SB & Q: Articles & Interviews
|Over the years, I've gathered a number of interviews from music press, etc. These are given below. I've tried, where I could get the information, to attribute these. However, I have not obtained any direct permission to publish any of them, so if the author of any of the material is unhappy about its presence on this website, please get in touch with me and I'll remove it. My thanks go to Geoff Hunt for assorted photocopies. Other material came from eBay. This is rather a long page with a lot of wordy content, but there's a lot of good material, worth ploughing through.|
James Johnson (early 1971; NME)
Sutherlands: Lightweights v. Heavies
Gavin Sutherland occasionally wonders what it'd be like to be in a band without his brother Iain. Point is, although he's been playing guitar for nearly six years, his brother has been up there with him on every gig. Now the two have institutionalised their relationship, going out on the road as the Sutherland Brothers, writing and playing their own songs and drawing an amount of favourable reaction. Backed by bass and drums - a "light-weight" band, as Gavin puts it - their music is mostly soft and gentle. Surprisingly, perhaps, most of their major gigs so far have been with Free and Mott the Hoople.
"Obviously those aren't ideal gigs for us," said Gavin. "Most of the people are there to jump around, to be excited, and our music just doesn't lend itself to that sort of thing. As all the songs are new, there's nothing people can identify with, so few people get into it on first hearing. But although those gigs are strange, they're not as bad for us as you might think. None have ever been bummers."
The Sutherlands themselves spent their early days in Stoke playing with various semi-pro bands before moving south to London. After spending a year concentrating on their writing, they were signed up by Muff Winwood, who now works for Island. Not long after, they found a drummer and bass guitarist and their band was formed.
"Basically, the band's just a vehicle to get the songs over," said Gavin. "We don't come over with any great musicianship, simply because neither my brother nor myself are capable of it. It's not that sort of band anyway. the songs are the focal point. Even so, since we formed it, we've been writing more with the band in mind. before, we were writing just for the two of us."
Just recently, they released their first single, The Pie, which is a track from their first album, recorded months ago, but still waiting release. "I'm a bit disappointed that it's been held up so long, but it was just through difficulties from the record company side. As an album, it's quite cool - just a collection of simple songs. I'm pleased with it.
"Quite honestly, I suppose neither of us get particularly excited about anything. We've both had hard times with bands in the past and I think after you've been around a couple of years, you tend to get the basic excitement knocked out of you. I mean, if we're successful, it'll be good, but if we're not, I'm not too bothered. neither of us are particularly uptight about being pop stars."
Steve Grant (February 1973; NME)
Reverse Split: Why the Sutherlands and Quiver Joined Forces
In the hectic world of rock 'n' roll, bands split like chameleons change colour. So when I heard that the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver had joined forces, I was more than a little surprised. I mean, have you heard of bands joining together? For the occasional jam or super-session, yes, but as a permanent thing, no way.
Full of disbelief, I trekked along to Island's press headquarters in deepest W11 to check it out. Looking like a cross between a bank employee and a folk-singer, in pin-striped suit and open-necked shirt, Gavin Sutherland explained that the main reason for him and brother Iain joining up with Quiver was that many of their songs couldn't be reproduced on stage. "We thought," he says, "we'd feel more comfortable with a band. We were tired of playing acoustics. we also thought it would be nice to get a new atmosphere together. It's a lot more realistic with a six-piece. like the last album, Lifeboat was recorded more or less as a band."
To keep the balance, Quiver bassist Bruce Thomas gave his side of the story. "Quiver material wasn't strong enough and the vocals weren't up-front enough. With the merger, we feel this has been remedied."
The new band was the brainchild of their manager. It started off by just jamming and doing a few gigs together, and came together very quickly. After only three rehearsals, the band have a one-and-a-half-hour set together. Most of the songs are by the Sutherlands, though there are a couple of Everly things. Does this mean Quiver are merely acting as a back-up band?
"True, it's more Sutherland Brothers material, but it's the band that performs it and we play what we want to play," says Bruce. "We're capable of playing anything from country rock to blues to reggae. Formerly, Quiver were into a sort of jamming thing - a couple of verses and then into improvisation. Now we're getting into stronger material. If any of Quiver wrote a suitable song it would probably be used, but right now Iain and Gavin's material is much stronger. It's not really the Sutherlands and a back-up band - it's just like they're the guys in the band that write the songs. People will just have to accept the fact that it's one unit, rather than two singer-songwriters and a back-up band."
Gavin Sutherland: "It's the same with anything. The attention always goes to the people who are singing, the people who are standing at the front, the people who are talking to the audience."
Bruce: "I think Quiver have benefited. in the last month we've played better than ever. The improvement in Willie (Wilson, Quiver's drummer) is amazing. We sound like a really tight rhythm section and Tim (Renwick) is coming right out of his shell as a guitarist."
How difficult did the two bands find the merger? Bruce says Quiver didn't find it at all difficult. "It clicked musically and now we find we've got a lot in common, both on a musical and personal level."
By themselves, the Sutherland Brothers never really made it in a big way. Their first single, The Pie, should have taken off, but didn't. was Gavin disappointed by this lack of commercial success? "No," he replied, "The Pie did us a lot of good in other ways. It got us a lot of gigs and a lot of respect. Other artists bought it and that's the main thing. I wouldn't say no to having a hit single but it's not that important."
The first Sutherland Brothers and Quiver single has just been released - one of Iain's songs, called You Got Me Anyway, backed by an interesting version of the classic Not Fade Away. So far, the band haven't any definite plans for an album, but there will be one. Right now, it's all down to getting the new line-up known.
Chris Charlesworth (February 1973: Melody Maker)
Chapter three in the ever-changing story of the Sutherland Brothers was unfolded a month ago with the news that Iain and Gavin were to link up with Quiver, thus providing themselves with a regular team of musicians or alternatively provide Quiver with a couple of good vocalists. Whichever way you look at it, the partnership is obviously a sensible step in the careers of both. The Sutherlands needed power behind them to put over the music they record and Quiver needed a change to prevent them getting stale. They also needed a singer and now they have two.
Billing themselves as the Sutherland Brothers plus Quiver, they've played about half a dozen gigs together and made a single which is just released by island. Future plans are to play as many gigs as possible to tighten up musically, and to record an album in about three months' time.
"We were in the position where we were becoming a swinging acoustic duo, which was fair enough, but it really was just marking time until we could get a band together," Iain Sutherland told me at Island's Basing Street HQ last week. "We were looking for a band to play with because finding individual guys could take years and our manager happened to mention Quiver, whose future was pretty loose."
Quiver's Tim Renwick confirmed the fact. "The group had reached a stage where we were all bored stiff. We needed more material to keep the band going and to keep us interested so we were at loose ends," said Tim. "We also wanted a voice and the chances of finding someone new who could write as well were pretty small."
"We knew Quiver were good musicians and Gavin and I knew we could write songs," said Iain. "We never set out to be a duo type of act. Before we came to Island, we were playing in rock bands, rather than on the folk scene. We had no ambition to be folksy artists; it was just that we never found the right musicians to play with before."
