WHEN?: Thursday 25 March 2021
We interview Dr Robert, lead singer of the Blow Monkeys, as the band prepares to release a new album and tickets for a tour to celebrate their 40th anniversary have gone on sale.
- Read on for reasons including what to expect from that tour, the uplifting album and next single
monstagigz (mg): Tickets for your 40th anniversary tour have recently gone on sale, what can we expect from those gigs?
Dr Robert: ‘God knows! We haven’t played in a year and a half. We might even break our golden rule and have a rehearsal. We’ve recorded a new album which is ready to go. It will be a celebration of just being able to play again. A chance to enjoy the moment again of being back together.’
mg: New album Journey To You (which we’ve now heard and can’t stop playing) is out in September, what should we expect from it?
‘The 2 tracks we’ve released so far give you a good flavour. It’s quite up, quite funky and 1 of the best things we’ve done. It’s uplifting, quintessential us as well. We’ve been together for 40 years and it’s very much the sound of the band. This wasn’t the album to go all introspective and singer/songwritery.’
mg: Both Time Storm (below) and More Than A Miracle (far below) sit well in terms of quality with some of your biggest hits, is that what you set out to achieve?
Dr Robert: ‘I wouldn’t say it was deliberate. I write the songs, they’re in my voice, there’s Nev’s saxophone, everyone has their own individual parts and that’s very much what we do. There’s even a little Bacharach and David in there in terms of the songwriting.’
mg: Will there be a 3rd single before the album comes out?
Dr Robert: ‘I think there will be. It’s not like the old days where you’re looking at an impact date. The whole thing has changed. It used to be that if the radio don’t play it that’s a problem but that’s not the case now. It could be a song called Dust At Her Feet.’
mg: Why the Studio 54 footage in the new video?
Dr Robert: ‘A friend of mine has a great feel for what works and this was fan footage that fitted. They also did a piece of film for Time Storm that just goes so well with the music.’
mg: The lyrics in the new single urge us to forgive you, what do you need forgiveness for?
Dr Robert: ‘The guilt! I tried not to edit myself lyrically this time at all. During the Tim’s Listening Parties (Tim Burgess, of The Charlatans on Twitter involving live plays of the Blow Monkeys’ biggest albums Animal Magic and She Was Only A Grocer’s Daughter) I explained that I really didn’t have a clue what I was writing about. A lot of the time it was done quickly and if it felt right rather than about specific subjects.’
mg: How has this lockdown period been for you?
Dr Robert: ‘I’m a bit of a hermit and live in Spain in a fairly remote valley away from the rest of the band. I didn’t want to write any songs about lockdown but I did go into a songwriting frenzy in this period. For me it hasn’t been so terrible. I’ve learned to do things remotely, we’ve been making this record and I’ve been producing records for other people.’
mg: We saw the Blow Monkeys 3 times in the 80s and 90s including at the Hammersmith Odeon with Curtis Mayfield at the height of your popularity. What do you remember about those gigs?
Dr Robert: ‘We were top 5 with It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way and we even had a little bit of a teenybopper audience. It was as produced as we got. I was so thrilled to have Curtis Mayfield on the bill but also Ed Kuepper of the Laughing Clowns who were 1 of the biggest influences on the Blow Monkeys.’
mg: You’ve been quite modest about your songwriting abilities during the Tim Listening Parties on Twitter. Is there an album or song of which you’re most proud?
Dr Robert: ‘The first solo album Realms of Gold. It was a bit of a watershed moment for me. I took my time after the Blow Monkeys, I moved out of home and a lot of things changed in my life. Flatlands was the first 1 I did that was really lo-fi with an 8-track machine so different to the big studios of the 80s. When the band got back together it was just great to make that 1st record, Devil’s Tavern, but I do think this 1 is right up there. You learn your craft, keep on writing and sometimes something else just comes into the room.’