'IT WAS FUCKING SUCCESSFUL'
- The Bay City Rollers work with Phil Wainman
We left the song-writing team [of Martin & Coulter] and the reason we left was because I was having lots of problems from the members of the group who thought they were John Lennon and Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and all this kind of thing. They were actually believing their own publicity, the publicity I put out - 'The biggest thing since the Beatles!' Which they weren't. When we left the song-writing team, they wanted to write their own songs, but we picked numbers for them, like 'Bye Bye Baby' - I actually picked 'Bye Bye Baby'.
The big break-up with Martin & Coulter? I dunno, a lot of the stuff that was going on was ... not behind the band's back, but in the management levels, you know what I mean. So as we were just like travelling the world and doing things, those kind of things were being done in London in our name. But I do remember Eric Faulkner saw himself as a bit of a writer - and he has written some good songs, and still does, but maybe at that time the songs he was writing may not have been as good as the ones that Martin & Coulter made. But when you're writing stuff, you want your stuff out and you see it as your band or whatever.
When Phil [Wainman] produced the Rollers, he gave them the chance to play on their records. But the fact of the matter was the Rollers were not very good. I remember I had a call from Phil Wainman saying, 'For Christ's sake, Pip, can you come down here and help me get these guitars in tune.' I went down there and they thought that the bridge saddles on a Fender Stratocaster, which are for adjusting the intonation of the octaves, were fine tuning springs. So they'd get the guitar roughly in tune and then they'd get a screwdriver and the fine tuning was with them. And then they'd wonder why it was a quarter of a fucking tone sharp at the twelfth fret. And they were quite sweet about it: 'Oh well, we know fuck-all about guitars.'
When I worked with the Rollers, 'Bye Bye Baby' wasn't my idea, 'Bye Bye Baby' was their idea, from the group and from Tam. They said, 'What do you think of that song?' And I said, 'It's a great song, it's a hit song.' And they said, 'Fine, we want to cut it.' I said, 'Do you realize how difficult a record this is going to be to make?' I mean it's a very very intricate record. And they weren't strong vocally, so we kind of had to teach them how to sing and how to play.
My brief was: Phil, if you're going to produce the band, we're getting terrible flak from the industry and from the press about them not playing on their own records; they are going to have to play on their own records. That was a very very tough job. The deal was that they played on it. My brief was: they had to play. And the records took three or four times as long as they should have done, to actually make that for real.
When Phil did 'Money Honey', I remember the little drummer Derek [Longmuir] - he was a sweetheart, a lovely little geezer - I remember the ordeal Phil was putting him through, cos he wanted him to double-track the drums on it. And this was all new to them, but they were lapping it up because at last they'd been given the chance to play on their own records. And I have to say I think the results Phil got out of them, considering their musical ability, was fantastic. Phil gave them a chance and they did competent performances - on 'Give A Little Love' that's them playing.
My records were slightly manufactured. I would actually still be making those records today if we hadn't of cheated along the line somewhere. So if I got a really good chorus vocally, I would spin it in, so it's the same chorus going in every time. I developed a new technique - it's a technique that's used all the time now. It all goes into a chip now, but in those days there was no way. I had the vocals mixed on a quarter-inch tape in stereo, back-up voices, and I would take them out on a great big loop. The loop would go all the way around the control room, we'd all be holding pencils with this great big tape loop of the chorus going round the room, and when the time was right, I'd press a button and I'd fly it in. Nine times out of ten it wouldn't be in the right place so we'd have to get it all set up again, either bring it forward or push it back, and press the button again. And you'd have to give it enough time to pick up speed. It was intricate stuff. It became known as the schmeitz. It was like a cheat, it was a way of getting there quicker. In the end they got me a t-shirt made up that said: 'Keep Schmeitzing'.
I never ever got along with Phil Wainman, because I thought he was a creative bully and he had very little patience. Alright, I was a bit of a cheeky little upstart, but when it got time to do work... If you were going to produce someone, you wouldn't say to the singer, 'No, that's not right,' after he'd sung one word or something; you'd be in the mood to encourage, try to get the best out of people. He would fucking annoy me like that. He'd run the track, first couple of words would come up, he'd stop the track; and he would just keep doing it, he would never let you have a run at it, which is normal. I wouldn't take any of his sort of lip outside of the studio, so he brought it into the studio, which I thought was pretty unprofessional.
And it never helped that we were working in a studio in Chipping Norton - brilliant studio, but the control room is about nineteen feet up, so you've got this big thing up there nineteen feet high up and that's where the producer is, and that's about the only cunt you can see. And you're down here, feeling very small, and he's fucking annoying you.
It was fucking so annoying, I nearly blew my top - I did blow my top loads of times.
So why do a second album with Phil Wainman? Why stick with him?
It wasn't me that really stuck with him, it was the band that stuck with him. And also the fact that it was fucking successful.
these words were brought to you by
Alwyn W Turner
and Tam Paton
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