Chris Andrews speaks with half of Go West, Richard Drummie, about the highlights of his career and what’s next.
When you first formed Go West who were your influences?
Well when we first met we were both very much into the rock stuff. Free would be the common ground between the two of us. I think Pete would say that I introduced him to a wider listening circle, if that’s the right way of putting it. I was getting into West Coast Music and at the time punk was breaking and I was listening to Michael McDonald and Todd Rungren and I was into some progressive stuff. Pete’s roots are more in motown, so rock and motown was really the common ground. I think a seminal point for us was when, I can actually see it on the TV now, when Don’t you Want Me by The Human League came on and it just blew me away and I can remember clear as day, turning to Pete and saying “if you don’t like this we’re in trouble” because he’s a bit more into the blues, but I’m the one with a more catholic taste and I just really like the idea of using synth in an aggressive way. I’m loathe to say it, but I did like some progressive music like Genesis and Emerson Lake and Palmer…god help me and I suppose some of that comes through, but head boy and head girl for me is Joni Mitchell and Todd Rungren. Her for the lyrics and him for just being nuts really.
I don’t know if this is true, but I read that within days of recording your first singles We Close Our Eyes and Call Me you were signed to your first record deal. Is that right?
Well not really, we took quite a long time, getting a record deal. What happened, I was sharing a flat with a girl, her boyfriend was a guy called Peter Evans, who’s no longer with us, god rest him. The girl Lorraine said to him “play him one of your songs” and he heard some promise and he say I’m not promising anything, but I’ll play it to a friend of mine, so he played it to Charlie Crane at Northern songs and they signed us. That was in 1982.We were signed as writers and god bless them, they kept us on as we plodded around the record companies trying to get a deal with the demos we’d made. So no, we were at it for ages, we did our first kind of writing around 1980 and eventually got signed as a band in 1984 and then what happened was, Pete had previously been managed by our future manager John for a while, John also managed Free amongst others, so we went to see him and he put some money up for us to go into the studio to record the two best tracks properly, because we hadn’t been doing them properly, at that point they were recorded in our bedrooms. Our bedrooms then, were not like our bedrooms now. Now our bedrooms have the capability to produce hit records, but back then it wasn’t like that, it was all 8 tracks.
As you mentioned Go West formed in 1982, did you ever imagine that you would still be doing this 35 years later?
No, unfortunately hindsight is a lovely thing, we were never that ambitious to be honest, we were always just trying to get the first single out and when we did , I thought we’d done it, but then of course the album went nuts. So the short answer, Chris is no. We’re always waiting to be knocked off our perch, even now. Our manager is putting in gigs for 2019, so that means we’ll be doing this for at least another year. We should make it through to retirement in some shape or another.
So anything after the first album was considered a bonus then?
Yeah, we cocked up on the second album, because we thought we were just getting pigeon holed as a pop act, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but just because there were screaming girls wherever we went and so as it turned out, there were a lot of mistakes on the second album. We went out of the country to record it and I didn’t particularly take to living in Denmark for 6 months, in the middle of a field. I like some of the album, but I think we made of a bit of a grammar school album, it didn’t have a lot of fun in it. I think the fact that we weren’t having a lot of fun making it came across. When you are having fun making a record, you can hear it. Sly and the Family Stone, they had fun right
One of your most famous hits (King of Wishful Thinking) was famously on the Pretty Woman soundtrack and you contributed tracks to a lot of soundtracks, but I wanted to ask you about another one. How did you end up on the Rocky IV soundtrack?
The funny thing about that, was that it came straight from Stallone himself, somehow he’d heard a track called One Way Street, which he really liked. Now whether he researched the band, I don’t know or got in contact with Touchstone or one of these companies that become part of our lives over the years. He’s very hands on is Sylvester, for instance, when we went out to record it, we flew everyone out to L.A. The engineer we wanted to use was flown in from Australia, there was money flying around everywhere. We turned up at the studio and did nothing for about 3 days because we had to wait and speak to Sly. Sure enough on the third or fourth day Sly turned up and said (adopts a Stallone voice) “Give it all you got”. So he talked to us for about an hour, he’s very nice and he’s also a smart cookie as we all know. So it came from there, but then they wanted us to do the epic track which is called Hearts On Fire which is the track where he runs up something, as he always does in each of those films. But to be honest Peter really didn’t like the track and also -bit of a funny music story here, they sent the track to us with the film. So we watched it and it had these time signatures like you wouldn’t believe, listen I’m not a music reader, but they were just insane. Even some of the great players we had at the time, were having to write it down. What they’d done, they’d had a standard 4/4 song but they edited it to the film irrespective of the music. So it wasn’t even in time in some parts, with half beat pushes etc, but we recorded it regardless and when they heard it, they burst out laughing saying “You’ve recorded what we sent you?” and were like “Yeah of course”, but you could tell it just wasn’t our cup of tea. “Hearts on fire, strong desire etc” it wasn’t us. So there’s a version we did somewhere, but Pete really wasn’t into it and they just ended up saying we like “One Way Street,” let’s go with that one instead and it ended up coming out of a robot in the film for about 13 seconds. I thought to myself, how many people flew all over the world and how much money was spent, just to get that 13 seconds of film, but you know, that’s the movies
You were basically inactive between 1997 and 2007. What was the story behind that?
