them, industrial in nature; song based but highly stylised. I am still forward thinking about what rock 'n' roll could be but this record is song based and more organic; there has been a progression.

Is that progression important?

Yeah, always! There's so much regurgitated trash out there - formularised nonsense! Bands sticking to doing the same thing over and over just to maintain a career with no thought of expanding their art - without developing. They play it safe. What's the point of that? I won't do that with Zed. RT-Zed has got to grow artistically; we want to be original! Of course there will be people you can compare us to but we won't out and out copy something. "... that's a good riff - I'm having that!" (Laughs) We don't do that! Paul Weller is someone I admire greatly as he is always stretching and pushing the envelope of what he's about. He follows his own instincts wherever they may lead and I respect that.

There is a kind of counter-mimicry popular now, just check the amount of Adele type artists and arrangements there are surfacing now. I want to expand what the sound of RT-Zed can be. You have to grow. You can't simply rewrite what you've done before - there's no point. That's a fuckin' dead end and a rip-off to the people who buy your records. An artist has to evolve - otherwise it's just 'industry' not art and to me that's death!

Over what period of time were the songs that made up "Zed Hed" written?

Well, the writing was over a long period - I wrote gradually from 2005 and had a writing surge in 2010. The process was finished pretty fast once I'd decided, "I'm making another RT-Zed album!" For quite some time I was unsure of what I should do next so I was just writing steadily and putting songs aside. Once my mind was made up, I was off and running!

Were you unsure about another Zed record?

Yes, I think there's still a bit of a stigma attached to a drummer coming from behind the kit and fronting his own band. I don't know why that should be! There are many examples of drummers who sing or who've come to the front - Phil Collins coming to the front of Genesis, Roger Taylor of Queen always sang and had his own band The Cross. Lenny Kravitz is a drummer: James Brown was a drummer. Marvin Gaye was a drummer, in fact he played drums on Martha and The Vandellas "Dancing In The Street". There's Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney - both play drums on their albums, Don Henley of The Eagles and there's that bloke...what's his name? Oh yeah, Dave Grohl! He's a bit of a drummer too! (Laughs) I was afraid in a way...what will people think? Am I too old? (Long pause).

I was confident about the music and my abilities but sometimes I'd drive home late after a session and question, "What am I doing?" What will people say about me fronting my own band and singing and all that? There were times of huge self-doubt but in the end I thought "No one really gives a fuck so why should I?" I had an overwhelming feeling that it was the right way to go, so I just listened to my heart and went with my instinct.

How long did it take to get the album together from recording to release?

On and off, the recording and mixing took two and a half years. That was working in between my SLF schedule - plus being a slow worker. I also mastered the album at the Precision Mastering suite 4 times before I was happy with it but I feel that it was worth the effort. I don't work fast and even when I do I like to live with the results before I present anything.

Was there any additional material recorded that didn't make the album?

Yes, a lot of songs had been written. There were at least 4 totally completed songs mixed and finished that didn't make the final cut for one reason or another. A couple didn't quite fit in with the rest of the vibe of the album. Another track titled "Why Did I Ever Care" was finalised but I just knew it wasn't the right arrangement, I have since changed the key, rearranged it and made it more RT-Zed, so that will be on the next album. There was a song titled "No Conspiracy" but it just wasn't finished in time. We play it live and it will definitely be on the next album - if we record one. There were also some sketches and a rake of riffs lying around that just didn't find a place.

I wanted to have more songs than we needed and then choose the best 12 from a batch of 20/25 songs. At least that way you have something to play with, to stretch and move with. Rather than being stuck
with a track you know deep down it ain't cutting it!

What reactions have you had to the album so far?

It's sold steadily from the minute of release. Some SLF fans who were unsure of me doing this have checked out the videos online and have since bought the album and now love it. I get messages everyday with people raving about it - it's a brilliant feeling for me. (Laughs)

The reviews have been universally positive to the point where people may think it's my Mum writing the reviews! (Laughs) They've been good so far - I'm so please and excited by the reaction. Although, we have been occasionally compared to The Wildhearts and I would like to state here and now that I don't own nor have I ever heard a Wildhearts record! (Laughs)

Who were the influences on "Zed Hed"?

