How We Live

Interview (1986)

Steve Hogarth & Colin Woore

(Transcribed from free cassette that came with copies of the re-released "All the Time in the World 7" single)

Phil Ward-Large (PWL) in conversation with Steve Hogarth (SH) and Colin Woore (CW)

PWL: To start with, Why did the EUROPEANS split? Steve?

SH: Heavens! I think it was something that a few people had said to me was inevitable, although I myself never thought of it as inevitable, but it happened anyway, so maybe they were right. I think there was two definite factions of overall songwriting, stroke, ideological viewpoints in the band that just gradually, naturally grew apart. That process was accelerated by business problems, too heart rending to go in to. (Laughs)

PWL: I think it is worth saying for anybody who didn't know the EUROPEANS that there were two vocalists in the band: yourself and Ferg

SH: That's right. I tended to write quite a lot of the lyrics and the music for the songs I was singing, and Ferg tended to do his thing as well, and so really if it hadn't been for the fact that the four of us got on so extremely well on a personal level, we'd have probably run off in opposite directions quite a while ago. We enjoyed doing it so much that we never really used to give it that much thought. Everybody else used to think about it a lot more than we used to. Eventually it just caught up with us I think.

PWL: Steve mentioned that the name of the band is HOW WE LIVE. Colin, do you think it is a continuation of what you were doing in the EUROPEANS; very much your's and Steve's contribution to the Euros ?

CW: Yeah, I'd say it was an amplification of what we were starting to do towards the end of the EUROPEANS. We'd been writing together for the last six months of the EUROPEANS. We found that we tend to complement each others' feelings, and musicality, if you like. So, yeah! (Laughs)

PWL: The name, HOW WE LIVE? Any story behind that?

SH: Yeah! Came to me in a flash mate! (Laughs) The only story would probably be the amount of bloody effort we had to go through to come up with it, in so much as we got into that classic sort of "what the hell are we gonna call this band" situation. We ended up with about four pages full of names. And they weren't, sort of, "Why don't we call the band THIS" names, they were the kind of waking up in the middle of the night thinking "THIS IS THE NAME" names. We ended up with about 300 hundred of them, that we all hated a week later. Eventually we went into the studio to record this album, having been signed by CBS, and we came out of the studio with the album [and] we still hadn't got a name, and it was becoming a bit of a standing joke. Our manager was going potty cos he couldn't get anybody excited 'cos he didn't know what he'd calls us. (Laughs) So, in the end we decided out of desperation, there must be a name on the list that is the one, this is ridiculous, y'know. And there was a lot of good names on the list, but what actually happened was, that one night in the midst of all that, this other name which is the name we used, came to me out of the blue. We were trying to get back to thinking of a name that was about the music, that was about the things that we were saying. So we wanted something that was relevant to the social statements in the music whilst at the same time being relevant to the more human and romantic side to what we were doing. And that name seemed to encapsulate it all, and once I'd thought of that, straight away I had a whole lot of other ideas that came chasing off it, about visual images we could use for the sleeves and the posters and the video. So we went with that, but we met quite a bit of opposition actually. It's one of those names that people hear and think "oh, that's not a very good name", because it's not like a band name, were not like The Red Shoes, or The Yellow Banana, or the current sort of fad, or calling ourselves this-society or that-club. So its like "Well that's not a band name, HOW WE LIVE is not a band name, it's more like an album or a magazine or it's a statement, you can't call the band that!" So we got all that back from various quarters, but we dug our heels in. We've managed to stick to it. I think all those people will come round when they see how we can use the name.

PWL: Who are, or who is, HOW WE LIVE? Is it just the two of you? Because I must say, being a EUROPEANS fan, I kept my ears open for what was happening, and now I heard all sorts of weird and wonderful rumours: people from Amazulu, people from Haircut 100?

SH: All Rubbish. (Laughs)

PWL: Will the real HOW WE LIVE stand up.

