Interview with Glenn Shultz 04/02/06 by James Parton
You obviously weren’t part of the original lineup of Phil, Paul and Alan. How did you meet the band and could you explain how you ended up joining them?
I worked in the rehearsal and recording studio where they practiced and played session on several tracks on the ‘Parkside Shivers’ album – they wanted some 12 string guitar on a track they were recording for the album and asked me to do it as Paul hadn’t been playing very long. They explained what they wanted for the track and I went and did it. They seemed quite impressed that I managed it in one take and got the feel they wanted straightaway; naturally I didn’t tell them that with a sequence as good as that it’d be damn hard to make it sound bad!! The song was L.A. Rain! Shortly after that Phil came up to me and asked how my band was doing – I replied that it had just broken up. Phil, somewhat insensitively, exclaimed ‘Oh good!’ – I was deeply wounded until he asked me to join The Rose which was very exciting as they had generated a lot of interest so naturally I said yes.
The original trio was younger than you. Did you feel you brought a richer, more mature sound to the band?
Ha Ha Ha …More mature? – I should coco!!! – I think that, possibly, I was a kind of shortcut – by being there and having more experience the sound evolved somewhat faster but I think that they’d have got to a similar place without me eventually, but it could be argued that I was a detrimental influence (and not just musically!!) because I brought a more standard, ‘old school’ rock sound in which took them slightly away from the original direction. Some of the very early songs had changes and ideas that I found quite bizarre and left field. That kind of thing vanished almost totally – the only example I can give is ‘LA rain’ which involves a standard 12 bar bass line but the guitar part is simply one chord over the whole bass riff and there are sections which from a technical viewpoint just don’t fit ……..still sounds pretty good tho’!!!
What were your musical influences?
Jimi Hendrix , The Beatles ,The Doors, Cream, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Hank Marvin and The Shadows, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, B B King, Django Reinhart – I don’t know if this is how to spell his name but check him out!, Pink Floyd, The Sex Pistols, Magazine, Ultravox – the first three albums, Rush, Hawkwind, Motorhead, Jethro Tull, Free, Bad Co., J.S. Bach, Andres Segovia, Paco Pena (can’t work out how to get the Spanish squiggle!), The Sisters of Mercy – recently got a compilation album – still sounds good!, Rory Gallagher, Little Richard
The original songs were quite basic power chord type of affairs. With your playing ability you introduced the “solo” to the Rose sound. Was this a conscious change of style for the band, or was it more of a case of you just doing your thing, and the rest of the lads letting you get on with?
Very much just ‘doing what came naturally’ – when rehearsing, if we had a section that we didn’t know what to do with we’d just repeat it until something better came along and I got bored, so to relieve the tedium I’d launch into something outrageous –usually as a joke – y’know a screaming, feedback version of ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ or something. Often this would then become the bit where ‘Glenn does a solo’ and would gradually mutate into a ‘sensible’ solo and become part of the track.
Paul insinuated there was a degree of resentment towards the band on the Leeds scene – did you feel this too?
At the time I was ‘feeling no pain’ so couldn’t say for certain but that was certainly the received wisdom. I was aware of a certain tension at gigs but that might have been due to nerves – I, personally, never had any problems with other bands but they probably just saw me as a genial idiot who turned up with a selection of substances that wouldn’t receive the good housekeeping seal of approval and got trashed whilst having a jam! Having said that I didn’t frequent ‘The Faversham’ which was where all the Leeds 6 bands used to congregate, so if there was any action I’d have missed it anyway. Mark, who probably has the most reliable recall of events, has told me of a number of incidents that could have been down to resentment or possibly due to Mark attracting other people’s girlfriends (he was a little monkey for that!) but most bands are pretty bitchy anyway so I would surmise that we did get a certain amount of flak just because we’d attained a slightly higher profile than most.
I get the impression from your playing style you were a bit of a rocker, were you behind ditching the drum machine and getting Mark in to fill the sound out?
I would love to take full credit for this but honesty compels me to deny it. It was a general decision based on the fact that programming a drum machine in those dim and distant days was an absolutely mammoth task – just getting the damn thing to play a straight beat for writing to was a major pain in the a*&&!! And once you’d programmed it you never changed it because it was so labour intensive, and the bloody things were unreliable. What we wanted was the ease and flexibility of a real drummer. Luckily we got Mark who’s timing is about as accurate as a drum machine and who happens to be a musician whose chosen instrument is percussion, rather than some bloke who liked hitting things. This is an ever present danger with drummers. As Billy Connolly said in the film ‘Strange Fruit’
“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Drummers are from Pluto!”
