Art for Art’s Sake: A Look Inside the Brain of Kevin Godley
Be prepared for a long, interactive, and hopefully very funny and interesting read…
I had the pleasure of speaking for just under an hour to Kevin Godley a few nights ago, original member of seminal 70s band, 10cc (even if you don’t think you know their music, you know their music!), and later Godley & Creme. He, along with long-time collaborator Lol Creme, made all the music videos of my teenage years, so essentially, Kevin Godley is an intrinsic part of my growing up. I am who I am in a lot of ways, because of him. There’s a lot more to what he’s done, and what he’s still doing…so enough of the fangirling…here’s the interview!
EP: I’ve only managed to get through about half of your book [Spacecake] , so I’ll only ask as much as I can…but it’s SUCH A GOOD READ – it’s bloody brilliant – it’s ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT – I’m laughing all the way through it – probably not meant to laugh all the way through…
KG: You are – I tried to make it funny because I do treat life as an absurdity – if you can see me rolling my eyes when you’re reading it, then you’re probably in the right space.
EP: It’s brilliant – it’s really cool. I was going to say, I love your writing style – I love how self-deprecating it is – you really don’t take yourself seriously – [Kevin laughs] – have you always been that way though?
KG: I think so – like I say in the book, I take what I do seriously – but the people I know who do take themselves seriously, you know, they’ve set themselves up for a fall really…that’s just how I am. I can’t be objective about myself. I’ve just got to let things happen, so I can never say what, [faux American accent] “Wow this is a great piece of art” – I don’t know if it’s fucking good or bad, you know, I just do stuff, and it’s kind of up to other people to judge. If that’s where you’re coming from you CAN’T take yourself too seriously, because someone is going to puncture that bubble at some point.
EP: You don’t think you suffer from Imposter Syndrome do you?
KG: The Imposter Syndrome…
EP: Yeah! You know what that is?
KG: You mean like someone will find me out?
EP: Yeah basically!
KG: Yeah! I buy into that totally! Like every single thing we’ve ever done has been terrible shite, like it’s all been a horrible dream.
EP: Do you ever feel like that sometimes? Like, what the hell? How have I got into this? Is this someone’s crazy creation, and somehow I’m the star of their show?
KG: It’s sort of a yes and no. I’m actually quite proud of some of the things I’ve done, but not to the extent that I’m kind of going to be boasting about them. I think some of the things I’ve done are quite good, because I aim to make them great – and if you do that you hit quite good. If I aimed for quite good, they’d probably be crap. You know what I mean? You aim high and you get something interesting. It’s impossible to critique your own work in any way! All that you can do is put it out there and hopefully people will find something in it.
EP: I went to Art School myself, I never finished because I was too busy doing other things…
KG: I finished but I didn’t want to!
EP: I think Art School is a really good place to discover other stuff to do…
KG: Absolutely! I can’t remember anything that I learned on any of my courses, and I recall – I didn’t mention it in the book – but I recall at Art College studying Graphic Design for 3 years and I remember one tutor asking me at one point, hovering over me, very seriously and then saying – “What pencil are you using for drawing that? Is it a 2B or an HB?” – and I can’t remember anybody else asking me anything else! Obviously didn’t have a huge amount of depth in the teaching field…
EP: What did it really matter! It wasn’t crucial to what you were doing what hardness of pencil you were using – you were making the art! I found when I was at Art School that all our lecturers were all working on their own exhibitions, so they really couldn’t be arsed to teach us anything.
KG: What were you studying?
EP: I was studying Photography and Painting, for a Bachelor of Arts, Visual Arts, in Australia. Photography I loved – painting…I liked doing it but I couldn’t do the whole…the way they wanted it to be done – it actually killed my creativity for like 20 years…[Kevin laughs] It really did!! I didn’t pick up a pencil for 20 years! Got out of the whole industry and just went into the civil service for a bit…but anyway…that’s not about you…that’s about me…I was reading through your book, and I know it was Lol’s thing, but the Audible Videosophy – a big green book he used to have that you guys would write stuff down in…
KG: Yeah I remember! It was a horrible green plastic covered book and every thought we got, we concocted, we stuck in this book – but I believe the phrase Audible Videosophy applied to the notion that if you put any piece of music with any type of film then it kind of worked…
EP: Yes! So what I was going to say was, in relation to this – would you consider yourself in any way to be synaesthetic? Can you see a piece of music, or hear a piece of art…Do you feel you have that sort of ability, or you’re just an artist really?
