This interview was conducted long-distance on October 19, 2006. Fourgoodmen's lead guitarist, Bruce Watson, was at home in Scotland on one end of the telephone, and I was home in New Jersey on the other end of the line. I'm sure Bruce was enjoying a hot spot of tea, but I raise my coffee cup with a toast to rock 'n roll, Dunkin' Donuts, and cheap phone cards with pre-paid minutes to use for the overseas telephone calls!
Hello Bruce. I was a big fan of your other band, Big Country. But today, we're here to chat about the new Scottish supergroup, Fourgoodmen. I know how "good" you are on lead guitar, so please introduce the other "goodmen" and tell me how the band formed.
The other "goodmen" are Mick MacNeil, who played keyboards for Simple Minds, Derek Forbes, the bass player from Simple Minds, and Ian Donaldson, the vocalist from H2O. For our live performances, we have a drummer named Smiley who played with Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros. He's also done some work with Robbie Williams. Carrie MacNeil and Yvonne McHugh also join us playing bagpipes. Basically, we came together to play for fun, doing songs from our back catalogs and cover versions of other things we've been involved with. We accidentally discovered that we could write songs!
The band website, www.fourgoodmen.com, and its MySpace page, www.myspace.com/4gm, have song clips from the new recordings by Fourgoodmen. Music fans can link to those pages from this interview to hear the songs. I'd like you to verbally describe the musical direction of the new recordings by Fourgoodmen.
We have about a dozen new songs, but most of them are kind of embryonic at the moment. Four of them are finished pieces of music. This answer may come off a bit contrived, but one of our songs, "Heart of Wonder," sounds like a cross between Simple Minds and Big Country. The other three songs are in the rock mode, but more pop than heavy rock. They're very commercial yet very rock as well. Everything we do counts and there's no fillers in there, but our sound is kind of hard to explain. It's not an out and out Celtic thing, but alongside the guitars you'll hear bagpipes and Mick's traditional squeezebox in a rock mode. My favorite cut at the moment is "Heart of Wonder." The four tracks can be heard at the websites, and this one has the Big Country guitar sound and keyboards/bass Simple Minds feel. The fans have kind of picked up on that one. But my personal favorite always varies from time to time.
Elaborate on your plans as far as recording the new material and getting the record released.
Fourgoodmen is in the process of recording the album. Because of our different bands over the last 25 years, we've all been involved with publishing companies and record labels. But this one we're kind of doing on our own at the moment. It's tied into the Internet thing, and we're self-producing it like so many other bands are doing now. We're self-financing the album and, at the moment, we're not interested in signing with anyone. We just want to get the songs written, demoed, and then recorded. Then we'll decide what to do with them: whether we sign with a major label, keep it independent, or maybe even do it all ourselves. We're not in a hurry.
Prior to the record's release, Fourgoodmen will be touring North America in late November and early December (note tour dates below). What should fans expect to hear in Fourgoodmen's setlist?
We'll do the bigger hits from our previous bands' back catalogs. It works out to be about four Simple Minds songs, four Big Country songs, "Dream To Sleep," which was the H2O hit from 1983, and we hope to have six new songs as well. We could have done the whole back catalog route, it's easier, but it's a bit of a cop-out. We're going to take the risk and play a bunch of new songs. In Europe, it worked because of the feedback we received from both sets of the old fans and our new fans. They all seemed to like the new material. You know the fans are coming out to hear the old songs they love and it's a nice surprise when they comment on the new stuff. Because we're not Simple Minds and we're not Big Country, those songs took on a new direction as well. Big Country was never about keyboards, but now we have Mick adding squeezebox and keys to the Big Country hits. I think they sound fresh and wonderful.
Fourgoodmen tour dates:
|November 25, 2006||Opera House||Toronto|
|November 26, 2006||Club Soda||Montreal|
|November 27, 2006||The Knitting Factory||NYC|
|November 28, 2006||Jammin' Java||Vienna (Washington DC)|
|November 29, 2006||Starland Ballroom
(as special guest of The Pretenders)
|November 30, 2006||Paradise Lounge||Boston, MA|
|December 2, 2006||Theodore's||Springfield, MA|
|December 4, 2006||The Knitting Factory||Los Angeles, CA|
|December 5, 2006||Belly Up Tavern||Solana Beach, CA|
|December 6, 2006||Brookdale Lodge||Santa Cruz, CA|
|December 7, 2006||12 Galaxies||San Francisco, CA|
Before I ask my final two questions, I have to mention this. Prior to forming Big Country with you, the late Stuart Adamson played in the Skids. It was really cool hearing U2 and Green Day onstage together doing the Skid's song "Saints Are Coming" on the opening night of Monday Night Football. Music fans should look forward to hearing a new recording of that song.
Thanks for mentioning that song, Dave. It's a fantastic song, and The Edge from U2 has always said it was one of his favorite guitar tracks. The fact that U2 and Green Day are covering it is fantastic. I can't wait to actually hear it.
What else can I help you and Fourgoodmen promote?
My personal website is www.bruce-watson.net and my personal MySpace page is www.myspace.com/brucewatson. We'll have t-shirts and live CDs available at all of the shows. If fans can't make it out to a show, I'm sure we'll eventually be selling stuff at the band website. There's a fan forum at the band website also. All of our websites will have the up-to-date information on the album and future tour dates.
Please share your thoughts on the senseless murder of guitarist Dimebag Darrell.
I'm not familiar with Dimebag Darrell, but obviously his death was very tragic. I'm shocked to hear you talk about his story because I've never heard of the incident. From my point of view with Big Country, we always had security to shield us from the audience, but there was never anything more than a few scuffles. There's always that one guy down in front who's a bit drunk. Fights break out but I've never seen anything or heard of anything so sad as the onstage murder of a fellow musician. I've never felt vulnerable up on stage. If the news spun it like you've stated, that it was because the music was heavy metal, well that's a bunch of crap. That's an excuse that media people use that heavy metal is a violent thing. It's music and it's no different than country and western, it comes under the banner of entertainment.