Some bands go on to have many, many members over the course of their career, but there tends to be something special about a band’s first line-up. This is the line-up that set the agenda, established the band’s identity and without whom the band would not exist.
Such was the case with The Teardrop Explodes.
Born out of a Liverpool scene centered around the holy trinity of Eric’s, Probe Records and the Armadillo Tea Rooms where bands would be discussed, formed and split without ever playing a single note together, The Teardrop Explodes were one of the few whose dreams actually materialised and turned into something other than a shared fantasy or a topic of conversation over a pot of tea.
This line-up consisted of Julian Cope on bass and vocals, Gary Dwyer on Drums, Paul Simpson on keyboards and one Michael ‘Mick’ Finkler on guitar.
While the punk explosion hitting the provinces may have been the catalyst for these bands coming together, they somehow instinctively managed to avoid becoming straight forward punk bands, instead creating something that looked more to the likes of Pere Ubu than Sex Pistols and that would go on to be described as post punk.
The lineup changes started quite quickly, with Paul Simpson leaving to form the magnificent Wild Swans and guitarist Mick Finkler being fired partway through the recording of the band’s debut album Kilimanjaro and wasn’t even listed on the album’s credits.
While Cope went on to varying levels of success, Mick Finkler all but left the music scene and moved to London.
Still regarded as a local hero round these parts, Sun 13 was lucky enough to be able to ask Mick Finkler 13 questions. Read on to find out more about sniffing guitar cases, egg & chips and Bob Geldof being a prick.
1. Where are you and what are you doing? How is that working out?
Mick Finkler: “I’m at home in north London, sitting in my office. Well, I say it’s my office, but it’s more like a zen playroom at the moment. It’s just been refurbished and everything is white, apart from a painting I bought this summer called Portrait of a Handsome Man by Luke Hannam which, weirdly, looks a bit like a young Paul Simpson, and some guitars including a ’91 Les Paul Custom in one of those classic Gibson brown leather cases with pink furry lining.
“The guitar is okay, but the case is magnificent ‘cos the lining has this sweet kind of Play-Doh smell. Sometimes I open it just to have a sniff. So I’m sitting in my “office”, sniffing a guitar case and thinking about what to have for lunch. Living the dream really.”
2. When did you last make yourself do something you didn’t want to?
MF: “Every couple of weeks when I go up to Goodison Park. I’m an Everton season ticket holder with my oldest pal Lionel, and we spend the whole time bemoaning our misfortune, when we’re not laughing in the face of adversity of course. Which is the beauty of it really. Sitting surrounded by a load of disgruntled, disappointed Scousers. And every now and then, when you least expect it, there’s a burst of ridiculous joy. It’s kind of magical.”
3. Who is the nicest ‘celebrity’ you’ve met?
MF: “When I first moved down to London, I got a job in a vintage American clothing store called Flip, in Covent Garden. We used to get loads of hipsters in there. Bob Geldof came in with Paula Yates and he behaved like a spoilt, arrogant prick, and Paula ended up apologising to me. So she was probably the nicest.”
4. When did you last get into an argument?
MF: “God, I can’t actually remember. I try not to get into arguments these days, I just nod and smile. Maybe when Bob Geldof came into Flip. Have I mentioned that? Prick.”
5. What’s your favourite food?
MF: “One of my earliest memories is coming home from school and my mum making me egg and chips. And when I was in the Teardrop, rehearsing at Yorkie’s basement, we used to go into town afterwards to a place called Dana’s for double egg and chips. So, obviously, I love the trendy stuff like appalachian roadkill chowder, or dolphin sashimi or whatever, but has anyone ever come up with a better pairing than egg and chips? Maybe Sooty and Sweep, or Echo and the Bunnymen, but egg and chips probably beats even those.”
6. When did you last consider quitting social media?
“Leave social media? Some of my best friends are narcissistic sociopaths in need of constant validation – how could I abandon them?”
7. What’s the best night out you’ve ever had?
MF: “Possibly taking my daughters to their first gigs when they were young. You forget that sheer incredulous joy of seeing a band live for the first time, especially a band you love. Mind you, I ended up going to see The Wanted seven times, including in New York on their farewell tour. That’s dedication eh?”
8. Vinyl, CD, MP3 or Streaming?
MF: “Spotify, all day, everyday. I know I’m going to hell for it but, when I do, at least I won’t have wasted half my life walking across the room to lift the needle from Black Sabbath Volume IV to skip FX when it comes on. I’m really into hearing new music – meaning music I haven’t heard before, whether it’s brand new or decades old – and Spotify is your man for that.
“Without streaming I probably wouldn’t have listened to the new Jane Weaver album, or The Mysterines, or Ezra Collective, or anything from 23 Skidoo to 21 Savage. And that’s just in the last week.
“Having said that, if anyone is thinking of listening to Kilimanjaro, go out and buy it you tight bastards. Royalties and that.”
9. What words of warning would you give your younger self?
MF: “Be wary of people with knives in their back”. That’s one of Julian’s, from Second Head. Haven’t got a fucking clue what it means, but it kind of sounds like good advice doesn’t it?”
10. When were you last told off?
MF: “That would be my wife, Fiona. The other day I told someone I was semi-retired when they asked what I was up to at the moment, and she went nuts. “You’re not semi-retired, you’re just fucking lazy!”. Fair comment I suppose.”
11. What has been your favourite decade for music?
MF: “Has to be the 70s, doesn’t it? It was like about five decades packed into one really. I’m still discovering new stuff from those times, particularly from the early 70s. You hear something like River by Terry Reid and think “how have I missed that one?”
12. Tell us a secret
MF: “I don’t have any, I’m an open book, you get what you see etc. But not many people know that I was one of the Nolan Sisters.”
13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
MF: “Not really, thanks for indulging me. What’s for dinner?”