Europeans & How We Live

Interview with Geoff Dugmore




Europeans Drummer Geoff Dugmore


Europeans drummer Geoff Dugmore is the third band member to participate in an interview for the site. In yet another exclusive chat, Geoff explains all about his role in the group, from the early days of Europeans to his current drumming activities. Thanks to Geoff for his time.




How did you start your musical career?  You started on the Guitar right ?

Yes. I did start on guitar when I was 10. My Mum and Dad wouldn't let me have a drum set, although I'd always wanted one. My Mum tells me that I would play cardboard boxes and knitting needles when I was 3 years old. Ferg ,Colin and I (on guitar and lead vocals) made our first demo when we were 12 and we sent it to all the record companies, thinking we would be rock stars by the next week. (How wonderfully naive!) Needless to say, we got rejected by everyone. When I was 13, I swapped my guitar gear with a boy at school who had a drum kit. I think it was one of the happiest days of my life.




At what point did playing with Colin and Ferg become a full time occupation?

It was inevitable really. We were all school friends and we would hang out together all the time, listen to music and play our instruments. We started doing gigs when we were about 15/16. Our parents had to come with us when we played in pubs, as we were too young to be allowed to be there on our own. (Very honest of us). I think we all left school around 17 and it became full time really from there. We would rehearse in Colins' parents cellar everyday and write songs. At weekends we would play gigs in some of the roughest places you could ever imagine !!




Geoff recording Recurring Dreams


Ferg, Colin and yourself had played together for over 10 years, so how did the group change when Steve joined ?

I don't think it really changed, it just developed. The three of us were a very tight group, and for anyone to come in they had to be a bit special. We all liked Steve right away. He seemed like one of us, so he was in. After that, it was just a case of continuing to write and play gigs. That's all we wanted to do.




What are your memories of recording the Vocabulary album ? What are your favourite tracks ?


I have nothing really, when I look back on it, but very happy memories of everything we did. 'Vocabulary' was a magical album to make, as it was the first. I bumped into Vic Coppersmith-Heaven (the producer of that album) a couple of weeks ago and we got talking about it. We both agreed it was great fun but a bit uptight. We had this sign we put up in the studio which read "In the pursuit of perfection there is no compromise" I think we took it a bit too literally. As for favourite tracks, WOW!! I love 'Modern Homes.' It's so angular. I was never happy with 'American People.' Although I love the song, it never quite made my expectations of it. We had one great recording of it with Trevor Vallis but that never made the album (pity). Then we tried it with Tony Visconti - that was a laugh. Oh, my other memory of the album was Vic giving me a mogodon !!




How did you write in the Europeans ?  What was your role ?

I wrote most of the music for the first album except 'Kingdom Come' (Hang on I'll have to have a look). 'Animal Song' came out of a jam at rehearsal. I would write the basic parts on a little casio keyboard and drum machine or sometimes I would go off to Wigmore Halls and play grand piano for a few hours and come up with stuff there. [I would] then bring it to the band and go from there. As for my role, I never considered it a role, I just did it. You know I can't remember how and where we wrote the second album (Recurring Dreams) Can anyone tell me?




What tours did the group undertake?  Any particularly memorable concerts ?

I can't remember how many tours we did, but we did a lot. As for memorable ones, (Mmmmm) let me think. I have hundreds of pictures from concerts but I never know where they are. We played at an open air festival in Holland somewhere in time and I remember having a fever of 104 and feeling crap, but in true European style carried on! During the gig I felt great, but after I got taken to hospital where I remember a nurse sticking a thermometer up my bum !! Not a great way to remember a gig.* They were all fab in their own way. Perhaps the others can remember more on that front.

* This was the CND festival at The Hague (as chronicled in "Euro-Currency" MM review in the Articles section!)




What vocal role did you play in the Europeans?

I was an "additional singer". You can't say "backing vocalist" nowadays, it's not PC as I'm constantly told by them. I think we all sang because we loved it and it sounded great.

Were promo videos made for all of the singles ?

Big bone of contention at the time. No, we only did two - 'Animal Song' and 'Recognition.' The 'Animal Song' was a riot to make. We did it in one day, body paint and all. At one point in the video, Ferg had to make it look like he was slapping me, except he hit me F***ing hard. Let me tell you, it was painful! In fact I'm going to call him now and remind him. Hang on, bugger's gone off to Canada !!


Geoff Dugmore 1983




Where was the LIVE album recorded ?  Were "Tunnel Vision" "Joining Dots" or "Typical" ever recorded in the studio ?

The 'Live' album was recorded at Dingwalls [Camden, London]. It was a great night, great crowd and we played our butts off as I remember. We did it on a funky silver caravan thing (recorded it that is!) We did 'Joining Dots' in the studio with Trevor Vallis at the same time as doing 'Animal Song' with him. It still sounds great. Ferg and I had done a little demo of 'Typical' , 'Falling' and 'Voice on the Telephone' that sounded like Depeche Mode! We put it away in a cupboard and it came out later when the band did it. I don't think we ever recorded 'Tunnel Vision' except live.




How did the "Euro-scrawl" come about ?

David Western did it. We had adopted him as our art man (he lived close by) and he came up with it. It's kind of Ralph Steadman-ish. He was a great guy.




What is the picture on the front of the Recurring Dreams LP

The picture on the front of Recurring Dreams was never the intended cover. Ferg remembers the whole story. The guy at the label, Mike Ross (Art Director) did it and told us if we didn't like it, then the album wouldn't come out. Talk about artistic control !!