Already, the Quiverlands have rehearsed about an hour and a half of material, taken mostly from Gavin and Iain's vast repertoire of songs. They'll also slide in a few rock and rollers. Tim Renwick's fellow founder member of Quiver, Cal Batchelor, is the only member of the group to opt out of the link. "Cal was doing most of the writing for Quiver and he was playing heavier music than the rest of us, so he felt he would be stagnated in the new group as the Sutherlands have lots of songs."
"What I like about the whole thing most," says Iain, "is that we can now play like we sound on our albums. We have always had a band in the studio, but some of the numbers didn't come off on stage. Now they can all be reproduced. There are also lots of opportunities for changing instruments and doubling on stage, whereas before, especially in Quiver, everyone was obliged to play their primary instrument all the time."
The current five-piece band will be augmented to six when they find a keyboard player. "We have a guy in mind at the moment but he has other commitments, so we can't say who he is yet," said Iain.
Steve Clarke (March 1974; NME)
Ever played imaginary guitar in front of a mirror?
It's very easy to identify with the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver. If you've ever imagined you were a rock star and played imaginary guitar in front of your favourite mirror then you've got something in common with Gavin Sutherland - who used to practise the Shadows' footwalk with a billiard cue instead of a real axe. More likely you're into Rod Stewart struts 'cause the Shadows were a long time ago, weren't they? But it all amounts to the same thing: the the things dream kids do, and let's face it, who isn't a dream kid? And what's the bet - if you have any claims to being a musician - that at one time or other your ma and pa told you to quit playing rock 'n' roll and get yourself a proper job.
Peter Wood, the Quiverlands keyboard player, went through all that. Yes, it's easy to identify with the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver, who admit to being six dream kids all poised to make it Real Big. Quiver live in a large shambling house in London's Westbourne Park, furnished with a table-football machine which their manager, Wayne Bardell, bought to keep them off the streets. Gavin Sutherland and his elder brother, Iain, share a farm with their families near Stoke-on-Trent. But they've let the land to a neighbouring farmer so as not to waste the land (there's not much land about, says Gavin).
The two groups joined together around a year ago. Quiver were a raunchy little band whose weak spot was in song-writing. And for the Sutherlands the problem was in reverse. The Sutherlands had two albums under their belts, the first recorded with a bassist and a drummer and going by the name of The Sutherland Brothers Band, the second recorded with top Island label musicians doing the sessions. What they really needed was a band. Therefore the link-up with Quiver was logical. Although Quiver are not yet a great, fantastic, brilliant band, they're a very good band - who could well become fantastic. They're the only band I'd lay money on making it this year - and making it for a while.
In a music scene currently dominated by dinosaur rock at one end of the scale and image-first "music" at the other, the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver are totally refreshing on stage and on record. And they're young too.
Don't however, get the idea that Iain and Gavin are fresh-up from the Midlands with not so much as the taste of greasy motorway food by way of dues-pay, 'cause that's not on. The Sutherlands have paid their dues. Gavin has been playing guitar since his schooldays. And at one point he had to work in a factory making storage heaters. He says he's glad he did it: "It's good to know what it's like to work in a factory. I used to have to wear this great big boiler-suit thing and a big mask with a glass face in it to keep out all the muck." That was when he was 18. Quiver's Peter Wood spent some time in a metalwork factory but got out fast because he wanted to do something more creative.
The picture is: the Sutherlands and Quiver are down-to-earth people and they look like it. They don't look like stars and they aren't too concerned with the word. "I don't think there's such a thing. Everybody's a star and nobody's a star," says Gavin. "It's just a case of if you turn a lot of people on, you work that bit harder. I'd like people to recognise me as a good song-writer or obviously I wouldn't be doing it. I mean we don't want to be like Gary Glitter, but it'd be nice to be like Bob Dylan. Obviously we take ourselves seriously. We want to be a successful band. The word star isn't part of our language."
The group have already had their first taste of success with a hit single in America, (I Don't Want to Love You But) You Got Me Anyway, which made the American top ten during their recent tour with Elton John. It was the group's first US trip and unlike just about every other band I can think of, the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver didn't lose money. They didn't get awful rich, mind you, but they didn't lose anything. That's unusual.
Obviously, the tour did the group one heck of a lot of good. says Gavin: "I reckon when we got back after ten weeks in the States, we were like a million times better band than we were when we left, although when we left we thought we were great." He laughs and adds: "When we came back, we knew we were great." That might sound a little conceited in cold black and white. but I assure you it didn't sound so at the time.
In America, You Got Me Anyway was released initially as an album track on a Sutherland Brothers and Quiver version of Lifeboat, the Sutherlands' second British album, which included the majority of songs from Lifeboat plus several things the Sutherlands had recorded with Quiver. American radio stations played You Got Me Anyway most, and so it was released as a single. "I think Americans listen to the music more than British audiences, who tend to be very preoccupied with the image and the publicity," says Peter Wood.
And so on to Dream Kid, the current British single and the first Sutherlands' song to be co-written by Gavin and Iain. Gavin wrote the basic structure a few years ago: "We listen to things we've done a few years ago from time to time," he explains. "Iain got the idea for the lyrics and we put the two things together, so it's an I and G composition - although we didn't actually write it in the same room together."
Dream Kid is also the title of the new album - the first full-length Sutherlands and Quiver record - due for release in March. The fellas started recording last June, which sounds like a pretty long time ago. Says Gavin: "As far as actual studio time was concerned, we didn't take all that much time. It was just that it was spread out." The album had reached the final mix stage before the American tour, but because the band thought they'd improved so much during the tour - and since the album was being delayed by the energy crisis and vinyl shortage - they thought they'd take a couple of tracks off and put some new ones on.
In fact, Dream Kid was one of the tracks recorded after America. "We didn't consciously record it as a single, although it is possible we were subconsciously looking for one," points out Gavin. "We knew a single was what we needed next. We did a slightly longer version of Dream Kid, but we decided to edit it and make it a bit stronger. And as it turned out, the shorter version sounded better for both album and single. It was Muff's idea to shorten it 'cause it was, like, four-and-a-half hours long. Muff's a good guy to have around - it means a lot that he's been in a hard working band himself. He was with Spencer Davis for years so he knows all about sleeping in the back of vans and humping gear. It'd probably be a bit of a pantomime in the studio without him to organise things. We'd all be messing about and beating each other up and getting stoned." Peter Wood puts it in a nutshell: "Basically getting out of it and wasting a lot of money."
Back to Gavin who thinks Dream Kid is basically a good album: "Obviously, it could be better - as everything can - but we like listening to it. I like the songs. I think it's played well. The thing is, it's the first album we've done together with the six of us in the studio at the same time. We felt like a band. We weren't working with strangers who were turning up to get £15 out of it, plus overdubs."
