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Moseley Shoals set me up for life... Ocean Colour Scene's Simon Fowler talks to Graham Young about the band's comeback as they head to Birmingham's Irish Centre.

Byline: Graham Young

OCEAN Colour Scene are to play an intimate gig at the Irish Centre tomorrow (Friday) and hope the performance could kickstart a new love for the Birmingham group.

The concludes a short UK tour designed to promote the 20th anniversary of their most famous album, Moseley Shoals - which fans will be able to hear in its entirety.

The band are planning to appear at several festivals this year and are hoping to embark on a big tour in autumn 2016.

"The album lasts about 55 minutes," says Simon.

"After that, we'll have a short break for about 10 minutes and then come back and play another half an hour of our hits.

"I think that's what people will want."

Fans should be delighted at that news - the gig sold out in just 15 minutes when tickets went on sale before Christmas.

They will also be hoping it will help to trigger a renaissance for a Birmingham group who have been there and done it, earning the T-shirts as much as any Britpop contemporaries, from Oasis to Blur.

And yet, in true Brummie fashion, what makes OCS different is that as well as having five top 10 albums and six top 10 singles to date, they've also enjoyed the privilege of being able to live outside of the spotlight as and when required.

"We've never been to Australia before, but we are playing four dates over there in February," Simon adds.

"I hate flying at the best of times. I think I'll down a bottle of gin and some Diazepam!

"After Australia, we are looking at some summer festival dates and a big UK tour at the end of the year.

"I don't know if, or when, we will record another LP but we have no plans to split."

Besides Simon, the current line-up includes stalwarts Steve Cradock (guitar) and Oscar Harrison (drums/ keyboards), with Glaswegian Ray Meade now on bass.

"Ray is 33, but extremely grown up with an old head on young shoulders," says Simon.

"He has fitted in really well." Looking ahead to Friday night, Simon says: "I haven't been to the Irish Centre in years.

"But you tend to enjoy the smaller gigs more if there's about 1,000 people there.

"Someone just thought it would be nice for us to play the kind of venues we were playing when the Moseley Shoals album originally came out."

Are you recording the Irish Centre gig for posterity? I've no idea, but I think probably not.

Should fans record it for themselves, bearing in mind Kevin Hart had 23 people thrown out of the Barclaycard Arena for using their phones? I don't mind that, not at all. It can be on the internet in minutes when people do that. You get used to it and it's probably a good thing for the way it turns your show into a worldwide concert.

It's hard for anyone to make money out of records any more, so you have to go out and play live.

The whole thing is peculiar and what will happen to bands in the future, I don't know.

We sold 1.5 million copies of Moseley Shoals so that kind of set me up for life.

I haven't got a million in my pocket, but I might be able to muster it up.

Are you living in the digital age? Absolutely not.

Although I've got a phone, I haven't used a computer in my life apart from a word processor when I first started out as a journalist at the Birmingham Mail on September 3, 1984.

I wouldn't know how to switch one on.

I write using a cassette player I bought from Argos years ago for PS24.99.

I realised they were on their way out and thought I'd better buy the tapes to go with it.

I bought the last 60 cassettes that they had.

Where do you live now? I live outside of Stratford-upon-Avon, living the rural, farming kind of lifestyle.

People there don't know who I am. I was in London for a while and would bump into people like Mick Jagger and Pete Townsend down Richmond, so nobody cared who I was there either.

For a while, we did everything you are supposed to do in a rock and roll lifestyle.

Do you still go to Moseley much? No, I haven't got much reason to. It's 30 miles from where I live, so that's a 60-mile round trip.

Are you still writing songs? Not as much as I should do, or in the days when we had our own studio near Five Ways.

Because we all live in different places, it's harder to get together.

Back then we'd meet every day and everything would be geared around writing... I don't think I'd want to do that any more.

But I should be writing something.

What's your best work? I don't know. I don't even know how many songs I've written.

You think about coming up with anthologies... find songs and think 'I can't remember that...' and I wrote it.

But off the Shoals album, I do like Fleeting Mind and The Circle, that has always stood by me.

And your biggest regret? Not writing more songs, probably. But, apart from that, things just happen and you are not really in total control. New bands come and go.

People at record labels change jobs... and so on.

Was David Bowie a big influence? Yes, though I was only about seven or eight when he put his arm round Mick Ronson on Starman on Top of the Pops, so I was a bit young for that to really connect.

He is someone who has had a positive impact on what it is like to be gay.

But I was shocked when I heard he had died... I had put the radio on and assumed everyone was talking about his new album which had only just come out.

Then I thought "this sounds a bit like an obituary". Then I realised... it was an obituary.

I was 14 or 15 when I started to get into Bowie through a mate... and with that came Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, Neil Young.

You've worked with Paul Weller and your guitarist, Steve Cradock, has played on his records for 23 years. Did Weller stand out at the time when you were a kid? He did. I liked The Jam. Steve started playing with him in 1993 and that was amazing for him as he was his idol.

Even just meeting him was one thing, so that has been a fairytale... Steve's son is about 10 and was even sitting on the stage recently with them playing the tambourine.

Is still being around after 20 years a good achievement for a band? It is - we've done all right and I've played with Sir Paul McCartney and Paul Weller.

Though when I met Neil Young I was just so nervous I called him Sir.

Ocean Colour Scene will play The Irish Centre, Digbeth, tomorrow. They are also headlining Millennium Square, Leeds, on Saturday and Sunday, July 23/24, with guests Shed Seven and The Bluetones.

I was in London for a while and would bump into people like Mick Jagger and Pete Townsend. For a while, we lived a rock and roll lifestyle '


Ocean Colour Scene frontman Simon Fowler
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 21, 2016
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