BBC 6 Music interview
Lee in conversation with Tom Robinson
read more about Ian Grimble's work.
Before the interview came on, Tom told listeners they could download
Lee's album from his website: lee-griffiths.com (transcribed
by the bluecat webmaster, forgive any mistakes)
Big pleasure to welcome my good friend and all round good bloke, excellent
songwriter, fine singer, Mancunican near-do-well, Mr Lee Griffiths, hello Lee.
Alright Tom, how are ya mate.
Very good, lovely to have you back on the programme.
It's fantastic to be here mate.
Now the listeners have been emailing in, we have one from Steve Mundy here
saying I just found out you've got Lee on the show tonight. If you're going to
talk to him as well as asking him to play, ask him about Jockstock earlier this
Jockstock - it was a bit of a strange gig shall we say. I was asked to do it
so me and the guy who plays guitar with me, called Colin, he came down and we
travelled down and we went down to what can only be described as a park, it was
like a park tucked away with all these wooden huts. So we goes down there and
we meets everybody, we felt like we were in the middle of some sort of cult,
it was a bit strange. And we were due to go on but they put us on last, which
was a bit of a bad thing to do, because by the time we got there, the hall was
sort of pretty much half empty.
They say they're going to put you on the headline slot...
It's the graveyard.
Honestly mate I'd rather go at the beginning because by the time you go on there's
just a dog, eating a pie, on his own, sat there looking at yer.
Well that's why we had you on at 8 O'clock on this programme rather than right
at the end you see because all the listeners have turned off by the time... what's
the first track you've got for us?
It's the request...
If you've got time, will you ask Lee to play Would It Help Me?
Yeah, that's the one I'm going to start with, I wasn't going to but I will do...
Just for Steve Mundy. Ok, all yours...
(Lee plays "Would It Help Me ")
Performed for you absolutely live on the air by Lee Griffiths - that's
Would It Help Me. Sounding in fine voice, Lee?
I don't know about that Tom, a bit of a late night wunnit? Tom had a bit of a
party and er... it was a bit of a late one, so if I sound like Barry White...
Your friendly radio presenter is to blame.
You're in no danger of that. Now the first the world actually heard of you
on a mass media scale was when Trevor Horn signed you to ZTT Records and produced
He did indeed. Yeah (laughs)
Is it true you were discovered by Paul Morley?
Sort of... I was first off discovered... I was doing a 20 minute warm up gig
in Manchester - I've been doing it for quite a while, you know. I was doing a
gig, I was sat on the stool, and as I was playing, the manager of another band
came along, and as I was playing (Lee's indignant) stuck a poster for
his band on MY monitor speaker infront of me. Now most people would probably
just carry on and "the show must go on" and all that. I put me guitar down, stood
up at the head of the stage, and basically offered him out for a fight - I was
gonna knock him out, I was so angry, that anyone could be that rude, you know
what I mean? It wasn't an act, I wanted to kill him. And there was an A & R scout
from ZTT in the room, Ron Atkinson and he asked me for a demo. I'd been asked
for so many demos over a period of time that by this point it was like yeah,
here we go. I thought nothing else of it. He went away, gave it to Paul Morley
who heard it, Paul really liked it and then they played it to Trevor. The next
thing is, Trevor Horn's on the phone; "Hi man".
How long did it take to make an album with Trevor Horn? It's supposed to take
Tom, Tom, honest to god, I am sure that they'll discover life on mars quicker
than it took to record an album with Trevor Horn. I obviously can't say anything
because of libel but it took a while.
So then, the album Northern Songs was the result.
It was indeed yeah.
And then you and Trevor parted company.
Yes, we parted company.
And you started making your second album, Armchair Anarchy.
I did indeed. Well I'd started writing songs long before that. But I'd decided
at this point I'll keep them in my little bag of tricks for the next album kind
of thing. And I had a backlog of songs, it was a big relief to get them recorded.
Another company called Grand Union, they heard them, and a guy called Ian Grimble
who's a producer, he did the Manics (he assisted Mike Hedges with the recording
of Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth) and Travis and stuff like that,
he heard them and wanted to produce the album. So er...
You've got a taste in big name producers then?
Well I'm namedropping here Tom (tongue-in-cheek) I'm just subtly name-dropping,
trying to big myself up.
Now, while we're waiting for that album to come out, meantime, Adelphi Records
fires up a new label based out of Salford University and sign you onto that as
Yeah well, a friend of mine who played in a band when I was touring, he heard
that they wanted to find a name to carry it, a big name - me - big name (he
sounds incredulous like he couldn't quite believe it) I suppose in Manchester...
in our house I'm a big name (he also sounds un-nervingly like Noel Gallagher
with the softly spoken aura of James Dean Bradfield, so you feel like you know
him already, although I've been told he loves to rant but that's not advisable
on the radio...) They asked if they could use a track to put on this album
so I said yes, not a problem, so they put Golden Rule which you yourself have
been playing actually I think.
Yeah we played it on this programme. It was you, a Boy Called Doris and Nephew
on Specimen 1, the first EP from them.
Yeah, it was a good quality release that.
