As co-founder of 10cc, Graham Gouldman was the man behind some of their biggest hits. He tells Chris Broom about why he still loves those songs.
Earlier this year Graham Gouldman was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in America, alongside other greats such as Burt Bacharach, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney.
Even before he became one quarter of the original line-up of 10cc, Gouldman racked up an impressive number of hits written for other artists, including The Yardbirds’ For Your Love, Bus Stop and Look Through Any Window for The Hollies, as well as numerous others.
But it is his work with the ’70s blockbusters with whom he is most closely associated. They scored three UK number one singles – Rubber Bullets, I’m Not In Love and Dreadlock Holiday, while other hits included Donna, Wall Street Shuffle, The Dean and I and The Things We Do For Love and they sold more than 30m albums worldwide.
Gouldman may be the last founder member in the band, but its current line-up includes Rick Fenn on guitar and Paul Burgess on drums – who have both been members since the mid-70s. The line-up is rounded out by multi-instrumentalists Mick Wilson and Mike Stevens.
And next week the band comes to the Kings Theatre in Southsea.
‘Year on year we get busier and visit more countries. It’s great, we love touring and playing together and we get on really well,’ says Gouldman. ‘The audiences these days are very gratifying. You get the people you would expect, who grew up with 10cc, but you also get young kids who know the songs too.
‘The band, as it stands now is absolutely fantastic. And of course our main strength and what we’re selling is the songs, nothing else. This is as near as you’re ever going to get to hearing the perfect 10cc. Hit after hit after hit. It’s relentless. We show no mercy.’
That original line-up of Gouldman, Kevin Godley, Lol Creme and Eric Stewart were all already well-seasoned in the music business from their experiences in the ’60s by the time 10cc came together in 1972.
As Gouldman recalls of the ’60s: ‘That era was arguably, and I wouldn’t argue with it because I agree, the most influential of them all, and I think we’re still feeling the vibes of that decade today. Every guitar band that ever existed was based on bands from that era.’
With all four members as songwriters, they enjoyed dabbling in different genres and experimentation, something Gouldman feels is often overlooked these days in favour of the hits.
‘I think people do overlook that side of the band, and I wish they would look more into some of the albums we did – I think they’re brilliant and I say that unashamedly.
‘I think we all had a bit of an image problem. We always let whoever was best for the job take the job, consequently we had three number ones with three different singers. I don’t know any other band apart from maybe The Beatles who were like that – look at Queen, it was always Freddie’s voice and Brian May’s guitar sound. We didn’t have that.’
But as he acknowledges: ‘It’s like the songs are the stars rather than any particular people. The personnel has changed over the years and people still want to come along and hear the songs.’
And he admits that picking the set list when the band go out on tour provides him with a pleasant dilemma: ‘I like to change things now and again, but for this set list there’s so many songs we must do.
‘I don’t think there’d be a riot, but there’d be a lot of grumbling. There are so many great songs – it’s a nice problem to have.’
He also intends to keep going for some time yet.
‘People say to me: “You don’t have to work, why are you doing it?” As if Count Basie ever said that, or BB King,’ he says, as if the suggestion he might quit was offensive.
‘We’re not doing it for the money, we do it because we love it. I love being in a band. That might sound terribly immature. It’s tiring, it’s hard work, but it’s a lot fun and there’s a gang mentality that’s like part of being part of any team – even if it’s a Sunday football team. There’s something about being a few mates and doing something you enjoy.’
Although the current line-up has been together for a decade, Gouldman says there won’t be new material recorded as 10cc with them.
‘No, definitely not – I won’t go over that line. I think that’s unacceptable, whereas I can justify us going out as 10cc in a live sense, because I’m there, Rick Fenn joined the band in ’76 and Paul Burgess joined us on drums in 1973, so I’m comfortable with that.’
But there definitely won’t be any reunion of the original quartet. Godley and Creme went on to have post-10cc success, notably with the song Cry, and Gouldman and Godley have also worked together in the past decade.
‘That ship has well and truly sailed,’ says Gouldman. ‘I actually saw Lol a few months ago, we were rehearsing in the same building, and we had a nice chat. He was rehearsing with (his project) The Producers, and I think at one point we were both playing the same song.’
However, Gouldman is enjoying life right now. Looking back at his Hall of Fame induction, he says:
‘We went to New York and it was a wonderful ceremony, very exciting. I was very honoured, I must say, as it’s for the body of work.
‘There’s no young whippersnappers in there, you’ve got to pay your dues.
‘I didn’t need it to feel valid, I wasn’t looking for it, but it’s always nice to be recognised by your peers – it wasn’t the readers of Hello!, it was other songwriters.’
...playing again with Kevin Godley.
We played at the Royal Albert Hall two years ago and he came in with us. It was particuarly poignant when we sang Old Wild Men.
...his ’80s band Wax.
That was me and the late, great Andrew Gold. We met through 10cc when our American record label wanted us to work with him. We formed a great musical and personal partnership that lasted until he passed away.
...producing The Ramones.
It was very strange. I produced
The Ramones and Gilbert O’Sullivan in the same year. They were great. I was anticipating difficulties, but they were very punctual and conscientious. Joey was lovely to work with.