Articles


TIME OUT BARCELONA
LAWRENCE & ME
Tuesday, march 30th, 2010

[catalan-english translation by José Manuel Caturla]

Friday, a few days after the transcription of my interview with Lawrence was published with some grammatical mistakes, the phone rang, not mine but Time Out editorial office's. A work-mate picks it up and tells me that I've got a call from Hotel Paral-lel. Lawrence wants to talk to me. What?!?


We had talked by telephone a couple of weeks before, and honestly, we understood each other quite well. I remember there was a special chemistry between us, something quite rare these days to tell you the truth. Anyway, Lawrence, who had just arrived in Barcelona the night before, bought Time Out at a newsagent and liked the article quite a lot. I suppose he liked seeing his imminent concert at La [2] venue outstanding at the music section that issue (I guess he doesn't speak Catalan).


He was quite upset because he wasn't receiving the attention he deserved: nobody was waiting for him at the airport in order to show him the city, the record shops, etc. He wasn't being treated as a star.


I tried to calm him down by telling him that I was going to phone the organisers and tell them this issue. So I did. As far as I'm concerned, they tried and phone him later (I did the same) but we couldn't find him at his hotel room, so we supposed that he and his three accompanying musicians, all the same age, decided to go out at some point.


At night, just after the concert I chatted with him for a while and I didn't dare to ask him what did they do that day. The concert was quite good. Just what I was expecting: Go-Kart Mozart big hits (Drinkin' Um Bongo, Electric Rock & Roll, Listening To Marmalade, City Centre, etc), played with great conviction by the supporting band with a malicious Lawrence, convincing the first row fans, but also some bunch of disrespectful French turds who ended up singing Wendy James along at the end of the set.


I waited for Lawrence to come up just to say hello but as he stayed in La [2] dressing room, which is a bit like the Tube (everyone is allowed to enter even without a pass), I last entered as well. So there we are with Lawrence.. We talked a good while about the concert (he wasn't very pleased, he said that the supporting bands have had more time for soundchecking), about music (he was very interested in TV Personalities gigs at Barcelona and in my review about Dan Treacy's appalling state), about television (he is a huge Mad Men follower), and about his favourite issue: fame or the absence of it.


I tried to take him out of the dressing room because I knew some of his fans wanted to salute him. In fact, a couple of them did the same as I and entered the dressing room without permission. Lawrence autographed some records. But he wasn't like leaving the dressing room because he fancied "keeping the secret".


When I came back to the concert hall I spotted Lawrence leaving the dressing room short after but with the intention of leaving the venue. Hidrogenesse crew told me that the tried to say hello before he left, that he told them to get out of the venue in order to listen to them better, but the venue staff made him leave the drink inside (probably a soft drink because I think he said he didn't drink alcohol). Soon after finishing the drink, Lawrence quietly headed for the hotel.


Lawrence, the man God forgot.
Friday, March 26th, 2010


Remarkable meeting tonight at La [2] with GKM's debut in Barcelona, current Lawrence's project, ex-Felt and Denim leader and a independent pop world star. This will be his debut in Barcelona and Spain, but tomorrow he will be playing in Madrid thanks to our friend Miguel, from Pacific Street, in fact, the guy we should be thankful for bringing Lawrence to Spain. He took the initiative.


A couple of week before I was able to interview Lawrence (just Lawrence, like Madonna) and in fact he was the main feature of Time Out's music section that week. In order to avoid you buying the magazine, here you have the transcription of the whole conversation. It's a bit long, but I consider it pure gold. By the way, we must thank kind Paul Kelly for the photographs (he's also the director of the forthcoming documentary on the artist Lawrence Of Belgravia).


Long life to Lawrence Of Belgravia!


Is this the first time you come over to play to Barcelona?


We first came in 1984 with Felt, with the group's first incarnation. We played just one night but stayed the whole weekend. We liked the city very much. We came back to Spain, Valencia and Madrid, by the end of the eighties. Therefore, we were here two times in the 80s and always as Felt.

Alan McGee says in his blog that you maintained that Felt were timeless. Do you think that Felt has now the credit it deserves?


Yes. I think about Felt not as a pop group but as a painter's work, one who doesn't become famous until his death. Felt was more than a pop band. While it was operating, I knew the group wouldn't be successful, and then realised and started to think that the band would start to fly once we'd quit. And it's just what I think is happening now.


People often refer to you as the best kept secret in English pop, a superstar about to be discovered. Do you feel like this?


Yes (laughs). I'm the man who God forgot.


I feel I am in a crucial moment of my life and that I must go on because I have the feeling that I'm not too far to get it. If I quit now, everything will be over. A lot of musicians of my same age have given up, they quit maybe ten years ago, but i don't, I keep going because I feel it near, but I can be wrong.


You are a cult artist. Do you like it?


No, I don't like it at all. I hate being a cult artist. It doesn't pay off. It doesn't allow me to do all the records I would like to do, I can't do nothing, I feel my hands tied. When you are not famous you are out of place. You are not allowed to do anything because you don't have any money to keep projects going. If you are not famous, nobody gives you money, not at the moment. Therefore, being a cult artist is meaningless in real life. Maybe when you are dead it's alright being a cult artist if you leave a good legacy behind, but while you're alive it's no good. Now I'm into a very complicated situation because if I give up now, everything will be lost. But at the same time, I see how people give it up and I feel as if someone is touching my back and telling me it's time to quit. But I refuse to do it.


When Felt splited, what did you wanted to achieve with Denim?