Now you've got another one coming out this week. Blue Cat Records Out Of The
That's right, yeah; Tom Hingley from The Inspiral Carpets and Haven and a load
of other people were all asked to donate a track for this compilation album,
so I donated a song called Shoes - a demo of mine. And that's out tomorrow, no
it's not, it's out on Wednesday (he laughs)
'Cos the Launch Party's on Wednesday.
That's right. I'm doing a gig at the Night N Day Cafe on Oldham Street in Manchester
to promote it, on Wednesday night, so if anyone's listening who's in Manchester,
The album's called Out Of The Blue on Blue Cat Records. OK we'll give you
a little break just so you can get in tune for another song, not that that one
was out of tune you understand Lee.
I'll find that out on the playback. This is live, this actually was going
You've chosen John Martyn. Why John Martyn?
'Cos John Martyn's just an absolute hero of mine. I've supported him at The Mean
Fiddler about 2 years ago. I walked in and he was sat there on the stage (Lee
gets excited) Man, that guy has presence y'know. He was just sat on this
chair, and I've met lots of people but when he walked in, y'know, all me cool
just disappeared. I'm just sat there infront of him like that, gibbering. He
didn't fail to impress. He just played (he mentions a song) on acoustic
OK, we're gonna hear Head & Heart... The pierless John Martyn on BBC 6 Music,
Head & Heart chosen by my guest this evening on the evening sequence, Lee Griffiths (webmaster:
I actually thought this was Lee at first he sounds so much like him)
Quality. Quality. Absolute quality.
And what a career span as well.
Absolutely. He's just lost his leg like you were saying a minute ago. There was
a documentary on him on the BBC. He's got an acoustic guitar so he should have
sandals and slippers - we're all morbid, us acoustic guitar players as we all
know. But he just doesn't care!! He's got one leg, and he doesn't care.
I remember a story from early in the 70's, he went on tour in America, with
Free, and Island Records thought it'd be very cheap with this British band they're
trying to send over there and break in America, to just take a one man acoustic
support slot. And Paul Rogers, a tough Middlesborough lad used to try and take
the piss out of him.
No chance (Tom agrees)
First gig, John Martyn breaks a vintage Gibson over his head on stage.
That was the end of that.
He was quality John Martyn. Have you ever seen any of the earlier footage? 'Cos
he's the guy that inspired... because when I started everyone was singing like
Ian Brown - you had to fit into this stereotype. So I was doing it, singing in
that kind of vein like everyone else was (if you've ever heard Lee sing then
you'll be horrified he ever tried to do that to his voice) and then I was
introduced to John Martyn and watching my language and that, but he was a big
hairy-arsed Scotch geezer who had this voice man, and he didn't care, he didn't
care but he just used his voice and after that that was it, I thought yeah.
I have to tell you that I first discovered Lee Griffiths in much the same
kind of way doing a gig at the Mean Fiddler and just sitting up in the dressing
room and I hear this voice coming up from the hall and I go down... what's that?
Is that a record, is it Marvin Gaye, what is it? I go down and there's this mouthy
Mancunian sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar just really giving it some.
You were cool that night though man. That night you gave me your... you were
on last, the place was rammed to the brim, and you came down and gave me your
Well the thing was, you were playing to 3 people and a dog at the beginning
of the night and those 3 people were drinking and talking and weren't listening.
So I just thought at the end, you know, everybody had missed it. And you came
out, you stormed it. They loved it.
It was amazing.
They thought it was great. Anyway Lee, you're gonna give us another track
I am indeed, this is one of my favourites. It's another one of them acoustic
guitar type numbers, it's called Meet Me Halfway. I like this tune A LOT. I did
write it myself, modest that I am.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Lee Griffiths on BBC 6 Music...
(Lee plays "Meet Me Halfway")
BBC 6 Music, Lee Griffiths playing live on air for you. Lee, we can see
you this Wednesday at the Night N Day Cafe in Manchester playing... Can yer? ...
a headline gig...
Headline gig and then I've got a couple more coming up but I'm a completely disorganised
individual Tom, as you well know yourself (laughs) and I'm crap at plugging myself.
Well I'll plug for you. The website is at lee-griffiths.com and people can
email you from there and simply ask you, Lee, where are you playing next? And
you can email them back and tell them.
You can, on lee-griffiths.com
It's as simple as that. And people can also join your uniquely named email
group at the yahoo groups dot com.
Do you want me to say it for you so that you don't get sacked?
No, I'll say it. It's called Gobshites -
I can't imagine why.
An apt title there eh, Mr Robinson.
Acid Jazz are including you in January on a new compilation.
They are indeed, yeah.
The Re-invention Of Folk.
The re-invention of folk, that's me all over that, innit?
It certainly is. And that's while we're waiting for your second album Armchair
Anarchy to come out and the record companies to get themselves together.
Yeah, hopefully very soon. Legal nonsense man. Any advice to aspiring young bands
- don't bother (They both laugh)
Lee Griffiths it's a real pleasure thankyou so much for coming in.
Always a pleasure Mr Robinson.
from the Blue
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