Interview by Jordan Mooney.
After my review of the Whitby Goth Weekend for Cat on the Wall, a snowball effect shortly took place as the musicians responsible discovered what we had to say – COTW Stalwarts Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons started it off, followed by veterans of alternative rock, Doctor and the Medics. After a call out on his wonderful radio show the following Monday, I decided to go for the epitome of cheek and ask for an interview.
It took a few days, but soon we had questions fit for the good Reverend Doctor, whom was happy to sit down and answer our questions almost immediately.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in today’s interview Clive Jackson himself touches upon the world of music from another point of view, the concept of being ‘alternative’ and his pride in being one of the most recognised ‘one hit wonders’ of the British music scene.
Cat On The Wall: Thank you for taking the time to talk us, Mr. Jackson! Would you care to introduce yourself to our readers?
Doctor: Well, the full title is the Rev. Dr. Clive Thomas Jackson, but Doctor is best for short!
Doctor: Its fine with me, we are in fact the only ever ‘One Hit Wonder’ to have had 2 hits, as “Burn” reached No. 23, but we don’t make a big deal about that as we would get no publicity – due the fact they don’t make TV programmes about one and a half hit wonders!
There’s four albums worth of stuff out there as well if people are inclined to see what we were about but if people know us as a One Hit Wonder and enjoy the gigs then that’s fine by me!
COTW: Did you ever expect your cover of Spirit in the Sky to take off so much? Are you happy it happened, or do you somewhat resent the success?
Doctor: Why would anyone resent success? We had an absolute ball. It did change the direction of our career at the time. Previous to that we had an indie number 1 with “Happy But Twisted” and were generally viewed as an alternative band so a hit certainly wasn’t expected but I think a good philosophy in life is to expect the unexpected, in fact more than that, open yourself up to the possibility of the unexpected happening. That way you get all the good stuff.
There’s no point staring into your beer asking “What if?” when you should be looking to the sky saying “What next?”!
COTW: Do you prefer the current level Doctor and the Medics work at – is it easier performing to a relatively small audience?
Doctor: I wouldn’t say 17,000 was small! But we always have the philosophy that if there are 10 people or there are 17,000 they have all paid and deserve a good show so always deliver. In many ways playing to the 17,000 is easier than a smaller crowd, but I prefer the edginess of a smaller crowd. The largest crowd I played to was to 80,000 and I felt alienated from them as they were so far away. Give me small, sweaty and intimate!
COTW: You absolutely slaughtered at Whitby – do you get a chance to perform to that sort of audience often?
Doctor: Yes we do our fair share of biker/alternative gigs, always do a fair number of festivals in the summer, which I love.
COTW: You of course run a radio show every Monday – would it be fair to say you’ve a large collection of music?
Doctor: I started off as a DJ in 1982, in my night club. Primarily, I have always been a music fan so have always collected music – so yes, I have a large, and I think it fair to say, eclectic music collection. I keep promising myself to put all my vinyl on MP3 for the radio show, as I have some classics there!
COTW: Anything in there we’d find particularly unusual? As an extension, any bands you’re into we’d be surprised by?
Doctor: Hopefully when people listen to my show they are always surprised by something I play. I think it’s fair to say I pull stuff from everywhere, Napoleon XXIV, William Shatner, X-Ray Specs, Hawkwind, Jonny Cash, Suzy Quatro, Focus, Last Of The Teenage Idols and a lot of bands never heard of would be a typical playlist. William Shatner obviously being the main focus!!
COTW: Speaking of…music downloading: Give us your thoughts! As somebody who had a strong career during the 1980s, do you think music downloading as a threat?
Doctor: God no. It’s a change and a wonderful change. Its opening the market to everyone. You don’t need a record label with the means of production and manufacture to get a vinyl album made and distributed anymore. You can record in your bedroom and stick your stuff on the web. It’s almost the true punk ethic. Sadly, it does mean there’s a lot of shit out there and you have to wade through some awful stuff, but like panning for gold there is some wonderful independent stuff out there to be found.
And the great thing now is if people want Vinyl there’s tons of it about, so there’s an open market and freedom of choice. Isn’t that the way music should be made available? I think so!
COTW: When you perform live you seem to take great joy in covering an eclectic mix of popular songs of assorted backgrounds, making the songs very much your own in the process – is there a reason you choose to do this as a majority, instead of performing what some would declare your ‘own’ music?
Doctor: Yes, quite simply, people don’t know our “Own” music and we are there to entertain – so we play stuff people want. Simples!
COTW: When you performed at WGW on Friday the 26th of April, were you particularly surprised by the reaction you got? Do you see yourself as a ‘Goth’ band? Have you a particular affinity with alternative culture?
Doctor: I think when we started there was a whole bunch of obvious influences in our sound and look. I.e. punk, Glam, Psychedelia, etc; It was at the dawn of glam, as well, and I think our image got us on the sidelines of Goth at the time. You must remember that when we started we were an alternative band with a capital A! One of our earliest gigs was at Stonehenge, and anyone who was there knows that was as alternative as it got!
I’ve never really compartmentalised different tribes. As I say, if you can’t open your mind, don’t open your mouth! I used to love seeing old hippies at punk gigs, and mixing the colours is always something I’ve loved to do. I find with any audience that appreciated live music they do enjoy our show once they have zoned into what we do. I was incredibly happy with the response we got and loved the gig.
COTW: The band last released something with Timewarped, a six track EP of (excellent, by the way!) cover songs in 2006 – do you plan to release anything else in the future, or are you more comfortable doing live performances?
Doctor: We have a live CD being released this year, it will be on download very soon and I have an album of new material that I’m waiting to record ! Finding the time to get it done is hard but I want it done this year, so keep your eyes open! I tend to use Facebook to announce all we do so that’s probably the best way to keep in touch. www.facebook.com/doctor.and.the.medics
COTW: On behalf of our readers, myself and everybody else at Cat on the Wall, thank you very much indeed for taking the time to answer some questions. We hope to see you again sometime soon!
Doctor: It’s been pleasure, keep up the good work, your review of the whole event at Whitby was very well written, I enjoyed it. We need people like you reviewing stuff with an open and thoughtful mind.
Love and Peace!!
Isn’t that kind of him, ladies and gents!
Doctor and the Medics, as previously noted by the good Doctor, are very active in social media, links of which can be found below:
As an extension, TBFM – Total Biker FM – online host the good Doctor’s frankly wonderful radio show ‘Schizophrenic Sounds’ every Monday from 9PM ’til 11PM, during which he constantly talks to his listeners on the show’s chatroom. It’s definitely worth a listen, not only for his excellent sense of humour but for his marvellous taste in music.