[sic] Magazine

Interview – The Boo Radleys, Martin Carr.

Following its addition to [sic] Mag’s Hall Of Fame, ‘classics revisited’, The Boo Radleys’ songwriter and driving force, Martin Carr, took time out to reflect on his legendary album, Giant Steps.

Spaceman: The name Boo Radley comes from Lee Harper. How important is literature to your work? Have you been enjoying the To Kill a Mockingbird 50th anniversary and deep south season on the Box?

Martin Carr : I haven’t seen any of it actually. But Sice has been reading his little boy ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ which he says is quite tricky because he’d forgotten how raw the book is.
I love to read and books are certainly an influence on some of the things I write. It was my brother who thought of the name. I never liked it.

Spaceman: When you were working on Giant Steps did you have a kind of Jackson Pollock moment when you realized you were blowing it all wide open with Giant Steps?

The Boo Radleys

Carr : I don’t think so, it happened very slowly. The album came out late August but didn’t really get any attention until the end of the year. I knew it didn’t sound like anything else out at the time.

Spaceman: Is Giant Steps the Boos best album according to you? Do you still rate it?

Carr : I don’t listen to any of them so I don’t know.

Spaceman: When did you settle on the name Giant Steps? Was it your way of acknowledging your own progress?

Carr : I think it was after we’d finished the album. It’s so long ago now that I can’t remember when exactly it was. It was an acknowledgement, I owned the Coltrane album and I have never liked using titles already used but I couldn’t think of anything that suited the album more.

Spaceman: Was it intimidating afterwards, knowing that you had to follow Giant Steps up somehow?

Boo who?

Carr : No, after that I thought we could do anything we wanted to. That was much more pressure on us after ‘Wake Up Boo’. After Giant Steps we were allowed to carry on as before, with little or no interference from the record company.

Spaceman: You wrote, Sice sang but did he always get what you were trying to do? I heard a story that when Brian Wilson wrote Good Vibrations and went to teach the others the vocal arrangements – that Mike Love thought he’d gone crazy. Did Sice ever feel that way with you? Or did he get it straight away?

Carr : There were a couple of occasions when he wasn’t happy, I can’t remember which songs specifically but I think it was because he didn’t think they were good enough. He had a hard job and I didn’t always make it any easier, it’s the one aspect of my life where I exercise full control.

Spaceman: Barney crops up a few times in the Boo Radleys world….fictional or real person?

Carr : For ‘Barney and Me’ we had this intro which sounded like something on the first Electronic album so we called it Barney after Bernard Sumner (even though it was probably Johnny Marr that played it). We loved New Order and Sumner in particular. The name represents Sice though, as it does on ‘From the Bench at Belvedere’.

Spaceman: In a funny sort of way, the sixties (Beatles and Beach Boy) references don’t really do justice to Giant Steps. That’s a hell of a compliment isn’t it?

Boo Forever

Carr : I’d say that album was a development of our Dinosaur Jr/MBV influence plus our then current obsession with The Beach Boys and The Flaming Lips.

Spaceman: The Boos were never followers and yet you were pulled into shoegazing and pushed into Britpop by writers who should have known better. Was that an annoyance?

Carr : Sometimes, sometimes it worked in our favour but it wasn’t something we felt a part of. I did think we lost some of our individuality after Wake Up which was my fault. Trying to fit in where I wasn’t wanted and didn’t really want to be.

Spaceman: I have the impression of a band ignoring the outside world and just ploughing on with what you wanted to do. Did this estrange you from the media?

Carr : No, I think we were always popular with the media, particularly the press. I was always friendly and accessible even if the music was deemed otherwise.

Spaceman: You were pegged as making ‘difficult’ music which seems grossly unfair to me, this coming after you were slighted for having breezy hits. Did it feel like you couldn’t win whatever you tried to do?

Wake Up

Carr : Yes. There was nothing difficult about anything we did, anybody who thinks so needs to listen to more music.

Spaceman: To me Kingsize was a wonderful record and yet you split soon after. Why?

Carr : I didn’t enjoy making that record at all. It cost a fortune because my heart wasn’t in it and we were directionless. I should have taken control of the situation but my heart wasn’t in it.
I didn’t like the music we were making, I didn’t like indie guitar music any more. I was bored out of my mind.

[sic] wishes to thank Martin Carr. Cherry Red is currently re-issuing the Boo Radleys albums, including Giant Steps and Wake Up! Martin Carr worked as Brave Captain from 2000 to 2006. He now performs eponymously and you can follow his movements via the website link below.

Martin Carr

Brave Captain

The Boo Radleys

Giant Steps re-issue

Wake Up! re-issue