Musically? Suicide, Goldfrapp, Zeppelin, Neurotic Outsiders, Bill Hicks, Ginger Baker, Pistols, Funkadelic, Bowie, Stewart Copeland, Sly and Robbie, Prince and our old guitar player John Magner. On a personal level, Andrea Northcott plus a great mate of mine Damian White from Identity and my ex-girlfriend. These were all people without whom the record would not have come into being. I owe them all a debt.

Will RT-Zed have a regular expanded live line up?

Yes, there will be four guys on the stage with drums and guitars making the songs work with the raw tools of rock 'n' roll. I want to make a lot from a little - get as much from the four-piece rock line-up as possible. Loud drums, big fuck-off guitars, melodies and lyrics that mean something! (Laughs)

RT-Zed @ Westworld Weekend 2013
How was the Westworld Weekend with Spear Of Destiny?

It was great fun. I'm a fan of SOD especially the "One Eyed Jacks" album and of course they're all mates of mine - plus Ruts DC were playing too so it was a thrill to see them - Dave Ruffy is a great drummer. I really rate The Ruts; to me they're one of the best original punk bands - top-notch!

For RT-Zed it was good to play in front of people who didn't know, nor care who we were. It was good to play and win folk over - get their attention and hold it. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. I was grateful that Spear gave us that opportunity.

Are there any plans for further live dates this year?

Yes, we plan on doing as much as we can.

Are there any plans to expand the RT-Zed Big Cartel store to include T-Shirts and other merchandise?

Definitely. I'm organising it now! But, it all takes time.

There will also be physical CD's in the retail outlets nationally and there will be a limited vinyl version of the album too. I mixed and mastered the record carefully with the idea of eventually releasing a vinyl record. But, as I said, it all takes time and ... money.

Would you like to open for SLF on the next tour or would that be too exhausting?

I think it would look silly and be knackering! So no, that will not be happening. (Laughs)

Any update on the new SLF album?

Recording in September...allegedly! (Laughs)


RT-Zed "Zed Hed" Track by Track by Steve Grantley.

I asked Steve to talk us through "Zed Hed" track by track letting him speak as freely as possible and only interjecting to clarify when needed.


This is just under a minute long and seems to be the intro to "You Are Free" so why make it a separate track?

Well, it's the intro to the whole album actually not just "You Are Free". I wanted to have an exciting beginning to the record - not just a track starting up. I wanted to create a feeling that something was really about to happen!

When I was recording the track I was getting a rush, really getting off on creating a build up. The Theremin was setting up a weird vibe plus the drums and power-chord-guitars were gradually adding momentum producing a sense of excitement. I wanted to inspire the kind of feelings I've gotten from Who records, Zeppelin and the Pistols; to evoke the spirits and get the blood pumping - you know, come on fuckers: let's go! (Laughs) That's what I was aiming for.

Why a Theremin?

I've always wanted to use one - it sounds like a synth but it's not. It's an electronic instrument created in the 1920's by a Russian named Leon Theremin. They've been used on lots of sci-fi movies and horror flicks but I first became aware of its existence when Jimmy Page used it in the Led Zeppelin movie "The Song Remains The Same" during the funky rock-out section of "Whole Lotta Love". I thought "What's that?" Right there and then I promised myself I'd at some point in my life use one. I stored the memory away and waited for the right time - this album was the right time. I discovered that Jeremy Paul Carroll the technical whiz who co-engineered and mastered the album had an old Moog Theremin so I was like "bring it in brother!!!!!!"

But why not let "Invocation" run directly into, and make it part of, "You Are Free"?

Because it is a track in it's own right! Also, I wanted the listener to be able to skip to the next track and get "You Are Free" straight away if they so wished. Even though it's only 57 seconds long, it's a little piece in and of itself.


This contains one of my favourite lyrics on the album "Video cams and satellites shine down with Nefilim eyes" so it's all a bit Big Brother in an Orwellian sense?

Yes, it's about surveillance and being controlled through lies and fear - big brother ain't coming; it's here! We are all aware of this I think ... and it ain't paranoia! (Laughs)

The original inspiration for the lyric came directly from the US comedian Bill Hicks who is tragically no longer with us. I'm a big fan of his work and loved the way he mixed comedy with a message. He'd make you laugh and then hit you with brutal truth and vice-versa.

Obviously you are being ironic about not being free, how do you see this manifest in everyday life?

Well, we don't really have free speech - we have rights in principle but when you try and express them just watch them disintegrate. Every year more and more laws, rules and regulations, bombard us so much so that even the judiciary has a problem keeping up. We're watched 24/7 by cameras invading our civil liberties and satellites pinpointing our whereabouts - apart from Bin Laden when he was alive of course! (Laughs)

Yes, I know they're for our own good, at least, that's what they tell us! And yes these cameras do sometimes catch criminals but to me they seem to be used more for TV shows that exploit the footage to terrify everyone, telling us how dangerous it is out there on the streets so that we stay in doors and watch Britain's Got Talent or Strictly Come Dancing or some such nonsense - the underlying message is "We'll look after you".

There was an official government poster circulated a few years ago in London that read - "SAFE BENEATH WATCHFUL EYES". When I first saw that I thought it was a joke or an advert for a film but oh no - it was real. How Orwellian is that? There's a famous photograph of the George Orwell commemorative blue plaque with the legend "George Orwell lived here" and right next to it is a video camera pointing down on the people. It drips with irony not paranoia.

It's about control. I believe governments, no matter what their political bent want to keep us dumb so that they can do as they please. We're fed mindless TV, cartoon comics posing as newspapers, GM food and food chemically infested with E numbers and other additives. There's chemtrails in the sky that contain highly toxic pathogens including Barium plus fluoride and heavy metals in water - Aspartame in diet drinks, which is like poison; the list goes on and on. Tuition fees for students are control. You can't get a decent education now unless you have the money; either that or you're in debt for years! And what's that? Control! Control by the elite - who have the cash to educate their kids. The rest of us can rot. And that's just one small example. I believe in a meritocracy but we live with an idiocracy.

What about the Nefilim reference?

The Nefilim is a vague biblical reference - they were allegedly giants, the 'sons of God', 'sons of Heaven' or the 'fallen ones'. Sometimes they are referred to as 'superhuman' or 'evil giants' - I saw the cameras and satellites looking down on us like monsters and thought: The Nefilim!

So, when TV and media present their nonsense it feels plastic and unreal to me, that's why I use the lines "plastic reality" and "divided and ruled" in the song! That's how I feel when I see the news with policemen dressed like militia, listen to the politicians or read newspapers. We're being controlled and deceived, as long as we jog along and don't make a fuss, we're ok - (Laughs) So it's quite a nice little start to the record, nothing heavy; just a bit of light hearted fun to kick things off! (Laughs)


Is this a break up song?

It could be and if that's how someone sees it then yes, it is a break up song. But I wrote it about the death of my Father. He died in my arms after a long battle with leukaemia in hospital room number five. It's a tribute to him. It's exactly what happened to my mother and myself that day. It doesn't make me sad - I feel I'm honouring him with this song. My mum thinks it's a fitting tribute to him...and that means a lot to me.

But if you want the song to be about a break up - then it is! That's fine by me. All songs become public possessions once you've released them and people can interpret them in their own way.


Now, this IS a break up song - yes?

Yeah - kind of. Really ... it's a love song in a way! (Laughs) It's about coming to the conclusion that someone's not what - or who - you originally thought they were. What is seemingly good isn't always so! All that glitters ain't gold baby! That's why a photograph of a pretty girl with a black heart accompanies the lyric - says it all really. Only true love can make one so bitter and angry. (Laughs)

So, are you bitter and angry?

