Terry Hall interview November 2010


Dave Haslam’s onstage interview with Terry Hall at the Green Room, Manchester, Thursday November 11th 2010. A great occasion, with Terry very willing to talk about his songs and his life in front of an audience who were loving it. Somewhere on the internet there’s a review of it and it says it was in front of 3000 people. The truth is, the Green Room was packed, with tickets selling-out weeks in advance, but the capacity of the venue is actually only 180 people. The intimacy of the occasion was a real plus. The whole interview is transcribed here. Journalists etc; please acknowledge the source of any quotes taken from here (

Could we start by talking about something quite contemporary which is the Specials re-birth and the tour in 2009; what was the process whereby you came together for that tour and a slightly vexed question which is what happened that meant that Jerry Dammers wasn’t involved in the tour?

That’s easy to answer, because he’s a miserable c*nt. (audience laughs). Seriously; if you want real misery camp outside his house. (pause)

Well, we were talking about the 30th anniversary of the first album and so we got together and thought could we do something? We had a meeting in King’s Cross where we hired a conference room and this was the first time the band had been together in a room together for 30 years, and I just looked around and thought “I don’t know, I don’t know”. And then I looked at everyone and said “I love you very much” which flipped them totally; but that was post-medication when I loved everything and everyone (audience laughs). The idea was just to get together to see what happened, and it grew and grew and we started rehearsals with Jerry and that didn’t work out with Jerry, it was sad but it just didn’t work out.

He claimed he didn’t know anything about the tour and it was all happening without his knowledge…

That’s rubbish. We were rehearsing with him for two weeks. There’s been so much shit written and a lot of it is just untrue. He didn’t want to do a tour; he wanted to do two or three as he described them – “big gigs” – but we didn’t want to do that, we wanted to go back and play Top Rank in Newcastle and stuff, and do a little tour but he didn’t want to do that. Plus he couldn’t play very well; his timing had gone totally. I suggested Damon Albarn to come on as a second keyboard player and Damon wanted to do it but Jerry wasn’t happy with any of it; so then he spent the next year calling us names. Fair enough…

He said he went to a couple of the gigs…

We didn’t put him on the list. In fact, I checked the list every night making sure his name wasn’t on it! (audience laughs). So, yes. Jerry’s Jerry.

Do you think that at any point there might be a reunion which would involve Jerry or do you think that moment has gone?

We’ve all said why don’t you just come and play keyboards because that’s what you do, but there’s a level of control that Jerry needs we can’t give him now, (pause) because we’re, you know, men. I was watching youtube a thing he did with his orchestra and he was running around stage altering microphones and it’s that much control, and we won’t work like that now.

When you were doing the tour in 2009 when the rebirth happened, and it was thirty years since the first gigs; did you similar feeling onstage as you did back in the day or was it very different?

I have trouble remembering what is was like first time round. I have a really bad memory, it’s a medical condition, it’s not a chosen thing. But I still get that feeling now that I did then, that when I walk onstage I have no idea or what I’m doing there or why people are looking at me. It’s still that thing, which is great.

So you’re in a bit of a zone?

Yeah, which just happens. It’s not drink or drugs induced, it just happens.

Even just remembering the words after thirty years…

That’s hard, yeah. For the first three or four gigs I had bits of notes with lyrics or just or chorus verse, just because I couldn’t remember, it was really difficult.

Those of us who were lucky enough to go to some of those gigs in the early days will remember there was quite a raw atmosphere back in the late 1970s; it was like exuberance/violence in a way wasn’t it?

Yes, that’s what it was. It was that time, and it felt very much like going to football and stuff, and it related to a lot of gang stuff which was not good.

The stage invasions, and all that, and often you’d goad the bouncers or at least get into an argument with the bouncers…

Only if they were misbehaving. The time me and Jerry got arrested was because a bouncer was hitting a little kid, and it was like “What are you doing?”

That atmosphere is quite hard to get across to kids now who go to gigs – or, indeed, to football – because both those experiences are very neutralised now aren’t they compared to how they were in the late 1970s?

Yeah, yeah. But our philosophy was that although we’re on a stage it shouldn’t be a stage – it’s a bit of a false philosophy where we’re all the same; as time goes by you realise you’re not all the same, but we were trying to prove a point, and to break down the barriers between in a band and being in an audience.

