Rick Astley chats with Kevin Cooper about his time with Stock Aitken and Waterman, his return to the music industry, the release of his forthcoming album and his first solo tour of the UK in four years.

Rick Astley is an English singer, songwriter, musician, and radio personality.  His 1987 song, Never Gonna Give You Up was a number one hit single in 25 countries. 

In 1993, Astley retired from the music industry at the age of 27, deciding that family life was more important.  So for much of the 1990s and early 2000s, Astley remained largely out of the spotlight.  However, in 2004, Astley toured for the first time in 14 years and during the late 2000s, Astley continued touring across the globe with various other 1980s acts, such as Boy George and Belinda Carlisle, in the Here And Now Tour.

During the summer of 2010, Astley became a radio DJ for London’s Magic FM, presenting a Sunday show.  The initial contract was for eight weeks, but he proved popular with listeners and his contract was extended until the end of the year.  In December 2010, Astley co-hosted the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2 with Peter Kay, and in March 2011 appeared in Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day telethon on the BBC.

Whilst preparing for his forthcoming tour to promote his greatest hits and some newly written tracks, Kevin Cooper caught up with him to have a chat, and this is what he had to say.

Rick good afternoon how are you today?

I’m good thanks Kevin how are you?

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

It’s my pleasure.

And just how is life treating Rick Astley today?

To be honest with you, life is very good at the moment.  I have been very lucky in life and that hasn’t changed to be honest since the very first day that I got my break in the music business.  It is pretty amazing to think that I am still doing gigs.  I am now fifty and I am still doing gigs both here in the UK and also in far-flung parts of the world.  More to the point I am still enjoying it and amazingly people do still remember the songs (laughter).  It’s all pretty crazy really so I have been lucky.

You are about to tour the UK once again and the response for tickets has been phenomenal.  Have you been overwhelmed with the response?

I think that overwhelmed might sound a bit too over the top to be honest and what I mean by that, and don’t get me wrong, is that I was never expecting the tour to sell out that quickly but within this crazy business nothing ever surprises me anymore to be honest (laughter).  So if we hadn’t sold a single ticket then that wouldn’t have surprised me either (hysterical laughter).  Nothing surprises me because I just can’t make head nor tail of the music business anymore Kevin.  I probably sound like an old man but I just think that because of the internet and how everything in the world works today, you just can’t be sure about anything.

Big artists put records out and everyone ignores them and then they put out another record and everyone goes out and buys them; and you simply cannot tell one way or the other which way it will go.  I think that live music is slightly different because I really do think that there is a hunger for live music from the public at this moment in time, and I think this is partly because of the way that we listen to music these days.  People no longer collect music like they used to, especially now that you can stream any kind of music that you want, whether it is back to Frank Sinatra and beyond or right up to the minute listening to something that was put online yesterday.  Wherever you are in the world you can listen to it.

So I think that people view the idea of listening to and digesting music very differently and therefore when they go to see live stuff it is the only thing that you can’t digitise; the only thing that you can’t copy and send to someone over the internet.  So in that respect I feel that there is a real hunger for it really.

You will just have to adopt Bono’s approach and give everything away free.

(Hysterical laughter) to be honest with you Kevin in terms of making money from the music industry I never have, even as a kid.  Of course I wanted to be rich and famous, that’s all part of the job description isn’t it (laughter), pop star equals rich and famous.  But I think, and I do mean this, the money thing was just a by-product.  I think that most kids who played in a garage or their mates back bedroom in an effort to get a band going; well that was what they wanted to do.  You perform at a low level, in pubs and the rest of it, and you get a hunger for it, a desire for it and of course there is that carrot which is the money.  But I think that for most people who do it, the money is simply a by-product really.

Of course it is a very nice by-product and I hope that it never ends (laughter).  However I feel that the ultimate desire when you are writing songs or you go into a studio is that you just enjoy it and you want other people to hear it and feel good about it.  Then if you actually sell something and people send you a cheque at some point then that is a bonus nowadays (laughter).  I’ve been really lucky because I was around in the days when we used to actually sell a lot of physical copies of stuff.  At that point the internet was just someone’s dream.  I have had my fair share of making money out of the music business in that way.

It really wouldn’t bother me if they said that it never going to happen anymore and that I needed to get out onto the road and play more gigs; I would be totally fine with that.  I am very lucky Kevin in that I have had my go at it.  Please don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that you can simply go onto YouTube or Spotify and seek out what you are wanting to hear; I think that it’s great.  I see it with my own daughter and her friends; they are getting into bands and looking at different things which if we had wanted to do that then you had to know somebody who owned that record who would actually play it to you or you had to listen to it being played on the radio.

