An interview with Lawrence: “‘Primitive Painters’ was this great big statement, Felt were going to be massive.”

Lawrence on the making of a classic single...

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Do you remember when this was?
Let’s remember the weather… I reckon it was spring. It was coldish but there wasn’t any snow or rain. I’d say spring we did it. Definitely spring, yeah. Loads of Eighties bands went to Palladium, especially Scottish bands. Paul Haig and people.

What was it like?
It was residential which is the first time I’ve done that, and I didn’t like that at all, being away from my own surroundings, and sharing a room, we were all sharing a room. Like a dormitory it was.

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Who did you share with?
I had my own room. I think that was part of it. I had to have my own room. I think we threw someone else in together, three of them together, so that I could have my own room. I think that was my one diva moment. It was awful for me, it was in the middle of nowhere. About a 45 minute bus ride into Edinburgh. It was awful, in a country lane, there was like a tiny little village down the lane. I got attacked by a dog, had to go to hospital. Like a wolf it was. It attacked me one day.

Why did it attack you?
I don’t know, just saw I was scared. It didn’t attack anybody else. I was on my own. Had to go to hospital. I hated it. And also I hated the food, and the whole day was geared up to “Is he going to eat or not tonight?” It’s all like that.

What kind of food did they serve, if you don’t mind me asking?
I can’t remember. But I didn’t eat anything. I didn’t like any meals, it was always a big deal. His wife was cooking the meals for us, of course, and you tend to be polite in those situations, but I couldn’t eat the food. Robin, he thought it was wonderful that all this was going on, and he’d make a big show of it to the wife, “He’s not eating it again, he doesn’t like your food.” All this kind of stuff. He’s quite the joker, Robin is. Everything’s based around a joke and japes with him. He sort of revelled in my idiosyncrasies.

I want to talk more about Robin in a minute. But this is Duffy’s first record. How did he come into the picture?
He joined late ‘84, straight from school. When we did Ignite… he was probably 16.

How did you find him?
I put an advert in Virgin for a guitarist. This was during one of the periods where Maurice left. This guy who worked there came up to me and said, “Look, you’re in Felt aren’t you? I know this great keyboard player.” That was Martin. I rang him and it was as simple as that. That was it really. Very lucky. I was thinking about a keyboard player anyway, because Maurice is so hard to replace. I got Martin in, we worked on all songs that were on Ignite the Seven Cannons – apart from “Primitive Painters” and Maurice’s solo song. In between then and starting the album, Maurice rejoined. He’d always leave, then he’d rejoin. Me and Gary [Ainge] would carry on on our own for a few months, and then we’d come to a low point, go round to Maurice’s house and beg him. We’d stay up all night with him and plead with him to come back. He took a lot of persuading, he wasn’t bothered about being in a group at all. So anyway, the next time we got Maurice back, Martin was with us. One of the reasons Maurice was quite happy to come back was the fact that we had a keyboard player. He thought it would be better for the arrangements.

This was Maurice’s final record, though?
Every record he came in and left really. That’s why he’s never in a lot of interviews, because he’d left straight after recording. But what happened this time was he’d got married to a girlfriend, and what should have been his honeymoon was spent recording Ignite the Seven Cannons. When we delivered him back to his flat in Birmingham, he got out the van and said “I’m finished now, yeah that’s it, I’m finished.” I knew he meant it that time. He left soon as we’d finished recording.

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