CULTURE CLUB’S MIKEY CHATS RACECOURSE SHOWS, NEW MUSIC & SOCIAL MEDIA 143

After dominating the music scene in the 1980’s on both sides of the Atlantic thanks to hits including “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” and “Karma Chameleon”, Culture Club have remained a semi-staple of the industry ever since. With a new album due out next year and as the band prepare for four racecourse shows later this month – 3 in the UK, 1 in Ireland – bassist Mikey Craig called up ThisIsTheLatest to talk career longevity, social media and future plans.

TITL: Hi Mikey, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. I hope you’re well?

Mikey Craig: I am, thank you. I’m in the back of a taxi at the moment so if the call cuts out, or the sound goes a bit strange, that’s why.

TITL: You’ve been a part of the industry for more than 30 years now and have outlasted several of your artistic counterparts from that time. What would you has been the secret to your longevity?

M: To be fair, we’ve been apart for most of that time, so coming back like we have has really helped make things still feel really fresh if you know what I mean? I think the big thing for us has always been our songs. Whenever we get back together, even after being apart for such long periods like we have, the songs still sound very fresh and still feel good. I think the reason for that, particularly with tracks like “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” – they’re not typical, 80’s sounding, big synth sounding songs. They’re kind of unique songs – simply done and they have a uniqueness about them.

“Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” for example, back in the 80’s there were 24 track studios, and we only used 12 tracks. We put the song down really simply, really heartfelt – and that kind of carried on with us. We kept things kind of simple and now when we go back to those songs, they don’t feel dated.

TITL: Are you at all surprised by your on-going success and popularity?

M: We were so popular back in the 80’s. The thing was also, America made up so much of the music world back then and we conquered it completely. We went over there and obliterated the place. We were in the R’n’B charts, we were in the country charts – the segregated everything and had charts for everything back then – but we kind of broke down the barriers. We took the place by storm. I think that has a lot to do with why, now, we’re able to go out on the road and still find good, big sized audiences still enjoying the music. We were such a phenomenon.

Love it or hate it, America is one of the best places in terms of touring and performing – for me it’s the best place to be playing in. We were there last year for quite some time – we were out on the road on and off for six months whereas in the 80’s, I think that the longest run we did was about three weeks. At one point last year we were out for three months and it was great. We took our time, we went all around and did things that we wouldn’t ordinarily do like visited art galleries in every city, went for walks and visited places of interest. We did all those grown up kind of things that you don’t necessarily do when you’re younger.

TITL: Looking at the music industry now, given that you were such a phenomenon back in the 80’s, whose popularity would you say you were on par with?

M: Take That, or…what’s that boy-band called?

TITL: One Direction?

M: Yes, One Direction. It’s funny actually, we saw them one day when we were in New York last year and had a day off from touring. We were walking by Central Park, about 10-11 o’clock having just come out of a restaurant, and there were all these girls at the entrance to the park. So we asked what was happening and they said there was a One Direction video being shot in the park and that they were going to go in and be a part of it. It kinda reminded us of when we were doing our thing back in the 80’s; how kids would be up all night waiting for us outside the studio, outside concert venues and whatever. We asked whether the boys were going to be playing live and they said that it would depend as they sometimes forgot the words and had to be reminded of them (laughs).

I can imagine the situation One Direction are in; being here, there and everywhere so much so that sometimes you don’t know where you are. I guess we were certainly on a par with them. I mean, the media is so much bigger now that had we had as much as there is now back when we were around, then we would probably have made hundreds of millions of pounds, but I’m quite happy as I am.

TITL: To what extent do you think the media has impacted, both negatively and positively, the music industry, particularly given, as you’ve mentioned, there wasn’t as much of it around back in the 80’s and there was no social media or this 24/7 craving for news, interaction etc.?

M: Media, particularly online, is a double-edged sword. There are a lot of artists from our generation, who started out in the 80’s as we did, who miss out on royalties for songs because people share files and download things illegally. At the same time, older artists are now being looked at and heard about by younger generations. I don’t particularly like social media and I don’t have an Instagram or Twitter account – I keep well away from it whereas George has got all of the above and millions of fans and followers – but I can imagine that it must have its benefits. I tend to be a bit more private, but I can see where it can benefit people and cause problems as well.

TITL: You’re playing Epsom Downs, Haydock and Newmarket racecourses here in the UK later this month. How did those shows come about and have you ever played at a racecourse before?

M: We have never set foot on a racecourse before – actually, no – I’ve been to one once, though not to perform. It’s going to be a whole new thing for us. I guess agents and concert promoters are looking at new ways of putting on shows – in countries like Australia, people play at wineries – so I guess here the equivalent is racecourses. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes. We’ll probably spend the day looking at some of the races and then in the evening, if everybody’s not too burnt out, we’ll get up on stage and give them a good time.

TITL: I saw Olly Murs at York Racecourse a few weeks back and that was an experience. A good one, mind!

M: I heard that he played to something like 30,000? Is that true?

TITL: A sold-out capacity crowd of 38,500…

M: Wowee!

TITL: For those who have never seen you live before, what can they expect from a Culture Club show?

M: Well they can expect, as George puts it, something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Of course there’ll be ardent Culture Club fans who’ll want to hear the hits so of course we’ll play them, but we’ve had a new album sitting around for quite some time  – I don’t think time permits me to go into why it’s been sitting around for this amount of time – so I think a couple of tracks from that will be played as well. Then there’ll probably be a couple of tracks we’ve borrowed from other people. I think people’ll enjoy it – you’ll enjoy it if you come. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. It’s very big band, by the way – it’s almost like an orchestra on stage; we’ve got loads of extras though I think they may be cut down for these shows. I think you’ll like it.

TITL: I’m currently working on how to get down there and back…

M: Work on it, work on it! (laughs)

TITL: Which of your songs do you most like playing live?

M: It’s great to play tracks like “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” and “Karma Chameleon” because you know, you could actually just stop playing, hold the mic out to the audience and they’ll sing it for you. It’s wonderful doing that – it gives you a really good feeling. But I also like tracks like “Miss Me Blind” which is more of an up-tempo, R’n’B’ish kind of song that I was very involved with. Jermaine Stewart – if you remember “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off” – I collared him and got him on backing vocals. I enjoy playing “Miss Me Blind” – it’s one of my favourites. I also like “Church Of The Poison Mind” – we tend to open the set with that. It’s a great set to be honest with you and I think everyone you come into contact with, talk about it with and who go with you, if you can find your way there!

TITL: I know you’re heading to Australia towards the end of the year but do you have any other tour shows or performances coming up?

M: As I said, last year we were out on the road for, in total, for around six months on and off. We went everywhere. We went twice to Australia, then to Malaysia, Japan, Canada, the United States…we stopped off in Hawaii for a little while – we did a show in Switzerland – we did a hell of a lot of stuff last year. We’ve kinda slowed things down a little bit this year. We’re doing four racecourses this month and then towards the end of the year, we’re going to do some more shows again in Australia because George has been out there doing The Voice so apparently that’s led us back out there and there’s a demand for some shows.

But before we get out there, we’re going to do North America – Atlantic City and a few other places. We’re going to go to South America – somewhere we’ve never been – and do three or four shows there; one in Brazil, one in Argentina, one in Chile and maybe one other. I’m sure they know of us around there, but those shows will kind of introduce us properly, get them warmed up for us possibly coming back next year. On the way back from Australia we’ll probably stop here and there – Singapore; we haven’t been there for quite some time, and Hong Kong – and then that’ll be it. That’ll be a wrap for the year and we can start working on next year when the album will come out and another three month or so tour will be planned around that I imagine.

TITL: A busy few months then!

M: Well it’s been a quiet year for us compared to last year, but yeah – busy, busy, busy!

TITL: Just one last question then. In an industry that’s constantly changing and already chock full of bands and artists, what advice would you give to those trying to forge their own path and career within it?

M: Study law (laughs). My son has a band – he teaches, but he’s got a band as well and they’ve been trying to launch. It’s pretty tough situation now. A lot of people say to me ‘Why don’t you help him?’ but I’m not going to open doors for him – he’s got to be able to do it for himself. It’s tough for a new band now out there. I’d say be true to what you’re doing, to yourself or yourselves, and if it doesn’t happen immediately, just keep working at it – keep going. Be true to what you believe in – it’s as simple as that really. That’s what we did. It depends on the thinking of the person or of the band I guess. If you don’t mind being poor for ages and ages, then you can play music – you can play indulgent music, but if you want to make some money then you gotta have something that’s going to bring in a wide audience.

TITL: Thanks so much for talking with me today. I am seriously going to try and make your show at Haydock…

M: You must, you must – come and say hi!

TITL: That would be awesome, but if I don’t make it, I hope you have a great time your racecourse shows and again, thanks for talking with me.

M: My pleasure Rebecca, thank you.

For more information on Culture Club or to purchase tickets for the upcoming racecourse shows, visit their website.

Previous ArticleNext Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

REVIEW: KID KAPICHI – ‘LUCOZADE DREAMS’ EP 27

Kid Kapichi are currently one of the most talked about up and coming bands in Britain, and, on the back of their previous EP, are so with good reason. However, some bands can and do often struggle when it comes to a second release. There’s more pressure and expectation, and sometimes it’s more than artists can handle well. So, how have KK fared with their sophomore EP, Lucozade Dreams?

The intro piece, at just over 46 seconds long could easily have been left off the EP, but given that it’s brashier and bolder than many opening instrumentals featured on albums and the like in recent months, it doesn’t fare too badly. It is however a good thing that “Cinderella” quickly follows on from it and ultimately sets the tone for the EP overall. With it’s big, catchy verses, and a chorus that’s even bigger, combined with a toe-tapping bass undertone, it’s an exciting little number, sure to impress and win over music fans who give it a listen.

The momentum and energy continues through “Puppet Strings” and although the instrumentation is good, ultimately it’s the impressive lyrics that make the track stand out. Meanwhile, anyone looking for a superb riff and a thumping, invigorating beat need look no further than “Jack Jones” and the slick production on “Machine Men” means the EP ends on a rewarding high for both band and listener.

While the group from Hastings might still be considerably unknown to some, they’ve been talked about for some time now, and the amount of said talk is only likely to grow on the back of Lucozade Dreams – a collection that’s fun, fizzing with energy and highlights just how much Kid Kapichi love what they do, and in time, more music fans might just find themselves loving them too.

Lucozade Dreams is available now.

DANIELLE PINNOCK CHATS ‘YOUNG SHELDON’ & THE BODY POSITIVITY MOVEMENT 57

With The Big Bang Theory having proven to be a global hit since its very first episode, it should come as no surprise to learn that its spin-off, a look at the childhood and early years of Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper, aptly titled Young Sheldon, has also become a phenomenon. With the show about to air its debut season finale, and with season 2 already greenlit, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Danielle Pinnock, who plays Ms. Ingram in the show, to find out about her very first audition, her role as a body activist and how she feels about the reaction to and her being part of the smash-hit series that is Young Sheldon.

TITL: At what age did you first realize you wanted to pursue acting as a career? Was there one particular show/actor you watched that made you think ‘I’d like to do that’?

Danielle Pinnock: When I was 19 I was in a production at Temple University called In Conflict. It was a documentary play about war veterans returning home from serving overseas. The show was so incredible. We were even pulled out of school for a year to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Off-Broadway in New York.  All of the vets we portrayed were real people, based on interviews done by journalist Yvonne Latty. The veteran I played, Sgt. Lisa Haynes, was the only one we were unable to get a response from during run of the show. I heard that during her initial interview, her PTSD was so severe once returning home that she may have “fallen off the map.” I didn’t want to accept this, so I took it upon myself to find Sgt. Haynes. I called every VA hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she was from, and was able to locate her and her family. During the run of the show,  I flew down to Tulsa and met Sgt. Haynes and her family. When I returned back to New York, I was determined to have Sgt. Haynes see the final Off-Broadway performance. So in the final two weeks of the run I managed to raise $10,000 to get Sgt. Haynes and her family members up to New York to see In Conflict’s last show. It was THAT show that made me want to act for the rest of my life.

TITL: Can you recall your very first audition? 

DP: Yes! Ha! My very first audition was for the middle school production of Aladdin. I played Halima, Jafar’s evil sister. It was like pulling teeth to get me to audition for this role. I never wanted to be an actor growing up, and was super shy as a child. My audition song was “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill.

TITL: Which auditions, looking back on them, do you feel went really well or that you struggled with? 

DP: The reason I ended up in Los Angeles is because I auditioned for a production at the Geffen Playhouse called Barbecue by Robert O’Hara. At the time of the auditions, I was still living in Chicago and actually flew up to L.A. to be seen for the project. It was a risky decision and I would not recommend actors doing that, but I knew I had to be on point! I also knew if I was going to move to Los Angeles, I needed a job! Barbecue was one of my best auditions in L.A. Recently, I ran into Colman Domingo and he said: Danielle, you just walked in with your blue dress and commanded our attention. Working with Colman and the cast members was a dream realized. It was an honor to be included in that production.

My most memorable audition that I struggled with also happened in Los Angeles. I was going in for the role of a nurse on a sitcom. A lot of auditions in L.A. happen in “bungalows” which are really just trailers on the studio lots. I only bring this up, because the walls in most audition rooms are extremely thin so you can hear another actors’ entire audition. There was a young woman who went in before me, and her audition was so fantastic that the casting director actually booked her for the project IN THE ROOM! The entire waiting room, full of actors, heard the casting director call this woman’s agent to say the actor had booked it. However, in the waiting room, chaos ensued. People began to leave the audition and I had no clue what to do because I was NEXT! As soon as the actor left the audition room all I heard was: “Danielle Pinnock come on in.”  It was my worst audition to date. I forgot all of the lines and was just unmotivated to even give my all because I knew there was no chance of me getting booked on that project.

TITL: How did you hear about the role of Ms. Ingram for Young Sheldon? What was/is it about the character that made you want to audition for the role?

DP: Funny enough, this was a same-day audition. My manager called me on a Thursday morning and I had three-hours to prepare the sides for an Untitled project. I initially went in for the music-teacher and then Nikki Valko, the casting director, asked me to read for a brand new character they created that week “Ms. Ingram.” It was refreshing to see that casting was considering me, a plus-sized African American woman to play the mathematics teacher. Ms. Ingram is one of my favorite characters to play because she is so quirky, hilarious and extremely no-nonsense.

TITL: The show has proven to be a HUGE success in the US and is also popular here in the UK. Did you or your fellow cast members ever expect the show to get the response and reaction it has? 

DP: It’s surreal! This show is a hit internationally and I’ve never, in my entire career, been a part of such a phenomenon. Chuck Lorre is a genius and absolutely has the Midas touch when it comes to creating successful television! Working with the creators Chuck Lorre and Steve Molaro has been a dream come true. My mom and I were in the grocery store and someone stopped us and said “That’s Ms. Ingram, Oh My God!” In the pilot, my character Ms. Ingram talks about attending Oral Roberts University and the school sent me a gift! I went to graduate school at Birmingham School of Acting UK, now known as the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, so it’s really cool for my friends, family and professors to see it overseas as well!

Aside from it’s obvious TBBT connection, what do you think it is about Young Sheldon that has attracted so many people to watch, and keep watching, it?

DP: The show is hilarious and the main cast give masterful performances. Iain Armitage who plays Sheldon Cooper is a brilliant young performer and is such a joy to work alongside. His portrayal of Sheldon Cooper is honest and relatable.

TITL: You’ve also appeared in Scandal and This Is Us. How important to you is it that you’re able to take on a variety of roles that really put your abilities to the test, and with that in mind, what’s your dream role? Which show would you most like to appear in and why?

DP: Working on those two shows was incredible. I was able to work on Scandal with the genius Kerry Washington; the legendary Viola Davis was the cherry on an already delicious sundae! I’ve had the opportunity to play some fantastic roles both in theatre and on-screen. To be honest, I don’t know what my dream role would be. There are so many great shows out right now. My favorites at the moment: Good Girls, Atlanta, How To Get Away With Murder and SMILF. 

TITL: The entertainment industry is cut throat and competitive, so what advice would you give to anyone looking to make their mark on it? Is there any one piece of advice you were once given that you still look back on?

DP: A colleague of mine once said: “In this industry, you must learn to be plural.” In this industry, especially nowadays, you have to be multi-faceted. This is why there is an uprising of artists creating their own content now.

TITL: Away from TV, you’re an accomplished writer/playwright, and are passionate about creating productions that address life, living and the many issues that come with it. Does your work in that field ever cross over into your acting work and vice-versa?

DP: Absolutely. I’m actually developing an improvised Instagram series with my friend, LaNisa Frederick called Hashtag Booked. Hashtag Booked is a hilarious, raw, and shocking portrayal of what happens during the short period of time in the audition waiting room.  These “characters” are based on real-life experiences.

TITL: How are you finding your role as a vocal activist for body positivity impacting both yourself and those around you? How did you first get involved and would you like to see more individuals, especially those in the public eye, using their status to speak out about important matters as you are?

DP: The first play I ever wrote was a solo show called Body/Courage. Body/Courage was created from over 300 interviews I conducted worldwide, and it was an exploration on body acceptance. This project changed my life. The show is about my journey to find my own beauty through the voices of others. The cool thing about the show is that it introduced a constellation of characters grappling with diverse body issues including weight, illness, disability, skin color, aging, and gender transition. It was this show that got me involved in the body positivity movement. Body/Courage, allowed me to find a courage in myself that I didn’t know I possessed. The body positivity movement already has some fierce voices and it can always use more so I would encourage others to speak out.

TITL: Are there any other plans or projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?

DP: This summer, I’ll be releasing an interview-style podcast called SHOOK discussing true stories of mental health in the industry. I’ve also been asked to be a guest contributor for Shondaland, so check out my essay I’ll be writing for them in the next few weeks.

TITL: Finally then, given that the industry is ever changing, sometimes at a pace even fans can’t keep up with, where do you think the business will go and be 5-10 years from now? What would you like to see happen and do you think that such things will? 

DP: My hope for the industry in 5-10 years is that we can begin to bring more stories by women of color to the forefront. I want to see more women of color on set, I want to see more women of color in the writers room, I want to see more women of color as producers and directors. I want to see women of color win in this industry now and in the future.

Young Sheldon is currently airing on E4 in the UK on Wednesdays at 8.30PM. You can keep up to date with Danielle Pinnock via her Twitter. Header photo credit: Joe Mazza.