Ten-Midnight.com spoke to Slyder from The Last Great Dreamers about the release of the band’s new album “13th Floor Renegades”, early influences and whats coming up for the band.
What were your first recollections of music growing up, who were your family and friends listening to that caught your imagination?
There was always music playing when I was growing up, my parents playing records, the radio always on in the morning, my first real memories were of Top of The Pops around from around 1974, I was only 4 years old but I remember the tail end of glam rock, stuff like Mud, Alvin Stardust etc. I remember listening to radio 1 & radio Luxemburg on my transistor radio & getting into punk & new wave, the first records I remember buying were post-punk/new wave stuff like Blondie, Boomtown Rats, The Jam, Adam & the Ants. I then got into more rock stuff that school friends were listening to like AC/DC, Motorhead etc.
Play: Alvin Stardust – My Coo Ca Choo
Who were the guitarists that started you on the road to playing yourself, what was it about them that captured your interest in playing guitar?
I was into Gillan & then Deep Purple so both Bernie Torme & Ritchie Blackmore at first, a bit later I got into Hanoi Rocks which really put me on the path that led me to what I went on to do so Andy McCoy was a big influence. I guess all these guitarists were very unique in style & exciting to watch.
The Last Great Dreamers officially formed in 1989 when the music world was a completely different environment, from your own experience do you think the internet has been a positive in that bands have more control today. Or has it taken away the backing that a large record label can provide to smaller bands?
I think it’s a good thing that bands can control their destiny & self-promote to an extent but the budget is a huge thing & you are limited to what you can do without a decent amount of funds for making the product, marketing & touring. Also without the weight of an influential person or company in the business behind you, it can be hard to get your music in front of the right people. The crowdfunding model is great & worked really well for us on our last 2 albums & having the support of our fans to help us make music is fantastic.
The new album “13th Floor Renegades” must be a proud achievement for all involved in the finished product, how do you feel it compares to your earlier work?
Get the new album HERE
I think the production is quite different from anything we have done before, there were no dramatic changes to the songs in the production but a lot more time was spent on vocal arrangements & harmonies which had become our trademark plus more work on the guitar parts & with Pete Brown having a wealth of experience as a singer, guitarist, engineer & producer we learnt a hell of a lot working with him.
Overall, the album oozes the class of established musicians/writers, but getting it heard out there with thousands of other releases can be a big problem. Is this a constant battle the band has to persevere with; or is it a case of letting the people find it for themselves and see what happens?
It is a battle getting it heard especially as an independent band, we hire a guy to do our press & radio & work closely with him to get the album out everywhere we can. We do fear that the album will get a bit lost with the major label releases but we work hard & do our best as an independent label & band & getting ourselves out there live too & at the same time hope for that bit of luck or synchronicity that will take us to the next level.
Can you tell me the story behind the track “For Your Information” it’s very different from the rest of the album, with a hint of the Kinks “Sunny Afternoon” but shows the diversity in LGD and is one of the albums highlights?
It’s a song that I started writing at home on my acoustic guitar & I think I just had the basic chords & melody & a bit of a lyric for the chorus. When Marc & I got together for a writing session I played it to him & it started to take shape, we jammed it & added a middle 8 & knocked the melody around a bit in the chorus. It naturally had a bit of country feel so that’s the direction we went in but with the addition of the slide guitar & the lower register voice I suppose it came out a bit Kinksesque. I’m very proud of it & it is very different to anything we’ve ever done before. It’s a very personal song for me inspired by a friend I lost who had been battling with leukemia for a few years. In addition, he was a big fan of Joe Brown & many years ago took me to see him play live with Pete Brown also in the band so having Pete plays slide guitar & mandolin on it was very special for me & a fitting tribute.
You took a step back from music for around 10 years, what was the catalyst for getting you back on stage after such a long time?
I think it was just the right time; I’d rediscovered some old recordings on cassette whilst clearing out my loft, I played these unreleased songs & they just re-kindled a spark in me, I remember thinking what a waste it was that they had never seen the light of day, I hadn’t really played for about 10 years but now I had the urge to pick up my guitar again. This was followed by a chance meeting with a mutual friend of mine & Marc’s telling me Marc was again living in the UK, we had lost touch after Marc had relocated to the USA. Another discovery at the same time was a fan page for Last Great Dreamers set up on Facebook by an old friend & roadie which led to more connections with previous band members & very soon it seemed viable we could do something.
How do you feel the band has changed since “Retrosexual” “Crash Landing” & “Transmissions” musically, do you feel “13th Floor Renegades” still has the DNA of the LGD or do you consider it to be a completely different sound today?
Being our first album Retrosexual wasn’t written as an album, we chose our best songs that we had been playing live, some for a good few years, to make the album. We were young & quite naïve, we wanted to make a retro sounding album but the production didn’t come out as we’d hoped, it was a bit flat & dry sounding. Crash Landing was released in 2014 on our return but was our “lost album” featuring the unreleased tracks recorded in different sessions in the mid-90s. However the production on this still stands up today in my opinion. Transmissions was the first material we wrote since reforming, it was a bit daunting to see if we still could come up with the goods but once we got going the songs came together well, Marc & I have always shared writing duties but this time around perhaps we worked more closely together, we’ve certainly had more life experiences which come across in the lyrical content which is quite dark in places. Renegades was written over the shortest period of time but quite intensively. It certainly has the same LGD DNA but I think with this album & the last we haven’t been afraid to let the songs go their own way organically. Its production is quite different, probably more pop than rock perhaps but in essence, it’s where we are now but still very much Last Great Dreamers. There are lots of influences on our writing & playing which come to the surface & we embrace them; that said we don’t set out to try & make a song sound a certain way, if a song sounds like it needs a country feel or a big Quo like riff then that’s what happens. As a complete piece of work, I think Renegades is our most accomplished album to date & that may be down to the way it has come together from its conception to the production.
There are a few tracks that initially jump out at you such as “13th Floor Renegades” “Primitive Man” & “For Your Information” but there are others that’s getting better the more you hear them, what are your own favorites on the album and why?
Some were quicker to write than others & some took longer to come together in the studio but I can honestly say I love them all & I think knowing the process you went through to get the end result gives you a different perspective when listening. As I said FYI is a very personal song & means a lot to me & is very different to anything we’ve done before, I Think I Like It was the last song to write & a favourite to play live now. Speed of Light again is quite different for us & was great fun to record the guitar parts. Going Home was a labour of love too, it was one of these songs that took a while to complete but was well worth it & a great ending to the album. Whose Side Are You On? was one of the quicker ones to record & turned out a great little pop song with a classic rock meets new wave feel.
What is in store for the Last Great Dreamers the rest of the year?
We have some dates with Dan Baird & Homemade Sin, some UK festivals including Bearded Theory, Breaking Bands, HRH Sleaze, Cambridge Rock & Planet Rockstock plus our first trip to Norway for a club show & festival date & a few headline shows. Hopefully, there will be more live dates to come in the autumn/winter.
Name the one band you would like to support the Last Great Dreamers, past or present? To support us?
I can think of lots of bands that I would like to support, probably an easier question so I would say Hanoi Rocks.
Which song from history do you wish you had written?
Hard one, I often think this when I hear a song but none are coming to mind… how about Irene Wilde by Ian Hunter?
Play: Ian Hunter – Irene Wilde