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Simon says he's working on onew songs


By Margaret Chrystall


WHAT has changed in the 30 years of Ocean Colour Scene’s existence?

As the band comes back to Inverness – as part of a set of Scottish dates – it seems Scotland still can’t get enough of the band they fell for back in the Britpop days.

In the mid-90s OCS songs such as The Day We Caught The Train were top 10. The band was woven into the mood of the time and the soundtrack to most people’s weekend began with their Riverboat Song introducing the guests on Chris Evans’ TFI Friday.

When the band including guitarist Steve Cradock and singer Simon Fowler plays live the crowd still reacts to those hit songs, Simon reports.

“Yes and especially in Scotland.

“We must have played Glasgow Barrowlands more than any other band – about 50 times – it’s like no place on earth.

“As long as you wear waterproof clothing onstage!” he laughed.

Ocean Colour Scene with Simon Fowler (third left).
Ocean Colour Scene with Simon Fowler (third left).

They have played many times locally, from Inverness Ice Rink to Belladrum 2009 when singer Simon Fowler did his much photographed ‘tambourine ‘smile’ – echoed just a few weeks ago by Liam Gallagher at Glastonbury.

“He’s always copying my moves!” joked Simon.

But these days things are tamer before and after the show than they once were.

“We are all very well-behaved,” Simon revealed.

“There is no drinking before. Steve travels with his family, so it is different.

“It’s not the lads out on tour, to be honest, looking for ‘things to do’. So I just keep quiet and calm.

“This one will be interesting because that’s how we started off, as a four-piece – so think loud Beatles. And it’s kind of nice to change the dynamic once in a while. Last year there were seven of us.

“We make sure we stay in nice places, especially as we get older. When you are young you don’t really give a toss as long as the bar is open!”

Last November the band brought out a four-track EP, their latest release for a while, though Simon says he is working on new songs.

“The EP was just to keep our hand in. We haven’t released anything substantial for a while, but I am also trying to write at the moment and hopefully we can do an album in the near future, that’s the plan.”

Simon has spoken about how hearing American singer songwriter Neil Young for the first time persuaded him music was for him.

“I grew up with the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel and Motown and all the music on Radio 1 like everybody else did who is my age.

“But the first person who really got on my map was Neil Young.

“I was about 14 and ill at home.

“We had got hold of my cousin’s Decade album by Neil Young. It’s a compilation album which stretches from 1966 to 1976, so the key moments really for him – and I just became utterly hooked on it and it changed my life really and I thought ‘That’s what I’ll do!’.”

Later as a successful musician with OCS, Simon got the chance to meet his hero.

“Yes! Very briefly in Nottingham. I just went up to him and shook his hand and said ‘Thank you for changing my life!’ and he said ‘Thank you!’.”

Simon says it in the slightly high-pitched speaking voice of Young.

It’s a memory to treasure, though Simon referred back to the bad old days: “My memory is more smoked than an Arbroath kipper!”

And these days his vices are tamer.

“I love listening to Radio 3 when I am driving," he said before revealing his cockapoo Cooper is licking his ear while he drives. "I remember they were talking about Brexit on Radio 5, so I moved on to Radio 3 and heard the William Tell Overture by Rossini and found myself driving faster and faster – I was just bitten by the music.

“One of those songs which I wrote on the EP is called Because You’re Mine.

“I based that tune on the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony.

“I hadn’t been able to get the tune out of my head when I first heard it and thought ‘I know what I’ll do, I’m going to use that! – Tchaikovsky won’t sue!’.”

Speaking to Simon in the run-up to the choice of Boris Johnson as prime minister, Simon confessed he has his own way of dealing with current politics.

"I have come to a selfish conclusion, they can all get on with it.

"I have my little life in Warwickshire and as long as they don’t ban the English pub, I don’t give a toss.

"I’ve just come to the conclusion that I want the Prime Minister to be funny. We’ve got the clown prince of politics."

Ocean Colour Scene play the Ironworks, Inverness, supported by Yasmin Kiddle, on Tuesday, July 30.



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