by Margaret Chrystall
LAST weekend John Power was on TV in the small hours of Sunday morning, as The La’s 1988 hit There She Goes rocked up in one of those post-pub, wee small hours, music clips shows.
Years later, the band’s bassist Power confessed that he had indeed used the last word ever sung on the final La’s album — "The change is cast" – to name his next band Cast.
Cast hit singles jostled for position on the band’s debut album All Change — Finetime, Walkaway, Alright, Sandstorm — two of them top 10, as seven Cast songs were before the band first imploded in 2001.
Since, there has been a busy solo career, the odd Cast reunion, even another album in 2012.
But in December — now with an extra date in February due to demand — the 20th anniversary of their first album All Change is to be celebrated with special concerts played by the band and the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in Liverpool.
And in the run up to that, there’s a tour bringing Cast back together — well, almost. Bassist Pete Wilkinson is taking time out and being replaced by former La’s man Ged Malley.
John said: "I think the whole idea was to make a concerted effort to get the band together and hang out as a band and to do what we do best which is play and reach out to all the places that we haven’t been for a long long time.
"Some of the gigs we are doing on this tour are places you tend to bypass when you do the Academy tours.
"So it’s all about reconnecting with the fans and all the people who like our music in general."
There’s even word of an album?
"Yes, we’re also recording an album this year to have out for early March. So it’s all busy, busy now."
There has already been one song to come from an exploratory recording sessin John had with Cast lead guitarist Liam "Skin" Tyson.
"Baby Blue Eyes was the first thing me and Skin did back in the studio in December just to see. So that led us to think ‘Let’s try and do an album this year’.
"But we already do Baby Blue Eyes live because it’s got a great chorus."
John confirmed Jed would also be joining the tour.
"He was with me on the solo stuff and as a guitarist he played in The Las when we reformed in 2005. He’s played in a lot of my solo bands and he’s playing bass for us this year while Peter sorts himself out a bit."
So what’s it like to have a philharmonic orchestra playing your songs?
"We’re looking forward to it because it should be a great experience for all involved really because for the band as much as being a diffrent kind of interpretation of the music, it will be like a wave of sound washing over you."
John’s got a relaxed approach to the project.
"We’ll probably meet up and rehearse on the day because the orchestra will be reading sheet music. The conductor will be keeping an eye on me singing and we will be keeping an eye on him. I haven’t really thought about it too much because that’s the way I kind of play music anyway," laughd John.
"I will go with it and hopefully it will go with me. And between the two of us — and the rest of the band — we’ll all get washed away in the same tide.
"I haven’t really thought about it too much because that’s the way I kind of play music anyway. It will be interesting and exciting I’m sure."
It’s been great for John to find out that there is still a healthy audience out there for Cast on the current tour gigs.
He explained: "They’ve been pretty much sold out on the night we turn up and we’re getting great reactions.
"It takes me right back really, we did this sort of tour just before Prime Time was coming out — we were just on the road all the time.
"It matters to us and it matters to the people who are fans of the band in all these different places. And somewhere along the line the dots all join up.
"We’re not trying to replicate or return to the heady days of 20 years ago, but it’s great for the band to still be relevant to our fans and relevant to ourselves.
"Also 20 years down the line, those songs are very much, they still mean quite a lot to people —including ourselves.
"I’ve rediscovered them in a way too because I put them down for a good few years.
"I didn’t play any Cast stuff when I was doing my solo albums.
"I’d had enough of everything really and went away and got into more folky, rootsy stuff.
"But now the band are playing.
"And, it’s actually a cliche, but we’re actually playing better than we ever did. I’m singing and playing my guitar better — and everyone is!
"I think it is the sort of journey musicians are meant to go on really. You get into a better place and you kind of get more at ease with yourself and more aware of the moment and the present inside and that is where it’s all coming from.
"So I’m having a great time.
"If I knew then what I know now, then I would have enjoyed it a lot more — ironically!
"But I wouldn’t have been able to tell my youthful self that anyway, I probably wouldn’t have listened to anyone at that time!"
For John, he is the difference between his life then and now.
"I suppose because I’m in the middle of writing stuff now, I do think back to that time of intensity - and there was a deep intensity when I was writing at that stage in my career.
"Now I’m looking back with the knowledge of having that success, but then I couldn’t find many people who knew of myself or knew of the band, apart from some La’s fans - and it was all to prove.
"You would have that sort of incessant, not madness, but focus — you’d spend 20 hours, all day and every day, just mulling over and crafting the songs.
"I don’t think I’d have the mental capacity to do that now," John laughed. "Or the time in the present to throw myself at that. But I do spend a couple of hours at least every day when I can immerse myself in that sort of mindset.
"I’ll probably have a couple of hours just now before I have to go and pick up my daughter and put the dinner on, you know what I mean?
"I enjoy that too and ironically it’s a great place to be living in, the present. When I was younger, I was living for a future that hadn’t been formed or been crafted.
"I had a great time — well, it wasn’t that great actually — it was hard work and there were a lot of sleepless nights as well.
"Your values were different to what they are now.
"But I still fall to my knees in the presence of great music, I still am in awe of it all.
"I’m still trying to seek and find what it is and where it is I’m going and that connection to everyone else.
"I do it in a bit more of a knowledgeable way, now, without sounding condescending.
"That’s the way it’s meant to be, you start growing up a little bit whilst always trying to look beyond the curve."
John’s solo work which was in play from the making of Cast’s last album Beetroot has now come out in a massive box set.
At the time, John was determined that Cast's next album which became Beetroot, would sound fresh. But the rest of the band finally saw it as "a bone of contention". Later, John speculated it should have been a solo album.
"Now that all my solo stuff is presented in a box set, it is a body of work and it can be looked at as that," he revealed, as if it had been a bit of a surprise to himself tooto see wht it amounted to.
Though this is the year of All Change, John promises much more for Saturday’s Inverness gig.
John said: "We’ll not just be playing from the All Change album, we’ll be playing a selection of all Cast’s albums such as songs off Troubled Times.
"It’s a bit of a journey, but everyone will get what they want from it with all the hits!"
Cast play the Ironworks, Inverness, on Saturday.