I was at one point, intensely so! I adored the girl this is written about, absolute true love and she broke me into pieces. Alison Goldfrapp from Goldfrapp in one of her songs called it 'monster love', that's what our relationship was for me. This song is the result of that situation - straight from the heart! Written after I'd stared in darkness at a brick wall for hour after hour trying to work out what I'd done wrong after our break up. Trying to see where I'd messed up. Then I realised it wasn't all my fault.

It's very personal, why did you feel the need to be so candid?

It's gotta be real! Heartfelt emotion connects to others. I felt that people would be able to relate to the lyric. I thought it could serve a purpose for others and was worthwhile writing and presenting - to let people know that when you're in pain you ain't alone. There's so much nonsense out there, people writing songs who have nothing to say - and as a consequence their lyrics have no meaning! I felt this had substance and was worthy of sharing not just an excuse to write another tune.

Also, musically this is so simple - Occam's razor, you know? The principle of economy and succinctness, it's just four chords - but we crank as much out of those four fucking chords as possible, great drum break too! (Laughs)


This is possibly the closest thing to a punk song on the record?

Yeah, absolutely! It kicks along. I demoed this three times before I got it right and presented it to Jonesy. (Laughs) It sounds simple to play and it is, in essence, but there's a few tricky things in there musically. When drummers come and play this tune with us it kind of catches them off guard. We close the set with this and it works a treat.

Why do you "get what you want when you don't want it anymore" then?

I've found that when I stop struggling, stretching and reaching for a particular thing; stop stressing over it and just say "Ahhh, who cares?" - when I've truly let go, then that very thing comes to me. You can be too keen! Let it flow. (Laughs) It's an Eastern philosophy too; that one gets their desire once the desire has gone.


Is this along the same lines as "You Are Free"? It has the lyric "Jonee don't believe what he see's or the lies whispered on the breeze and neither should we."

Yeah, it is, completely, the feeling that you're being fooled and wanting to escape from the bullshit. I just feel we've been lied to about fundamental things - like world politics and history - human history. First of all - Politicians don't run things; they haven't got the real power, the Rothchild's, the Royal family bloodlines, Bilderberg members and Rockefellers do. They are among the richest families in the world and it's been like this for centuries. These people run the arms industry, the pharmaceutical drug cartels, huge banking conglomerates, high finance and big business. Politicians come and go but the hand that directs things behind the scenes remains the same. That's why not much ever changes.

The Bilderberg group; a set of 'people of influence' get politicians from around the world together and inform them what they want. I saw Tony Blair interviewed and when asked about the Bilderberg group he got very defensive and then went sheepish! No one wants to talk about the Bilderberg group or Bohemian Grove or Skull and Bones!

Bohemian Grove?

It's a big subject so I would advise you just to look it up. It's an American Society with dark secrets - a summer camp in California for powerful men from around the world. All kinds of ceremonies take place there - it's all very arcane. There's a rare but famous photo of a meeting at the Grove in 1957 where Glen Seaborg the man who gave us Plutonium has Richard Nixon to his left and Ronald Reagan to his right. Both men would obviously go on to be President of the United States. This is the kind of place where the real decisions about world politics are made.

What do you mean about "lying about human history"?

We're not informed correctly about human history or the history of the Earth. I'll give a quick example - they tell us in school and mainstream media that we didn't discover the dwarf planet Pluto until 1930 but the Sumer tablets clearly show ALL the planets, including Pluto in the right order and the correct size - and the Sumer tablets are 6,000 years old! Never a mention of Planet X, the twelfth planet!Why aren't we taught this in school? It's because they'd have to rewrite the bullshit history we've been fed - originated by Christianity. We're told about Jesus Christ but not Mithra - it's the same story except Mithra predates the Jesus myth. (Laughs)

I read Zechariah Sitchin's Earth Chronicles set of books and that changed a lot of things for me, especially The Twelfth Planet. Now, he may have got it wrong too but his version of world history makes a lot more sense to me than the nonsense trotted out by the mainstream to which they doggedly cling, defend and proliferate. Gore Vidal's book "Perpetual War For Perpetual Peace" informed me too - that's well worth checking out - plus Christopher Hitchens and Elaine Pagels. The truth is out there! (Laughs)

The track musically is pretty edgy and moody, what inspired you?

