Memories of a formative tartan tour are tickling baggy legends The Farm ahead of their Rewind Scotland debut.
The Scouse outfit, who scored Top 10 hits with Groovy Train and All Together Now in 1990 and later topped the charts with their debut LP Spartacus, are playing Scone Palace on July 22.
The chance to make a Courier Country return after decades away is one that frontman Peter Hooton says they jumped at.
Memories of visiting Dundee
“We always have a great time in Scotland,” he declares ahead of Rewind Scotland.
“Our guitarist Keith’s brother lives near Edinburgh and we went up last September for a wedding.
“But I haven’t been to Dundee for a while.
“We played at Fat Sams and had a great time when we did a Tennents Lager-sponsored tour in the late 80s.
“We went to Aviemore as well, and the Isle of Skye, which we got banned from before the bridge was built.
“The ferry-master was like, ‘You won’t get off the island tomorrow’, and it all went a bit Wickerman.
“Everywhere we went we’d play a gig then have a bit of a mini-rave afterwards, causing chaos in Aviemore and places like that – it was brilliant.”
Influenced by Big Audio Dynamite
Hooton, 60, admits the six-piece are now as likely to settle for “a quiet pint of real ale” – a far cry from their glory days blitzing the USA with ex-Clash star Mick Jones.
“People always think we were part of that Madchester thing,” adds Peter.
“But it was really Big Audio Dynamite who influenced us, mixing beats and guitars.
“We saw them in the ’80s and thought, ‘That’s the future of music’.
“They never get the credit.
“But Mick and Don Letts were pushing back the boundaries doing samples from spaghetti westerns – it was so ahead of its time.
“Touring with BAD it always felt a bit like, how long can this last?
“Maybe that’s a working-class thing.
“At one stage we were in New York doing seven nights with them.
“They were massive in America.
Taking a call from Joe Strummer
“We got a phone call at four in the morning from Joe Strummer, who said, ‘I’ve got Mick here’.
“I thought it was a wind-up and put the phone down about three or four times.
“In the end I went up to the room and Suggs, who was with us, was there with Joe, Mick and James Brown from the NME.
“Joe said, ‘When The Clash reform, The Farm are coming on tour with us’, and that was when you just had to pinch yourself.
“Strummer, along with Weller, was my hero and for him to say that, well that’s all the praise you need.”
Impact of guitarist’s cancer battle
It was Farm guitarist Steve Grimes’ cancer battle in the mid-2000s that sparked a return.
Hooton’s all-star Justice Collective scored a Christmas No1 in 2012 with a charity cover of The Hollies’ He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.
The singer played Rewind in 2016 as a guest of Heaven 17-led British Electric Foundation, performing All Together Now and Clash cover Bankrobber.
He was slightly surprised that the recent Ukraine-themed Eurovision Song Contest didn’t adopt his best-known lyric, given its anti-war stance.
“It’s the one bona fide peace song that’s been written by a Liverpool group since Give Peace A Chance by John and Yoko.
“But it wasn’t featured at all.
“I’ve no idea why that was.
“Liverpool gets so much negative press, especially on Twitter.
“But Eurovision shone the spotlight on it as a tourist destination and that can’t be a bad thing.”
‘Beginning of the end’ for The Farm in 1992
Signing to Sony in 1992 spelled the beginning of the end.
The Farm split three years later after a final hit with Don’t You Want Me.
That’s a cover of the synthpop classic made famous by The Human League – who they’ll join at Let’s Rock Scotland on June 24.
“At the time we thought we were getting too much criticism of the way we looked – this was pre-Oasis so people didn’t have cagoules on stage,” says Peter.
“We were still getting a bit of stick about looking like electricians or plumbers.
“So we thought we’d go for something that was a bit camp.
“So in the video I’m dressed as John Travolta and George Best’s refusing a drink.
“Everything was supposed to be the opposite of reality.
“But no one got it.
“It was too subtle.
“We could easily have done a track by The Specials or The Jam or whatever.
“But we thought we’d do something that’d shock people.
“It was one of those decisions we made where maybe we were too clever for our own good.”
Other gigs this week?
It’s Canadian alt-folksters Pillow Fite and Braden Lam at Dunfermline’s PJ Molloys tonight (May 19), with lo-fi Spare Snare playing Beat Generator and Zappa tribute Pygmy Twylyte at Church – both tomorrow (May 20).
- Rewind Scotland will take place at Scone Palace in July.