The finest singer songwriter to hail from Manchester is Lee Griffiths, fact!
He might look like a scally but has……..THE VOICE OF AN ANGEL!
The Lee Griffiths
Some seven years ago we at Shadders we trying to blagg a James gig on their greatest hits tour, we ended up by been told unfortunately there we no spare tickets available for the likes of us lowly fanzine writers as they had bigger media fishes to fry. However, we were told that as a consolation there was a brand new ZTT records act playing our town a few days later, a single would be sent to us along we were promised our names would be on the door for the gig. The single duly arrived, along with the James album it has to be said, we picked up the press release; some lad from Manchester blah blah, sings about real life blah blah so the single is popped into the cd player, my god this lad can really sing. As promised our names were indeed on the door at Doncaster's infamous toilet circuit venue, the Leopard, unfortunately we have no idea what he looks like! It's not exactly packed by the venue's knack of not actually advertising gigs! There's a group of musicians with some obvious record company types and some dodgy looking manc geezer stood in a corner, we have a chat the ZTT types, they know who we are and gather our thoughts on the single. The next thing we're surprised to see the dodgy manc bloke on stage and then he only starts singing, my god what a voice, he looks like a scally but has the voice of an angel! He plays a sensational set, to just a few people but he plays like he's in front of a packed out Wembley arena, the songs are as memorable as the voice. He's there with just an acoustic guitar with a couple of musicians for company on stage, it should be classed as folk but he defo don't look or sound like a cardigan wearing folk muso, but it's hardly rock in the true sense of the word either. Anyway we aren't here to pigeon hole people and the songs definitely aren't no soapy folk nonsense this is real life, school of hard knocks, not in some patronising ivory tower way but somebody writing and singing it as he's seen it. Over the next couple of years we manage to catch up with Griffo on a good number of occasions, touring and building up fans with the likes of Eddi Reader and more favourably Manc survivor Clint Boon. Each time he gets better and better, confidence never a problem in any situation but as the gigs roll by the songs sound better and better, more rounded and ready for that debut album. Then something strange happened ZTT records got world famous producer Trevor Horn twiddle the knobs on the album and he makes a truly awful job of it! Lee sings about real life shit, bollocks stuff that just happens but Horn decides to try and make it sound like a Guardian readers coffee table album, to say he missed the point is the fucking understatement of the century! It also seemed that ZTT had lost the plot; by the time 'Northern Songs' finally came out it had been much delayed and even had suffered a name change! The release was too low key, minimal advertising, no tour, ZTT had missed a real opportunity. First things first about 'Northern Songs' it sounds really overproduced, Horn tried to suck the soul out of it, first listen it sounds like he succeeded but give it a good few listens, get past the production and listen to the songs. Once you get to the songs, take in the lyrics and once you do this you'll realise that this is a collection of truly great songs. The album is self penned bar one select cover, the sublime 'Sweet Baby James' by James Taylor, a great song that deserves a great version and that's what Lee does, it'll make the hair on the back of your neck stand up on end! Of Lee's own tracks to be fair there isn't a duff track on 'Northern Songs' but there's two that really stand out for us. 'The one about the smackhead' is the soundtrack to the haunting downside to modern living but that track is beating that is 'Astronaut', it's a showcase of Lee's true songwriting genius and anyone wanting to know the measure of the man should listen to this track. He's is a product of his surroundings yes but also as much a product of some rather fine influences from the aforementioned songwriter James Taylor and everyone's fav dead scouser John Lennon. So Lee has the voice, the material and the songwriting talent so why isn't he at number one right now? Fuck knows is the answer. Since the ZTT debacle Lee hasn't been sitting back and licking his wounds, he's got a second album written and recorded with a producer of his choice, a man he can trust. Unfortunately due to the usual legal wrangles that seems to kill the dreams of many a talented musician it's not in the shops yet but Lee doesn't lie down so it's just a matter of time. In the meantime go to his website www.lee-griffiths.com and you can download the album in full under the banner of 'Fuck the record company' and there's a few bonus tracks on there too. Lee does some sporadic fantastic live shows, one such gig was recently held in the shadders HQ kitchen to celebrate a member of the team's birthday, needless to say it was feking awesome! With no pressure (apart from a screaming unappreciative baby in the background) he stormed through some of his favourite tunes by the likes of The Beatles, Pink Floyd and James Taylor then sticking in some of his own classics. We've seen some gigs in our time but hats off to this lad, absolutely blinding, everyone blown away especially the birthday girl to whom it was a complete and fantastic surprise. What more do you want for your birthday? All your friends and family around you enjoying themselves with a memorable soundtrack, just remember to get the kettle on for Griffo, he's partial to being the best singer in the world with a nice mug of tea in his hand!