Where did that violence come from, though? Why did it sometimes just tip over?

It just happened. A lot of it was through the local football supporters wherever we were. It happened a lot.

The thing about the Specials is that it was very real. The issues that you were singing about – racism for example, Lynval getting stabbed – were real. Did you feel at that time that the Specials were part of a battle that was going on?

Yeah, especially in Coventry because it was rife there, it was really really bad. The decline of industry in Coventry has been documented a lot, and the effect that had on people which was massive. People had moved into Coventry for work – there wouldn’t be any other reason to go there – but when the work stopped it was like; now what do we do? Then it was looking for scapegoats and it was bad…

It’s a hard thing to quantify, but looking back, if we were to take an issue like racism; do you the Specials changed anything?

Yeah, but not massively. Only the certain things you can being in a pop group. You try to make people aware of things, and in the last thirty years people have come up to me and told me stories about how that album and that band altered the way they felt and that’s a good thing. The weirdest one was when I was in Los Angeles and this young Mexican kid was tattooing my leg and then he sussed out who I was, and he started saying how the band got him out of gang stuff, and that was in LA. I was really nervous because he started shaking (audience laughs) and I’ve no idea what it says on my leg!

I heard a rumour that your phone number was tattooed on your leg.

No, no. I used to have it written down, but not tattooed; I’m not that bad!

Obviously Ghost Town is probably one of the best singles ever released. I guess you must be proud to be part of that. But in the six months leading up to that record the band had a break didn’t you?


Why did you have that break, what were the circumstance; was the band already breaking up?

I think so, I think so. When we started the 2nd album, ‘More Specials’, there was a lot of friction and the band was going in two directions; to be honest, Jerry and me wanted it to go one way and the rest of the band weren’t too happy with that musically. We were getting into beatniks and stuff and muzak – which is a horrible world but you know what I mean by “muzak”; lift music. It’s in the nature of some musicians that they just want to play but I didn’t want to do too much touring at that point and neither did Jerry. But when we actually started recording and we had to be in the same room that’s when it became really difficult. ‘Ghost Town’ took months and months to record. All separately; we didn’t actually do it in a room together. I remember I did my vocals in a living room in Tottenham looking out over a bus stop…

So, seriously, just before what was like the band’s finest hour and the biggest single and everything…

We’d split up…

What had gone wrong with the dynamic then do you think?

We were too successful for the sort of band we were. Bernie Rhodes managed us for about three weeks, and I think he’s a real idiot but he said some great things like “Conquer your street first, forget America”. We lost that really; when you take a band out of the place it should be, it’s going to fall apart. I think that’s what happened with the Smiths and Manchester. It’s like it’s great for that period and maybe that’s all you should do; why should go to Canada, or wherever. Maybe you’ve done what you set out to do.

So you were already thinking about the Fun Boy Three before ‘Ghost Town’?

Not really.

But you were looking for a way out…

Yeah, and the Fun Boy Three was the way out. We went into Chrysalis and said we had an amazing album and we’re going to call ourselves the Fun Boy Three and they were begging me not to leave the Specials; that was good fun, watching them beg, I enjoyed that (audience laughs). Then we went into a studio, hired some instruments and made a record. But it was a total release from that eight month period.

In the Specials there were songs that were cover versions, and songs you all wrote and songs Jerry wrote, but one that you wrote, ‘Friday Night, Saturday Morning’ – the impact of that on me was that punk had only just happened and the prevailing thing about bands like the Clash was that it could be very sloganeering – let’s man the barricades and all that – whereas your song was just a very mundane deadpan description of a night out at the Coventry Locarno…

That’s exactly what it was, and it’s exactly what I experienced week in and week out, the excitement that would build up to you going out was incredible. Then you’d be there and you’d think “Not that good is it?”. You’d have walk through Hillfields which was a part of Coventry I lived in and you knew you’d get belted on the way home…

Great night out…


Did you make a conscious decision that that was how you wanted to write, you wanted to write something very close to your own experience?

Not so much with the Fun Boy Three but work after that definitely. Because with the Specials we’d covered such a huge area, maybe too much, and it was like let’s change the world and you realise that you’re really not going to do that but if you can influence a few people that’s great.

