Last week I interrupted Richard and Fred Fairbrass better known as multi million selling chart toppers Right Said Fred for a quick chat about the new album, the music business, celebrity and what the future holds for the band.
Hi Fred, busy?
FF: We’re in our studio having a clear out because we are moving studios. So we are up to our necks in gaffer tape, guitars and bits of equipment that we have no idea what they do.
The new single ‘Celebrity’ is obviously a parody on the celebrity culture and the age of reality tv. Has the financial lure of reality tv ever come knocking?
FF: Yeah, we’ve been offered a lot of stuff. We actually were going to do “I’m a celebrity” you know the jungle thing. We got flown over and we were lured in by the possibility of earning on the back end but us and the tv production company didn’t actually see eye to eye and we ended up not doing it. They paid us though which is always helps but it was a complete waste of time. We ended up having to scrap quite a lot of other work. Like I said we do get offered a lot of stuff, especially Richard but 9 times out of 10 we say no because, well life’s too short really.
So what are the plans for the new album? [Celebrity which is available now on 991 http://991.com/Buy/ProductInformation.aspx?StockNumber=468512]. You’ve sold over 22 million records so it what do you want this one to achieve.
FF: At the moment its only released in the US and its sort of bubbling around. For us its more of a calling card in the States as we haven’t been playing there for a while for all sorts of reasons. In terms of the UK, I don’t think the album as it stands will be released. A version of it might with some remixes and also at the moment we have been offered a new deal for a Best of and a new studio album. So there be a mix of that album and a best of. To be honest with you, the UK isn’t very supportive so we work elsewhere.
Why do you think you don’t get the support in the UK that you get in other countries?
FF: I’m not really sure. We always get a really hard time form radio, although Radio 2 have always been pretty nice to us, most radio is very stand off-ish and erm, the press and particularly the GQs of this world are just poisonous. So basically it’s the same thing as the celebrity thing. Life’s too short. You have to go where the love is. We get lots of attention in Europe and a growing attention in the US.
Reading the updates on your website [righsaidfred.com] and it said the pair of you had been doing some acting. What’s been going on there?
FF: Well, the storyline to the video is where we have to kinda pull some faces and act [laughs] I wouldn’t really say it was acting, which might be stretching the imagination even for us. A few people commented that they thought we would be good in a little movie. We have been approached before by Joel Silver to do Die Hard: With A Vengeance the Bruce Willis thing. However, management being what they were at the time it all got a bit screwed up and we never heard anymore about it but he did come and meet us and we did talk about it at length. The same thing happened with Baywatch. We were going to do that too. The trouble was that we were so busy a the time and hot everywhere you do a little bit of everything and not enough of the things that count we also had some appalling management at the time so it partly our fault and partly theirs.
Listening to your Peter Sarsted cover of ‘Where did you go to my lovely’ which is really nice version and also your Small Faces ‘Sha-lal-la-le’ on your website. Have you ever thought of doing a full covers album as way raising your profile in the UK?
FF: It has crossed our minds a few times but I always get put off by other people’s covers albums. Again, the UK is such a conservative market I think the last one I saw advertised was the Ronan Keating ‘Songs for my mother’ or something and he must really dislike her I guess.
FF: Yeah there was it was called ‘Heavenly’. If we were to do it we would go for something a little quirkier. You know. One hit wonders or something like that. I think that because I don’t like other people’s covers with maybe David Bowies’ Pin Ups as the exception there’s not many that I’ve thought “yeah that’s a good idea.”
Speaking of Bowie. Something I didn’t know about was that you and Richard had both worked with Bowie and also Mick Jagger and you had worked with Bob Dylan.
FF: I did a handful of shows playing guitar for Dylan for a movie called ‘Hearts Of Fire’ and Richard and I did a lot of promos and video stuff with both David Bowie and Jagger.
Obviously ‘I’m too sexy’ is your calling card and you must have performed it thousands and thousands of times since its release. Has there ever been a time during the shows that you’ve thought “Oh, Jesus not that bloody song again?”
FF: I actually think the opposite actually. Even when we’ve done a bunch of festivals and we’re not headlining and we’ve been knocked down a slot or two for whatever bizarre reason. One thing I do know is that without sounding too arrogant is that we are going to have the biggest song at the festival and unless we’ve go someone like, The Police or Springsteen on stage after us very few people have a song that big. But like I said, what I do know is that there will be 5 or 6 minutes in that set where everybody knows what were doing. Fortunately in Europe the way we organise our set is that ‘Stand Up’ and ‘You’re My Mate’ are equally well received as ‘Sexy’ and ‘Deeply Dippy’ is only known through he album. Also ‘Don’t talk just kiss’ is one of those songs that’s a good radio track but not as exciting live.
Looking back through your catalogue and all the songs you’ve just mentioned. You right good catchy pop songs with good hooks and choruses. So it must be pleasing even without the press support to have had the career you’ve had.
FF: Thanks, we think so too. Erm, we’ve kind of got accustomed to that. I remember when we went touring in America when it first kicked off and we were doing a shed tour playing to 12 or 15,000 a night, the record was number one and it was all going mad. I remember picking up and reading the front page of Music Week or some British thing and it said “Blur conquer America” and they were playing to 600 people in New York. And I thought, ya know I mean I love Blur, I’m not having a pop at them because there a fucking great band but I just thought isn’t it bizarre how we’re getting this level of exposure and we could not get arrested. I think we got put on the cover of Smash Hits once and a few others but in general the positive press was foreign led. We had great reviews in Billboard and some big American magazines. I mean we even had our own page in Time magazine. But erm, in the UK we’ve constantly had this cheesy, novelty thing thrown at us time and time again and you know you can only put up with that for a certain amount of time and we’ve been very lucky that we are financially solvent and we just don’t need that rubbish really.
We’ve done a handful of clubs dates in the UK recently and we’re doing odds and sods. We got locked into a heinous record deal which the label went into administration so we had a year or actually two years where w couldn’t release anything. It’s been bloody horrible which is why we did the celebrity album and released it in the US just to give us something to do. Now we are out of that contract and about to sing a new one we can do a little more. The British punters are fantastic our problem is with the British media who can be pretty unpleasant.
So do you have shows lined up?
We have a few pencilled in but I say that with a touch of trepidation as we are due to sign the new contract next week I think it is now so we may have to re-examine our diaries because the emphasis will shift more towards breaking the new record in Europe.
Thanks for your time Fred.
FF: No worries, do you want to speak to Richard at all?
Erm, I think I have all I need unless Richard has a different take on anything we’ve discussed.
FF: He thinks everything I’ve said was shit. No really everything is fine.
All the forthcoming right Said Fred releases info and tour dates will be posted as we have them.
Thanks to Fred, Richard and David Levine for their time.