Music: Watch this Space for a couple of `quirky Scousers'
The likeable Liverpudlian four-piece Space are finding their own voice, says James McNair - and it turns out to be a duet
Friday 20 February 1998
"Basically, it's about a couple who would kill each other if they didn't share a love of Tom Jones's music," explains Tommy, back in the band's dressing-room. "I wrote it totally with Cerys in mind, because for me, she's the only outstanding female voice out there at the moment. She's like Doris Day or Nancy Sinatra."
"Yeah, and she's such a great performer," adds the keyboard player, Franny Griffiths. "Even in the sound check there, she really went for it." But has big Tom himself heard the song yet, I wondered? "Somebody told me he's been sent a copy but we haven't heard anything yet," says Tommy. "Maybe he thinks we're taking the mickey, but we're not - it's total respect!"
With Space on such fine and frivolous form, it's easy to forget that this time last year they'd almost reached the final frontier. After the success of their debut album, Spiders - which has now sold more than 750,000 copies - the pressure of trying to find time to write new material while adhering to a gruelling touring schedule took its toll. Jamie Murphy, the band's 22-year-old guitarist, had an alcohol-fuelled nervous breakdown. Tommy panicked and lost his voice for several months. Franny seemed to be getting better, but was recently diagnosed as having an ulcer. Cap all that with the fact that drummer Andy Parr was so wary of it all happening again that he recently hung up his sticks, and you have a quite different perspective on the rock'n'roll dream.
Tommy agrees: "We know that the nine-to-five is the really tough job, and that we're lucky to be doing this," he says, "but there have been some difficult times. To be honest, I think it was a blessing in disguise that I lost my voice, because it gave us time to write. If that hadn't happened and Jamie hadn't crashed, we would have been on tour in America, and this album could have been shite."
The truth is that Tin Planet - apparently the title was inspired by a mate who makes toy robots - is a far better record than Spiders. Though the warped lyrical sensibility first evident on the single, "Female of the Species", remains, this album's maturity and eclecticism should see Space earning some critical respect, rather than being pigeonholed as "quirky Scousers". With the Saturday Night Fever-esque "Disco Dolly" nestling alongside the Ennio Morricone-ish "Begin Again", it's a rather cinematic listening experience. It transpires that most of the gloriously overblown arrangements were constructed in Tommy's head while his vocal chords were paralysed. "I can vouch for that," smiles Franny. "All he did for weeks on end was sit on the bog playing his guitar."
Just a few years ago, Tommy's father died of cancer. Endearingly, he makes no bones about the fact that he's still trying to write songs that his dad would have liked. "I'm obsessed by it, to tell you the truth," he says, with a heavy sigh. "I think it's because he didn't see us become successful. We hadn't even released "Money" (an early single) when he died, like."
The more you talk to Scott, and the more you listen to Tin Planet, the more you realise that his parents' musical taste played a major part in shaping his song-writing. He recalls how they would play him "loads of Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole". I put it to him that his vocal phrasing on the song "Unluckiest Man" strikes me as Sinatra-esque. "Yeah, it's probably in there subconsciously," he says. "I've grown up with him, haven't I? But it's supposed to be us rather than some sad retro thing," he adds, beginning to smile again. "The last thing I want is to sound like Harry Connick Jr!"
The song on the album that Tommy is most proud of is "Bad Days", a wistful, meandering ballad with a typically skewed middle section redolent of the Pulp Fiction sound track. "I know I've written a good song, if it feels like somebody else's when we play it live," he says. "I'm not being big- headed, though," he adds quickly, "It's more, like, `hang on, I'm crap, where did this come from?"
Although Tommy stresses that the song is about other people that he's lost, rather than his dad, his father does figure in the story behind the song. "It was kind of inspired by `Everybody's Talking', the old Nilsson track from Midnight Cowboy, he explains. "Sometimes me dad and I would listen to that when we'd had a few beers, and we'd cry together. At first we'd be a bit embarrassed, but then we wouldn't care."
There's a few moments' silence, then Tommy brings the interview to its natural conclusion. "We really try our best, you know; we're not just chancers. It could all stop tomorrow, and we're very aware of that."
`Tom Jones' is released by Gut records on 23 February. The album `Tin Planet' follows on 9 March.
Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again
...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought
Life & Style blogs
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Windows 10 release: Microsoft bypasses 'Windows 9' with new operating system
The Fappening: After the third wave of leaked celebrity photos, why can't we stop it?
Stoptober: How I stopped smoking for good
Couples who gush about each other are the 'most annoying' Facebook users
Former Tory donor Arron Banks ups his Ukip donation to £1million following William Hague 'nobody' comment
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 35,000 walrus gather on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 4 Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- < Previous
- Next >
£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to tea...
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£26000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...
£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: English Teacher required for ...