Popped in, Souled Out and going strong 30 years on
He's sold millions of records and played in front of vast crowds as part of pop-soul stars Wet Wet Wet, but bassist/guitarist Graeme Clark doesn't mind admitting that the prospect of going out solo makes him nervous.
He’s sold millions of records and played in front of vast crowds as part of pop-soul stars Wet Wet Wet, but bassist/guitarist Graeme Clark doesn’t mind admitting that the prospect of going out solo makes him nervous.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the band’s five-times platinum selling debut Popped In Souled Out. And with the Wets on hold for the moment, it seemed like a good time for Graeme to try something new.
Graeme is coming to The Spring with his show, An Audience With The Thought Collector, driven by music with stories and anecdotes about life in the band, and how he came about writing some of the biggest hits of the ‘80s and ‘90s.
He has also released two solo albums and three EPs throughout his solo career.
‘This is a radically different thing,’ he says. ‘If people want a Wet Wet Wet show, don’t come to this, but if people want to see how I put the songs together and hear how I did it, this is the show for you.
‘I’ve seen guys go out and do “an audience with...” and it’s just talking, but I hope this will mostly be driven by the music – I don’t think I’m the guy who’d be on Parkinson or The One Show, or whatever, but I think I can be articulate about my role.
‘This is entirely new to me though, I’ve never done anything like this before.
‘Wet Wet Wet go out and play arenas to 10,000 people or more, this is going to be about 100 people a night if I’m lucky. It’s a different skill set.
‘It’s been interesting going out and playing by myself, because it’s completely different to when Wet Wet Wet go out and play in every arena – its like a dinosaur that wonders across the UK for three months every few years. This is really small and intimate, it really breaks it down, I can do my own songs, but I can also do some of the Wets’ songs that translate into an acoustic sort of environment.
‘It can be intimidating, but when I started going out there on my own, I was wondering, will I enjoy this?
‘It takes me right back to ’84-85, when we were starting out. We didn’t have a record deal and we were playing to 30-40 people a night.
‘I’ve sort of come around full circle!’
But Graeme has been enjoying getting to grips with playing as a solo artist in recent years.
‘Since 2011 I’ve been out doing my solo stuff. We used to go out every three-four years so there was an interim period where the band wasn’t working at all, and I like to think of myself as a creative guy and I needed somewhere for that creativity to go, so I started kind of chivvying away and writing some songs and before I knew where I was I had an album of material.
‘So I recorded that, and to be fair, I’m a bit of a show-off, I like to get in front of people and play my songs. I guess it’s one of those things, once that bug bites you it opens a door that can’t be closed. It had always been my intention to go out by myself in some sort of capacity. But one, I didn’t know if I was going to enjoy it, and two, if anyone else was going to enjoy it!’
Graeme was one of the main songwriters in Wet Wet Wet, but as he puts it: ‘I had a massive hand in it. I think the guys would have something to say if I came out and said I wrote all of those songs myself, but I think it’s fair to say I drove the train that was the catalyst to make these songs happen.
‘I only pick the songs that would mean something to people and I also play Love is All Around (The Troggs cover that stayed at number one for a whopping 15 weeks in 1994) – it’s not my song at all, obviously, but it’s part of my history.’
As to the band’s future, frontman Marti Pellow announced suddenly in July that he was quitting.
‘Marti’s decided to take a step back, so we are kind of weighing up our options. I must admit, it took me a bit by surprise, but if that’s what he wants to do, then that’s fair enough. We are just going to have to have a think and see if we can take it forward.
‘It’s been a big part of my life and I’m not quite ready to give this up yet. Watch this space, as they say.’
Wet Wet Wet’s Graeme Clark: An audience with the Thought Collector
The Spring Arts Centre, Havant
Friday, September 22