Lol Creme's interview for Uncut Magazine
Thanks to Kit Aiken for providing me with the unedited text of this interview which appeared in the March 1988 issue.
You'd left an internationally successful band. Were you aware of commercial and artistic pressure to really pull something extraordinary out of the bag with Consequences?
LOL: I don't remember it like that. The pressure was in leaving the group to do it, not on what the finished thing would be. It was really, really hard for Eric and Graham and we knew that, but, you know, we had other things to do. We had loads of bravado and confidence in those days because we'd left a band that was so successful. We sealed ourselves completely from outside pressures of any sort. We entrenched ourselves in the studios and indulged ourselves completely, had a marvellous time. The pressure came when the record company decided it was going to be a coffee-table boxed set which had to commercially compete with the punk thing.
How do you remember it developing into the gargantuan project it became?
LOL: It started as a track that we were doing in our spare time and the trouble was, it brought so many latent ideas to the fore, it became very frustrating and almost impossible to think about writing hippy-happy little songs for the band because we could make all these noises without hiring an orchestra. I was always interested in composition, orchestration. I used to say to my Dad, I want an orchestra for Christmas. And here was one in the palm of our hands. And once we started, it grew like some festering disease, unstoppable.
It was painstakingly recorded.
LOL: Very slow, and do you know I'm doing exactly the same thing today, exactly the same process, it just takes moments these days. We're doing all the same, daft things you'd like to try with sound. More than just song and performance, using the instrument of the studio to help make more music, to help develop ideas, sonically. In those days, it was like the steam period. We were loop crazy, there's a huge wardrobe flightcase chock-a-block with quarter-inch tape loops we created for 'Consequences' with these crazy names that represent what we thought it sounded like. 'Roman Legion In The Bullrushes'. We used them all. In those days, the simple act of editing was a major thing. I remember laying out the tape on the floor, chopping it up with a razor blade and sticking it back together in any order we felt like. The two-inch looked like a huge zebra crossing of recording and scotch tape. Play it back, see what you've got, develop it from there. Now it's three clicks on the mouse. But the painstaking bit was fun, it was delight, building these noises. Cost a fortune. (laughs)
Was there any time when you asked yourselves What Are We Doing?
LOL: No, we knew exactly what we were doing and we went for it from day one. We got tremendous support from our families, our wives. One of my reasons for leaving the group was to spend more time with my young family. Ironically, we then spent eighteen months away from home doing this bloody album. I just recall the excitement, playing people the nonsense we'd got up to the night before, discovering the Wind noise...
What are your memories of working with Peter Cook?
LOL: It was a total privilege, a gas. A wild time, a wonderfully, wonderfully creative, fun time working with Pete. He was living with us at The Manor studios. He moved in, lock, stock and barrel for three months. And he wrote it, recorded it that night, next day wrote more. It was fabulous, very intense.
Why was the decision taken to involve dialogue?
LOL: We'd done the first record but there were a couple of musical things we hadn't achieved; atmospheres, heightened drama. We approached a couple of different writers of different kinds, I don't remember who suggested Peter Cook, it might have been our manager, Harvey Lisberg. He had approached Jack Rosenthal but somehow we met with Peter and, well, we adored him, he's terrific. I think we might have shown him imagery as well. Obviously, it became a witty thing, and ultimately a stupid thing. He had to write and develop the characters himself and it just became that long. We didn't know how it would end up, a double, a triple. I think the record company was praying it would stop eventually. The length occurred naturally, organically. Also the notion appeared, and I can't remember whether this happened at the beginning or through Peter, that Blint was going to play some kind of piano concerto involving an extensive arrangement with the Gizmo and the piano. Of course, neither of us could play the piano, so there was that challenge, using recording techniques to help it sound like I was playing a piano. I dropped in every other note. (laughs)
And Sarah Vaughan...
LOL: We said to the record company we'd love to have a fabulous singer on one of these songs. They tried to get Ella Fitzgerald who was in the country but wasn't well. They said Sarah Vaughan's here and it's Wow, Man. They asked her and she agreed to do it.
Wasn't there talk of a stage show?
LOL: In the first blast of recording we invited the guy that ran the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and locked him in the room. We used to lock people in the room and put it on at full volume, some of them came out screaming, it scared them.
What were your feelings when it became clear that the industry were going to be puzzled, the media generally hostile and the public indifferent?
LOL: Kevin was heartbroken, I don't think he's got over it yet. He was really, really upset about the way it was received, like a big turkey, really. I didn't take it the way Kevin did, to be honest, because I loved doing it so much and I learned so much, got so much out of it, a totally selfish thing, I didn't give a shit, I really didn't. And I never have, to me it's the doing of something that's the vibe, it's not necessarily the result. It's always a bonus if what you do does well, but it's not that precious, you know. I've always thought like that. And I could see why it was laughed at, it does look like a pretentious pile of old stuff. We were self-indulgent pop stars, there's no question about it.
The way history works, it was inevitable that something as ambitious as Consequences would be re-assessed at some point. What do you think of the record itself, twenty years after the event?
LOL: I didn't realise anyone was interested. Although only last week someone sent me a computer video that he'd done to The Flood! Very interesting, I can't tell you how different it is to what I had in my mind as imagery to The Flood. I'd still love to do imagery to The Flood, I might well do that. I haven't listened to it in twenty years. I've heard a couple of brief snatches. I remember it as a delight. It was one of the most satisfying, fulfilling things for a person to do. Just an amazing experience. Solid projects like 'Consequences' and the feature film I did in Jamaica stand out as major things in my life.
In retrospect, would you have done anything differently?
LOL: No, never crossed my mind.
Are you aware of Mr Blint's Attic, the Consequences website?
LOL: No. Oh my God. Fantastic. How do I get to it?
Whatever happened to Godley And Creme?
LOL: What happened was in '89, certainly in '88, maybe before, Kevin changed, I think his priorities in life changed. He'd had enough, he'd simply had enough of me and the way we worked, the things we did, the priorities we had. And the fact that we were a priority, for example. Our working relationship dominated our...lives, you know. It was time for a shift in all that and he was obviously right. When I see him, which is not regularly, but I do see him occasionally, he seems well. I thinks he wants to be lazy and just hang. And God bless him, you know.
Are you not bothered that 'Consequences' hasn't been given a CD release?
LOL: No, I was never bothered about it. That side of it was never important, the important thing is to have been involved in doing the bloody thing that's the only that matters. It never occurred to me. I'm just thrilled I got to do it. Who else gets to hang out and do this shit? I'm amazed at what I've been allowed to get away with. I've had a blessed life.
Finally, when (if) you think about Consequences, do you ever have any ideas, (however fleeting) for revisiting the project visually (animation? long form video?), given your current occupation?
LOL: No, not really. We played The Flood not long ago and it sounded terrific, I loved it, I loved the vibe. And I thought it would make fabulous pictures. But I've never thought of getting down and doing it...