Thursday, May 21, 2009

RIGHT SAID FRED: The Exclusive Interview-Part Three!



An EXCLUSIVE interview with Richard and Fred Fairbrass By Stephen SPAZ Schnee

In Part One of our three part interview, we discussed the band's early days, the sudden success of "I'm Too Sexy", the making of their first two albums (Up and Sex & Travel) and lots of other revealing tidbits! Then, in Part Two, Fred and Richard discussed the difficult third album (Smashing) and the following two albums that coincided with their rebirth as one of the most exciting Euro Electro-Pop duos of the millennium: Fredhead and Stand Up. Now, in our third and final installment in this in-depth interview with the Fairbrass brothers, they talk about their brief foray away from the Electro sound on the album For Sale and then their triumphant return with this year's I'm A Celebrity album! Ladies and gentlemen, once again, I give you RIGHT SAID FRED!

SPAZ: In 2006, you released For Sale, which saw RSF tone down the dance beats and sound like a proper Pop/Rock band. Was this a conscious move away from club music?
FRED: Yes and no. We moved away from the dance beats but, by the time we finished the album, we really missed the dance beats. We had had a lot of personal during this album disruption (I had pneumonia and was in the hospital for awhile), so I think that's why it's very hit and miss. I love some of it and some of it doesn't touch me.
RICHARD: There are one or two tracks on that album of which I’m still extremely proud: "The Cost of Loving" and "I Wanna be Simple" being two that come to mind. "I Love My Car" was also a really cool song. The move away from dance beats towards more of a pop\rock feel was not right in retrospect, despite the process throwing up some good stuff!

SPAZ: Once again, the songwriting was top notch and the album was filled with tracks that should have been singles (“I Love My Car”, ‘Cry”, “Obvious”), yet you only released one from the album, a cover of “Where Do You Go To My Lovely”. Was the single chosen by the label or have RSF always been the ones to choose what singles are released?
FRED: Yes, they should have been singles but the label (MOS) weren't interested in those songs as singles. “Where Do You Go To My Lovely” had a lot of radio attention and was very popular when we played it on tour, which is why it was chosen as a single. It achieved the highest chart entry we had ever had in Germany.
RICHARD: I'm very proud of the songwriting on that album and you've reminded me of two songs I’m ashamed to say I’d overlooked ("Cry" and "Obvious"). We've always had a bit of a fight with labels over the choice of singles, trying as far as possible to come to some common ground. My choice at that time was for "Obvious".

SPAZ: Though For Sale was a slight change in direction, were you pleased with it as a whole?
FRED: Not really, it wasn't focused enough for my liking. I like eclectic albums but this was just too fragmented. 'The Cost Of Loving' is probably my favorite track, I think we nailed the writing 100% and the production is fantastic.
RICHARD: Although I still feel very good about the actual writing, we could've done more on the production, I think. There are "tracks" and there are "songs". Tracks have to be nailed on the production side to achieve a sense of completion; songs, in the simplest sense, can stand on their own without the need for too much messing with. It's just a rule of thumb… Readers can write in with exceptions!

SPAZ: Any particular memories about recording For Sale?
FRED: We had great fun recording the guitars: we spent quite a long time on that...some would say indulgent.
RICHARD: I really enjoyed working on this album but, ironically, for the wrong reasons. We were left entirely alone and we buried ourselves in the making of it for months… great fun! However, with not enough A&R input, we didn't focus as hard as we should have. Although I think it's a great album, it didn't have the first, and very necessary, fly away single that was needed to get the album recognized.

SPAZ: In 2007, the band was thrust back into the spotlight with a new version of “I’m Too Sexy” that was inspired by a detergent commercial that you appeared in. Can you tell us a little bit about how this came about?
FRED: The ad agency approached us about using “… Sexy” and asked us to appear in the commercial: we liked the idea immediately. The product, Daz, is very iconic and reminded me of my childhood. We had resigned to Gut Records (don't ask me why) and they had a new radio edit of “I'm Too Sexy” recorded. It was way below what the song deserves. Re-recording a song as big as “… Sexy”, you either get creative and spend some real money or you just leave it alone, Gut did neither. We did some promotion around this release but no one wanted to hear the 2007 version! We found ourselves promoting the original version, only 16 years later! It was a real fiasco.

SPAZ: Were you planning to release a new album at this time? I seem to remember that your website stated that you were working on a new album for Gut?
FRED: Yes, we were recording a new album. Half way through, Gut Records went into administration, so we were in limbo until we got all the recording rights returned to us. It was a tedious and expensive process.
RICHARD: I should have my eyes put out for ever thinking that going back to Gut was anything but a lousy idea. In the words of Jim Carrey: "somebody stop me!" My therapist has advised me to erase all memories of this period from my mind. "Nurse, where's my medication?"

