Tommy Cunningham (seen here on the left) and Neil Mitchell (seen here on the right) from Wet Wet Wet chat with Kevin Cooper about working naked with Willie Mitchell, Marti Pellow’s flashing mic stand, the release of their Picture This box set, and their forthcoming UK tour.

Wet Wet Wet are a Scottish soft rock band that formed in 1982. Composed of Marti Pellow (lead vocals), Tommy Cunningham (drums and vocals), Graeme Clark (bass and vocals) and Neil Mitchell (keyboards and vocals). A fifth, unofficial member, Graeme Duffin (lead guitar and vocals), has been with them since 1983.

They are best known for their 1994 cover of The Troggs’ 1960’s hit Love Is All Around, which was used on the soundtrack to the film Four Weddings And A Funeral. It was a huge international success and spent fifteen weeks at the top the British charts, before Marti Pellow insisted on its deletion because he wanted to concentrate on finishing their album, Picture This.

In 1999, the band disbanded but reformed in 2004. Since then the band has released further albums and have toured to promote them, culminating in the release in 2013 of their greatest hits album.

Whilst preparing for their forthcoming tour, Tommy Cunningham and Neil Mitchell took the time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what they had to say.


Tommy, Neil how are you today?

Tommy Cunningham : Life is great mate how are things with you?

Neil Mitchell : We are good thanks Kevin.

I’m very well thank you and let me just thank you both for taking the time to speak to me today.

TC : It’s our pleasure Kevin and let me just tell you that we can’t wait to get back down there to Nottingham.

That’s nice of you to say but I don’t believe you for one minute (laughter).

TC : (Laughter) honestly Kevin, back in the day when we first kicked off and everything started for us there were the big venues that you were expected to play; Wembley, Manchester and Newcastle for example. But for us to find venues somewhere in-between was always a struggle but then one scorching hot summer in 1991, I think it was, we did a gig in Nottingham and the whole place was jumping. So every time that we tour we always insist on playing in Nottingham. Any excuse that we can find to play there in Nottingham we will use it (laughter).

Before we move on, let me just throw a date at you both ok, it’s Wednesday 6th May 1987.

NM : What happened then?

It was the first time that I saw Wet Wet Wet perform. It was a Princes Trust gig at Wembley Arena and you were supporting Lionel Richie.

NM : Wow Kevin I had forgotten about that (laughter).

TC : That’s right Kevin, yes we did. Our memory of that gig is that we had no money and we were all still wearing the same pair of denims that we had worn in order to sign on the dole the week before. When we walked out onto the stage we were all like headless chickens (laughter). We were all amazed at just how much energy we had and we just exploded. We were all running around having so much fun. And then after all of that Lionel Richie walks out onto the stage and he must be one of the smoothest guy on earth. He opens his mouth and sings “Hello….” (laughter). That really was a great experience for us.

What sticks in my mind is seeing Lionel and the band actually playing upside down on the ceiling at the end of the gig.

NM : That’s right Kevin it was part of his Dancing On The Ceiling Tour. I remember at the start of the show Lionel’s piano came up onto the stage and started playing “Hello” with no one else on the stage. It was amazing.

If you look around you will find it out there as it was released for the Prince’s Trust.

TC : That’s good to know Kevin. Us running around like headless chickens will be out there somewhere on YouTube, brilliant (laughter).   We always used to say to ourselves, in the heydays, that it really didn’t matter what we said or did in interviews as no one would ever see or hear it. How wrong were we (laughter). None of us ever knew that YouTube would come along did we? And now everything that you have ever done, in every country, at any time, there it is for the world to see.

And I have to ask you how is life treating the two of you at this moment in time?

NM : Tommy is a wee bit older than the rest of us but the rest of us have all recently turned fifty.

TC : That’s right Neil I’m seventy-four (laughter). I think that there is a nice balance in the band now.

NM : That’s ok as I am only sixty-nine. I have now got a four year old so things have changed rather dramatically in my life Kevin. I am now a little bit more laidback and relaxed than I was in the early days.

TC : It is all down to the perspective of real life. From the very beginning of all of this we told ourselves that we were going to hold onto the beliefs and life style that we all had before we had any success. We did a pretty good job of doing that for about nine years and then Love Is All Around happened. To be honest with you Kevin, I personally don’t think that it was any good for us to have that level of scrutiny together with that level of fame, especially the corrupting side of fame. So we broke up. That actually gave all of us the time and space to come back down to earth and to re-evaluate what the bands strengths were. And that is normal life; that is bringing your kids up, doing jobs around the house and everyday things which you would describe as being normal.

