Ian McLagan Interview Part Two
DAVE: When did you finally start sniffing out that the money wasn't showing up?
IAN: Well, we dumped Arden. Our parents got together while we were on the road, because they were wondering where the money had gone. Some parents were saying, "maybe Steve's got it," cuz he was the singer. All the parents got together on the phone and talked, and they made an appointment with Arden and had a meeting with him. They said, "Where's our boys' money? They've never got any money in their pockets." He stood behind his desk, the calm man he is, and said, "people in showbiz spend money. They've spent theirs. Oh, and by the way, they're all on drugs."
That was the red herring he wanted, as they completely forgot about the money. He didn't say which drugs-- For the amount of money that we were earning to be spent on drugs, we'd obviously have to be heroin addicts. But he never specified heroin. You couldn't spend that kind of money on hash, which is what we were smoking.
DAVE: No matter how many people you had over to the flat!
IAN: That's right! So they were horrified, they forgot about the money, and they were crying over the phone: "Oh my God, you kids! What are you doing to yourselves?!"
DAVE: Was it the parents and Arden knocking heads that brought about the decision to dump him?
IAN: Yeah, we'd realized that he'd fucked us up there. He told a lie-- although we were smoking, it didn't mean we were on drugs like that. We knew he couldn't be trusted from that moment on, so we started sniffing about and got an accountant and a lawyer. Then the accountant screwed us. We'd come to gigs and he'd say, "sign these checks", and we'd sign blank checks, so he took our money and ran. Fucking idiots, but we didn't know. Our whole training had been with music, not with accountancy and law.
DAVE: Had you wrapped up the first album when you left Arden?
IAN: I think we spent three days doing that album. Funnily enough, I did an interview for a TV show in Manchester about four or five years ago, and the producer very kindly sent me all the clips that he used between all the interview segments-- not just the bits that were in his program, but the entire lengths of footage. There's one section I'd never seen before where I'm overdubbing an organ solo on one of the tracks at IBC Studios.
DAVE: How did Andrew Loog Oldham treat you? I understand they treated you better at Immediate, which was his baby.
IAN: Andrew was a smoker of joints, like we were, and that was part of the deal. Also, Steve had been involved with Andrew before the Small Faces.
DAVE: Oldham had financed a single for Steve.
IAN: Right. So, Steve knew him and was keen on him and knew he was a raver. I was actually against Andrew at first. I didn't like him. He was too smooth and smarmy. We signed with him eventually, but we signed over a joint and a glass of champagne. That's really sensible, isn't it? But that's basically what it was.
They paid us a little bit more than £20 a week, and ripped us off. Never paid us at all for recording or publishing until '96, when we did a deal with Castle, but that only includes the UK. The rest of the world, we still have never received a penny from any of those records.
DAVE: Then let's talk about the music and to hell with the money. I know Immediate gave you the ability to get off the road a bit, which allowed you to concentrate on the studio more. Marriott wanted to get more into the studio...
IAN: We all did. We were keen to have more studio time, to experiment. The Beatles and the Beach Boys and the Stones were all turning out great records, and you couldn't do that in a day, you know?!
DAVE: What was the most experimental thing you think you got away with over at Decca?
IAN: [Chuckling] Huh! Well, we were recording for a second album at Decca. Some of the stuff came out. I don't know if That Man ever actually came out, but we were using these Chinese horns and things. We were just spending a little bit more time. We were just screwing around, having fun. But, with Immediate, you could spend days in the studio, experiment a little more.
DAVE: That's what Ogden's turned into, isn't it? About five months of noodling around?
IAN: It was closer to a year, actually, on and off. We weren't in there every day, but it was close to a year. I'm sure someone... Well, Castle, on that new CD box, has [photographs of] actual tape boxes. I'm reading all the titles and shit [right now]. It's quite interesting.
The months would go by. I'd love to get my hands on some of that stuff!
DAVE: Absolutely! Somebody ought to pull an Eddie Kramer and systematically go through all the boxes of tape and figure out how it was laid down. They've done it with Hendrix, they can damned sure do it with that piece of work.
After you put out the second self-titled Small Faces album out, on Immediate, what was your schedule like? Still touring heavily?
