Online Archive  
Issue 12 - May 1973
Alan Hull Interview
An interview with Alan Hull in the Haymarket Hotel, Newcastle

MG: Could you tell us a little about the split with the rest of the band.

Alan Hull: It started happening about a year ago. Just before we made Dingly Dell. Everybody noticed there was a drying up of ideas, and the ideas that were coming out weren't as confident as they had been before. I was getting to the point where I didn't want to write songs for the band because I didn't feel confident the way it was going.

MG: How much was this musical and how much a personal thing.

AH: I think it was personalities within music. Y'na musical personalities, if there's such a thing. I just didn't feel I was getting a buzz out of it, and I decided to leave. I thought well, I feel more confident on my own. Then they sort of accepted that after a while that I was going to leave and they were going to get a replacement, and then Jacka decided he didn't want to stay without me. So me and him kept the name and started a new group because we didn't want Si in the group - that's basically it. Me and Jacka were sick of bloody Si.

MG: Why was that? ...

AH: Because he was unreliable on stage, really unreliable. Most nights he couldn't tune up y'na, he used to take a long time to tune up and nearly every night he used to play something different. Usually it was bad. So we decided we didn't want to play with Si anymore, that's basically it.

MG: So it was really Si that split the group up?

AH: Aye, we wanted to get rid of Si, but the others have been friends with him for about 23,000 years ...

MG: Coz they were Brethren together weren't they ...

AH: And before that, and before that, and before that, and this all came out in the open. So we wanted rid of Si and they said well ... Ray especially sort of said it's friends before music and business, and we said bollocks it's not. So they went their way and we went our way.

MG: Do you still get on well together?

AH: Yeah, we get on very well cos we're honest, eventually we got to be honest with each other y'na. We had a meeting, a group meeting, we had stacks of little group meetings and we kept on getting honester and honester. Till it eventually ended up and like that was it. It was hard to say it, it was hard to do it cos nobody likes to hurt people y'na especially when you've been through so much together. Cos Si's a great lad, sometimes he could be brilliant, but it was more times that he was bad.

MG: What happens next then?

AH: Well they've gone off to form a band and er ... I've just finished a solo album and basically the people on the album will be the new Lindisfarne.

MG: Can you tell us who's on the album?

AH: There's Kenny Craddock. He used to play up here years ago in a group called New Religion, then he went to London to form a band called Happy Magazine. I think they had a hit. Then he joined Ginger Baker's Airforce, then he joined Mark Almond and he's just split from them. He's going to make his own solo album and when he's finished that he's joining Lindisfarne.

MG: How long will that be?

AH: Within the next couple of weeks. I think within the next two weeks the line-up will be announced, but I can tell you now. There's Kenny Craddock (lead), Tommy Duffy (bass), he used to be with Bell and Arc, he used to play with the Sect up here. He sings and writes as does Kenny. And Charlie Harcort, he used to be with the Junco Partners, he's in America now but I think he's coming back over.

MG: How long before the new band hits the road?

AH: Well it won't take long to get the material together y'na. Just got all my new stuff off the solo album, we got Kenny's stuff and a couple of the old things. There'll be a stack of material. So I should imagine it'll be about, what month is it? er ... April. Is it the beginning of April, or the end er ... about the middle. Well it'll be the end of May before we hit the road.

MG: What sort of direction will the new band have?

AH: I think it'll still have the Lindisfarne thing y'na. Good vibes on stage and all that. Cos we've got Kenny in the band, who's like a class musician y'na, plays beautiful guitar, excellent pianist and a brilliant organist, he's really a very good musician y'na, very professional. So with him in the band it's gonna be a lot more musical. That's something which was lacking in the old Lindisfarne. There was no instrumentalist apart from Jacka. But we still have him together with Kenny, a good guitarist, a regular lead guitarist.

MG: There'll be a lot more variety to it?

AH: Yeah, there'll be a lot more variety.

MG: Seemed to me like it was a lot deeper.

AH: Well that's a rough mixing in all. I've been mixing it last week. Remember 'Drug Song' ... Well I've mixed that and it's frightening y'na. The tone of the voice, I've never heard anything like it before, it's like squeezing the voice, like somebody trying to strangle it to death. Sounds great.

MG: Were you satisfied with what the old Lindisfarne did, or do you think it could have gone a lot further?

AH: I think it went as far as it possibly could, that's why it finished y'na. I think that whole scene's reached its peak and it's ready for the next phase.

MG: Was the old band under excessive pressure to fulfil recording contracts and gig schedules etc?

AH: There was a lot of pressure.

MG: Did this contribute to the eventual breaking up of the band?

AH: No, I think in a sense the pressure was a good thing cos like it showed up the inadequacies of the band y'na. If we had of had it easy the band would have lasted a lot longer but it wouldn't have been so good.

MG: How's everybody managing psychologically with the split? You must be feeling a lot more pressure now.

AH: No, not really. I felt the pressures were off the moment - the day - we decided what to do and I felt really happy. But before that it was like living under a cloud. America you know. The American tour was rotten.