I always say Kevin that music feeds your soul but it doesn’t feed your heart. That’s why you need to have the ones that you love around you. You need to have that real connection with them and that’s what real life does.

You have mentioned the split which has been fully documented previously so we won’t go into that but you reformed in 2004. Did you feel that was the right time to get back together?

NM : To be honest with you Kevin it just seemed to happen. There had been a bereavement and we all went along to the funeral. That was the point at which we all stated talking to one another again. It wasn’t really calculated; it was simply that the bad news bought us all together once again.

TC : We rarely plans things Kevin. A friend of ours who was our tour manager for years was the only person who could tour with us because firstly he could understand what was happening because he came from a similar sort of background. And secondly, he was one of the very few people that we would listen to. After we had all started talking once again after the funeral, Dougie, who is now our manager, said to us “why don’t you all grow up and realise the important stuff and get back together”. He told us that he thought that something special happened whenever the four of us got together and that we should go out and embrace that.

You are going to be touring your Picture This album to celebrate its twentieth anniversary. Why this particular album to tour with?

TC : Well the anniversaries are coming up thick and fast Kevin so they are (laughter) and it is all to do with the passage of time. Picture This was one of the hardest albums that we ever recorded. It wasn’t because of the song writing because we were actually hitting form and we were coming up with some great tunes like Julia Says and Somewhere Somehow, but we had this level of success to deal with as well. We were under pressure after the worldwide success of Love Is All Around and so we kind of look back at it and we actually think that when you strip away all of the madness that we were faced with at that time and you are left with just the body of work that happened that year, it stands up.

We do still play Julia Says as part of our set; it’s a huge song together with Somewhere Somehow and Don’t Want To Forgive Me. So there are three songs there which are a huge part of what we do live. You have to remember that the record companies are always looking for a way to tie things all together.

NM : To make money you mean (laughter).

TC : That’s rather cynical Neil (laughter).

NM : I think the word that you are looking for is honesty.

TC : The record company were wanting to release the entire back catalogue and they also wanted to put a lot of extras on there too. So they finally settled upon a three CD and one DVD box set of Picture This. We all thought that there was nothing wrong with celebrating our past so long as we know that we have got something to look forward to; a future. Then we don’t mind looking back. However we don’t want to become a heritage act that only looks back. So we found ourselves back in the studio recording new material, thinking about a new release sometime in 2016, plus we are going back out on tour. There are all of these positives so we don’t mind glancing back and remember a few moments from our past. So that’s the reason Kevin.

It’s all about being proud of your legacy.

TC: Wow, that’s perfectly correct Kevin. I like the sound of the word legacy and it makes us want to protect it, so it does. We are very aware that we don’t want to tarnish or sell out what we have achieved in the past. We keep making sure that whenever we play live we deliver something special and that it is a great night out. I feel very proud of it and we all do still think about our legacy. Legacy means that we have got a past but I am so very proud of the fact that we also have a future too.

You mentioned the Picture This box set containing three CD’s and a DVD. I have been checking it out and it really does look very good. There is something in there for everyone.

TC : The one thing that is missing Kevin is perhaps a cassette and a VHS tape (laughter).

Why not go the whole hog and put an eight track cartridge in there too.

TC : A special one for the older viewers out there (laughter).

I have to ask, did you as a group have any say as to what finally found itself in the package?

TC : Totally Kevin, absolutely. Our bass player Graeme (Clark) was busy scouring around in the archives finding us twenty year old tapes that were lying around.

NM : We found some of the demos of the songs that hadn’t made their way onto Picture This which was great as we hadn’t listened to them now for over twenty years. We all thought that it would be nice to dust them off and to let people hear them and where we were at that moment in time.

TC : They really are rarities Kevin because unlike today where everything that you do gets recorded, a laptop can record all of the band. Back then it was a rarity to do a gig and to find out that someone had recorded it. So we just thought that it would be nice to dig some of that stuff out. You have to make it special for the fans who have made it special for us in the first place. Let us now give them something special back; something that they have never heard before.

I am an old soulie at heart and I loved the Memphis Sessions album. What was it like working with the legendary Willie Mitchell?