That is the big irony for me; I simply don’t quite know how that works.  Radio is still really, really strong and I think that it must be because again like a live performance, people like listening to a piece of music at the exact same time as other people, although they are not in the same car or the same room in the house.  They know that there are other people all listening to that same piece of music at exactly the same time.  There is something in that which is a very human trait; we actually like to be a part of a community when listening.

This will be your first major tour in four years.  Why such a gap?

(Laughter) I have been doing gigs in this country but just not on my own if you know what I mean.  I do a lot of the Retro tours up and down the country and I have got to be honest, they are a lot of fun and there is no pressure in doing those because there is always a big line-up so people basically go and stand in a field, go to an arena or whatever, and they hear fifty songs that have all been massive hits (laughter).  That’s a no-brainer really and I also like going because I like seeing some of the other acts; some of the guys who I am friends with, some of the guys who perhaps I don’t know very well although I know their music really well.

I’m still not bored of that to be honest.  If Go West or Level 42 are playing I really do still like standing by the side of the stage watching their gigs (laughter).  I sometimes wonder if Mark King looks over and says ‘is he here again, just what is he doing’ (laughter).  But the thing is that I grew up with those records and some of those bands are the guys who got me into being in bands.  I would watch The Tube or whatever the show was at the time, and those are the bands who I grew up thinking that one day I want to be doing that. Now I just happen to share stages with them sometimes which is pretty amazing I think.

But in terms of doing my own gigs, that’s also something that, whilst I am not saying that it is more fun to do my own gigs, it is a different dynamic really.  But when you are doing your own thing you have got a bit more time in that you are not just going to do forty minutes, you can play for ninety minutes or as long as you want.  I think that means that you can build a set around your stuff the way that you want it, for example I can put a few more slower songs into the set so that I can catch my breath (laughter).

What can we expect to hear on the tour?

Obviously I will be playing the hits and I am more than happy to do that.  I am very grateful that I have got them (laughter).  Also I will be playing a couple of new songs on this tour and I am really looking forward to that.  It’s always nice to throw a couple of new tunes in there sometimes and also I enjoy making my band learn a new cover every now and again.  It keeps everyone on our toes and I think that everyone enjoys playing everyone else’s songs.  It reminds you of being a kid back when you started.

You mention new songs, are there any thoughts on a new album?

It’s funny you mentioning that Kevin because I am actually currently working in the studio putting the finishing touches onto a new album.  I’m not fooling myself into thinking that I am going to sell loads of copies it like we have discussed earlier.  It’s more to be honest with you, simply because I like doing it and I still want to do it.  I think that there are still a few hard-core fans that I have got out there and I think that they like me making new music.

So what can you tell me about the new album?

Erm, oh (laughter).  That is always a difficult question to answer Kevin because I have my perception of the album because I am in my man cave making it.  What I will say is that the songs are pretty simple to be honest.  Over the years I have amassed loads of gear and loads of equipment from various studios that I have at some time owned.  I have had full-blown profession studios, and I have had setups at home which were pretty professional but were still at home, and the one thing that I did at the beginning of the year was to actually sit-down and write and make a new record.

At that point I decided to strip everything out and if I couldn’t make the album with those five or six instruments then I wouldn’t do it.  If I couldn’t make the album with drums, bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano and a few background vocals, then it simply wasn’t going to happen.  I took all of the toys away so it is a pretty simple record.  When I say that, I don’t mean that it is a simple sounding record, I just mean that I gave myself a pallet of colours if you like, to work with.  Also I have worked with choirs over the years and the whole backing vocals thing I really like and there is a lot of that on this record.  In fact it is quite heavy in that way.  I wouldn’t say that it is Gospel but there is definitely a Gospel influence in there.

Whenever anyone mentions Rick Astley and a choir I am immediately taken back to 1991 and I think of Cry For Help.

That’s great to hear Kevin thank you.  Obviously I used a choir on Cry For Help which was a hit both here in the UK and also the USA so it is a path that I have been down before.  I haven’t gone mad and gone completely down that path, it’s just that there is a bit of that going on there that’s for sure (laughter).

How do you write new songs; what is Rick Astley’s writing process?

The very first thing which I always do begins with me going into my room, sitting at the piano which is a nice organic thing to do, or perhaps I will pick up the acoustic guitar and see if I can make any new songs work like that.  If I can’t make it work like that or envisage just how I will make it work, I will simply put it to one side and start on something new.

And do you have a title for the album?

I do but I’m not going to tell you (laughter).  I will tell you why, it’s because there is a slight element of humour in it and I am still debating as to whether or not I will actually use the title or not. So I will just have to leave that for a minute (laughter).

Ok that’s not a problem but let me ask you, do you have a release date for the album and will it be available on the tour?

That is a really difficult question for me to answer as we are in talks at the moment with the label about just how exactly we want to do that.  What I can say is that there will probably be two singles released before the tour, or maybe the second will be released around the time of the tour.  We might even release the album around the same time, but to be honest with you Kevin I really don’t like getting into all that sort of stuff simply because people at record companies have their opinions of why they want to do stuff.

When they get it right it is amazing, to be totally fair to them, when they actually get it right it really does work.  Whereas I just want to get things out there (laughter).  They have their reasons; they look at the market and decided that they won’t release my stuff because a certain big artist has released a single that week.  But the idea at present is that we are hoping to have a couple of tunes out there by the start of the tour, that’s for sure.

Do you have any thoughts of releasing the album on vinyl?

I don’t know about that and at this stage I haven’t really considered any of that to be honest.  We have quite a lot of vinyl at home and we still do play vinyl but we do it because in my opinion vinyl is cosier that a CD.  It is just a nice thing to do.  We have a living room without a TV in there; it is just full of vinyl records and a stereo.  We just go and sit in there; we have a glass of rum, and play a bit of vinyl.  I will have to look at that but I sometimes feel that it can be viewed as an ego thing because actually how many people want to buy a vinyl record, do you know what I mean?  I might put that out there on Facebook and see what the response is; see just how many people are interested.

What I wanted to ask you from a personal point of view is with your voice being as strong and warm as it is have you never considered recording a Motown covers album?

Well thank you Kevin and I take that as a massive compliment.  I did record a cover of The Temptations, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg a while back now which we still do live.  Obviously we can’t now perform it as we recorded it because that was back in the early 80’s and was full of 80’s keyboard sounds, so we just do it a little more like their version of the song.  It’s nowhere near as good and I still prefer The Temptations version over mine but I really do love singing it (laughter).  Sometimes when we are playing my shows I sometimes just fancy singing My Girl and I ask the audience if they would like some more Motown and if they say yes, then we do a few (laughter).

I really love it because those songs were written for singers I think.  I’m not being an old fogey because there are some great singers around at this moment in time, but I think that Motown more than any other label had that thing where everybody who was signed to that label could pretty much sing amazingly well.  You had to be a great singer to be a Motown artist.  A lot of other genres, even the Stock-Aitkin-Waterman thing didn’t care if you could sing or not.  It was all about their productions and their songs.  If you could sing, then that was just a bonus.  I don’t think that Pete (Waterman) would ever say that, but in my opinion singing simply wasn’t their focus whereas Motown produced some of the best vocalists that the world has ever seen.

The one thing which has always amazed me about the artists who were signed to Motown is the fact that they could all do it.  I think that there have been various phases in music where the vocals didn’t really matter, especially since we have been able to tune it, edit it and do whatever we want to do to it.  Even I can do it but if I can sing reasonably well and reasonably in tune then I don’t go mad tuning everything.  I simply think that if it isn’t right then I will do it again.  But I know that I can get someone into the studio whether it be the postman or whoever and I can make them sound half decent (laughter).

Without mentioning too many names Kevin, I think that there are some artists who if they could sing then that would ruin the whole thing (laughter).  You have to remember that it is also about style and swagger and with some artists that is why it works.  If you ask me I would say that in my opinion Bob Dylan can’t sing but boy he can certainly tell a story.  He is a storyteller rather than a singer.

You have mentioned Pete (Waterman), how did you feel when he asked you to sign to the PWL (Pete Waterman Entertainment) label?

To be honest with you, back when that happened they were not yet this massive great big all conquering entity.  They were just a bunch of fairly youngish guys back in those days, although they were all older than me and they were just getting started.  When I signed to them they were just about to have a number one record so for me it was a bit of an adventure really.  I thought, I don’t really know who these guys are or what they are doing but they seem to be doing something right, so this might be my one and only opportunity within the music business, so I just kind of did it.  I didn’t really think that much about it.