If it's influenced by anyone it would be the kind of thing Suicide would do - yeah - it's got a Suicide vibe: I'm a big fan of theirs. I like moody, mysterious stuff; musically it's very dark, relentless - and again Jonesy plays great on this. I used an old vocal tape flange effect on this, the kind of thing they used to do at Trident studios in the early 70's on Bowie and early Queen records (when Queen were a 'proper' rock band). Mark Lee our engineer suggested the effect and I used it a lot on this record. There's some weirdness at the end too. It's the direction that RT-Zed will definitely follow on future recordings; we'll plough this field a little deeper.


This track is a more out and out rocker and has hints of The Who and maybe a touch of Oasis?

The Who - yes! Oasis - No! I like some Oasis stuff but I'm not influenced by their music in the slightest. I go way, way back for my inspiration. They don't mean anything to me and do not influence me musically in any way whatsoever.

Ok, what are the lyrics about?

This is a "You are what you is" song, as Frank Zappa would say. It's summed up completely in the lines "You can't hide, your covers blown, in blood bone and chromosome." You can't hide who you really are. I think we have all at some point in our lives tried to be or act in a particular way; attempt to be like someone else but eventually, you are who you is. You can cover up for a while but it's in the blood - no escape. Be yourself. The picture in the booklet is the drum debris from around my drum kit in the studio cos the drums are in my blood. (Laughs)

The drums are pretty crazy on this!

Yeah, it's got a mental Keith Moon type drum track that was almost out of character with the rest of the album. I was laying drum tracks on this, each take more energetic and improvised than the last. The drum track I eventually used, I played almost as a joke - I was messing about and going over the top with it. When I listened back to the 7 or 8 takes I'd done, this last one just felt the best, it kept saying "Use me, use me!" (Laughs) It was very Moonie, well, as close to Moon as I can get and I thought, well it really works - so it stayed.


Is this another lyric about the same girl that inspired "Pretty Ugly"?

(Laughs) No, poor love, I wouldn't stick the boot in that much! (Laughs) This is another girl. This was written quite some time ago about an old, old girlfriend. It was years ago but the memory stayed with me. It was one of those insane relationships - toxic and crazy. It felt exciting at the time at first but then the madness just became too much. She was fun but mental - especially after a drink, hence the photo on the lyric page. (Laughs, shakes head)

Musically it completely sums up RT-Zed 'dirty rock 'n' roll' vibe, a mid-tempo snaky groove that slinks along. Jonesy plays great on this - great attitude and the solo rips ya fuckin' head off. The solo at the end was in fact originally a vocal chant but the solo was so good I ditched the voices and let Jonesy have the floor. I think I'm bigging him up too much here. (Laughs)


This is a change of pace and potentially a lyric that may offend those with religious leanings, some may even find it blasphemous or insulting?

Yes, I agree, it is blasphemous for a Priest to fuck a little boy in the arse and I'm at the very least insulted by that!

It's about the Christian Brothers paedophile outrage. When this was disclosed I was horrified - like all of us. I felt it was pure evil; children seeking solace with men of the cloth in churches who are then ritually sexually abused. So, be insulted, call me a blasphemer - fuck you! Look at what they've done...and the church knew about it.

You see it wasn't just the Christian Brothers that inspired me to write about these heinous, evil crimes. It was the whole Catholic Church. It's abominable the way they have systematically protected paedophiles within their midst for decades. Moved priests from diocese to diocese, knowing their crimes - condoning their crimes with their silence.

