Imaginative, melodic and stuffed full of memorable hooks – a chart-topping song was all in a day work’s for 10CC. The group’s original, ten-year career yielded several instant classics, like ‘Art For Art’s Sake’ and ‘Things We Do For Love’, and now these and many other songs – some recorded in pre- and post-10CC outfits – have been gathered together on the damn-near-definitive 2CD set, Greatest Hits…And More. It was just the moment, then, for David Davies to put in a call to one quarter of 10CC, guitarist/vocalist Graham Gouldman, for his take on the group’s illustrious history.
TotalMusic-Online:The new compilation offers a broader selection of material than previous 10CC best-ofs – there are tracks from Wax and Godley & Creme alongside the big hits and selected album tracks…
Graham Gouldman: "The idea was to give more of a perspective on the band as far as what some of us had done before 10CC was formed, and afterwards. The actual selection, though, was done by Universal."
TotalMusic-Online: The four members of 10CC – Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley, Lol Creme and yourself – wrote and produced for numerous other artists in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s. When did you finally think, ‘Look, we should be doing this ourselves’?
Graham Gouldman: “That point really came in the middle of work on our first album with Neil Sedaka. We loved working with him – he was fantastic – and everybody that we worked with contributed in some way to what became 10CC… [But] we suddenly thought, ‘We are four writers, four musicians, four producers, four singers – we should form our own band.’ I don’t know why it didn’t occur to us before, but it didn’t."
TotalMusic-Online: ‘Rubber Bullets’, ‘The Wall Street Shuffle’, ‘I’m Not In Love’… the hits came thick and fast. It must have been a shock, then, when Kevin and Lol decided to jump ship at the peak of your success in 1976?
Graham Gouldman: "Yes, it was. Eric and I wanted to carry on working together, and we had a lot of discussion about whether we had the right to keep the name because half the team had gone. And it was an equal partnership – it wasn’t just like we’d lost a drummer and bass player who didn’t do anything other than that. Ultimately, we didn’t think it was right that we should have to give up the name and all the kudos that we had acquired because two of the members had left."
TotalMusic-Online: ‘New wave’ is hardly a term you would associate with 10CC, and yet you ended up producing The Ramones [on Pleasant Dreams] in 1981. What are your memories of that?
Graham Gouldman: "Very good – surprisingly good! The first thing that occurred when they asked me to do it was, ‘Why me?!’ But it turned out that they loved all those British rhythm and blues bands like The Yardbirds. And I had a connection with them [Gouldman wrote The Yardbirds’ breakthrough single, ‘For Your Love’]… I’m not really sure where it lies in the list of their successful albums, but they seemed to be happy with it and I enjoyed doing it."
TotalMusic-Online: 10CC returned in the early ‘90s for two more albums, but it appears to have been a rather ill-starred reunion…
Graham Gouldman: "I’ve got the benefit of hindsight now, but the way it was done – in two halfs – I think any 10CC fan would have thought, ‘What a load of crap’, you know? We were made an offer we couldn’t refuse and we didn’t really want to work together anymore, so we thought, ‘Well, you do your half and I’ll do mine’... It’s not the way to do things."
TotalMusic-Online: Although you’re no longer working with Eric, you’ve recently reunited with Kevin (now a highly successful video director) as GG06
Graham Gouldman: “Kevin and I never lost touch with one another even when Kev and Lol left the band. If anything good happened we’d always drop a note to each other to say, ‘Well done, congratulations.’ Kevin ‘phoned me some time ago and said that he wanted to do some music again – I think he wanted that immediacy of creativity, as opposed to making a video, which can take a long time and involves lots of other people.”
TotalMusic-Online: Two of the GG06 songs are on the new ‘best-of’, with more available to buy online. But does the fact that you’re shortly to tour on your own under a variation of the 10CC name mean that a reunion of the original quartet is now out of the question?
Graham Gouldman: “I would say it’s highly unlikely – nobody wants to tour except me.”
TotalMusic-Online: 10CC was all about songcraft and imaginative record production. Do you think those values have been lost in recent pop music?
Graham Gouldman: “With bands like The Feeling – who have cited 10CC as an influence – you can hear that sort of melodic content and arrangement. So I think they’re being refound, actually.”
10CC featuring Graham Gouldman & Friends will tour the UK in Feb/Mar 2007 (see www.the10ccfanclub.com/htm/framsne.htm for dates). Greatest Hits… And More is out on Universal now, while four GG06 tracks are available at gg06.co.uk/.