IAN: Yeah. Cuz, also, we could play a lot of those songs live. When it got down to Itchykoo Park, with the acoustic guitar, phasing on the drums, how would you do it [live] ? It would be easy now, but it wasn't possible then.
DAVE: But certainly you realized you could paint yourself into a corner in the studio? That was the beauty of it, you couldn't reproduce it on stage...
didn't think of that. We realized we couldn't do it when we went
to rehearse it for the stage. And Lazy Sunday, we didn't
want to do that in the first place. Andrew put that out without
our permission. He saw it as a potential hit single, which
DAVE: In retrospect, are you still unhappy that it's out there?
IAN: No, but it wasn't something we wanted to play... Its like telling a joke: You don't want to tell the same joke three times over. "Here we all are, sitting in a rainbow." Its funny and then it becomes tedious. And we were stuck with doing that every night. Fuck that shit!
DAVE: So, obviously, the most unhappy person at that point would be Steve...
IAN: I don't know why, but he was.
DAVE: Well, it's a great track, but I can understand that as more of a personal statement, you don't want to run it in the ground, being forced to play it every night.
IAN: But he said, years later, that the reason he'd left the band was that the hits were getting smaller, and he figured it was his responsibility more and more. Although he didn't write Itchykoo Park, that was Ronnie. But he decided it better to leave and not drag us down. I don't know if that's true...
DAVE: He said a lot of stuff, so it's up to us to figure out what is what.
Is it true that Ogden's Nut was more or less a standard session, that you were tooling around and getting more into experimentation...
IAN: Steve, Ronnie and I had a boating trip up the Thames for a week. We were working on songs. I still have some of those tapes, actually. That's why I've got a lot of songwriting credit on that album, because I was more in from the beginning. It was Ronnie or Steve's idea to link it and originally [we wanted] to use Spike Milligan.
DAVE: I understand that looking for the other side of the moon was Ronnie's idea, and that Spike turned down the offer to work on it.
IAN: Yeah, yeah.
DAVE: Where did you write Long Agos?
IAN: It's funny! I was just playing that for the first time in years earlier. I picked up my guitar. A mate of mine had been tooling around with it the other day and he 'D' tuned it, which is the tuning I'd used for that, so I started playing it, thinking, "Boy, I could play this with my band!"
DAVE: I also thought the boat trip [down the Thames, a retreat for songwriting and smoking] came later on, after most of the basic tracks were down.
IAN: No, because we wrote The Journey, Hungry Intruder, Happydaystoytown-- that was my title, actually-- all those things happened on the boat. And others, like Happiness Stan, and Ogden's Nut was actually an instrumental version of I've Got Mine, a song they'd written before I'd joined.
DAVE: That was their second single, which went nowhere.
IAN: That's right. Good song, though.
DAVE: You never got credit, but a lot of the phasing and other studio tricks, the first time it was widely heard was on Small Faces stuff.
IAN: Actually, I always believed it was Timi Yuro's hit single Hurt, but it turns out it was Toni Fisher's 1959 hit The Big Hurt, which was the first record to use it, The Beatles being second and Small Faces third. Both Tonis are women. This is all part of the new edition in the book. It was originally used in Gold Star Studios.
That had very little to do with us. That was the engineer who'd worked on the Beatles session where they'd used it. He happened to be working with us, and we said we were looking for some sort of effect, and he said, "well, try this!" We were amazed! We were always looking for something different. It was a lot of fun to have the time to be able to do it. Unfortunately, of course, when we realized we weren't getting paid for any of it, it kind of lost its edge.
DAVE: Didn't you also do a TV show, Colour Me Pop, where Stanley Unwin joined you all and you went through the entire second side, playing it live?
IAN: Right! Yeah, I had to see that a few years ago to believe that it actually happened. Wow! They were very busy times.
DAVE: And fogged by many different things, I'm sure!
IAN: That's right! [Laughter]
DAVE: Is it true you talked Matthew Fisher into playing the Hammond?
IAN: Oh, I read that! I did an internet search for 'Ian McLagan', and it came up with a link to him. I do remember him being in Neil Christian and the Crusaders, with Ritchie Blackmore on guitar. Brilliant. According to him, I said, "you should get a Hammond. You're bound to get lots of work then."
