Welcome to Wales and the control room of Rockfield Studios. I’m here with Delphic, a young Manchester three-piece whose debut album I am producing. They are lovely, in awe of New Order although they weren’t even born when Ceremony or Blue Monday were released. They revere Orbital too and ask me excitedly what it was like to hear their records at parties in 1991. I can’t really remember how it felt, but I know exactly how I feel now. I feel old.
When a review of “Piece Work” referred to me as a ‘veteran’ I sulked for days. In my head a veteran is someone old enough to have fought in a World War. I’m thirty-six. Of course I should have taken it for the compliment it is. Somehow, I seem to have been making records for fifteen years. Back in 1994 the sum total of my musical ambition was to have a 12” with my name on it in for sale in a record shop. Now I all I think about is how I can still be doing this when I’m pushing fifty? I want to be Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Thomas Fehlmann, Gudrun Gut, Wolfgang Voigt, Brian Eno – all of whose records I look forward to as eagerly as those of anyone their junior.
Pop is one of the few professions where someone their thirties can possibly be considered ‘old’. This is in part a cultural hangover from the 1950s: created for the newly-invented ‘teenager’ it has always valorised youth. And it’s a job that doesn’t often last long. You’re hot and then you’re not. Fashions and tastes change. These days a band signed to a major label is lucky to get their second album picked-up. If Delphic can turn their considerable talent into a career they will be one of a tiny minority in an industry which turns over, chews up and spits out new bands at a terrifying rate.
There are second acts, though. Back in Rockfield we have a grey-haired visitor; the studio’s owner brings Dale Griffin, the drummer of Mott The Hoople, in to say hello. He tells us that the band have just sold out five nights at the Hammersmith Apollo: their first shows in thirty years. He seems slightly bewildered at the idea. The name of the David Bowie-penned single that made them famous? ‘All The Young Dudes’. Suddenly I don’t feel quite so old any more