TC : That’s easy Kevin, it was one of the greatest experiences of our lives. Apart from Neil none of us had ever been out of the country; we didn’t even have a passport so off we went to the local Post Office to get ourselves a one year passport and then we headed over to Memphis (laughter).  The funny thing was that when we got over there, we couldn’t understand a word that they were saying and they didn’t understand us either (laughter).

We went into the studio and there in front of us was Willie Mitchell; the man who had produced Al Green. We were in the same studio where all of these great records had been recorded. We were using the same microphones, the same equipment, and we simply couldn’t understand each other but as soon as we started playing music, we suddenly all understood the vibe. What Willie was trying to teach us, these headless chickens from Clydebank was that if you feel the emotion as you are doing it then it will translate onto the tapes.

We spent a lot of time, almost meditating to reach that point where we were ready to record it. He even had me playing naked one night which let me tell you Kevin wasn’t pretty (laughter). The control room was up high and you couldn’t see down into the main room because all of the lights were off. Willie took me to one side and he began to recount a story about Tina Turner, and how she couldn’t get the vibe in the studio so she took all of her clothes off (laughter). Well I was trying to do this particular song and I was simply getting nowhere. I sounded like a guy from Clydebank on the dole, that’s what I sounded like.

Willie shouted down from the control room “Tom take your clothes off” so there I am sitting in the dark in a ninety-five degree heat at one in the morning in Memphis playing the drums. After we had finished the recording I got dressed and went back upstairs to the control room and Willie looked at me, smiled and said “you nailed it man, you nailed it”. I looked at him and said Willie that was not a drum stick (laughter).

NM : You have always got to lower the tone haven’t you. That was a great story except for the end Tommy (laughter).

TC : It certainly was an experience Kevin I will tell you that. The thing about Willie was that he was a singer’s producer so being a band it was a little more difficult for us as musicians. Willie had a telephone book where he could go if we needed The Memphis Horns; there they are. Do you want the best session bass player that you have ever heard, there he is. Do you want the best session drummer that you have ever heard, there he is. Willie’s real love when he was working with us was Marti’s voice. He had recorded Tom Jones and he sat with Marti for hours telling him that he was better than Tom Jones. Willie would genuinely tell Marti that he was better than Elvis (Presley). Willie thought that Marti’s voice had a certain soulness and quality.

For the entire time that we spent with Willie in Memphis he was always trying to pass onto us that knowledge and that teaching. At the end of our time there, and I don’t mean this in a racist way, Willie said to us that he thought that he had made us sound too black.   We all looked at each other scratching our heads as we had no idea what he meant by that. So we bought the master tapes of the album back to the UK; played it to the record company who promptly told us that they couldn’t release the album because it wasn’t poppy enough (laughter). So once again Willie was right. We still use his methods today when trying to capture the emotion of a song, and I don’t mean getting naked (laughter).

Whenever we record to this day we embrace the pop thing whilst still using Willies lessons in order to make it glossy and presentable within today’s society Kevin.

I love Northern Soul and here in the UK Willie Mitchell is still massive. Whenever they play a Willie Mitchell track anywhere on the Northern Soul scene the dancefloor fills within seconds.

TC : Absolutely Kevin, I kind of grew up with Northern Soul. We had all of the charts stuff and although we were from Glasgow we all knew about the stuff that was being played down there at Wigan Casino. I had a couple of older cousins who at that time stayed in Cumbria and they would tell me just how massive the Northern Soul scene was. I was only about nine years old but the grooves get deep inside you so it does. And then years later we all thought that we were trying to sound like The Clash but we actually finished up sounding like Chic (laughter). It all comes back out again; it comes out of your pores. That’s soul music for you Kevin. That’s why it is called soul, it comes from somewhere deep inside.

Coming right back up to date, The Big Picture Tour, what can we expect, any surprises?

TC : Obviously the album was called Picture This and it really all came about because we did a tour in 2013 when we took new technology out on the road with us. We took large screens out with us on that tour……

Oh don’t. Mentioning that tour I actually photographed you here in Nottingham.

TC : Really Kevin. Well what did you think to the big screen stuff?

To be honest with you the big screen stuff was great but if I could have got hold of that microphone stand I would have gladly shoved it up Marti’s bottom.

TC : (Hysterical laughter) now I don’t know if you have heard this Kevin but this is genuine ok. Marti paid over two grand for that bloody thing when he could have got one from B&Q for forty quid or something like that (laughter).

He was a royal pain in the arse that night. Trying to get a half decent picture of him with that thing flashing away all night. It was awful (laughter).

