Spartak’s Martyn Walsh on Inspiral Carpets, Fidelity Kastrow & Noel Gallagher (interview)
Legendary Madchester psychedelic rockers the Inspiral Carpets announced they’re reforming this week, featuring the original line-up of Stephen Holt and Clint Boon, Craig Gill, Graham Lambert and Martyn Walsh.
The Manchester group, who achieved four number one albums in the 90s, are working on new material, they revealed on their website, in preparation for a world tour starting in South America in November. (http://www.inspiralcarpets.com)
Chatting to Skrufff some time before the announcement about his follow up project Spartak, Inspiral Carpet’s bassist Martyn Walsh spoke happily about his Inspirals days including hanging around with future Oasis star Noel Gallagher.
“Noel auditioned to be the Inspirals singer when Stephen Holt left (in 1989). We didn’t think he was good enough so we offered him a roadie job instead,” Martyn recalled.
“He was the sort of guy who was always at gigs and someone who seemed to know everyone. Some of his mates were the sort of people who it was better to know than get on the wrong side of.”
“I knew he played guitar when we first met him but for all the time he worked for us, he seemed more interested in U2 and the recreational lifestyle of being in a band than becoming the Beatles obsessive he is now,” said Martyn.
He also chatted in greater detail about his Spartak collaboration with (Skrufff DJ) Fidelity Kastrow on ‘Bad Love’, a rocking electro flavoured mash-up topped off by the Berlin DJ/ performer’s unique vocals.
Skrufff (Seb Mortimer): When did you first write ‘Bad Love’, what inspired the track?
Spartak (Martyn Walsh): “Bad Love was written around 3 years ago and started life as a punky grunge classic in the making. However, it never had the right vocal. I needed a female vocal to give it that confident sexuality that only certain women have. Fidelity has that in abundance, you can tell just by looking at her and hearing how she approaches her DJing and music.
‘Bad Love’ was inspired by movies such as ‘American Beauty’, where a man’s desires can over take him, leading to disaster. The song needed the counter balance, the girl who would promise AND deliver but don’t dare to mess her around. A typically screwed up British take on sex. Now given some meaning by Fidelity.”
Skrufff: How did the connection with Fidelity Kastrow come about?
Spartak: Through Mark Reeder. Mark and I have been friends for ages. I met him when Inspirals were touring Europe in 1990. We met him in his Penguin Bar in Berlin and got talking. He was born just a mile away from where I was living in Manchester. Since then he has been a great inspiration, and is constantly pushing me from a far to believe in myself and seize opportunities.
He mentioned Fidelity and gave me her live mix CD, I checked her website, and was completely blown away. Then I emailed her…the rest is virtual history. To this day we still haven’t met, we recorded and mixed ‘Bad Love’ together via the internet and communicated solely via SMS and Facebook. ‘Bad Love’ really sums up the Music Industry in the 21st Century.
Skrufff: Going into the Inspiral Carpets days, the band really broke through in 1989 during those summer of love acid house days, how much of a regular were you at Manchester’s Hacienda?
Spartak: “I used to go regularly on the Thursday Nude nights in 1987/88, before Madchester was even invented. You would hear the Beastie Boys, Mantronix, The Smiths and embryonic Detroit techno being played, it was really exciting. Once the media scramble had started, Hacienda seemed to lose its way but those lost days and nights in the late 80’s had a profound affect on me.
All sorts of people would meet up; there was a strong creative force there, not just music. There was a definite “anti London” vibe going on where Mancunians realised we had the creativity but also our own infrastructure to realize our potential. It gave us the desire to do things our way, hence the reason we set up our own label, Cow Records with the help of 808 State and Tony Wilson.”
Skrufff: You were the band’s 13th bass player: How did you get the job- and how did you keep it?
Spartak: “I was in another band, the Next Step, who rehearsed in the same Mill (studio) as Inspirals. Their bass player left, my band wasn’t showing the ambition I needed, so I jumped ship. I kept the job by being fantastically talented. Seriously, we all kept our positions because all 5 of us shared that same belief and determination that comes from the fear of going back to our “proper” jobs.”
Skrufff: How much did joining the band change your life?
