JOHN MICHIE: A Peek Behind The Beard [Part Two]
You’re happy at home in Morpeth — but would you consider a return to London if it furthered your career?
That’s a tough one. I’d probably have a flat in Camden but only as a place to stop over. I have two cats to bring up in Morpeth and must put the next generation first. In all seriousness though I don’t think I could live in London again.
I spent about eight years in and around there. I see the city as beautiful but just a series of tourist destinations I have seen. It is too expensive and there are too many people near you all the time. I really like being in a small town where people randomly chat to you and where it is quiet, and you can see the stars at night.
If anything, I can see myself in the future moving somewhere like the Isle of Skye or Shetland. As I get older, I am enjoying the peace and quiet more. Basically, I am aiming for the weirdo recluse bracket long run. Someone needs to do it properly as Enya has been doing such a rubbish job of it.
Tell me about your love of George Martin. He produced other people’s music. You produce your own. But I’m sure you would have enjoyed working with him.
I think George Martin is probably one of the most important musical characters we have seen. He was the fifth Beatle, and he is the one that made Sgt Peppers what it is and all those other recordings.
All those ground-breaking techniques with varispeed and delays which we use in music is all because of him. I would genuinely love to work with a great producer like him as I am limited in my knowledge and skills and would learn a lot.
I get glimpses now and again of what another person in the process can do and I am always surprised by it. I have recently sent over a song I couldn’t sing to Chris James Willows. He has done the vocal and added some extra instrumentation. The song is 100% killer now and beyond my expectations.
That additional set of ears and hands can take things and ideas to the next level.
If you could sit down with the current mainstream music moguls, what three questions would you ask them?
Why are you pushing just rap and EDM?
Why hasn’t Joe Cocker been added to the ‘Rock & Roll Hall’ of Fame and Bono has?
Why aren’t the record labels developing talent anymore?
As the reality is all the biggest sellers like Bowie would not be signed now which is a bit ironic.
Who was the last mainstream artist you went to see?
I like gigs but I am not always at it. I tend to put my hat in for the Glastonbury raffle when that comes up and that will do me for the year if I win the golden ticket. Weather has been too good though the last decade so everyone with flowery wellies and a dad in a Land Rover to drop them off has taken over and made tickets hard to get.
The last act I saw though was Primal Scream in Newcastle before Covid hit and they were superb. Genuinely on it in every single way. The next gig I have pencilled in is Paul Weller in Newcastle for Easter. Who I see the most though is Noel Gallagher. He is my favourite and from all the acts I have seen from BB King to Amy Winehouse, he is the best by a country mile.
Musically, what or who is your guilty secret.
I am going to say that I have an exceptional taste in music. There is no Leo Sayer, Meatloaf, Phil Collins, Adele, Chesney Hawks, Lulu, Mick Hucknall, Bon Jovi or the singing nose Cilla Black in my collection.
But I know you aren’t going to let me get away with that so, I guess I will have to say Britney — but I don’t listen to her music. I would go to one of her gigs though as she’s ‘iconic.’
Some of your friends from Twitter got in touch and wanted to ask you a question.
Here are the best three.
Q DANIEL TIDWELL wanted to know all about your hatred of Phil Collins.
A “Phil who?”
Q LEWCA asked if you had produced music prior to the JMC and if so, is it embarrassing and where can it be heard?
A “I did release an early version of ‘High Vibrations’ in 2019 but it was pulled down after a few weeks. I couldn’t get any further with the recordings, so I decided to see ‘how to release’ and take notes — and then to get feedback on my songs.
“Some random guy on reddit gave me a life changing piece of feedback telling me what was specifically wrong with the mixes. I pulled the songs down and started again. The mixes were bad and drenched in acres of reverb. Those versions will never be heard but the closest is the ‘Beautiful Day’ EP where I have more advanced ‘demos’ on display. But before this, there is no music of me in existence anywhere.”
Q MARCIN from Polish punk band SZD wondered if you have ever recorded, or planned to record, anything ‘punk.’
A “I haven’t no, but I think it is within my reach to do a song like ‘Holidays in The Sun’ by the Sex Pistols. Doing something like ‘The Exploited’ may be a bit more difficult as I don’t have the attitude, I guess.
But I am a bit too much of a Pink Floyd fan and all that comes with it to be angry.”
Finally John, I’d like to ask your advice please.
I only picked up the guitar at the beginning of Lockdown Mk1 and my musical ambitions are no headier than to one day to go out and busk.
As someone who has done that — in London too — tell me about that experiences, and what advice you’d give me.
OK, the last time I busked I think was in Soho a long time ago. I had more than a shed load of beer, then randomly asked for directions from a stranger who turned out to be David Mitchell.
Then I entered that weird world where I was imagining his voice narrating so I couldn’t pay any attention to what he was saying. I then bumped into a bloke with a guitar near Centre Point and I started chatting. He gave me his guitar and I played a few songs; I know I played my song ‘Hung on You’ as I remember being that drunk, I struggled to remember the chords.
I then caught the night bus home to Tooting but fell asleep so woke up at some bus terminal miles away and had to walk like 10 miles.
So, my advice would be to not do any of the above, and you should kill it.
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