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Kevin Godley on his first solo album, 10cc, Beatles: Q&A
By Gary Graff
email@example.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte
Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2020
See more SOUND CHECK
It's fair to say Kevin Godley has accomplished a fair bit during his 50 or so years in music.
The multi-faceted British musician was a founding member of the band 10cc and then went on Godley & Creme with bandmate Lol Creme. As a video director, often in tandem with Creme, he made iconic clips for the likes of U2, Paul McCartney, Sting, Phil Collins, Fine Young Cannibals, Hozier and many more, as well as "Real Love" for "The Beatles Anthology." He also helmed long-form projects for U2 and the Police, among others, and was behind the "One Word One Voice ecological charity project in 1990.
What Godley, 75, has not done is a solo album -- until now.
"Muscle Memory," releasing on Friday, Oct. 18, is, like much of Godley's accomplishments, unique. It was borne from a July 2017 PledgeMusic (before it went bankrupt) campaign invitation to "write and record with me," which brought nearly 290 instrumental ideas from which he built the album's 12 songs, all released prior to the album. Combining melodic twists with sharp and topical lyricism, it's a fresh approach and proof that one thing Godley never does is tread creative water...
How did you get this far into your career without doing a solo album?
Godley: It never occurred to me. I'm a natural collaborator. The genesis of this project came from outside of me; Two people who I didn't know approached me out of the blue and asked if I'd be interested in writing a song to instrumental music they'd made and perform it on a record. I found that idea quite interesting because I'd never done it before. So I tried it and the results were good...and then I had the idea to throw the door wide open so that people I didn't know could send me material to turn into songs, which I did via PledgeMusic.
It's a pretty daring. Were you apprehensive at all?
Godley: I had no expectations whatsoever that anybody would respond. I actually ended up getting about 286 pieces of music, which was astonishing. I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd get any response like that. I Thought I'd maybe get 50, or something like that. But it was such an elevating process for me, because it was like collaborating with somebody sitting opposite you, which is a traditional. way of writing a song.
Given your history and notoriety, did any of your well-known friends or colleagues drop any music into the campaign?
Godley: I didn't want that. I didn't want to know who was sending me the stuff I'd chosen to work on, and I didn't want that to influence in choosing the tracks I wanted to work on. I was worried that maybe Paul McCartney would send me something -- and obviously I'd do that one -- but I wanted to choose the music for its merit, not from once it came. Hozier sent me something, but to my knowledge that was the only "known" person who did.
What kind of challenge was it to weave this disparate contributions into a cohesive album.
Godley: Well, the odd thing is it does sound like an album. I didn't know until we finished mixing and mastering and putting songs in an order that it would work as an album. I was hoping against hope that it would, and it actually does. So that was kind of a nice surprise.
With so much music submitted, could there be a sequel?
Godley: Well, there could be. I enjoyed the process, so there's no reason why I wouldn't do something again. There's enough to probably make another 10 albums, but it depends on a number of things -- how this one is received. If it's received well, do I go back and dig music out of the remaining tracks that I already have or do I ask for more, and how do I go about it? I'm not a big one for repeating myself, so maybe if I did do it I'd do it in a slightly different way. There's certainly enough good tracks left to do something else, it's us whether my mind will be drawn toward doing it again.
After returning to recording, would you like to go back on the road at all -- when you can?
Godley: If I had an idea that was interesting to me as a way of performing live, then it might be something that I could investigate. But at the moment I'm quite happy not doing it because I'm not a natural performer. I'm a natural recorder. And that opportunity (to perform), at least for the present has gone away.
Graham Gouldman has a version of 10cc he's taken on the road, and that you've done some video for, even. That means he has your blessing?
Godley: Oh, absolutely. It keeps what we did alive, and he seems to be very successful. The tours seem to gain momentum the more times he goes out there, and the audience is younger and it's older and the songs have lasted well. There's no one else doing it, so it might as well be Graham.
This year was the 25th anniversary of "The Beatles Anthology" and your video for "Real Love," one of the posthumous tracks they built from John Lennon demos. What do you remember about that project?
Godley: It was relatively simple, in a way. The dropping of a piano into the Mersey was tricky, but I think it's a nice combination of balancing the archival and documentary footage with the conceptual footage I shot. So it was a lovely project to do -- though there was one embarrassing thing that happened.
And that was?
Godley: (laughs) I was sent a very early mix of "Real Love," and I think on purpose they'd mixed John's voice very low, so if it ever by accident got out into the public domain it wouldn't sound that great. But I needed to hear it properly, so what I did was I overdubbed my voice over the top of John's, louder, so I could understand what was being sung. That was fine for the edit, but unfortunately it got out and it's out there on the Internet, somewhere, so it's John, Paul, George, Ringo...and Kevin, singing "Real Love." That was embarrassing. But the project was otherwise a joy.
What else is on the horizon for you?
Godley: Strangely enough, I've never been busier. I've been writing a screenplay that I want to direct. I've been asked to write some music for a film. I'm involved with a video game company. I've got an art project that I'd like to do. They're going to re-release the "One World, One Voice" project, and I believe the BBC are going to air it again, which is lovely. So there's all sorts of things. That's why when you ask about another record, I can't devote 100 percent of my mind to music making. There's still other things to do. It's just risen to the surface at the moment 'cause I managed to complete this record and a number of people seem to think it's good, so I'm sort of following this path at the moment to see what happens.
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