The 'Recurring Dreams' album sounds much tighter and confident.  What are your recollections of the recording, and your favourite tracks ?

By the time we got to 'Recurring Dreams' we were super confident players, and with David Lord we could really explore the full potential of our playing and songwriting at the time. We cut the basic tracks at Rockfield Studios. Ferg had been really ill and I was feeling a bit of strain from that as I had been really worried about him. We started doing tracks with a bass player friend of ours called Steve Greetham. He knew how tight we were as a unit and did a fantastic job of getting the album started. When Ferg came back after a couple of weeks it was like the old family unit and felt great. He re-did his parts and made it his own again.  We then went on to David's Studio in Bath where we spent time doing vocals and general overdubs. From there it was on to Sarm East to mix it. It sounded fantastic. 'Hometown' was fab - Ferg's best lyric by far, and also 'You Don't Want me in Your Life', with passionate vox from Steve. To me, that was everything that the Europeans were.




Geoff in the studio 1984


Can you elaborate on some of the Europeans tracks that didn't get released ?

Towards the end we recorded a bunch of new songs, one of which was called 'Emotional Warfare' . That was really good - infact I think it must have been at the time it started to fall apart. We went back to the studio where it had all started called 'The Music Works' where we first met Toni Childs in Islington, and I remember some funny vibes between us all and the manager of the band. We also cut versions of 'Dryland', and various other songs that ended up here and there. I have versions of everything - one day I'll get them out. I think we wrote around 40 - 50 songs.




What is your take on the end of the Europeans ?

I don't think I'll ever know what happened. One day everything seemed fine and the next day I was being told by the manager that Steve and Colin had left to start a new band. That was really tough because Colin, Ferg and myself had been best friends since the age of 10/11 and now we were 24/25. It all seemed a bit strange. I was told that nobody wanted to sign us, but I was also being told that our manager was asking for too much money and that people didn't want to deal with him. Who do you believe? I think we should have gone on a bit longer. I was devastated. This band had been my life since the age of 10 and now it had been taken away. You have to grow up fast in these situations.




Did you enjoy the How We Live "Dry Land" album ?  Were any of the tracks possible Europeans numbers ? (Lost at Sea for example ?)

I can't comment. I've never heard the album. 'Lost at Sea' we demoed as the Euros but I don't know what other songs are on the album. I'm not sure if we did a demo for 'Dryland' , but I know we played it at our last ever concert at the Shaw Theatre in Euston.




How did you get into Session work ?

Totally by accident. After the split, Ferg and I had a band that never did anything I don't think we were mentally ready for doing it - we just did it because we thought we should. After about a month, I got a call from Joan Armatrading to play on her album 'Sleight Of Hand' and while I was doing that I got a call from Tim Finn to play on his 'Big Canoe' album. I then went to Australia and New Zealand to work with him and Neil and so it went from there. I signed a solo deal to Siren records about 1988 and released one single. Then in 1990 I was just about to go out on the road with Stevie Nicks after doing her album 'Other Side of the Mirror' and thought "I can't do this, I've forgotten why I got into music". I started a band with my friend Chester Kamen who I met when we went to NY to cut Beloius Some "Imagination" album. He had been playing with Madonna and felt the same as me, so we gave up everything and started again. We signed to Sony as Wildlife and made one album. We went on tour for 18 months and fell victim to company politics etc. I then went back into playing with everyone from Salif Kita and the Gypsy Kings to Killing Joke and Rod Stewart. I have to say I love it. It's great being able to play all sports of music. I still pinch myself and think how lucky I am to be able to do what I love doing and get paid for it. What more can a Man ask for ? I've played on 437 albums since I started doing it.



Of the many sessions, which ones have you enjoyed most ?

Tina Turner was fantastic. We cut each track in 4 hours - vocals and everything. She is amazing. I went down to Argentina a few years ago to make an album for Fito Paez in a small town called Rosario. We set up in and old theatre, and in each corner of the room was a 30' TV screen so we could watch the World Cup as we were cutting the tracks. Other highlights... Well I think one was when I was producing some tracks for Deborah Harry in NY at Electric Lady Studios and Hilly Cristal who owns CBGB's asked me if I would put a band together to play for his birthday. We had Iggy Pop, David Byrne, Anthony from the Chilli Peppers, Lou Reed, Joei Ramone and Debby and it finished off with a 45 minute version of 'Groove is in the Heart' with everyone including Dee-Lite. What a night. I jammed with Steve Wonder one night at the China Club in NY. That too was amazing. I better stop there or I may go on for another 10 hours..


Post Europeans Geoff Dugmore




What have you been up to more recently ?

Playing on albums by Heather Nova, Robbie Williams, Louise, Gabrielle, a new artist called Charlotte and a new band called Real. I'm doing a sample CD, playing live shows with John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) and writing songs with Phil Thornally (Hepburn, Natilie Imbruglia). We have songs coming out for Jocylin Brown and 911. I'm also a partner in a producer management company and do a lot of work there. I'm getting into voice-overs as it's always been an ambition of mine. As yet nothing you would know. Some foreign stuff, but I'm still trying to break into the UK. It's hard but I'll get there. I really just enjoying doing everything that involves being creative. I plan to make an album by myself over the next year. There could be some very interesting people doing things on it. Watch this space. Last ambition is to play one more show as the Euros, with the guys. Then I think I could rest easy. How about it? 



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