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The Wonder Stuff

TheWonderStuff‘90s UK legends The Wonder Stuff perform their Never Loved Elvis album in full at the Rosemount Hotel on Sunday, March 2. Frontman, Miles Hunt, chats to GARETH GORMAN.

“I’m actually writing after I’ve finished talking to you lot,” says Miles Hunt at the top of the interview. This sounds like good news for those of us who know of him as quite the witty, erudite wordsmith and barb-slinger.

“Yeah, I’m working on my autobiography… or the band’s, really. I’ve kept diaries over the years and been going  through them to see what’s of interest. It will be the day-to-day account of a band on the road, dealing with all the people you meet and come up against.

“I read a lot of other music autobiographies leading up to it, to the point where I can’t bear to read any more for a while. So I haven’t read Morrissey’s – I suppose I may at some point, but I suspect I won’t come out of it liking him too much. Tim Burgess’ I’d like to read, I like him.

“While I’ve kept the diaries all these years, I didn’t think it would be worth doing anything with them, until I was 40 and then another seven years whooshed by without me really getting stuck into it and then suddenly I got a move on with it. And out of reading the countless other autobiographies, I decided the diary format would prove to be the best.

“I got really, really, bored with the, ‘I grew up in wherever and this thing and that thing happened to me when I was a kid or a teenager’. So I think the diary approach will supply the good stuff.

“An entry I was working on today reminded me how futile and useless we were in living the rock’n’roll dream. We were in LA and I was coaxed into doing the trashing-a-room thing. We thought of chucking the TV out of the room, but dismissed it as too clichéd. Then we thought about the wardrobe, but I couldn’t do it. ‘What about the hangers?’ I was asked, but I couldn’t even do that – they were wooden and heavy and I wouldn’t have been able to bear it, if they hit anyone. So in the end, all I did was chuck a couple of matches out. Very un-rock ‘n’roll.”

1991 was the last full Wonder Stuff headline tour down under, although they have been out here over the years on shared-bills. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience for their Metropolis show in Fremantle. The band were riding high on the success of the Never Loved Elvis album and a number one hit record with UK comic, Vic Reeves – a cover of Tommy Roe’s Dizzy.

“I wasn’t aware that Dizzy was so big over here and I guess it does say something about the version we all did of it that it did so well in Australia if Vic Reeves’ shows hadn’t been transmitted.

“The gigs we’re doing on this tour will feature us going back in time and performing our third album, Never Loved Elvis, in its entirety.  We’ve enjoyed doing the tours of the preceding albums – Eight Legged Groove Machine and Hup and we’ve decided to keep running with that idea of playing them live in the order that they were released. The rest of the set comprises what we’ve worked, goes over well and what we do well.”

The current Wonder  Stuff line-up has managed to find them snaffling up one Fuzz Townshend, formerly of Pop Will Eat Itself on tub-thumping duties and a man who once told me he lived in a house with no square rooms.

“Ha, that wouldn’t surprise me. He’s quite the character is Fuzz. You should see his current place, a ramshackle place half-way up an impenetrable mountain, that is pretty much impossible to get to, which I believe is the way he likes it.”

A love of music that’s come out of the Midlands has also been something that flames Miles’ fire. This first showed up for fans with their cover of Slade’s Cuz I Luv You.  It’s carried through to a covers compilation From The Midlands With Love that accompanies their most recent ‘real’ album, Oh No It’s The Wonder Stuff.

Miles admits that he’s definitely enjoying being in a band more now than their first flush of success and how the use of social media has brought him closer to the fans than before – something confirmed by him tweeting about our conversation before he moved onto his next interview.

“After all these years of doing it, I think I actually understand it now. Back in the day, I was young and inexperienced and didn’t get on with the original members that well, to be honest. “Now the people in the band genuinely enjoy being in The Wonder Stuff and want to work on new songs. The old members just thought about money and didn’t want to work on new stuff.

“The other thing is I like getting on Facebook and Twitter and all that. Plus we have a seriously cool merchandise site where you can get all our tour stuff without even seeing us! But above all that, with all the fan interaction –  I have seriously learned plenty from The Wonder Stuff’s audience that are out there and happy to tell me what they think.”