The Wonder stuff have been pioneers in the indie rock sound with hits such as Don’t let me down gently and Caught in my shadow. Some 25 years since the band began they are still producing great sounds and will be coming to Australia with Jesus Jones and the Clouds. We caught up with lead singer Miles Hunt to ask him about the upcoming shows and their bands music over the past 25 years.
You’ll be touring Australia later this month with Jesus Jones and The Clouds, how did you get involved with this triple line up show?
We’ve been friends with Jesus Jones for years and the suggestion of these shows in Australia came from them. It’s been far too long since The Wonder Stuff were there so how could we refuse? It’s lovely that The Clouds can be with us too, they played with us last time we toured Australia, it’ll be like a school reunion!
What can fans expect from your show?
There has been yet another line up change for The Wonder Stuff recently, we are now joined on drums by former Pop Will Eat Itself and Bentley Rhythm Ace drummer, Fuzz Townshend. He’s only been with us for a couple of months so we haven’t had chance to rehearse every song we’ve ever recorded, so essentially we’ve worked on the favorites first, or should I say, what we hope are the favourites. Something from all four original albums I guess is the best way to describe the set.
Given your large back catalog, is it hard to determine what songs to play at a gig?
Not really, we’ve been playing long enough to know what an audience wants from us. There are always a coupla people that shout out titles of obscure b-sides from the audience, but to be honest with you, I think they’re just trying to show off.
Will there be any Miles and Erica songs in the set?
Maybe, depends on how long we are allowed to play for. We’re playing a couple of our songs in the set here in the UK presently that Erica & I have written for our last two albums, ‘Fill Her Up & Foot Down, & ‘The Cake’. They fit into a TWS set great and we’ve yet to be asked not to play them.
You’ll be playing Never Loves Elvis in full in December (and have previously played Hup in full). How does playing an album from start to finish live compare to playing a collection of songs across albums?
It’s actually a thoroughly enjoyable experience, playing the albums. I’ve always taken great pleasure in writing our live sets, I think there’s an art to it, in much the same way as there is an art to putting together a track listing of an album, but they are very different from each other. When we played the ‘HUP’ shows last year we actually changed the running order, as we did with the re-recorded 21st Anniversary edition of the album. I don’t know how we got it so wrong back in ’89, that album has the most uncomfortable running order of any album I have ever heard.
Are there any other full album gigs planned?
Not confirmed, just the two in the UK, Birmingham & London. That’s not say we wouldn’t be up for doing more, we just need the invite.
There are rumors of a new Wonder stuff record coming out; can you shed some light on this?
I would very much like to do an album of new material next year, I have a few things semi-written for it, I just want Malc Treece (our guitarist) to set the pace with a few of his ideas before I write any more. He’s dragging his heels somewhat now, I must give him a kick up the arse.
You put your music out independently these days rather than with a record label, has this given you more musical freedom?
Not really, we always did exactly as we pleased, Polydor were very good to us all those years ago, they never pressured us into things we weren’t gonna be into, we were very lucky. I do like the independence of our current situation, it’s back to where we began. We are with a label, IRL, it just happens to be an independent.
Despite initially splitting up you’ve managed to reform and have now been going strong for over a decade, what’s been the secret to pulling off a successful reformation?
To have people in the band that you like. I can’t believe I spent all those years with people that I was never gonna get along with. Bands, eh… I ask you..?
Has it felt any different since the 6 year break?
That was so long ago, it’s hard to remember. The heart of The Wonder Stuff was always me and Malc. We’ve written the songs and we’ve been the two people that have held it together. When we took those years off between 1994 – 2000 Malc & I still went out doing acoustic tours & even did some writing together during that period. I think it’s safe to say that the two of us are married to the damn band.
You’ve recently released anniversary editions of The Eight Legged Groove Machine and Hup, is there a re-issue of Never Loves Elvis planned to mark its 20th/21st anniversary?
Not this time, as much fun as it was doing the other two anniversary albums, I just don’t have the time to put into doing ‘Never Loved Elvis’. I believe the plan is to film and release on DVD the gigs that we do at the end of the year.
Has the advent of online tools such as Facebook and MP3s changed the way to release and promote your music?
Absolutely! And all for the better.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
All the time. Why wouldn’t I? I’m in my favorite band!
What other music do you listen to?
Mostly stuff that I’m producing. I produced an album for Dirty Ray last year, ‘Big World For A Little Man’, he was with Immaculate Fools in the ’80s and ’90s, an amazing songwriter. Also the artists that have appeared on the two ‘Shared‘ albums that I’ve produced in the last couple of years.
Where did the name The Wonder stuff come from?
The Wonder stuff will be playing in Brisbane (Aug 18), Melbourne (Aug 19) and Sydney (Aug 20) with Jesus Jones and The Clouds. Check out their website to find out more.