Follow the soulful voice, deep, past the blood and gristle into the muscle of the heart, and if this is where the real man resides, what we see is a man who knows this is the end. The last song, the concert, and the requiem for the band he has been in for seven years. Tours of tens of thousand of miles, and sales of hundreds of thousands of albums, flickering images of faces in crowds of strangers with your friends behind you on stage, playing like the end is nigh; which of course it is. J.J Gilmour, singer with The Silencers, launched himself off the stage, figuratively speaking, and did a belly flop into the crowd, and the crowd disappeared.
I asked him why he left the band when it was headlining major European Festivals. If it was good enough for bands like Suede, what was J. J. Gilmour doing? I got disillusioned.
I had other ideas and the main guy in the band Jimme O’Neill had his ideas, so as he had started the band and I felt it was his baby the best thing for me to do was walk away and do my own thing. I was mentally tired. I think at the time it seemed like a relief (to be doing the last gig). It was one less bag I needed to carry. Now let me stop the interview right here; re-re-re-re-rewind, or should I say dniwer? I know what you’re thinking, reading this interview… who the fuck were The Silencers? Who the hell is J.J.
Gilmour? Well let me just say if you were French you’d know because they were big in France and J.J Gilmour couldn’t walk down the street without the French version of you, lovely as you are, stopping him in the street. As far as underground music goes, you don’t get any more underground than having to go to another country. It was a musical exile; a tribe of musical wild men from up north who could kick your arse and break your heart at the same time; and J. J.
Gilmour, through his voice became the voice of the band. And then left Any regrets J. J.? No. I was having a bad time personally back then and I needed the space. I loved The Silencers but my time with them was done.
I still think it was the right thing to have done even though it was hard for all of us. And how is the solo career going? Slowly but surely. We get new fans both in Scotland and abroad everyday. Now, I’ve got a solo career myself, but only because I have no mates. J. J Gilmour, personable as he is, not only has loads of mates, he actually has an impressive list of people who wanted him to sing for them.
Let me name a few; Bruce Foxton from The Jam with Mark Brezezki, Josh Philips and Bruce Watson from Big Country. They formed a band called The Casbah Club. With such a gathering of well respected, well connected, influential musicians, it couldn’t fail; but J.J Gilmour went his own way, once again. Getting so many musical egos in the one room, despite the potential of the band, must have been difficult; like getting Pavarotti’s arse into a phone box without the aid of a lot of grease and one of those big balls on chains they use to demolish houses with. I put this to J.J and asked if this had anything to do with his departure? No.
It was good while it lasted. My idea was to have it running alongside my solo career but it wasn’t to be so I left for the same reasons I left The Silencers. J. J Gilmour wants to, and will do, his own thing.
This man is a believer; and so is Miles Copeland whose father used to work for the CIA. So we have a musician who was part of an underground movement of Scottish bands, with a manager whose dad was part of an undercover movement that should be banned; ironic stuff. Will Miles guide J.J to international Fuck Off fame and riches? J.J said: I’ve been involved with Miles for over a year now and I’m hopeful for the future. It’s a great feeling when the man who managed the Police, R.E.M, Tracy Chapman, the Bangles and of course Sting's solo career contacts you with an offer.
We still have all the hard work to do though. And how is the industry treating you? I ain’t got any complaints at the moment. The industry is tougher than it’s ever been but that makes me more determined to get about in it. I think you make your own luck. That’s true to a degree, but persistence of vision and a lot of talent narrows the odds when it comes to the fickle finger of fate. As we have seen, even the lure of The Casbah Club could draw J.J.
away from his path. He even quit the bottle, partly through the fact that it became a distraction for him. Don’t get me wrong. He’s not some Scottish Jedi avoiding the dark side, wanting to keep himself pure.
J.J has walked on the ‘wild side’. As a matter of fact, earlier in his career he partied to such a degree that he had to have electric shocks to slow his heart down. Incidentally, this love of rock excess, resulting in electroconvulsive therapy is where the expression, Love Hertz comes from. I haven’t drunk for a few years but Bob Geldof did manage to make me drink flavoured vodka last year at the Xmas party in London. No Jedi mind tricks there, then, just ‘drink this, it takes like a ‘Kumquat’.
I always thought Darth Vader should have had an Irish accent, but that’s beside the point. The tour J.J did with ‘Sir Bob’ was a blast, so the man is entitled to wet his whistle, and the fact that he got on so well with Bob is no surprise. I’m a bit surprised that Bob didn’t offer to turn the vodka into water like God’s other Son, but there you go. Life is full of surprises. Speaking of which; something that surprised me was the name of the person who financed the album; Ian Woosnan, golfing legend, and Ryder Cup captain. JJ says: Woosie heard me singing one night and we struck up a friendship.
I let him hear some of my new tunes and he loved them and wanted to help. ’An unusual pairing.’ as J.J himself admitted, speaking to Janice Long on Radio 2. He (J.J.) happens to be the world’s worst golfer, and Ian Woosnan is the world’s worst singer’ And that brings us to the album. ‘Sunnyside (P.A.L)’ is dedicated to Paul Anthony Lennon, his closest friend who lost his life to cancer.
However, far from being weighted with grief, the album is a celebration of life, rather than a commiseration. Musically the album delivers the depth and breath of emotion that J.J is capable of delivering; but what the hell do I know other than as a listener it blows my skirt up. Take the word of somebody who is far more qualified than me; a man who has worked with Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Coldplay and Starsailor to name a few Michael H Bauer. This man is more than entitled to introduce himself as ‘hello, I’m a legend’ but he would never dream of it.
Janice Long, during the same interview, heard the story of how J.J had played a very dodgy demo he’d recorded, to Michael. Michael’s response on hearing the song ‘Believe Me Now’ was ‘I’m in’. He engineered, and to quote J.J ‘sprinkled the magic on the album like he did with Coldplay.’ I can but agree. Like Michael H Brauer, and Woosnan, and the guys of the Casbah Club, Miles Copeland, the French and even Sir Bob who had him opening up the show for his ‘Bobness’, I no longer have to say ‘who the hell is J.J.Gilmour?’ The man I saw singing, and subsequently met, and interviewed, is a Pied Piper who plays and fans come out of the wood work; not that I’m comparing any of the above to rats, although technically speaking Bob Geldof was a rat of sorts before his beatification.
The one person who might not take to J.J Gilmour is Bonnie Langford because he, and this is true, kicked her up the arse when he was seven; the original, angry young man. Back then, the Gallagher Brothers, Noel and Liam were still watching ‘Thundercats’ and wondering why they only had one eyebrow between them. To think, I nearly didn’t go to that first gig to hear J.J Gilmour. I was on the Isle of Skye and only went to the venue because the alternative was sitting in the car and watching sheep shit in the cold drizzle beneath grey October skies.
The venue, in the capital of Skye, Portree, had the uninspiring name of, Aros Hall, which sounded too much like arsehole for me to think there could be anything in there that was an improvement on what I saw the sheep doing; and besides, I’d never heard of the guy. Who the hell is J.J. Gilmour? Well, he’s the guy who made me believe the sun shines out of the Aros Hall of Portree. That takes some doing, but believe me, that’s what the man did. The Artist: J.J. Gilmour The Album: Sunnyside (P.A.L) The Website: www.jjgilmour.com originaly published on, http://www.geetan.com/jjspeaks.cfm Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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