THE LADS from Space kindly came in to join us on Episode 20 of the podcast last week and John Gibbons caught up later with Franny Griffiths from the band to talk a bit more about music, the 90s and the now sold out re-union gig.
The Anfield Wrap: So, the O2 Academy on Thursday 22nd December. Excited? Nervous?
Franny Griffiths: It’s all sold out now so that increases the nerves but it also raises the excitement. We just want to get up there now give the crowd and ourselves a great night.
TAW: How ridiculous is your guest list looking?
FG: (Laughs) I hope my manager doesn’t see this, that’s all I’m saying on this!
TAW: Were you at all worried that you might have been forgotten? Are you surprised at how well tickets have sold?
FG: Of course you do worry a little; we’ve been away quite a few years now. The response has taken us by surprise, as I said it’s all sold out. Happy days.
TAW: Who set the ball rolling on the reunion? Were you guys in touch with each other a lot anyway or was there a lot of Metallica-style therapy required to heal old wounds?
FG: Our original drummer Andy Parle passed away two years ago, we all went the funeral and just talked about the good times we had, which helped heal a few wounds. From that day we all kept in touch and went to watch each other’s bands. Then about three months we were all sat in a pub and Tommy was telling us he’d written some tunes that he thought were worthy of the Space name and did we think it would be a good idea to have another go.
TAW: Often when bands start rehearsing together again they say it’s like they’ve never been away. Did it feel like that for you?
FG: For me personally yes. The important thing was we still had a huge amount of respect for each other and the banter was still there. Everything just fell into place
TAW: You’ve got three original Space members, but three new members as well. Has rehearsing with the new guys changed the sound of the band much? In particular there seems to be more keys now.
FG: The Space sound came from the fact that everybody was into different types of music, so now we have three new members who are in to punk, rock and roll and ska, you can hear their influences in our sound. We’re not using backing tracks this time round, which we needed in the past for all the orchestral stuff if I was say playing piano at the time. We’re getting back to the original sound we had right at the beginning. Now with two keyboard players we can share the load and bring more to the show.
TAW: Looking through my old ticket stubs, the upcoming O2 Academy gig is almost 15 years to the day since you headlined The Royal Court Theatre playing with Catatonia. Which makes me feel old. Do you remember much of that gig? Was it a big deal for you guys to play there?
FG: I remember everything about it. What clothes I had on, what the weather was like, the freezing cold dressing rooms, the atmosphere inside the venue and the ticket tout trying to sell me a ticket outside! I watched my first big gig there, The Stranglers. I dreamt about playing there but never thought it would come true. The Royal Court and Top of the Pops; my dreams realised.
TAW: I’m glad you said that, it’s the one place I’ve always wanted to play too. I remember half of the Liverpool squad seemed to be in the Royal Box that night. As reds was that a buzz? Or did it make you nervous?
FG: It was amazing, I loved every minute of it, having my heroes watching us and everybody singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, including the players. Then a few of the Liverpool lads came back the dressing room, Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman who opened a few bottles of bubbly…
TAW: At that time you were grouped under the ‘Brit Pop’ label, even though you sounded very different to the other bands around. Did you mind that?
FG: I think the media struggled to pigeon hole us so they just threw Space into that Brit Pop label. We hated it but what can you do?
TAW: Lyrically in particular you were very different to the other bands around at the time, in fact I can’t think of any bands that are similar. Is there anyone who you feel inspired you guys lyrics wise when writing the songs?
FG: You would have to speak to Tommy about that. Not blowing his trumpet but I think lyrically he is one of Liverpool’s finest.
TAW: You talked on the Anfield Wrap podcast about the Hillsborough Justice Concert at Anfield being a huge occasion for the band. Are there any other particular highlights of your first time round as a band?
FG: Zig and Zag!!! They just freaked me out.
TAW: Wasn’t expecting that!
FG: The guys when not operating the puppets were still like Zig and Zag, they were hysterical. Seriously though touring the world meeting new people. Top of the Pops and plenty of Jack Daniels.
TAW: Moving forward after the show you say you have almost got an album finished already – what can we expect from the new material? Is it the classic Space sound or have you moved away to something new?
FG: It’s a funny thing, you plan to make the album sound a little different from your last recordings but once you get us together, the chemistry or whatever just makes us sound like Space no matter what we do. As I mentioned earlier the new members of the band bring their love of music to the table, Punk, Ska, Rock and Roll etc but somehow you blend it all together and it’s still unmistakably the Space sound.
TAW: Can we expect to hear much new stuff at the gig?
FG: We didn’t want to play a gig after all these years and just go through the Space back catalogue, we want to gain new fans as well as old, so we think it’s important to showcase new tunes and gain new fans as well as pleasing the old codgers (Laughs).
TAW: And then hopefully a tour after that?
FG: Yeah a tour of the UK is getting planned to coincide with the release of the album, hopefully May or thereabout.
TAW: Maybe another Sefton Park Show?!
FG: Sefton Park? Wow now you’re talking, if that could be organised then that would be the icing on a very big cake.
TAW: Finally how do you think the music industry has changed since you first broke through? Do you believe that it is tougher than ever for a band to get a record deal, or has social media made it easier for bands to get their music out? Do you wish that things like MySpace were about when you were starting out?
FG: Do you know what? I honestly don’t know. Everything has changed but we’ll have to wait and see if it’s for the better or worse. I can only imagine with the help of the internet and MySpace back in the day, that we could have gone on to have a longer career and reaching a wider world audience.
Though selling over 3 million records first time round wasn’t bad (laughs).
Not bad at all. We wish all the lads the best of luck on Thursday and beyond and hope to catch up with them again in the spring just before the new album is released.
For news on the new album and forthcoming tour follow @spacetheband on Twitter