KG: Kind of! But it’s not quite that definable? It’s more like…how can I describe what I do…it’s more like…I suppose it’s like seeing into the future? When I start a project off, whether it’s a song, or a film, or whatever, I have a vague idea in the back of my mind that I can never quite grasp – but I know the kind of thing at a certain point that this should be. And there’s always a key point, a trigger if you like, that kind of tells me that, but you still can’t really see it properly – you know when it’s not there…yet. So you’ve got to keep pushing until that comes into focus 100%. So, I kind of see and feel things, but not quite in the way you’re describing, no, not in the classical way.
EP: Is it something you’ve always felt? Like, when you were playing bass or the guitar you were first given, and you saw the drums and you were like AHHHH that’s it! Instinctively you knew you were a drummer, you knew. Is it always something you’ve always had that gift, really, to know what the completed thing is going to be?
KG: At that moment! Yes! Before that moment – no! [both laugh] I was doing all the wrong things! Like, I was playing bass, I was fucking useless, and I was playing guitar, and I was even more useless at that, but when I sat down behind a kit – something clicked into place – and that process kind of began there I think.
EP: Power to you, because I can’t play the drums, I’ve not got the rhythm – I mean, I can dance, but I can’t coordinate my legs and my hands…all in the one go…
KG: [laughs] I think people get the wrong idea, they think oh to play drums you’re doing four things at the one time, but you’re not, you’re essentially doing four parts of the same thing. It’s a subtle difference, but a difference nevertheless.
EP: But then you’re singing at the same time!
KG: Yeah, well that, I don’t know how I do that. It’s really not possible, but yeah. You can do that! [laughs]
EP: How many singing drummers are there? There’s you, there’s Phil Collins, there’s Karen Carpenter…who else…
KG: Well she’s not exactly…
EP: No she’s not around anymore…but you know – HAVE been!
KG: There was also a guy called Dave Clarke…
EP: Oh yeah I know – Dave Clarke Five…
KG: Yes that’s the one, Dave Clarke Five, but I wouldn’t call his drumming particularly challenging. But yeah! I guess that’s a kind of facility that some people have, they can separate the component parts of music and do more than one thing at the same time. It’s interesting – I was reading up about drum kits a while ago – drum kits didn’t really exist for a while – everybody played a different kind of drum – gradually they thought, why don’t we stick them all together, and then you’ll have more than one you can hit – that took a while.
EP: So you had a whole stack of drummers, each behind their own drum – oh I guess that’s like in the orchestra…
KG: Yeah you’d have one guy behind a drum the size of a tom tom, and a guy playing a bigger one the size of a bass drum…but they were all playing one drum – instead of one person playing four. So the notion of a drum kit was a kind of evolution in the language of drumming…
EP: For which you’re eternally grateful! Otherwise you’d be stuck behind a cowbell or something…
KG: Yeah! I’d be the guy with the cowbell! Very efficiently though, I’d imagine!
EP: You would be! Now that’s another thing I was going to say – perfectionism! You strike me as being a bit of a perfectionist? Would that be correct?
KG: Yeah, well I try and be…but only because I know I’m not going to be perfect. It’s like I said before, if I aim for high, I’m going to get very good. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything that I’m 100% happy with. I know the standard’s pretty good.
EP: If someone else is happy with it, then it’s got to be okay, hasn’t it…
KG: Well so long as it’s not just one person! If a lot of people are happy with it then…I suppose you kind of know after a bit, any discipline anyone works in, whether you’re an architect or a doctor or a writer, or whatever, you develop certain intuitive skills in that area so you know what everyone else is doing and you can kind of stack it up against it and think, “actually that’s pretty good!” or “actually that’s pretty bad…” There’s no protection against doing something bad.
EP: [dog barks very loudly] What’s your puppy’s name?
KG: The puppy’s name is Daphne!
EP: Daphne! Awww! What sort of dog is she then?