Mark may well be from Pluto but he’s been here long enough now to be classed as an honorary Yorkshireman!
Alan, the original base player left around the time of the Velveteen release. What were the circumstances behind this?
I have absolutely no idea! As far as I was aware (about 16 microns if truth be told – i.e. not very far!) everything was going splendidly. It came as a complete bolt from the blue. The only thing I can think of is that Alan had a proper day job with prospects and he was a shrewd operator, so he probably weighed things up carefully and decided that, much as he enjoyed the band, he wasn’t going to give that up for the dubious prospect of being a ‘Rock Star’ which was always a remote possibility, realistically speaking. Let’s face it Goth was never very mainstream and Goth with a dash of retro rock was even more specialized. It’s not an attractive proposition for someone with aspirations of owning a home and having a family. Unfortunately I never heard from Alan after he left and I didn’t really know him socially so I don’t know how things went for him.
Alan’s replacement was Nicol. You two seemed close – were you friends before he joined the band?
No! Nicol was suggested by Mark because they’d played together in the band that we’d stolen Mark from. I got to know Nicol aka Beresford because I was nominated tutor. I went round to Beresford’s house when he’d agreed to join to show him the songs and I’d only ever spoken to him on the ‘phone to get directions. Within a couple of hours he’d pretty much picked up the basics so a celebration spontaneously started – I can remember something to do with Southern Comfort and everything goes blank after that. From that point on we were destruction buddies!
What was the writing process in the band? Was it collaborative or did you all bring your own ideas for songs?
No No No !!!! I did everything … Well not quite. To start with it was Alan who’d come up with a bass line and then I’d try to fit a guitar part over it which wasn’t always easy but generated some interesting ideas. After Alan left we fell into a pattern which involved me standing in the rehearsal room saying ‘what about this then’ and playing some riff and then another and then another and so on ad nauseam. After about 4 hours someone would wake up and say – ‘Stop you mad creature, that riff had potential!’ at which point the really boring bit started as we tried to kick it into some sort of shape. When the ‘track’ had an intro, verse, chorus, middle eight and any other ancillary bits needed we would record it on a boom box in the corner of the room and Phil would take it away to write the vocal part. The first time we heard the complete song was an odd experience because we’d been playing the instrumental version for a week or so. Later on Paul and Beresford contributed much more, notably ‘Dreamland’ which was Paul and the intro to ‘Mistakes’ which was Beres and the whole process was much more free-flowing. If things had been different we might have actually become the band we always wanted to be – Damn those evil record companies!
Some of my favorite “Glenn” moments are to be found on Assassin, Majesty, Dreamland, Not Another Day, Height of the Clouds, Mistakes, and King of Fools…any stand out for you that you are partially pleased with?
Dreamland was probably the most ‘finished’ track we ever did because Paul kept coming in over a period of weeks and saying ‘I want to do this for the intro and this for the chorus’ and by the time he’d finished it just worked from beginning to end which didn’t happen with everything we did. The other thing that I remember with particular fondness is ‘Majesty’ because it just happened – we were recording some single and needed a second track for the B side and nobody really had any idea but we had to do something and, again, it was Paul who meekly said ‘I’ve got a nice chord sequence’ so without even hearing it we told him that he’d get no more biscuits for a week until he’d shown us it. After about 10 minutes we’d all worked out our parts on the spot, agreed what was happening and then turned on the tape machine and played it through! Oh and I remember at one very early gig in London playing my big show-off guitar solo on Assassin a semi-tone flat all the way through – that stood out for me for years as one of the most appallingly embarrassing events of my life, but was later superceded by that gig at the Halifax Peace Hall
Ultimately what do you think held the band back from the next level that I think the song writing deserved?
Luck! – in our case bad, that’s what everything in the music business is about. If it were down to talent then very few current chart toppers would be there and an awful lot of people who currently play for pennies in the back rooms of pubs would be massive. In our case there was also the fact that after waiting for two years to get a court case sorted out we found out that everything we’d waited for and yearned for meant nothing due to a piece of legal legerdemain. At that point I decided that I’d had enough and that I needed to go away and heal.
How did your departure from the band come about?
Well, how much time do you have? The band had taken the time off to sort out our ‘contractual differences’ with Fire Records. We were told by everyone that as soon as we got the court date we were sorted – eventually legal aid came through and we went to the next stage but just before it happened Fire Records came to us with a proposal. We decided to accept on the grounds that it would get them away from us and we could progress. This was the point we released the album and went on the final tour. At some point Fire Records contacted us and told us that not only did they want the percentage we’d agreed as part of the severance deal but that as the album ‘Never Another Sunset’ was released within weeks of signing this agreement it must have been recorded prior to the agreement and was therefore covered by the old agreement. They wanted everything, which seemed to be the basis of our contract with Fire. Unfortunately we had signed the contracts and they did have the law on their side so there was nothing we could do. I still think we had the moral high ground tho’ which has been an enormous comfort to me!!!!!!!