And the interview...
He might look like a scally but has the… VOICE OF AN ANGEL INTERVIEW
To the uninformed Who is Lee Griffiths? LEE GRIFFITHS IS A SHITKICKER FROM MOSTON, MANCHESTER WHO IS BLESSED WITH THE ABILITY TO SING LIKE SOMEONE WHO SHOUDN'T BE ABLE TO FROM THE WAY HE LOOKS/ACTS. IE NORMAL (OR SO HE IS CONSTANTLY TOLD EVERY TIME THE UNINITATED HEAR HIM FOR THE FIRST TIME), WHICH AT FIRST USED TO WIND HIM UP BUT NOW HE FINDS IT A BACK-HANDED COMPLEMENT.
So how's life treating you at the moments? WELL I WOULDN'T SAY IT IS TREATING ME AT ALL ITS JUST SORT OF SUSTAINING ME, BUT YEAH I FEEL LIKE THE FOG HAS LIFTED A LITTLE AND IT'S ABOUT TIME TOO AS I HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO SEE MUCH FOR A WHILE NOW, DUE TO ONE THING OR ANOTHER, BUT AS THEY SAY EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON, AND THERE ARE LOTS OF REASONS THAT THINGS HAVE HAPPENED, TOO LONG, TEDIOUS, AND PAINFUL TO GO INTO HERE BUT LETS JUST SAY THAT I EMERGE A MUCH WISER, STRONGER, AND OVERALL BETTER ROUNDED PERSON FOR THE EXPERIENCE.
You've already put out and an album 'NORTHERN SONGS' on ZTT RECORDS.
What's that like and what did you learn from the experience? WELL I THINK ENOUGH TIME HAS PASSED NOW FOR ME TO VIEW IT IN A MUCH MORE OBJECTIVE LIGHT, BUT THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE INITIALLY WAS ONE THAT CAN ONLY BE DESCRIBED AS MAGICAL, THERE WERE TRULY JOYOUS MOMENTS, AS WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING FOR SOMETHING FOR AS LONG AS I DID ,WITH THE ALMOST OBSESSIVE DEDICATION THAT I HAD THEN TO ACTUALLY REALISE THAT DREAM CAN ONLY BE DESCIBED AS MAGICAL. AND HAVING ONE OF THE MOST RECOGNISED PRODUCERS IN THE WORLD WANTING TO PRODUCE YOUR RECORD IS A WONDERFUL ACCOLADE, AND A STRONG INDICATION ,THAT AFTER WORKING IN A VACUUM FOR SO LONG, THAT YOU WERE RIGHT, AND YOUR SELF-BELIEF HAS PAID OFF.SO INITIALLY IT WAS A VERY MAGICAL TIME AND WILL ALWAYS BE A SPECIAL AND FOND TIME THAT I LOOK BACK ON. TO GO FROM MOSTON WITH NO MONEY TO L.A BEL-AIR MANSION IS A VERY SURREAL EXPERIENCE.