SPAZ: At the end of 2008, you released the single “I’m A Celebrity”, which saw you returning to the club sound of Fredhead and Stand Up. Was the song written about the cult of celebrity in general or the sudden fame that reality stars were experiencing in the public eye?
FRED: “I'm A Celebrity” takes a look at today's celebrity culture, the good and the bad… and the ugly! People are famous and often the public have no idea why. It's an industry all on it's own.
RICHARD: The cult of celebrity is not entirely new, although the advent of meaningless reality shows which today feed it, is. The notion of "famous for being famous" is fairly new and the song tries to illustrate both the emptiness and the transience of the celebrity game.

SPAZ: Shortly after the single came out, you released the album I’m A Celebrity, which is, once again, filled to the brim with infectious songs driven by floor-filling dance beats. Were these tracks that you’d been working on for Gut or a whole new set of songs?
FRED: This was intended as the next Gut album. Although getting our rights back was painful, I’m delighted it didn't get released through Gut Records.
RICHARD: All in all, I’m as proud of this album as anything we've recorded.

SPAZ: One track in particular, “Melanie”, is definitely one of the greatest pop moments in RSF history. What is the story behind this track?
FRED: I'm so pleased you like this track. I think it's one of the best songs we've ever written. As a kid, I only had two posters on my wall: George Best (UK soccer legend) and Olivia Newton-John. The song “Melanie” is about looking longingly at my ONJ poster and just drifting off thinking all the things a hormone riddled teenager imagines when looking at someone as beautiful as she was... and is.
RICHARD: This was fun to record. I love bass synth line and the chorus vocals, which we really nailed. Also, without sounding big headed, I think we got the production just about right.

SPAZ: The album is club-oriented, but there is such a variety of songs on the album, including the oddly ‘80s experimental sound of “Yellow Metal Car”, the ragga-fied “I Am A Bachelor”, the jaunty sing-along “Infected” and other fine moments. Do you feel more comfortable keeping things interesting, musically?
FRED: We do mix it up quite a lot, partly because we don't know how NOT to. Whatever any one of us has been listening to recently finds its way into the studio. Clyde works with Chris Garcia from Trinidad which is how “I'm A Bachelor” came about. We all love the humor and chaos English bands like the Small faces exuded, so with “Infected”, we tried to recreate a bit of that madness. Humor and chaos is now sadly lacking in the UK music scene. It's a real shame.
RICHARD: I think it's better to keep things interesting and run the real risk of messing up than to stick to overly familiar territory. I'm really happy with the mix we've got on this album; it reminds me a little of our first album, which was also pretty varied.

SPAZ: There’s a bonus remix of “I’m Too Sexy” stapled on the end as a bonus track: When all is said and done, has this song been a blessing or a curse?
FRED: Definitely a blessing! I have many musician friends, some successful and some not, they would all give anything to have written “I'm Too Sexy” and, apart from that, I truly believe it's a great original record and I am extremely proud of it.
RICHARD: "I'm Too Sexy" is both the golden egg and a lead weight. Despite everything, though, it's hard to express how proud of it I am. It changed our lives and makes me smile every time we perform it!

SPAZ: What’s next for Right Said Fred?
FRED: We are negotiating a new deal, and we all know how much fun that is!
We're about to record a couple of tracks with The Disco Boys and Nosie Katzmann so watch this space… Then we'll be on the road doing lots of shows and counting our blessings.

SPAZ: What do you currently have spinning on your CD and DVD players?
FRED: (CDs) Lots of various dance tracks like Jennifer Hudson and Sneaky Sound System. Albums: Colin Hay’s Going Somewhere, Hotel Costes, Pet Shop Boys’ Yes, The Dresden Dolls’ Yes Virginia, The Infidels, Bruce Springsteen's Live in Dublin, Dandy Warhols’ 13 Tales, Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits. (DVDs) Family Guy, The Wire, CSI: Las Vegas, anything with Benicio Del Toro, Eastern Promises, Syriana, Canned Heat Story.
RICHARD: I can't get enough of Bruce Springsteen performing "Pay Me My Money Down" with the Sessions Band! I love him, totally cool and totally committed! Recently, I also became completely mesmerized by Leonard Cohen's "The Stranger Song". Why doesn't anyone write stuff like this anymore? Other than the above, I listen to a lot of Sinatra, Aerosmith, McCartney, Dylan, Pink Floyd, and the Stones.

Thanks to Fred and Richard Fairbrass.
Special thanks to David Levine.

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