MG: I thought a lot of stuff on your solo album sounded like it could have come from the west coast.

AH: Aye.

MG: What happened about the Bob Johnston thing, were you not going to do your solo album with him?

AH: At the beginning I was but eventually I got more confident in the studio. I like Bob Johnston as a producer but I don't really trust him y'na.

MG: Why is that?

AH: Cos he's a professional producer, and he has his own ideas. I was beginning to form my own ideas about recording y'na. And I felt capable of doing it on my own with good musicians that I trusted and a good engineer who I trusted and that's how I did it y'na and it's worked, it's worked exceptionally well. Better than doing it with Bob Johnston and Dylan's session men y'na. Cos they can't really relate to me and I cannot relate to them. They're from Nashville and I'm from Newcastle.

MG: What do you think of the SOC'EM concert last night?

AH: Very pleased actually. I was a bit worried about it with the publicity we've been having, but it worked out fine.

MG: A lot of people there?

AH: Wey aye, great. It's nice to do something for SOC'EM.

MG: Are you going to continue doing things for SOC'EM?

AH: Right, of course. I mean you've got to haven't you.

MG: What do you think about the redevelopment in Newcastle?

AH: Well it's disgusting, tragic when they pull the Haymarket down. I'm not gonna come back to Newcastle y'na. I'll be finished with Newcastle, sorry y'na but it's the last place ... the Haymarket.

MG: Any gigs planned for the City Hall?

AH: Well what we're going to do is er ... do a few gigs out of the way first y'na, like the West Country. And then work our way up the country and if we're alright then we'll do the City Hall and then maybe a big gig in London. And then we're booked to go to Australia in August and when we come back we're going to do a big British tour and do like three nights at the City Hall y'na.

MG: When will the new band be recording?

AH: As soon as possible, as soon as we get organised. I think my solo album's gonna bridge the gap in any case. And we're bringing out a single from it.

MG: Could you tell us more about your book that's been published?

AH: Well I used to pretend to myself I was a poet y'see, like a lot of other people ...

MG: Do you not think yourself that they're any good?

AH: Er ... I don't know y'na. Some people might dig them.

MG: Are you doing much writing these days?

AH: Aye, I am. I've had a lot of time lately.

MG: How much dope did Lindisfarne use. Or was it mostly booze?

AH: It was a lot of both, a hell of a lot of both. We used to like smoke all the time when we were on the road.

MG: Did that have anything to do with you not being able to tune up on stage?

AH: No it usually helps you y'na. You go crazy after you've been on stage, but if you just get cool before you go on, those things help and you can hear more clearly and tell the difference between resonances and frequencies.

MG: What do you think of all this stuff that's been stirred up about getting dope legalised?

AH: I think it's good. Well I haven't really thought much about it, cos like it's never been that much of a problem for people like us to get hold of the stuff. Not really concerned whether it's legal or not legal.

MG: Have you ever been busted?

AH: No, but that's the only bad thing. If you should like send a person to prison or fine him for having a little bit of happiness in his pocket. It's ridiculous y'na. There's a lot of silly things in the legal aspects of this country, that's one of the silliest y'na. As long as you keep your nose clean.

MG: Are you going to be working as hard with the new band as you did with the old Lindisfarne? This must have been a contributing aspect of the band breaking up?

AH: No, actually that was a contributing aspect of the band making it. That was like 1971 when we first started, when 'Nicely out of Tune' came out. Like we were really fucked around the country, really played, really took the music to the people. That was one of the reasons 'Fog on the Tyne' was instantly successful. Because we had a big audience but we worked hard to get them.

MG: Do you think it's essential to have a drummer in your band?

AH: Oh yeah, well it's good rock music we're doing now. That's the essential difference between the old and the new Lindisfarne, it's more musical, well it has to be, there's more musicians in the group.

MG: Will the new Lindisfarne differ from the old band's image of a clap-along singalong chorus group?

AH: Oh it'll still have that. To me that's the essence of good music, it's simplicity y'na. The best way to communicate is to be simple. The Beatles were very simple y'na, so was Dylan in a sense that he was direct. The only kind of music I like that's not direct is people like Frank Zappa. Cos like you can sit down and disappear into Frank Zappa's music, it's a different form of communication, it's a higher form of communication.

MG: Do you ever feel like splitting the scene like Cohen's doing now?

AH: No, not yet. Cohen's about 57 man or 157 and he didn't start till he was about 83. But in this kind of business it's really good y'na, like you can take little rests, about three months, and get your head together again. Right now I feel good, I'm ready to play anywhere, anytime.


Berenice is very nice
Of that there is no doubt.
But she has been naughty once or twice,
Or thrice, or thereabout.

For instance take last Friday,
When Terry came to tea.
She snatched his sandwich from him
Saying, 'This sandwich is for me'.

'I want some lemon jelly
And a chunk of chocolate cake,
I want as much as my belly
Is big enough to take.'

'Least, that's what she would have said
If only she could have spoke.
But of course, she's only one year old
And this poem is just a joke.

Berenice is very nice
Of that there is no doubt.

Alan Hull