KG: She’s a cross between a Westie and a Pomeranian…she’s a Pestie!
EP: Oh my goodness, so she’s basically a fluffy yappy thing!
KG: She is! She’s only been with us for about three weeks, but she’s absolutely gorgeous, and our other dog, who’s been with us for longer, is in the process of getting used to her. It’s so funny to see them play together…
EP: What’s your other dog’s name?
KG: My other dog’s name is The Rogue.
EP: What sort of dog is he?
KG: He’s pulling my shoelaces at the moment [laughter] anyway I’m not here to talk about my dogs!
EP: No! Don’t talk about your dogs! Now my next question is – why doesn’t 10cc get the credit they deserve? I love 10cc! Everyone knows a 10cc song – even if they don’t know one they know one!
KG: They kind of are – and I say it in the book – that very situation annoyed the hell out of me – it’s because we didn’t have a memorable profile, I guess, we didn’t have a brand image, we were just four ordinary guys from Manchester who made interesting noises. But…we weren’t David Bowie, we were weren’t…there was nothing you could hang a visual thread on, and that was so important – it’s always been important – but we didn’t have it…
EP: Well, I can tell you, growing up in Australia, we knew 10cc. You guys were popular over there, you were on the radio a lot. Like, I’m 46, 10cc were my childhood, Godley and Creme were my teens – is it “creem” or “krem”?
KG: It’s “creem” but I think he would prefer “krem”.
EP: So Godley and Creme – I know a lot of your stuff, and I’ve got an 18 year old daughter, and I was saying, “listen to this one, you know this one, come on you know this one” and she was like, “okay, oh yes I know this one” – and that was ‘I’m Not in Love’ because EVERYONE knows that one. But I was listening to as much as I could from the 10cc back catalogue, and I knew ones like, ‘I’m Mandy Fly Me’ which surprised me, because I hadn’t thought that particular one had permeated my childhood. But evidently it had. So you must have got an airplay in Australia anyway.
KG: It’s one place I’ve never been! I’ve always wanted to go…I left the band before they went there…
EP: Where’s this foresight of yours – you missed a trick there! “Band’s going to go to Australia – I’ll stick it out until they go there!” [laughter] I really liked that John Lydon referenced 10cc in his autobiography…
KG: Yes! I was so surprised to read that! I enjoyed his book, and I enjoy the guy, but I was kind of aware of how the media paint everything as so black and white…so there are grey areas and undercurrents, and that was a grey area too far for me, that John Lydon actually liked something that we did. But of course, it’s kind of the grey area between reality and image, and the media do like their image stuff, and to create situations…it makes the world more entertaining to a degree, but people get lost in there don’t they.
EP: Yeah they do! Okay! ‘One Night in Paris’ – do you think it really was the inspiration for Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’?
KG: Oh dear, some people say it was…
EP: I think so – just listening to it, you can really see that Queen ripped you guys off a lot…
KG: It didn’t quite have the balls of ‘One Night in Paris’ – halfway through they thought, “Oh shit we’ve got to get a rock’n’roll guitar in there”, we can’t chance it!
EP: Exactly! That’s so selling out isn’t it!
KG: It worked though! People remember ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ more than they remember ‘One Night in Paris’. I listened to ‘One Night in Paris’ recently. It’s pretty out there, musically…some weird things going on there that I couldn’t really remember until I listened to it again, and I was also told recently that it was twice as long as it actually is! We went away on holiday together [Kevin and Lol Creme] and we wrote this song while we were away, and apparently the original intention was to fill one side of an album with it, but I can’t remember that.
EP: What on earth happened on that holiday to make you write that song!
KG: Well who knows where this stuff comes from, it’s the trigger – I just remember we hired a villa in the south of France, we had a piano in there, we just spent a few hours, tinkering around, Lol bangs these chords around, and I started, [big operatic style voice] “ONE NIGHT IN PARISSS” and Lol says, “hang on a minute, what you’ve just sung there fits exactly with what I’ve just played” and suddenly you have something – a starting point that is tangible – I don’t know – people write songs in different ways but there’s always a moment where something comes together, and it’s usually purely because you’ve been messing around, and if you’re lucky, you’ve got something – you can sometimes go days, weeks, months with nothing, which is very dispiriting, but when you actually hit a moment like that, when you hit that moment, you hang onto it, and you build something around it. I think we were particularly pleased with a song called, ‘Somewhere in Hollywood’, from the Sheet Music album, which was a little bit more expansive than the usual pop song, so I guess we were trying to write something that was a bit longer, and a bit more complex, whatever, and it turned out to be that. The only thing I don’t like about it, listening to it now, is the old singing in “ze old faux French accents”…
EP: I liked that!
