“I can still party, I choose not to a lot of the time”. Sitting down with one of Manchester’s much loved sons, founding member of the iconic Inspiral Carpets, drive time airwaves guru with XFM and club DJ on the side, Clint Boon gave an insight into his hectic every day life.
Fresh off the release of a first album in 20 years with Inspiral Carpets, and following a successful tour in support of the record, one might be forgiven for thinking Boon could be tempted to take it easy, perhaps not take so much on his plate? Evidently, with 3 very high profile and time consuming lifestyles, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
But just how does he do it? Striking up the middle ground between family life and touring should be overwhelming. However the father of 5 manages just fine apparently. (Even if the party lifestyle of old has taken a hit to make way.)
“I’d like to party, but I’ve gotta’ be up early”
“We’ve all slowed down a bit, I think in my case, I pace myself because I’m a club DJ as well, so I’m very often out till 4 in the morning battered, getting in drunk then doing it again the night after. So I can still party, I definitely can, and do, but because I’ve got a busy week and 5 kids, so some nights you’re thinking, well I’d like to party but I’ve gotta be up early in the morning to do this that and the other, so I’ll just go to bed. There’s a lot of early nights, finish the gig, drink some wine get to bed, a lot of that goes on now. Whereas back in the day, bed was just, to boot, bed? So weak, bloody lightweight. I can still party, I choose not to a lot of the time.”
“I’m doing it right I think, it feels better than ever”
“I’ve got 3 jobs that are very consuming, radio 5 days a week, club DJ 3 or 4 times a week, and then a band which is constant. So to be able to do all 3 of them, at the levels that they’re at, because they’re all successful things, it’s not like I’m just tinkering about in a band, we’re an international travelling band that’s just released a new album. So to do all that but to still get a lot of time at home with my family, I’m good at balancing it, I’m doing it right I think. It feels better than ever, the balance between my work and my home life, it just feels like it’s never been this comfortable. Funny init’, it should be total chaos.”
Of course, the music industry has changed massively since the Inspirals initially formed more than 30 years ago. The scene becomes more and more saturated every day, no where more so than in the musically rich in heritage city of Manchester.
This means it is more of a challenge than ever to stand out from the crowd and be heard, for every band that breaks through, there will be another 50 drifting off into the background as white noise, reinforcing that groups need to have something that extra bit special. The Xfm man spoke of this uphill battle facing new groups, the importance of being able to play live and both the positives and negatives of the ever growing presence of technology in music.
“Even if a band doesn’t sell a shit load of records, they can still be a great live band”
“I think the actual process of the performance and the interaction with your audience hasn’t really changed at all. I think outside of the gig it’s all changed, the way people are introduced to music and buy music, sell music and make music, that’s a completely different world isn’t it. There’s a lot of computer technology involved every step of the way now really.”
“So that aspect of it has all changed, but when you’re in the venue, the way that all works is the same as it’s always been if you’re a good band, these people out here are gonna’ dance and love it, you get that interaction. And the live music scene generally, it’s bigger than ever now I think, it seems to just be getting bigger and bigger, and that’s great for all of us.”
“The live aspect is the biggest thing in a bands repertoire now, even if a band that doesn’t sell a shit load of records they can be a great live band, especially with new bands, you’re exposed once you’re up on that stage if you’re not so good and people can see it, and they’ll stop coming back.”
“In Manchester there’s probably 20,000 singers or bands that sound similar to each other ‘cos they’re all using the same software”
“I think it’s easier for bands to make music and be heard, it’s harder for bands to stand out from the crowds, because everybody’s able to do it now, everybody can have a band, you don’t have to have loads of skill to make music. Which is great that we’ve all got access this amazing software and it’s affordable. But the downside is in Manchester, there’s probably 20,000 singers or bands that sound similar to each other ‘cos they’re all using the same software. So for you to stand out and succeed you’ve got to be a bit special.”
“Look at a band like Alt J, that’s a good example of modern day young lads, probably only started making music a few years ago and instead of coming out with something that just sounds like Arctic monkeys, they’ve come out with something that’s quite unique and they’re gonna’ be one of the biggest bands in America it sounds like as well.”