The Quiverlands' music is about rock 'n' roll songs. As his heroes, Gavin lists the Beatles and Dylan. Of their style, he says: " We don't go into long, heavy instrumental things. We just play songs. There was a time when long, drawn-out arrangements were the thing, but I've never been involved with that. None of us are old, but we all identify with traditional rock 'n' roll played by traditional rock 'n' roll bands. I don't necessarily mean just playing Chuck Berry numbers, but there's a basic feeling that you're a rock 'n' roll band."
Of the two, Iain is the more prolific writer: "Iain writes all the time. I usually do about half a dozen songs in a couple of days or something and then cool it for a few months. When I do write, I blow him off" - he chuckles - "We haven't got any policy about who writes what. It's just a case of whatever's best for the job." On the first album, Gavin wrote all the material except one song, but has since contributed less than his brother: "That was just the situation at the time. We'd both got a lot of songs around and we'd recorded about twenty. We just sat down and put the album together and thought, well, if we put this one first, what would sound nice after that - and built up the album like that."
Dream Kid has been bubbling under, as they say, for the last week or so, and could be the group's first British hit. It doesn't seem to bother the group unduly that none of their singles have made it in their own country (in fact as the Sutherlands and Quiver there've only been two). For they now have an identity of their own, In the early days of the union, comparison with the Byrds were prevalent. But as Gavin says: "We seem to have shaken all that off. I think we're now like the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver. We seem to have reached ... we've got something that's a bit different from anything else nowadays."
Unknown reporter - first name Bernard (November, 1975; Scottish Daily Express)
The Brothers are Sailing to Success
Rod was right. There's no place like home. That's the Sutherland Brothers' view of their native Scotland since the incredible reception they got from 3,000 ecstatic fans when they made a rare trip north for a date at Glasgow Apollo. The brothers Iain and Gavin were told by Rod Stewart that Scots audiences were terrific.
"Rod wasn't kidding," the boys told me when I chatted to them on their return to London. "The Glasgow fans were just too much. We understand that the day after the show, more than 1,000 copies of our new album were ordered at record shops throughout central Scotland. We've never done much work in Scotland in the past, but we were so knocked out by the smashing reception that we hope to do a lot in the future."
Iain, 25, and Gavin, 23, hail from Peterhead, where their father , a keen fiddler, used to run a Scottish country dance band. The family moved to the Midlands in the early sixties when Sutherland senior, a civil servant, was promoted. They hit the high road for London together as soon as they left school and by 1970 were both earning a living as folk-rock musicians in Tin Pan Alley. The full name of the band that caused all the fuss at the Apollo concert is the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver, the latter half being Iain and Gavin's backing duo, guitarist Tim Renwick and drummer Willie Wilson.
Rod Stewart is never done singing the foursome's praises. And in sharing Rod's good taste, Scots fans are showing themselves to be streets ahead of the rest of Britain. For although a sensation in America - they won raves there two years ago when they did a 45-city tour with Elton John, playing to audiences of up to 20,000 per show - the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver haven't yet taken off in this country in as big a way as they deserve. In fact, it took Rod Stewart to give the band a No. 1 hit with Sailing. The song was penned by Gavin more than three years ago.
Reflected Gavin: "The amusing thing about Sailing is that most people take the song to be about a young guy telling his girl that he's crossing the Atlantic to be with her. In fact, the song's got nothing to do with romance or ships; it's an account of mankind's spiritual odessey through life on his way to freedom and fulfillment with the Supreme Being." He grinned, "Mind you, it doesn't matter at what level pop fans appreciated the song. They liked it and bought it - and that's the main thing."
Bert Muirhead (December, 1975; ZigZag)
Sutherland brothers, Not Forgetting Quiver
I'm sure most of you are aware of the Sutherland Brothers' existence, in fact you've probably even been at one of their many gigs up and down the country and thoroughly enjoyed their rockingly original set. You may even possess at least one of the four albums they have released so far . . . in which case, why aren't they enjoying the success or even that knowledgeable buzz that accompanies bands like the Feelgoods, the Kursaals and Starry Eyed and Laughing (in any of whose company, they could certainly match them musically). While being unable to explain this lack of acceptance, I hope this article will throw some light on their life and (fairly) hard times so far.
Like all ZigZag bands, the Sutherlands have a past which is worth exploring. The brothers moved to England at an early age from their native Scotland and picked up on music from their father who had been a bandleader. This led to the usual round of school and garage bands before Iain, the elder of the two, decided to pack up his studies at Manchester University and become a professional musician at the age of 18 in 1966. The group was whimsically called the New Generation and soon after, Gavin Sutherland followed in his brother's footsteps and joined up. The band gigged around Staffordshire and the Midlands with some success, as Iain recalls: "We had a keyboard player who's now a music teacher, I started out with him, a guy called Chris Kemp, and we formed the New Generation. We both wrote songs and we used to do a lot of harmony stuff together and he was a very talented guy, a good songwriter, a good keyboard player, pretty good, but for various reasons ... you sometimes find guys like that who are good musicians but have no ambition to make it professionally. He writes lots of things, symphonies even, and gets the school orchestra to play them. Maybe someday, though, he'll get something organised."
The band were sufficiently good at that stage to get themselves signed up by Spark Records and Iain also got tied up to a writing contract with Southern Music. Apparently the band recorded quite a lot of stuff for Spark which resulted in two little known singles being released around '67/'68, one of which was called She's a Soldier Boy but the other one escaped me. Iain says: "Actually, there's a lot of good songs there, that Southern Music have still got, sitting on a shelf up there. We've always written more stuff than we actually ever use anyway. There's no point in going back to older stuff, it's just a drag that at the time they didn't get the exposure, we could've made a good album then, in 1968 or whenever."
One of the songs that Iain says Spark didn't use actually came out in America on Imperial. It's a good rock 'n' roll type song called Heartbreaker and credited to a group called UK Baby which Gavin reckons was just their tape under a different name. [Spark also put out a single, Heartbreaker, in 1973 by the all-female group Honeyend, which is now rated as a Northern Soul classic.] However Gavin continues: "After a couple of years slogging around, and having the singles out, nothing ever came of it and the band split up and Iain and I came down to London to try for something better.!
When they arrived in London, times were still pretty hard; apparently they saw little or no money from Spark and were pretty broke themselves but they stuck at it. "We worked at the old Derry and Toms in Kensington High Street (which eventually became Biba's and is now closed) for almost three months, just like the Christmas thing. We got a couple of quid together which enabled us to sit on our behinds for the next three months and just play music and write. We'd done some demos through Wayne Bardell, who we'd met at Southern Music. He had a few contacts and managed to get the tape about to various people. We got the elbow from, I think, a couple of companies (actually Warners was the only company they tried before getting to Island). Then we went to Island and it all came together. What happened at Warners was, there was a guy called Martin Wyatt, he's now involved with Anchor Records. He really liked the demo and really liked the songs. He had Gavin and I come down and do another session, but I think he was under the impression that it was a band and maybe he was a bit floored when it was just two guys. So we did this demo and we started building up on a couple of songs. We didn't really have it together at all, like we had to carry our drumkit up the stairs ourselves. We were knackered - it took us about two hours to set up - we did The Pie actually, just me playing acoustic guitar and Gav playing drums, then we put on a bass and I put on an organ track, then the vocals, but we never really got it finished. It was insane; it finished up as probably less than impressive." Exit Warner Brothers.