Joseph Ratzinger has a lot to answer for. He's the Pope who recently retired! You know what? - Popes don't quit: they don't RETIRE!

The previous Pope John Paul II appointed Ratzinger head of The Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith in 1979, which used to be what we know as The Spanish Inquisition. This body was supposed to investigate the legion of child abuse cases littered throughout the Catholic Church. Ratzinger turned a blind eye to it all - he did nothing!

The Pope is foolishly, in my opinion, revered by millions around the world through blind allegiance to what is beneath the surface an evil regime. In reality he should be held accountable, prosecuted and publicly scorned for his wicked and evil crimes, as should they ALL! That's why I wrote, "...smite the wicked ones, like vipers they crawl, they disgust and appall us all!" If anyone considers my views as blasphemous, they don't have to listen to my record and what's more, the position of the church is indefensible so, they can go fuck themselves!

If this offends any Christians: well they can forgive me! Forgiveness is part of their religion I believe? And they can pray for my soul too if it makes 'em feel better. (Silence)


Was this just an excuse to get a half naked girl into the booklet?

Yes! (Laughs) No! This is about a girl I knew personally, she became a dancer and then went to work ay Stringfellows as a lap dancer. She was very popular and earned a huge amount of money in a short time. Then she started doing porn mag stuff and then taking the odd 'escorting' gig. Eventually she ended up as a high-class prostitute - and working in porn films. She thought she was the centre of the Universe at one point. Everyone wanted her, in their movies and in their bed.

She was a friend and the whole time this progression was going on I was warning her about the dangers and pit-falls but she carried on. Then, when she wasn't so hot and there was a new chick in town she started to realise what she'd got herself into and how she had been used. She decided she needed to get out of the business and leave it all behind - but she couldn't. She was trapped, she was on film and all over the Internet and there was no denying her past - she was 'too far in to get out'. I felt that to a certain extent something like this could happen to any one of us. You get too involved and then it's almost impossible to extricate yourself from a situation. Be careful what you get into I 'spose.

Musically this is pretty heavy.


I've seen a few people speculate that this is about your time in The Alarm, is it?

Nope! A few people have mentioned this and I can't see why they would think such a thing. But like I've said, if you want it to be, it can be. It's actually about a few subjects at the same time.

First off - politicians! The expenses scandals, cash for questions, the endless lies about weapons of mass destruction. It's about how they bullshit us endlessly, tell lies down the cameras on TV, smile in our faces whilst lining their own pockets - thus stabbing us in the back. Every year there's a new face with a new spin - more nonsense to hypnotise us with. It's mind numbing and I think that's exactly what they want. When a politician gets the boot for dodgy dealings they certainly aren't missed ... problem is though, there's always another money grabbing sleazy lizard waiting to fill their space.

The last verse is about ... (takes a deep breath) all the musicians who went to play at the Queens Palace for her Jubilee celebrations and act like court jesters. That's all they are, little jesters doing tricks for the court - dancing dogs for the Lord of the manor. It makes me sick to my stomach to see artists tugging their forelock and cow-tailing to the Royals. Little toothless puppies; puppets on strings, "Yes your Majesty!" Slavish, blind obedience; bowing in reverence to a Queen who under different circumstances wouldn't spit on them. (Silence)

You know, who cares about fucking Gary Barlow but some of the other artists who appeared, well I was shocked = it was unexpected to say the least. Rock 'n' roll used to be about rebellion, now I know things have moved on but really - "Yes Ma'am, no Ma'am"? Laughing along with Prince Phillips racist comments, a man who is head of the World Wild Life Fund but goes out shooting animals. Really?

Everything's got a fucking pound sign on it now; it's all about the greasy pound - that's why the picture in the booklet has a burning pound sign behind the lyric. The politician's screw us over - and some musicians are just social climbers who will kiss arse to get ahead no matter who that arse belongs to. We all want to make money, make some dough - look after our families and get on but we don't get down in the trough with the pigs!


