We managed to track down Last Great Dreamers founder members Marc Valentine & Slyder following their meeting up in January 2014 to ask them a few questions & ultimately find out – Are the “Retrosexual Rudeboys” back?!
Why did you split?
Our second record deal had just fallen through; we were suffering from burn out as well I think. For me, there was a spectre on the horizon – my 30’s were fast approaching and therefore shelf life and credibility would expire. Mid-life crisis in my late 20’s – ridiculous! Mind you, twenty years later that mid-life crisis is still ongoing – hence the possible reunion.
Marc instigated the split but although upsetting it was a relief at the time, we had become desperate & frustrated with the music business. There was a big buzz about us following the Kerrang Awards & we were getting loads of attention, we had a single recorded but the deal fell through at the last minute. We’d worked hard for years; having lots of fun in the process but also suffering lots of knockbacks but this was one we couldn’t really recover from.
What was your best & worst moments of LGD?
So many great moments – one or two bad ones as well! Most memorable was the Kerrang MTV awards – where we were nominated for best new band (sadly losing to Skunk Anansie). We were chauffeur driven to the event and arrived at the red carpet just before Bon Jovi who we spotted stuck in traffic down a side road. We stumbled out of the limo dressed up to the nines and there were tons of paparazzi cameras flashing and fans everywhere – then I remember a shout from the crowd.. ‘who the fuck is that?’… to which another shout replied ‘ don’t worry – it’s just a bunch of nobodies dressed as rock stars!’. Hilarious stuff and of course we didn’t really care – I do think our egos were bigger than our music at that time.
Also, receiving album of the year by Geoff Barton editor of Kerrang! That was really something special, gaining some respect and credibility for everything that had been put into the band.
A low point was probably the disappointing production on the album. I don’t think it really did the songs or us any justice and is still a bugbear for me today.
We also lost some of our road crew along the way (and after the split) – which were the very sad and untimely losses of Porky, Ray and Chris. All of them amazing blokes that helped keep the band together. They put so much in with very little return! Still missed greatly and always in our thoughts with so many great memories. I’m sure they will all be looking down on us with a grin and taking the piss at the talk of a reunion.
Most memorable moment has to be the Kerrang! Awards. I remember making an effort to not get drunk by drinking mineral water when we arrived, that didn’t last long though, the event was sponsored by Jacob’s Creek, Jim Beam & Carlsberg, i didn’t stand a chance. There were some big names there, Bon Jovi, Sabbath, as we entered the hall Peter Grant (Led Zep manager) held the door open for us, later after the awards ceremony, a bit worse for wear I bumped into Tony Iommi in the toilet, he’d just won the Best Riff Award for Paranoid, I introduced myself & congratulated him on his Riff, I expect this was a great moment for him too.
The worst moment was our second deal falling through; soon after this our manager quit the music business & we made a desperate attempt to take control & resurrect some interest that we had but that was the beginning of the end really. We were all feeling disillusioned with the business, I think individually we felt if we were gonna make it now it wouldn’t be together. Looking back it is a shame we didn’t stick it out, the songs were strong enough but I guess by that point emotionally & as a unit we weren’t.
What did you do after LGD split & how have your lives changed?
A lot has happened over the last 20 years. My life’s changed quite considerably that’s for sure – ditched the Rupert suits I’m afraid. Waistline heading in the wrong direction. I’m now happily married with four children, yes indeed, that’s four lively little buggers running around causing chaos! We have enough now to start our very own mini Dreamers tribute band. Spent five years in the states and finally ended coming full circle back here to the east coast . Funny how things work out.
When LGD split in 97 I was pretty devastated at first; it was all I had lived for for the previous 8 years, but after that came relief as it had become so desperate. I quickly got down to writing new material, I was pretty prolific & got a set of songs together quite quickly. I had been doing more & more vocals with LGD so decided to form a 3 piece & front it myself. Initially it was called Toy Eye & later Plan 9 we did quite a bit of recording & plenty of gigs in & around London. We got a bit of air play on XFM & Radio 1 but to be honest it didn’t really have the same vibe & commitment as LGD. After various personnel changes I called it a day in 2003 & at that point left London for the countryside.
During that period I also got married, up until then I had been “married to the band” so I was finally able to make a commitment to my then girlfriend Sue.
I’ve played guitar a bit on & off over the years I’ve not played live or in a band for nearly 12 years. I’m very busy now with various business commitments but over the years I’ve realised that I really miss playing and maybe should do something about that before it’s too late.
What current music do you like?
A little out of the loop these days, but appreciate MGMT, Lykke Li, Sonic Jewels, Temples and stuff like that. Still tend to spin lots of the old classics. My musical tastes haven’t evolved that much I guess. There’s certainly not much world music or alt. jazz fusion on my current playlist.
I don’t know whether it’s because I’m older or just out of touch but there isn’t really much new music around that excites me. I’ve been a big fan of the Manics for ever, they have evolved & matured but still retain the passion & energy they always had, JDB’s voice is full of emotion & he’s also a bit of a guitar hero. I’ve loved the last 3 Morrisey albums, in my opinion the best stuff he’s done. I’ve enjoyed seeing Adam Ant live recently & Redd Kross who came back with a fantastic album & did a great live show at the Borderline a year or so ago. So all old acts I’m afraid.
Would you reform the band & why?
A few years ago it looked impossible, but now the idea does seem to be gathering steam. 20 years down the line and I must admit it still has a strange allure – once a dreamer always a dreamer i guess. It would be great to experience that buzz again, even if we are old gits now. Meeting Slyder after 10 years and jamming through a few of the numbers was brilliant and I think the connection is still there. I must admit if we were to reform, it would be a blast meeting up with old friends after all these years as well – great times and so many crazy stories to recall. My kids are quite excited and also slightly bemused by the band possibly reforming: “Daddy will you be wearing your funny shoes and wizard suit?”. It’s a curious world when you look at it through their eyes.
Seeing my dad continuing to play bass with his Rock n Roll band The Offbeats in his 70’s is living proof that old rockers never die. We’re all still kids really!
Following the split we all drifted apart, Marc & I had both moved out of London & everyone was doing their own thing. We were brought together for the last time following the sudden death of our tour manager, friend & Marc’s cousin Ray in 2003. We were all devastated by this none more than Marc who soon after relocated to LA. We eventually all lost touch until I bumped into a mutual friend in Greenwich in 2011 who told me Marc was back in the UK. That sowed the seed for me, I would occasionally listen to our songs & think what a waste nobody is hearing this. Although it took a couple of years for us to finally meet up we eventually made a date for this year. I was relieved that Marc felt the same as me & wanted to do something. Just the two of us got together in January 2014 for a couple of days, listened to old demos, reminisced about old times & played through some old songs. We were surprised how much we had forgotten but it felt great to be playing together again.
If there is a demand for it we will definitely do something, whether it’s one or two gigs, a tour, a new album we don’t know yet. What I can say is that we do have plans to get together again in February with a full band to do a few days in a rehearsal studio. If that sounds ok & there are any LGD or Hearts fans still out there who want to see us & someone willing to put us on it may well happen.