30th Oct2009

History Lesson: Lloyd Cole

by Todd


In the mid 1980′s, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions were a huge part of the alternative scene in England and the U.S.. Chiming melodies, great musicianship, coupled with the lyrics of one of the premiere songwriters of our generation, Lloyd Cole. While many artists disappeared after starting their solo career, Lloyd Cole has continued to make music that surpasses the quality of his group’s work. This is proven by a glance at the 2009 release of “Cleaning Out The Ashtray”, a 4-volume collection of B-sides and rarities that encompasses his entire career.
As faithful readers know, we like to embed videos of the artists that we interview. Universal Music Group has provided more barriers than any artist in the history of the site, by banning use of Lloyd’s videos. Outrageous. While we love his work with Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, we strongly suggest you go on youtube and watch videos of his solo work.
Since he is in the middle of a tour, Lloyd suggested we conduct our interview via Twitter, which was a daunting experiment; 140 characters to probe the brain of such a brilliant songwriter. Nonetheless, we appreciated the opportunity and are pleased to share our experience with your wonderful readers.

TDOA: Can you talk about the box set release of b-sides and how it was negotiated?

LC: Tapete Records (Hamburg) handled the licensing hassles, thankfully, and they were just great to work with. Wish all labels were like them.

TDOA: I thought Warners did a good job promoting Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, but not your solo albums. Agree or Disagree? Why do you think it happened that way?

LC: Geffen did first two then Capitol took over with Mainstream. I preferred working with Capitol. Gefen had it easier with initial momentum. Why didn’t it happen in USA is the question- hard for us to fit into any radio format hurt. My unwillingness to play game didn’t help.

TDOA: Lyrically, your writing style seemed to change and focus on your life experiences. Was that a conscious decision and can you talk about your current state of mind vs. your time when LC&TC were first starting?

LC: I had finally lived a little. To start with so much was vicarious via literature and film. My London year (70-80) does feature heavily on Rattlesnakes. Wrote most but some tunes were by others – rattlesnakes, BNFrnd. Writing – Today there is less I haven’t tried + I know what I’m not good at

TDOA: What led u to record Plastic Wood? Such a departure from your other work!

LC: Separation of Church and State – to try to stop my tendency to add that stuff to my songs… It didn’t work, really. Still I like PW, still

TDOA: Seems to me that bands don’t put an emphasis on lyrics, in the way that you, Costello and that ilk do. Agree? Any sense of why that is?

LC: See Lennon and Macca. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter, but when lyric draws attention to itself it had better be good. Unlike, say…Pulling Muscles From a Shell – that William Tell line is ghastly.

TDOA: How did you enjoy the LC&TC reunion a few years ago?

LC: Enjoyed reunion immensely but at the same time felt vindicated in my career path. That music was then and nostalgia is fun once in a while.. but not something I want to be doing as my main gig, so to speak.

TDOA: what are you plans for 2010?

LC: Record new record. Tour with Pale Bluegrass small ensemble. More prose.

While we generally provide you with links to download music from iTunes exclusively, there’s something to be said for the quality of Lloyd Cole’s website, which you can find here.
Or you can go to iTunes here:
Lloyd Cole And The Commotions

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