I wanted to do something different from Felt. When you stop doing something, the new thing must be completely different. Otherwise it doesn't make sense. But I also wanted to catch public attention. For me, it really makes no sense splitting a group and do the same music with a different name. A lot of musicians split a band and then continue playing the same old songs. I wanted to be one of the first ones not to do the same, I wanted a new band and a new music. That's why we won't be playing old songs in these concerts. Only GKM's, no Felt or Denim songs. So, everyone who thinks that by shouting insistently the name of a Felt song we'll end up playing it, they can spare their time because we'll ignore them. We won't be playing any old song, and I think I must be the first one in history to do so.


Do you consider GKM a solo project?


No. I can't do it alone. I'm not such a good musician. I depend on the other musicians. For instance, I can't do a solo live with an acoustic guitar. Better said, I can do it but I guess it would be boring. I love to work with other musicians, to know new marvellous ones who work hard. However, I'm the boss. I decide what goes into a song or not. I like doing the boss (laughs).


When you are in a group, you work with some people, tour with them, sign a contract with them, get snapped with them.


The core of the band with who I record will come to Barcelona: keyboards, guitar and drums. Don't use bass player. We use a synthesizer, an electronic bass, which is more modern. Mmmm...


You wanted GKM to sound modern?


Yes, and wanted to involve different people and instruments. With Felt, we used a Hammond organ, with Denim I wanted to use all different kind of keyboards. With Felt everything had to do with style, with a certain sound and a certain look. The clothes we wore, the things we said, everything had to do with the same lot. With Denim I wanted to be more open minded, work with anyone I wanted to work to. With Felt it was impossible to do so because it was an arty band. GKM is a cheaper version of Denim, Denim half price. With Denim, we recorded at the best England and London studios. I created GKM in order to do records in a more economic way for a while, until I'd be able to come back and do it in big studios again. GMK is a smaller project.


A project that fits in nowadays...


Yes, that's right. Nobody has no money, ha.


Are you working in a new record?


Yes. In fact, we come over to Spain 'cause we are getting ready. We are doing a lot of concerts, we have a manager for the first time, and 2 records that will be out this year. A long one, On The Hot Dog Street, and a mini-album, Mozart Mini- Mart. I've been working on the long one since my last album was released, but I didn't have the money to release it. I've had a lot of problems, everything turned out upside-down (laughs), so I've been struggling to release the record and in the end to survive. As I told you above, I didn't want to give it up, but it's been hard work, I've had to fight a lot to keep it going, but I've never thought of giving up.


It'll be my the best pop record ever. Each songs are so catchy! The lyrics are quite poetics, filled with meaning and sarcasm. They deal with pop themes: girls, money, street life.... They follow the usual GKM themes, but it sounds more expensive than Tearing Up The Album Chart, bigger. I've spent a lot of time working on it. I have finished it not at home but in a real studio. I started it at my bedroom, but it's been finished at the studio. That's why it has taken so long. I wanted it to sound different from the last one, which was recorded at a home studio. I did it because it was cheaper but I wasn't happy with the results. I like the songs but dislike the production. Now, I want the sound to be more like a Denim record. It'll be out in our own label, West Midlands Records. We like to have total control over what we do.


Are you going to play any new song live in these concerts?


Still don't know. Maybe. But I think we'll be playing songs the audience already know. Since we don't play old songs, it seems inappropriate to play new ones. So I guess we'll play songs from the 2 GKM records in order to make it easier for the audience. Don't want to make it hard and play a total different set. So you can sing along. It'll be a short gig. Let nobody wait for a 3 hour live show. We'll play like those old punk rock bands. 40 minutes.


It'll probably be the last GKM album. I guess that I'll start a new project, unless this record is a huge success. It won't be a solo album. The idea of a solo album was Alan McGee's. I told him I'd do it, but I won't, I won't do a bad solo album.


Tell us something about this new project...


No humour. I think I've exploited this area too much, the mixture of humour and protest song. I would like to try something lighter, to attract more public. But I don't think it'll work either (laughs). That said, I don't think it'll disappoint the fans.


Movie director Paul Kelly has filmed a documentary about yourself..


Yes. He expects to finish it this year. A fragment of it was showed al The Barbican in London last year. It's called Lawrence Of Belgravia. Belgravia is one of the most expensive places to live in London. I lived there until they threw me out (laughs), because I had no money. The film is not on the desire to have success but on the struggle to get it.


Why do you want people to call you only by your first name?


Pop stars don't use their surnames. I wanted to be a pop star and maybe I should have made up a new name for myself, but I thought that Lawrence was OK. And it turned against me because people just didn't stop asking me about my surname (laughs). It was supposed to be just a sole name, Lawrence, like Madonna, but people didn't let me have an only name. I've though of making a surname up. Maybe when I am 50 so people shut up at last (now he is 48).


Is there any current group interesting enough for you?


I like Goldfrapp. Now there are many girl singers but I think she is the best. I like the mixture she does of electronics and vocal pop melodies. I don't like Florence and The Machine because she is not cute enough. I don't like neither her look nor her voice.


And some indie artist?


I hate indie music. I despise it. I like real music. Pop stars, bands appearing on TV. I don't like underground.


Did Michael Jackson death touch you?


I didn't care at all. I don't like funky. Disco neither.


So we don't expect that from your new project?


No. I haven't got the sense of rhythm.


Do you dance? Because pop stars dance, and do choreographies.


Lou Reed does not dance. And he is a truly pop star.