TC : (Laughter) we all took the mickey out of him by telling him that it looked like a light sabre. A light sabre that had gone wrong. I think that on this tour we will park the mic stand (laughter). He just wanted something different. We all said go for it; knock yourself out and then we saw it and thought ‘oh my god’. I think that if he does that again we should get the bass to do the same, the drums and the keyboards; everything should light up so that it looks like a Disney parade (laughter).

Back to the matter in hand (laughter). We did the big screens and we loved that. We had found ourselves a very talented editor to work with who has taken some of our ideas and worked with them so we are going to go out and use every bit of technology with this tour; trying to get the visuals right. However having said all of that, the core of the tour is going to be Sweet Little Mystery, Wishing I Was Lucky, Temptation; the old songs are still at the core of everything that we do.

Do you all still enjoy touring?

NM : Absolutely, touring is where it is at for us, we all do really still enjoy touring. The fact that we are still doing what we are doing; we are really lucky to be still playing in front of audiences, seeing their faces and getting their reactions to songs that we have written is where it is at. There is no feeling better than that Kevin.

TC : Because we don’t do it non-stop Kevin. If someone was to show us our tour itinerary from 1994/96 over a two year period we only spent sixty days back home. Now that’s unhealthy. These days we actually spend around six months of the year at home and so when we actually get out on tour and it only lasts three or four weeks before we take a break, before you set off again, it’s an absolute pleasure. We get to see the country and meet new folks so we love it; absolutely love it.

You mention seeing the country, do you now get the chance to see where you are playing or is it straight in and straight out?

TC : We didn’t in the early part of our career (laughter). My two kids were getting to the age of fifteen and sixteen and so I said that we would all go on a little trip to Rome. I thought that it would be nice for us all to fly over and do a city break. When we arrived the kids said to me, “Dad you have been here before. You have been here six times before, what do you remember”, to which I replied nothing, not a single thing (laughter). I had not even managed to see the Colosseum because all that we used to do in the early days was arrive, go to an Irish bar, do the gig and then leave. Now when we arrive we intentionally ask right, what has this city got to offer, let’s get out and do some shopping, let’s get the feel the vibe of the place. So yes we will be out and about in Nottingham Kevin.

I have to ask, are there any thoughts on recording a new album?

NM : Its funny you asking that Kevin because we have just been in the studio recording some new material. We spent three weeks in the South of France where we have already started recording material for a new album. We have almost finished the first four songs now so hopefully we will have the album fully finished for July or August and depending how we feel with it we will release it around December. We had actually wanted to release it to coincide with the tour but things haven’t quite worked out with people busy doing other things.

TC : We are finding that whenever we are writing new songs we are trying our hardest to incorporate everything that we have learnt because music is all about moving forward and always growing. We always find ourselves back in that place where it all starts with a basic melody and a simple set of chords and Marti singing away. We always break into that soul beat, it is always there.

When you formed Wet Wet Wet back in 1982 did you ever envisage that you would be as popular as you are today?

TC : (Laughter) let me tell you Kevin that back in 1982 we weren’t that popular (laughter). All of the neighbours were constantly telling us to shut up.

NM : I honestly don’t even think that I thought about that Kevin. I think that you take it in stages. You form a band, you write some songs, you hope to get your single played and if you are lucky it gets into the charts. Then it all kind of snowballs from there. You put an album together and you just hope that you are managing to achieve your goals as the years go on. You are always hoping that things are going to get bigger and bigger.

TC : Someone once told us that the secret to success is to get your head down and to run as fast as you can. Don’t look up and don’t pause. And back in those early days that is exactly what we did.

NM : I think that we were quite lucky at that time back in the eighties because it was pre the digital age of computers and mobile phones. Things are obviously a lot different now; things happen a lot quicker. Bands today will be lucky if they get to release a single never mind an album. I don’t think that there is as much passion within the business as there was back then. The music industry is a very fickle business today Kevin.

TC : I can remember a certain amount of anxiety after we had released our first single. You start wondering if the band will be a one-hit wonder. What we did was to stop panicking about it and instead we put all of that energy into making another record. We would work even harder on the next one and then even harder on the next. Slowly you build up your body of work and really it is anxiety that keeps you going. You are constantly thinking how it could all end and so you never dare think about the future.

Also back then when we first started, bands like The Rolling Stones were all in their mid-forties and I can remember a big debate at the time that we first started, which said that bands at forty-five and fifty years old should call it a day as it was all over (laughter). No one had written a rule book back then, no one knew how long you would be able to do it. You fast forward to 2016 and see that The Stones are still doing, Elton John is still doing it and Paul McCartney is still out there doing it live on stage and its then that you realise that there are no rules to this. You can always be a musician, you can keep on going. When you see some of the great 60’s icons that came out of the USA, just how old was B.B. King when he was still sitting on the stage rocking.

The rule book hadn’t been written so there was no way of knowing how the future would play out for anyone even the big icons. Now we know that there is no stop date other than keeling over and wouldn’t it be great to do that on stage (laughter).

NM : I’m not so sure (laughter).

I just find it sad that the whole music industry has become a disposable commodity. The kids simply don’t want to collect music like we did back in the sixties and seventies.

TC : I totally agree Kevin. My kids are now at that twenty year old age and they do consume music way different to what we did. We bought a 7” single and we played it to death. You would invite your friends over and you would play it to them and then one of them would borrow it and never give it you back and all of that carry on (laughter). But at the same time you got your own back by stealing their albums (laughter). These days the kids instantly consume music and what you have to remember is that they get to music in different ways. It is no longer through watching Top Of The Pops which was our introduction, or listening to the radio. They find it on-line or via social sharing.

Whenever an Eagles song for example comes on the radio my kids will start humming along to it and I will stop and ask them just how they know that song. It doesn’t get played in the house and it doesn’t get played on the radio that much so how do they know it. They always tell me the same thing that they found it on-line. So let’s give the kids a wee bit more credit as they are still protecting that history out there of great music. Once they have gone through the pop phase where it is all hip and trendy; once they come out the other side of that it comes down to great song, it really does every time. You can’t live in a pop bubble, you have to eventually get to the point when it is about the quality of the songs and not the quality of the haircut (laughter).

I constantly see kids playing the guitar who all want to be the new hip thing; the new Suede but after a couple of years they are all playing Neil Young. Whenever I ask them where they found Neil Young they all say the same thing, its great music.

You have mentioned Top Of The Pops so I have to ask you just what was your first appearance on the show like?

TC : My memory of Top Of The Pops is a lot of neon lights, lots of crosses and neon everywhere (laughter). The same petrified audience being shepherded around the studio around a million times. And the realisation of just how small the studios actually were. But standing there on our wee stage like headless chickens looking over to the other stage and seeing Whitney Houston getting ready to sing and seeing Tom Jones speaking to Rick Astley who was one of our contempories at that time. We all looked at each other and asked ‘just how did we get here’. We were just four shit kickers from Clydebank Kevin. But at the end of the day Kevin Top Of The Pops was iconic TV wasn’t it.

I’ve said this to a couple of people and no one has ever come back to me with a decent answer. Top Of The Pops is currently getting re-run; I think its 1979 just now. Whenever I watch it my memory tells me that it will be great song after great song. However watching it you are lucky if you get one half-decent tune a week. I just can’t believe just how much rubbish was out there getting released back then.

Funnily enough, I actually watched it last night and I am sick of seeing the Nick Straker Band singing A Walk In The Park; it’s on every week.

TC : I know exactly what you mean Kevin. I think that they must have been friends of the producer (laughter).

I know that is was cheesy but don’t you think that it is sorely missed. We desperately need another programme of that ilk to take its place.

NM : How old are you Kevin if you don’t mind me asking?

That’s a rather personal question don’t you think (laughter). Let’s just say that I won’t see twenty-one again (laughter).

NM : You are pretty much the same age as we are Kevin and we are all of that generation who grew up with Top Of The Pops and loved it. The fact that it is not here is probably down to the fact that towards the end no one was watching it anymore. That could have been because of the acts that were appearing on the show; I don’t know, it’s all debateable.

TC : Back in the day record companies would hype their groups onto the show but times have now moved on. It sometimes seemed as though the new hot thing who wasn’t the new hot thing was, towards the end, getting onto the show. But you also have to remember that at that time music was changing, and the BBC had got themselves into a position in relation to licence renewals and they had to make sure that the shows were relevant. For example they invented a new format for Radio One, it became a huge success. A lot of other companies and radio stations copied it and so the BBC then had to reinvent it. They actually had to destroy that audience in order to get a new one. And it was a bit like that with the TV; they had built up this audience and reputation and they had to destroy it in order to rebuild it.

