Eye to Eye #7 HOWIE PAYNE

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So Friday is upon us once more. This week we have one of the most talented yet unknown singer songwriters (as far as the ‘mainstream’ is concerned) in the UK.  From his early days in various bands in Liverpool to playing with some of the most influential musicians of recent years Howie is not what you’d call a household name. Having said that he did have 5 top 40 hits with The Stands which he fronted until 2005. Since then Howie has released two albums, under his full name, Howard Elliot Payne, on his own label Move City Records. He has also written for and collaborated with other artists such as Ren Harvieu and Benjamin Francis Leftwich.

We think the latest tunes he is currently demoing are among his finest yet. He kindly answered a few questions for us.

TLE: What are you listening to at the moment?

Howie: Loaded by The Velvet Underground.

TLE: What’s the most Rock and Roll situation you have found yourself in? 

Howie: Hard to pin down this..there’s been a few good ones..Neil Young once took me, Noel and Liam Gallagher for dinner..that was pretty far out..long story.

TLE: What’s been your favourite gig so far and why?

Howie: There’s been a lot..The gigs I just did because I haven’t played for a couple of years so there was a bit of nerves, but people came and the vibe was wonderful…
Some of The Bandwagon shows really stand out too. When The Stands, The Zutons and The Coral were all on the same bill in The Zanzibar packed to the rafters with the sweat crawling down the walls..amazing.

TLE: How do you describe your sound?

Howie: It’s circular.

TLE: What’s the ultimate direction for your good self?

Howie: Forwards is the only direction.

TLE: What do you think the music reflects about you or is it pure escapism?

Howie: Sometimes everything, sometimes nothing, It changes line by line, song by song.

TLE: Your sound seems to have mellowed over time, are any of your new songs heavy or heavier than we’ve come to expect?

Howie: I don’t know, I have written a few heavy tunes lately though so it will most likely have it’s moments.

TLE:  How do you choose which songs you keep or give to other artists?

Howie: I don’t really..people get in touch and ask me if I have any songs that might be good for such and such or so and so..

Ren Harvieu covered a few of my songs but I didn’t write any them especially for her or anything like that, her producer just heard them and thought they’d be good songs for her.
I like that it that way, it’s cool, uncomplicated and it’s interesting to hear other people sing your songs.

If I’m collaborating with someone we’d usually start something from scratch or maybe use a really ruff idea off a phone or something.

Sometimes the other person might have an idea they’ve been working on and we’re both into it we’ll work on that.
In The Open that I wrote with Benjamin Francis Leftwich was like that, he already had the idea and and some of the melody so I mainly did the lyrics and a some arranging.

TLE: What do you consider to be your best work?

Howie: What I’m doing now.

To delve a little deeper check out the links below.

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Until Such Time – the ‘Eye

Eye to Eye #6 STEVE MASON (the Beta Band)

steve mason

King Biscuit Time, Black Affair, SteXiS and another band you may’ve heard of….the Beta Band? It’s not often you get artists like Steve Mason, who remain cult yet mainstream and who continue to make great music after being in such a seminal band. After being in The Beta Band it’s not about living up to what you’ve done, it’s about continuing the journey…

Steve kindly answered a few questions for us.

TLE: What are you listening to at the moment?

Steve: New track by Petula Clark called Cut Copy Me and Vacuum Cleaner by Tintern Abbey.

TLE: What’s the most Rock and Roll situation you have found yourself in? 

Steve: Playing in Vegas in 1999 we sold 1 ticket, cancelled the gig and went on the razz for 2 days. Bumped into Ice-T in the lift and told him what we had done and why. His parting words were “stay stoopid man”. Bizarrely there are many many Beta Band rock n roll tales. We were nuts, just kept it quiet.

TLE: What’s been your favourite gig so far and why?

Steve: Probably the last time I played, which was Village Underground in London. It was a step up from the last time I played there in terms of capacity and I got a bottle thrown at me for laughing about Thatchers death. It’s nice to feel your moving forward!

TLE: How do you describe your sound?

Steve: I don’t.

TLE: How long have you known each other and how did you meet?

Steve: I’ve known myself all my life. I get on famously…

TLE: Has your music evolved since you started playing?

Steve: Of course. If you don’t move forward you ain’t no kind of artist. That’s what its all about. Challenge and truth.

TLE: What are your rehearsals generally like?

Steve: Weird question! They are usually hard work and stressful.

TLE: What’s the ultimate direction for your good self?

Steve: I don’t know. I make it up as I go along.

TLE: How do you write your songs?

Steve: That’s an impossible question to answer.

TLE: What do you think the music reflects about you or is it pure escapism?

Steve: I really don’t know, I think that would be something to ask a 3rd person. I don’t think I could answer that. I have no perspective on it.

TLE: What’s the hardest aspect of being in a band/solo artist?

Steve: These days it’s surviving on the money you make. It’s sometimes frustrating wanting to be able to do things you cannot. Everything is stretched to the max. Especially playing live. I would love to take out a bigger band and play loads of small towns and the cities you rarely get to go play in but promoters just wont take the risk. Fewer and fewer people are going out these days, mostly due again to money issues. Apart from that I don’t have too many problems. I’m very lucky, I don’t earn much, but nobody does. At least I don’t have to bow down to some profit squeezing machine everyday and be treated like a number to earn it.

TLE: What’s the one rule that must remain unbroken?

Steve: Never go back to a lit firework. Metaphorically or otherwise.

TLE: Do you ever tire of the Beta Band comparisons or do you just accept it as inevitable?

Steve: It’s inevitable that the guy that sang and wrote the songs in TBB will be compared to TBB. Standard. I don’t care at all. The British love to live in the past!

TLE: Do you have a space you go to write or are you more wherever whenever?

Steve: Wherever really, just get the phone out and sing into it. I used to carry a dictaphone before mobiles.

TLE: Is the guitar your weapon of choice for songwriting?

Steve: It depends really. Sometimes a song will start with a beat. Get the MPC fired up and put something together. It’s not an exact science, but mostly they will come from some kind of noodling or strumming yes.

To delve a little deeper click on the link below…

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Until Such Time – the ‘Eye