Listening back to NORTHERN SONGS how much do you like the songs and have you any favourites? I COULD'NT LISTEN TO NORTHERN SONGS FOR A LONG,LONG TIME AND I CERTAINLY COULD'NT LISTEN TO IT OBJECTIVELY BECAUSE ALL I COULD HEAR WAS THE PRODUCTION AND TREVOR AND I ATTATCHED A LOT OF NEGATIVE MEMORIES WITH SOME OF THE SONGS....BUT ON LISTENING BACK NOW I LIKE THE SONGS THAT I PRODUCED MYSELY I.E-IT'S A SHAME,ASTRONAUT,THE TRAIN SONG,RUNNING ROUND,BECAUSE THEY ARE MAINLY ACOUSTIC AND THEY ARE LIVE TAKES AND THEREFORE COULD'NT BE TREOVR'D SO THEY KEPT A LITTLE OF THEIR HONESTY..THE CRYING SHAME THAT GUTS ME EVERY TIME I HEAR IT IS 'GET ON WITH YOULR LIFE' BECAUSE THAT SONG WAS MY BABY AND WHEN I PLAYED IT ACOUSTICALY IT CAME ACROSS WITH THE CONVICTION IN WHICH IT WAS ORIGIONALLY WRITTEN AND EVEN THE BACKING TRACK WAS A LIVE TAKE WITH JUST FOUR OF US AND IT WAS BEAUTIFUL BUT TREVOR JUST COMPE'D THE VOCAL UNTIL IT BECAME SOMETHIJNG ELSE AND I HATED IT,IT DESTROYED THE SONG FOR ME AND IT GUTS ME EVERY TIME I HEAR IT BECAUSE THE VOCAL JUST DOES'NT CONVEY THE SONG FOR ME AT ALL IT'S LIKE SOMEONE ELSE IT SINGING IT.
I believe it's right to assume you didn't leave ZTT RECORDS on good terms (a fact confirmed by the fact you've put the entire album on your website to download for free!), what went wrong and can you mention any of it for legal reasons! I DONT REALLY WANT TO GET INVOLVED IN SHIT SLINGING AS IT DOESNT DO IT FOR ME AT ALL BUT YEAH LETS JUST SAY THAT I DID'NT LEAVE ON THE BEST TERMS,I MEAN I STILL SPEAK TO TREVOR AND JILL AND STUFF BUT I WAS NAEIVE,I MADE A LOT OF STUPID DECISIONS AND WAS MANIPULATED INTO AGREEING TO A LOT OF SHIT THAT I SHOULD'NT HAVE DONE,BUT THATS LIFE AND IT ALL TOO EASY TO SAY I SHOULD NAVE DONE THIS AND DONE THAT BUT,IT'S DONE AND I CANT CHANGE IT,I LET THE BITTERNESS CREEP UP FOR A LONG TIME BUT ALL IT ENDS UP DOING IS DERSTROYING YOU SO IVE PUT IT IN A BOX NOW AND ITS DONE.
Since leaving ZTT RECORDS you've had a few songs released on compilation Cd's What are these and how can fans get hold of a copy? IVE DONE A COMPILATION FOR BLUE CAT RECORDS WHICH IS AVAILABLE IF YOU GO TO WWW.BLUECATCAFE.CO.UK I THINK OR JUST TYPE BLUECAT CAFE STOCKPORT INTO THE BROWSER AND ET V'OILA UP IT COMES.I ALSO ALLOWED FOR A TRACK OF MINE CALLED 'HIPPY DIPPY ' TO BE USED ON A COMPILATION FOR ACID JAZZ RECORDS CALLED 'THE NEW TESTAMENT OF FOLK' AND IT WAS A GOOD ALBUM AS WELL .IT'S AVAILABLE THROUGH ACID JAZZ RECORDS AND IN SOME RECORD SHOPS.
