Tuesday, June 6, 2017

DUNCAN REID: An EXCLUSIVE Interview!


Let’s Skip To The Good Bit:

An EXCLUSIVE Q&A 
with 
DUNCAN REID
    



     Duncan "Kid" Reid came to prominence as a member of British Punk band The Boys in 1977. Not your typical band of spit-tastic Punks, The Boys entered the fray loaded with a bunch of great hooks and legitimate Rock ‘n’ Roll swagger. While Duncan didn’t compose much of the band’s albums, he handled nearly half of the lead vocals on the first two albums and added loads of sweet and delectable harmonies. The Boys’ blend of Ramones-influenced Punk and Beatle-esque songwriting became the stuff of legend. However, all good things must come to an end and they split in 1982 after four albums and numerous singles together. Instead of forming a new band and going on the road, Duncan stepped away from the limelight.

     Seventeen years after their split, The Boys reunited for the occasional live show, often hinting about new material. By the time The Boys released a new album, Duncan Reid has left the fold and began pursuing a solo career. Armed with a cache of self-penned melodic Pop rockers, his 2012 debut, LITTLE BIG HEAD, was a breath of fresh air in a stagnant Punk ocean. THE DIFFICULT SECOND ALBUM - released under the name Duncan Reid & The Big Heads - followed two years later and was even better. Now, in 2017, Duncan Reid and his band have issued a pure guitar Pop masterpiece with BOMBS AWAY. Punk kids will love the energy while Power Pop kids will fall in love with the instantly memorable melodies. While many will file BOMBS AWAY under ‘Punk Rock’ because of Duncan’s affiliation with The Boys, the album is far from just that. Imagine if The Ramones were bigger McCartney fans than they let on. Or if Cheap Trick provided all the music for The Archies cartoons. Then again, as cool as those descriptions sound, Duncan Reid & The Big Heads’ BOMBS AWAY is so much better. The album has a brash, confident shell and a sweet, gooey center. The album is filled to the brim with ear worms that will not go away: “Let’s Skip To The Good Bit,” “That’s Just The Way That It Is,” “I Can Fly,” “Wouldn’t Change A Single Thing,” “The Man On The Desk” and the title track make the album worth 10X whatever you pay for it. And there’s lots more tracks to choose from. And how can you not love "Hey Frank Sinatra," a song that namechecks the Chairman Of The Board AND Neil Sedaka! Without a doubt, BOMBS AWAY is one of the best albums of 2017 – and certainly the best Power Pop album of the year. Duncan and his mates – Sophie K. Powers, Nick Hughes and Karen Jones  - have created a gem of an album.

     Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to catch up with Duncan Reid and throw some questions his way. The Kid himself was gracious enough to take the time to answer. Read on…




STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: BOMBS AWAY has just been released.  How are you feeling about the album and the reaction to it so far?
DUNCAN REID: I'm feeling ecstatic! I think it's one of the best records I've been involved with and those who've bought it and all the reviewers seem to agree. There's also a feeling of relief. Will the record live up to the previous ones? Well, it has and, if anything, is even better!

SPAZ: You’ve been a recording artist for 40 years yet you have managed to retain an incredible energy that comes through in your music. What keeps you so focused and driven four decades on?
DUNCAN: Well, I had a 17 year break in the middle while I brought up a family and paid the mortgage and now I'm back to being a teenager again or, at least, trying to be. I do it only because I love it. What we play is so anti fashion that you have to love it to do it. Plus, being so damn good is a thrill. I know every time we go on stage that people seeing us will be stunned. And they are.


SPAZ: The Boys were a beloved Punk band but they were certainly much more than Punk.  I’ve always felt that The Boys were just great Rock ‘n’ Roll. How did you view yourselves back in the day?  And has your opinion changed over the years?
DUNCAN: We were called The Beatles of Punk because we brought all the harmonies to it and lead the way on that. We saw ourselves as smack bang in the middle of the Punk scene to begin with but moved away by the time of the fourth album.

SPAZ: The Boys are back but you chose to go solo.  Was that a tough decision to make?
DUNCAN: The Boys reformed in about 1999 and I was part of that. I played my part by being co-singer/bass player/main jumping around and getting the crowd going person until about five years ago when I left. It was very, very hard to leave but now it was clearly the best thing I ever did musically since I wouldn't have made these three Big Heads albums otherwise and wouldn't be in such a superb live band.

