Leigh Matty Talks to Rock-Zone UK

November 27, 2012

Just before starting out on the recent Romeo’s Daughter UK tour, Leigh Matty took time to talk to us at Rock-Zone. Fortunately, the slight throat problem (caused by a cold) that delayed our original planned interview) had cleared up – as was obvious to all at the Bolton show just two days later.

The first thing we talked about was why the show in Bolton rather than the more traditional stop off in Manchester?

We could have played Manchester but when the tour idea came about we started to hear such phenomenally great things about the venue (The Railway)  It’s so long since we toured on our own that when we looked into it and Facebook friends mentioned it and the more we discovered about how much people enjoy going there,  the more we wanted to play such a great venue.  Interest in the tour all around the country has been so great – people are excited to find out if we are still the same, what we look like, are we still alive after all this time…. including whether I still have my wig.

A wig? Surely not?

Not at all – it’s just that I still have the same hair as I did when I was younger. Last week a woman asked me and I couldn’t believe that twenty years later I’m still being asked the same question I was asked 20 years ago.

Why the comeback now?

We had no plans to do it. I never thought we were a big enough band for people to want to come and see us. That there would be no market and mostly we all kind of lost touch – and we now absolutely love being in each other’s company. It was Kieran Dargan at Firefest really. I met him when I was watching FM (Leigh’s other half is FM’s Merv Goldsworthy) at a Firefest and he made us an offer to come to the festival and have a go. I called the guys and we happened to all be free. So, we had a rehearsal and managed to get through three songs and off we went. The crowd reaction was great – people were happy to see us and we had a great time we really wanted to do it again. The next thing was we felt we should go back to the studio – the result of this was “Rapture” which came out earlier this year.

You didn’t sing professionally for 18 years, what were you doing?

I did little bits and pieces I became a voice-over agent and started my own agency for voice-over artists based in London. I don’t have to sell myself I just get to represent famous actors for voice-over work and I now have a lovely buisness that allows me to do Romeo’s Daughter which I couldn’t do without the great staff that we have.

Having managed not to have any Romeo’s Daughter albums, I’ve now remedied this . “Rapture” is stunning and sounds very current but doesn’t sound similar to the older stuff. Was this a concious decision?

This is exactly what we were going for. Although we’re trying to make new friends, we won’t be breaking new ground. Craig, the main songwriter, and the guys are all the same people and our tastes have changed a little. Yet we didn’t want to be either radically different nor to be a rehash of the 80s so  that’s what we were aiming for.

I think the best recent albums from bands who’ve been around for a while  are the ones that don’t try to sound like they did back in the day and remake the same record they released 20 odd years ago. “Rapture” genuinely has the feel of having moved forward whilst remaining true to who you are and have an appeal to those people who may not be traditional rock fans – yet surely a good song will be good, whether it’s pop or rock?

Thank you so much, that’s fantastic. We’ve always had a bit of a struggle with people asking us if we are rock or pop – which, to be honest, is a really weird thing for a band becasue you are what you are. It’s an extension of who you are as musicians and so it’s very difficult when you release something. The thing about us, when we released the first album, Kerrang! wouldn’t put anything in about us because they couldn’t make up their minds whether we were rock or pop. Well, actually, what difference does it make as long as they’re great tracks and people enjoy listening to it? Live we are a totally different band – we are loud, we have heavy guitars and a lot of keyboards. We’re much heavier than a pop group when we play live but our songs are quite cross-over. On the “Rapture” album, songs like “Bittersweet” (wgich is our new single) is more like country rock but it’s still a great little tune and people love it – even the “rock” people, who see it as a nice little song and appreciate it for what it is. Yet maybe that confusion was why we never achieved what we could’ve achieved in the late 80s, especially in America. In America you have rock radio and pop radio and you don’t get on either unless you’re very much one or t’other. Although, having said that, “Heaven in the Backseat” charted in the States and did quite well but that need to pigeon hole has always been a bit of a thing for us….but we don’t worry about that. It’s not what we’re about now which is making really good albums, going and playing if people want to come and hear us play and absolutely loving every minute of it. As soon as that stops for us, we won’t do it but at the moment that’s what we’re trying to achieve.