Over at Island, however, Muff Winwood took an instant liking to the demo and signed them up. Muff would also produce their records and helped fix them up with a band, namely Kim Ludman on bass and Neil Hopwood on drums. "Neil was from Staffordshire; he'd been playing in lots of local blues bands - he's back there now in fact. That was his thing, really, plus a bit of folk too, like Dave Mattacks is his big hero. He played in Dr Strangely Strange before us, but we never really knew him. Kim Ludman, well ... we just auditioned for a bassist and he turned up. We haven't seen him since."
Into the studios very quickly after this, the band produced a superb studio set which appeared in February 1972, simply called The Sutherland Brothers Band. It's an absolute gem of a record, full of great songs and fine playing. Due to Iain's still being involved with Southern Music, he only contributed one song to the album, the opening number, a beautiful acoustic ballad called The Pie, which was also their first single and should have been a hit but wasn't. Gavin wrote the other ten songs and all are very strong indeed, being roughly divided between straight love songs and more questioning issues like civil rights, poverty, Vietnam. Not that they are blatant sloganeering for the sake of it, not at all: they stand as songs in their own right too. As Gavin explains: "We're both socially conscious, I guess, most people are, these days and if there's anything you feel that you want to say, it's a great way to be able to do it (in song). There's two ways of doing it: there are the guys who just want to change the world, who are just basically shouting at people, but I think the kind of stuff that we've been doing is more like just expressing opinions. They're protest songs, sure ... people try to say the age of the protest song is past, but it's been proved that they don't do anything to change ... like Dylan's stuff. Most folk songs are protest songs, there are the love ballads and the ones complaining about the state of things.
With an excellent album and single out, the band had to go on the road and promote it, but that wasn't without its problems either, as Iain continues: "We went out as the Sutherland Brothers Band, with Neil and Kim and we did a lot of work, including a load of free gigs and benefits. It was a very inexperienced thing. Kim hadn't been on the road and neither had we since the New Generation days a couple of years back. It was all sort of cheapo-cheapo productions, road-crew-wise and everything else. like we went to Island with absolutely nothing. We didn't have rich management or anything and what we had was coming from Island bread-wise; we were going around in an old transit with, like one roadie; it was a bit hard to handle. It was all very hippy - we probably still are - but it was worse then. The gigs that we did with Neil and Kim, it just didn't look like there was a lot of future in it. It just wasn't the right vehicle for us. We didn't feel the band was quite strong enough. Gavin and I are quite limited as guitar players (you wouldn't think so from the album), and we were finding it a lot of pressure to be handling the vocals and the guitars as well. So we finished up going out as just the two of us, which we had to do, from a purely bread-and-butter point of view. We became like an acoustic folk act, which is immediately the bag people put you in and you start getting folk gigs and stuff. Ridiculous. I mean that wasn't where we were at at all: we just wanted to get a band together."
With a lot of critical praise ringing in their ears, but without the sales to confirm it, Gavin and Iain started work on a second album. About this time, people were putting the band in a Byrds/Band/Beatle-type bag, lofty praise indeed, but which was slightly upsetting to Iain: "It got to be a bit of a pain, all this Byrds thing. It's a natural thing that people categorise you and we're not complaining about comparisons with the Byrds etc. I suppose people describe it as that 'cos it's straightforward songs, as opposed to extended guitar solos. The reason there aren't any extended guitar solos is because neither of us is capable of playing them."
The second album: "There was just the two of us then and during the first few months we'd been at Island, we met a few of the guys. There was a bit of a 'family' sort of thing at that time as regards sessions. We were lucky to get guys of that ability (Rabbit, Stevie Winwood, John Hawken); that was due to Muff as well - he obviously knew a lot of them and knew how to get hold of them. We finished up doing most of the songs as live takes: there's very little overdubbing. the odd guitar part excepted, but it finished up with whoever was singing the vocal. Gavin and I would be there with our acoustics and there would always be a keyboard player there and it did become a very keyboard-orientated album. Obviously, as you say, when we got out on the road again, it was a bit difficult to put over. There was a lot of the stuff, what we considered the best songs, that we just couldn't put over with just two acoustics or at least come out sounding completely different. Songs like Space Hymn, for example. We used to do 'em, mind you, you can do 'em, any song can be adapted, but it sounds completely different. Real Love, for instance, we couldn't really play; never even attempted to. That's why we were knocked out when we got together with Quiver, because we got people that could really help us do those kind of numbers"
Again, the album was released to great critical acclaim but again it didn't sell so well, despite being of as good, if not better, quality than the first. A tour with Free should've helped but the real cruncher came in the shape of Sailing, along with The Pie, the Brothers' most famous song. It didn't make it onto the album and was released as a separate single. despite good airplay, it again failed. "It was done later, cut as a single. The album was finished before Sailing and it was too late to include it. Gav and I did it ourselves; I played harmonium and Gav played drums, then we overdubbed the vocals. It would've fitted on the Lifeboat album, the seafaring metaphor and whatever; it went on the US version of Lifeboat. It possibly should've been on the album here, thinking back. From a sales point of view it would've been a help.
Lifeboat was released in November 1972 and it was a month later that the historic and crucial meeting with Quiver took place. (Due to a lack of space, it proved impossible to do a Quiver history to that point, although loyal ZigZaggers will have all the relevant grist in ZZs 13 and 18 - or I hope you do. My apologies to Tim Renwick and Willie Wilson, but I had enough taped for a 9-page article before being curtly informed that a 3- or 4-pager was all that was required! Check out those back issues.) Iain recalls the meeting and subsequent events: "Our manager then was Wayne Bardell. Quiver were basically running themselves, after John Curd and Steve O'Rourke, arranging their own gigs and were back to a real grassroots level, doing colleges and the like. They'd realised that Cal Batchelor (their main songwriter) was on the verge of leaving and they were basically looking for a singer/songwriter. Cal was with us initially; he's on You Got Me Anyway. I think we did a couple of gigs with him, but that's about all. Gavin and myself were doing the same sorta thing. We were still involved with the 'underground' at that time, still on the benefits and free concert scene ... We had a similar background to Quiver, although I'd never met them or seen them play. (Quiver, for their part, only knew of the SBs through hearing them on radio.) We had actually done a gig with them, an open-air job, but left before they had arrived. Our first gig, that was at the Marquee, Gav and I had that booked as a New Year sort of thing; we were gonna do it anyway, and we had met them a few weeks earlier. It was Wayne's idea really, he had suggested that we get together with them. So, at the Marquee we did about half a set, just the two of us, then Quiver came on and we did a couple of Everly Brothers numbers, a couple of rock 'n' roll things. We also did You Got Me Anyway, Real Love, Space Hymn and a couple more off the Lifeboat album. It was a great evening; we went down really well, did a couple of encores. It was a bit of a drunken evening. We felt great and it was great to feel the power of the band behind you."
