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“We went to see people like Slim Gaillard and boogie woogie players like Big Joe Duskin.” Big Boy Bloater on growing up: Ramblin’ Man Fair 2018

Words: Francijn Suermondt

Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media

Big Boy Bloater & The Limits are an inspiration to all those that love the blues and they have some pretty serious fans too, from Jools Holland to Imelda May and Mark Lamarr! 

Getting ready and enjoying the Ramblin Man Fair vibe in his VERY groovy Airstream caravan in the main arena, MGM took time for a catch up and a beer (how naughty!) with Big Boy Bloater.

FS – I’m here with Big Boy Bloater today having a chat for myglobalmind.com … how are you?

BBB – Hello!!!!

FS – So you are scheduled to play the Bourbon Blues Stage tomorrow … but …are you also playing another stage as something has happened to Chas & Dave hasn’t it?

BBB – Yes, unfortunately Chas & Dave have had to pull out and so I got the phone call saying “Bloater can you fill in for Chas & Dave?” And I thought wow that’s some big shoes to fill so I will give it a go. So that’s on the blues stage tomorrow at 5.30pm…primetime!

OUR REVIEW FROM THAT  SET IS HERE: 

https://myglobalmind.com/2018/07/10/ramblin-man-fair-2018-highlights-from-day-two-sunday-july-1st/

FS – That’s awesome! So you are here at the festival very early if you are not playing until tomorrow. How come? Is it so that you can see the other bands and soak up the festival vibe?

BBB – Obviously as we can speak no one can see us, but we are sat in our lovely Airstream trailer…

FS – It’s awesome, I love it!

BBB – And we have been allowed to park up in the arena right near the main stage, so we came up early yesterday just to get a great spot. I’m really looking forward to seeing Mott The Hoople tonight.  We’ve got a prime spot to watch them from …

FS – I know where I am coming to see them!!! Anybody else you are looking forward to seeing?

BBB – Loads of people ….Yes, Kris Barras, The Cult …….there is so much on  I can’t remember them all, I can’t even remember who I am (both laugh)…it’s a great line up!

FS – You seem very, very excited….

BBB – Well I have had a beer already … do you want one?

FS – Well I try to be good when interviewing and don’t drink until my job is done …

BBB – Well I find it helps

FS – Oh mate, go on then you have twisted my arm, maybe after this interview.  You have been involved in other projects in the past, even a 50’s type blues band ….

BBB – Yes actually I started with that type of rhythm and blues, more the American side and always loved Howlin’ Wolf and that kind of stuff and I think you can hear that in my sound.

FS – And you also had your own blues radio show at one point?

BBB – I had a radio show on Team Rock Radio and unfortunately they are no more, but it was fun while it lasted. Never expected to do that kind of thing, but it was great I got to meet loads of people, people like Robert Cray, Joe Bonamassa … people like that.

FS – Would you want to do that again, or is your band taking up all of your time now?

BBB – The playing and the singing doesn’t take up so much of my time, it is the paperwork and boring stuff that takes up the time. But I would still love to run a radio show again it is so much fun.

FS – Where does your love of blues stem from do you think?  Can you remember the age you were when the light bulb moment happened?

BBB – As a kid I was taken to our local venue at the end of the 70’s and the beginning of 80’s and there were still loads of blues acts coming through then. We went to see people like Slim Gaillard and boogie woogie players like Big Joe Duskin.  There was so much about then at the end of the 70’s and we got to see a lot of that and yeah I think that combined with a lot of stuff in the charts at the beginning of the 80’s that did not appeal to me at all, it just seemed like a no brainer. My first band, we played at our school assembly and it was our first gig and we played a Bo Diddley song. I think all the other kids thought “What the hell is this?” …yeah I was about 11 years old I think.

FS – So a really long standing love of the blues! And am I right in thinking you are still a session musician sometimes?

BBB – I haven’t done so much of it lately…although actually I did a couple of weeks ago for an old rock n roll guy, called Freddie Boom Boom Cannon, from the 60’s, he had a big hit with Palisades Park, played guitar for him a couple of weeks back and that was good fun. But I don’t get so much time to do it now, I used to work with a lot of blues guys, but a lot of them have died now, it is sort of getting to that point where we are losing everybody you know, so work is drying up a little bit, but very privileged that I go to work with people like The Flamingos and The Teenagers, although they are not teenagers anymore! So, yeah it’s been good fun!

FS – When it comes to writing and recording, how does it work between you and the guys in your band? Does the process start with a lyric, a riff or the music?

BBB – It kind of starts with me, I will put together a song and a demo of how I sort of think it should go and I give it to the guys. And then they go “Ooohhh what you should do is try this …” and then we take it to the next level, but song writing wise it could work many ways, sometimes I get an idea for a title or be on tour and see something and think that would be a good line for a song, or it could be a riff that comes to me. So in about 6 months I have lots of little bits and pieces that I have written down and I start putting them together, thinking, that works with that and that works with that.  It’s kind of a gradual thing over a few months, but then I bring it all together at the last minute.