Have you ever come close to jacking it all in and getting a proper job? IT'S NOT AQ CASE OF 'JACKING IT IN' AS IT ISNT AND NEVER HAS BEEN SOMETHING THAT I SEE AS A CHOICE BECAUSE BEFORE I SIGNED TO ZTT I WORKED TO SUBSIDISE MY MUSIC BECAUSE MY MUSIC IS'NT A CHOICE THING ITS SOMETHING THAT I DO ANYWAY ITS MY THERAPY,ITS MY FRIEND ITS MY CONFIDANT ITS MY MEANS OF COMING DOWN ITS EVERYTHING TO ME AND ITS THE ONLY THING THAT IM GOOD AT AND IT'S ALSO THE ONE THING THAT MAKES ME STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD BECAUSE I KNOW WITHOUT ASHADOW OF A DOUBT THAT ON A STAGE WITH JUST A GUITAR AND MIC I CAN COMPETE WITH ANYBODY,ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING CONTRIVED ABOUT ME,IM NOT TRYING TO BE ANYONE OR LIKE ANYBODY IM JUST DOING SOMETHING THAT I ENJOY AND THE FACT THAT OTHER PEOPLE GET SOMETHING OUT OF IT NEVER FAILS TO HUMBLE AND FLATTER ME.
In previous interviews a lot has been said about your past and upbringing, how does this filter it's way into your songwriting? IT'S INEVITABLE THAT ANY LIFE EXPERIENCES ARE GONNA AFFECT ANYTHING THAT I WRITE BECAUSE AS IVE SAID IT IS HONEST,ANY STIMULI WHETHER IT BE VISUAL,EMOTIONAL ANYTHING CAN AFFECT YOU AND GIVE YOU MATERIAL,THE FIRST ALBUM WAS VERY SELF CONFESSIONAL AND TOO PERSONAL IN SOME AREAS,SINCE THAT ALBUM I HAVE BROADENED THE SCOPE OF THINGS THAT I WRITE ABOUT SO SONGS WRITTEN POST-NORTHERN SONGS ARE'NT ALL NECCESARILY ABOUT ME,BUT I HAVE HAD DIFFERENT LIFE EXPERIENCES AS WE ALL DO WHEN GROWING UP SO IT CHANGES ALL THE TIME.
What's the address of your website and what can be found on there and what's all of this about the gobshites group? THE ADDRESS IS WWW.lee-griffiths.com YOU CAN FIND INTERVIEWS,PRESS CUTTINGS,PICS,VIDEO AND I MP3'D THE WHOLE NORTHERN SONGS ALBUM AND PUT IT AS A FREE DOWNLOAD ON THERE WHICH ZTT THREATENED LEGAL ACTION ON ME BECAUSE OF...I TOLD THEM TO DO IT AND ILL PAY IT OFF AT £1.50 A WEEK WHICH AFTER THE AMMOUNT THAT THE ALBUM COST TO MAKE SHOULD AT MY RECKONING TAKE ABOUT 300 YEARS.THE GOBSHITES IS MY WEB-GROUP AND ITS FOR FANS I LET THEM KNOW STUFF ABOUT GIGS AND HAVE DISCUSSIONS ABOUT THINGS JUST A POINT OF CONTACT BETWEEN ME AND PEOPLE WHO LIKE WHAT I DO,AND I LIKE THAT BECAUSE I AM HUMBLED BY THE FACT THAT PEOPLE LIKE WHAT I DO AND I LIKE TO LET THEM KNOW THAT I APPRECIATE THIER SUPPORT.
You have done a fabulous cover of James Taylor on NORTHERN SONGS. Have you a big hero, one guy who made you wanna pick up a guitar and sing? THE BEATLES TAUGHT ME TO PLAY JOHN MARTYN TAUGHT ME HOW TO SING AND JAMES TAYLOR INSPIRED ME TO WRITE SELF-REFLECTIVE SONGS AND NOT BE EMBARRASED OR SELF-CONTIOUS.
You've got a new album recorded, what's it going to be called and what's it going to sound like? I RECORDED IT OVER A YEAR AND A HALF AGO NOW WITH IAN GRIMBLE AT 2KHZ STUDIOS AND IT ALL GOT EMBROILED IN LEGAL SHITE THAT KICKED THE STUFFING OUT OF ME AFTER COMING OUT OFF THE WHOLE ZTT SURREAL SHIT,BUT IM KNOCKING A FEW NAMES AROUND MY FAVOURITE IS ARMCHAIR ANARCHY,IT WAS RECORDED REALLY QUICKLY IN ORDER TO KEEP THE FRESHNESS AND NOT GET TO INVOLVED IN THE PRODUCTION SIDE OF THINGS AND IT SOUNDS FUKIN EXCELLENT.