By the time that they had rebuilt it, believe it or not the audiences had changed. You have to remember that MTV had arrived at that time. Also SKY TV was getting into every home. I had the choice of either sitting or watching a band miming very badly on a TV programme which was made by sixty-five year old camera men and editors or I could go and watch MTV where the most happening thing was. The great thing is that Top Of The Pops is still a franchise and also whenever I visit a foreign country they all know about Top Of The Pops.

NM : Really, well it’s time to move on as Top Of The Pops is dead. Forget it, it’s finished. It’s now a computer age lads and TV is finished, it’s over.

TC : I actually think that at some point they will bring Top Of The Pops back in some sort of format Kevin. They already do the Christmas specials don’t they, so, yes I feel that it will be back.

NM : Simon Cowell has tried to buy the franchise from the BBC but fortunately the BBC won’t sell it to him, thank god (laughter).

TC : Perhaps it won’t be Top Of The Pops but it will be something like that. I like the idea of there being a live show.

How does it make you feel when you see mothers, who were your original fans, bringing their children along to the shows?

TC : Its fantastic Kevin, it really is a great feeling when you actually get a new and different generation coming along to the shows to see you playing live. Back in the day, whenever the kids would come along to say hello we used to say hello and where is your mum as we would like to say hello to her too. However now it is the mums who are saying hello and we are being introduced to the younger kids. Also there are a lot of grandmothers, who think that Marti is the best thing since sliced bread (laughter). We do get three generations at the shows now and surprisingly we also get a lot of guys along now.

That used to be a novelty because whenever we saw a man in the audience we would know that he had been dragged along to the show (laughter). Poor fellow.

I can’t speak to you without mentioning Love Is All Around. Just how many copies did you buy?

TC : That would have to be in excess of one million Kevin (laughter). Being serious I didn’t buy one copy.

I actually think that if you hadn’t have pulled it then it would probably still be number one today.

TC : (Hysterical laughter) we simply had to pull it Kevin. The scrutiny that came along with it and I don’t just mean our daily lives and Marti’s hair, it was the paparazzi side of things. There really were guys hiding in bushes. Even though it has been highlighted since, there was definitely phone taping going on at that time because there were things happening which no one outside of the band would have known about. I can remember having huge discussions with the rest of the band because I was convinced that there was a mole amongst us. There were things appearing that should never ever have got out of the group; private business stuff. So we were all under that level of scrutiny.

We went from the cheeky-chappie next door, I’m thinking of Marti’s image here, to the fact that it was tabloids everyday asking if anyone had a story for them about Marti Pellow, if so please call this number. When these people start going through your mothers waste then you know that there is something wrong. And to be honest with you Kevin none of us really handled it very well. We were built for success in music but we were not built for success for fame. That is what we were not built for.

All that aside, spending fifteen weeks at number one must have felt fantastic?

NM : The first thirteen weeks were great Kevin, yawn (laughter).

TC : At the time we were trying to record an album so I can remember the first three or four weeks when it was an absolute pleasure to fly into the UK and perform on Top Of The Pops. Every time that we did that someone would be handing us bottles of champagne which was great. We would all drink it and have ourselves a wee party and then the next day we would get back into the studio. Then two days later we would get a telephone call telling us that the Americans wanted us so we would fly over to the USA. When we arrived there would be even more champagne handed out to us. So for fifteen weeks Kevin we were all absolutely legless to be honest (laughter).

If you are the last one to leave a party it never feels good, and trust me, we overstayed our welcome (laughter). It was like this party is over, it’s time to go home. That is exactly what it felt like Kevin.

I understand that the late Reg Presley who was the original writer of the song was both pleased and grateful to you?

TC: The story goes that Reg was sat at his breakfast table and he had received a cassette tape of us singing the song, his song in fact. Showing how long ago it was he faxed us a sheet of A4 paper which said thank you, thank you, thank you from head to bottom, it just read thank you, love Reg. Then about two weeks after that we were in the studio rehearsing and he came up to see us. We had set up to rehearse Love Is All Around and even though we were playing it in a different key, Reg just smiled and said that he would join in with us. He did and he had a tear in his eye.

At this time Reg was about around fifty years of age and there he was, sitting on our stage, listening to his own song that he had written in 1964, with a tear in his eye. I can remember asking him just how much he had made from the song when he had recorded it with The Troggs and I was shocked when he told me that actually it was another member of The Troggs who had written it and not Reg. He never got a penny from it. Other than having a couple of years of success he had really struggled after that. Then he started telling me all about crop circles so I politely made my exit from the room (laughter).

I have to ask you, do you ever tire of playing it?

