Pauline Black and The Selecter are in Clitheroe tonight and touring the country to mark the 35th anniversary of their debut album, but iconic lead singer Pauline took time out to bring Barry Freeman up to speed on matters political, sartorial, physical and musical, and also to appeal for a new hat
“Passion.” A word which will spring readily to the mind of anyone familiar with Pauline Black and The Selecter.
Since 1979 these veteran leading lights of the British 2-Tone boom have been renowned for both the energy of their live performance and the emotional and political punch of their recorded works.
In Lancashire tonight to mark the 35th anniversary of debut album Too Much Pressure, right – which the band will play in its entirety at the Clitheroe Grand – lead singer Pauline is as committed to the causes which have long informed the band as ever.
She does not believe, however, that the issues facing the young and poor today are the same as those which forged The Selecter in particular and the scene in general.
“There are certainly parallels between now and 1980, but to make a direct comparison is wrong.
“Women’s and gay rights issues have been addressed, institutional racism has been questioned.
“Now we are in a global recession. In Britain manufacturing industry has largely gone, meaning our unemployment figures, particularly among the youth are sky high.
“At the same time, back in 1980 young people didn’t have the pressures or pleasures of social networking, which have obviously opened them up to all kinds of musical wonders and expanded their knowledge of the world they live in.
“Obviously rights have been gained and laws passed to further the aspirations and protect people against racism and sexism, but the world is still an uneven playing field, whose inequity the present world political system is loath to do anything about.
“It leaves the poor of the world largely propped up by charity from the trickle-down economics of the last century.
“The role of a band like The Selecter, is to keep that contradiction at the forefront of peoples’ minds by spreading our 2-tone message through new and old recordings – and performing with as much passion as we can muster!”
This latter is a matter the band take very seriously, and their is real dedication on looking and being the best they can.
“I used to run 30 miles a week until a few years ago and completed the London Flora Marathon in 2001.
“I’ve cut back on running quite so far these days, but I regularly attend the gym, to keep my muscles strong.
“Gaps Hendrickson, the other singer/toaster in The Selecter runs four miles every other day and is extremely fit too.
“We both think if an audience has to look at us for and hour and a half on stage, then we have a duty of care to them, ie to make ourselves looks as good as possible, both fashion-wise and physically.
“Also our genes have been kind to us – so far!”
When it comes to keeping the snappy Ska look, sharp-dressed Pauline and co have become connoisseurs of the retro and vintage scene.
“Fred Perry and Dr Martens and sundry other vintage or retro shops,” said Pauline when asked to define her own sense of style.
“I particularly like the retro shops around the Custard Factory in Birmingham.
“All my hats – my signature dove grey trilbies - are invariably sourced at vintage shops.
“The last one I bought was from a flea market in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It had ‘Jockey Club’ embossed on the leather hat band.
“Sadly it is now on its way to the vintage hat shop in the sky, so I’m looking for another. If you see one, let me know!”
More hats will invariably be required, as Pauline – an impossible to believe 60 – has absolutely no intention of slowing down yet, and is enjoying both the touring, songwriting and recording as much as ever.
“These days it is much easier to be fearless and just go for it. We have nothing to lose!
“We are very organised for a band and try to plan the year out and have a goal to be achieved.
“Our current one is to record a new album – ‘Subculture’ before November.”
The Selecter are at the Grand, Clitheroe, Saturday, April 12. Box office on 01200 421599.