SEEI- Liquid assets
Leaving his Danny Wilson days behind him, Gary Clark steps boldly into the spotlight as a solo artist. Angus Dick spoke to him.
‘I think,’ says Gary Clark. ‘that the record business
has changed between the mid-805 and now. People
are making less super-expensive records. Which suits me.‘ He‘s dining in the opulent restaurant of Edinburgh’s George Hotel, with his manager Ronnie Gurr (originally the A&R man who signed Clark‘s former band Danny Wilson to Virgin) and me, discussing his own home-made LP, Ten Short Songs About Love. The album won’t be out until April, but its first single, ‘We Sail On The Stormy Waters’, is an almost-certain hit, and he takes to the road this month for some acoustic dates.
Except for rumours that Clark was coming up with some exceptionally strong material, nothing has been heard from ‘The Dannys‘ for more than two years, since they went their separate ways after Bebop Moptop.
‘Ged and Kit and I had been living in one another’s pockets for such a length oitime that it was good to keep our distance.’
‘Legally,’ says Clark, beginning his update, ‘Virgin had the right to hold on to one member as Danny Wilson, so you can‘t just split up and be free. It’s called the “Leaving Member Clause". We said, “We're all leaving. There‘s no Danny Wilson." They said they were holding on to me. We sort ofknew thatsvould happen, but that let Kit and Ged go immediately, and then I had to negotiate about getting offthe label.‘
Ironically, Clark is now with Circa, who are owned by Virgin (and, ultimately, EMI, since the recent takeover), but he‘s happy with the control the label allowed him on this record.
‘I couldn’t have done that before. In Danny Wilson, there was no way I could tackle that amount of responsibility. But I realised how much myth there is in studios. I mean. I’ve always been a bit dubious about what a great producer is. I know some producers almost make an entire record themselves and the artist promotes it. But there are also people who are just great at capturing a performance. We were always looking for young people to develop a relationship with, so we went through a lot of young engineers, but — I dunno, we always had so much to do with arrangements and stuff anyway that it was like, what is the producer there for? Definitely, you need someone to
bounce off now and again. but that for me this time was just the musicians I was working with.‘
Clark lives in London now. moving there ‘by accident‘ in his Danny Wilson days. and seems intent on staying on. for the time being at least.
‘I think one reason Ged and Kit went back to Dundee and I didn‘t was that it was like distancing ourselves from one another. That was quite a good thing for a while. Now. we see one another all the time. But we‘d been living in one another‘s
3 pockets for such a length oftimc that it was good to keep our distance. But. in terms ofworking. 50 per
cent of the musicians I‘ve been working with are based in London. and Ged and Kit have been working there a lot. Kit's been telling me how hard it‘s been for him to find musicians in Dundee; it was really hard when I lived there. because it
tended to be people who had day jobs. To rehearse
five musicians to do two gigs — because that‘s the kind ofgigs there were in Dundee — and get £20 at the end of it was asking too much of people. That‘s why Danny Wilson came about as more of a studio band. We did what we wanted to in the studio. overdubbing.‘
Nevertheless. Danny Wilson were a live band
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Gary Clark: alone again or. .7
too. and the conversation turns to a gig in the far less salubrious confines of the nearby, and now defunct, La Sorbonne in Edinburgh’s Cowgate. I remember it as the archetypal grotty rock’n’roll dive, unsuited to the classy works of Danny Wilson, but ‘it was instrumental in getting us a record deal, because it got a review in the NME.‘ And ifit hadn’t? How does Clark visualise his life unfolding if Danny Wilson had never made an impression?
‘I‘d basically decided that that was what I was doing with my life, and I would have kept going. Nobody knows how long you can just keep going, but me and Ged had been playing together for six or seven years before we got a record deal, so it wasn‘t overnight success by any stretch of the imagination. But I was far from disillusioned at that point. I always just believed that was what I was going to be doing— I’m kind ofscared not to believe in it.‘
Gary Clark plays The Music Box, Edinburgh on Fri 15 (NB: This is a Forth RFM show, for which tickets can only be obtained b y calling thestation at specific times). We Sail On The Stormy Waters is on Circa Records.
l The List l5— Zh‘Janunr)~ IWS 31