You Got Me Anyway was recorded in January and was nearly a hit: it got a lot of airplay but ended up selling a lot less than Sailing, which did about 40,000. The early months of 1973 saw the band gigging steadily and beginning to work on their first joint album, when out of the blue came their biggest break to date: the offer of support band on Elton John's US tour. Elton had just broken big Stateside and the tour was an absolute sell-out, various house records were broken including the Stones' previous record in Mobile. Capitol, who still distributed Island product in the States were only too keen to promote the band, being as they were in such illustrious company. The result was that You Got Me Anyway was a Top 20 hit and the album Lifeboat, issued under the band's joint names (and including Sailing as well as a few of the first SB&Q songs written so far) made the charts too. The band were pleasantly surprised to find that they had a following Stateside, Mainly due to good reviews in Phonograph Record Magazine, a well known Anglophile paper which ran features on the band by such writers as Bud Scoppa, Ken Barnes and Alan Betrock. Also, lots of record stores were carrying import copies of the first two albums, which was an unexpected bonus.
Back in Britain again, however, it was down to trying to consolidate their position at home. They put the finishing touches to the album to be called Dream Kid, which was released while they were still in the States. Like the previous two, it's a fine album; again a tactical slip seems to be the non-inclusion of You Got Me Anyway which, I'm sure, would've made this a killer album. There are a couple of compensations in I Hear Thunder, Champion the Underdog and Dream Kid (also the follow up to You Got Me) which are typical Sutherlands' boogie with marvellous harmonies. Throughout the album there is a power not evident on the previous two sets: Tim Renwick is a really tasteful guitarist and Pete Wood provides a wide range of keyboard sounds. The only criticism that can be levelled is that the album is a bit too clean-sounding but that was due to its being done at AIR London, George Martin's studio, which, while being the best studio in Britain, is also a bit cold and clinical. "They've got a uniformed doorman, that sort of scene, "said Gavin.
But however good the albums are, the band are really at their best on stage, a situation that Iain is not altogether pleased with: "A lot of people have said that and its something we feel ourselves, that we've always been happiest with our music onstage. We've never been as pleased with the records, which is a bad situation, but one we're hoping to put right with the CBS album. We're hoping we can get the best out of the songs in the studio."
The summer's success in the States proved about the only bright spot in the months that were to follow. First of all, bassist Bruce Thomas was asked to leave: "We went for a two week European tour with Traffic in Germany and Holland, the one that produced their live album [On the Road], and that brought it to a head. There was a bit of friction on the Elton tour. It was a bit of a personality clash between Bruce and me (Iain), but also with one or two of the others. It got to the point where it was causing everybody too much pain. It was affecting everything ... we put it to Bruce actually that we thought it would be best if he left. He was a bit upset at that 'cos he was as much part of the band as anyone, but he was just upsetting us all. I've seen him recently and we still regard him as a mate." (Interesting to note that Bruce was asked to leave Village in much the same way - ZZ18 - however it's nice to note that he's happy in Moonrider [with Keith West], see ZZ55.)
Tex Comer of Ace stepped in to help them out temporarily, including a Rainbow concert with the Brinsleys, their biggest British gig to date. However, it wasn't a permanent move: "We thought Tex might join us, and we put it to him, but he sorta said, 'As much as I'd like to, I'd rather stick with Ace', you know: same old thing as us, been together a long time and we didn't want to upset them as they were in quite a precarious situation about the time they were getting their deal together."
Gavin took over on bass and, after a few warm-up gigs around Britain, it was off to the States again for their second tour, although not before laying down some tracks for their next album. "We'd done a lot of the album before we went off to the States, much the same as Dream Kid, with Tex playing bass. In the meantime, we rehearsed Gav on bass, so he'd been playing a couple of months before we cut the album."
The States tour was as big a disaster as the first one was a success. "We did about three weeks of gigs but there were three more that should have materialised but didn't. Of the fifteen or so gigs that we played, about four were worth doing. For an American band, they'd have been OK, little clubs and such like, but you could do that for a million years and for a British band to go over there, you've only got a set time to spread the word. They were useless, pretty disappointing. Wayne took quite a lot of the responsibility for that. He felt that he'd taken the decision to do it in the first place and we washed our hands of it and decided to come back home. There was a certain amount of weirdness about it, a lack of communication with Island. We had no complaints about Lifeboat: that was easy. Obviously, with an Elton John tour, it's so much easier to get promotion exposure. It's a promotion man's dream, but Dream Kid was the last Island album released through Capitol before they went independent and Capitol didn't push it."
All was not well at home either, and relations with Island began to suffer. "It was a comfortable relationship with Island; it was, you could say, a groovy one. We were happy with them, they with us. It was a different company then, but since they've started with Roxy, Sparks, the Bryan Ferry thing, the whole set-up has changed and we thought it best to be out of that situation. So we asked them and they agreed to let us go."
No sooner had they released their second joint album, than early in '75, Pete Wood up and left. "That's the kind of thing that happens when a band's been to America. Pete's definitely the kind of guy who's got about fifteen hundred ideas of his own, for overdubs for organ or synthesiser, string synthesiser, marimbas, you name it. When things ground to a halt with Island, Pete, for better or worse, decided to get out of the band. Oh, yeah, things were still OK on stage: we always enjoyed ourselves on stage. It was probably because Pete wasn't an original member of Quiver. He'd been an Aardvark and Vigrass & Osborne before Quiver. He'd also done lots of sessions - including more recently the Starry Eyed's albums. Best of luck to him anyway, 'cos anyone who lists Ry Cooder as his fave album, Van Dyke Parks as his favourite musician and Van Morrison as his main singer, then he deserves to go far, on taste alone."
The album Beat of the Street was up to the standard of the previous three, definitely more keyboard-slanted than Dream Kid, but maybe that was to keep Pete happy. Island chose Saviour in the Rain as the single, but there are at least six better choices for a single release, any one of World in Action, Devil Are You Satisfied, Beat of the Street, Laid Back in Anger, Hi Life Music or Annie are all potential singles - that's how good this album is. Iain concludes: "Saviour in the Rain came out. Again, it was Island's choice - actually, it was touch and go whether it came out on Island at all, our relationship had deteriorated that much. Saviour seemed to us the least likely choice of the lot. Their reasons for that were that Lifeboat and You Got Me Anyway were kind of 'poppy' numbers and that they would try something different. We had lots of hassles with the album, even down to the sleeve. They just slapped on that awful photograph: it didn't project anything about us or what we were or where we were at."
So, what happens now? "Obviously, the immediate reaction after the split, after Pete left, was to replace him, but we decided not to. There wasn't anybody around and we decided that we'd had enough of shifting and personnel changes. The nucleus of the band, that is, is Gavin, myself, Willie and Tim. There'll be keyboards on the albums and there may be keyboards on stage sometimes. We like it as a four-piece now, it's back to rock 'n' roll, it's like the original Quiver, except it's us two instead of the other guys. It's the kind of band that we've been after and the kind of band that Willie and Tim have been after and it's like, we've been a couple of years finding it. It's been a gradual process working to where we are now; we're very happy with it. We've been through so many hard times, traumas, etc, that sort of thing binds you together. We've got a lot of common experience behind us which we didn't have before."
Hopefully, that's all their hard times behind them now. They've signed with CBS, which has given them a bit of fresh impetus: they appeared at the CBS Convention in London, spent most of September in the studios doing an album titled Reach for the Sky. Gig-wise, they appeared with Dave Mason at his recent London gig, October and November saw them continuing their round of the nation's colleges and polytechnics, and they've just finished the Lynyrd Skynyrd tour, which can do them nothing but good. Finally, of course, there is Rod Stewart's recent recording of Sailing, which should certainly spread their name around as songwriters. "Rod's always been interested in our songs ... yeah, he was at our first gig as SB&Q and was impressed. He was always going to do some of our numbers, Sailing and The Pie were the two that most impressed him. It's good that he covered Sailing, not that it does much for the band, although it will help us pay back some of what we owe Island."
What about the threat of an Island compilation to cash in? "A compilation album with Sailing and You Got Me Anyway - we don't mind. In fact I hope it sells a million; that'll help a lot too."
So, that's the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver up to date. Look out for the album. As Iain says, they've had a year to write and choose the songs. They're certainly pleased with it. In the band's new format, the songs all sound and feel fresh. Let's close with a quote from Iain in Sounds from April 1974 which I think still holds good today: I feel the band has all the scope in the world but we have to get it all sorted out and learn to use all the good things to the best advantage. You can't do that overnight." I, for one, ell that the band have finally got all their problems ironed out and can look forward to a bright future. let's hope so.
Hugh Fielder (April, 1976; NME):
Sutherquivs Cry All the Way to the Bank
It must be a bit galling to find yourself 4,000 miles away when you finally make the singles charts for the first time. And considering that this time last year the band were having serious doubts about carrying on, the success of Arms Of Mary must be all the more gratifying. Trimmed down to a four≠piece and encouraged by the phenomenal success that Rod Stewart had with their song Sailing, the band switched to CBS and released their Reach For The Sky album towards the end of last year. The album has sold steadily without setting the charts alight but CBS seem pleased enough with their new signing.
SB&Q are touring America at the moment and when I tracked Iain Sutherland down in Philadelphia last week, having unsuccessfully chased him by phone across Texas and Florida, he was naturally happy about the success of Arms Of Mary in Britain, although obviously he was also taking a close interest in the American activity of their album and single.
"We're in the sixth week of our tour here," he explained after we had (literally) exchanged the time of day and wished each other good morning and good afternoon. "We started in the Mid-West and moved across to the West Coast and down to Texas and now we are going up the East Coast and finishing up with a concert at the Beacon Theatre in New York.
"The trouble is, the tour was originally planned to last six weeks, and now the management have added a couple more weeks worth of dates, which is a good sign, but after six weeks all you really want to do is go home. All the gigs have been getting a positive reaction, mind, so we're not complaining really! It's paying off too; the album has sold nearly 40,000 copies and the single is at Number 78 in the charts out here. That may not seem much to you back there but it's quite something out here!"
High spot of the tour so far has been a short season at the Troubadour Club in Los Angeles, a well-known watering hole for the famous and their friends. "Yes, that was really good," Iain enthused. "Half the audience was British so it was almost like home at times: And one night Rod Stewart came down with his girlfriend, what's-her- name? ...
"Britt. That's right, Britt." Whew, you had me worried there for a moment. Did Rod ask you to join his band then? "No. But he asked us to join his team. Football team that is. We were going to play an American team but it was raining and they didn't show up."
Sounds as if the Americans treat football the way we treat cricket. But did Rod talk about his new album or his band at all?
"No. We didn't talk about music."
I hope he thanked you for Sailing though.
"Oh yes, he did that alright. But of course the song doesn't mean as much out here as in Britain because it wasn't such a huge success."
OK, let's move on. How is America taking to the slim-line Sutherland Brothers And Quiver?
"The reaction has been really good. And a lot of the songs from the new album have been going down well, especially When The Train Comes, Dirty City and Love On The Moon. A lot of people seem to know the songs quite well."
On the tour SB&Q have been playing large arenas supporting other acts as well as doing smaller clubs where they can headline their own show. "It's meant that we've had to lead a somewhat chameleon-like existence," explains lain. "One night you're playing in one of these huge arenas where you really have a job to get through, and the next night you're living it up in a small club where everything is so much easier."
For the main part of the group's tour they have been supporting Boz Scaggs, a stable mate of theirs on CBS who is currently getting a big record company push in the States. "He's got this incredible LA session band behind him. I mean, no one in England could afford to get that kind of band behind them for a tour like this. Earlier on in the tour, up in the Mid West, we found ourselves supporting heavy metal bands like Styx and Rush who are filling these 20,000 seaters easily. It's really strange because they are doing their best to sound like an English heavy metal band and English bands generally try to sound American!"
So what are SB&Q's plans when they get back to Blighty? "Well, we really want to set, aside some time to get some songs together for the new album. We've got plenty of ideas but we haven't had the time to sort them out as yet. We've got one London gig lined up for mid-May but I don't think we'll be doing any other British gigs until the Autumn when we'll be going out on tour. But everybody is getting quite excited about starting work on the next album. Of course if things really start happening here then we may have to come back for another tour but I want the time to make a good album."
I started to say goodbye and reminded him that if he didn't get up soon he'd miss lunch. "I know it sounds as if we have been partying every night," he said. "But it's not true. Perhaps we're all getting old but we've been quite sober young gentlemen on this tour."
"We have had our moments though," he added after a short pause.
Bert Muirhead (December 1976; Hot Wacks)
The Continuing Saga of Sutherland Brothers and Quiver
As regular Wackers will know, I am somewhat of an SB&Q maniac. As early as Hot Wacks 3, I was predicting fame and fortune for them and more recently wrote about them for Sounds and ZigZag. I also wrote their current CBS biography, so as you can see, I am somewhat biased towards them. Rest assured though, this article is no bland whitewash job - any praise they get herein is purely on musical effort.
Hot Wacks: I suggest we start at the beginning of your CBS contract, which is where the ZigZag piece ends ... with the release of Ain't Too Proud as your debut single.
Iain Sutherland: It was suggested by CBS, by Dan Loggins' department, that Ain't Too Proud would be good for the first single; I personally didn't think so. I like the song very much, but I thought it was a bit meandering for a single. It's got a nice feel about it, in its way, but I just couldn't see it fitting itself into anybody's schedule ... like the David Hamilton Show or whatever it is, which is where you hear the Top 20 singles. It was a good song. I still like it a lot and we've done it on stage at various times and we'll do it again. I never actually saw it as a hit song. I like the chorus....
HW: The big turning point was obviously Arms of Mary.