To be honest with you I just thought that because Pete Waterman had got a pair of red leather trousers and he was driving a Jaguar, he must know something.  If he wasn’t rock and roll then what was he (laughter).  Red leather trousers, bring it on (laughter).

You were twenty-one years old when your debut single Never Gonna Give You Up was a number one hit single in twenty-five countries.  How did that feel?

Obviously it was a bit mind-blowing if I am honest with you.  By the time that we released that song Stock Aitken and Waterman had had quite a few hits, so whilst I wasn’t expecting to have a hit I knew that song was a great song, despite me not having written it.  I just knew that it was a great song whoever got to sing it.  So I wasn’t expecting that to happen but I also thought that because Stock Aitken and Waterman were the flavour of the moment, then the record would most probably get played on the radio.  But I think that whole thing of it just snowballing and going right around the world including the USA where Stock Aitken Waterman hadn’t had that much success, which actually turned the song into a monster.

For me to actually realise exactly what was going on was almost impossible because I had nothing to relate it to.  I had absolutely no experience and so it was like bang there you go, you have got a worldwide number one.  The other thing is, and I know that this is a cliché, but you become so busy when you have got a record such as that, well your feet don’t touch the ground.  Literally you wake up and you have absolutely no idea what country you are in; you just get on with it.  So it was just pretty amazing to be honest.  In a way I wouldn’t swap it for anything but in another way it would have been nice to have had a number fifteen or a number eight because then I just might have got a grasp on exactly what was going on (laughter).

But it wasn’t like that; it was literally from the moment that it went number one here in the UK together with that couple of week’s build-up to that happening, I just never stopped.  You just don’t really know what is going on; you just turn around and realise that you have been number one in almost every country in the world or at least in most of the big ones.

Was an illusion shattered when you made your first appearance on Top Of The Pops?

It was all very weird and I have got to be honest and say that it was very disappointing.  As kids you would grow up watching Top Of The Pops and you always thought that the studios were massive.  I actually thought that the studios must have been the size of Wembley Stadium (laughter).  Don’t get me wrong, it is still a fairly large room but so tiny in relation to how big you thought that it was going to be.  There was no large crowd either; they just moved this rather small audience from one side of the studio to the other (laughter).  But also for me it was terrifying because I had never really done a major TV before and they just stuck me in front of a microphone and said on you go son (laughter).

There was no formal training for an appearance on Top Of the Pops.  Nobody told you what to expect when you appeared on a TV show.  They didn’t even tell you that you had to follow the camera with the red light on top (laughter).  I just stood there and thought to myself what the hell is going on.  I remember moving my mic stand at one point and this man came over to me and said “you can’t do that son, this is the BBC “(hysterical laughter).  It was simply bizarre; a really weird experience but also amazing because there I was on Top Of The Pops.  I think that if you are British then that was it, where did you go from there.

And for me simply walking around Television Centre was pretty amazing, because for me I had grown up watching Blue Peter and you would see that building and it is such an iconic building and there you are, right in the centre of it all.  So whilst I found it weird I also found it totally amazing.

What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

That’s an interesting question Kevin.  I think that the success that I had over in America has always meant a lot to me because a lot of my favourite artists come from America.  We have already spoken about my admiration for Motown and the artists signed to that label but also Al Green and Bill Withers are two of my all-time favourite artists.  There is also a lot of rock music that I like but in terms of singers, these are the two guys who I have attempted to emulate and perhaps even copy (laughter).  The thing that freaks me out is the thought that Bill Withers could have been driving down some road in Los Angeles, listening to me on the radio and someone has announced that ‘there’s that kid and he is number one’.

Bill Withers could have actually heard me sing and I just think that is pretty wild.  So that has always meant something to me.  Don’t get me wrong, there are British artists too that I like but I think that as kids again you know America even though you have never been there, because you see on TV shows, you hear it in the music, you see it in titles of songs, and America has always had a big draw for me.  So that was an amazing experience, the whole of going to America and finding out that they knew who I was.  That was amazing but so was having a number one single here in the UK simply because of my mum and dad.  That was pretty amazing.  There is no more to get than that.  If you have a number one record in the charts here in the UK, well that is what you have grown up dreaming about and to do it in your own backyard is kind of amazing.

You have mentioned some great artists but who would you say has inspired you?

That would have to be a lot of black American musicians, especially in terms of vocals.  I think that later on I have grown to appreciate artists who as a kid I didn’t really think of, and I am thinking of Frank Sinatra in particular to be honest.  When I have really sat down and listened to his stuff properly over time, and I have read a few books about him too, and whilst I’m not a mad keen fan or anything I now appreciate just how incredible Sinatra was.  As a young kid I was simply into pop music.  But I think having sung quite a bit over the years, I now listen to the way that Sinatra did things and I have read about the way that he did things, I think that I have really grown to appreciate him a lot more.

They made records in a way that we can’t even comprehend.  They all went into the studio, someone waved a baton, said ‘one two three four’ and off they went.  That was it.  Obviously a lot of records were made by playing live a lot more in the studios back in the 50’s and 60’s.  They were literally a one take thing with the guy at his absolute pinnacle.

Is there anything left for you to achieve?

I would love to have a time machine and I would have liked to have had a hit before Live Aid and therefore Sir Bob (Geldof) may have asked me to perform at Live Aid, which would have been quite a moment (laughter).  I remember watching Live Aid on the TV and I was simply glued to it.  It was just such an historical event for music because of Bob Geldof’s idea I guess, plus the thing of simply saying you know what, we are actually going to make music mean a bit more.  If all that it does is to make the people who have got the power realise that there were people out there who were finding a voice then it would really have achieved something.  I really do think that they could have pushed that point forward by telling the politicians that they had to do this otherwise we (the musicians) were actually going to revolt.

There was an energy, but it was a positive energy, which was all about music and the joy of music, making us all think about the people who simply don’t have what we have here in the West.  There were just a few things in it that made me think that all they needed to do was to light the blue touch paper and then they would have been away.  However it wasn’t about that; it was political but it wasn’t if you know what I mean.  The artists were simply trying to make the politicians together with the powers that be take their heads out of the sand and address some of the issues.  Despite all of that, Live Aid was a pretty special thing, and I think that for me as an ego trip, never mind all of the right reasons, just to have been able to play at Wembley Stadium with all of the artists who were performing that day, well it would have been unbelievable.

I know that there have been lots of similar events since Live Aid but I don’t think that there has ever been another one quite that special; that event and that day were a moment.  The whole day, all thirty-six hours of it was a pretty special thing.

At what point in your career did you feel the most musically satisfied?

Personally I think what happens is that you feel musically satisfied with whatever music you are doing at that time.  So at the moment it is probably now.  Perhaps that is simply because I am a lot better at it than I used to be (laughter).  I can go into a room now and play everything, do it all, produce it, get it to sound good and all the rest of it.  I have a great sound engineer helping me but if I had too I can now manage to get it to sound good myself and that to me is quite a satisfying thing.  I am in no way a musician who is able to sit down and play The Beatles catalogue backwards (laughter), I’m simply not geared that way.  But if I write my own stuff then I am really comfortable to play it and to make it sound pretty good.  I have got to that point now where I can do that.

I think that I am like most other artists in the fact that they all seem to like the songs that they have just written the most.  That is just the way that it works.  I also love some of the old songs that I didn’t even write because I have got different memories with them.  If I sing Never Gonna Give You Up I can understand that some artists would be bored to tears singing a song that they had been singing for almost thirty years.  But I retired from the business for over fifteen years so obviously I didn’t sing it during that period, but I just think that it was that song that gave me the life that I have had.  I think that I relate a hell of a lot more to that song now than I did back then when I was having that hit.

When you are having the hit you just hang on; you are so very busy that you just get on with it.  However, I think that later on in life I have looked back and thought how lucky I was that it all came together at the right time.

You have just mentioned the moment when you retired from the business but I want to ask you about your return.  What was the catalyst that made you want to start making music again?

To be honest with you Kevin that is a bit of a weird one (laughter).  I had done a few small projects together with some different things; an album for this and an album for that but nothing really on a lets go for it with a major label doing it properly and really trying kind of thing.  If I am honest the main reason was that I had received an offer from Japan to go over there and play a few gigs.  My wife and my daughter, who was fourteen at the time, simply made me do it (laughter).  They ganged up on me and both of them said that they wanted to go to Japan.  My daughter who is currently studying art is very creative and artistic and at that time she loved anything to do with Japanese design and it is an amazing place for that.

