Loyd Grossman CBE (seen here on the left), gastronome, TV presenter and musician with The New Forbidden chats with Kevin Cooper about playing at Glastonbury, the release of their debut album later this year, diving at Bora Bora and their forthcoming appearance at The Nottingham Contemporary on 4th June.
Loyd Grossman, CBE, is an American-British television presenter, gastronome and musician who has mainly worked in the United Kingdom. He was a judge on the ITV food series Food Glorious Food and co-presenter with the late Sir David Frost of Through The Keyhole.
Born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, he graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history before coming to the UK in 1975 to study at the London School of Economics where he received a Master’s Degree in economic history.
Grossman has an ongoing career as a musician, initially with punk band Jet Bronx And The Forbidden, who reached number 49 in the UK singles chart in December 1977 with Ain’t Doin’ Nothing. Fast forward thirty years when Loyd met gate crasher Valentine Guinness at a party when they resolved to kick-start the band as The New Forbidden.
Since then the band have played multiple times at both Glastonbury and Cornbury Music Festivals and have appeared at the Rebellion, Guilfest, Vintage, Belladrum and Rhythm Festivals, plus the Borderline, 100 Club and other venues in London.
2016 will see The New Forbidden release their debut album and tour the UK from May onwards.
Whist having a short break from touring, Loyd Grossman took the time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper, and this is what he had to say.
Loyd good afternoon how are you today?
Hi Kevin I’m good thanks.
Let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me.
It’s my pleasure.
And just how is life treating Loyd Grossman today?
Life is treating me very well indeed (laughter).
I have to tell you that I saw you and the New Forbidden playing at the Cornbury Music Festival last year.
Oh did you; we were playing on the funny riverside stage.
Did you enjoy it?
Yes I did because I like playing at Cornbury a lot.
Yes you do. Wasn’t last year your third time appearing there?
That’s right, it was. Cornbury has a very nice atmosphere and I simply love to play there. It is always nice to come back to the places that you have played before and had a really good time.
How do you feel about playing the places that you have never played before such as the Nottingham Contemporary Music on Saturday 4th June?
(Laughter) what can I say, except that it is also always very exciting to play someplace entirely new such as the show that we are doing in Nottingham. I have no idea what it is going to be like other than I hope that it will be fabulous (laughter).
What can we expect from your gig here in Nottingham?
I hope that it will be a fabulous show with lots of energy and enthusiasm. We are very excited about it because we haven’t played there before and so we don’t know what to expect and that is one of the reasons that we are really excited about it (laughter). A lot of it is down to the Nottingham audience who I am sure will be a good one because Nottingham is a hip and interesting place. I am looking forward to playing in Nottingham immensely.
You know far better than most that here in the UK we just love to pigeon hole everyone. How would you describe your music to me?
I would say that it is fairly in your face new wave rock and roll (laughter). That’s how I would describe it. However, whether that means anything to anyone, I have no idea. I think that it sort of implies that the music is energetic and a little bit unconventional and probably slightly noisy (laughter).
Who would you say has inspired the band musically?
We are more than a little indebted to both Lou Reed and David Bowie plus my all-time heroes The Kinks.
I have to tell you that I have been playing the demo of Drowning for the past few days and I absolutely love it.
Have you really, that’s great. I personally am very keen on Drowning because what we are trying and hoping to succeed in doing is having more music that is danceable, and I think that Drowning is in my opinion a very danceable number.
What was the inspiration behind that particular track?
Do you know something, that is an extraordinarily good question because basically Valentine (Guinness) my lead singer takes care of all the lyrics and what made him think about Drowning is a question that only he could possibly answer and is a question that I have never asked him (laughter). There is such a thing of knowing too much (laughter). What I can say is that the first time that I heard the song together with Valentines lyrics, well from that moment I knew exactly what I wanted the song to sound like.
Please don’t take this as an insult but when I have been listening to Drowning, Valentines vocals really do remind me of Lloyd Cole.
I am a big Lloyd Cole fan so that is terrifically encouraging Kevin.
You mention that Valentine takes care of the lyrics; does that mean that you solely take care of the music side of things?
To be honest as with all of these things it is always very collaborative. I think that the trendy term is that it is an iterative process. Everything is batted back and forth until eventually something emerges that we are all happy with.
You are currently working on a studio album. Do you have any ideas yet as to a release date?
I think that we are about half way through it at the moment so I would think that we are probably talking about autumn, which to me, October is the most likely date.
Looking at your tour dates I see that you will be once again playing Glastonbury. Does that give you a kick whenever you play there?
Yes it does, it really does and this will be our sixth time of playing there. It is absolutely wonderful playing there and you spend the rest of the year looking forward to it. It is such an amazing and extraordinary event. It is such an incredible privilege to participate in Glastonbury; it is just wonderful. We traditionally play on the Thursday night which is just wonderful because it is before the main stages have opened. It is when everyone is feeling fresh and energetic and it is just brilliant; the most fabulous thing.
Once you have played on the Thursday will you then stay for the weekend and take in the atmosphere?
No, I personally won’t stay the weekend but some of the guys do. For me after we have played it is time to move on because I find the whole event too overwhelming. I am so exhausted after performing that for me it is simply time to move on and start thinking about the next gig. We have got a hell of a lot of gigs coming up over early and late summer but performing at Glastonbury is just wonderful.
Do you prefer the small intimate gigs or the large outdoor festivals?
I personally get equal pleasure out of all of them. However, understandably everything depends upon the audience. If you get a great audience then you can be in the smallest, dingiest, and most obscure club possible and it can be every bit as exciting as playing in front of the massive crowds at Glastonbury (laughter). So it is all about the enthusiasm and excitement of the audience.
Looking back, do you think that Punk Rock achieved what it set out to achieve?
Yes, I think that it did because in the nature of action and reaction, every musical trend receives a reaction against it, therefore Punk Rock as a genre was inevitably going to be replaced by something else. However, it injected a vitality and an energy into the main stream which had been lacking for a very long time and I think that persists. So in my opinion, Punk Rock achieved a great deal for which we are all very grateful.
Who were you listening to while you were growing up?
I was very much into The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, a lot of British acts such as The Animals, together with quite a few American groups like The Byrds, Bob Dylan and then subsequently people like The Velvet Underground, Jefferson Airplane, so as you can see quite a mixed bag (laughter). And of course lots of heavy, heavy, heavy days of James Brown.
As well as the artists that you have mentioned, who influenced you musically?
I was very heavily influenced by Cream. I loved Eric Clapton and John Myall. And then a lot of the leading American Blues artists such as Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Otis Rush, those sorts of people. All of which is slightly embarrassing because they are brilliant guitar players and I’m not; but I try (laughter).
Do you have a favourite band who you must go and see whenever they are in town?
Recently I get really excited when bands who I was listening to a long, long time ago are back together and playing again. A few months ago I went to see The Zombies who were just wonderful actually. I can remember listening to them as a teenager and I have to say that Colin Blunstone remains one of the finest vocalists that the UK has ever produced. So I do find it interesting to revisit what they now call the vintage acts.
What was the first record that you ever bought?
That would have been Gloria by Them, which was Van Morrison’s original band.
Who did you first see playing live in concert?
When I was a teenager I had started writing for Rolling Stone so I saw almost everyone in concert but one of my earliest memories is seeing the original line-up of Fleetwood Mac touring when they were a Blues band with Peter Green. That was a truly amazing experience. In those days when I was growing up in Boston the good thing was that Boston was the place where almost all of the British bands began their tours of America, so I saw Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Jethro Tull; all those bands.
What was the last record that made you cry?
That would probably be the one that always makes me cry which is Up The Junction by Squeeze. Which is in my opinion the saddest song every recorded (laughter).
You have been described as being a TV presenter, musician and gastronome. How would you describe yourself?
I don’t simply because I wouldn’t dare (laughter).
In 2003 you were awarded the OBE and in 2015 the CBE how did that feel?
It was an absolutely fantastic occasion when I received the OBE but it was an even greater occasion when I received the CBE last year.
I note that you are a PADI-qualified Divemaster. Where in the world would you say has been your favourite dive?
That would have to be Bora Bora because I am very interested in sharks and love to dive with them and let me tell you Kevin, there are a hell of a lot of sharks in Bora Bora (laughter). It is so far from anywhere else that there is so much wonderful big stuff out there, especially the Manta Rays. It truly is the most wonderful place to dive.
I can’t speak to you without mentioning Through The Keyhole. You had twenty happy years co-presenting the show with the late Sir David Frost. Are you happy with the direction that Keith Lemon has taken the show?
Yes very much so. We were really delighted to get Keith to do the new series. It has been such a success; it is just wonderful.
Whose house was the best that you visited?
That I couldn’t possibly say, they were all fun (laughter).
Where did your interest in food come from?
That was really just from growing up by the seaside and seeing fishermen landing their catch every morning, and from also spending times on farms. When you see people catching, growing and producing food you just are immediately interested in it. I think that is where it came from anyway.
On that note Loyd let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me and have a great day.
Thanks for that Kevin and I really do hope that you are going to come to the gig in Nottingham. Take care and speak soon.