Interview with Dick Taylor (The Pretty Things)

Posted: November 27, 2012 in Long Gone Loser Interview
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Having formed in 1963, England’s The Pretty Things are finally making their first ever trip to Australia for a string of shows giving fans the chance to see the band that have been dubbed a raunchier version of their fellow cohorts, the Rolling Stones. Having been a Stone himself as the band’s original bass player, Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor found time to chat with me about their upcoming tour and to lay to rest some of the outlandish rumours surrounding the band’s notorious New Zealand tour of 1965. Taylor is on the end of the phone and sounds in good spirits, all the while suffering through the sniffles, as he settles in for his first trip to the land of Oz…

I’ve never been to Australia although strangely enough my wife was born there. I have looked at it on Google Earth a few times though. I’m really looking forward to getting there because I know that there’s a good music scene there. John Stax, our first bass player, actually lives in Menzies Creek, there in Melbourne. I speak to him quite often and he discovered he had a copy of a demo we made a long time ago and he actually put it out through an Australian company. They made a single out of it about 10 years ago.

That seems to be about the closest we ever got to The Pretty Things in Australia… which is strange because besides Poison’s shows there in 2008, I can’t think of another band who would play New Zealand and not take the 3 hour flight across the water and play Australia…

Yeah we went to New Zealand but never quite made it to Australia.

Was there any particular reason why you didn’t continue on to Australia?

At the time, I don’t think it was ever intended to go on to Australia because we had been contracted to do the New Zealand tour… which was a really odd combination because there was us, Eden Kane and Sandie Shaw; a really odd collection of people to be together. Then we got told never to darken their shores again. (laughs) There was really quite ridiculous publicity surrounding the tour. There were a lot of people who really enjoyed it but in the papers we were supposedly drinking meth before we went on stage and attempting to set fire to things and bullshit like that. Also, we did so much touring in mainland Europe that the idea of going all the way to Australia again to get into trouble… we just never did it. There was no sinister reason why we didn’t go to Australia, it just didn’t happen.

So what about the rumours of you guys being banned from New Zealand because you’re going back there…?

We never really got an official ban. There was never a piece of paper issued to us: “Do not ever come back!” but apparently it was said in the parliament “they will never be allowed here again” so we shall find out in December because we’ve got one gig. We’re doing a day trip to New Zealand in the middle of the Australian tour to play Auckland as long as a) they give us visas, and b) they don’t say “right, you lot… back on the plane!” but we will find out, won’t we?!

It makes for great stories…

It would almost be worth it for the publicity value if we’re actually not allowed in.

Some people would say that The Pretty Things were more raunchier and more chaotic than the Rolling Stones… would you agree with that?

Yeah… definitely. When we first started we were certainly noisier than the Stones were and at that time the Stones were really good but, in a way, I think they were more restrained than we were in their music. In the beginning they were still trying to do the authentic rhythm and blues thing to a certain degree. Brian really wanted to play the blues and Ian Stewart on the piano was pretty much a blues man whereas we were playing all the art school dances and wanted to play music to people who wanted to throw themselves about, have a good time and dance to it. So in a way we possibly were more loud and raunchy maybe. I dunno, it’s not a contest anyway, it’s just music, isn’t it?

Speaking of the music, after such a lengthy career, is there any particular Pretty Things song or songs that hold some particular place for you more than others?

Ooooh… Um, one doesn’t leap out (laughs). Well it’d have to be Baron Saturday cos I sing the bloody thing. (laughs) Yeah, I like Baron Saturday.

Having been through a lengthy career and seeing technology change, do you find it easier to write and make records now than before?

Our producer, Mark St John is possibly the most… I’ll use the word ‘luddite’ because it’s the only one that fits… he is very much into analog and recording like that where possible. We’ve progressed in the sense that we occasionally use radar – It’s a digital recorder that is very close to being analog in the way it works. We try to use, as much as possible, analog techniques in the studio because it sounds better. We sometimes do write in the studio when one of us will bring a song along. Everyone chips in ideas and collaborates. Is it easier? No cos when you’re young you’re bubbling up with ideas all the while to write songs but I think when you get older it may be that you have to drag them out of yourselves a bit more. It’s just the way people are really. We now have a very young rhythm section and they’re full of beans and enthusiasm which is great and they also encourage us to get back in the studio and do recordings.

And all this enthusiasm we can only hope transports itself from the studio to the stage…

I hope we don’t disappoint. We just got back from Germany and we had full houses everywhere and very enthusiastic audiences so hopefully, the same thing will apply to Australia.

Now folks, this could possibly be the last time you see these cats in action so don’t miss what is sure to be one of the wildest rock n roll shows of 2012. The Pretty Things will be rockin’ at the following venues in December:

Tuesday 4th – The Corner Hotel, Richmond
Tickets only $49 + bf available from www.metropolistouring.com and www.cornerhotel.com.au

 

Wednesday 5th – Lizotte’s, Dee Why
Tickets $110 Main meal and show $110.00, Show only with bar menu available $68.00
available from www.metropolistouring.com and www.sydney.lizottes.com.au/live/index.asp

Friday 7th – The Factory Theatre, Marrickville
Tickets $49 + bf available from www.metropolistouring.com and www.factorytheatre.com.au

Thursday 13th – Caravan Club, Oakleigh
Tickets $55 + bf standing & $69 + bf seated available from www.caravanmusic.com.au

Friday 14th – Caravan Club, Oakleigh
Tickets $55 + bf standing & $69 + bf seated available from www.caravanmusic.com.au

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