Another strange feeling on this - Bowie influenced perhaps?

I'm a David Bowie fan so if you can hear him in there, I'm guilty as charged and quite chuffed that I might even approach something as good as that. I wrote this during the recording of the album, late about 4 am. I was quietly strumming out the chord sequence over and over into the morning. I wrote the whole thing and then the next day announced to everyone, Jonesy, Mark the engineer and Jezza our technical wizard that we were going to be laying a new backing track. This didn't go down too well as we'd already taken all the drums down, microphones and amps out of the studio and were about to start mixing. I really felt the track needed to be on the record; compelled - so I dragged the drums back in and laid a rhythm track down and some very rough guitars on my own. Jonesy did the bass and guitars after and I quickly layered up the vocals. I worked fast on this - fast for me anyhow!

I wrote it because occasionally I'll get that, "I've been here before" feeling but it's accompanied by a feeling of complete dread. An ominous feeling that lingers and I tried to put this feeling into the lyric and the music: the title fitted the feeling. Again, Jonesy played some great guitar on this - he was on the studio floor, we were in the control room - astounded. His parts aren't shredding nonsense or flash stuff but measured and tasteful with the rhythm guitar constantly on the edge of feedback, YEAH! (Laughs)


"Voodoo" runs directly into this and is the first 'end piece' of the record. I messed around with the beat, displacing it whilst trying to maintain a groove with a heavy, pumping bass line. Plus I laid a kind of funky guitar part that helped the groove breathe. I used weird stuff on this instrumental, the Theremin and backward talking, screams, and all kinds of stuff - I was on my knees screaming my brains out at one point; very freaky for the engineers but, you know, I like disturbing stuff! It's like a horror movie but not like the kind of thing Rob Zombie does - this is...unnerving! That's what it does to me anyway. I wanted the album to slowly descend into a kind of madness.


And this is where we end up. This electronic vibe is a part of the Zed sound, always has been - it's just not utilized that much on this album. I love Suicide as I've said, Tangerine Dream, the Floyd electronic experiments, even Vangelis and Georgio Moroder - all big influences. On this I just cranked up some old 70's synthesizers - proper synthesis and let them run and do their own thing. These instruments have a mind of their own once they get going. They belonged to the mastering engineer Jeremy and I recorded this in his mastering suite, which really isn't set up for recording but I knew I wanted electronica to finish the album and he had all these glorious old 70's synths laying around. I persuaded him to drag them out and fire them up. They sounded magnificent; I looked at Jezza and said, "I could do a whole album of this kind of stuff!" (Laughs)

What's the title mean?

Well, when I was working with John Magner I once mentioned to him that it seemed that in the morning, more often than not, when I looked at the clock it would read 11:11. And he had the same thing - he said, "Yeah, me too". This still happens to me to this day and it just stuck in my mind, so 11:11 it was. A friend of mine Steve Phyphers asked me the meaning of the title and when I explained he said he was the same - the "11:11 club!" (Laughs and shakes head)

The album ends with the comment "Who gives a fuck anyway", why did you include that as the closing statement to the record?

Cos That's how I felt. This record means so much to me but to other people, they may well just listen to it and go "Yeah it's OK" or "It's shite" and then never listen to the thing ever again. It's the juxtaposition of it meaning so much to me and possibly fuck all to anyone else.

I think the album's great - well, I would do wouldn't I? (Pause) But another part of me thinks, "Yeah, just what the world needs Steve - another fucking rock 'n' roll record!"

Steve Grantley, thank you very much!


For those of you who haven't got your copy of this great album yet you can purchase it from any of the links won't regret it!

BIG CARTEL (Physical CD)
AMAZON UK (Download)
AMAZON US (Download)
i-Tunes (Download)

For those purchasing the digital version you can download a pdf of the CD booklet from the RT-Zed site

RT-Zed Stickers available

There are a limited amount of RT-Zed stickers available from the bands Big Cartel store. Each pack comes with 4 stickers (2 black, 2 white) and costs £3.50 including postage.

