Black Grape and 10 Questions with TotalNtertainment

Sadly, news came through recently that, as has been the case across the music industry, Black Grape had been forced to reschedule their twenty-fifth anniversary tour until 2021. Following the news, we spoke to Kermit, one half of the iconic outfit, about the debut album, the tour, and his favourite Shaun Ryder stories that he was allowed to tell us.

1. Thanks for your time, how’s life treating you at the moment ?

Yeah, it’s ok, I can’t grumble. This move I’m in the middle of is taking over and distracting me from other things at the moment. [laughs]

2. News has just come through that the tour has been rescheduled. That must be quite frustrating. Do you have a Plan B in the meantime ?

Get through life [laughs].

3. The tour is a massive milestone. When the shows come around next year, I guess those dates will be even more special for you and the fans ?

It’ll be welcome to do some gigs because I enjoy doing them. The fans are great. A little bit boisterous at times and a lot of them don’t understand about personal space [laughs]. It can be a bit overwhelming at times.

4. Have you spoken to fans much about the anniversary ?

Well, not really as I’ve been locked up because of this coronavirus and I’m writing a play. I’m writing a play with Daisy Campbell whose the daughter of Ken Campbell. She’s done an adaption of a play called ‘Cosmic Trigger’ which I saw and it was mind-blowing, it blew me away. That was about six years ago. We became friends and went on a pilgrimage, sixty-nine of us, from the Giant Chalk Man to the Hadron Collider via Damanhur in Italy, in the mountains near Milan. It’s an incredible place. Beautiful people. After that, we ended up in Avesbury in the stone circle listening to Paul Simon. The whole thing was a big spiritual experience for me and, since then, I realised I didn’t fit my life any more so I made a few changes. I’m trying to become the new Buddah!

5. You’re celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of your debut album which went platinum. What do you put that success down to ?

Great tunes [laughs]! Pure and simple. They’re songs that, even nowadays they sound great. I’m so proud of that album. I go to peoples houses and see it in their collections. It’s an iconic album. It was a real gamechanger. It was a real blend of stuff that worked. Shaun was coming from the Happy Mondays, I was coming from the Rap Assassins, it just worked. We have a good bubble with each other. We bounce off each other. We look at it like we’re jousting or fencing. As far as I’m concerned, Shaun is a rapper. That’s how we think about it. Even now.

6. Albums very rarely sell that amount of copies these days. What are your thoughts on the music industry in 2020 ?

[laughs]. That’s a loaded question. It’s totally different now, you’ve got Spotify and all the streaming stuff going on where they don’t really pay the artist. The only way to make money is through merchandise and touring which can be knackering [laughs]. It can be stressful because you’re seeing the same seven people in the band and the crew. You party all through and then at the end of the tour… you’re f***ed! Especially at our age [laughs]. It has changed a lot. I set up a label with Greg Wilson called Super Wierd Substance and we put out an album and some singles but it has changed a lot. My first record deal with Rap Assassins was with EMI and they were a massive label. The thing is, I’ve fallen out with every record label I’ve ever been involved with because they lie! It’s all smoke and mirrors and I see the hoax now. As we used to say in Moss Side you had to make your own little piece and hold your corner and that’s what I try to do.

7. Do you have any favourite memories or stories from that time ?

It’s quite cloudy if I’m honest [laughs]. Very milky memories. You’re young and you’re touring the world with a number one album. It was a beautiful thing. I wish I’d lived in the moment because they weren’t moments they were just a series of events that I was propelled along with. I was just thinking of a few things then but I can’t tell you [laughs]. If we were sat face-to-face I could after a few drinks but not at the moment.

8. What about your partner-in-crime? Do you have a favourite Shaun Ryder story you can tell us ?

Phew! I don’t know. They’re all quite wrong. Honestly. I’m being truthful. Something I could tell you? No! Wow! They sound really bad nowadays because of the climate. We were very naughty boys. We were very naughty. We did a lot of very, very, very wrong things. Mohammed Ali said “show me a man at fifty who is the same as he was at twenty and I’ll show you a man that hasn’t learned anything or grown”. It was an experience. I’m lucky having done that stuff because, twenty five years, to still be able to tour and do gigs, to do another album that was well received. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved. It’s great music and, if somebody played it to me, I’d be like this is great. We work well together and it’s enjoyable. Yes, we’ve fallen out but, during that time, we changed and we’ve grown and it’s been good.

9. Just for fun – would you rather have X-ray vision or the ability to see if someone is lying to you ?

Oooh, we’re talking superhero powers. I love comics. I remember having this conversation with Howard Marks who I used to hang out with a lot. He was a mentor for me. He said he’d like to get really small and he started to explain about sub-atomic realms and all this stuff and we got deep into. Recently a Marvel film came out called Ant Man and that’s what Howard was talking about all those years ago. He blew my mind as he was explaining. So, yeah, I’d have to agree with him, I’d want to go really small. I know when people are lying to me. X-Ray vision? There is a comic that you need to check out though called The Invisibles and it’s by Grant Morrison. It’s genius. I’m a huge comic head. I’ve been reading comics since I was seven.

10. Just to finish then, thanks for your time and what are your plans for the future ?

You know I haven’t really spoken to Shaun much about that. I’m sure we will at some point and I hope we do another record but, you know, at the moment, life is getting in the way. I’m proud of “Pop Voodoo” as well so I hope we can do something together again.

You can read more about the tour and the rescheduled dates here:

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