Wednesday, December 10, 2008

An Interview with Chris Foreman of Madness

As Madness gear up to release the long and anxiously awaited for album, "The Liberty of Norton Folgate," the wonderful folks over at Madness Central have posted a fantastic interview with band guitarist and all around nice guy Chrissy Boy Foreman. The interview, which includes both the audio as well as the transcript (so you can read along at home!) is an astonishing 71 minutes long!

Rather than cut and past the entire interview into this post, I've selected choice excerpts and suggest that if you are interested in the entire interview that you surf over to Madness Central and have a look around yourself. I was most interested to learn more about the release date for the new album. It sounds like it may be delayed a bit longer and that it has to do with finding a record label willing to release it.

On The Specials reunion show at Bestival and Jerry Dammer's refusal to perform:
...yeah. I saw them on Youtube and it sounded like they were playing really well, but you know, he's so bizarre, Jerry, that he went to the gig (laughs). I mean what's the point? He might as well have got up onstage really, but I've told him enough times, we all have. It'd be really nice if they finally reformed so if they did I think we would definitely like to do something with them, yeah.

On keeping Madness relevant and contemporary:
Well I think, myself, it's funny. I don't really write lyrics but I think all the people who do write lyrics are writing good lyrics, you know that are quite contemporary, if you know what I mean. You know even though some of them, I mean that "Norton Folgate" song goes back to the very history of England but it kinda comes up to the present day. I mean everybody, Lee, he's really good .... don't try and distract me while I'm talking to you ... Lee's a really good lyricist and Suggs, you know, we've written some really great songs so I think we're contemporary. We're contemporary in a way because we haven't changed, if you know what I mean, we haven't tried to become a sort of dance band or you know whatever the latest thing is. I don't know what the latest thing is, there isn't really a latest thing in England that I can think of, you know, I dunno do I. Sometimes I think you remain contemporary anyway, in a way because you're just kinda ploughing on maybe doing something that sounds old-fashioned but then maybe old-fashioned comes back into fashion, if you know what I mean. It's like clothes, you know, I like sort of old style clothes because I think we always have, Madness when we were kids we used to get stuff from charity shops, you know thrift stores, like really old codger's suits, double-breasted suits that we thought were good and then every now and then, they come back into fashion and then they go out but it's kinda like good tailoring so it's always gonna be in fashion Steve. I suppose Madness is like good tailoring, we put thought into the songs, into how they sound and they are like, er what's that word, aberrations, you know where you view half of them and the terrible thing, erm, "I'm Sorry". I mean I didn't like that and I wasn't on that but that was something where I think the manager had a bit of an idea. He was trying to make Madness contemporary, now you tell me if that worked. I don't think you liked it, I know some people did like it but it was trying to make Madness something that they're not. Personally, I think that never works.

What's the secret to making Madness work?
Well if you mean ... how do we ... carry on, if we all hate each other. It's not like that, as you know I've had many a run-in with Chas, yeah, but that's it, it's not like some smouldering resentment, you know what I mean? We have it out, he and I, and at the moment I'm not on his sorta best friend list, but you know we have the occasional e-mail and sometimes they're quite, you know, okay. So you know I love everyone in the band, even Chas, he knows it and we all do. We all argue and bitch with each other, some more than others. The main sort of bitching people are me and Chas, (laughs) me and Barso or Barso and Chas, any kind of combinations of us three. Woody's kind of really sensible, he's become the elder statesman of the band in some ways, he's really funny. Bedders just stays out of it, Suggs stays out of it and then Thommo does these little weird, it's mainly e-mail crap, Thommo does these e-mails that no one understand.

What's going on with the new album - The Liberty of Norton Folgate?
We're trying to get some sort of deal to release it. We've tried various ideas and at the moment we may get some sort of financing deal in place and then release it through a third party, another label 'cos I know a lot of people go, "Why don't you just do it on Stiff?" but it's not really like that. Stiff Records doesn't exist, and neither does Zarjazz 'cos Zarjazz Records never really existed, you know, it wasn't some big office block that we owned, we did it through Virgin Records and it was a better deal for us at the time. One wants to be realistic and the music industry in England, and probably most of the world, isn't very healthy. It's not driven by emotion anymore, it's driven by business which is fair enough 'cos it should be a business but you know people say, "Oh, Madness, what was their last album, oh the Dangermen thing, that didn't do very well," and that's the way they look at it, they don't like listening to what we've done and going, "This is fantastic, let's give them millions of pounds," unless they want our souls for the rest of our lives. But it will come out and it will be really good and I just think that it's been ten years since the last one so what's another couple of years? Obviously, doing a kind of showcase for it wasn't too clever, in June or whenever it was.

For those of you who just can't wait any longer to hear what the new album will sound like, here are two 10 second short teasers shot by Chris Foreman with his ever present Flip Video of production on 'Rainbows' and 'That Close'. You may have to play them over and over to satisfy your curiosity!

Finally, here is video from Chris's Flip Video (you can see if attached to his guitar strap in the picture above) of the band performing 'On The Town' live from the Hackney shows this past June and 'My Girl' from Montreaux in September. I love the "you are there" vibe!

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