Inspiral Carpets – There’s Stories To Be Told PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Terry Doran   
Thursday, 18 December 2014 14:45

I first discovered Inspiral Carpets in 1985, when my Mum posted to me the Oldham Chronicle’s music page, featuring the band, together with her weekly cuttings from that newspaper about Oldham Athletic. In those days, it was difficult to keep up to date with day-to-day matters at Boundary Park, if you lived further away than the boundary of the Chronicle’s circulation area, and I was indebted to my Mum. The music page had regular articles about Oldham’s promising Inspirals and their gig venues such as The Mare and Foal pub at Primrose Bank.



One of these venues was The Bridgewater pub (now demolished and replaced) on the corner of Manchester Road and Chapel Road. On one of our visits to Oldham in 1986, my wife and I went there to find out why this band was making its mark locally and appearing to have a promising future. We took our 17 year-old daughter with us. Together with her school-friend, she had produced a fanzine titled ‘Helter Skelter’, with interviews of bands such as The Wedding Present carried out at gigs in the Midlands, when I acted as chauffeur. She finished stapling the fanzine together and took copies along to the gig at the Bridgewater and it was the members of Inspiral Carpets who bought the first copies.

The gig was very enjoyable and different. Although I had grown up in Oldham in the 1960s, with music in most of its 365 pubs, I did not recall American garage-rock and psychedelic music ever reaching the town before. The gig was enhanced by picture-slides projected onto a wall in an adjoining room – was this a glimpse of how gigs would be in the future? In the weeks that followed, the band sent our daughter a demo tape for review in the next edition of ‘Helter Skelter’, but there never was another edition, as the authors were too busy with their A-level studies. By 1987 the band had made a flexi-disc, which was issued free with the ‘Debris’ fanzine, with Stephen Holt on lead vocals.

In 1989 the band’s big breakthrough came when they sent a demo to John Peel, and he played it on the radio, thereby creating record label interest.

In 1987 our daughter had declined a place at university, to pursue a career as a musician, which included playing guitar and singing backing vocals in a band called The Telescopes, which had a No. 1 single in the Indie Chart in 1989. In the same year frontman Stephen Holt left the Inspirals and was replaced by Tom Hingley, and we saw the band play at Birmingham’s Irish Centre.

The Inspirals’ guitarist Graham Lambert has always been an Oldham Athletic fan. So was Clint Boon way back then but, like many Oldhamers, he no longer maintains the interest. In Oldham Athletic’s Royle glory years, ‘Joe’ was played over the PA system at Boundary Park, and nowadays the band is acknowledged with airings of ‘Saturn 5’, letting supporters dream of this is how it should be if the team takes off to climb the biggest mountain towards promotion. When Latics reached the Football League Cup Final in 1990, the band members played football against Forest fans on the car park of one of the M1 Services on the way back from Wembley. Forest fans still talk about how cool that was!

See the lad on the Saturday terraces,

His collar pulled up around his chin.

His side are two goals down and playing lousy,

But he still believes his team are going to win

And he prays each night that his family's alright

And he's got work.

‘Song for a Family’ - Inspiral Carpets

The Telescopes played on the Sunday at the 1990 Reading Festival and, together with our son, we were named on the guest list, discovering this is how it feels to be allowed backstage.

Inspiral Carpets had been top of the bill at the Festival the night before in front of 40,000 people, and they were backstage on the Sunday, still buzzing from their successful gig, which they had concluded with fireworks costing around £700. I believe the pyrotechnic display was a first for the Festival, and the band told us they did it because, coming from Oldham, they believed in giving value for money.

That Saturday was also the opening game of the football season, and we had been to Molineux to see Oldham Athletic beat Wolves 3-2 (Steve Bull 2 Ian Marshall 3). We enjoyed talking to Graham and Clint backstage the following day, recounting the match details and reminiscing about that early gig at the Bridgewater. We also talked to David Gedge of The Wedding Present about his interview in the one and only edition of ‘Helter Skelter’.

Also in 1990 the Inspirals were helped by Lancashire Dairies to promote their debut studio album titled ‘Life’ in a ‘cool As milk’ promotion with the 'cow head' logo, the album release date and concert information printed on pint glass milk bottles.

The Inspirals are almost as famous for their ’moo!’ Merchandise as they are for their music. Their "Cool as F***" t-shirt was a best seller and they used the proceeds to set up their own ‘Cow Records’ label.

The band’s roadie was Noel Gallagher and he travelled the world with the Inspirals. When Stephen Holt left amicably, Noel was auditioned, but Tom Hingley from Oxford was preferred as the replacement front-man. Noel knew that Clint and Graham were supporters of Latics and he would probably have known that the Club’s London-based supporters called themselves OASIS – Oldham Athletic Supporters In the South.