“So if you think a bit differently from everyone else who’s got the same gear, that’s how you can stand out. It’s a great time to be making music, and buying music, it’s a harder time to get noticed because everyone’s doing it, and you don’t have to be a brilliant musician or a brilliant singer these days. 20 or 30 years ago you had to be able to sing because there was no such thing as auto-tune. I remember when auto-tune arrived in the marketplace, and it’d be probably mid to late 90s, everyone’s got them now in computers. So to make the music you don’t even have to be that good anymore, but you do when you when you get on stage.”
“I’m just dead excited, I was born in 1959 so when I started making music in the early 80s, MIDI was just being invented and that was an amazing thing to witness. But to come through that and see all the revolutions that we’ve been through since and to see the arrival of Myspace, now that’s gone then twitter, I’m just so glad that I’m here to see it now in 2014 and I can’t wait to see what it’s gonna be like in 10 or 15 years.”
2014 was a colossal year for music, the uprising of the mighty Royal Blood, The Libertines returning to slay Alexandra Palace and Arctic Monkeys continuing to be just about the biggest band on the planet.
So running an immensely popular radio show, it would be unheard of to not get a say on the bands that Boon reckons will make it big in the coming year, and the lack of politics in music, did someone say, a new punk revolution?
“It sounds like Johnny Rotten, it’s got the social commentary of Mike Skinner”
“I’d say Brown Brogues definitely in terms of somebody local who are pretty unknown at the moment, I was saying Catfish and the bottlemen until a few months ago but they’ve sort of smashed it now. I love Sleaford Mods, Sleaford mods are just stunning, it’s hard to describe to people, because even though it’s quite unique what they’re doing it’s all stuff you’ve heard before, but just put into a completely different context. So it sounds like Johnny Rotten, it’s got the social commentary of Mike Skinner of the Streets, and his mates got all the loops on his laptop and he presses play and stands with his can of beer. It’s just fucking brilliant, Sleaford Mods is my favourite new thing that’s going on at the moment.”
“I don’t know if that’s got any mainstream potential to be honest, because at the moment, I don’t think there’s a lot of big demand from the man in the street for a couple of lads from Nottingham, one who’s stoned and pissed, and the other one who’s Tourettes and on amphetamines probably and is very angry. I don’t think there’s a lot of demand for that type of revolution, but maybe they’ll inspire other people to do that sort of thing and maybe that’ll start a bit of a revolution.”
“I think in an ideal world, there’ll be a few more people stirring up the shit”
“I think music these days, one thing that’s missing, there isn’t a lot of politics, there’s hints of it, Kasabian sometimes dabble, Primal Scream usually have a go. And I’m not saying I’m not saying I’m a good political activist in my music, but I’d like to see a bit more of that, a bit more what happened with punk rock. There’s a of things that need shouting about in the government and in society, but at the moment it seems people in music aren’t bothering doing that shouting, I think in the ideal world there’ll be a few more people stirring up the shit.”
“I’m guilty, I should be making records that challenge some of what’s going on, I think it’s because I’m a 55 year old father of five, I’ve got a lot on my plate, I’m not gonna try and bring the government down. I think we’re due some sort of a revolution, and the fact the live music scene’s getting bigger, guitars are probably selling more and more now, we’re probably ready for a bit of chaos again.”
“It’s one of them jobs init’, if you’re gonna’ be an MP, you’ve gotta do it proper really, and for the right reasons. Not for money, not for power, you’ve gotta do it because you wanna help people, help your community, if I ever did anything like that, that’s why I’d do it. And I’m not convinced a lot of these people I see that are running the country, I don’t think that’s why they’re doing it, with some of them I don’t think that’s why they started doing it.”
So what about after the music career and DJ career? Maybe a career in politics?, perhaps it’s a long shot but never rule anything out! It’s probably a fair assumption that most would rather see the Inspirals man calling the shots. Boon for PM?
Listen to the best bits of the interview here: