The following is a transcription of an interview with Gary Miller & Hugh Bradley, conducted by Andrew Ingle for his show on Yorkshire Dales Radio, on 23rd August 1998.
I’d like to welcome to the studio now two members of The Whisky Priests, Gary Miller and Hugh Bradley, and you’ve just got a new album out?
We have indeed, yes.
Could you tell me something about the album, for instance, where on earth did you get the name from, ‘Think Positive!’?
It seemed to sum up what we were trying to achieve for ourselves at the time. We’d had so much bed luck over the years and we just needed something that summed up our attitude and summed up the album as well. There were a lot of songs on the album that had a kind of positive vibe to them, not intentionally; it’s just the way it all came out. Every time we do an album, I suppose it’s the same with everybody, you record an album and then the next step is, you need a title, and it just seemed to be jumping out at us, really. But I think it’s quite an appropriate one, if nothing else. It sums up our feelings for the year, and beyond. It’s our new motto! (Laughs)
The reason I asked all this was because I assume that with everything going rather dodgy, let’s put it that way, with the economy these days, just perhaps, you know, we need a positive boost. Do you feel that way yourselves, not just for the band but also for the country as a whole?
I think the country should adopt it as a new motto, ‘Think Positive’. I mean, that’s the kind of motto people used to use in the Fifties, wasn’t it, after the Second World War and everything, and there was this new attitude about thinking positive and we just thought it would be a good idea to sort of renew all that, coming up to the new millennium, a positive attitude is what’s needed everywhere, by everybody!
Just harking back to the Janet Russell track I played
earlier, do you think perhaps the fact that maybe Sellafield might just shut
down, do you think that’s a positive step or am I just been a bit too lopsided
on this one?
Maybe Sellafield as it is now would be a positive step.
Yeah, maybe if they clean their act up a lot more.
Yeah, if they could clean their act up a lot more then nuclear power could actually be very useful.
They need to think positive, that’s the key.
They need to think.
I’m trying to get what the ethos of the band is, you see. You do lots of socially aware sort of songs, don’t you? Everything sort of harks back to injustice, or something like that.
Well, to be honest, we’re not that socially aware, we’re just good at pretending.
(Laughs). No, I think we just write about things that are going on around us and things that touch our lives, as well as anybody else’s, and I think it’s fair to say that what we do is really, really honest, and, you know, we write songs about real life. It wouldn’t be any use to us writing about something that we didn’t have any understanding of or that didn’t actually mean anything to us. Our lyrics mean a lot to us. I wouldn’t say that they were totally personal or anything like that, but they are basically influenced by our own lives and the things that we see around us.
Yeah, well the first track that I’m going to play off your album is ‘Alice in Wonderland’, is there a story behind that?
Yeah, yeah (Laughs). Anybody who has read the Lewis Carroll book will know the story (Laughs). No, no, no. It seemed a good title because it had been used as a title before. That’s sometimes one of our ploys, to pinch titles off other people (Laughs). But, no, the reason behind the title ‘Alice in Wonderland’, it’s about somebody who lives in a dream-world, who wants to find their own Wonderland, as it were, but for somebody to achieve that these days it needs that ‘Think Positive!’ attitude. Nothing ever comes to anybody who just sits around doing nothing, you have to get up there and get off your backside and do it and make things happen. And so many people wallow in their own self-pity these days, it’s kind of a positive song for people to actually get up and be counted, and do something for themselves, and that way any dreams that they may have are more likely to be achieved.
All right, well let’s hear it and think positive while you’re listening to it.
[‘Alice in Wonderland’ from ‘Think Positive!’ plays]
‘Alice in Wonderland’ there, from The Whisky Priests. They’re back with me now; well they never actually left (Laughs).
The next track we’re going to play follows on from the last one; it’s called ‘Song For Ewan’. I was talking to yourself earlier, Hugh, about this and you said there was a story behind it about a little boy. We do like to give the public general interest stuff here!
In fact Gary, sat next to me, is an uncle, of an almost one-year-old called Ewan.
That’s right. ‘Song For Ewan’ was written a few weeks after the birth of my nephew, Ewan Thomas Miller, that’s Glenn’s son, Glenn plays accordion in the band, and they’re both actually in France at the moment, having a five-day break from the rest of us. So, yeah, it was written two weeks after he was born, and basically this song was written in one night.
You’re on tour as well, just before his first birthday, and I believe the band is going to try like mad to get you back for the birthday.
That’s right, we’ve got three gigs in three days, in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland, three countries in three days, and then it’s Ewan’s birthday the following day, so we’re going to speed home to celebrate his very first birthday.
I know something about travelling abroad and gigs and
things. Do you ever manage to get any sleep on these tours?
So nothing really has changed?
We try as much as we can but sleep is at a premium, believe me, I’m sure you do.
I know. Can’t you see the bags; they’re right down below my knees now. Right, we’ll go for the next track, anyway, ‘Song For Ewan’…
[‘Song For Ewan’ from ‘Think Positive!’ plays]