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Sold On Song In Liverpool

An Evening With Ian McNabb
October 2004, Barfly, Liverpool

Ian McNabb
Ian McNabb, formerly of Icicle Works, plays a cosy set at Barfly in Liverpool and talks about his songwriting career to Mark Hagen. Plus he answers your online questions below.

Listen to the interview
Listen to the acoustic performance
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Below Ian answers questions sent to the Sold On Song website.

Q Hi Ian, there are certain songs that fans shout out for at your gigs, Up Here In The North Of England springs to mind, and you tend not to perform them. Are there any songs that you have grown tired of or ones that you view as not relevant any more and why? Looking forward to the new album. Ernesto Di Fenza
i've got a load of songs that I tend to sort of play most of the time and there are so many now cos I've been going so long that I can't remember them all. If I have to do something that I haven't played for a long time then the odds are that I'm not going to remember the words so I have to learn the song again. You know, the brain is the organic hard drive and I think my hard drive is sort of full at the moment so for me to be able to do a new song I have to 'delete' some old stuff from the brain. I do try and play the odd song that I haven't played for a long time but generally I do have a bunch of old songs that seem to be the ones you always tend to fall back on"

Q You write very much from the heart. Do you find lyrics come easier when you're in love or when a relationship's fallen apart and you're surrounded by the debris? Christine
I can write songs in any sort of state but I think the ones that people tend to like the most are the ones that really tend to come from the heart. If you've had a personal bad experience or a personal great experience and you put it into a song they tend to be ones that people like the most and the songs that you write when you are on sort of auto pilot are good songs but they tend not to be quite as important to people.

Q What was the reaction of Neil Young to you recording with Crazy Horse? Neil Brampton, Wales
He was a bit funny about it at first. I played with his band and no one else ever plays with his band so I suppose it was a bit like taking his girlfriend out for a meal or something. But when he heard what we'd done, he really liked it and he was very complimentary on the next occasion I saw him. So, yeah, he liked it.
Q Do you still hope that one day you can sing 'I'm So Glad I Waited' at the end of Hollow Horse? Kev Drury, Kent
It's all about waiting for something great to happen and I go 'I'm so tired of waiting'. But now I don't sing it anymore because I think I've waited long enough. I think basically you kind of wait for something to happen and then the years go by and you actually realise it had happened and you didn't really notice it. There's that John Lennon lyric 'Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans', so that's kind of what I equate that to.
Q Any chance of a live album being put out? Phil Sparks
The thing is I play solo quite a lot and when I play with a band we rehearse for a very short period of time. I had a band over the summer and we played the festivals. We had about four festivals and by the fourth gig we were really starting to get good so what happens is you get a recording thing and then you record like the third or second gig and then you think if we would have five more gigs then it would have been fantastic. So I think I'll probably do a live CD and live DVD when I've got a run of 10 shows with a band and you can record two or three shows, and pick the best bits. Whereas if you just record one show there's always a few things wrong. But yeah, I will address that at some point.
Q Any news on the new album? Stella
The new album is already to go. It's gone off to the factory and it will probably be coming out late Feb/March next year - it's called 'Before All Of This'.
Q Were you both suprised and proud that 'You Must be Prepared to Dream' was used as the music for a montage of British successes during the Olympics at prime time. Have you been paid yet for it? Neil and Angela Smith
Absolutely! It takes a while for the money to come through. That usually happens when a supporter of your music is in positions whereby they can make decisions to do something like that. There's a guy, I've been told, who's in charge of selection for certain music slots and he just thought that would be perfect for the slow motion shots. Yeah it's great - if I hear my music anywhere, I'm pleased it's getting used, you know. There's a lot of people watching the Olympics more than would be watching a pop programme so, yeah, that's great.

Q Why the nickname Boots? Were you renowned for wearing them or did used to work there?! Richard Burbage
There's a line in the song Hollow Horse where I say 'I'll keep my boots on' and one of the crew that used to work for the Icicle Works, the band I used to be in years ago, kind of picked up on it. I always used to wear Beatle boots. I stopped because I'm six foot and I used to hunch over and I got a bit of a crick in my back and I was told to stop wearing them. I think they're coming back in now.

Q You've recorded Marc Bolan's The Slider and it's also known that Hot Love has been performed. What's the fascination with Marc Bolan? John Wass
He was basically the first artist that got me into pop music. I wasn't really into music when I was 11 or 12. I was into the space programme and football and then I saw Marc Bolan on Top Of The Pops doing, I think, Metal Guru or Telegram Sam and I just thought 'What's that?' I immediately got my parents to buy me a guitar so he's obviously got a very special place in my heart and I still listen to his records quite a lot. T-Rex records are dead easy to play because he wasn't particularly a great musician so when you first start playing the guitar you tend to play a few T-Rex riffs because they're usually in E - the easiest chords to play, that's why I do that.

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