All Music Magazine UK Catch up with Clint Boon from Inspiral Carpets

main image by Paul Wolfgang Webster

 

INTERVIEW BY JANET HARDING

 

Interview with Clint Boon of Inspiral Carpets, November 2022

 

When I think back to the 90s, there’s a particular sound that for me personally captures that early era, not just a sound though, a feel, an essence…zeitgeist if you like. It’s a cosmic, swirling, cool and uplifting sound – observational lyrics, driving beats, jagged guitars, undulating bass lines and that goose pimple inducing organ sound. It instantly lifts me. Of course I mean the Inspiral Carpets, one of the originals instrumental in a whole new genre, the Manchester sound. Pioneers of ‘mad for it’ and part of the Madchester scene. Not having toured since 2015, then with the sad passing of drummer Craig Gill a year later, the Inspiral Carpets went into a hiatus permanently.

With the recent announcement of a slot on the brilliant Indie Festival Neighbourhood Weekender a full UK tour next year, I was more than ecstatic to be given the opportunity to chat about it. So on a dark, dismal and rainy Thursday afternoon I had the absolute pleasure of chatting to the legendary Clint Boon about the tour and, among other things, iconic haircuts and how to stay sane during a pandemic.

 

 

Janet:

Thank you so much for taking time to have a chat this afternoon.

Clint:

It’s a pleasure; I’ve been doing a few interviews, it’s great to speak to so many people supporting us and showing such interest, so thank you.

Janet:

Firstly, I’ve got to ask about the tour, it’s brilliant for us fans that you will be touring again. I guess for you guys it’s bound to be very mixed emotions?

Clint:

Yeah, absolutely, Craig passed in November 2016. It’s gonna be emotional playing without him, I mean, he was with us from the beginning. He was only 14 when the band started, we used to pick him up from school in the van, go off and do gigs, then drop him off next morning for his paper round. He was a phenomenal person, just great to be around. He’d walk in and the room would light up. We all thought the world of him, and he was one top class drummer too, top of his game. His family are heavily involved with the tour, we want to dedicate it to his memory and celebrate him as much as celebrating the music…but yeh, looking forward to it, but there will be moments I’m sure where we shed a tear.

Janet:

It’s certainly a very fitting tribute. What can we expect from the tour, what do we get from Inspiral Carpets live?

Clint:

High energy, real frantic pace, stuff we did going back to the 80s. I actually had a listen the other day to all our songs in chronological order, and you know it really brought it home how good the songs are. I mean I’m not being big headed, I’m not the best musician, none of us were. I wasn’t taught, I learned it all by ear. I know there’s better than me but we never pretended, we were always honest and we just do what we do, but theses tunes are bloody good! So performing them live, oh it’s just gonna go off. We never lost our hunger as a band, as some do. I’ve always stuck to my working class roots, down to earth, just making music and enjoying doing it. I think that’s the key. So people are gonna get a fantastic set. We’ll celebrate the band, the back catalogue and the fan. It’s a shout out and a thank you to the fans for their loyalty and for embracing us!

Janet:

Yeah, it is gonna go off. As a crowd member you actually feel the energy of a band and kind of feed off it, I’m guessing it works the other way round for you guys when performing?

Clint:

Oh yeah, there’s a real buzz you get from performing live, and yeh we do feed off the crowd. You can tell if they’re loving it. I’ve been lucky enough to play all over the world, and let me tell you when you’re somewhere like Norway, playing to 5000 people you’ll never meet, but every one of ‘em is singing your words back to you, there s no other feeling like that. It’s quite incredible. So the fans really do mean a lot, and yeh the buzz comes from them and their reaction as much as from being up there playing.

Janet:

And when you play on home turf, the iconic Albert Hall, Manchester, there s gonna be a real buzz at that one…

Clint:

Almost certainly. It’s an honour to play at Albert Hall. Firstly it’s a really beautiful building, acoustically it’s magical, but yeh the Manchester crowd always bring it, and it’s us, it’s our background, the city that influenced us, it’s where it all started. It means so much to us to be playing Manchester in such a special venue. It’s gonna be a phenomenal show that one, they all will be, but especially Manchester!

Janet:

You mention Manchester being a big influence, can you talk a little about influences?

Clint:

Manchester is massively influential to us, Oldham, where I’m from, where I grew up as well. A lot of the stuff I’ve written is based around growing up in Oldham, it’s me, it’s the fabric of me. Each song is a view into life, a photograph if you like, of a time or something in my life. You know, I was a kid in Oldham in the 60s, it was working class and grey but on the TV was all this American space race stuff. I was obsessed with NASA and space travel and stuff, that was a massive influence. Saturn 5 is all about that, about being given the chance to dream as a kid, to be in awe, and the pure fascination with space. The 60s in general is a huge influence, the music, especially the psychedelic sound, the organ rich, psychedelic type thing, I loved it, still do all that, and I think you get a sense of that in our music. Saturn 5 is kind of my homage to 60s psychedelia.

 

 

Janet:

I feel the organ sounds really do bring that sense, but also it’s kind of what I associate with that early 90s sound

Clint:

Yeah, definitely. I mean The Doors obviously, they’re known for the organ, then in the 90s the Charlatans used a Hammond. I play the Farfiser compact duo, slightly more unusual. I picked it deliberately…it gives a real colourful, warm sound.

Janet:

And how about Manchester city as an influence? You were based there, and seems to have been a massive influence.