CW: The band we've got at the moment consists of Andrew Milnes, Sax player; and we've been playing with a bass player called Dave Bull, Taif to his mates, and he played with Barbara Thompsons Paraphernalia and Dave Knopflers band; the drummer that were now using is called Arina Moon, and he's been playing with John Martyn, and is an excellent drummer may I add. (Laughs) Oh, and we've got a girl called Raina Shine playing keyboards, to leave Steve free to play his piano and sing, and run about.

PWL: And are all these people featured on the single?

SH: "Working Town" which you've been playing quite a bit, was actually just about only guitar and voice isn't it?

CW: Yeah

SH: So oddly enough, most of the band aren't really on that. I think there's...

CW: There's Bass on it.

SH: That's right, Taif plays Bass on it. Colin plays guitar and I sort of sing and kick tambourines and stuff. So, the first thing is actually quite sparse, but there's quite a few more of the players on the up and coming single.

PWL: Sounds like a cue for the single.


PWL: "Working Town" from HOW WE LIVE. Steve, Going to Work, Working Town? You've got a preoccupation with work?

SH: Yeah, its just a thing that completely obsesses me periodically. It's not as though I kind of walk about in this permanent state of depression. Oddly enough, again, the choice of the first song juxtaposed with that song, they are both essentially about the same town which is where I grew up in Yorkshire. A town called Doncaster, which really is the epitome of an industrial town which is surrounded by mining villages, and was a centre, of particularly British Rail engineering in the fifties, and before that. It was a big railway town. They built The Flying Scotsman there, and a lot of the streamline locomotives and what-have-you. My father worked on those. Since I've been living down here in London, I occasionally go home to see my Mum and Dad, and there's nothing there! It's all gradually closed down and gone. Even some of the places where I worked when I left school aren't even there! It's all happened so quickly. So, thats what that songs about. I tried to avoid blaming anybody or saying everybodys on the dole, you know, this is so-and-sos fault. I just wanted to try and write a song about how sad it was. Just in human terms rather than in political terms.

PWL: Is it very important for you to actually say something with your songs, rather than, you know, I love her, she loves me?

SH: (Rhyming) Isn't it wonderful, one, two, three. (Laughs)

CW: It's not bad that! Well use that! (Laughs) Hang on, I'll write that down.

SH: I think, in a way, I'd feel that it was important, in a couple of years time, I think if we were doing very well and we were reaching a lot of people, then I would think about it much more. I would think, well hang on a minute, we can influence an awful lot of people here, and I would like feel that I would use that influence to do something a bit more worthwhile than, you know, I love you, one, two, three. At the moment however, I don't really feel that were influencing that many people, so it's not some huge sort of social conscience that makes me write these songs. Its just that they come out. You know, you get into a train of thought and you think, oh heavens, that's terrible, and you're away, and you write something about it.

PWL: So, I'm sure that the album puts it into better perspective?

CW: Oh yeah. It's quite eclectic. It covers different feels, and really Steve wrote most, well, all of the lyrics and I contributed a lot of the music. So, I mean he's in a better place to reply to that.

SH: Well, I will then. I think the album's about half-and-half up-tempo, down-tempo. It's quite a romantic album. A lot of the songs are written from experience. There's not a great deal of fiction on the album. Because fortunately we've been in a position to get in to enough trouble over the last two years to have something to write about. If we don't get in to any more trouble before the next album, we'll probably have to write a lot of fiction. I feel I'm writing at my best when something upsets me. And then I can just go out and write a song straight out about it. But the next single were planning to release called "All the Time in the World" is not nearly as self serious and doom-laden.

PWL: So when can we expect the album?

CW: Nobody expects! (Laughs)

SH: It's not even going to be released. Its going to escape like the other one. (Laughs)

CW: I would think in October, early October. Something like that.

PWL: What about gigs?

SH: We're currently doing dates in and around London, and hopefully branching out into the UK in the autumn.

PWL: Steve and Colin, thanks very much for coming in.

CW: Thanks a lot.

SH: Thank you.

(Transcribed by Tim Glasswell 02/10/1998)


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