INTERVIEW: THE SELECTER "PEOPLE, OUT THERE, BE MORE LIKE US'


We catch up with The Selecter at Rewind 2022 and talk, Bjork, prejudice, and the 'Celebrate the Bullet' album.



PHOTOGROUPIE:

What was your experience of performing today?


PAULINE:

It's just great. It’s great to come to Rewind and do your greatest hits in half an hour I mean, what could possibly go wrong? You know, by halfway through the set the audience is always on our side whether they've heard it before or they haven't. You have your hard and fast group at the front. And then you know, those ones at the back maybe are into something different but then think “why quite like this”. So it's good.


PHOTOGROUPIE:

What is your highlight of that period?


GAPS:

My highlight was the Bristol Odeon gig, which was tremendous. Because you can feel the audience building. But when we got to Bristol but even the building was shaking. That was on the 2 Tone tour in 1979, with Madness and The Specials. So that was really good. That's my best memory.


PAULINE:

My highlight was that there used to be a place called Hammersmith Odeon (now Eventim Apollo), and Debbie Harry invited the band to come and support Blondie. And that was quite early in our time together. And I just thought that was absolutely wonderful.


PHOTOGROUPIE:

You and The Specials were at the forefront of the 2 Tone movement and helped confront civil rights and racism. Do you think things have changed in the last 40 years?


PAULINE:

Well, yes, and I think we've helped.


PHOTOGROUPIE:

Absolutely. I was thinking the other day about the whole, you know, in the Motown era, when when the Motown Tour came to this country.


PAULINE:

And hardly anybody turned out to listen. I mean, all of those huge, huge Motown artists. Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, all of them came, and nobody went to these venues to see them; and then look what happened.


PHOTOGROUPIE:

And at home, they were still playing to segregated audiences.


PAULINE:

Yes! All I can say is thank God for artists because it takes the world an enormous amount of time to catch up. We rarely come across any prejudice between musicians or anything like that. Everybody respects each other's music. People, out there be more like us.


PHOTOGROUPIE:

The 'Celebrate The Bullet' album was quite poppy, but it was quite political. Do you think that the album was misunderstood at the time?


PAULINE:

I was only misunderstood because John Lennon was shot at much the same time as the single came out. It killed the single dead because Radio One wouldn't play it. And when the album came out, somebody shot Ronald Reagan. So that was a really, really, really bad time. And of course, it was against violence, and specifically the NRA and their whole gun sort of toating thing. I don't know how many people it is, but it's something like 1700 people have been murdered by guns, particularly in ethnic communities in America, and they still won't do anything about it, and in schools and all those things. So again, I think that we were way ahead of the curve in that one.


PHOTOGROUPIE:

In 'On The Radio', you say “the same old show”, so what is on your playlist?


GAPS:

There's a lot of diversity in the music, especially with Facebook and the media. Up until then, it was really, really hard to listen to music that you wanted to listen to. For instance, from Jamaica, reggae music or deep soul, you probably had to go to a special venue to listen to. It was difficult to listen to that on the airwaves. And that's why he just seemed like “the same old show” you would listen to. Because there was no diversity, just pop music. I listened to everything from Handel to Johnny Rotten, Thieving Magpie.


PAULINE:

If I was being honest about really what I listen to at home I would probably listen to people like Bjork. Every time I see her, you know, dressed in some different outfit and stuff, she's the most talented artist that I know of, at this particular time on this planet. That's what I think.


PHOTOGROUPIE:

Bjork has a new album coming out soon, and I was thinking about her music and the lineage from Kate Bush – that avant-garde style: making music for music's sake.



PAULINE:

Exactly, you know, it's that making music for music's sake, and they're channeling something from the world themselves through the music, it's very pure.


PHOTOGROUPIE:

What's happening going forward?


PAULINE:

We have a new album called 'Human Algebra' that will be out in April (2023). And we're, the record company is re-releasing 'The Celebrate the Bullet' album. So hopefully that will get a better listen this time. And we're going to do an eleven-date tour with that in November.