As the frontman of Terrovision, Tony Wright is known for big, bawdy melodies, but his solo work is more introspective and very different. In-between his love of stone-walling (he's now managed to fulfil his ambition to build a line across the landscape on the Moors) printing and opening a coffee shop with his Girlfriend, Tony has found time to record a terrific solo album. PG caught up with Tony to find out more.
PHOTOGROUPIE: (PG) YOU'VE GOT A NEW SOLO ALBUM OUT, IT'S PRETTY GREAT. HOW DID YOU SET ABOUT WRITING THE ALBUM?
TONY WRIGHT: (TW) Writing songs is something you do or you don't. I write songs all the time and making an album is just throwing a load away that don't go with the flow. The ones that go together that start at the beginning, go through the middle and finish at the end, they're just ones that come to you. I've never set out to try and write a song. I think if I did they wouldn't be good.
PG: THE ARTWORK FOR YOUR ALBUM IS REALLY EYE CATCHING, HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
TW: It's done by a local artist, he's international, but he lives here his name's Drew Millward. He's done some amazing artwork for bands like Primus, Iggy Pop, Foo Fighters. I had a pop-up shop to show off some of my print collection in memory of a friend of mine, Brian. He helped me a lot, he did an apprenticeship back in the 1930s and he taught me a lot about this style of printing. Drew came in and he was looking at some of the artwork, I just got on with him. One day he came in with some of his own art and it was really nice. I checked him out on Google and saw all these amazing posters he's done for bands. So I asked if he wanted to do some art work for me.
PG: YOU'VE SAID THAT IT WAS A PICTORAL TRANSLATION OF THE LAST YEAR, IT SEEMS LIKE YOU'VE HAD A VERY ADVENTUROUS TIME – WHATS BEEN GOING ON?
TW: Well, I did a quick sketch for Drew for what I wanted. My last album was an acoustic album and I equate acoustic with being out in the open air, you don't need plug sockets or electricity. This album is an electric album so it's more indicative of the city, with high-rise blocks and the electricity cables. I also wanted to incorporate the forms of transport we used last year for touring and Martin, our dog who sadly died in March, he used to come on tour with us and was a massive part of our lives. So it's a picture of driving for a year from that acoustic album through the hills made of guitars and getting to the electric album where the pylons are made form electric guitars necks and the strings are the pylon wires.
PG: ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT THE ALBUM IS THE AMOUNT OF VARIETY. WAS THAT YOUR INTENTION WHEN SETTING OUT TO MAKE THE ALBUM?
TW: I think the eclectic, chaotic side is how life is. Life is chaos, you can't wake up every day with the same drum beat in your head. It goes from shouts to whispers and whispers to shouts. There're a couple of things like Lost Property and A & E that hark back to the last album, but the majority of it is opening your eyes and seeing what's around you and looking forward.
PG: SPOONS AND KNIVES TALKS ABOUT WANTING TO BE A ROCKER. IS THAT AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL?
TW: That's another really weird thing, either you are or you're not. I think anybody who was a rocker didn't stand at the right end of the playground. When everybody was following trends and dressing this way or that, sometimes people who didn't understand it became rockers and the rockers already didn't get it. I like all different types of music, I love The Carpenters, great voice, great songs. I like Elton John, David Bowie, I love lots of music. The fact is I don't think I fitted in. The first time I went out to a pub, it happened to be a pub that was accepting of the fact that I was a scruffy 15-year-old. I felt like I belonged. It was probably the jukebox that shaped my life from that moment onward.
PG: THERE'S AN FUNNY JUXTAPOSITION TO THE SONG THE BLUES, THAT YOU CAN'T SING THE BLUES IF YOU'RE BORN WITH A SILVER SPOON, IS THERE'S ANY TRUTH IN IT?
TW: It's how kind of is. People take musicians seriously if they're slightly miserable. If they have a smile on their face, people think there has to be a joke somewhere. If you look at Elvis' songs they were happy and sad, it shows you don't have to be just full of angst. You can be full of angst and still have a smile. That's what the blues is about.
PG: THE ALBUM IS MUCH MORE OF A HAPPY STARTING POINT THAN YOUR LAST ALBUM, AND THEN YOU HAVE A TRACK LIKE DELETE REPEAT THAT BECOMES ALL ANGRY – WHAT HAPPENED THERE?
TW: It's just a sinister kind of song. It starts off quite calm and as you realise this is a creepy set of lyrics the music goes with that. It starts as that relationship that wants to be friends, then more than friends, then it becomes possessive and goes full circle. We all know somebody like that.
PG: THE SONG LOST PROPERTY IS QUITE MOVING AND EMOTIVE, HOW DID THAT IDEA COME ABOUT?
TW: Well we're all lost property unless we're put in the right place. I found a unicorn handbag in town and released that somebody was devastated because they had lost it, it means something to somebody. A friend I was with remembered that he'd seen somebody post something on Facebook about it and they could reunite the bag with the child. But it's sad some of these teddies and handbags never make it home, they just sit there until someone claims them. That's where the idea came from.
PG: WHAT KIND OF MUSIC DID YOU GROW UP LISTENING TO?
TW: My older sister went to university she left behind her record collection. I had three records, Ghost In The Machine by The Police, Discovery by ELO and Dr Hook's greatest hits. Her collection has Led Zeppelin, Leonard Cohen, Gillan, Black Sabbath, so that's what I listened to. But I love David Bowie, not everything he's done, some of it makes me cringe. If you'd have told me this year he'd got on a rocket and gone back to Mars I'd have believed it more than the tragic news that he'd died.
PG: YOU'RE LYRICS ARE VERY INSIGHTFUL AND CLEVER, WHEN DID YOU START WRITING?
TW: I used to write poems at school. The only O level I got was English. I only used to do well in English when I was writing poems and stories.
PG: WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION?
TW: Life generally the ups and the downs. It's there for the taking. If you live your life rather than just exist, you've always got songs.
PG: YOU'RE DOING SOME SHOWS AGAIN WITH TERRORVISION. IS THAT A ONE OFF, OR WILL YOU GETTING BACK IN THE STUDIO?
TW: Never say never, I'd be interested to see what Terrorvision could do. I'll go with the flow.