June 19 2013 Latest news:
Joe Bill, Features Reporter
Friday, July 20, 2012
Band’s frontman Steve Holt talks to Joe Bill about the growing revival of Britpop
With the shock return of Madchester front runners The Stone Roses and the resurrection of bands like Blur and Happy Mondays, it is hard to escape the feeling that we are in some way returning to the glorious indie days of Britpop.
Stars of the late 80s and early 90s are popping up across the summer-festival line-ups, and no more so than at the Sound Island Festival at Quex Park, near Birchington, where no fewer than six bands have signed up for a Britpop reunion show.
Leading the pack of duffle-coat-clad rockers are Manchester’s Inspiral Carpets, fronted by Stephen Holt.
“It will be great – let’s just hope the weather holds off. It is a bit of a Manchester versus Liverpool thing. There is James and us, Echo and the Bunnymen, Space, The Farm and Cast, so a Merseyside versus Manchester music off.
“There is a lot of debate at the moment, with us coming back and The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays.
“Some people say – although I don’t agree with it – that modern music and the stuff that is around at the moment can’t be any good because everybody keeps going back to the late 80s and 90s. Everyone harks back to a 20-year period and people say ‘Oh yeah, it was magical in those days and the music was brilliant’.
“There is obviously a love and a need for that Britpop-era music again, but I don’t think it weakens the argument of either era. There are some great new bands I love and that are doing really well and there is an appetite for that, but I think there is also an appetite for people going back and listening to older stuff.
“We did it in the 80s, too, relistening to 60s music and remembering, but it doesn’t mean that one is better than the other.”
The frontman, who formed the band in 1983, was one of the main figures on the Madchester scene, with the Carpets gaining a large fan base that included the likes of DJ John Peel.
Holt left the band in 1990 and went on to form The Rainkings before eventually returning to complete the original Inspiral Carpets line-up in 2011. And the group are back producing music, touring the world and selling out gigs, much like their Britpop counterparts.
“I still listen to loads of new stuff and am going out to see new bands and downloading new stuff as well. But what I have noticed now is there doesn’t seem to be any divide between ‘I like indie, or rock, or dance’ – it seems everyone listens to everything.
“And I think this goes for the bands that are around now, too, as they have a wide range of influences and aren’t defined. There’s probably a bit of a gap now with those people into one kind of genre, like indie, and the likes of The Stone Roses or Happy Mondays or us are filling it.”
And since returning to form last year, Inspiral Carpets have bagged gigs in Europe, South America and a number of UK festivals, with their legions of fans still turning out to hear the indie-rockers play their big hits like This Is How It Feels and Dragging Me Down.
“Our fans have just got fatter and balder,” said Holt. “There are still young people in our audiences. And I’m sure there are still young fans who want a taste of the Britpop era, but generally the people who watch us were probably around in the early days.
“We’re all still based in Manchester and it’s buzzing up here at the moment. We are getting some really good bands coming through. I was listening to [BBC] 6 Music and there was a young rapper saying that there’s a huge rap scene in Manchester at the moment.
“But there’s still a lot of indie and I think they are trying to get together and re-create that sort of old Madchester thing.”
Madchester, or even Manchester, has become a big player in British music, with The Charlatans and Oasis maintaining the trend and representing the city’s rocking roots all the way through the 90s and into the Noughties.
“It’s weird looking back at that era because back then it was just the norm, everyone being around and in bands,” said Holt. “There used to be a club called The Boardwalk, which was an indie venue where I and the other Carpets used to hang around. They had rehearsal rooms, too, and Happy Mondays would use them.
“I wasn’t much of a Hacienda person myself, but loads of bands and people rose up in there. We were just having a laugh, getting up and doing gigs and then going to see other people perform. Looking back now, I see it was something special, but you don’t realise it at the time.”
The Carpets have already run a mini tour in the UK and, like Blur and The Stone Roses, have produced new material.
Holt said: “I left the band in the early 90s and had a break for 20-odd years. I keep telling everyone that I popped out of rehearsals for a pint of milk and never returned.
“But we’ve been writing new stuff and released the single You’re So Good For Me in November on iTunes and came out on vinyl in March and that has done OK. Hopefully, we’ll release some other bits early next year.”
And with Happy Mondays returning, the Carpets also thought it would be a good idea to tour with them.
“They have calmed down loads. Bez is still a little wild, but he’s doing more DJ-ing now. The rest of the lads are very calm and got their heads back in gear and on the music.”
One reason the Carpets’ name has stood the test of time is their links with Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher, who was their roadie for a time in the early 90s.
“Everyone speaks really fondly of Noel and he has spoken fondly of his time with us.”
And as the date in Thanet fast approaches, Holt is keen to show fans they have still got it.
“I think fans coming to us for the first time will be treated to a really good show. Back when we started we were a bit of a garage band and a bit punky and used to get on stage and thrash out some tunes. But everyone admits we lost that over the years and went into a bit of a ballad-type band like Coldplay or Snow Patrol.
“But since coming back we’ve returned to our roots and we’re lively and get the audience involved and smash out some hits.”
• The Inspiral Carpets gig will be at the Sound Island Festival, Quex Park, which runs on Saturday and Sunday, July 28-29. For details, or to book tickets, visit www.gigantic.com or phone 0844 888 9991. Tickets can also be booked by visiting Margate Winter Gardens.
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