In the past few weeks, Garyswordz has had the opportunity to speak to Simon Quinn, Director of the forthcoming production of Quadrophenia playing at Tamworth Assembly Rooms on Friday 24th and Sat 25th May, and Staffordshire Poet Laureate Mal Dewhirst, about his involvement with the production. This week I post an interview with bass guitarist Matt Starr about the task that his band The Pinch are undertaking in performing the music.
Q What is The Pinch?
The Pinch is a 5 piece Mod/Indie tribute band that are based around the Tamworth Staffs area, covering classics from artists such as The Who, The Small Faces, The Jam, Oasis and Blur to name but a few. The first incarnation of the band dates back as far as 1986 but in more recent years we have built on our popularity from the local venues that we have performed at.
Q. Who are The Pinch?
The Pinch consists of 5 members. Jon Starr is the lead vocalist with a microphone in one hand and a tambourine in the other, Daz Meads plays lead guitar and joins in on backing vocals, on bass guitar is Matt Starr also adding to the backing vocals, with occasionally taking over as lead vocalist. Tom Brookes puts his fingers to the keys to add to the already powerful sound and with Tim Butcher on drums; he keeps the whole thing ticking along. Tom and Tim also join in with the backing vocals.
Q. How did you come to be involved with Quadrophenia?
With playing many local venues over the years, we have made quite a name for ourselves, and with a little help from word of mouth our reputation as a good solid band has spread. Laura Hastilow, Arts and Development Officer for Tamworth Borough Council first approached the band with us being known to her. The kind of material that’s part of our set, including numbers by The Who made us likely candidates for the production.
Q. How well do you think Quadrophenia has travelled over the last forty years?
40 years of Quadrophenia and it sounds as fresh today as it did when it was first released. It’s an album that has certainly stood the test of time. Although the years have passed, Quadrophenia hasn’t aged and it won’t for many more. The topic of the album can still be relevant today for some, as each new generation will discover.
Q. How daunting has it been to perform one of the definitive Rock Operas in full? Have you ever performed it in full before?
When we were first approached to perform Quadrophenia, we were all excited by the challenge of it all. When the realization set in of us having to learn the whole album in preparation of having to perform the Opera, that’s when it became daunting. Growing up with the album and listening to it on your record player (I’m old-fashioned) is different to having to pick it to pieces just to learn the parts. Most of the tracks are 4 to 6 minutes long and so it’s just being able to remember the structure of them all and of course all of the lyrics. There’s certainly a lot to it! The vocal range proves to be very challenging. We don’t envy Jon for that for trying to emulate Roger Daltrey’s voice! This will be the first time that we’ve played the opera in full but we do intend to include some of the songs into our normal repertoire when the production is over.
Q. Does the score offer any particular challenges when performed live?
We will have to play some of the numbers to a click track because of the shear amount of overdubbing that’s involved. Like I said, there’s a lot to it, not only lyrically but musically. To reproduce something on stage as massive as Quadrophenia is a task in its self that would take more than 5 individuals to come up with. We’ve had no other choice but to put it in the hands of Tom to lay down certain tracks for the orchestral parts. Having to try to follow the genius bass lines of John Entwhistle and the brilliance of Keith Moon’s drumming is very challenging that any musician would be happy to achieve. I’m not sure if even Entwhistle and Moon would have played the same thing twice either. Pete Townshend has commented in the past of how The Who found it difficult to play to a track in their early years of performing Quadrophenia. That’s a challenge that we are striving to overcome also!
Q. Where does Quadrophenia sit for you in the pantheon of the Who’s recorded work?
With being a massive fan of The Who it’s hard to say when you think of all of their other material. From their first album ‘My Generation’ with that raw, raspy sound through to ‘Who’s Next’ arguably their greatest album and even later on in their recording career with ‘Face Dances’. All I can say is that it’s up there with the best, personally speaking.
Q. Do you have a Mod following at your gigs?
We seem to appeal to a lot of people whether they are Mods or not. I think most of them are just attracted to what we do and the Mods that do turn up to our gigs know what we’re all about. We get asked to play at their scooter do’s of which all go down very well.
Q. What other bands have influenced The Pinch?
Apart from The Who, it goes without saying that our other influences are The Beatles (of course), The Small Faces, The Kinks, The Jam and the Indie movement etc. etc. But that’s as a band ‘The Pinch’. Musically, we are influenced from people like George Formby (no kidding), to Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, right through Nick Drake to Led Zeppelin and up to Amy Winehouse if you like. We all just love music that our influences are never ending!
Q. What aspects of Quadropehenia are you particularly drawn to?
Pete Townshend is one of the greatest songsmiths and his catalogue of material draws you to other works by this genius writer. Therefore it goes without saying that the music is the biggest aspect that we are drawn to. The whole Mods and Rockers topic also captures you with the history behind these 2 rivals, with the news articles of clashes between them in Brighton. The film that preceded the album a few years later also became a great favourite of ours, with watching it many times while growing up. The film its self is a classic! Not only that, it’s the Mod scene, the scooters and the clothes that draw you in. It’s certainly a great fashion that makes constant returns to our high streets. The subject matter of Quadrophenia is very interesting as well when you look in to it.
Q What role do tribute bands have in keeping popular music of the past alive?
Tribute bands have a massive role in keeping music from the past alive. Although I don’t think it would ever die anyway. Music from yesteryear is always new to someone. We all have to listen to it for the first time at some point in our lives. I suppose we act as a role for young audiences to discover this great music, if parents haven’t already educated them into it! Even in modern music of today you can hear traces of music from the past. That says a lot!
Music is our life and we love to play great songs whether they are 50 years old or written last week. We hope to carry on performing for as long as we see fit and hopefully bring enjoyment into peoples lives as much as it brings happiness into ours. Long Live Rock!
For the interview with Mal Dewhirst
For the interview with Simon Quinn
For more information on The Pinch
For ticket information: