Candy Opera are making plans. Despite the lockdown and the lack of gigs, with all its attendant threats to the future of venues and the people who work in the industry, the band have released new single These Days Are Ours and are readying for the release of their new album, The Patron Saint of Heartache .
As fans of the band will already know, these releases represent the first new music from Candy Opera in 35 years. For fans of smooth, superior pop/rock this is good news indeed.
These Days Are Ours is a wonderful song and tells us that The Patron Saint of Heartache is likely to be one of the events of 2020. We all need something to feel good about at the moment, and Candy Opera are here to do just that.
Before the album’s release, Sun 13 caught up with singer Mal and bass player Frank and subjected them to a set of our 13 Questions, Read on to find out more about bunking in to the Liverpool Empire, quitting social media and getting legged as a hobby.
1. Where are you and what are you doing and how is that working out?
Mal: “Making things out of wood… not quite sure what… just discovered sawing, sandpapering, screwing in, nailing… my new interest. I never thought 2-by-3 could be so interesting and as for tool kits well, that’s just sex.”
Frank: “I’m lying in bed recovering from a heavy week of golf fishing and drinking in Scotland with my mates.”
2. How have you been coping with the lockdown situation?
Mal: “Been working right the way through it so, not much changed for me. I live a very frugal life and ten o’clock shutdowns I thought had been in place for the last 20 years.”
Frank: “Lock down is driving me crazy, lots of conspiracies. Not sure what I believe anymore.”
3. Who is the nicest ‘celebrity’ you’ve met?
Mal: “I’m in love with Paul Simpson, he’s been a hero of mine for years. Also, Phil Jones… funny man, really nice guy… love to spend an afternoon in the pub with him.
I must say, my next door neighbour, Pete Best, is hard to beat. Also, my brother-in-law was in Frankie Goes to Hollywood but he’s my brother-in-law so it doesn’t count. How many names can you drop in one question?”
Frank: “Paul Simpson of the Wild Swans is the nice guy music.. very warm and sincere.”
4. When did you last get into an argument?
Mal: “I argue every day in work. I upset people very easily. It’s an art. I think I’m funny but only in my world. Let’s move on.”
Frank: “I get in to arguments every day such is life and my job. Never with the band as we all grew up together.”
5. When did you last shout at the TV?
Mal: “My god, I do this a lot nowadays. When the Salvage Hunter drives across the country, picks up two lamps and a chair to put in his new shop, then says, “That should pay for the trip!” That makes me shout. I’m thinking, I’m in the wrong game… should be selling s*** to the rich, telling them it’s all in the patina.”
Frank: “I’ll be shouting at the tv today when Liverpool play Leeds United.”
6. When did you last consider quitting social media?
Mal: “That’s a question. I find it difficult… promoting myself as a product. I don’t really use social media for myself, mainly for the band, and it makes my skin crawl saying, “look at me! look what I do!””
Frank: “I consider quitting social media every day as it gets a bit boring seeing pictures of peoples dinner and cats.”
7. Did you have any hobbies as a kid?
Mal: “Hobbies were a no-no when I was a kid. If you made something somebody would stand on it and say, “Don’t be doing that”, making a fool out of me. Getting legged by gangs of lads became a hobby.
I got in the Anfield Comp. cross-country team, then ran for Liverpool Harriers. Proper Forrest Gump. Maybe that’s why I’ve turned to wood work in later life.”
Frank: “My hobbies as a kid were drawing, collecting match boxes and beer mats.”
8. What was the first gig you went to?
Mal: “Twisted Nerve, a local punk band. First proper gig was The Boomtown Rats at The Empire but that was just a warm up for The Jam at Deeside Leisure Centre… changed everything. I thought about music, the atmosphere, the fear, the emotion… just great… got battered but even enjoyed that.”
Frank: “My first ever gig was Hawkwind at the Empire 1978 or 9.. I never had a clue who they were. My mate Bob Collins was into them and persuaded me to bunk in with him.”
9. When were you last told off?
Mal: “My kids tell me off all the time… mostly for breathing.”
Frank: “I’m married so I get told off every day. Don’t know how my wife Sandra puts up with me.”
10. What’s your first memory?
Mal: “Getting lost in Stanley Park and the police bringing me back home… and I remember going to St. Domingo Church which was the home of Everton and Liverpool Football Club… I remember a daffodil garden inside.”
Frank: “My first memory was playing in my cot catching a ball.”
11. What’s your guilty listening pleasure?
Mal: “Candi Staton, Young Hearts Run Free… love that song. Gladys Knight and the Pips, Leaving on a Midnight Train to Georgia.”
Frank: “My guilty pleasure is country and western. I never liked it, but it reminds me of my dad who was my hero. He passed away in 2015.”
12. Vinyl, CD, MP3 or Streaming?
Mal: “Two friends set up my record player years ago, put it in the back room, but for the last few years it’s become a kind of clothes maiden so, only buy CDs but want to get back to vinyl. Mp3s and streaming… what is the point?
