Interview with Loz Hardy

In October of 2000, I interviewed Loz Hardy for The interview was conducted via email and this is the raw Q & A for that interview. Many of the answers didn’t make it into the interview because of length. It’s a very good insight into what the band went through, and more specifically, what Loz went through.

1. The last Kingmaker album wasn’t distributed in the states and you seemed to just one day not exist as a band. What happened to Kingmaker?

The ‘what happened to Kingmaker’ has two main sides to it. One is professional the other personal. Professionally I trace it back to the nightmare experience we had with the second album. The first album was on the whole peachy and left us feeling confident and ready to take on the oyster of a world. We recorded album no. 2 and had it all finished and were pretty pleased with it and it felt good releasing Armchair Anarchist, bitchin’ single with two bitchin’ b-sides. Record co were a bit reticent but couldn’t say anything coz we hadn’t put a foot, nay, a toe wrong up until this point. Then week of release it got to number 49 or 47 or around there and they called an emergency meeting and informed us they were unwilling to release the album without a top forty single preceeding it so they insisted we recorded some new songs. They became fuckheads over night and took the opportunity to do some things they had wanted to do from the start, let me explain, from the start we had independent radio promoters and press and they hated it coz it cost them money and they had pluggers and press in house but they were shit so we kept ours on until that incident. It was at times like that we discovered what unmitigated wankers the suits could be and also how they will make your life hell in an instant coz they got the dough. The fragile egos that run these institutions have to be experienced to be believed and their scheming makes Machiavelli look like the Milky Bar kid. Anyway, I digress, so we recorded some new songs and decided on Ten Years Asleep as the new single when they announced they were gonna format all singles. I dunno if you have that over state-side but it basically means there would be different b-sides on the 12 inch(2), cassette(1), CD 1 and CD 2 (3 on each). So if the album has say 13 songs on it and with three singles that means you gonna need 40 songs. 40 fucking songs! So the work load is near impossible and plus the fans get ripped left, right and centre to boot. What was also happening was that you did songs for the album and then b-sides but really fucking excellent songs were ending up tucked away third song on CD 2 and no-one heard them. By the time we got to our last album we decided that we wanted to all 40 songs up front and pick the best for the album but this meant we needed to take a long time out to write and record. A year and a half it took us. In that time Brit pop really happened and blew us out of the water. By the time we got to releasing In The Best Possible Taste we knew we were well past our sell-by date and I didn’t want to keep playing and playing scaling down to smaller and smaller clubs, I found it a depressing notion.

On a personal level, for the three months leading up to the Best Possible album tour I had elected to co-manage the band as one of our managers had legged it this meant going to all those friggin’ meetings and dealing with the suited scum face to face. What was i thinking? It was getting to the point where it was getting to me and i woke up day after day deeply depressed. It didn’t go away and in the end i said to myself that if i really was that unhappy then i shouldn’t just stick for the money coz we weren’t particularly rolling in it and this shit is really needs 110%. So the day after the last tour date i went in and announced to the MD and a few others that i wasn’t willing to go on. They wanted to keep me on as a solo but i said,’no, you are hard of hearing, i said i never want to work with you lot ever again, you have systematically killed my deepest love of music that i have been nurturing since the age of six and i hate you for it.’ They said,’ahhhh, you’re tired, we’ll ring you next week and you can maybe do some demos….’ I left the building and relief i experienced was so powerful and emotional i was ready to fly, I tells ya’, the thought of never having to deal with those brains-not-fit-for-dog-food was deeply liberating I felt like a space shuttle pilot who’d just passed his driving test.

2. What’s happened since?

For a year after that i went into hiding. I had two grand in my pocket so i hightailed it down to London and just hid until my recording contract had officially expired. I didn’t particularly know it but i was having a breakdownus nervosus, deeply depressed and never wanting to touch the guitar again. It took afair while but then music started to take hold of my life once again. I started hearing music differently and was making low key soundtrack stuff and slowly began building up a sound. It was then Justine offered me a place to live and i moved in and we started writing together and i was doing my own stuff as well. Some music I’ve found a home for on pornographic film soundtracks under the marvellous name ‘Strappadictomy’ and other stuff i have kept back for myself and am putting shit together as we speak. I joined a Samba band and have not decided the full shape of things to come but i’ll keep it low key for the time being and just try and avoid all the wank that killed it for me before. Wish me luck.

