Miles Hunt, the reliably obstreperous frontman of 80s/90s hitmakers The Wonder Stuff has, he tells TONY DEWHURST, mellowed ahead of his Lancashire dates later this month
Miles Hunt remains a true pop innovator and his first book, ‘The Wonder Stuff Diaries: ‘86-89’, is a spirited, no holds barred account of the band’s rise from the pubs and clubs of the Black Country to the top of the charts with their number one hit – Dizzy – with funny man Vic Reeves.
Hunt, we discover, kept meticulous diaries, and those notes form the foundation stone of the book, with his vivid recollections an accompaniment to this warts and all guide through DIY rock and roll history.
Indeed, it offers a rare glimpse into the Wonder Stuff’s fast moving and chaotic early years - from broken down vans, grotty B@B’s, dodgy promoters and the thrilling excitement of getting a record out or having your new single played on the John Peel Show.
Hunt, who will perform a reading from the book at Clitheroe’s Grand Theatre this month, said: “Music is part of all our lives. To some extent, we are defined by what we listen to in our teens – and that’s one of the reasons why, I think, people have enjoyed the book.
“I played the Sex Pistols’, ‘God Save The Queen,’ recently and it brought back so many warm feelings and memories.
I’ve calmed down. I’m a far happier person these days
“Who my friends were then. Who I went to gigs with. What was happening in my life.
“Looking back it feels like I’ve lived two lives, though.
“There was the life in the early Wonder Stuff and then afterwards, when I turned my back on the London scene, the agents, and the music press.
“It all seems so peripheral now, so unimportant. I still make music, but I have zero interest in the music business.”
The book has proved such a publishing success, Hunt is busy penning a sequel - and there’s a new Wonder Stuff album in the pipeline, due for release next year to mark the 30th anniversary of their first demo.
“I tried to avoid a standard rock biography, and what became just a dip into my personal diaries has become a really cathartic experience.
“Two of the boys from the band, Martin Gilks, the original drummer, and Bob Jones (bass player) have sadly passed away now.
“It was a weird feeling reading the diaries for the first time since they were written 30 years ago.
“I have been amused and saddened in equal measure.
“I say that because that’s what happens when you are young.
“You want to grab life, have your say in a big way, but you make mistakes. I’ve calmed down now.
“I look before I leap. I’m a far happier person these days...”
Hunt toured as a solo performer for a time until the Wonder Stuff re-convened in 2000.
“I was watching some of our old home movies from that era the other day and it was like seeing it through a fresh pair of eyes.
“I think it’s probably easy to look back on the old days through rose tinted glasses, but then the other day one of my mates stumbled across these old photos of us from years ago, and there was a picture of me and Bob (Jones), the original bass player, in a Jacuzzi sharing drinking champagne, hanging out in Los Angeles.
“You just can’t look back at those moments without feeling a warm nostalgic glow.”
So how does Hunt see the state of the nation?
“The result of the General Election was hugely disappointing wasn’t it?
“I like this country a lot, but it is just those morons in power, who offer nothing in value whatsoever, who upset me.
“Perhaps we will see a resurgence of a protest movement, like Rock Against Racism was in the eighties, because it is going to be a hard few years under the Tories.”
Hunt will also be playing a handful of songs – and during the show he leaves cards out for fans so they can write down questions, answering them during the second half.
“Answering the questions has been brilliant,” he added.
“They’ve really surprised me.
“Some have been hilarious, others have been quite touching.”
An evening with Miles Hunt (The Wonder Stuff). June 27. £10 advance. Seated (unreserved). 01200 421599.