So tell me about the Locarno in Coventry. I mean, in the 1960s, 1970s discotheques like the Locarno were very sophisticated places…

They were fantastic, at least the one in Coventry was. You used to have to get into a glass lift to go up one flight and then you’d go through a long corridor where you could get robbed. But it was for only like 2p. I could never work it out; people would say “Gimme 2p” and you’d be like “OK”, but they’d have to be there a long time to get enough to do anything. Then there was a DJ there called Pete Waterman – who apparently also managed the Specials, which he didn’t – and he used to promise guests every week, like Susan Cadogan, and nobody ever turned up ever. He was a total bullshitter.(pause) I’m glad he isn’t now. (audience laughs) It was just a phase, Pete’s phase.

When you were growing up in Coventry is it true that at one point a career as a football was possible?

Very early on, like 11, 12, but I didn’t pursue it. It was a weird period because I went through a lot of weird stuff when I was twelve, so I just fell off it and I just started drinking cider and smoking. Not great really.

You left school aged 14, 15?

14 and a half, 15.

At that point, I’m thinking Coventry seemed like a dead end kinda place, were you consciously thinking I might be able to get out of this place through music?

I mean, music played a big part, but it was very much like Roxy Music, Bowie thing in the early 1970s. Not until I saw the Clash and the Pistols did I think there is a way to do it; a lot of people have said that, but it was true. You could get work in Coventry. I was a hairdresser for a week. That was horrible. There was a salon called Barbarella’s which had loads of dolly birds working there, and I thought this is great, I’ll just slip in here as the young apprentice but what I didn’t know was that they had another salon which was men only which they sent me to work out which was just washing nicotine out of old blokes hair. It was really horrible…,

Did you have a few months as a bricklayer?

Yeah, an apprentice bricklayer.

With all due respect, if I’d been the careers officer and you’d walked in I wouldn’t have said bricklayer, I don’t think.

No, well I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t. It was good fun. And then I had a day, well not a day, more like seventeen minutes as a quantity surveyor. It was freezing and he said “Take your hands out of your pocket” and I was like “Fuck you” and that was the end of my job.

When you were in the Specials, or even before you were in the Specials, did you have a role model for what kind of a singer you wanted to be, because obviously with the Specials one of the things that gave you an impact was how you were on stage. Did you have a role model?

Not really…

Where did that come from…?

I couldn’t put the two together; I couldn’t look at somebody like Roxy Music and think I could ever do that, because it was Roxy Music and it was out of reach really. The whole thing with me on stage was total fear; it was the fear of being on a stage. It’s that thing; maybe this is how you find your voice, but I wasn’t aware of that at the time, it was just total fear.

If we move onto the Fun Boy Three. Is it true that ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’ could have been a Specials song?

No, although we started work on it on a Specials tour but it was always going to be a song for the Go-Go’s.

The story is, that although you were with somebody at the time, you also had an intimate attraction with Jane from the Go-Go’s.

It wasn’t intimate really, but everyone thought it was but we knew it wasn’t; that’s why it was called ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’. It was good fun people thinking that there was an affair going on, there really wasn’t.

You co-wrote it with her in mind.

Yeah, well, with her band in mind.

So again you were writing from experience and that song was first of a lot songs you’ve written about difficult relationships, fucked-up relationships…


Did you feel at any point during that time that you were brave laying yourself on the line?

No, I didn’t question it. Write about what you know or maybe what you’ve experienced. I can’t be Nick Cave and write about being a 17th century miner. No disrespect to him, but what a c*nt. (audience laughs) Sorry, I can’t stop myself… (audience laughs)

I can’t take on a role, I just can’t do that. When I’ve tried it’s just been awful.

If we can talk about something I think you alluded to earlier. ‘Well Fancy That’ you recorded with the Fun Boy Three and again you were writing from experience. I wonder if you could share with us the story behind that song and if you could tell us if you had qualms about putting that story into the public.

When I was 12 I got taken to France by what now you would call a paedophile ring but at the time it felt pretty harmless until I was in France and then I was sexually abused for three days and three nights, and belted about. I often think now, because it was so under the carpet and behind the curtains then, I think now terrible things might have happened; he could have flipped out, but then it was brushed aside. I thought it was important for me to talk about it because it was my first experience of medication after that event. At that point I was on Valium, and I was addicted to Valium at 13 and it was a really bad time; but I wanted to share it with people, just to get it out of my head…

And did you find that that eased the trauma of it?

