Graham Gouldman, original member of 10cc, chats with Kevin Cooper about working with the late Andrew Gold, being part of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band, being inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame and 10cc’s forthcoming tour of the UK.

Graham Gouldman is an English singer, songwriter and musician. He has been the only constant member of the art rock band 10cc.

He played in a number of Manchester bands from 1963, including the High Spots, the Crevattes, the Planets and the Whirlwinds, which became a house band at his local Jewish Lads’ Brigade.

Gouldman signed a management agreement with Harvey Lisberg in 1965, and while working by day in a men’s outfitters shop and playing by night with his semi-professional band, he wrote a string of hit songs, many of them million sellers. Between 1965 and 1967 alone he wrote For Your Love, Heart Full Of Soul and Evil Hearted You for The Yardbirds, Look Through Any Window (with Charles Silverman) and Bus Stop for The Hollies, Listen People, No Milk Today and East West for Herman’s Hermits to name but a few.

Later joining Stewart, Godley and Creme on an abbreviated British tour supporting the Moody Blues, they were signed by entrepreneur, producer and recording artist Jonathan King and given the name 10cc.

Over the course of the next 23 years, 10cc achieved three UK number one singles and five top ten albums, with Gouldman co-writing some of their biggest hits, including The Wall Street Shuffle (1974), I’m Not In Love (1975), I’m Mandy, Fly Me (1976), Art For Art’s Sake (1976), The Things We Do for Love (1977) and Dreadlock Holiday (1978). Gouldman largely wrote with Stewart, himself playing guitar, Stewart writing on keyboard.

When Kevin Godley and Lol Creme departed in 1976 to explore new musical territories, Gouldman remained with Stewart until he left in 1995. Between 1984 and 1990, Gouldman teamed with American singer Andrew Gold, which he has described as being the best time of his life

With the current line-up of Gouldman, guitarist Rick Fenn, Paul Burgess on drums, keyboard player Mike Stevens and Iain Hornal playing rhythm guitar and sharing the vocals, 10cc are performing dates in Tokyo and Europe ahead of their tour of the UK in March.

Whilst busy preparing for the tour, he took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Hi Graham how are you today?

I’m very well thank you Kevin, more to the point how are you?

I’m very well thank you and before we move on let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

No problem, it’s a pleasure.

And just how is life treating you?

I have to be honest with you and say that life is actually treating me very well, thanks for asking. I am currently working my way through a very busy period which really does suit me. And 2018 really was an amazing year for me so all in all I really can’t complain.

Well I have been looking at your 2019 tour schedule and I have to say that there are no signs of you slowing down.

No, apparently not (laughter). I was recently looking at the tour schedule for this year and thought ‘just how did I let this happen’ (laughter). To be fair I know how it has happened; it’s because I really want to do it, and I will keep doing it as long as I am able to.

Can I assume then that you still get a buzz out of touring?

Absolutely, and you know what, if I didn’t then I would stop. I really don’t need to do it, I just love doing it. It really is as simple as that.

Touring has changed over the years since you first started out in the music business. Has it changed for the better?

Yes it has but I have to say that the mechanics of what you do are not that different. However, it is your attitude towards things that changes as you get a bit older. Rather than getting upset whenever something goes wrong I feel that you handle things better as you get older. I find that as I have got older I no longer put up with any shit either (laughter).

I spoke to Burt Bacharach and he said that in his opinion the whole ethos of touring had changed after 9/11.

I totally agree with him especially if you are flying from country to country all of the time, then that may very well be true. However, when you are travelling from Birmingham to Edinburgh there is no real hardship connected with that (laughter).

Not yet (laughter).

That’s right, yet is the operative word (laughter).

You will be playing here in Nottingham at the Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 2nd March and I have to tell you that the concert is already two thirds sold out.

That is excellent. In fact the whole tour is selling really well so I think that it is going to be a sell-out once again. A couple of months ago we played a smaller city tour and that pretty much sold out all the way.

Back in February 2015 I saw you performing your album Sheet Music in its entirety, and then in April 2017 you played a greatest hits set list. What can we expect this time?

Whenever we tour, to some extent, it is always going to be a greatest hits tour. Whatever the title of the tour is there is always going to be the hits that people want to hear. How could I not do them, that would be so wrong. Having said that I do try to vary things; there will be a few new old songs in there, there will be something different in and there will be some new visuals from Kevin Godley in there too. So I really do try to make things as different as I can sometimes.

Do you enjoy your time spent here in Nottingham?

Well what can I say, we have been to Nottingham so many times and yes, I have got very fond memories of Nottingham. I don’t know Nottingham that well, as it is usually going to the Concert Hall and that’s it but sometimes we do get the chance to have a look around the city or go out for lunch, if time permits.

So am I to take it that you haven’t as yet visited Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem which is purported to be the oldest Inn in England?

(Laughter) no I haven’t but you have tweaked my interest now so please, tell me more?

As England’s oldest inn, the pub is built into the Castle rock on which Nottingham Castle stands, and it is reported that King Richard the Lionheart and his men gathered at this historic royal dwelling before journeying to Jerusalem in 1189AD, thus giving the pub its unusual name.

Oh right, okay, well I have to be honest and say that I have never heard of it. However, I shall now make a note of that and see if time permits a visit.

Whenever you tour do you feel any added pressure to keep the 10cc legacy alive and well?

I personally don’t feel any pressure at all. I just do what I want to do and that’s the end of it.

Back in 2012 you released Love And Work which I have to say I think is a wonderful piece of work. Are there any thoughts on a new solo album at all?

Thank you for saying that you like the album. I did put out an EP in 2017 which was called Play Nicely And Share and I did that because I had a batch of songs that I wanted to do but there was just not enough time for me to record a full album. I’m not sure when I am going to be doing it but I will definitely be recording another album. I am writing stuff whenever I can so as soon as I have got the right songs I will record them.

You dedicated Love And Work to the late Andrew Gold who you worked with between 1984 and 1990 when you formed Wax. What was it like working with Andrew?

It really was a phenomenal time; Andrew was great. I always felt that Andrew and I were like kindred spirits. We got on very well on a personal level. We had a very similar musical upbringing even though he was American and I was English. We both loved and were completely inspired by The Beatles probably more than anyone else. He was an amazing musician, singer, guitarist, drummer, keyboard player, engineer, everything; Andrew really did do everything. He really was phenomenal.

In February 2014 you were inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. Just how did that feel?

I have to say that I felt very, very proud. It really was a wonderful experience. It was great for me, especially when you look at who the other members are. It really is a very angst group of people and I am really proud to be a part of that.

You have mentioned that you were inspired by The Beatles so when a certain Ringo Starr asked you to be a part of the Ringo Starr All-Starr Band did you have to take a minute before accepting?

(Laughter) yes I did for almost a thousandth of a millisecond, if indeed it was that long. To be honest I had absolutely no problem in saying yes to that immediately. It was great fun; I absolutely loved it. It really was great for me to get to work with Ringo, he was great. Working with Steve Lukather (Toto), Colin Hay (Men At Work), Warren Ham (The Ham Brothers Band), Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth Band) and Gregg Rolie (Santana and Journey) they were all phenomenal. I loved being with them and we had a ball.

In September 2017 Chris Hewitt and Peter Wadsworth together with a team of volunteers, rebuilt the Strawberry Studios control room as it was back in the late 1970s in the original building. Did you get the chance to visit?

No I didn’t and I really do feel bad about that. Having said that I thought that it was great what they had done, it really was amazing.

Sadly it is now back to being used as a storage unit.

Is it really, well there you go. All things must pass.

Do you think that could be a good title for an album?

(Laughter) yes I do, it really could be a good title for an album couldn’t it.

How did it feel working in Strawberry Studios?

It was great; it was our own space. We created our very own musical playground if you like. It really was phenomenal. I have to say that without the Strawberry Studio I don’t think that 10cc would have existed. The fact that we had this complete freedom together with the other added element; Eric Stewart was an engineer as well as being in the band. So a lot of the time there were only the four of us in the studio. There was nobody else for us to ask an opinion of; it really was just down to the four of us.

What was your favourite period in 10cc?

That really is hard for me to say. I enjoyed it all until things started going downhill, but I would say the first two albums definitely which would translate into the first two years. Those two years were our most creative. We were working together as a team, and what we produced I thought was amazing, and I have to say that I loved every minute of it.

You have been in the business for fifty-five years, have you enjoyed the ride?

(Laughter) I really wouldn’t have had it any other way.

You have written some fantastic songs; Bus Stop (The Hollies), For Your Love (The Yardbirds), No Milk Today (Herman’s Hermits) and Pamela, Pamela (Wayne Fontana) to name but a few. Which one has given you the greatest pleasure?

(Laughter) actually they are all my children and I love them all equally (laughter). Well I will tell you what happened, when I was inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame they ask you to perform one song. There you are, you have got to pick something that you are the most proud of. What do you think it was?

If I was a gambling man, which I hasten to add I am not, I would have to say Bus Stop. Am I close?

(Laughter) you are spot on. I really do love that song.

On the subject of songs that you have written, I recently interviewed Perter Noone. He told me a story about them being in the studio, and that they had run out of work to record, but they still had some studio time left. He informs me that they rang you and you turned up on the bus some twenty minutes later having written No Milk Today for them. Can you shed any light on that?

(Laughter) well what can I say except that Peter Noone is not known for taking hallucinogenic drugs, is he (laughter). Let’s put it this way, that did happen but we all have different memories of these things (laughter). I am extremely grateful to Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits as I am to The Hollies and also The Yardbirds for recording my songs and I know that Graham Hash has been very kind to me in saying that The Hollies recording Bus Stop changed their lives. However, I never think of it like that, I think about the effect it has had on me whilst not thinking about the effect that my work has had on other people. That really is rather gratifying. If you speak to Peter again please give him my love (laughter).

How did it feel the first time that you appeared on Top Of The Pops?

That was absolutely brilliant. For me to actually be on a programme that I had been watching through my teenage years, had been talking about at school with my mates the next day, and then to actually be on it, was simply phenomenal. What I would say is that the studios were very, very small. A lot smaller than I had anticipated they would be but what can I say, television is like that (laughter).

Is the music industry currently in a good place?

What can I say, there is always something good around even though we are currently dominated by records that sound very much manufactured and unnaturally perfect especially with auto tune and everything being done to click tracks. However, there is always something good that you hear which now and again stops you in your tracks and you think ‘God that is beautiful’. So what can I say, it’s not as good as it was but there are some bands who are rehearsing this very minute in an old garage somewhere wherever and they are going to be phenomenal (laughter).

It’s a shame that the old working men’s clubs have now closed down because there is nowhere for these upcoming bands to learn their trade.

Yes that’s right that is absolutely right. So bands nowadays are having to get through to their fans via YouTube and not via their fans actually making the effort to physically go out and see them performing live. It really has all changed. I personally am really glad that I am not starting out today. However, having said that maybe I would adapt and be using social media as much as possible to get my message across. But I am grateful that I don’t have to do that, and that the fans know exactly what they are going to get whenever they see the name 10cc.

What are your thoughts on the likes of Spotify?

I use it, and then I look at my royalty statements and see that I am getting .000001 of a penny and immediately think ‘gee, just what am I going to spend that on’ (laughter). As I have said previously everything has changed and I am glad that I came through the era I did particularly the 60s which was the era which defined music for me.

Which single event would you say changed your life forever?

I would say that has to be when my cousin bought me my very first guitar when I was eleven years old. And I am going to add one more, listening to Please Please Me by The Beatles for the very first time.

What one single thing can’t you live without?

(Laughter) love, followed by a really nice curry and of course a guitar (laughter).

In that case you will be fine here in Nottingham. We really do have some fantastic curry houses.

(Laughter) I know you do, in fact there is one directly opposite from the Royal Concert Hall which is pretty good.

You are talking about the Mogal-E-Azam which has been there years.

That’s great, in that case I will be having a curry from there I reckon (laughter).

During your career what is the one most extravagant purchase that you have made?

Excluding the houses that I have purchased along the way I would have to say that it would have to be an Aston Martin V8 Volante. That was very nice (laughter).

What was the first record that you bought?

That was Kathy’s Clown by The Everly Brothers.

Who did you first see performing live?

That’s a tough one. The first gig I saw that made an impression on me was seeing Cliff Richard And The Shadows at the Manchester Free Trade Hall.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

There are two songs that always make me cry and I know that they are going to make me cry even though I play them. One is Somewhere, the Matt Munro version, and the other one is The Folks Who Live On the Hill by Peggy Lee.

Will we ever see a 10cc reunion?


On that emphatic note Graham let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been great. You take care and I will see you here in Nottingham, who knows, maybe over a curry (laughter).

It’s been my pleasure Kevin, thanks a lot. You take care and bye for now.