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Interview

Let Loose interview, Lee Murray 

added: 12 Jun 2011
interviewed by: Victoria Dillingham

Let Loose interview, Lee Murray -  - Printable version
The early nineties was awash with clean-cut, bubblegum pop acts particular of the boy band variety, but there was one modest all male trio who dared to break the mould. Renowned for penning some of the catchiest lyrics and reintroducing rock to pop, Let Loose were also one of the only UK groups of their time whose line-up could all genuinely play instruments.

Their hit single ‘Crazy For You’ charted at number 2 in 1994, but was kept from the top spot by Glaswegian crooners Wet Wet Wet and their cover of The Troggs ‘Love is All Around’.

The band went on to release a further two albums together before calling it a day in 1997. To date the single ’Crazy For You’ has sold more than 600,000 copies globally and lead singer Richie Wermerling has maintained a consistent dialogue with fans online who have continued to push for a comeback.

A passing comment from Take That’s Gary Barlow published in The Sun in 2008 reunited Richie and drummer Lee Murray and the group staged their first comeback gig last year.

Back by popular demand the band have played numerous gigs this year and have a further three scheduled this summer.

Victoria Dillingham of Music News caught up with original drummer and father of two - Lee Murray - in his hometown, Watford to talk about the comeback, forthcoming gigs and plans for the Let Loose moving forward.

Music News: What sparked the initial reunion in 2008?

Lee: Something came out in The Sun in which Gary Barlow said he’d like us to support him on The Circus tour. Richie rang me up to ask if I’d seen it, and my phone hadn’t stopped ringing with people telling me they’d read it. I phoned up Gary’s manager and asked if it was true or if it was just The Sun being mischievous. He said Gary had mentioned us at The Ivor Novello Awards, apparently he said he really like ‘Crazy for You’ but that all the support acts were in place. Following that I sent him some songs we’d written more recently. A few of them he didn’t like, but one of them he really did like. From there radio picked up on it, Steve Wright played it and then we were asked to go on the National Lottery and it just spiralled. It led to an initial gig last year which we thought would be a one-off, but it’s led to others and we’re doing more and little festivals

Music News: What made you decide to join Let Loose again following a brief attempt in 2008 and how did the first gig come about?

Lee: After the Gary Barlow thing in 2008, Richie and I met up and went back into the studio and wrote a few songs, but after a few sessions thought to ourselves let’s not, it isn’t right. If we’d have gone on that tour with Take That we’d have really thrown ourselves into it, but it didn’t feel right at that point again. In between we were continuing to get more and more demand on Facebook to gig and last year we thought ok, let‘s just do this one show see if anyone turns up. They did and we had great fun performing again, hence we’re doing more.

Music News: Are we right in thinking Let Loose released three studio albums with the original line-up - ‘Let Loose', ‘Rollercoaster’ and ‘Best Of' - before you disbanded?

Yes, the first one featured the hit ‘Crazy For You’ and then we thought we’d grow up and be a rock band and everyone said "no don’t do that" and ‘Rollercoaster’ was received quite as well. There was also a 'Best of' album and a few other bits and pieces before we went our separate ways. Richie worked on a number of different projects and did his own thing - Feetgazer - but it was mainly online. Richie also had an incarnation of Let Loose featuring another drummer with whom he’d played a series of gigs, but I think he left and was replaced again. It’s tricky trying to keep a band together.

Music News: So bring us up to speed on what you’ve been doing since the band first split 13 years ago Lee?

Lee: When I left the band I started doing session drumming. When a record company drops you or you go your separate ways the phone quite literally stops ringing. The cut off is immediate and you go from being completely in demand all the time, not necessarily in the public sense, but more in terms of the record company constantly ringing and your manager telling you where you’ll be next. The schedule used to come through the door (now I guess it would be via email) with a long list of what you’d be doing over the next 6 months, your life completely mapped out. When a record label says that’s the end of it, it stops dead and you are cut completely adrift and you think…what the hell do I do now? So I thought I’m a drummer, lets go and do some drumming! So I played, not on records as such but promotional work on TV for the likes of Westlife, Cyndi Lauper and Lisa Stansfield. I found myself back on the road again.

Then I got into management and I actually felt really comfortable doing that. I think because I’d been an artist I could see it from both sides. I toured with Holly Valance as her sort of media manager. She’d come over from Australia and didn’t know a huge amount about the British media. Holly was really green and young, so I kinda held her hand, as it were throughout her European tour which was when ‘Kiss Kiss’ was out. It was a huge record for her and the tour was a lot of fun. We also looked after Kelly Brook and Imogen Thomas. I did this for a while and then drifted back into music.

Music News: Performing clearly comes naturally to you given your time as a session musician, but how did it feel stepping back into the studio again as Let Loose after so long out of it?

Lee: I’ve always drummed and have always had a drum kit. It’s not as if I put them in the loft and they gather dust. I was still playing, not in the studio sense, I think my last live performance before the recent gigs was on Children in Need with Ronan Keating 2-3 years before. The last time I was in the studio however was with Let Loose 13-14 years ago so there was a jump from the mid to late 90’s to 2008. I was petrified, really scared. Technology’s moved on a lot since. For example with auto-tune on vocals, if you’re a good singer but you can’t hold a note you can rely on technology, but it’s not quite like that with drums. You have to be able to play.