It was actually about 1993 when the band split. Pete went off to do a solo thing. We were living in America because our PR man was there and the Pretty Woman thing had kicked off. I just thought we were going to be there for 6 months. Make an album and go home, but we ended up being there for about 3 and a half years. Long story short I’d lost my dad and I’d met my partner and Pete wanted to do a solo thing. I thought ok, I’ll be honest I wasn’t happy about it. We’d just had 3 top 10 hits, it seemed like a daft idea to split at that point, but obviously from his point of view, it was probably a good time for him. Start a solo career now rather than wait until we were on a downer. So he stayed in the States, I came home, had 2 kids, built a studio and worked with lots of different people, which I loved. I might sound like I’m having a go at Pete, but I’m not, but it was time to leave the club anyway. I’d known Pete since I was 16, we lived together and worked together, which is like working with your wife, although some people can make that work. But you do tend to take the rows from work home. So in 2000 my manager phoned and said there’s a renewed interest in the 80’s, do you want to get back together and we were offered that massive one with Culture Club, which persuaded Pete to do it. To be honest when we offered that gig at Wembley Arena, my kids were 6 and 2 years old and they kept hearing about Dad being in a band, but they’d never seen it, so I thought the kids would love that and we probably needed the dough too. So we did one and once you’ve done one, you’re all tooled up to do another and we ended up just gigging and earning out of it, because although things were ticking over, we weren’t selling millions of records anymore. So in 2007 we ended up doing Future Now, because after a while I’d said we are going around playing the same old songs, let’s give them something new. We actually wrote that album first, then toured it, then released it after the tour.
Your last recordings 3D were released as 3 EPs. Is this reflective of how people consume music these days and do you think the days of recording full albums are dying out?
Not really, it’s more reflective of my reluctance do another album. Basically we’ve always been a bit of a 3 legged race. Anybody in the business will tell you that we are a bit slow. We both write absolutely everything, riffs, words, so it’s quite a detailed process. I’m sure when we work with other people, Pete will tell you the same, it’s a bit more spontaneous. So when it came time to do another album, I said can we just do an e.p, as I saw it as a smaller goal really. When you’ve got to come up with 15 tracks and dump 2 of them, you think that take us at least 6 months, so John spoke to the record company and in true John style said they love the idea of you doing 3 e.p’s. I said “John, that’s an album”. So he explained that you put out 1 e.p, with the next one available in 6 months etc. To me albums/e.p’s are all a moment in time, so when it came to doing the third one, I said there wasn’t enough keyboards, there was too much riffing and what have you, so we came up with things like White Water which was written on a piano, so it gave us a chance to look what we were doing. I’d did like 3D, there’s a much broader palette on that than we’ve had on some things.
When you think of your musical career with Go West, what are the highlights, what sticks out most?
Well winning the BRIT award, for best newcomer which was voted for by the general public, was a lovely surprise. I thought A-Ha were going to win it, but of course they aren’t British, but I didn’t know that. So on the night we got absolutely slaughtered, thinking we had no chance of winning, so we were shocked when they called us. Selling out 5 nights at Hammersmith Apollo. I saw Springsteen there in the 70’s, I saw Gabriel there, AC/DC, so to even have played there once would have been amazing, but to sell out 5 nights was incredible. But I suppose our biggest achievement really is just to have stuck in there. It’s a pretty vicious business and it takes a long time for people to let you in for good. I think we might have managed that now. I call it the Cliff Richard principle. If you’ve been around long enough they’ll respect you. I bumped in to Francis Rossi of Status Quo recently and it’s the same thing with them. If you manage to stick around long enough people will leave you alone and have go at someone else.
What’s in the future for Go West? Any plans to record?
I don’t like to pump air in our own tyres, but on this occasion I will. We’ve got a 5 week tour over in Australia with Taylor Dane, Paul Young and Cutting Crew. We’ve done that a couple of times before and then next year, we’ve been working with Nik Kershaw, so we are doing another tour with him next January and February. That works really well because it’s not like he goes on and then we go on, we are both on stage at the same time in a sort of mixed set. He plays on our stuff and I play on his. Then we are talking about a potential American tour next summer. We’ve never been back there. We had two top 10’s and then never went back again, which seems crazy. We probably would have broken America. A very interesting story about our success over there comes from Chris Wright from his book. Back in the day, there used to be a lot of back-hander’s throughout the music business but especially in the States. I don’t want to say Mafia style, that’s probably a bit exotic, but let’s just say undesirables who would basically decide if your record would become a hit or not and apparently, or so I was told, our record was the only record at the time that had done well, without any sort of kickback or greasing of palms. Our management told these people that they weren’t needed on this one and you won’t be getting any money this time, this one is going to make it on its own. Apparently these people didn’t like this and were paying people not to play it, so towards the end it died a death. Years later I was working with Desmond Child on Billie Miers record when an executive from MCA who shall remain nameless, who hadn’t seen me for 20 years, walked into the room and said to his assistant “Steve this is Richard from Go West, I ruined his career.”
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