DAVE: Also, I see you got banned from a lot of halls for a Roy Orbison tour in '67, for being too loud. Ring a bell?
IAN: I didn't know that. We were banned on a Hollies tour, but that was earlier, in '66. That was a set-up. We were pretty loud, but... We used Marshall stacks.
DAVE: I barely recall your drug bust. What was that all about?
IAN: It was a small piece of hash.
DAVE: On the road?
IAN: No, I was actually getting ready to get on a plane to go on vacation in Greece. We'd just finished recording Tin Soldier, and I'd been up all night in the studio. We were smoking dope all night. Never considering that I'd stink of the stuff, I went to the airport and they pulled me over, and I had a bit of hash in my underpants. Canada still doesn't want to let me in!
IAN: Yeah! I have to carry a piece of paper. From nineteen-sixty-fucking-seven!
DAVE: But you were part of the New Barbarians Canada gig...
IAN: Oh, yeah! Me and Woody and Keith had to have a big immigration deal to get in there. Ray Charles! I've seen Ray Charles in immigration there, waiting. You have to ask permission! You don't get to just go into Canada any time you like, you have to ask permission! I have a brother who lived there for 20 years, and if I wanted to go and see him I have to ask permission. I couldn't go in socially, only to work.
DAVE: Where all did you tour? You did the amazingly flatulent tour of Australia, on and off planes for three days straight...
IAN: 'The Amazingly Flatulent Tour'?!
DAVE: It had to have been. What else were you drinking on the planes [other than beer]?
IAN: Oh! Well, that was a thirty-six hour flight. That was a flight! In fact, I just came back from Australia a couple three weeks ago. I did it in thirty-two hours! Mind you, ten and a half hours were in LAX waiting for a damned plane!
That Australian tour was a lot of laughs, actually. There's a book out about it now, did you hear about that? I've got it here somewhere... yeah, here it is: Fortnight of Furore. There's great pictures of us, live shots, and shots of us around the pool, walking off planes, hanging around.
It was all about nothing! Absolutely ridiculous! It's really quite funny.
DAVE: What do you mean, 'it was all about nothing'?
IAN: This is obscure, but it was like that Scorsese film where the plot is: Nothing happens, and then nothing happens! That's unusual for Scorsese, but it's a most boring film! Age of Innocence.
DAVE: Oh, yeah! I tried watching that. I'm a Scorsese fan, and I was left thinking, "what the hell?"
IAN: He blew it, and he did it in style!
But, anyway, the Australian tour was a big laugh where we got a lot of press. They insulted us. As soon as we got to the airport in Sidney, they walked down the plane with insecticide and sprayed everyone in the face. Nice welcome to Australia! Then there was a press reception in the airport lobby. "Cameras! Lights! Welcome to Australia, boys! Ian McLagan! You're a drug addict, aren't you?" I said, "Fuck off!" We got up and walked out, ending the interview. That was our "Hello, Welcome to Australia!" "Thank You!"
They absolutely hounded us. They'd meet you at the airport, shove a microphone and camera in your face and say, "you don't wash, do you?" Fucking teenaged stupidity. The reviews in the press [were bad]. At the first gig in Sidney, there was a revolving stage, but it wasn't electric. There were three heavy geezers pushing it around.
DAVE: Low-tech Madison Square Garden.
IAN: Steve swore at one of them, and they all just walked out and left us facing one side of the audience. We weren't playing great, anyway, and Steve was angry. It wasn't very good, but we had a laugh.
The Australian band that were backing Paul Jones passed a bottle of beer around on the last flight. We'd finished the tour of Australia and were going to New Zealand. They didn't serve beer on flights in Australia then, and a stewardess saw the beer so they called the police. They wouldn't serve us anything on the flight, and they took us off the plane after everyone else had been cleared off. It wasn't even the Who or the Small Faces, it was the stupid Australian band who knew better!
Basically, we got arrested. We were marched off the plane with our hands in the air, and they took us straight to the first-class lounge where a waitress came up and said, "would you like a drink?" We said, "yeah!" Then we got drunk!