We’ve always been performers in the musical instrument sense, and back then it was actually really unfashionable to turn up with instruments. We’re talking the same era as the likes of East 17 and Take That, it was all about dancing. It was weird, we were a touring band but were still within that Smash Hits genre of pop, which was fine because we love pop music, but we’re also musicians.

Music News: An unconventional pop group given your time, is it fair to assume you all had differing musical influences?

Yes, Rob (guitar) was never into pop, we had to drag him along really. He’d been used to sleeping in ditches at Knebworth, which was far more his thing. I was into electronic music and late 70’s with a bit of punk. We all love a good melody and pop music, but it did get very sugary. We were playing schools and thinking this is odd, how did we get here, especially for Rob who looked more like Billy Idol at the time. He was like “this is just wrong“, but we just went along with it even though it was never entirely what we were about. That said, I still love pop and a good melody.

Music News: Sadly you’ve not managed to drag Rob Jeffrey along this time and he’s not currently interested in reforming, but do you and Richie have plans to release a new album?

Lee: We’d love Rob back on board, but he’s happy with his life and dedicated to running a B&B now. We have got a collection new material, but we really are taking each day as it comes at the moment. Without a record label behind us this time, it’s that much harder and we’re doing it all ourselves. We’ve got a record we can go with, the last one Steve Wright played and he was very much “come on, let’s get going with it, we want to hear more“. We are enthusiastic, but without someone behind us financially it’s hard.

Music News: How different, if at all is the new material from your old traditional Let Loose sound?

Lee: It’s still pop melodies because that’s what we love! If I go and see a band and they’ve intentionally grown-up and they only want to play their new material you can often tell they’ve engineered it so that there’s a marked difference. I think with us we want to do something new while keeping the old elements and sounds people enjoy and know us for. We still aim to write strong melodies, but I guess the lyrics are the biggest difference now as we are all grown up and have children, but it’s still rocky pop music, which is what we’re all about. We can’t change who we are in that respect.

Music News: Are your new gigs made up in the main of old tracks or new material?

Lee: It’s a real mix. Nostalgia’s a dirty word sometimes and people tend to think don’t trade on your old songs. I went to see Duran Duran years ago before their recent comeback and it was a live acoustic set and they hardly dipped into their back catalogue at all and I can remember being so disappointed as I really wanted to hear the classics such as ‘Rio’ and ‘Girls on Film’.
We don’t want to disappoint anyone that comes to our shows which is why we’ll always include our hits like ‘Crazy for You’ and ‘Seventeen’, but we’ll also observe what fans tell us they like from our new material on Facebook etc and play them too.

Music News: How do you think the music industry has changed since you were first on the scene?

Lee: It’s changed enormously. I can remember when we first got together and Richie was the first to get a mobile in the early nineties and then our manager got a computer. We used to have computers at home, but they weren’t all that common. Now the internet is hugely important in not only communicating but also marketing your music. I actually think there are more avenues to get your music out there now but fewer ways to make good money out of it if that makes sense? Whereas before there weren’t as many TV channels, the internet was just beginning and record companies had loads of money so they’d sign you and develop you for years. Record companies have no money now and there’s hardly any of them. It was always difficult to get signed, but it’s near on impossible now unless you’ve come via a TV show or been gigging for years.

Music News: How do you come up with new material, do you write collectively or does one of you take the lead with song writing?

Lee: Richie has always been the main songwriter. We have got together recently and collaborated on quite a bit, but writing is most definitely his thing. Richie writes religiously, he gets up in the morning and sits at his piano. I can’t say I enjoy writing lyrics as much. I have written material on my own, but I find it tedious whereas Richie is a natural and was born to do it. The recent record played by Steve Wright was co-written by both of us.

Music News: Where do you practice and record? Do you have your own studios?

Lee: We’ve all got bits of our own equipment, but we quite often go to Richie’s where we do a lot of pre-production and then we take it to a place we use in Elephant and Castle to record it and then we rehearse in Hackney, so we’re sort of dotted all over the place.

Music News: Any other dates lined up?

Lee: The big gig we’ve got coming up and are very excited about is at Manchester Academy which is a full set. There’ll also be a DJ involved and it’s going to be a bit of a 90‘s thing. He’ll be playing Nirvana all night if I have my way (laughs). Then we’ve got a party in the park type gig in Derby followed by Bath. We’ll also be dropping this single in between and try and get it played across more radio stations, because that really is the life blood of a record I think, it needs to have airplay on radio.

Music News: If you could drum for any band or act, past or present, who would it be and why?

Lee: Gary Numan. When I was 10-11 he was my hero. We did tour with him and supported him in Manchester and it was brilliant. He was everything to me when I was growing up, I used to wear black clothes, die my hair black and wear eyeliner. Playing for him would be great.

See Let Loose live:

Sat 25th June ’Crazy for the 90s’ at Manchester Club Academy: www.ticketline.co.uk
Sun July 17th Bath Party In The Park, Royal Victoria Park : www.wegottickets.com
Sat Sept 10th Derby Party In The Park, Osmaston Park: www.wegottickets.com

For more info about the band visit: www.letloosemusic.com

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