They both really wanted to go to see Japan and so they kind of put my arm up my back and said that we were going to Japan, and I would play the three gigs and then we would have a family holiday.  And so that is exactly what we did and do you know what, I absolutely loved it (laughter).  I went over to Japan thinking that I would do the gigs, come home and forget about the whole music thing once again.  However I walked off the stage after the first gig and thought why the hell haven’t I done this before (laughter).  It was all pretty weird because on our way over to Japan we had stopped off at Los Angeles first so when we finally arrived in Japan I was jetlagged to buggery and so it was just an odd trip all-round and Japan is such a crazy place anyway.

I think that something just clicked inside me and I thought I can do this whether it is down the road from my house, any other gig within the UK, or any other gig anywhere else in the world, and treat it as the same thing; I do it, I enjoy it, I go home and I forget about it.  And that is exactly what I have been doing for ten years now and I am now in a pretty good place.  I can do the gigs and people remember the old songs.  I can enjoy it and treat it for what it is and I actually enjoy reliving a few of those memories and moments myself, but feel good about it because I can still do it well.  I am probably singing better now than I did as a kid to be honest because I know a bit more about it.  So yes, I really do enjoy it.

I think that it was just one of those happy accidents where it wasn’t really something that I was desperate to do, I just did it thinking that we would see how it all worked out.  However after that first night I thought that it was crazy that I wasn’t still doing this and that’s why I have been doing it again for the past ten years (laughter).

It is well documented that in the early days you suffered terribly with shyness.  Is shyness still a problem?

I think what it partly was for me was having the success which I had so instantly, and being in this kind of business simply exaggerated it.  I didn’t know what was going on, I genuinely didn’t, so I would go to Top Of The Pops as we have been discussing, and the crazy thing was that no one had explained to me just what was happening.  I didn’t have any kind of training or any idea as to exactly just how the media worked.  I was just thrown in to it.  I have no idea as to why they do that by the way Kevin (laughter).  If I was the head of a marketing department at a record label I would have all of the young kids in rooms working on their interview techniques; recording them so that we could play them back and actually see just how they responded to being questioned live on the TV.

I think that the whole situation in which I found myself just made me retreat into my shell a little bit because I didn’t really know what the hell was going on.  I did want to be a singer and I did want to be a pop star but I didn’t necessarily love all of it.  What you have got to remember is that back in the 80’s a lot of it was very much about what you looked like, how you presented yourself and how you carried yourself.  It was about the music too of course but most of all it was about swagger which rock and roll has always had but pop music in the 80’s simply exploded with that.  Duran Duran were all about attitude; the songs were great but they were very much about their attitude.  I think that a lot of artists who came out of the 80’s were very much like that.

However for me all that I wanted to do was to sing the songs.  I didn’t want to get involved with the rest of it.  So I think that it just made me retreat into myself a little bit.  But I have to say that I am not shy under normal circumstances, I just think that it was a bit of a moment really and it just exploded a bit too much in one go for me.  Then again I wasn’t in a band so I didn’t have another four or five guys with me so we could bluff our way through it (laughter).  When you are on your own it is a totally different situation to find yourself in.

What was the first single that you ever bought?

Well to be fair Kevin I didn’t actually buy it (laughter).  I bought myself a pair of jeans from a store in Ashton and in that store they had a record store within the store if you know what I mean.  I was about ten years old at the time and I had no idea what I wanted so I just went next door to the record store and asked for the number one single at that time.  It turned out to be I Feel Love by Donna Summer which as you know is a great, great record, but it wasn’t selected out of choice (laughter).  I only got it because you got a free record with every pair of jeans (laugher).

Who did you first see performing live in concert?

That would have been a British progressive rock band called Camel.  It was at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester and I clearly remember Joan Armatrading being the support act.  Again I was ten years old and it was around the jeans and single episode (laughter).  And I have to say that seeing Camel was a life changing moment for me.  What’s crazy in all of this is that back in the early days I was on a tour over in Japan and I was sitting in a lounge in the airport with all of the crew and we all starting talking about the first gigs that we had seen.  When they asked me I naturally said that it was Camel at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester and blow me, both my sound and lighting engineers had done the sound and lighting for Camel on that very tour at that very gig that I was at (laughter).

They both jumped out of their seats shouting I did that gig.  They were looking at me, Rick Astley thinking hang on that guy Rick Astley went to a Camel gig, what the hell are we talking about (laughter). However I could tell them everything about the gig so eventually they did believe me.  Pretty weird Kevin, pretty weird.

I think that is the perfect place for me to say Rick Astley thank you for taking the time to speak to me. 

Thank you Kevin it’s been great and I hope to see you there in Nottingham.