|Graham Day, The Prisoners live at the 100 Club, 1985|
In the thirty years following The Prisoners and their various offshoots I can only remember two interviews with Graham Day. The first was in Go-Go fanzine circa 1985 and the second was around 2007 in his Gaolers period.
It’s therefore long overdue to hear Graham and Allan Crockford interviewed for a full hour by Eddie Piller and Dean Rudland in edition 29 of The Modcast. Talk is largely centred on The Prisoners but also covers the other bands they've been in together and separately (Prime Movers, James Taylor Quartet, Solarflares, Planet, Galileo 7, The Forefathers, the list goes on).
It was a surprise in 1986 when The Prisoners signed to Eddie Piller’s fledgling mod label Countdown. The band had pointedly kept mod at a safe distance and their gigs were only attended by a few of the more “progressive mods” but after throwing their lot in with Countdown they were guilty by association and, much to their chagrin, still can’t shake an undeserved mod tag.
This doesn’t stop Piller at the outset of the interview continue with his assertion they were a mod band whether they like it or not. A slightly brave (or insensitive) move considering it was his involvement that gave people that impression. I understand Eddie’s logic - if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck - but it was such a restrictive tag and The Prisoners had nothing in common with any other band of the era with that title. And it was a time when music and youth cults stuck to their own – none of this open, cross-pollination of genres like today. One can almost hear Graham and Allan’s grinding teeth and clenching fists before adopting a more conciliatory tone.
Their year at Countdown was far from harmonious and rapidly brought about their demise. What isn’t clear is why the band signed for them in the first place. They’d already made three albums (for different labels) so it wasn’t like they jumped at the first deal offered. Piller describes how they remain the most difficult band he’s ever worked with. For such strong-headed individuals I can’t understand why they made such a dubious choice and then allowed such a patchy album to follow. My initial reaction to the opening tracks on In From The Cold was one of bewilderment. Where was the band I'd been watching for the last year? It’s tempting to play ifs and buts when considering bands who didn’t achieve commercial success and there’s ample opportunity with The Prisoners, yet what they did do was make some incredible records and play some amazing gigs. That'll do me.
Hear the full interview at The Modcast 29.