3. Was Kingmaker’s break-up hard? What regrets do you have about the Kingmaker period of your life?

The break up was hard and it wasn’t. Thing is, when you’re in a band you just think you’re gonna be like the Stones and be going until fifty but the record company and press were being such major fuckers that the fact my boyhood dream was being shot down in flames paled in comparison. Once i was used to that the decision was easy because i’d had three months of bleak mornings and sleepless nights that it became untenable. I know we made some big mistakes but have no regrets and am proud of what i did. At nineteen i had signed a record deal and just wanted to make my life exciting and get out of the dreamy little village i lived in and see some things and miss the 9-5 life and institutional life of education and i did that when all around were telling me to keep it real and forget this crazy rainbow chasing. So fuck them.

4. It’s rumored that you made a threat to kill yourself on stage and obviously, it never happened. Wasn’t that a little out of character?

I made a threat to kill myself when i was 25 in a egomaniacal drunken ramble in an interveiw. I wasn’t serious but my head was so far uppa my arse i could’ve drawn you a perfect picture of the back of my teeth. I said a lot of shit in interveiws and some of it was taken seriously when it was a joke and some dealy seriously shit was taken as a joke. Dems da breaks. Out of character? I don’t think so but the character i was then seems so far removed it’s like a past life to me now. I didn’t commit hara-kiri instead i killed off kingmaker.

5. It seemed like Kingmaker was bringing rock n’ roll back. Would you consider yourself a fan of rock n’ roll?

I think we were a lot more straightforward than we may have come across. I think i started off with really Dylan, Hendrix and a lot of folk/blues in my repertoire and updated it with bands like the Pixies, Eat, the Wonderstuff and early Ants. We were equated with the Stiffies and Neds etc but we basically just wanted to be a rock band. I think our second album was our most confused and in then different directions at once which did no favours but it was a battle, we knew where we were heading and the record company, in their tunnel vision, just wanted ten other Scrape the Skies. Same old same old………..Ho-hum.

6. I heard you worked on Elastica’s new album. How did you get involved with that and what did you do?

On the Elastica album I did the music for ‘My Sex’ and ‘Miame Nice’ and on the ‘Mad Dog’ single i did ‘Suicide’ and ‘Bush Baby’. We have also written a few they are playing at the moment, cheif amongst them being ‘Bitch Don’t Work’. I got involved because the band were in turmoil, not speaking to each other and in the midst of a break up and me and Justine started to do some tunes which kinda caught the mood at the time. It was good for me because i wasn’t releasing anything, I wasn’t ready for that, so it was a good confidence builder and i generally liked the experienced and think the songs are dope……in my humble but correct opinion.

7. Were you living with Justine? Dating?

Justine and i have been mates since 1992 and when i was wandering about the streets of London, living in shit holes, she took mercy on me and said to move in. She’s been an angel. I mean, when the band broke up everybody told me, ‘ah, you’ll land on your feet, you’re just one of those types’ and then promptly the platitudes were flowing freely but she was the only one to actually respond by helping me and not fobbing me off. We ain’t dating and never have been, we sister and bro. We both went through some shit, her breaking up with Damon and me getting over the band and we helped each other through. And let me tell you, this biz is as fickle as they say, the phone quickly stops ringing.

8. You were batted around by the press a little after being praised by them. It seems like a shitty industry… do you ever want to get away from being in the music business? Or do the benefits outweigh the badness?