Therefore it came as no surprise to me when a new band fronted by the Inspirals’ ex-roadie emerged under the name ‘Oasis’. Some might say definitely maybe the two worlds collided. Others might say you can’t take the truth. It’s probably all in my mind and dragging me down. Coincidentally, Alan McGee’s signing of Oasis in 1993 proved to be the saving of his Creation record label and resulted in the axing of lesser bands, including The Telescopes.

At one point the Inspirals had 13 Top 40 singles in the UK charts and their ‘Life’ album reached No. 2 in the national charts. They enjoyed global tours and were regulars on “Top of the Pops”, including the occasion they were joined by the Fall’s Mark E. Smith on ‘I Want You’.

By 1995, band members had family commitments and a collective decision was made to take a break. Clint set up and fronted ‘Start 95’, a pioneering scheme, in partnership with Oldham Council, to help young bands and individuals to learn about the music industry

He also formed The Clint Boon Experience and released two albums and several singles, with some songs featuring unknown opera singer Alf Boe, and the classic Stooges’ ‘Now I Wanna Be Your Dog’ live performance featuring Mark E. Smith.

We saw them at Derby’s Victoria Inn, but the 1999 tour ended in a horrific motorway accident on the M74 in Scotland, on the way to a gig at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, in Glasgow. The tour bus tyre exploded and left band members with severe injuries. The band’s girl singer had to be airlifted to hospital.

The Inspirals got back together in 2003, and in March 2007 we combined a Latics away game at Luton Town with a gig at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire, together with other Oldham Athletic supporters, when we ended up in the balcony seats instead of standing in the mosh as anticipated - the moral being if you let someone else get tickets for you, don’t be surprised when they let you down!

The Inspirals’ Clint Boon had a share in The Castle (formerly the Grey Horse Inn) pub music venue on Union Street in Oldham, where Oasis once played, and we went to a gig there. When the pub was forced to close permanently in 2013, reportedly as a consequence of disturbance caused by Metrolink works, Clint allegedly left his mark by spray-painting the Inspirals’ cow logo on the wall of the venue.

After experiencing splits, re-gatherings, tours and the odd record release since the mid-90s, the band was re-united in 2011, with original frontman Stephen Holt back in the fold, and its self-titled new album – the first in 20 years - was released in 2014. To promote the album, the Inspirals embarked on a tour in December 2014, and we caught up with them at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms, which was an opportunity to resurrect my wife’s old t-shirt.

It’s a homage to the Boddingtons’ beer advertising campaign in the mid-1990s featuring Mossley’s Melanie Sykes, who recently was the third-placed celebrity in ITV’s Jungle. The merchandise seller at the gig was so impressed with it, that he took a picture - it will be interesting to see if the design re-arrears to keep the circle around in a shower of commercial rain. I had a good chat with him about our mutual memories of the Inspirals and Latics.

The merchandise stall had a t-shirt for which any grand-daughter would say “I want you”, and how could it be resisted by grandparents when it is calling out to you, especially in a Stone Roses’ plastic bag with a V.I.P. identification pass left over from their 2012 Heaton Park gig? Clint Boon was originally in a band called T'Mill with Mani (Gary Mounfield), who joined the Stone Roses in 1985 when Clint became one of the Inspirals.

Along with other gig-goers, we took the opportunity to buy the band’s next single ‘Let You Down’ (featuring Salford’s ‘poet laureate’ John Cooper Clarke) in advance of its January 2015 release date.

On the way to the Nottingham gig, we went in the Ned Ludd pub, where one of its cask ales was Navigation Brewery’s ‘Daniel Diggle’, commemorating the man who was tried and hung in Nottingham for his actions in support of framework knitters during the Luddite revolt. I wondered if one of his descendants could be Phil Diggle (brother of Steve, a guitarist with the Buzzcocks) who had taken the impressionable Clint Boon to a rock concert all those years ago and ignited the dream of music stardom. Nowadays the band’s revived creativity takes place in a studio in Diggle in the Yorkshire part of Oldham.

To supplement his income, Clint used to be a Disc Jockey in Oldham’s Tokyo Project, night club, where we’ve reminisced with him. He has also worked as a DJ on Liverpool station Crash FM, Manchester’s Century and Oldham’s Revolution Radio stations, and he is now the host of the most popular programme on XFM Radio, to which we listen when in the Oldham area, along with a large following of ‘Boon Army’ members. Through his radio work he gives breaks to unsigned bands, following in the footsteps of John Peel, who Clint credits with changing the direction of his life as a musician and as a listener. When not busy looking after his six children, he also performs DJ sets at various local club nights.

Clint once said: “The Inspiral Carpets weren’t the best band in the world, but we can knock out a good tune”. They proved they can still do that and, after the Nottinghan gig, I felt sure they would sleep well tonight.

Nottingham gig - my pictures:

Oldham Soul – Keep the Faith!

Terry Doran

December 2014.

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Last Updated on Monday, 22 December 2014 08:22