So are you enjoying being back on stage and playing live?

Absolutely! We’re having a fabulous time and hopefully people can see that when they come to the shows. For me, singing live was the thing that I missed the most when Romeo’s Daughter broke up. We never actually really had much opportunity to play live when we were together – which I think had something to do with our management and with the label. We were supposed to go and tour in America and Australia but we didn’t get to do any of that and I think that’s a real pity because one of our major strengths is that we’re good live and we love it. You should be able to go and see a good band play live and appreciate the musicianship. I mean Craig is the most phenomenal guitarist, he’s just world class – as is Andy the drummer and Ed the bassist plays with some of the top bands in the world. They’re just a joy to listen to and to watch – with such wonderful musicians, when we’re on stage for that hour and twenty minutes we look around and if people are enjoying it there’s nothing like it. It beats everything.

We’re really happy that Bolton is the first show too because we know that we have such a wonderful set of fans in and around that area. With everyone in the band being so excited it should be a great show and a fantastic start.

One of my first interviews was with John Parr who co-produced your first record. What was it like working with him?

Ah, lovely John! It was fabulous. Funniliy enough we saw him at Firefest when he came with his family. At the time of the first album he was really interested in what was going on and he was a fan of Mutt Lange (who also profuced the record) and it worked really well with him doing some tracks with us – and for him, he got to meet and work with Mutt. It was a very happy union. We even went up to John’s house in Yorkshire – he has a fantastic house with a great studio there . It was a great time with a lovely guy with a great sense of humour and, of course, he’s a great singer. You know, we would love to work with him again on something in the future if he was up for it. I know he’s really busy in America doing his work with the military.

What are the future plans for Romeo’s Daughter?

Well we’ve got the mini tour, we’re playing Hard Rock AOR next year (April) which we’re very much looking forward to – it will give us a chance to get out in front of people who might not have heard us before. We’re going to try our damnedest to do as many festivals as possible. the thing is to get “Rapture” out to more people and this is tricky when you don’t have a record label behind you. That was our decision because we’ve made it, paid for it ourselves so let’s see if we can do this. To a certain extent we’ve done well but the whole machinations of getting the press is quite hard so the thing is to get out there and promote “Rapture” as much as possible. See how many radio stations will play “Bittersweet”, play as much as we can. You know, it’s small steps – we’re starting again we don’t have huge expectations but the ones we do have to be of a certain size or there’s no point in us doing it. We also have new tracks that we’re going to start working on. We already have new tracks for a new album if it looks like there’ll be a market to do that – there’s no stopping us.

There is a market for what we do just as long as the albums sound current yet still sounding like us (with our sound and our flair), then we’ll keep on doing it. We’ll keep on doing it until we are too old to do it anymore!

One last question, what first made yo want to be a singer and make music?

Do you know, it’s quite weird with me because hen you speak to other musicians it was clear to them from an early age – for Merv it was 13, Craig knew from probably even younger – I was more of a slow burner. I started out in theatre, as kind of a singing actress. I was a child who was not particularly confident which might sound nuts now but as a child I would never have assumed I would be good enough. However, as a teenager I found I was much more confident on stage than off it. I got a record deal in South Africa (which, thank goodness I was able to get out of quite quickly!) but when I came back to England as a 21 year old, I saw an advert in Melody Maker. It turned out to be Craig, looking for a singer and that is when I really started to think I could do it. I was the first of 75 auditions and I got the gig. They said that they really liked my voice, that it was perfect for what they were looking for and that was it. I’d sung since I was fifteen but it only dawned on me in my early twenties – so I’m afraid it’s not one of those “I woke up when I was fivew and knew” stories. I probably always could sing but grew into the thing.

 Thank you so much to Leigh for taking the time to chat to Rock-Zone UK and as you will see from our review (http://www.rock-zone.co.uk/2012/11/20/romeos-daughter-with-serpentine-the-railway-venue-bolton-15th-november-2012/) the show was stunning.

“Rapture” is available now and you can get loads more information from:

www.romeosdaughter.co.uk

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