Spartak: “Looking back, it changed my life profoundly. I got to travel the world, meet some fantastic people and created a legacy. Money was no object early on and at 21-22 years old that can have an adverse effect on you, no-one wants to say “no” to you and it’s easy to get swept away by the bullshit. I’m not very trusting of people who want to get close to me now. I have a small circle of very strong friends, that’s all I need.”
Skrufff: How much was signing to Factory Records an option?
Spartak: “Tony Wilson did want us to sign to Factory, and as a huge New Order fan I was thrilled but as a business man I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do. We would’ve played second fiddle to New Order and the Happy Mondays, and we didn’t want to be seen as an afterthought. Tony was really understanding and gave us a lot of advice about starting Cow Records.”
Skrufff: How close were you to the Happy Mondays/ Stone Roses?
Spartak: “We would accidentally meet the Roses and the Mondays at some random gig in Valencia and such like but never did we all go to the Hacienda together. We were all too busy getting on with our own careers. Now I meet up with Mani and Shaun at social events every now and again. I’d say at our peak we were rivals. The press ramped up a Clint vs. Shaun battle which stemmed from an Inspirals interview in which he allegedly slagged off Shaun. The ironic thing was we didn’t even do the interview. We were too busy, so we got Noel Gallagher, our then roadie to do it.”
Skrufff: The Hacienda ended up being destroyed by gangs and thugs: How much of a problem were these people for you – for the band?
Spartak: “No problem, really. Drugs, money and power were synonymous with dance culture by the mid 90s. I was quite fortunate that I didn’t stay around as the Hacienda entered its death throes. I’m glad it’s now residential apartments. It would be tragic if Manchester ended up like Liverpool, constantly harking on about the past and never letting go.”
Skrufff: You went on to record as Spartak. A quick google search reveals massive hooligan fights in Russia: Did you go through any football gang episodes? (City or United)?
Spartak: “I was involved in “incidents” as a United fan during the mid 80s: before they became the multi national conglomerate they are today. I never got involved in fights as such and never took to carrying a knife or anything like that although many people around me did. I really enjoyed the fashion (Fila, Tacchini & Lacoste), the camaraderie and travelling to exotic places like Blackburn. Funnily enough a couple of years later I would venture back to Blackburn to the illegal raves held there.”
Skrufff: You were a member of Inspiral Carpets previously for 6 years, Peter Hook has talked in detail how skint they used to be during the 90s days of New Order, so said they ’just got on with being New Order’. Was being in the Inspirals a similar experience?
Spartak: “Not really, we were quite prudent as a band and in hindsight, maybe we should have been more “rock n roll”. I think we got a bit comfortable and inevitably lost the hunger.”
Skrufff: How easy was it to pick yourself up after being dropped by Mute in 1995?
Spartak: “Looking back it hit me really hard. I’d been a gigging musician since I was 18 and suddenly was left with nothing. I had no band to rely on and had to fend for myself. Luckily my girlfriend was very supportive and encouraged me to try new ventures. I went into making Underworld-esque techno with another project that received some great feedback from the releases we had. That led me to making music for computer games and resulted in becoming a consultant, advising new artists about the pitfalls of the industry.”
Skrufff: Plans for the future? (with Spartak? Fidelity?)
Spartak: “Spartak has re-ignited my desire to produce music again, without the shackles of a “band sound” – we can work with who we want, however we want. We are currently working on tracks for adverts and keen to do more remixes. We’ve nearly finished a storming version of Fidelity’s 21st Century Girl. As for working with Fidelity, we have more tracks that would benefit from her vocals and general approach. Ideally, I’d like to revert back to the old school, and work with Fidelity in a studio, in Berlin, face to face on a track from scratch.”
For more details about Inspiral Carpets’ revival, click here: http://www.inspiralcarpets.com
For more on Fidelity Kastrow (including her brand new video 21st Century Girl (directed by Till Kuenzel with costumes by Steffa Superheilig), click here: http://www.youtube.com/fidelitykastrowtv
http://bit.ly/uWczLU (Spartak & Fidelity Kastrow: Bad Love)
Seb Mortimer (Skrufff.com)