KG: I think it was probably right for then, but now, I think, if you did it without that it would probably stand up quite well anyway.
EP: I think it adds to the whole…it’s got a whole theatrical feel about it, and the faux French is part of that…well, it does it for me!
KG: The idea of doing it came from a film, “An American In Paris”, with Gene Kelly choreographing Gershwin’s piece, and it was like, that just connected with us so much. I guess that’s what started us down the French road.
EP: Which brings me to my next question. You and Lol had this really really good working relationship – you know, like, two halves of the one brain, that sort of thing, and then you just like, you started off doing your independent things, Fashion things and whatever…do you think – you talk about Bill Clarke at art college in your book [Spacecake], do you think,when you broke with Lol, that maybe that was just an extension of what Bill Clarke had been trying to get you guys to do – all those days – push the boundaries, stretch you, see what you could do…
KG: I think what we learned from Bill was always in there, and we always referred to it but that thought of always pushing, always looking, always searching for something…it wasn’t really that, I don’t think, I think it was simply that what we were doing was we were becoming predictable, and we’d reached the end of that particular road, it’s like, we’ve done this, we’ve done the songs, the only thing we haven’t done is a movie – we almost did a movie – but the thought of actually directing with someone else, that was becoming a bit of a pain, and it was like, it was a big deal, but it was timely. If you’ve worked with someone for 27 years, you’ve wrung every drop of juice out of it. It was just time to move on. It was scary, weird, but, as I say in the book, it was really a matter of finding my own confidence, as opposed to leaning on someone else, which came pretty quickly, I was lucky that we had a reputation as such so that people did keep coming, so I was able to show off a bit what I was like on my own, which is a slightly different way of being.
EP: Well that’s not a bad thing!
KG: Well, it’s just different.
EP: Are you still in touch? Do you still hang out?
KG: Not really! I mean, we live completely different lives, I live in Ireland, he lives in…I don’t even know where he lives now, he works in England but he lived in LA for a while, I speak to Graham quite often, as you know, because we did work for a while together, but you know what groups are like…we didn’t fall out in the traditional sense, we just got bored with each other. It’s like, there’s no need to connect, there’s no 10cc reunion tour on the cards, we’ve been there done that.
EP: That’d be terrible anyway, that’s such a sell out! Anyway – I want a Gizmotron!
KG: You want a Gizmotron? They’re bringing them out again!
EP! I saw! But I thought, that just looks like the best thing ever! They look like a lot of fun, and I really don’t think that it was a case of you guys missing the cues of the prevailing fashion and stuff, I actually think you were ahead of your time – and the Gizmotron, that’s just amazing.
KG: I think the problem with it was, the timing was bad, but the other thing was that the company that made them didn’t really put as much money and effort into them as they could have done into the research and development. So what they put out on the market didn’t really stack up. It was one of those things where the idea is good, but the actual working device didn’t really reach it. It was okay, but the timing was poor, because around that time cheap polyphonic synths were coming on the market, and far more reliable – yeah it’s a good idea, it got used in some interesting places, and people are refurbishing it, and using modern technology and better materials to actually get more out of it. I’m quite excited about it, I’ve been talking to them. I think they’re launching it at the NAAM Show. I’m kind of intrigued to see what happens.
EP: Wouldn’t it be cool if they invited you to come and speak about it…
KG: What like to totter out on crutches…and talk about what happened 58 years ago or whatever…
EP: [faux American accent a la Troy McClure] “Hi I’m Kevin and I invented…”
KG: [faux doddery American accent] “I’m the old guy who invented thissss….” Whatever! I’d just be interested to see how reliable it is! It was so unreliable, it would sometimes be affected by temperature change and humidity change, and the idea for it to sound like an orchestra, was totally…
EP: Such a shame! Well it looked good!
KG: It’s a great story!
EP: I like the bands that used it, I liked that The Church used it, and so on…
KG: Yeah! A number of interesting people have used it in different ways, they seemed to manage to get a lot out of it, I mean, we spent, what, about 18 months trying to get something out of it, a little excessive perhaps…
EP: You’re a polymath then, are you? You want to do everything, you’re able to do everything…
KG: Well not everything! I’m able to do…well I see it as it all being the same thing, just coming out of slightly different taps – you turn this tap on – it’s the same stuff coming out but it’s music here, you turn another tap on, it’s video, it’s the same stuff.
EP: You’re a creative.
EP: I get that! I can sing, I can write, I can draw…
KG: I guess I’m a channel for different mediums and I’ve got this thought in my head that maybe I can do something that works here, and maybe something that works there – I’m not scared by it – I suppose I was at the beginning – it’s funny, when you start writing music for the first time, you start recording, like we did when we were in our early twenties, you naturally gravitate to sounding like the people you admire, so you might sound like The Beatles, and this and that, if you’re lucky that evaporates after a while, and somehow the real you comes through. And that did happen – it happens to many people – and it’s great that that happens, the trick is to avoid understanding what that is, and not sort of go, “Oh right! I’m about this, that, and the other. Because once you know that, you then have to escape that and start all over again.
EP: It’s about not putting yourself in a box, isn’t it.
KG: Well it is. That’s why I do lots of different things, I suppose, I like to challenge myself, and maybe it’s when you’re a kid, you crave attention, or something, I’ve no idea, why artists do what they do, but they are driven to a degree, because they can’t do anything else. They can’t help themselves.
EP: Exactly! There’s something inside that says, “look, I want to create I want to be able to…or couldn’t we do it this way…that would be really good if…”
KG: But you don’t really know the answer, the whole thing is an exploratory process, you’re using your intuition all the time as to whether that’s going to work, in the journey you come across some good results and some bad results. I kind of describe what I do as inspired ignorance, because I tend to do my best work when I don’t know I’m doing. I think that’s why we were good at making music videos, because we didn’t know what the rules were.
EP: That’s how we are with Essentially Pop – we don’t know what we’re doing so we just do it…
KG: Yeah you learn by doing…what happens is you make your own rules up and therefore you conjure something a little bit different to what everyone else is doing, which can be valuable.
EP: You mentioned music videos, as I said before, you guys made all the music videos of my teenage years, basically. I was going through it today, and I was like, Oh my God – ‘Girls on Film’…Frankie Goes to Hollywood [‘Two Tribes’, ‘Power of Love’], The Sweetest Thing…that is my favourite video of all time! It is so so good – I spend a lot of time in Dublin – and when I first watched it all those years ago I had no clue because I was this teenager in Australia, and now I know where it is…and I go, “Oh Boyzone” because I know who they are now, whereas I didn’t know back then, but now I can put all those things together…
KG: That was a great shoot that was!
EP: I’ve just read about it – that’s the part I’m up to in your book – that was just phenomenal – I love the idea of U2 throwing up all these pie in the sky ideas, into this, just because they can…
KG: But you know…yes that’s it exactly, because they can – I thought they were taking the piss a little bit too, but it was very funny, but at the end of the day, we actually got something that we could use, but the elephant…that was…that was the critical moment…[laughs]
EP: [laughs] Cos it’s only on for a couple of seconds…zoom in and zoom out and its gone, all that fuss to get a flipping elephant…
KG: The actual story that I said in the book, that the elephant wrapped its trunk around a lamppost and refuses to move, that actually did happen. It was like, “Do we need to do another take?” “No the elephant refuses”. Not contractually, but that’s what it did, he had his trunk wrapped, and he wasn’t going to march down that street anymore. “I don’t care how many buns you offer me, I’m out”.
EP: But I love too, the story of ‘Rockit’, the story of how that came about. That leapt out at me, back in the day, it was pretty scary?