Yeah, yeah, and it helped me lose the anger as well, because as well for the following ten years I thought I’d hunt him down, but yeah, or no; and I decided not, really. I looked at that as an illness; he’s had a mental illness. That’s what I believe.

I guess it’s one of those songs also – we talked about it with racism before – for people hearing it I’m sure people were impressed that you were brave enough to write about it but some people probably found it…

I got some amazing letters from all over, some from people who’d been abused by their families and stuff, that was great. It did its job really, and for me it’s always been about communication; that’s the reason I do what I do, and whether I talk to one person or a million, it doesn’t matter. I’d rather one person really gets what I say; I think that’s important.

That Fun Boy Three era and the Colourfield, it was odd because you were writing songs like the one you’ve just described and songs like ‘Take’ – songs that weren’t anything to do with mainstream pop – but you were still very much in the pop world. For example when you were working with Dave Stewart you were both interviewed by Lorraine Kelly…

On GMTV, yeah.

And a bit later I think you were interviewed by Zig & Zag…

Zig & Zag, and Richard & Judy…

‘Pebble Mill at One’…

‘Pebble Mill At One’, yeah.

On these occasions how did you react, were you thinking what the f*ck am I doing here, or were you embracing…

Zig and Zag maybe, yeah, because there are these two blokes right there and it’s like “Make it look real for me at least”, you know what I mean? (audience laughs). One thing I didn’t like about the Clash was that refused to do ‘Top of the Pops’. I thought that was a weird thing to do; subvert from within, that’s always been the thing. Why be in a small club when you could be on ‘Pebble Mill’ and say f*ck in front of old age pensioners, I think it’s quite funny.

Thinking about it, I think you’re the most pop person I’ve ever met.

I was very very pop, thanks very much…

Morrissey; I don’t think he ever met Zig & Zag.

Morrissey was never pop…Anyway, thank you.

A part of all this maybe is that a number of women of my acquaintance are in love with you and I wasn’t sure that’s just because of the women I hang out with, so I went on the internet and there’s a lot of love for you out there. And women have emailed me and all they’ve written is “Terry Hall – *sigh*” or “Terry Hall – *swoon*”. Part of me wants to know your secret but generally how do you explain that…

It’s called charisma. (audience cheers)

Those teeny-bop-type moments, was that easy for you to deal with?

What? Girls saying your fantastic? Really easy!

Were you not also married at the time?

Yeah, but it’s still really easy to think it’s also fantastic.

Backstage we were talking about a time, when you were based in Manchester, in the Colourfield era, and I can remember you and Carl and Toby coming into the world famous Hacienda, which wasn’t world famous at the time, it was often empty…

The emptiest club in the world. We recording at a place called Strawberry Studios so it was just a place to go after and go to get a drink. And you got served pretty easily.

When that culture changed, at the end of the 1980s, and the Hacienda did become world famous, and we had the rave scene, there was a big shift in the culture wasn’t there? How did that change in the culture impact on you?

The whole DJ culture freaked me out a bit, and the whole making records in your bedroom with all this technology. Technology is great but not if you’re producing shit; what’s good about that? And it was very much then a major label thing, when they could get a dance track and license it for 3 grand and make whatever. I just didn’t get it. I remember seeing a TV thing with Fatboy Slim and people cheering him when he put on a record on (audience laughs). I thought what’s that about? I just don’t get it. It’s like when I open my car door will people cheer? I just didn’t get it.

We (the Specials) went to Ibiza for the first time in August. I actually didn’t want to go but I was outvoted twenty-four to one. I went for nine and three quarter hours, and we played there and it was all I thought it was going to be, which was, er, evil. Maybe “evil” is too strong a word. No, it isn’t; evil.

A little addendum to that, a little addition to that, is that obviously since then, Terry, you have taken up DJing…

Yeah. (audience laughs).

Although I have to say that we’ve DJ’d together a couple of times and the first time obviously I didn’t know what to expect and at the back of my mind I was really hoping please don’t just play Specials songs…

I could never do that…

And the first song you played was Grace Jones, and that was perfect for me.

