Monday, January 26, 2015

20 Questions with 80sMusicGirl-Robbie Grey of Modern English

Hello all and welcome to another edition of 20 Questions with 80sMusicGirl.  It is my honor and pleasure to bring an exclusive interview with none other than the man himself Robbie Grey, front man for that amazing band Modern English.

Let's begin shall we?

1.  Where are you from originally Robbie?

I am originally from Colchester in the county of Essex in England.  I lived in London for 30 years. Now I am living in Suffolk at the beach in a town called Aldeburgh.

2.  Do you have any brothers or sisters?

No.  I don't have any brothers and sisters.

3.   Have you always wanted to be a musician?

No.  I wanted to be a footballer, soccer to you Americans.  It was only when Bowie and Roxy Music came on the scene that I got interested in music.  Then when punk rock came along and the Sex Pistols,  I decided that music had all the things I was looking for.   The creative process and lyric writing is fantastic .

4.  Did your parents have a musical background?

Yes.  My great aunt studied at the Royal College of Music in London.  My father liked jazz music, but nobody actually played an instrument...... I used to sing in the mirror with a toothbrush if that counts.

5. How did you get your start in show business?

Punk rock came along and woke me and my friends up completely. From that moment on we formed a band and later on recorded a demo tape which got us our first record deal.   It was the start of a great adventure.

6. What did your parents think when you wanted to be a musician?

They thought I was crazy.  That I would never have a career in music and that I should get a real job.  When tickets to fly to New York  came to the house they couldn't believe it.  Funny looking back at it now!!!!!

7.  What was the name of the first band you recorded with?

The first band was The Lepers a punk band with some of the original members of Modern English.  We had some classic songs with titles like Coming for You and Typical English Worker.

8.  How did you become involved with Modern English?

Modern English just grew out of The Lepers really.   Steve Walker added the keyboards to Gary McDowell's guitar, Mick Conroy's bass and my vocals.   We had learnt to play a lot more and were experimenting with sound so we changed the name to Modern English

9.  Have you recorded any solo albums?

No i haven't.  I have written for other people and produced other artists.  I hope to do some of my own recording in the next 2 years.

10.  Do you find it difficult to adjust to the touring lifestyle?

Touring,  now  that we are a bit older, is more difficult.  When we were younger, we were drunk or stoned most of the time on long tours.  Now its shorter touring and less concerts, so it helps  I travel a lot anyway so its not unusual to be away from home.

11.  You talked about being stoned or drunk while touring. Was it just something that everyone did or was it a coping mechanism to deal with the pressures of being rock stars? 

It was something we all did.  We were working class men used to drinking and the rest.  It also helped us cope with long tours and the fantasy world we were in.  One tour of the states was 80 concerts in 100 days.  They worked us like dogs.

12.  Tell me about the band's first album. 

The first album Mesh and Lace is my personal favourite.  We were learning our instruments and using a lot of sounds rather than chords on the guitars and keyboards.  We pretty much did it ourselves with the help of a producer and the record company boss who was our friend.  His name is Ivo Watts-Russell. It's quite a dark sounding album and the lyrics are pretty intense. Great album.

13.  Have you ever participated in any of the 80s Festivals that are popular in Europe now?

No we haven't.  But we will be doing an 80s cruise  February 2016 which will go from Florida to the Bahamas etc,  Should be fun.  We are on board for 10 days and only do 2 concerts.  That's what i call a schedule.

14.  Just because I can ask, what is your favorite 80s tune ;)

There's a few, but Atmosphere by Joy Division is up there.

15.  Who were your musical influences growing up?

David Bowie and Roxy Music.

16.  Is it my imagination or is the band working on a new album?

No you are correct, we are working on a new album. The producer and long time friend is Martin Young from Colourbox/MARRS (who did Pump up the Volume). We have been working on it all last summer.  It's sounding good.  Some quite edgy stuff and also a couple of classic Modern English dreamy pop songs.

17.  Spandau Ballet once said their biggest rivals in music in the 80s was Duran Duran, who do you think were rivals of Modern English?

We were never thinking about that stuff.  But in the early 80s U2 and us were neck and neck for a while.

18.  Do you think you would have the same success now in the music industry if you were just starting out?

No.  Back in the day you could walk into a record company with a demo and chat about a 5 year plan.  Now it is instant success and image controlled.  We wouldn't even get a look in. I think X-factor and blah blah idol are the death of real music.

19.  Do you think its harder to get British bands airplay on American radio stations?

No, I don't .  America has always looked to the UK for its music.  The Beatles and The Stones. The 80s, (too many to mention) and then there's Coldplay, Radiohead, and on and on.

20. What is your advice for young musicians that are just starting out?

Be Yourself.

My thanks to Robbie Grey for this fantastic interview.  Learning more about 80s Music and its awesome history is truly what it's all about.  All my best to you Robbie and the guys with the success of your upcoming album and your cruise in February of next year.