MAR 99] THE BLACKROOM
Hi and welcome to the blackroom. My name
is Pauline Black, lead vocalist with The Selecter.
The Story So Far
SUGGS AND NEVILLE - 1979
Neville Staples has always been a colourful
character around town in Coventry; the original rude-boy. Not content with
only being the roadie for the Coventry Automatics (who later became the Specials),
he thrust himself into the limelight as an unforgettable frontman, sharing the limelight
with Terry Hall.
When things started to go sour with The Specials,
Neville, Terry Hall and Lynval Golding
left to form FunBoyThree in the mid-eighties and scored many hits, most
notably with 80s girl-group Banarama, on the memorable It
Aint What You Do single.
After FunBoyThree split, I even worked with Neville and
Lynval in the early eighties as the short-lived, Sunday Best releasing Pirates
On The Airwaves as a single.
Neville Staple, Lynval Golding,
Roddy Radiation, John Bradbury and Horace Panter
then got together with Ranking Roger of the Beat to form
Special Beat in the early 90s. They mostly toured in the States.
Two albums were released during this period; King
Of Kings with the legendary Desmond Dekker and a
live album of The Special Beat.
In 1995, Neville and the remaining members of The Specials
decided to go it alone and released Todays Specials on
Kuff Records. They incurred quite a lot of criticism from fans, because the album
contained only cover tracks dedicated to other bands.
In March 98, The Specials released Guilty
Till Proven Innocent on Waycool Records (MCA). This album contained all
original tracks, plus live versions of old songs and received better reviews than
Having just finished the long and grueling Warped Tour last year across
the US and Europe, which saw them constantly on the road from March to October 1998,
Neville is now living in Los Angeles and is producing a debut album for
his young daughter Sheena.
I caught up with him, while he was over here doing some
work on Sheenas album at Planet Studios in Coventry.
These days Neville is sporting a
blonde crop hair-do. When I arrived at his daughter Melanies house
to do the interview, he was sitting majestically in a comfy armchair showing off a fit,
well-muscled, bare chest, his hair covered with a plastic bag, while the blonde dye which
had just been freshly applied, did its work (Neville would never go out with his roots
showing!!) Even under such conditions he still managed to look cool and on the case!!!
Neville, there is a rumour going round that the Specials have split up?
A No, thats not true. Myself, Lynval and Roddy
are still doing something together as The Specials, but now Im doing a solo project,
just myself and some Californian guys. We are doing Specials material and some new
material that Ive written.
the long touring schedule last year have anything to do with this decision?
Specials had been touring from March to December last year; on our own and as part of The
Warped Tour. Im used to working constantly and being on the road, but
Lynval and Roddy needed a break and Horace got sick last year and left the band. I enjoy
touring and working, so after a while off the road, I just decided to get this band
together, because among other things, I was broke.
Q What are you calling this new band?
A Im calling it Neville Staple. It saves all the hassle.
I use my name to get the gigs and to get good money. For this year Im just going to
call it Neville Staple, maybe after a while Ill call the band a name.
Q What did you think of the Warp tour?
A I enjoyed it. If I could do it again then Id go back as
Neville Staple and do it. It lasted 8 weeks. We did America first and Europe, then we were
supposed to have gone to Australia this January, but the money wasnt right to take
all of us and we would have lost out, because you only get expenses on the Warped Tour not
proper gig money.
I hated the European part of the Warped Tour, but I enjoyed
the US part. For some reason I just cant take to European gigs. Its very
frustrating when you play your heart out and they just stand there. You then think, is it
the language barrier, but you realise it cant be that, because youll see them
mouthing the songs. We played in Germany, Spain, Italy and Holland. I like Holland, you
see all the flowers in Holland [pb: and I dont think he meant the tulips!!!!!]. The crowd in Spain
was good, because wed never played there since weve been re-formed, but the
crowd were a little bit rough.
Q How did
The Special Beat come about?
Roger of The Beat came and asked me if I wanted to do an American tour. It sounded good to
me, so we both teamed up with Horace Panter and John Bradbury and became The Special Beat.
We stayed together for five years.
Q When you
re-formed The Specials and released Todays Specials album, were you
disappointed with its reception in the media?
A That was never really conceived as a Specials album. It was my
demo material, because we needed time to write a new album and people didnt realise
this. It was a bunch of covers that I was taking round record companies to try and get a
deal with. Then in 1994, some guy at Virgin heard it and wanted to put it out on Kuff
records, which is UB40s label, and we all said okay, go ahead.
Q Were you happier with your
latest album Guilty Till Proven Innocent released last year?
A Yes. It was all original stuff, with three live tracks. It was
released on Waycool Records which is distributed through MCA. But MCA messed up the
marketing and distribution. During the Warped Tour the old Specials albums were
selling like hot cakes, because you could get two old ones for $10. MCA had the new ones
in the shops selling for $18, so the kids bought the cheapest deal. Also, MCA werent
really pushing it. That was disappointing.
Q Whats your new stuff
like as Neville Staple?
A Its rocky reggae, some Specials tracks, but our songs are
more rocky. On the last Specials album there is a track called Leave It Out,
but the Specials recorded it differently to how Ive done it with my team.
Q Do you enjoy
living in America?
A Im based in Los Angeles. I live there, but I dont
record there. All I do in LA is get the band together and rehearse. The only recording I
do is for my daughter Sheena. I do production and writing for her. So the only time I go
in a studio is for her, not for myself. I record my stuff in Coventry at Planet Studios.
We still keep that Planet connection, because thats what Ive been using for 15
Q How long can you keep it
A Fans are always asking my age and I say how old do you think I
am? They usually come up with a nice figure, so I dont care. Im not going to
say Im in my 39s, that just sounds stupid. Ill keep going till I drop.
The Specials want to do something in the
summer, maybe four weeks in America. When that finishes, then Ill just do my own
thing. Well spread it out. Basically its just for living now. Ive got to
think about surviving. I cant stop. Im constantly busy.
Sheenas got a good record deal
and that means I can keep my mind on music all the time. Shes signed to V2 and is
working with all these big writers in America, who are all young white guys with locks,
but thats cool. Steve Bray is one of them and hes written with Madonna. There
are six writers working with her plus the two of us. They want to hear whats she
like writing with other people. The first release will probably be in July or August.
With that, Neville removed the plastic bag from his head and inspected his hair in the
mirror. Satisfied with the result, he scuttled off to the bathroom for some post-hair dye
care and we said our goodbyes. He flew back to Los Angeles the following day.
Next week Ill be reviewing Endless Knots gig at the Malt
Shovel and new ska band Spunge, who played the Golden Cross last week.
Plus an interview with Roddy Radiation Byres who is currently
back in Coventry.
If you know of any bands that I should get out and see, then dont hesitate to
email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember your feedback is always appreciated.
ALSO THIS WEEK: BOILING PETER BREAD