I can appreciate somebody playing really good records, I really can; people who I consider having a really good taste in music, but I couldn’t appreciate the stuff that went on a round it. Turning people like Pete Tong into celebrities. People like him should be shipped out; the damage he did at London Records with friends of mine, he knows f*ck all about music.

What happened in that era from the late 1980s on, is that with people like Roddy Frame, Edwyn Collins, and Paddy McAloon, and Morrissey to an extent, and yourself, that change in the culture took away an audience, a generation, that actually would have appreciated your music.

But I really switched off from music at that point and went underground in my head just because it felt like marketing. I didn’t feel like I wanted to be involved in music in any way.

One of the people you maintained a working relationship at this time though was Ian Broudie. You worked with him with the Colourfield and then in the 1990s even more. How does that relationship work?

We met at a Bunnymen thing and we just got one. We liked the same records and we liked the same food and we just got on, and we could play records to each and know that each other would like it. It was basic, basic stuff.

In that 1990s period you worked with numerous people and lots of collaborators. Was that restlessness? Well, was it restlessness, firstly? And secondly do you think that period in the 90s, where sometimes it was a solo album and sometimes it was working with somebody else, made it hard to sustain a career?

I didn’t think of it as a career, it just turns into something that you just do. I could never rest easy with being in a band after two albums because I always thought you’d said enough. Very few bands that I’ve liked have made more than one or two albums. It’s just this is what I do, and because you’re trained that’s what you did, but there was always a point after finishing when you don’t want to hand it over to anyone, especially a record label because I knew they wouldn’t get it…

One of your solo albums, ‘Laugh’, you worked on that closely on that with Craig Gannon – who’s in the audience with us tonight – ‘Ballad of a Landlord’, for example, is one of the best songs you’ve written – although you didn’t have that interest in what happened next, was it frustrating that it wasn’t reaching a big audience? The sales didn’t matter?

Not at all, not all. The two solo albums were done specifically for two people; two people I wanted to talk but I couldn’t say what I needed to say so I tried to do it through them. It’s a big thing to do but it’s the only way I knew how to do it. All the stuff afterwards, like making videos, I really just wasn’t interested in

So which two people?

Two people in my personal life; one’s still there very much so, yeah.

Funny you should mention videos, because the members of No Doubt make a guest appearance in the video for ‘Ballad of a Landlord’, don’t they? You are very pop Terry!

Oh, very pop, yeah. But I was in their video before so they were returning a favour that I didn’t ask for. The only thing they could think of for me to do in their video was to sit on a swing, I thought, wow cheers! So I asked if they could just sit in a bed, and they did; they didn’t question it at all.

In the 90s, you’ve said in interviews that you weren’t well, and you suffered quite badly from depression in the 1990s…

In the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s but it was only properly diagnosed maybe 7 years ago; properly, where I did need a lot of help.

In the 1990s you didn’t realise or help wasn’t available?

You know something’s wrong but you self-medicate with drink, that’s what I was doing. But I knew I had a big problem, but I didn’t know how to deal with it and only when it reached a certain point when I couldn’t physically do anything that I had to have help.

Was that medication or was it therapy?

A bit of therapy, mostly medication. It took two or three years to get the right cocktail really, and it’s been a hard thing to do, but now it works. My life depends on these drugs every day which felt like a horrible thing at first but now I just equate it with vitamins or brushing your teeth or something, it’s what you have to do; it’s part of your daily routine.

Ok, let’s take a break, we’ll reconvene in fifteen/twenty minutes time everyone.


There’s one random question I didn’t ask you in the first part; but how does someone who grew up in Coventry end up supporting Man Utd? (audience cheers/boos)

You just do. Nobody I knew supported Coventry when I was ten or eleven; we all had different teams, and Coventry wasn’t there amongst them

You do actively follow them don’t you, to the extent of going to Stoke away…?

Stoke away, yeah. It’s a passion really, probably my biggest passion. I tried not going for a period but on a Friday night I’d get really angry that I wasn’t going, so I thought it was just easier to go and not be angry. I go with my son Felix to aways and I go alone to Old Trafford because he doesn’t like the atmosphere there.

What atmosphere!? (Terry laughs) Going back to 2-Tone, as a concept and a record label and a look it was very influential; did you all have a say in the label?

