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Swine Interview Kev Sampson
by Phil Thornton
- Kev, your new book Stars Are Stars returns to roughly the same era as
Awaydays (it covers 76-81) - after setting your recent novels in the here
and now, why did you choose to return to this momentous period and
what is the basic plot of the book?
- It grew out of the whole process of trying to make a film out of Awaydays
- more of that later. But returning the era of Thatcher's
first term in power had two opposite and equally powerful effects.
Firstly, there was the reminder of what a brilliant era that was:
musically it was fantastic with everyone from
other big thing that grew out of the Awaydays
non-film was realisation of how much I despised that Thatcher
regime. So many things came rushing back - it's weird what sticks in the
dark recesses of your mind. For example I can remember clearly the way she
used to say the word 'prosperity'. It sounded more like proz-bay-ree-tee.
I hated her then, and I hate her now, and I decided to get it all down on
paper, the Wonder Years and the way she pulled it all apart.
that's the backdrop - a great sweep of
- The book is named after a Bunnymen song - what are your own memories of
the music of this era and were you a Bunnymen fan yourself?
- My memories of that era are vivid. On the very first page Danny, the
main character in the story, comes out of the Virgin shop in
for me, I was desperate for there to be a
obviously I was made up when Zoo Records started up and the likes of
Teardrop and The Bunnymen were putting out Made In Liverpool records. I
wouldn't have cared if they were shit - but I loved them all the more
because they were brilliant. The book takes its title from Stars
Are Stars off the first Bunnymen album: "All your dreams
are hanging out to dry." There we go. Back to Maggie Thatcher.
- The book ends with the Toxteth riots and for many people that became the
cut-off point when their trust in mainstream politics ended once and for
all - the stage was set for the Militant years in
- Fuck, that'd take a year to answer properly. Let's put it this way -
people will only take so much. In
easy to personalise it and write off all the good that came as a
result of Militant's brief stay in power. But prior to John Hamilton and
co. receiving a plebiscite from the people of Liverpool, Margaret Thatcher
was talking of a city she'd like to see excommunicated from the
borrowed £26 million from a Swiss bank and built 4,000 new council
houses. If you'd asked me a few years ago I'd probably have said
things were getting better, but I see horrible parallels between the
political climate now and how it was about 1977, before the Thatcher
bandwagon really got rolling. Let's hope not.
- With all the recent nostalgia for all things 'hooly' with the likes of
The Football Factory, The Business and the raft of hooly books, do you
ever think the film version of Awaydays will get made or have you
given up on that now?
- I've more or less given up. It's never been anything less than
entertaining, but there's only so many hours I can spend with posh young
Oxbridge types, being told the story is 'parochial'. To me, parochial is
good. I love The Sopranos because it's parochial. It offers up a
great slice of
that - its sense of place, the authenticity of its language, the shiny
pleated slacks its tubby protagonists wear - that make The
Sopranos parochial, and fucking great. Awaydays
could have been good, I think. It's a shame, but the
world of film is a very odd place, peopled by some pretty odd folk. I
prefer to stay amused by them than get myself bitter and twisted but
the sad truth is I've pretty well thrown the towel in on that one.
- We recently watched your film about the Ibiza scene of the early 90s 'A
Short Film About Chilling' again and it was almost religious to witness
the original 'balearic' ethos at its zenith before the corporations and
the gangsters took over - do you regard this era when you were
managing The Farm fondly?
- By gum yes! I loved the whole mad ride with The Farm but the early
- The acid house nostalgia circuit is pretty lucrative these days -
have you ever been tempted back into the music game or are you content to
remain as a writer which is, let's face it, a far more mature but boring
way to make a dollar.
- I hesitate before blurting this out, but it's the truth so here we go:
I've never been interested in making money. Not for the sake of it,
anyway. I could no sooner be a full-time band manager than I could be an
estate agent, though there's lots and lots of lolly to made in both. Once
The Farm folded, I had no interest in managing another band. As things
stand right now I'm in the happy position of enjoying the work I do. I can
pretty well write whatever I want - though not the script for the
award-winning film Awaydays,
- We really liked your recent piece on Bill Shankly in Esquire. There
seems to be a realisation that Shanks died pretty much a broken man and
felt that the LFC hierarchy had deserted him as
- I think its right that we slightly mythologise Shanks. Although he
didn't win as much as other managers, he is the hurricane that swept
through Anfield and revolutionised the club, forever. Without him, none of
this would have happened.
- What are your plans for the future Kev, more books, a film perhaps?
KS - Two immediate aspirations. I'm thinking about a book that in some way brings together some of the elements we were talking about before: the dawning days of Acid House, seen in the context of a time when rampant Thatcherite consumerism started spiraling out of control. Working title is The Lotus Eaters. And I've just started on a brilliant film project. It's the Creation Records story and it's a bit too much like fun at the moment. My immediate problem is finding a way into the story for Shonen Knife. Over.
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