NM : I think that the problem that some people had with the song was simply because they had heard it being played too much. It was number one for so long, but I personally think that it is a great tune. If you read the lyrics it is so simple, it is almost a nursery rhyme. We would all be so pleased if we had written the song. It is so powerful. The power of the song is just immense.

TC : You can never tire of playing it Kevin. However there was one year, 2010 I think it was, when we thought that we were being smart and we decided to play Love Is All Around first. You walk out to start your gig, the lights are down, the anticipation has built, the first part of the pyrotechnics are about to go off and we start with Love Is All Around. Instead of cheering, all that we could see was the entire audience just sitting there with their mouths open shouting you can’t start with that. It totally ruined it Kevin (laughter).

It needs to be at the end of the show. Everyone knows that we play it to close the show. Everyone knows that it is a lighter moment and that they can sing along with the song. Every one joins in and because of that we can never tire of playing it Kevin. Whenever we get to the end of a concert and we have had huge highs we always think there is one more to go, another step up so we can never tire of playing it.

Was it always going to be a career in music for both of you?

TC : I have a quote, which I won’t tell you who it comes from, but I think that it sums it up perfectly. Someone once asked a band member what he thought about his musical career and he said this is not a career, it is beyond that. This is just what we do with our lives. We are, whether we like it or not, four members of Wet Wet Wet and we are musicians. You can go off and be a carpenter if that is what you want to do but you are always going to be a musician. At the end of the day you are still the guy in the band; you are still going to play that song, so I do think that it has gone beyond career.

People will look upon this cynically Kevin but I swear to God this is not about the money. It’s not as if we think that if we all get back together every two years then we can make a killing. This is genuinely the four of us thinking just how we can take care of the legacy that we have left. How do we make sure that in twenty years’ time people still respect those songs. We have to make sure that every time we step out onto that stage that we entertain in the best way that we can. We find that the audiences give us way more than we give them. We enjoy it so much that after every tour, within two weeks we are phoning each other to see it there is anything else that we can do. It is great fun and it feels like a privilege Kevin.

What were you both listening to when you were growing up?

TC : For me the first music which I discovered were classic singles from the 60’s and early 70’s. That would be a bit of David Bowie, a bit of The Rolling Stones but a hell of a lot of The Beatles. All of those original singles which my parents had. We had one of those huge radiogram’s Kevin, do you remember those (laughter). And then when I started buying records myself at twelve years old it was initially The Jam. I love The Jam, and then I moved onto Bowie and all that kind of stuff.

Then I met Graeme (Clark) and Neil (Mitchell) and they introduced me to Punk (laughter). I had somehow missed the boat and was still listening to Queen albums while they were listening to The Clash (laughter). And then I discovered Iggy Pop which makes you think hang on, there are things happening and as a drummer you finally think that you have discovered paradise. And then Marti came along with an Al Green album saying listen to that and we all just went wow, who can sing like that.

At that point it stops being that kind of angst young man’s kind of music. It starts turning into this mature, how beautiful can you make these songs type of thing. So yes that was my musical journey Kevin.

NM : I was listening to a lot of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. I can also remember Tommy giving me a Shirley Bassey album (laughter). I loved The Carpenters and Burt Bacharach, the classic songwriter sort of stuff. After that I moved into Disc and The Bee Gees, Chic, Earth Wind And Fire then Punk came along. If they are good tunes then I will like them Kevin.

Can you both remember the very first single that you ever bought?

NM : I bought The Sparks This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us (laughter). Actually Kevin I’m lying, it was Puppy Love by Donny Osmond. I was seven years old.

TC : Mine was straight out of the bargain basement. I didn’t really know what I was buying at the time but it was I Love To Boogie by T. Rex. I took it home and when I played it I thought what the hell is this. After reading the label that took me back to Ride A White Swan, Life’s A Gas and Jeepster.

And putting you both on the spot can you recall who you first saw playing live in concert?

TC : There was a Greatest Hits album out at the time by The Shadows and I didn’t really know much about them but when they toured I knew that I just had to see them playing live. I was that young that I had to leave after twenty minutes so that I could catch my bus home. So I saw about three songs by The Shadows and that was my first ever concert. But I tell everybody that it was The Buzzcocks really (laughter).