My experience with the press was the pits. Mainly because of the weight of shit published about the band and me personally. It became a kind of challenge where journalists would try and outdo each other in a who-can-write-the-nastiest-thing kinda MO.When it started to get really bad i chose to ignore it. Trouble was we never really rose above the NME and Melody Maker level and they just bombarded us with shit. It really did prove the old adage if you throw enough mud it sticks. I mean, in the gossip pages you’d think people would realize that most of it is made up but if people read that you woke up after falling asleep in a puddle of your own puke they believe it. I didn’t get the full extent of it until 1996 when, after the record co had been sacked and restocked with new personnel, they contacted me to do a best of (which became ‘Bloodshot and Fancy Free’). I thought, foolishly, I’d go through the press pack and pick out a few quotes here and there, even some of the bad ones, might be quite funny….. IDIOT. For the last three years of our existence (backlash onwards) it got worse and worse, really dark nasty shit of the if-he-was-dogshit- I-wouldn’t-even-wipe-him-off-of-my-shoe, fuck, it was really bad, really fucking acidic. The butt of every joke. It must’ve made it difficult to be a maker fan and that’s why i appreciate anyone who stuck with it. I got deprsssed about it then and wrestled with it for a few months thinking it was futile for me to go back to it coz my cards were already marked. It took a time to get over it but i woke up one morning and thought fuck, I can either let this get to me and waste my time worrying about the past or get over it, which i promptly did.

9. Your doing solo work now? What’s this about?

Even though i’ve not been signed or any fixed musical abode I haven’t stopped writing. Some of it went Elasticas way, some of it became porn but that still leaves a mountain of music waiting for homes. I can’t tell you where it’s heading because i’m not sure myself, yet.

10. Are you looking to start a career from the solo thing or are you just satisfying a need?

I really don’t know what I’m planning. I am certainly satisfying a need to write music. I been thinking bout this and y’know everybody absorbs roughly the same kind of experiences and sees the same news and for some reason i siphon this into making sounds and music, that’s what I do. I fought against it for a while because i was negative but i’ve since given in to it because it’s deeply embedded in me somewhere and it makes me feel like i’m fulfilling my role in life. It used to be that i was as much interested in being famous as i was in making music but now it’s a much simpler and emotive drive to make the music i wanna make. I feel like the music is mine again, like i used to when i was fifteen before i signed it away to a bunch of cloth-eared second-rate businessmen.

11. How do you feel about Napster and the illegal trading of MP3’s?

Not followed the Napster thing at all so i have no opinion.

12. Are you superstitious?

Yes, I am superstitious but why I’ll never know, it’s never served me well or on the other hand been destructive….touch wood.

13. Do you think the internet is really doing anything for the unknown bands of the world?

On paper the net should be perfect for new bands as a medium of getting music aired without being at the behest of bloated record company assholes. When i was approached by to put some kingmaker on their MP3 sight i jumped at the chance. I rang the record company and requested permission to put on the origional recordings which they denied coz they said they were worried about people being able to download it for free. I replied by asking them whether they were at all worried about the fact that all our CDs were available on the web through unofficial sources and said some fuckers making money out of it so we might as well make some. They said no and that they weren’t planning on releasing any of it for a long time, if ever, basically they were happy with it gathering dust in some godforsaken wharehouse. Such monumental wankers. It was then it struck me how, potentially, music on the net could be a pure communication line between musicain and music fan. No A&R people interfering (‘Is the vocal loud enough, do you think?’), set your own images to it and no ridiculous radio edits or nine different b-sides. SUCH BULLSHIT! I mean, for a few grand you can put together enough equipment to get broadcastable results so you don’t need to rely on record companies to record your music, that has to be a step forwards. I don’t know that many people with MP3s but hopefully by the time they are commonplace record companies will have had their heads in the sand they’ll miss out. Anything that renders them with less power is a magnificent addition.

14. What’s wrong with music today?

I don’t know what’s wrong wiv music today. I do know that what you need to produce music at home are finally affordable and that nothing much is happening in the mainstream which suggests there is something happening somewhere. How, what and where I dunno but with the net and all i think there must be some small revolution acomin’. Whenever there is a lull in music like this something is always bubbling away underground………