An Interview with Clive Gregson of Any Trouble

Any Trouble

02 December / 19:30 / More Info / Buy Tickets

Ahead of their gig at Band on the Wall on Tuesday 2nd December, we got in touch with Any Trouble front man Clive Gregson, to ask him about the groups reformation, their association with the Stiff Records label and his personal songwriting inspiration.

Throughout your career you’ve always toured extensively, be it with Any Trouble, Gregson & Collister or Richard Thompson; is playing live the most rewarding aspect of being a musician?

I actually enjoy all the things I get to do as a musician: writing, recording, sessions, producing, touring etc. Playing live is really good fun and very satisfying… when it all goes well! Which, of course, it usually does!

What was the biggest influence on Any Trouble’s sound when you first united as a band? As the songwriter were you influenced by anyone in particular?

I think you’d get four completely different answers if you asked the band what influenced our sound! I’ve always been obsessed with The Beatles, Chris’s guitar hero was Tim Renwick (Sutherland Brothers and Quiver), Phil wanted to be Kenny Gradney (Little Feat) and Mel was very into Genesis. And of course we didn’t sound remotely like any of those bands at all! We were essentially a fairly basic two guitar/bass/drums band who somehow got spannered into New Wave… probably because we played pretty much everything at a furious tempo. Even the “slow” songs… 

As a writer, I would say my biggest influences would have been The Beatles / Stones / Who / Hollies / Kinks and 60s pop generally, Dylan, Randy Newman etc. I also listened to a lot of folkie stuff (especially Richard Thompson/JohnMartyn/Nick Drake…) and classic soul and Motown. Also Abba, The Byrds, The Bee Gees, The Clash… all kinds of stuff. I guess it all sticks and leaves some kind of impression…

The Stiff records label has been the subject of a BBC documentary and is famed for it’s daring approach to selling music. Are you proud of Any Trouble’s association with the label, and has it given the music released in the early years longevity?

I think that being able to say “we were signed to Stiff Records” is a bit like being able to say “I was in a Merseybeat bandin the 60s”… It was a great experience….  and I’ve pretty much lived off that start in the music business ever since! There is undoubtedly still a great deal of interest in Stiff and the music that came out on the label… and much of it has really stood the test of time. In general, I suspect that music that is not totally connected to a trend or fashion stands a much better chance of surviving… and heaven knows, most of Stiff’s acts were not particularly fashionable! And Any Trouble was probably the least fashionable of the lot!

Is time apart crucial for a band to stay exciting for all it’s members? In re-uniting have you found you still play the same way as you did in the beginning, or has being part of other projects changed Any Trouble’s approach to performance?

I think the time apart was largely dictated by circumstances. We broke up in a blaze of apathy at the end of 1984 because we’d pretty much exhausted all of our options in terms of making any money! I figured it was probably better to stop while we were still getting along… Getting back together has also largely been dictated by circumstances… we all stayed in touch and we had a chance to do a reunion record for a revitalised Stiff Records in 2007 (“Life In Reverse”)… so off we went, having not played together at all in the interim! We recorded the first song for that album… and it sounded exactly like Any Trouble! That either means that we’ve not learned a thing in the intervening 33 years… or that we’d got it deadright first time round… I’ll let the listener make their own mind up on that…

Is creating an Any Trouble setlist an easy task, and do the entire group get involved in these decisions?

I’m just about to do it… so I’ll let you know later! As with most things, if the whole group got involved we’d spend days in heated debate before not reaching any kind of concensus! So I’ll bosh something together and we’ll drop the obvious train wrecks at the rehearsals… I’m sure that all the fan favourites will make the cut though!