Time flies when you’re having fun. I’ve been chatting with Ian Broudie about love, light and music for about an hour and we haven’t even come close to mentioning the Lightning Seeds’ upcoming tour.
No matter. That tells you everything you need to know about a modest man who seems to be at a crossroads in his musical life…
“I’m not sure what to do next. I’m really looking forward to this tour and playing the hits to people again, but we won’t be playing any new songs… the songs I’ve got at the minute, I’m just not sure if they’re Lightning Seeds tunes.”
We know what you mean. Arguably Broudie’s finest work since the mid-90s was his solo debut on Deltasonic, ‘Tales Told’. We tell him we loved it and were a bit confused by its follow-up, ‘Four Winds’, which was released as the sixth Lightning Seeds record a while back.
“Yeah… that should have come out as a follow-up to ‘Tales Told’,” he reveals. “I was talked into releasing it as a Lightning Seeds album and I regret that now. It ended up between two posts and is now not one thing or another.”
The songs were good though: “Thanks… but I feel with whatever comes next, I need to take total control and let the music dictate where I go. I just need to find the calling with these next songs.” Getting his band around him again – augmented on guitar by son Riley this time – and playing through the classics may well be just what the doctor ordered for the acclaimed producer and songwriter.
While some may argue that it’s a cash-in to just go and play old favourites, for an artist existing in an industry that is as unsure of itself as it ever has been, perhaps familiarity can breed creativity and breathe some new life into a proven pop muse.
“It’s like what people have been telling me about the new Bruce Springsteen single and how it sounds like ‘The Life of Riley’. I don’t think it really does… what’s more likely is that somewhere along the line, Springsteen influenced me and that’s where the sound of my record came from! You can never tell when things like that are going to strike.”
‘The Life of Riley’ is just one of many classic singles that Broudie has been completely responsible for. Songs like ‘Pure’, ‘Sense’, ‘Ready or Not’ and ‘Lucky You’ will all be belted out on this upcoming tour. They were all big hits and are considered timeless pop tunes by most of us.
But not by the writer: “No. ‘Sugar Sugar’ by The Archies is perfect pop music. ‘Pure’, for example, has too many words to be a pop classic. I’ve never really written like that again to be honest…” Why not? “It’s not something you can chase. I usually start with an idea of what I want to do sound-wise and then kinda’ follow that. It’s more something that I let guide me than an actual craft. There are times when you’re down to operating on instinct alone and that’s when it works.”
However you want to describe it, there is no getting away from the fact that the Lightning Seeds’ debut single, ‘Pure’, is simply a great song. But it was a song written without an audience in mind… “That’s a big factor,” says Broudie. “All musicians want to find a listener and it’s funny because, when you find an audience, that’s often your best time and you find the music flowing. It’s when you fall out of favour, if you like, that things start to get a bit more difficult.”
It’s a problem facing a lot of artists. As the music industry continues to splinter and break from its original shape, how do the results affect the art (rather than the commerce)? “That’s why I’m doing this tour,” declares Broudie. “I want to enjoy myself playing in a band that I’m comfortable with and one I know will do those songs justice. Hopefully the tunes will give me that something that is missing right now and lead me down a path…. I just hope people turn up!”
With songs this good in Broudie’s back catalogue, that isn’t in doubt. I just hope it leads the artist back to his muse too….
The Lightning Seeds
O2 Academy, Liverpool