DAVE: Is this the flight where the stewardess made claims?
IAN: Bob Pridden, the Who's roadie, looked like a little gnome. He still does. When she said, "That's it! None of you are being served!" he said, "excuse me, may I have a coffee?" and she said, "shut up, you!" That was the extent of it. She was a real cow. We were a little scruffy and long-haired, that's all. We were English. It caused so many repercussions.
When we got to New Zealand, later that day, the Australian police had phoned ahead and we were met by eight policemen, one for each member of the Who and the Small Faces. We chatted with them, and they were fine. We had a munch on some food and a drink, and then left the airport and went to the hotel. The police escorted each of us everywhere we went. They were in our dressing room, they were everywhere we were. Nothing was going on. The Who smashed a bit of the equipment up, but that was what they did!
The next day, we were in Wellington and it was Steve's birthday. After the show, we got kind of friendly with the [cops], and they realized we were all right. Because it was Steve's birthday, the local record company supplied him with a suite and a portable stereo system and a pile of records, so we went back to his place and had drinks. Steve offered drinks to the policemen, so they came in. One guy took his helmet off and I remember Steve wearing it... in fact, strangely enough, I found this while I was writing All the Rage, and it's right in front of me, this hat badge: "NZP", which can only mean New Zealand Police. I've had it all these years.
We were having a quiet drink, there was a knock on the door, and it was Keith Moon. "Happy Birthday, Steve" "Oh, thanks, Keith". He walks in, grabs the stereo player, and throws it through these French windows, down five, six flights, and the policemen are standing there with drinks in their hands! "Oh, my God!" They put their beers down and ran. They didn't do anything, they just ran!
Actually, it happened the next night as well. The record company supplied Steve with a new stereo...
DAVE: They didn't learn their lesson! And, of course, Keith never looked before he threw to see if anyone was down below... You probably never did, either, when you threw stuff out the window, did you?
IAN: No. I didn't throw anything out the window. You almost got me there...
DAVE: Oh, you were a good boy...
IAN: No, not totally. Keith was the bad boy there, but we all loved it, and no-one got hurt. He did do some damage, which he had to pay for, and that's all it was. But this kid-- well, he used to be a kid-- has written a 44 page book on it. It's got some great photos, and it's incredibly detailed...
DAVE: It must be... does it have the set lists for the entire tour?
IAN: Almost... but great photographs that I've never seen before, from newspaper reports and such. In fact, I have a photo from one of the newspapers of Keith, Steve, and me from the day we arrived in New Zealand. It was in the press, and they put me as being from the Who and Keith and Steve from the Small Faces. I have the back page of the paper and I tried, online, to get this newspaper. Of course, its years since it existed. Its hard when you try to look up stuff like that.
IAN: Yeah, after the Universal, that was when he quit.
DAVE: I never have heard a good version of that. What was the deal?
IAN: Why he quit? Well, the Universal was all him, and there was no way we could play that live, you know what I mean? Trombone and flute and...
IAN: Pardon? Oh! [Laughing] Dog! That we could have done! But that was just Steve on the back porch of his house we lived in together out in the country, him and his dog and a tune. We took it in the studio, from the cassette, and overdubbed everything else. But there are no keyboards on it. If we'd done that live, I'd have been twiddling my thumbs!
DAVE: You could have been the dog.
IAN: Oh, thank you, thank you! You're too kind!
DAVE: So you carried on for two months after Steve quit?
IAN: Actually, we convinced him that we needed to earn some money. We had gigs we couldn't cancel. I said, "I promise you, we can make some money on this", which we did. I ended up basically managing the band, and we did a load of gigs. It went really well and, for the first time in the Small Faces, we all came out with some money! In fact, I have a diary... here it is. I have notes of the dates, venues, money in, and money paid out. They all made more than I did, as it turned out, but you have to read the book for that story!
DAVE: Will do! In this entire interview, it's the first you held something back, saying I'd have to read the book!
IAN: [Triumphant laugh] I was holding it back! That's the Hamburg story, and it's worth reading!
DAVE: Let's kind of wrap up the Small Faces here and get into Quiet Melon.
IAN: Quiet Melon?! Fuck, that'll take about a minute!
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