NM : I can’t really remember but I think that it might have been The Gang Of Four because I thought that I was really on it at the time (laughter). What I can remember is that Adam Ant was on the bill. What sticks in my mind is seeing The Ramones, UB40, Elvis Costello, Madness and Bob Marley all in the early 80’s. I loved all of that Indie and New Wave stuff. I saw ABC at The Apollo in Glasgow and loved their string section.

TC : Graeme tells a story about his big brother taking him to see Bob Marley. He had no idea what or who he was going along to see; he just went along to the concert. So I’ve got to ask you Kevin how did music start for you?

I was fourteen years old when a group of older friends took me along to the local Palais where I saw Jr. Walker And The All-Stars.

TC : Oh Jesus Christ. Nothing like being dropped in at the deep end is there Kevin. Jr. Walker with that sax just makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

I have since then spent years and years collecting every piece of Motown vinyl that I can get my hands on. Then realising that I was missing out, I went to see Led Zeppelin at Knebworth.

TC : I came into that heavy metal thing late on too. Someone played me some Led Zeppelin and my jaw just dropped. I had to get back to the beginning and start again. Can you remember how we all used to disregard Abba, saying that it was rubbish? Now whenever an Abba song comes on the radio we are all singing along to it.

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

TC : There have been many Kevin, we have had some great moments. Along the way we have met a hell of a lot of our idols. We have also had some surprises along the way but if I were to pick one it would have to be the Goodnight Girl moment. We had had the pop bubble beginnings but then the first two singles off the Holding Back The River album didn’t chart much higher than 45 or so. Our record company have since been honest with us and have told us that they were a week or so away from dropping us. As a group we took a massive gamble with the quietest, most emotionally open song, Goodnight Girl and it travelled up the charts to the number one position. It was just one of those perfect moments.

We knew that from that point on we would never be looked upon as the group who had a hit with The Beatles charity record. It was the first sign that we had longevity. It showed us that people did appreciate us, they were just waiting for the right tune to come along. To be honest Kevin that song saved our careers.

NM : For me I think that the highlight is the fact that you can write a song and travel the world on the back of it allowing you to see other countries and to experience other cultures too. You can’t really beat that can you Kevin.

Who has inspired you along the way?

TC : For me Kevin that would have to be Elton John. When we used to do Top Of The Pops there would be all of these current bands who were all into their own self-worth and their own careers. And then you would walk into a room where a real icon such as Elton John was and you find that he is one of the nicest people possible. It is all because he has learnt not to give a flying fuck about how big your ego is. Elton John used to come into our dressing room and tell us the football scores or take us to one side and warn us about the problems that we would be faced with in the USA.

One day we found ourselves in a terrible dressing room; a tiny little box room with nowhere to sit and no laundry and Elton came in and asked us how we had ended up in there. We told him that it was the only room available, and do you know what he said, you take my room. Any of the really big icons who have themselves been through the mill and have managed to come out the other side find that normal live is where it’s at. They are all nice and normal.

NM : That’s easy for me Kevin, it would have to be everybody who I listened to along the way because their influence can be heard in everything that we write and record. It is all in there somewhere.

I shot Elton John here in Nottingham and he went out of his way to make sure that I had got the shots that I wanted and needed.

TC : That’s what I mean Kevin he is totally the opposite to how people perceive him. What a lovely guy.

Tommy could you tell me an interesting fact about Neil?

TC : Neil is the quietest man in the band. He is not demonstrative, he is not about being down the front. When we are doing a video or a photoshoot Neil is never that interested. However if you put Neil into the studio he will sit there for three days without moving until he gets the chord sequences just right. Wet Wet Wet simply couldn’t survive without all of the serious hard work that Neil puts in the studio.

Right Neil the floor is all yours. Tell me something about Tommy?

NM : It is amazing just how much non-stop garbage Tommy can come out with (laughter). Seriously Tommy is the salt of the earth, he is a really nice guy, and he will talk to anybody about anything always in a nice way. He is passionate, loving and caring. He is the one who keeps everything together for the rest of us.

TC : I think that Neil has summed me up perfectly Kevin as a wonderful giving human being. Thanks Neil (laughter).

On that note let me thank you both for taking the time to speak to me.

NM : It’s been a pleasure Kevin.

TC : That was a real in depth interview Kevin so I really do hope that you get something good out of it.

I am looking forward to shooting you here in Nottingham on the 28th February.

TC : Trust me, Marti won’t ask you if you have got all that you need unlike Elton John (laughter).

And try to get that microphone stand off him.

NM : That is going to be smashed.

TC : Don’t worry Kevin, that will find its way into a skip (laughter).