SPAZ: It seems that every Duncan Reid song has a massive hook to go along with it.  While you may be embraced by the Punk crowd, your songwriting is very melodic and obviously influenced by classic Pop. Which artists would you consider your biggest influences as a musician and songwriter?
DUNCAN: I always describe the Big Heads as a cross between The Ramones, The Beach Boys and John Lennon. I love everything with great tunes, guitars and backing vocals.



SPAZ: Are you a fan of the Power Pop genre or does your music accidentally fit so comfortably in that niche?
DUNCAN:  I never paid any attention to Power Pop until people started calling me it and now I'm very proud to operate under that banner. I love bands like Cheap Trick, Jellyfish, etc.

SPAZ: LITTLE BIG HEAD was a great solo debut.  Were those songs that you had built up over the years or did you go on a writing binge when you decided it was time to record a solo album?
DUNCAN: I'd started to write toward the end of my time with The Boys which was just as well because it meant I had most of an album when I needed one. I can't really do writing binges. It takes me about 2 years to write the 17 songs it takes to whittle down to 14 good ones for an album.



SPAZ: THE DIFFICULT SECOND ALBUM was actually better than the debut.  Chock full of great songs. Do you feel more comfortable as a band leader than a band member?  And how much input do The Big Heads have in the arrangements?
DUNCAN: Do I feel more comfortable as a band leader? That's a hard one to answer as it always depends on the individual band members. Certainly there was a lot of arguing within The Boys at the end and things seemed to be a fight. But loads of bands are like that. It's not unusual because it takes a certain ego to get up on stage. Things are more harmonious in the Big Heads and I do have the casting vote but everyone contributes. When I write songs I make demos at home. About 50% to 70% of the arrangements are there but the band will add a lot. Going forward I want to co-write more.

SPAZ: BOMBS AWAY contains some of your best tracks to date. The title track could be a massive hit if radio would play it. What inspired this batch of songs?
DUNCAN:  I said on the press release that the album is a collection of songs about life, love, paranoia and Viagra. I think that covers it! I don’t know where the songs come from. Each and every one is a small miracle to me.


SPAZ: Many artists can come up with a catchy chorus but the verses and bridges are written around the chorus.  You understand the importance of making every moment of a song count. “Let’s Skip To The Good Bit” is a prime example. Is writing a difficult task or do the songs just come to you naturally?
DUNCAN:  I love the process of writing and developing the songs at home in my little studio. It's an easy process apart from the fact that I don't have enough time for it. Being in an independent band these days means you must book your own gigs, publicize them, organize them, keep all the social media going, let alone play the gigs and make records. Finding time to write is the challenge because you have to drop everything else.

SPAZ: “The Shortest Song In The World”. Brilliant. Discuss.
DUNCAN:  It made me laugh. I couldn't believe no one hadn't already done it. I'll be really cheesed off if someone records a shorter song. It's getting loads of plays on the radio but it's too short to earn royalties. A song has to be more than 20 seconds long to do that!

SPAZ: Is it odd to think that you’re four decades into your career and you’ve recorded your best album to date?  Not many artists are capable of such a feat.
DUNCAN:  No, not odd. I was just a late starter. Maybe writers have a limited number of great songs in them and mine just took some time to come out.



SPAZ: Your music is edgy and powerful yet there is a tenderness that creeps in as well. Do you find it difficult to balance the two?
DUNCAN: Songwriting is just a journey of discovery with an out of focus map. I start with a scrap of a tune, build on that a little by adding bits, write the words to add the melody then pile on the backing vocals, guitar licks and keyboards. Then you stand back and say "what have we got here?"  I don't know where it comes from or where it's going to go. When you arrive at the end it's been a bit of a lottery as to how you got there. So, it's not difficult to balance the two as what comes out is just what lies hidden waiting to be uncovered.

SPAZ: What is next for Duncan Reid?
DUNCAN:  We carry on fighting the good fight playing our brand of Heavy Melody Power Pop Punk. It would be great to get over to the US but the cost of getting the visas to play is crippling. We'll work it out though.

SPAZ: What are you currently listening to on your CD/record players? (could be old or new)
DUNCAN:  Right now, I'm loving Jellyfish, Heavy Drapes, and the new mix of SGT. PEPPER

Thanks to Duncan Reid
 





DUNCAN REID & THE BIG HEADS
BOMBS AWAY

Available NOW!

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