Steve Cradock, Ocean Colour Scene mainstay, has a few words.
Steve Cradock has been part of the British music scene for over twenty years. He’s played with Paul Weller and the Specials but he’s best known as a member of Ocean Colour Scene. Dave Woodhall talks to a local hero.
You’re from Solihull. Is that ‘proper’ Solihull, with servants and landscaped gardens, or a bit closer to the Chelmsley end?
“I grew up in Olton, or Sheldon if you prefer, near the ice rink. I went to school at Lode Heath.
But you did make Moseley Shoals, Would you say that you and the band are personally responsible for the gentrification of south Birmingham?
That’s a shame. You could take some credit for it.
“Yeah. But it’s not important. You can have that one.”
That’s okay, We can let someone else have that. There’s another Birmingham reference in one of your titles, Peace City West, your solo album from 2011. That came from a book about World War Three and referred to nuclear attacks on two cities, one of them being Birmingham. I don’t think anyone else has picked up on that, which might mean that you and I are the only people who ever bought the book.
“I didn’t buy it, it was lent to me by a friend of mine. It was an interesting book and I thought the title Peace City West sounded great. What was Peace City East?”
“Well, there you go.”
You’re living in Devon now. That must be nice in this weather.
“Near Totnes. I’ve been here about ten years now. It’s pissing down with rain now though.”
Devon must be full of Brummies at this time of year.
“It is anyway, to be honest. There’s lots of us living here, and lots of Glaswegians for some reason.”
Enough of this parochialism and on to music. What are you up to now?
“We just played Kendall Calling in Penrith, which was great and I’ve spent the last two years on and off in between touring making a record with PP Arnold. We finished about eight months ago but I’m still trying to sort the contracts for some of the material.”
She’s still got a fabulous voice.
And you’ve got Martha Reeves touring with you at the end of the year. That’s heading back towards the Motown era.
“She doesn’t have many kind words to say about the whole Berry Gordy experience. But I’m a big fan, I love all the Motown stuff and it seemed a great idea to have her with us.”
I would guess it keeps you on your toes having her as support. You’ll have to hit the ground running of you’ve had Martha Reeves performing before you go on stage.
“No, it’s just going to be nice. Hopefully we’ll be on our toes anyway.”
Your big local gig coming up is Wolverhampton Racecourse on 31st August. That should be an experience.
“We’ve done a couple of racecourse gigs before. They’re fun and to be honest, everyone’s just pissed. For whatever reason, the only time I’ve ever known a crowd like that is maybe Glasgow. It seems like everyone’s having a laugh. We’ll be playing all the singles and the best-known stuff. Good weather and everyone’ll go home happy”
It’s been 22 years since Moseley Shoals came out. Time passes quickly.
“You’re starting to sound like your nan. We’ve been together thirty years next year. It’s a long time but that’s what happens I guess if you’re lucky enough to keep living.”
It must be tempting to look back on that period as an absolute golden era, both for the band and for British music in general.
“I don’t know. I think that sort of thing is what you do when you’re pissed. When you’re in a band you’re too busy. How long do people last for?”
It seems to work in two cycles. One the one hand artists release an album every two or three years whereas it often used to be two a year, yet on the other hand success can be so transient and trends change so quickly.
“Do trends change? I don’t know if there are trends anymore. It used to be that every year you’d have different style, a different fashion, but everything seemed to have changed for me. There aren’t movements anymore, everything’s just one.”
You’re playing a festival at Knebworth in September. That must bring back a few Oasis-based memories.
“I can’t remember the first time.”
To continue with the nostalgia theme, that was back when the Three Lions thing kicked off and football was coming home, same as this summer. Have you got much of an interest?
“I support Villa, Simon’s a Bluenose but it was never a thing that we brought to the front. We were just about music.”
Ocean Colour Scene play Wolverhampton Racecourse on Friday 31st August. Tickets