Mohair Sweets: Now from what I can figure out from bits of information I've gathered here and there is that basically you haven't been active, at least as a live entity, in music for what, about seven years?
Fay: You're right I haven't played for around 7 years. The last stuff I worked on was with Acid Jazz in 1995 when Phaze recorded 'Indian Ropeman' for Totally Wired 12.
I've been really busy doing other things in life, and just didn't feel the need to do music. In fact I sold my gear and had no regrets about it. You can only have time for so much in a day, and I had no burning desire to write any more songs or play live.
Then, last year, I thought I really feel like doing something. It started because a friend asked me to play in his band. I went to half a rehearsal (I told them half way through that it wasn't for me) and realized that I wasn't happy playing someone else's stuff, but it was good to play with a band again. So I got Phaze together, wrote some songs and recorded 'Who do we think you are' which is out on Vinyl Japan on 7th May.
I feel very blessed. I am in a great band, with a record label that puts us under no pressure, and I have no interest in money and no motive other than to make good music and enjoy it. And it's great that people who know my kind of stuff show an interest.
Mohair Sweets: Well let me just say that it's good to have you back. The world needs more organ combos! How has the response been so far? I know you've played the Dirty Water Club at least but many other gigs?
Fay: Yes, we've played a few gigs in Medway (from where we originate) and London. It's been going well and once the album is out we hope to play more. Just as we're gigging the songs for the first album, it's writing time for the second one.
Mohair Sweets:What's currently getting played in, or on, the music machine around your place?
Fay: Just lately I'm listening to Sammy Davies Jnr, Supergrass, 60's TV theme music (in Graham's car), an excellent organ-based Swedish band whose name I don't know, and my own album... It's got to the time when I can listen for enjoyment instead of tearing everything to pieces while in the throes of recording and mixing.
Mohair Sweets: Let's go back a bit now before we go forward again. Can you tell me a little about your influences and how you came to play the keyboards, or organ more specifically?
Fay: When I was 17 and being asked about influences, I used to reel off a load of stuff that I heard played in places I went. But thinking about it, none of that really influences me musically. I am influenced as a songwriter by nearly all music I've ever heard, and I can see now that the 'proper' groups of the 70's that I heard when I was little (Abba, ELO, etc.) made me aware of melody. I play the organ because my dad taught me to when I was 8. He is a fantastic organist. The great thing about playing organ is that if the bass player acts up there's the option of the bass pedals (and they're so much cheaper).
Mohair Sweets: Anything you specifically dig out when the mood turns to party around yours?
Fay: When the mood turns to party, it has to be 60s and 70s film and TV themes, rock and roll and definitely Slade (all the best bands come from Wolverhampton).
Mohair Sweets: Is there currently any discussion regarding the reissuing of Makin' Time's back catalogue, or have you kept in contact with the band members? Any chance or interest in a one- off Makin' Time reunion show?
Fay: Big Beat records are about to reissue Makin' Time's first album. I don't know why, but they are. There is no chance or interest in us ever playing together again. I'm in a much better band, so is Martin (I hear he's quite successful). I'm still in touch with Neil. He's been living in Germany for 15 years. As for Sid, I don't know if he's alive or dead or living in Wolverhampton.
Mohair Sweets: So Wolverhampton you say. You just may help make it trendy all over again Fay. I heard they've needed some help since Dave Hill left town. And speaking of trendy towns; just how trendy are the Medway towns anyway? Ever get stopped in the grocery store?
Fay: I only get stopped in the grocery store if I haven't paid for stuff. Medway is quite trendy for a certain group of musicians, poets and artists. The art movement is pioneered by Billy Childish, and there are quite a few groups; like the Solar Flares, Buff Medways, Phaze, Armitage Shanks, The Discords, and I feel that I'm slightly to one side because I'm a Mid-lander, but that's good. I've gone from Wolverhampton (One large shit hole) to the Medway Towns (a series of small shit holes).
Mohair Sweets: You mentioned a second LP. Does this mean you and the band look to be fairly active over the next while in terms of work? I imagine there is a fair bit of interest in seeing this combo play. Am I right?
Fay: We aim to be fairly active. We want to continue to play regularly and have had some good gigs so far. As long as the songs keep coming, we'll record them.
Mohair Sweets: I've been going through the latest edition of a book on the Hammond Organ (Beauty In The B on Backbeat Books); tell me a bit about your keyboard set-up for the gear heads amongst us. Please!
Fay: Hammond organs are a real pain. I think I'm becoming slightly psychologically disturbed by them. Of course the biggest problem is that you know you get the best sound from a C3 or a B3, but they're so incredibly heavy to gig. I do my share of gear lifting, but I feel responsible for people's backs. So, I have an X5 for gigs with a Sharma 5000 Leslie unit. In the studio I have an L100, but if I get a few bob in the near future I'll get a C3. It will just stay in the studio. The L100 is fine, but it's taken to making strange whooping noises.
Surely this is boring the pants off you?
Mohair Sweets: No not bored at all. I'm always interested in finding out how people cope with gear and gigs. Considering most folks do one nighters and fairly brief sets it seems to make sense to be as compact and portable as possible. But then the problem many struggle with is how to get "their" sound, and the classic sounds as well, out of the gear they didn't record with or that was never really designed to do said job… Or something like that. Yes, quite fascinating! And as much as the size of a Marshall stack is something to behold I certainly ain't gonna pretend I fancy packing it into my compact car or lugging it onto the bus!
Now what is this Sharma Leslie unit you speak of? And is an X5 a Hammond?
Fay: The X5 is a portable Hammond, though it still weighs a tonne, it stands on chrome legs so is slightly easier to handle. The Sharma is a rotating tone cabinet, like a Leslie. It's the biggest one I could find. It has to be really loud for gigs to compete with the guitars and drums.
Mohair Sweets: So, a few gigs here and there but surely you must be eyeing at least a trip to sunnier climes once the rain of winter sets in?
Fay: We'd like to go to Japan. I'm not sure if it's all that sunnier there, but we'd be in darkened rooms anyway.
Mohair Sweets: What about the other band people, what do they have on the go besides Phaze? I know Alan is a Solarflare….
Fay: Yes, Allan is a Solar Flare. Russ is an alchemist, Darryl is a sheep shearer and I'm fed up.
Mohair Sweets: Does Phaze have a website or any interest in such a thing? I know you said you don't spend too much time on the PC yourself, right? Just no interest or…?
Fay: Phaze can be e-mailed on email@example.com and there's info on http://www.medwaymagic.co.uk No I don't use the computer a lot. I have no time and no interest ...
Mohair Sweets: Uhh… I was gonna ask something profound like, uh, do you prefer cotton, nylon or wool socks? And then of course I was curious as to whether you consider yourself or the band as part of the Mod scene as it were, is, was, and all that malarkey?
Fay: I'm not part of any scene. I don't consider I'm part of anything most times. I don't even connect with other humans.
Mohair Sweets: Back to Japan; I guess as you guys are on Vinyl Japan there is probably a very real possibility of actually going there?
Fay: I don't know if we'll be going to Japan.
Mohair Sweets: I see you'll be in Spain in August is it? Sound good to you?
Fay: Yes we're looking forward to Spain because we're quite low on sombreros and large stuffed toy donkeys.
(Taken from http://www.mohairsweets.mb.ca/interviewspages/phaze.html)