FS – So there’s no sort of template that you use each time? It’s creatively what you see or feel at that moment?

BBB – Yes it just sort of strikes you then ….it could be anywhere, sometimes it’s on the tour bus, sometimes it’s on the toilet …who knows when inspiration will strike eh? (both laugh)

FS – So your latest album ‘Pills’ which was released two weeks ago, there seems to be some angst in there but also, I am very pleased to know, seems to be a big love of horror movies, and I am a big horror and Alfred Hitchcock fan. So I would love to know the background of this album and your story about some of the music….it seems that maybe you had a bit of a hard time on your last tour?

BBB – With the last album ‘Luxury Hobo’ I had a bit of depression before and so after touring with the album my head was a lot clearer. I was more in the moment and taking on board things that were happening, so it was a great source of inspiration for song writing at that point, with touring ‘Luxury Hobo’. So that was cool ….yeah I think this album is definitely in the same vein as ‘Luxury Hobo’ but we have moved on a little bit.

FS – Do you think this album is more personal?

BBB – Ooooh I don’t know if it could be any more personal than the last album, but some of the songs on both albums are very personal. But I think that is kind of a good thing it makes it easier for people to relate to you know.

FS – especially nowadays when it is getting more open to talk about depression especially in the music and sports industries.

BBB – It seems that creative people do suffer a lot from it, I don’t know why that is exactly but the best thing for me was actually talking about it.  If anybody feels like they are suffering just talk to somebody, that really was the best thing for me.

FS – And obviously smiling … cos you smile a lot …I know you say that you have had a couple of beers, but I don’t believe it is just that!  So Ok … horror movies, what are your three favourite movies of all time ?

BBB – Ok …. See my horror movies love comes from being a kid and on a Saturday night when my mum and dad went out, they would leave me and brother at homes and BBC 2 would always have a double bill of horror movies …

FS – Hammer House of Horror …I used to watch them with my dad

BBB – Yeah, the Hammer and Amicus and all those British 70’s movies, oh I just loved them! So I think ‘From Beyond The Grave’ is my favourite, that’s an Amicus one I think.  And it’s those ones when they all have four or five different stories in them you know?

FS – I know what you mean they are ace aren’t they, a bit like the Twilight Zone sort of thing.

BBB – Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah … in some ways we kind of made ‘Pills’ the album a little bit like that cos there are all little stories which are sort of joined together in the same way kind of thing. I didn’t want it to be an album that was same all the way through, I wanted it to have different kind of feels about it. Just like those old horror movies where you would have Peter Cushing you know, who runs a little curiosity shop and people come in ….

FS – I love Peter Cushing! His face was awesome he had the best face ….

BBB – Such a brilliant actor ….

FS – And he was in Star Wars ….. what’s not to like ? Bonus!

BBB – There you go ! A god!

FS –  Ok you have a new album just launched,  do you have any other ‘Hot Off The Press’ news for us

BBB – Well apart from standing in for Chas & Dave tomorrow of course …we are in tour in September, so we will be going all around the UK, well England and Scotland, Wales still don’t want us enough!

FS – How far south are you coming?

BBB – We are doing Bristol!!!

FS – Cool!  And my final question, which I always ask people the first time I interview them.  If you were having a dinner party and could invite 6 people dead or alive, who would they be and why?

BBB – See I’m not sure if the people I invite would be suitable for a dinner party … it might all kick off!

FS – No that’s great cos my dinner party would be exactly the same!

BBB – Ok, controversial one first, I would have Ike Turner, I know he was a pretty bad man in his life, but he made some amazing music. And a lot of his early 50’s stuff really influenced me a lot,  I would love to have a chat with him! And of course he was the guy who was the talent scout who discovered Howlin Wolf …

FS – WOW I didn’t know that !

BBB – …so I would have Howlin’ Wolf along to the party too. Again a huge 6ft 6 bloke, pretty scary you know, but that would be so interesting.  Right who else ..I would have Nick Lowe just to throw something a bit different in there, I am a big fan of his song writing. Maybe Dave Edmunds as well…..

FS – What about some horror people ?

BBB – Peter Cushing!

FS – He could be handy you could slice the cheese from the cheese board on his cheekbones!

BBB – (laughs) He has got amazing cheekbones! I heard a story once, I think it was Simon Pegg was on a film set and he opened a trailer and there was Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee just sitting there having a little chat.

FS – Do you think they were wearing cravats and drinking cocktails? And smoking cheroots ….

BBB – Yeah, yeah … (both laugh) and you if you want …

FS – OK done, I’ll serve, I don’t mind being the waitress (both laugh)….Thank you so much or your time! It’s been great !!!!

 

 

 

 

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