Did you keep in touch with the rest of the band when they decided to carry on?
Not everybody, Paul and Phil were off on tour so I never saw them and Mark came over all sensible so our paths didn’t cross, ‘cos I was never sensible. Beresford and m’self carried on as usual but our excuse for socialising was writing the book ‘The Van, Man’ rather than playing in a band but after about 15 years we kind of forgot to get together and apart from xmas cards and an occasional party we haven’t really got together in years now. Eventually I came over all sensible too and promptly found that Mark was in the next street to the studio I was recording in so I rang him and he came round and programmed the drum machine for the recording I was doing and we’ve been playing together ever since. The last I heard of Paul was that he’d gone to live in Paris with his partner and he now makes a living from playing music – The jammy sod!!
I heard on the grapevine that you rejoined Phil once Paul left – is there any truth to this? What’s the story?
Ha! The infamous ‘Diversion’ episode, Phil phoned me and asked if I fancied doing some work, possibly some gigs and maybe even a couple of quid – naturally I grabbed his hand off. We needed a name and someone suggested ‘I can’t believe it’s not The Rose of Avalanche’ which I thought was absolutely perfect but got vetoed anyway. We ended up being called Diversion for at least some of the time and did do gigs.. Well at least one gig, we were one of the first bands on at the Carling festival the first year it happened in Leeds but by the time we played the battery on my distortion pedal had gone flat so we came and went not with a keranng but with a whimper. We did record a demo which generated absolutely no interest whatsoever. Phil probably has a copy somewhere. I’ll try and get in touch and get him to send you a copy.
Did you carry on in the business?
Not in the business as such – I carried on playing and gigging in pubs, having a wonderful time playing the blues, learning and earning more than I ever did in The Rose but studiously avoiding anything that smacked of ‘The Business’ and that’s what I’ve done ever since.
What you listening to these days, what floats your boat?
Well I’m still listening to all the things I was listening to before but I also like Supergrass, Ocean Colour Scene, Kula Shaker, some of The White Stripes, I have a soft spot for The Datsuns, Gomez, and I have to admit to a sneaking admiration for Anthony and The Johnsons – I don’t know if I like the music but anyone that out of line with the other ducks gets my vote! But mostly now I listen to radio 4 and the music in my head which is like nothing else on earth. Oh! and I kind of like The Kaiser Chiefs mainly because my son likes them and they are the only band to come from Leeds that ever got anywhere!
Some 17 years on does it seem a little strange that there is still an audience interested in the band, and that your doing this interview? Any messages for the fans still out there?
Is there still an audience? If there is it’s astounding! And are there enough of them to subscribe to a pension fund for me? Doing the interview has been a great pleasure as nostalgia often is! But it is interesting to try and organise my memories and impressions of that whole time because (here comes the message!) I don’t do the mood altering substances like I used to as it’s not big, clever or funny and it is very fucking dangerous! And without a prompt like this I would never have trawled though the memories and spoken to people who have more recollection than me and buried some demons. My prevailing attitude towards my time in The Rose was one of unremitting horror but looking back I can now see that there were important lessons in the experience. Some of the music was far better than I thought and there was a lot more fun that I must have been too wrecked to notice at the time. Overall I’d have to concur with the ‘Butthole Surfers’ who once said that “It’s better to regret something that you have done than something you haven’t” and I think that is absolutely true. So as a result of this interview I’d have to change my long held view and say that given the chance I wouldn’t go back and change anything!! (except maybe those cowboy boots!)
You asked for an update on Mark and Beres – I asked Mark the other night what he wanted and he tried to claim to have come out of the closet and to have revealed his homosexuality. I didn’t believe him due to his extensive history of success with the opposite sex and the fact that he has a partner and children, but you never know! Beresford worked in a couple of musical ventures with me for a while but then got stuck into his job, which we all thought was a criminal waste of talent but then he silenced us all by leaving his job, having saved all his wages and going round the world. Most people use the word ‘traveling’ but Beres got quite irate about it and insisted that he’d just been on a bloody big holiday!
He now works in the field of Rhubarb cultivation and periodically provides tales of great warmth and humour about the frailty of humanity as perceived through the lens of out-there-on-the-edge agriculture!!!
(c) 2006 www.roseofavalanche.com