It was recorded with Ian Grimble, what did he add to the recording and how did it differ from working with Trevor Horn (who produced NORTHERN SONGS)? IT DIFFERED IN A MILLION WAYS BECAUSE WE RECORDED THE WHOLE THING IN 3 WEEKS THATS 16 TRACKS AND THEY WERE RECORDED AS A BAND PLAYED LIVE IN A STUDIO WHERE WE WERE LOOKING AT EACH OTHER WHICH IS SO,SO IMPORTANT THERE IS A SONG ON THERE CALLED LIFES CHANGING WHICH WAS RECORDED IN 1 TAKE AND IT IS FUKING BEAUTIFUL,A LIVE VOCAL WHICH MEANS EVERYTHING AS ANYONE WHO HAS SEEN ME LIVE KNOWS THAT WHEN I SING LIVE ITS TOTALLY DIFFERENT TO WHEN I SING IN A STUDIO AND HAVE SOME PRODUCER COMP THE EMOTION AND RAWNESS OUT OF THE VOCAL.IAN WAS THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE TO TREVOR IN THAT HE WENT FOR THE RIGHT TAKE RATHER THAN TRYING TO CREATE IT WITH PRO-TOOLS.
I hear you've got your own studio, does this make writing and recording a whole lot easier? ABSOLOUTELY RUNNING ROUND WAS RECORDED IN MY HOME STUDIO AND I KNEW THAT WE WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO RECREATE THAT AGAIN IN THE VASTNESS OF SARM-WEST SO I INSISTED THAT WE USED THAT RECORDING.
If you had to pigeonhole yourself would you fancy folk, rock, acoustic, pop or would you like to make a genre up for yourself? ACOUSTIC-FUNK OR SOMETHING AROUND THERE BUT I HATE PIGEONHOLEING MYSELF I PLAYED A FEW GIGS WITH DAMIEN RICE AND WAS TALKING ABOUT THIS WITH HIM HE SAID THAT HE HATES THE TERM FOLK AND I KNOW EXACTELY WHAT HE MEANS BECAUSE PEOPLE FORM AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU DO AND ITS HARD TO EXPLAIN IT.
What do you reckon to the state of music today & anyone we should be listening to? ITS FUKIN SHITE,IT REALLY IS BEYOND HOPE I DESPAIR AND I COULD GO ON A RANT ABOUT IT BUT IT'S POINTLESS WHEN YOU TURN AN EMOTIVE ARTFORM INTO MACDONALDS AND DUMB MUSIC DOWN TO SUCH A DEGREE THAT IT NO LONGER MOTIVE OR AN ARTFORM THEN WHAT IS IT??? THERE WAS ONLY 2 WAYS TO CLIMB OUT OF THE WORKING CLASS ENVOIROMENT MUSIC AND FOOTBALL BUT BOTH OF THESE THINGS HAVE BEEN ROBBED BY THE MIDDLE CLASSES AND BIG BUISNESS AND IT MAKES ME FUKIN DEPRESSED AND ANGRY MAN BIG TIME, CAN ANYONE FROM A WROKING CLASS BACKGROUND REALLY TAKE THIER 2 KIDS TO GO AND SEE MAN U OR WHOEVER THEY SUPPORT PLAY ON A SATURDAY ANYMORE?? NO FUKIN WAY MAN ITS JUST TOO EXPENSIVE.
Strangely coming from Manchester you're a United fan, what do you think about the American invasion and do you think this new club fans have set up is a good idea? ITS HAPPENED AND THATS IT MAN AND IT WAS ALWAYS POSSIBLE FROM THE MINUTE THAT MAN-U BECAME A PLC SO ITS HAPPENED AND THATS IT.I THINK THAT FC UNITED IS A LOAD OF BOLLOX MAN BECAUSE MAN U IS MAN FUKIN U THROUGH THICK AND THIN ,YOU CANT THROW YOUR DUMMY OUT OF THE PRAM BECAUSE SOMETHING HAPPENS AT THE CLUB THAT YOU DONT AGREE WITH ....IF YOU SUPPORT UNITED THEN YOU SUPPORT UNITED NO CONDITIONS...YEAH IM NOT HAPPY ABOUT HE FACT THAT THEY HAVE BEEN TAKEN OVER BY AMERICANS OF COURSE ITS SHIT BUT ITS HAPPENED AND THERES NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT...I SYMPATHISE WITH THE SUPPORTERS THAT ARE'NT HAPPY BUT GET A FUKIN GRIP AND GET ON WITH IT.
I hear that you are compiling a DVD what can we expect on that and when do you think it'll be out? ITS DONE ,IT WAS DONE BY IAN DOBIE WHO SOME PEOPLE MAY REMEMBER PLAYED BODHRAN ON THE FIRST 2 TOURS WE DID AND IT LOOKS FUKIN SUPERB ITS COMPILED FROM LIVE GIGS WITH EDDIE READER AND HEATHER NOVA CLINT BOON,THE SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE IS ON THEREETC,ALSO THE VIDEOS I DID WITH ZTT ARE THERE AND THE JUICE ON THE ROOF GIG IN LIVERPOOL CENTRE.HE REALLY HAS MADE A FANTASTIC JOB OF IT AND IT WILL BE AVAILABLE EITHER JUST AFTER XMAS OR JUST AFTER IT.
I think you are one of the most compelling live artists I've ever seen what can a new convert expect of you when performing live? How do you deal with ignorant punters who fail to shut their gobs when you are singing? I TREAT THEM WITH THE COMTEMPT THEY DESERVE IT ALWAT SHAS AND ALWAYS WILL FUK ME OFF WHEN PEOPLE COME TO A LIVE ACOUSTIC GIG AND STAND THERE AND TALK SHIT ABOUT FUKIN EASTENDERS OR SUMMAT, IT BREAKS A SPELL IT FUKS THE MAGIC AND I WONT HAVE IT. PLUS AT THE VERY LEAST I WILL MAKE SURE THEY WONT FUKIN FORGET ME IN A HURRY IVE GOT A 2000 WATT P.A BEHIND ME AND THEY WILL NEVER BEAT ME.
Are you a fan of X Factor / Pop Idol style television and have you ever been tempted to go onto one to show them some real talent? I THINK IT IS A FUKIN PATRONISING DISGRACE NOT ONLY DOES IT MAKE A MOCKERY OF THE WHOLE 'MUSIC INDUSTRY' BUT IT PATRONISES THE WORKING CLASS PEOPLE BY SAYING' LOOK WHAT YOU COULD HAVE, LIKE DANGLING A CARROTT IN FRONT OF THEM FILLING THIER HEADS WITH BULLSHIT ABOUT £1,000,000 RECORD DEALS AND 'JET-SET' LIFESTYLES MAKING THEM BELEIVE THAT THE LIFE THEY HAVE IS A BAG OF SHITE. SINGING KAREOKE FUKING SONGS ON T.V MAKING FUK-OFF LOADS OF MONEY FROM PEOPLES DREAMSIS A FUKIN DISGRACE AND THEN FILMING THEM AS THEY ARE RIDICULED AND RIPPED APART BY EGO-TRIPPING 'EXPERT' BASTARDS WHO DONT KNOW FUK ALL ABOUT MUSIC OR TALENT. IT MAKES ME ILL.YEAH MAN IVE THOUGHT ABOUT GOING ON THAT SHOW AND PLAYING THE GAME UNTIL I GET TO THE FINALS AND WHEN IT GOES LIVE JUMPIN OFF THE STAGE ANDKICKING ONE OF THIER HEADS IN AND THERE WOULD BE NOTHING THEY COULD DO ABOUT IT , I CANT BELEIVE THAT SOMEONE HASNT GRASPED THAT OPPORTUNITY YET BECAUSE THEY WOULD END UP USING THIER FIFTEEN MINUTED A LOT BETTER THAN SINGING A FUKIN` ELTON JOHN SONG.