Miles of laughs ahead of Berkofest
The fourth highly-anticipated Berkofest is just over seven weeks away, but what happens when a comedian and a musician meet?
Now you can find out, as Berkofest compere and local comedian Robin Ince managed to grab an exclusive interview with former Wonder Stuff frontman Miles Hunt ahead of his performance with Erica Nockalls on September 10.
Robin, who lives in Berkhamsted, asked singer-songwriter Miles: “What do you reckon the young, angry Miles Hunt would make of The Wonder Stuff touring at 30?”
Miles: “I know for a fact that he would be very proud and satisfied that he managed to hold off from ever having to get a proper job to cover his bills.
“Seriously though, it was always my intention to have an entire life in music, I always knew I was in it for the long haul.”
Robin: “Do you remember the lyrics of the first song you wrote?”
Miles: “Unfortunately yes. The song was called ‘Speakeasy’ and went something, if not exactly like this; Speak easy, speak to me, speak with caution ‘cos speech ain’t free.
I had harbored notions of involving socio-political content in my song writing as a youngster, as that was very common in the music that I held most dear as a teenager, Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Ruts, Tom Robinson Band etc.
“I soon learned that I while I had good intentions I was not so good at fully researching my subject matter and took the easier route of relationship based songs.
“I did have another bash at writing lyrics with a slight political bent to them in the early days of The Wonder Stuff with songs such as ‘Give, Give, Give Me More, More, More’ and ‘It’s Yer Money I’m After, Baby’, both written between 1987 and 1988. We were still suffering the Thatcher years and those two songs were my tiny comment on her age of greed.”
Robin: “Is there any song that after writing it you’ve thought, ‘Oh cripes, I’ll never top that’?”
Miles: “Yeah, quite a few actually. I think the first time that I felt I had really developed my song writing further than just being a sum of my influences was a song called Sing The Absurd from The Wonder Stuff’s fourth album Construction For The Modern Idiot back in 1993.
“I honestly had no idea where it came from and it hardly took more time to write than it does to play it. I was slightly unnerved by it to be honest.”
Robin: “However cool the artist, it seems that appearing on Top Of The Pops is iconic – was it iconic for you?”
Miles: “Not at all, I hated every second of every appearance we did on there, six in total I believe.
“It was a constant bone of contention between Polydor Records and I.
“I never had TotP in my sights, I never saw myself as becoming a mainstream pop star, I wanted the band to remain out on the fringes.
“Unfortunately when you take heaps of money from major record companies they generally want it back.
“It was impossible to turn down the invite to go and mime to our songs on the silly show, it would have done untold damage to our relationship with Polydor.
“Miming to the music you have recorded is an incredibly humiliating experience.”
Robin: What will surprise the festival audiences most this year when you and Erica perform?
Miles: “We don’t tend to do a lot of planning for our acoustic duo shows, we know what song we will open with and take it from there.
“I always feel that I need to take the measure of the audience to make a gig worthwhile. Going on stage with a strict plan never really works out for the two of us or the audience.
“There’ll be a mix of Wonder Stuff songs from across all of our albums that’s for sure, and a handful of songs that Erica and I have released as a duo.”
Robin: “Is there still a delight in unveiling a new song to a new crowd?”
Miles: “Of course, but then I thoroughly enjoy the delight on the audiences faces when we play old favourites, but doing either is all good by me.”
Berkofest is at Berkhamsted Cricket Club on Saturday, September 10 from 11.30am to 7pm.