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Friars Interviews

mike mutter slater
Stackridge Lemon

friars appearances 30/12/72  21/07/73  17/11/73  13/07/74  05/01/75  07/06/75  30/12/75 and 30/06/73  16/08/74  (both Friars Dunstable)

 

Stackridge are true Friars legends. Seven gigs at Friars Aylesbury alone. Stackridge went their separate ways after the last Friars gig at the end of 1975. They are back together in 2009, gigging and have a new album out for good measure. A UK tour is going to be happening as well.

Stackridge in recent times (Mutter's in the middle). Photo Mick Booy.

So, Mr Slater, your audience awaits you. Let's talk about Stackridge Lemon.

Friars Aylesbury Website: Mutter, welcome to the Friars Aylesbury website. Let's start with a great piece of trivia....you were the first ever act at Glastonbury back in 1970, the days when Michael Eavis gave everyone attending a free pint of milk...

The whole weekend was a pound and free milk! (laughs)

Good old Michael Eavis, he knows how to get the crowds in! And you returned to Glastonbury last year didn't you?

We were on the acoustic stage.

And it was pretty much the original line up from first time round at Glastonbury as well, wasn't it?

Yes, there were four out of the six.

Not bad going! Out of curiosity, where does the name Stackridge come from?

The bass player came up with the name in 1969. It was originally Stackridge Lemon. It was meant to sound like it meant nothing but like the psychedelic American west coast names like Iron Butterfly and that sort of thing.

So that kind of ilk....

Yes, and then in adverts and interviews, they kept dropping the Lemon and then they would spell Stackridge wrong. But we shortened the name.

There should have been a big super gig...Stackridge Lemon, Iron Butterfly, Jethro Tull, Uriah Heep....

(laughs)

Stackridge Lemon was a great name. In terms of names, how did you become Mutter and how did James become Crun? What's the story behind that?

They were both nicknames we had as mates. Mine was from school. If I was playing football, someone would shout to pass and it went from Slater to Slutter and then to Gutter and Mutter. And Mutter stuck even after school. James, for reasons I do not know, was nicknamed Crunberry (laughs), how you get from James Walter to Crunberry, I don't know! But that's why he's called Crun.

Thought there had to be some reason! So in the early 1970s you were starting to get yourself noticed. I am fairly certain that a Friars fan recommended you to David Stopps after seeing you at the 1972 Reading Festival. Your first Friars appearance was the 1972 Christmas party. I bet you won't remember who the support band was?!

No!

The Average White Band!

Bloody hell! We were on the same agency so it was probably one of their first gigs....

and for 75p!

(laughs) The Average White Band formed out of Forever More and Glencoe. Hamish came from a Scottish band called Dream Police.

Glencoe appeared at Friars! By the time you made your second appearance at Friars in 1973, how about this for a quote...."Stackridge are the happiest band in Britain...a tranquiliser to make you smile!" - that's from the Friars flyer from that gig!

I've not heard that before!

Yes, and it went on to describe how happy you were! I was listening to stuff like the Galloping Gaucho recently and there is a feel good factor that pervades your music.

So in 1974, you were still on the way up and played Friars again and here's some useless trivia for you....you played the first and last Friars gig of 1975 as well as the birthday party - three in the year! Let's talk about the June Friars sixth birthday party gig, that's the one where Peter Gabriel jumped out of a cake, what do you recall about that?

We were on stage when it happened. We stopped playing having been primed when to stop and said we had a birthday cake to bring on and then Peter sprang out! The crowd's reaction was amazing.

I got an email from someone who said they met me at that gig and introduced them to Gabriel in the bar!

And then the year end gig....I remember you saying how pleased you were that the bigger hall was full (compared to the Phase Two gigs) and then sadly you didn't play Friars again.

Yes, we packed up in April 1976.

What did you do after that?

I had got married two years before in 1974. The band packing up meant no income so I had to get a job. My wife had had enough of me hardly being home - we were rehearsing and recording n London and gigging as well. Then Andy (Cresswell Davis) called and suggested we might want to reconvene. I'd been working a few months at this point. I said, look, I'm 26, we've had a shot at it, it didn't work, I want to settle down and grow up a bit. I carried on working. Occasionally I got a band together and played pubs. But for 20 years, I largely ignored music. I had a son and did the married man bit.

Sounds a bit like Still Crazy where after splitting, the band put their instruments in the loft and kept them there until a reunion came along!

I got rid of things, but I kept the flute....but didn't play it. After 25 years, the first thing I did was buy a guitar! (laughs)

Not just being out of Stackridge, but the music business for 20 years, it must have been strange when you had been striving for mainstream success to see James and Andy have a huge hit (The Korgis' Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime')...

They had one minor and one big hit.

The royalties must have set them up nicely!

James gets the royalties from that one, I think that one song set him up for life, especially with the cover version of it as well.  Even Beck has done a version of it in that film, Beauty of the Spotless Mind.

Beck doing it must be interesting. I've kept up to speed with a lot of Friars acts and I know that when Stackridge reformed after a few attempts, there were a number of issues. It's not for me delve in to or ask for the nitty gritties, but there were some things going on?

They reformed around 1999 and Mike Evans (original member and violinist) and his wife Jennie were the ones pushing it really to get it up and running.

They ran the Stackridge website, certainly at that time?

Yes, they run stackridge.com and they won't relinquish it, but that's another story. When Stackridge restarted neither myself nor Andy were in the band. Andy couldn't get along with it all so pulled out. There were personality things. If he wasn't doing it, I wasn't interested. That's why I got involved this time, because Andy was, so I went along with it. I didn't expect it to last over two years as it has. I expected Andy and James to have a row in the first six weeks and that would be it! Then we started gigging and (we thought just) old fans would be interested and that would be that, but we've got a new album out!

Time has obviously healed some of the issues....

We're all older and mellower!

So it's working better now. With the original attempts....

Jennie brought her organisational skills but she was a little too forceful...

It's clear from the outside looking in at your "other" website that something was going on and it wasn't as good as it could have been!

(laughs) On stackridge.com it says we aren't gigging which is a bit of a bugger. We're moving on from it. We're touring the UK in the new year with a new album and we can move away from all of that.

You're going to pick up new fans on the way and not just the fans that say saw you at Friars the first time round. People will be bringing their kids and that...

Yes that has happened at a few gigs. We have met people's offspring who say to us that they have heard our music since they were two! We love it! It's refreshing for everybody.

And it's humorous as well! I'm looking at that Old Grey Whistle Test clip of you doing Dancing on Air....what the bloody hell was going on!!! It was a wonderful set with the palm trees and deckchairs....

We did that ourselves. There were some props in the BBC studios from another production and we 'borrowed' some. We did a few run throughs and had to stop for lunch because of union rules. Whilst everyone was out, we got this stuff and put it on stage. By the time they came back from lunch and saw the stage, they were apoplectic!

Mutter, thanks for bringing us up to date in the world of Stackridge. See you soon!

My pleasure!

Stackridge official website

This interview and its content are 2009 Mike O'Connor/www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk and may not be used in whole or in part without permission.

 

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