Grab yours from

Gene Loves Jezebel reissues

Beggars Banquet will be releasing a box set of 5 Gene Loves Jezebel CDs. The albums featured are "Promise", "Immigrant", "Discover", "House Of Dolls" and "Kiss Of Life" each album is expected to have some bonus material included which I will confirm when I can.

This should be a mid price release as the Gary Numan and Love And Rockets sets that Beggars released last month were selling for between £14 and £17 depending where you shopped!

Keep an eye out for this one but I will update when I have the track lists and the release date confirmed.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Spear dates!

SoD head out for their 30th anniversary tour running throughout October. A few more dates will be added soon but so far you can catch them at...


3rd GLASGOW King Tut's
4th ABERDEEN Moorings
5th EDINBURGH Electric Circus
6th NEWCASTLE The Cluny
10th MANCHESTER Ruby Lounge
11th BELFAST Tbc
12th DUBLIN Fibbers
13th CREWE The Box
15th SHEFFIELD Greystokes
16th LEEDS Brundell Social
17th NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
18th BEDFORD Esquires
19th DARWEN Library Theatre
23rd CAMBRIDGE Junction
24th NORWICH Waterfront
25th LONDON Islington Academy
26th PORTSMOUTH Wedgewood Rooms
27th BRIGHTON The Haunt

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Big Country UK Tour announced

Big Country have today announced they will be touring the UK again during October / November. The tour is dubbed Land's End To John O'Groats and takes in some venues and towns that the band do not normally get to play including the Shetland Isles. Dates can be found on the poster....

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

James Stevenson to play Bowie tribute at Latitude Festival

James is to play in the supergroup Holy Holy at the Latitude Festival in July as part of the Bowiefest 1973 celebrations in conjunction with the ICA. The band will feature James alongside International Swingers band mate Clem Burke, Steve Norman from Spandau Ballet, Gary Stondage, Paul Fryer, Malcolm Dohety and a guest appearance from Woody Woodmansey from the Spiders From Mars! Backing vocals come from some familiar names and faces including Maggi Ronson and Traci Hunter who feature on James' upcoming solo album.

I can't confirm yet which day Holy Holy will be playing but the Festival runs from Thursday 18th - Sunday 21st July. Ticket and further info can be found at

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Snowdon Rocks Just Giving Link

This years Snowdon Rocks LHS event takes place on Saturday 14th September which oddly enough is one date I just can't fit in around my work life so sadly I won't be there trying to beat the mountain! However amongst the LHS supporters and fundraisers that will be there are Nigel & Sue Adams who are coming all the way down from Newcastle to try and raise £500 for LHS.

As I will not be fundraising myself if anyone would like to support LHS and sponsor 2 incredible people then you can find their Just Giving page HERE

Nigel will be sharing some of his photos from the event afterwards so you can share in this great experience.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Vinyl available to order from MPO....including a signed CD Single!

The DVD of the "Vinyl" film is now available to order from the Alarm store. The DVD is released via The Alarm on July 1st, earlier than previously reported and earlier than Amazon too. The standard DVD costs £12.99 plus p&p and all orders will include a copy of the Poppy Fields CD Single signed by Mike. There is also a bundle available priced at £49.99 which includes the film, the "Vinyl" CD, tour t-shirt and the copy of the Poppy Fields CD Single signed by Mike.

Get yours ordered now at for the standard version and for the bundle version.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Big Country - The Forum London 2nd June 2013

The rescheduled show from April finally went ahead and the wait proved.......well worth it!!! An absolutely awesome set from Big Country with the new tracks proving amazing live, in fact amongst the many highlights for me were the storming versions of "Last Ship Sails" and "Winter Fire". Also the LHS volunteers signed up donor 1000 on this, the last night of the UK tour so a massive well done to all volunteers and for those that "Got On The List"!