KG: Yeah, well what we did was a product of the time, and the product of the brief – we had to get a black guy on TV [in a time when MTV wasn’t so enlightened], and it was one of these magical things, just happened to see on TV, this guy’s work on it, and it was just waiting for us, really. All we did really was film somebody else’s work and put it into context, but it reverberated through the media, and it was something that nobody had ever seen before.
EP: Back in those days, this was all new, this music video business. This was groundbreaking stuff, wasn’t it.
KG: The only thing that’s had a similar effect on me was when, during the 80s/90s I’d watch tv every night before going to bed, I’d flip through all the different channels, and one night I flipped to a channel, and there was Christopher Walken, sat in a hotel lobby, and I was like, “what the fuck is this?” and I’d tuned into, ‘Weapon of Choice’ and I was blown away.
EP: Nobody ever thinks that Christopher Walken can dance like that! He’s incredible!
KG: I didn’t know what the hell I was watching!
EP: It doesn’t make any sense that he’s dancing to this music in this clip, but it works…
KG: When I switched to it, it wasn’t at the beginning, so for me it was like the video version of Orson Welles’ ‘War of the Worlds’, I was watching this thing, and thought I’d switched onto a movie. Just amazing, the work of genius, but then again, Spike Jonze is.
EP: Do you think it actually helped being artists and musicians, to make music videos? Because a lot of video makers came out of advertising and TV, and the movies, but you guys came out of music itself, and you’ve got that art background? Do you think that was a helpful thing, did it help with your ideas, because you came out of left field with a lot of things?
KG: I think the thing that we brought to the medium was the feeling that, again, I said before that we didn’t know what we were doing, but we had an art background, a visual background, that came into play, but I think that the reason that we were successful at it, and that we set some standards was because we did come from a music background, and a lot of musicians felt more comfortable talking and dealing with us, than they did with a lot of other directors, because at the beginning, in the early 80s, a lot of directors working out of the UK came from documentaries on television, and this new medium called video, there was no precedent going, nobody really knew what they were doing, the documentary makers, TV people, kind of looked down on it, they didn’t really have a connection with music – if you were a musician they weren’t really the easiest people to talk to about things, like, “what I’m trying to talk about is this” and seeing it as art – and we knew about that, and we tuned into that because that’s our background, we were a new kind of director essentially, we were directors who were learning along with the musicians what this new medium could do.
EP: So what do you think about the music industry these days?
KG: The music industry now? It’s changing, it’s interesting, because you know, I jump in the back of a cab, and [imitates cab driver] “Godley & Creme, fucking great mate, what do you think of the state of the music business today it’s all a pile of shit isn’t it?” and I’m thinking, “Don’t become your Dad.” Don’t say, “Yeah, it was all crap, it was better in the day” because it doesn’t matter, people are still making music – it’s going through different stages, it can be what you like it can be what you don’t like, but people are still making music, and they’re making a lot MORE of it. Maybe everybody’s a bit spoiled by the different ways that they can access it, but it’s not stopped, people are still doing it and there’s some great stuff out there.
EP: There’s a damn lot of great stuff, we’re in the business of talking about stuff you don’t hear on the radio essentially, and we’re seeing the rise of the independent artist…
EP: It’s massive! I’m in London, and I can go listen to 2-3 bands a night if I wanted to, and they’ll all be amazing, and they’ll all have honed their craft, and they’ll all be savvy, they know the business backwards and forwards and they really know what they’re doing – but they’re not going to get heard on the radio – but they don’t care.
KG: It’s kind of a strange industry at the moment, it’s fractured, I think just going back to something you asked earlier, about 10cc not getting the acclaim that we would have liked, I think what’s changed is that people who were considered to be a bit uncool, or a bit boring, now that we’ve got the internet, you’ve got people who are interested in music can become music archaeologists, they can dig deep. find interesting information and explore for themselves, and immerse themselves in what people did. So I think that’s kind of flattening out that whole elitist thing, “You’re not cool man”, it’s like that seems to be disappearing, and what wasn’t cool yesterday is now seminal today. That’s just the way things are. I guess my way contribution to how things are these days, musically, is the WholeWorldBand Project.
EP: Tell me about that!
