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Lee Griffiths
 
BBC 6 Music
BBC 6 Music interview
Lee in conversation with Tom Robinson

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 year.
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 rubbish.

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 Northern Songs.
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 ages...
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...

Click to read more about Ian Grimble's work.


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 well.
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 Blue.
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, come down.

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 out live...

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 guitar. Amazing.

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.
Absolutely.

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 encore-slot.

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 aren't you.
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 Cat Music website
With thanks to the Blue cat webmaster

 
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