The greatest thing about vinyl was the feel, the writing on the sleeve, the lyrics inside, being able to hold it, putting it on the record player, waiting to hear the first notes above the crackles.”
13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Mal: “Thank you for listening to the ramblings of an old man. Next up in the therapist chair is… John Cooper Clarke springs to mind… I’m not your psychoanalyst. I’d rather talk to mice. Cheers.”
Frank: “These days are our. Thank you x”
The first time I saw Tim Burgess, or at least a picture of Tim Burgess, I quickly came to a conclusion; this person is a star.
Star quality is a much overused phrase these days, but the simple truth is some people have it and some people don’t. In fact the vast majority of us don’t. It can’t be taught, it can’t be bought and it can’t be foisted upon someone, it is hard to define, but when you see it, you know it.
This instinct proved correct, as Burgess’ band, The Charlatans, released one of the greatest run of singles of the 90s with their first three releases, Indian Rope, The Only One I know and Then.
Since then, The Charlatans have survived and flourished where most of their peers stumbled and fell, releasing 13 albums and gathering critical and commercial acclaim.
Burgess has also released 5 albums under his own steam, with his latest, I Love the New Sky, arriving in May of this year.
As if this wasn’t enough, he has also found the time to write three books, start his own record label and host his Listening Parties on Twitter. These have quickly become essential listening and one of the highlights of the lockdown.
The idea of the listening party is that all those joining in press play at a certain time and then use the hashtag #timstwitterlisteningparty to read comments by the artists involved in making the album and adding questions or comments of their own.
Head to timstwitterlisteningparty.com to join in the fun.
Somehow, despite all this frantic activity, the good Mr Burgess found the time to be grilled by Sun 13 and subjected to our 13 Questions.
Read on to find out more about coping with lockdown, nettles and stick bombs at school.
1.Where are you and what are you doing and how is that working out?
“I’m at home in Norfolk – currently taking a break from writing a new song. The song is working out well, hopefully. But you never know – they can sometimes start off easy and then they end up stuck in the mud or it can be plain sailing. There are no rules. I’m now going to consider the last two sentences as lyrics.
I released an album in May and there’s an EP that’s out in November. So, the pressure isn’t really on to come up with anything – which makes it the perfect time to work on a song.”
2.How have you been coping with the lockdown situation?
“Like everyone, I have moments of frustration, panic, enjoyment, horror and just about every emotion possible. I was looking forward to a Summer of live dates and festivals but they disappeared back in March – since then it’s been a case of trying to make the best of it.
We have a seven year old and it’s been a case of keeping ourselves occupied and trying to make the best of it, the same as everyone else.
My father died at the start of lockdown, so it’s been a time of reflection too. It’s not been easy on anyone.”
3.What do you miss most about pre-lockdown times?
“Live music – either playing or watching. It’s more than just the gig – it’s a time to meet friends, forget about any troubles and it’s been a part of my life since I can remember.
I feel for everyone who works and venues or makes their living from events – it’s a world I can’t wait to welcome back, when it’s safe.”
4.Recommend one band or album that you think we should check out
“I’ll do more than that, you can have one of each. The band would be Lean Logic and the album is In Your Dreams by Tim Koh
Not sure if you know but I have a record label – O Genesis Recordings – we’ve just released Tim Koh’s album and Lean Logic have a single out.
Please don’t think I’m only recommending them as they are on my label – it’s more a case of them being on the label because I love their music so much.”
5.When did you last make yourself do something you didn’t want to?
“I retrieved a ball from a big patch of nettles this morning – I’d hit it there so there was only myself to blame.”
6.What is your favourite meal?
“Soup – I love making it and eating it. No real rules to it. Mushroom, sweetcorn and dill was a recent triumph.”
7.Can you cook?
“I’m no expert but I give it a go – I’ve found if you have a tea towel over your shoulder that you are taken more seriously as a chef.”
8.Tell us a secret
“The stink bomb in assembly at Leftwich High School in 1983, that was down to me.”
9.What’s the best night out you’ve ever had?
“So many are equal in this – spending time with friends, watching a brilliant gig – whether it’s Beastie Boys, New Order, Joan As Policewoman, Lambchop, Wu Tang Clan – oh, to get that feeling back again.”
10.When was the last time you laughed until you cried?
“Watching Schitt’s Creek.”
11.What is your favourite view?
“Looking at the sea. Could be anywhere. Good weather or bad – there’s just something about it.”
12.When did you last shout at the TV?
“The last time I watched a Manchester United game.”
13.Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
“I’ve decided it’s maybe too soon to have owned up to that secret but it’s too late now.”
The Damned’s Captain Sensible is our latest 13 Questions victim
Futurist pop legend Gary Numan answers 13 questions and tells us about getting arrested in India, his worst gig and why he doesn’t need to cook.