Yeah, it was a seven way split artistically and commercially. Jerry and Horace worked on the artwork, because they were art students and that was what they did. Initially, we were sick of rejections from labels and promoters and everyone else and we thought well, why don’t we just do it in Coventry at home, and it’s like a small cottage thing. Then we did a license deal with Chrysalis and it turned into something else; then it was arguing about how we must have the butterfly logo on the label and we were like “Fuck Off”.

In term of signing bands, like when The Selecter came on board, was that something that the seven of you spoke about?

Pretty much, yeah. The idea was that we had a one single deal with any band that fitted, and then they could go on and do what they needed to do; we did it with Selector, the Beat and Madness.

In terms of the look of the Specials, I was talking to Kevin Rowland a few months ago here and he was talking about that period that he thought it was important that Dexys had a look. Was that something that you shared?

The same thing. I saw Dexys in sou’westers playing a gig, and UB40 in African tribal dress. It was amazing. Dexys; that whole ‘Mean Streets’ in Birmingham, that was great

Did you discuss that among yourselves in the band about how you looked?

Yes, it sort of naturally happened. When we starting playing – it’s called “ska” but I don’t know what it should really be called, but, most of us went back to an image that we related to that music which was in the late 60s, early 70s where we were all skinheads and suedeheads so we went back to that really.

Where it came to the image of the Fun Boy Three, that was where your few weeks of a hairdresser came in handy, there was a pineapple head style…

We were wild, out of control…

Was part of that Fun Boy Three, despite your dead pan image, that you just wanted to have fun?

Not fun, we just didn’t want to have what we’d just had. It really was just trying to get away from it all, in any way and every way.

You’ve done a number of cover versions over the years, can I ask you about some of them? ‘Windmills of Your Mind’ with the Colourfield, what made you chose that?

It was an amazing song, and I was going through that whole Bobby Goldsboro phase and you look around and try to get a theme for what you’re doing and at that point it was David Hunter from ‘Crossroads’, do you remember David? He’s so under-rated, and I wanted to be him; it was bizarre. The Colourfield; we actually went to Austin Reed to try and be David Hunter but we could never be him.

That song ‘Windmills of Your Mind’ has been used a couple of times on adverts for Matalan and Tescos. What’s the process, how does that happen?

Basically we sign over our rights to everything, and then people sell our music.

So you could be sat at home and an advert comes on and that might be the first time you know about it…

Sometimes, sometimes. We did a song called ‘Ain’t What You Do’ and that is being used now by B&Q. (audience member cheers). Yeah, but you sit where I’m sitting and you think about why you recorded it and this bloke’s putting up a f*ckin’ shed! It’s like, it kills it a bit.

Didn’t Woolworths try and sell their Hallowe’en range using ‘Ghost Town’?

Well, ‘Ghost Town’ has been used so many times, every time you see Channel 4 or BBC2 you’ll hear ‘Ghost Town’ with Thatcher, that’s alright. But there’s very little we can do about it. Jamie Oliver used ‘A Message to You’ and you think f*ckin ‘ell, and people ask me “Why are you depressed?”!

One of the cover versions that you’ve done is John Lennon’s ‘A Working Class Hero’, the version you do is great, mainly because you swear really well; “f*cking peasants”, you sing that particular phrase really well. What attracted you to that song and what were the circumstances that led to recording it?

The song I’ve always liked, but there’s meant to be a certain amount of irony there, the idea of a working class hero. I was never sure what Lennon meant by it and I always got weirded out by the Weller working class hero thing, it made me smile…

Explain what you mean…

I’ve slagged off Nick Cave, I ain’t gonna start on Weller.

I really don’t mind if you start on Weller to be honest!

No, he’ll do it to himself, don’t worry! I was supporting Bob Dylan in Tokyo, the way you do. Well, he was mates with Dave Stewart, and me and Dave did an acoustic thing. He was doing four nights at a theatre in Tokyo and Dylan wanted me and Dave to support him so we just played and we just did cover versions with an acoustic guitar and Dave did a 20 minute solo with his acoustic guitar; f*ckin’ ‘ell…

The version is live isn’t it?

It’s live, yeah.

The other song I listened to was All Kinds of Everything’, the Dana song…

With Sinead O’Connor, yeah. We were approached by ‘Eurotrash’ to take part in a compilation, we had to choose a Eurovision song, and I just thought it was quite funny, me and Sinead doing that; it couldn’t have been further from everything really.