IS: That was chosen after Ain't Too Proud, into the New Year - February or March. We Went to the States just after it was released and it had been out for over a month before it even approached the Top 50. That was great. Having the hit. we kept getting phone calls ... we heard in L.A. from our publisher that it had gone in at number 50, so we thought, "Amazing" - you know, number 50. Great, ha ha. The following week it took quite a jump to about 37 then we thought, "Aha, something's happening. There's a few people have actually gone and bought it." After that it went to 31 and then into the Top 20, and there was, as you say, the pressure to come home and do Top of the Pops. We had never even considered that before, so we started thinking, "What we gonna do?" It's very strange, sitting in Georgia doing telephone interviews. [Up to this point, John Tobler had been doing the band's PR on a freelance basis and he speaks with a certain ironic pride that on the day Arms of Mary reached its highest spot on the charts - no. 8 - the band dispensed with his services. C'est la vie.] We eventually did TOTP when we came back and it turned out to be something of an anti-climax, as most of the great things in life tend to be, ambition-wise. You suddenly find yourself up there doing it, in front of Noel Edmonds and a dozen little girls. That's all there is to it. And I thought, wow, is this how the Beatles and all my heroes of the sixties felt? TV's strange. All we'd done previously was one Whistle Test, then all of a sudden we'd literally lost count of how often we'd been on TV. Which is crazy.
Crazy or not, it was the band's biggest boost, along with Rod Stewart's hit version of Sailing. The album Reach for the Sky sold in droves - at last they seemed established. But what about the big one: US of A?
IS: It was better than the second (disastrous) tour. I mean, it was a little bit like starting all over again. In a few places, Arms of Mary was a regional hit, quite big in South Dakota, stuff like that. The States is so funny that way. You can be number 1 in some place and they've never heard of you 2000 miles away. The tour did us a lot of good.. The the best gigs were the three or four nights that we did with the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, which was a pretty compatible sort of billing. We got really friendly with them and got to know them well. We liked them. I'd heard Jackie Blue, but didn't know too much about them. We did a few with Boz Scaggs, which again were good ... he's got a kind of slick, session-man, soul band. I'd never knock him. They were great. The first time I saw them was at the Roxy ... we thought it was just gonna be a regular gig, but it's a big prestige place, the Roxy. Like tablecloths and vases of flowers on every table, soft lights, the whole deal. Columbia had done a great promotional thing. But that one night, that one gig, I thought he was really cabaret you know. I thought, gee, they sound like great songs, but super-slick. Like he had a black cat suit on. It was obviously an LA-hype situation, as opposed to the reality of what the band's all about. A few weeks later we did a couple of gigs with them and I was very pleasantly surprised. He was great! They were the best, although we did a couple with Styx and Rush - heavy metal rubbish ... total mis-billing. At the same time, though, although you realise it's not the gig that you should be playing, you've got your ticket over there. So you do it. Like, Tim turns the old volume up a bit and so on. We did Detroit with Rush and Ted Nugent - the ultimate heavy metal gig. We thought, this is going to be stupid, but it turned out great. the kids were great - we had thought they were just waiting for Nugent and Rush and they wouldn't care about us. But they listened. We approached them with the vibe that we really meant what we were doing. No messing about. Tim did a couple of heavy metal take-offs and before you knew it, all the heads were shakin' down the front. It ended up a great gig. We surprised ourselves really. Oh, yeah, we left our mark a bit on 10,000 kids. [One day, mate, when they mellow out, it'll be SB&Q they turn to...]
[Back in Britain, not only did they still have Arms of Mary hovering about the chart, but Reach for the Sky was doing well and, at last, Island had released a compilation to cash in on the band's new-found fame. As a compilation, it's a wash-out (and nothing like the one I had in mind), despite the appearance on album for the first time in Britain of Sailing and You Got Me Anyway. Do try and get hold of the American version of Lifeboat (Island SW-9326) which is a good compilation of the first two Sutherland Brothers albums and includes Sailing, You Got Me Anyway, plus three otherwise unavailable SB&Q cuts, Have You had a Vision (as good as anything they've done), Change the Wind and Rock 'n' Roll Show. Let Iain describe his feelings for the Island Compilation:]
IS: Sailing had a bad choice of tracks. I wish we'd been consulted over it. Muff's a mate of ours and he probably chose 'em. It's probably down to a difference of opinion. There are two or three that would never have been on it, had we compiled it. It occurred to me that they could just about do another album - Lady Like You wasn't on it, Champion the Underdog and half-a-dozen others readily spring to mind that could have been considered but weren't. And there's three or four unusual choices like Medium Wave. Fair enough why Medium Wave, it's a pleasant enough song, but only that, it must've been one of Muff's personal faves. Record company politics are very strange. Weirdsville!
HW: Tell us about Nick Brockway, your new keyboard player. I thought you weren't going to augment the band after Peter Wood left?
IS: Nick...? No, he's not a personal mate and no, we didn't deliberately advertise for a keyboard player [despite the hints in the music press]. We just thought, our first serious tour of Britain coming up, a few of our numbers would benefit from a fill-out from organ, keyboard, synthesisers and the people that we thought of, Pete Wingfield and Rabbit Bundrick, both people we know and have worked with ... but they were committed elsewhere. Pete's with the Hollies currently and Rabbit's with Back Street Crawler, so that was a bit of a drag. Nevertheless, Dave Gilmour, who's an old mate from his previous association with Willie and he's been close friends of the band's this last few years [he plays pedal steel on Ain't Too Proud and he produced We Get Along, the non-album B-side of Arms of Mary], and he suggested Nick Brockway, who's playing with mark Gilmour's [Dave's younger brother] band; they've been rehearsing on and off for a long time, without doing too much as a band, and he said ok. I think I know the guy - and nick comes along, rehearsed for a couple of weeks and it went exceptionally well ... and here he is. It's open ended, his permanence, he hasn't been a member of the band in any kind f official way. It's unlikely that anybody ever would - we've sorta come to a decision that the four of us are the group. The reason why the band exists in the first place [an oft-repeated sentiment, see ZigZag 57]. Anybody who joins in the future, be it horn section, keyboards, percussion ... is an extra. we're not the sort of band who treat people like hired hands or that ... from a human point of view, we like to get them involved in the feel of the band. But what it comes down to is the four of us. We really believe that only the four of us know what the band means and we've, like, paid our dues with regard to what SB&Q is all about. I don't think anyone could come in now, we're too close.
HW: Let's talk about Slipstream.
IS: We did the basic tracks in London and finished them off in the States ... overseeing the whole thing. As Reach for the Sky has been reasonably successful, CBS gave us a bigger budget for Slipstream. We got a lot of help from Albhy Galuten ... he was just fresh from producing the Bee Gees latest album and, as you know, he's worked with Eric Clapton, Steve Stills, Chris Hillman ... he's a good guy. He knows Ron and Howie [Albert] through the Criterion Studio connection. He just came along, did a bit of piano, synthesiser, organ - he actually did a lot more than actually finished up on the record. He played piano and synthesiser on every track, which was far more than we wanted. He was just raring to go...
HW: Tell me about the band's continuing association with Ron and Howie Albert as producer.
IS: There's no guarantee that they'll do the next one. It wasn't really automatic that they'd do Slipstream after Reach for the Sky. We finished the album, they took it away, mixed it, produced it, brought it back and we said, "Fair enough." But nobody said, "You've got to work with Ron and Howie on the next album." It eventually finished up that way. They're professional enough; as engineers, they're very talented. I think we benefited in a lot of ways, in that we'd already worked together. It meant that there was no "getting to know each other" routine when we did Slipstream. On the other hand, I'm never personally sold on any producer. I always felt that somewhere down the line, with my own songs, I've got a fair idea of how they should turn out. At the moment, the situation in the band, we're very democratic about it. I've suggested we should produce ourselves, but I've been outvoted. I think we could. I feel - my own songs certainly - that I could produce them to the way they should turn out. I like strings and horns personally. They don't necessarily make things schmaltzy. The whole thing about strings and horns if you use them is that they should play, like keyboard lines, not heavy lead lines. Not melodies, swamping in all over the place, just playing keyboard chords and adding a bit of depth. Oh, I like them. In the past, definitely, a few things would have benefited from the use of strings. I can imagine if we'd used some strings on The Pie, laid back a bit, it might have made the difference between a hit single and just being appreciated as a good song.
HW: Personally, I found Slipstream a bit hard to take at first; Secrets sounded like a Rollers track, Dark Powers was a bit disco-ish and Something's Burning was like the current mandatory white stab at reggae. However, having listened to it a lot and, more importantly, having seen live versions of all the songs here beat all the recorded versions hands down, it becomes obvious that the band must eventually do a live album to really do themselves justice.
IS: A good reason for doing a live album, yeah, I'm sure we'll do one eventually, and when we do it, it'll probably be the best thing we've done on record. We have talked about recording a couple of dates on this tour, like Hemel Hempstead, Croydon ... the ones that are practical for mobile studios. [The band had been loaned Gallagher & Lyle's PA for the tour and the sound was excellent, despite a near-disaster at Glasgow, when it threatened to pack up after some rumoured mishandling.] I've always thought that ... most of the stuff I like best is live, like Bob Dylan's Before the Flood album, a lot of numbers came over really well. We've never attempted it, never done a live recording of a gig. That's the whole thing about catching a little bit of magic in the studio. I don't think we've ever worked yet with a producer who's really appreciated what we're capable of doing and what we should be doing. If we ever do get one together, I'd rather listen to a recording of us live than any of the albums we've ever done.
HW: Which brings us just about up to date; after the British tour, they are off to Europe - Arms of Mary was pretty big in most European countries. "It's a foot in the door. We're looking to build on it," as Iain says. In January they go back to the States for anything from two to six months, depending on how they do. So we probably won't see them live in Britain until next summer, in which case I suggest that you all check out their discography in the meantime.
Martin Aston (July 1994, Q magazine #94)
Where Are They Now?
Iain Sutherland (vocals, guitar): The brothers reverted to their own name for 1979's When the Night Comes Down album, recorded with session musicians, although Down to Earth "felt like we'd reached a musical conclusion." Released two solo albums, 1983's Mixed Emotions and 1985's Fandango (on Avatar) but has had more success with getting songs covered, most obviously Sailing (Rod Stewart) but also I Was in Chains (by Paul Young) and Easy Come Easy Go (Merle Haggard). Bonnie Tyler, the Everly Brothers and John Travolta have also helped stock the coffers. "I just write and record for my own purposes and if anyone is interested, all well and good. The sort of stuff I write is difficult to categorise - maybe it's folk, but it harks back to our Scottish roots." Has a batch of songs ready to record, but misses "the unique adrenaline rush after a gig, I get a lot of satisfaction from writing a good song and getting it down on tape." Sailing "has been an unusually successful song. It was intended to be sailing in a spiritual sense, not to do with boats, but connotations cropped up, like the Sailor TV series, so it caught on. That said, the song probably relates to our roots again. There is a lot of sea in our blood. Several of our relatives are still fishermen."
Gavin Sutherland (vocals, bass): "I'm not really sure why we split. - it just unwound somehow." Recorded a folk-rocking solo album for a Dutch label in 1982, "but I was getting involved in computers and electronics." Having got a 16-track studio in action, shifted into production, everything from Clive Gregson to Discharge. Kept writing but admits that "the music business took a back seat." Wrote a book, The Whaling Years: "Having got interested in local maritime history, I found out that some of my ancestors in Peterhead, Scotland, were involved in whaling. I write articles for magazines and am considered a bit of an expert on the subject." Despite royalties from Sailing and the like, "at times our backs have been to the wall, when I've taken horribly mundane jobs like working the nightshift at a bakery and in a chicken factory, which was like being in hell. But everybody has to do things they don't like - it keeps your feet on the ground." While writing/editing local history books, has kept his musical hand in, with a West Coast tour with a fiddle player and a C&W project. "Simply, I do things I'm interested in and don't do things I'm not."
Tim Renwick (guitar): Left the band in 1977 for a solo career, originally under the guise of Lazy racer, but without success. Subsequently became a top session player, first with Elton John, then the Bee Gees, Dionne Warwick, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd and Tom Jones. Was the house guitarist of The Jonathon Ross Show [on C4] and Viva Cabaret. The day before Q called, had jetted off to do Pink Floyd's seven month American tour.
Willie Wilson (drums): After Down to Earth, found that living in London while the brothers were in Stoke-on-Trent "meant that we never saw each other. Given that I was the only one of Quiver left, there didn't seem much point carrying on using the name." Played on Dave Gilmour's solo album ("an old school friend of mine") and as part of the surrogate Pink Floyd band which opened the show on The Wall tour in 1979/80. Subsequently played with a host of troupers - Joe Brown, Lonnie Donnegan and Hank Wangford among them - with odd jingle and TV session work. Formed blues band The Dolphins with a shifting line-up including Renwick, Clem Clempson (Humble Pie) and Snowy White (Thin Lizzy), playing three times a week. Ran a pub in Holland Park for a year: "I was offered it when session work went completely out of the window around the time of electronic drums. It was disgusting, the worst thing I've ever done. You couldn't escape it." Recently started selling car stereos in North London, but music is still his main earner: "I'm hoping to get a deal for a Dolphins album, and if people ask me to do things, I do. But I don't miss being on the road, living out of a suitcase."
Bruce Thomas (bass): Left in 1975, just before the Beat of the Street recordings (Gavin Sutherland assumed the bass slot). Later joined Elvis Costello & The Attractions where he has continued to make his mark. Wrote The Big Wheel, a roman a clef based on his experiences in that band. Having completed some dates with Costello after the release of the Brutal Youth album, is currently holed up with friends in America and uncontactable
Peter Wood (keyboards): Performed alongside Wilson on Pink Floyd's The Wall tour of 1979/80 and carried on playing various sessions. Sadly, Wood died in December 1983. "I think it was a mixture of drink and drugs," says Wilson. "I heard it was suicide but we don't agree. Tim and I went to the funeral in New York, but no-one had any more information because he was on his own at the time. You tend not to ask the New York cops too much."