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Ian Broudie - Going Solo

It was during the height of mid-1990s Britpop fever when Liverpool-born singer/songwriter and brains behind pop perfectionists The Lightning Seeds Ian Broudie suddenly found himself at No1 in the singles charts with a football anthem performed with a pair of comedians.

Almost a decade and a half on from the original release of Three Lions, the song, recorded with Frank Skinner and David Baddiel as the England football team’s official song for the Euro 96 competition, remains Broudie’s best-known work. As he sets out on a series of rescheduled low-key solo dates following the cancellation of an Edinburgh Festival Fringe show in August, however, you get the impression that the short-lived triumphalism and euphoria of Britpop are the last things on his mind.

“It’s an odd thing,” he reflects, “because in terms of my career, Three Lions had a negative effect. I’d already done three albums as The Lightning Seeds, and had started playing live with a band in the run up to the third one, Jollification.

“We were working on the next one, Dizzy Heights, when Three Lions took off, but we only did one album (1999’s Tilt) after that. I’d gone from being a one-man band in the studio to touring with loads of people. There’d been a lot of personal turmoil and the heart had slightly gone out of it.”

Broudie didn’t release a record for five years, when Tales Told was put out under his own name. It took another half decade for this year’s Four Winds album to revive The Lightning Seeds trademark.
Not that the optimism of old is much in evidence throughout a downbeat collection that took in more recent examples of the sort of personal turmoil Broudie hints at, including his divorce and the death of his brother.

Not that Broudie has been idle in any way. Rather, he’s been avoiding the increasingly fickle pop spotlight’s glare by getting back to his roots as a studio wizard to a new generation of Liverpool bands, including The Coral and The Zutons.

This must have seen a serious case of déjà vu for Broudie, who fell into a colourful Liverpool punk scene based around Matthew Street’s legendary Eric’s club. Broudie had discovered music through his two elder brothers’ record collections, and ended up playing guitar in the house band for theatrical madman Ken Campbell’s production of conspiracy theory opus The Illuminatus for his Science-Fiction Theatre of Liverpool. Also on board were future Zoo Records and KLF maverick Bill Drummond and vocalist Jayne Casey. This liaison forged Big In Japan, which at various points featured a young Holly Johnson and Siouxsie and The Banshees future drummer Budgie.

Life on the road never appealed and after Big In Japan splintered, Broudie combined production work with the likes of Echo and The Bunnymen, The Pale Fountains and The Fall, with his own bands The Original Mirrors and studio project Care.

“Things come around when it’s the right moment,” Broudie says, “and the reason I didn’t want to go out and play was because in the Original Mirrors it felt like we were always stuck in the back of a van.

“Being in Liverpool, a lot of bands asked me to arrange and produce them. Then Echo and the Bunnymen came along and I was in awe because they were such a great band. So I was always hesitant about things.”

Broudie needn’t have been, because his first single as The Lightning Seeds, 1989’s Pure, was a hit, its nursery rhyme bubblegum defining the era’s optimism and blissed-out faux-innocence. Later Lightning Seeds singles, it should be noted, were called Joy, Marvellous and Perfect.
Whether The Lightning Seeds become football stadium-sized again, however, isn’t something Broudie sounds concerned with.

“It’s new ground,” he admits. “The world has changed so much and record companies probably aren’t going to be around much longer. I think The X Factor, and boy bands before that, really changed how people perceive music now. There are schools now. There’s more of a career path and bands are much more part of the establishment. I’ve never been comfortable with that. When I started out in groups, it was because you didn’t want to be part of the establishment, and you felt like a bit of an outlaw. We just did it because we wanted to, and I really notice the difference now. But there’s a kind of middle-ground now that you can exist in without being in the spotlight all the time. Which is great, because these days all I want to do is just write my songs, record them and play them.”

The Herald, December 3rd 2009

ends

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