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Interview

John Fiddler interview 

London

added: 5 May 2013
interviewed by: Claudia A

John Fiddler interview - London - Printable version
John Fiddler, singer/songwriter from Medicine Head, released his first solo album, ‘State Of The Heart’, in 1991. Thanks to Angel Air Records, it is now available re-mastered and on CD.

Music-News’ retro angel Claudia A. pinned him down for an interview.

Music-News:
John, your solo album ‘State Of The Heart’ first came out in 1991, and in cassette form. What prompted you to have it released, in re-mastered glory, as a CD in 2013?

John Fiddler:
It was really Peter Purnell at Angel Air who was the mover on this. He is a “real music person”, always interested in the beginnings of how you write, and the evolution of the work. He felt it would be valid historically, and of real interest to the classic listener.

MN:
Why was it originally released as an audiocassette only, and why would that be a marketing ploy?

JF:
I had no label involvement at the time, so I put this together in my home studio... handmade artwork etc. Each piece and artwork is different from the other, a kind of celebration of the individual, and not mass production... I still like that whole concept, and maybe i was marketing that... I wasn’t aware that it was a ploy... more of a bootleg collection, straight from me to whoever wanted it.

MN:
You had been through a bad patch prior to ‘State Of The Heart’ – it had to do with The Yardbirds refusing to tour your Box Of Frogs project. How does a musician’s pride recover from a blow like that?

JF:
I’m not sure pride was the issue, more a state of confusion. I always thought the Yardbirds were a ‘live’ outfit, (FIVE LIVE YARDBIRDS), so when we had the success in the USA, and Epic Records had worked so hard to establish us as the Number One Airplay act on Billboard, and heavy rotation on MTV, I just knew that we would be there touring. I was shocked when Jim, Paul and Chris refused to tour, so was our manager, and also, Epic Records. The whole ‘Box of Frogs’ environment changed after that, I was very unhappy with the quality of input from the guys on the second album, and decided I had to leave. Jeff Beck left the studio with me. Shortly after that, on completion of the 2nd album, Epic dropped them from the label. In a very bizarre change of heart, The Yardbirds, well, two of them, later went back on the road. I was among the first to wish them all success with their new ‘Yardbirds’. I guess I recovered by writing new songs!”

MN:
To make things worse, you turned down some ace talent who wanted to collaborate with you (Micky Moody, Boz Burrel, Zak Starkey), as you were sure Box Of Frogs would hit the road and tour. That, and The Yardbirds refusal, must have felt like a massive double-blow…

JF:
Yes, that really was a blow! I really loved Micky, Boz, and Zak’s playing, and they liked my song writing and vocals, it would have been an excellent band! I know we would have worked together well, and written together well, and of course, there would have been no question about touring, that is what a Rock ‘n’ Roll band does!

MN:
Most songs are in the classic rock/rock ballad vein, and, as the title suggests, the main topics revolve around love and heartbreak. Purely from a creative viewpoint, do you find it easier to write such songs when you’re in a happy state, or when you’re unhappy and heartbroken?

JF:
Somehow I have always known, felt, and lived ‘The Blues’, and it is through this feeling that I write. There is such a release of emotions, happy or sad.

MN:
I’m intrigued by a line in one of the songs: “Now you might get what you don’t wanna get / Because sex in the 90’s is just like Russian Roulette.” Does that line refer to the big disease with the little name?

JF:
Yes indeed, i just had such a feeling my children, and the younger generations losing their freedom because of this. My generation, gay or not, were lucky enough to experience a completely free sexual environment, without the threat of death from AIDS hanging over us. Sadly, this illness opened the way for persecution of the gay communities of the world, and spawned so many conspiracy theories.

MN:
You were asked whether you’d like to join The Stranglers, and started to pen songs with them in mind. When they decided they wanted to write themselves after all and take a different direction, what was your reaction - apart from continue to pen songs that resulted in this album?

JF:
I fully understood their stand, and i love the punk attitude they took!

MN:
‘Only The Roses’, ‘Gimme Blue Skies’, ‘Hearts Of Fire’, and ‘When I Looked Away’ were aimed especially at The Stranglers, and boast rather edgy lyrics. Which of these songs do you feel comes closest to the Stranglers’ spirit?

JF:
I’ve always loved “Only the Roses” and it has become a fixture in my live show, but perhaps “Gimme Blue Skies” has a greater ‘Strangler Spirit’ about it!

MN:
Of all your solo albums, which one do you rate as the most personal, and for what reason?

JF:
‘Return of the Buffalo’ (re-issued as ‘The Big Buffalo’), it was my return to playing on stage. It also carries the historical message of the Native American Indian, and the Eco-Warriors, to take care of these worlds and universes we live in, and the people who live there.

MN:
British Lions, then with Box Of Frogs, and of course solo. What are the most valuable experiences you gathered from your involvement with those acts?

JF:
To stay true to your heart, and to your creativity. Each of those bands celebrated that whole ethic, especially Medicine Head.

MN:
If you could travel back in time, to the beginning of your musical career say, is there anything you would do differently?

JF:
I would have not released singles as Medicine Head, only albums. Hopefully we would have found a good, honest manager!

MN:
Finally, if you wouldn’t work in the music biz, what other profession would you work in?

JF:
I am re-discovering my fine art roots, and that is where i would have grown if music had not created new paths for me to follow for a while.

MN:
Many thanks for your time in doing this interview, John!

(Please read my review of State Of The Heart in our ‘Album reviews’ section)

For more on John Fiddler, please visit his website at:
http://www.john-fiddler.co.uk/store.html



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