Clint:

Oldham had a thriving music scene back in the 80s. The band I was originally in were called the Mill, that was from ‘84, but spending so much time in Manchester was an inspiration of course. We moved to an office there in 1988 – Sackville Street, It was totally different back then, not how it is now at all. It was rough, in the middle of the red light district. Looking out of that window it was a window to real life. We got to know all the prostitutes through seeing them daily. We’d have a laugh in passing, we were there that much we became a part of life there. We’d turn up and they’d be laughing at our hair and giving banter. It’s all bits of memories of life that all go into different songs, it’s observational and it’s real. ‘Joe’ is about a homeless guy we knew, and how his life was living day by day from the streets. Sadly he passed away before ever hearing it. But it’s there now. A song outlives us, it’s there for eternity. My songs are moments, photographs of things I was seeing.

Janet:

A lot of the themes are quite gritty but there’s this juxtaposition of misery almost in the lyrics but with an up-tempo, joyful sound – is that fair to say?

Clint:

Absolutely, and that was conscious, It’s like a cross pollination: that kitchen sink drama feel, of bleak life but with an uplifting spirit; musically it’s great to do, the intensity but the upbeat at the same time.

Janet:

You mentioned laughing at your hair. I’ve got to mention the hairstyles, they were pretty impressive!

Clint:

Oh God yeh, those bowl cuts! We got laughed at a fair bit! It’s funny though, ‘cos nowadays, I mean forget the silly bowl cut, but my hairdresser in the northern quarter in Manchester says he gets blokes going in and specifically asking for ‘the Clint cut’ so apparently my hair style now is quite in demand and talked about! Who’d have thought?

Janet:

You’re an icon, I’m not surprised, but wow those 90s bowl cuts were legendary and of their time. What was it like being a part of that whole ‘mad for it’ movement?

Clint:

Yeah they really were! God, it was mad times back then, loved every minute, we were at the forefront of it all. I mean the whole culture of music consumerism has changed, so the industry has changed with it. I’m glad I was there back then, right at the epicentre. It was new, exciting and ever evolving. .

Janet:

And with all the recent anniversary tours it’s all been right back in the mainstream lately

Clint:

Oh it’s fantastic, real nostalgia. It’s worth celebrating, the music of that whole era, it’s legendary. I can’t wait for the tour. There will be younger people there, maybe their parents will be bringing them, who won’t have properly experienced us, I can’t wait to show em what we do, what it’s all about!

Janet:

I feel like music has become more celebrated since the pandemic as especially live music was on hold for so long. How did you survive lockdown?

Clint:

Oh most definitely! I don’t think you realise how much something is to you until you can no longer do it! I carried on working, we went into full lockdown obviously, but I was lucky enough to be able to carry on doing the radio shows from home, which was great, I could still carry on but in the safety of isolation. I kept busy, creative. I think that’s what kept us going, being creative, and music, that was important, playing lots of music! It got so normal that it was a bit strange returning to how things had been, I got to a place where I was quite happy at home, doing my thing, so felt a bit odd about going back into the studio for my show!

 

Janet:

I know a lot of people who felt like that. I feel that music was the thing that got most of us through, from radio broadcasts and shows like yours, to listening parties, etc. What did it feel like to be at that first live gig, away from the studio and out in a venue with a crowd again?

Clint:

It was odd, it was exciting, felt new but familiar also ,but then a bit daunting after the few years of not being able to.

Janet:

You were at Spike Island the reservation, doing DJ sets, I was there myself. That was the first big festival gathering after lockdown, and it did feel strange.

Clint:

Oh it was phenomenal! Crazy. I’d only done one other gig before it, that was also with the Clone Roses, but to suddenly be in festival mode with tens of thousands of people, talk about thrown in at the deep end but it was an amazing experience, so much joy and real appreciation for something we’d all been missing so much!

Janet:

What’s next for both yourself and Inspiral Carpets?

Clint:

Well at the moment we’ve no plans to write new material. Maybe at some point we‘ll think about that. We’d actually started working on stuff, and Craig had been involved, so it’d be nice to finish it for him as much as anything else, but for now no plans. As for myself, it’s busy as ever. My wife’s starting up her Mrs Boon’s tea parties again so I’m involved with that, the radio show and my DJ sets. It’s great playing other people’s music, but you know I can’t wait to actually get gigging and do some of ours!

Janet:

We can’t wait to hear it! You’re big on local music and pushing the unsigned bands – who should we be listening to? I know you’re a big fan of St Helens based, Chicken Man and the Bad Eggs.

Clint:

Oh l Iove ‘em! I was playing a festival they were headlining at Clock Face in St Helens. I caught their set and thought woahhh!I Texted my Mrs and said “I’ve just found your new favourite band”…when I got home she d already googled them and loved them! Great band live, worth checking out. The Dirty Laces too, they’re worth a listen; and my son, he’s only 18, his band are called The Solution – no releases as yet but sounding good. The Lathums are great too, there s so much talent up here in the North West!

 

Well I can certainly say that Clint has an abundance of energy, he s so into what he does, and appreciative of where he s from. The enthusiasm really comes across and he’s genuinely down to earth and humble. Such an interesting afternoon for me, delving into background, themes and influences, and chatting about other stuff too. I for one cannot wait to see this wonderful, eclectic and legendary band perform live once again, and I thoroughly enjoyed our time chatting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My life is a soundtrack, i track my life through music, photography is my passion, my escape, my expression. Without both i have pieces missing, thankfully i'm blessed and get to combine both. Born in Manchester, lived in Australia for 22 years where i was heavily involved in the Australian Music Industry, firstly in bands (Singer) and then managing bands (all original), I moved back to the UK, Wales specifically 10 years ago and married my childhood sweetheart and life is good.

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