KG: The WholeWorldBand Project is probably chapter 26 so you won’t have got there yet. WholeWorldBand is an App that I invented, two years ago, that is available for iOS and now for web. It’s a music collaboration app that is centred more around video than it is around audio, so you can play along with and add music to different artists, on the app, so we’ve got people like Ronnie Wood, and Stewart Copeland, and Taylor Hawkins from the Foo Fighters, and God knows who else, that have put a track down, that’s usually quite simple, and you can play with them.
I love technology, I think technology is amazing, I think it makes a few wrong turns here and there, I sometimes say that technology is the new Beatles. The danger though, is that it keeps repeating itself, that you get like fifteen but very similar versions of streaming, for example. I think the great thing about technology is that it can be disruptive, it can change aspects, and I think the thing that seems to annoy me most is that it always seems to be centred on doing things that are so facile – why can’t it be about changing the world, as opposed to giving us lots of different ways of listening to crap music. Allow technology to change people’s lives, and I suppose it has, I live in a very shallow space, and there’s so much going on, you don’t know from one day to the next – something pops up that is new and exciting.
The danger is losing that sense that music is a rare commodity – it has become a commodity, that’s for sure. That is the one thing always on the tip of my tongue when I get the taxi driver bringing up that question, it’s that sense that sometimes more is less as opposed to less is more, which is what I grew up with. Everything will go through phases, there’s always a good and a bad side to everything – some great stuff will come out of it, and already has.
EP: So who do you listen to?
KG: I don’t listen to a huge amount of music, but the people that I enjoy listening to are people like Tom Waits, I’m a fan of Tom Waits. I always put on a Tom Waits record. I like people like Sinatra, I like people like the Talking Heads, who don’t really exist anymore, I like classical music, I like all sorts of things. But because I’m doing music a lot, I don’t actually bother! I like watching a good movie, or a great series like Breaking Bad, or House of Cards, something like that really gets me.
Apart from WholeWorldBand, I’ve just finished a project called Hog Fever. We call it an ear movie – essentially it’s a movie without pictures. In six parts it’s complex audio – it’s a story about a middle-aged biker who lives in England and is trying to find himself, and it stars Terence Stamp, as a shrink who is giving advice to the main character all the way through. It’s like a series of consultations that you go out from this guy’s story, and it was a great thing to do. I adapted it from the novel Hog Fever, which was written by Richard La Plante, and I directed it and did a lot of the music, and sound design for, and I’m actually in it! I play about five or six parts in it, which is something I’ve never done before – so I’m acting now!
Hog Fever is coming out very shortly, through a distribution service called Blackstone Audio, on various formats.
EP: Is Spacecake going to be on anything other than iOS?
KG: Hopefully it’s going to be on Kindle. People won’t be able to access all the sexy interactive bits. But then, it’s interesting the one thing in writing it towards the end is that I was more and more excited about the writing process than I was in all the tricky techy bits that you can go in and watch. You’ll definitely see it towards the end that the writing improves, with a bit of luck!
EP: Did you find it cathartic that you’ve got this book out of you?
KG: I wouldn’t say cathartic in a traditional way, but it was a challenge, it was kind of like, what are people going to find interesting – they’re not going to find me interesting, but maybe they’ll find the work interesting. That was kind of the starting point – work out from what I’ve done, as opposed to who I am. And it kind of works. And two other important decisions came out of that, one which was to write it as if it was a screenplay, which was my wife’s idea, and which I think works really well, and the second one was to give myself an alter-ego, that’s KG (B) so I could stop my worst excesses when they started to go out of control. The screenplay idea puts it into focus. That this is a story about this guy, who happens to be me. I just found it really helpful, I could imagine situations and put words into people’s mouths that were kind of what they said, as opposed to desperately searching for the actual quote.
EP: That’s where writing it as a screenplay helps, it makes it the adaptation of the book that is Kevin Godley’s life!
KG: YES! Spacecake is an adaptation of me! And I think it works!
EP: Thank you so much for agreeing to do this!
KG: It was a very pleasurable interview, you know your stuff!
‘Spacecake’ is available to purchase for £9.99 on iTunes and downloaded on iBooks (which can be read on any Mac iOS device), and available on Kindle soon. ‘WholeWorldBand‘ is also available from iTunes. ‘Hog Fever’ is distributed by Blackstone Audio and will be available from August 18 via Amazon.