There did seem to be a bit of chemistry…

Between me and Sinead? No.

You’ve worked with a lot of great people; is there anyone you’ve ever thought at the back of your mind that if they called that that would really be a moment for you?

(pause) No, there really isn’t, no.

I assume it’s normally them calling you?

Not always, it depends what it is; I was forced into doing a thing with Lily Allen because Lynval thought it was a great idea if I did it with him, but that was alright, that was ok.

The last one I want to ask you about was ‘Close to You’ by the Carpenters, I’m quite a fan of the Carpenters; I wondered what made you chose that particular song to cover?

That was a message to someone. At that point I was drinking quite heavily and I didn’t know how to chat up a girl so I thought why don’t I make a cassette, as it was then, and give it to her and, yeah, it worked, it was good…

I was listening to Robert Forster from the Go-Betweens talking the other day and obviously they never had the commercial success that a lot of your projects have had, but he said that the one thing he learnt from his career was to really value particular moments and take sustenance, from a moment, like maybe, the first time you play New York and you realize that this is what I’m here for. If you look back over those 30 years what moments springs to mind for you?

I think working with David Byrne on the second Fun Boy Three album; he’s the sort of artist that I really have a lot of time for. He was nervous, and we were nervous, and we didn’t speak for three days. We were meant to be making a record but we didn’t speak. He got so nervous he went under the desk, and then finally he came out and said “Let’s eat some soup”.

Is there another?

Well, a negative, but telling a record label to stick its gold disc up its arse, which was ‘Ghost Town’; I didn’t want it. It’s about having the wrong end of the stick. Think for a minute what we were trying to say with that song and now you’re going to reward us with pieces of shit basically, and I didn’t want it. I knew at that point that I had to leave, no matter what the future was I had to get out because it was wrong really.

In terms of your future, from where we are now; the rebirth of the Specials, is there a full-stop already on that or agreed on that?

We’re about to announce a tour which will take place in October, where the plan is to play both albums back to back and maybe that’ll be it. We really want to do something because we enjoy each other’s company now, but there’s a point where you have to cut off. It’s about a celebration of a point, and that’s what we feel and people can see it. It’s a celebration of something that happened in your life that was important, and we’re going to do that again next year, but then maybe that’ll be it, yeah.

Are there any other projects in the pipe line?

I’m almost finished doing a web-site, I don’t know how to do it but it’s for personal stuff. There’s a movement, it’s a horrible word but it’s called Outsider Art, which I’ve been involved with now for about five years, mainly with artists in America.

The one thing I did when I got ill because I couldn’t communicate at all, was I started to paint, my therapist said it was a good way to communicate. So I started to paint the Jackson 5, the first one was funny cos I drew it with six on it, I don’t think there were six brothers! I’ve been buying a lot of work from artists who suffer from either clinical or manic depression and that’s their outlet, it’s the only way they can communicate. Some of the work is very, very disturbing but that’s all they can do. I think it’s a great thing for me to buy it and pass it on, it’s a circle, because all they want is for people to see their work and to fund what they do. And that’s what I’ve been doing, funding their work; I’m talking about pencils and materials, I think it’s important. People are starting to get an angle on the illness, which is pretty terrible illness. There was a Stephen Fry thing about being bi-polar and it really made me angry, and getting people from Hollywood saying that I’m really depressed but without manic depression I wouldn’t create this work. I just think that is f*ckin’ bollocks; if you’re are manically depressed you don’t think about creating work you think about drilling holes in your head or chiselling your bones in your shin, that’s what is does.

Ok, let’s take questions from the audience…

(a dozen or so audience questions, including one asking Terry how comfortable he is singing ‘Little Bitch’, suggesting it sounds odd, perhaps unacceptable, where we are now…)

‘Little Bitch’ is not my favourite song, never has been. It was very much Jerry’s deal with whoever at that point. I don’t think I’d use those words now because I’m 51 now, but at 17, 18 and the way we were raised, that’s what we knew. I think you are allowed to make mistakes and put them right, it’s part of growing up. Yeah, it’s a good point.

I’m going to draw proceedings to a close. It’s been brilliant for me, and I hope for you. Thanks most of all to Terry Hall.

(audience cheers and applause)

Thank you.