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MARCO PIRRONI
INTERVIEW 2005

(part 1 of 5)

Carty had already interviewed Marco Pirroni back in June 2004. So why bother again? Well just take a look at what's happened since then. Seven remastered albums, and a DVD, a demos box set and possibly two books on the way. Carty wanted to know what else was he hiding from us? He wanted to know about "planned" Ant remixes, and allso wanted to throw a few suggestions of his own in Marco's direction. This time there was an agenda, but could he get the answers? Well, he had the questions.

We're waiting for the nurse to bring our dinners!
We're waiting for the nurse to bring our dinners!

The official Cartographer from last year (Jackie) had run off with another Ant, so Carty roped Ant Lady in with the task of taking the snaps (like she had a choice!). They arrived early, so took a stroll round the block before ringing Marco's doorbell. Once they were out of the lift, he was waiting there with the door open and invited them both in. We sat at the table and Marco made coffee. Carty takes up the story:

"Take it from me - Italians make good coffee. Remember that. We chatted about him being in the middle of two house moves, his own and his parents'."

"He asked us if we had any fags but neither of us smoke so the only option he had was to pop out for some (I offered). Could he leave two Ant fans alone in place? Of course he could...and he did. Out he popped for some ciggies as Ant lady and I sat at his table like scalded school kids...well, almost!!"

"We joked about the fact that Marco was probably testing us and had set traps to see if we went snooping around his home. Maybe he was listening behind his front door? Maybe there were cameras? We laughed. But that soon stopped when I looked into a bowl of cigarette lighters on the table. I saw a small pen knife. I picked it up and opened it. Then I tried to close it. The damn thing was stuck! It wouldn't close! I was doomed! Marco was due back any second!! But, my Lords, I had a cunning plan. I hid the opened knife under the lighters in the bowl! Perfect! (Unless of course our favourite guitar player accidentally cuts off one of his fingers hunting for a working lighter!!)"

"I also wanted to sit in his spherical chair as featured in the TV show The Prisoner, but I waited until the end. We're both fans of that show it seems. I was going to tell of an interview I did on radio with one of the show's script-writers, but he'd probably know more than me about it. I just had to sort out that sodding radiator of his, but that came later too."

"Once Marco has returned, he lights up, moves his bills off the table, fills the coffee cups up (Italians make good coffee, remember?), and we're away!"

Ant Remastered box set
Ant Remastered box set

Carty: Since we last spoke we've had all the remasters and Redux. How do you look back on that now that it's apparently closed off?

Marco: Well I'm glad we did. It's put to bed and everything and I don't have to think about it anymore.

C: How has the response been from a sales perspective? Are you pleased with it?

M: I think I'm pleased. I was pleased with the first set. With the box set I don't know what sales that has done yet. It's something I'll have to check into this week.

C: Was Redux an after thought?

M: Yeah.

C: Because you had stuff left over?

M: We didn't want to just do six albums in a box. We wanted to think of something, so we had this stuff. Well, people say they want it, and here it is!

C: In my interview with Mark Alleyne he said that the packaging for Dirk, Kings and PC were being remade so that the booklets wouldn't fall out.

M: That's right because the slot's on the wrong side.

C: He said he'd have to wait until they had sold out of the first batch before the correct batch could hit the shops. Now, there are people waiting for these to be available. Has that happened yet?

M: I think they have sold out. I think they've done the Dirk ones. I think the Kings ones have gone. I've actually just got a load from Sony, but I haven't opened them so I don't know if they are the new ones or the old ones.

C: So they could be out there.

M: Yes it could already have started.

C: When we spoke last year, I brought up Manners & Physique, Persuasion and Wonderful, and I got the impression that the intention was there to remaster those and make it a complete set. You'd said even though they were on different labels it could all be licensed through Sony. But after Redux was announced that was it. It was all finished. So what happened?

M: It just got very complicated and time consuming and we wouldn't have got that box out in time. It just takes fucking ages between corporations, particularly when it's stuff that's not readily to hand. Because this whole thing with MCA is ridiculous. They don't even know they own it (Persuasion). I can talk frankly and freely as I don't care anymore: they (MCA) don't know they own it. We asked them years ago that we'd like to license this album and they'd say "But we don't own it!". You'd think that would be good, but in actual fact you just can't go ahead because *I* know they do. *WE* know they do. And Sony said "That's all very well MCA saying they think they don't own it, but they really do! They'd just be shot". They will realise one day.

C: You have previously gone into details with me about all the red tape and legal shit that's involved in this. In real terms do you think that we will see, putting Persuasion aside for now, do you think we will see remastered versions of Manners & Physique and Wonderful?

M: Well, there's this thing with EMI that I haven't actually checked out that has only happened in the last couple of weeks - that we wanted to put the Wonderful EPK thing on the DVD.

C: The Wonderful video Electronic Press Kit (which appears on Ant Video)?

M: Yeah. And we had to get clearance for it. And they wouldn't give clearance. And I was thinking "Why?" Because they can't use it for anything. Well they are planning their own DVD project. Now what that could be I have no idea.

C: Because they've only got three singles to go on it?

M: Well they've got an album.

C: EMI said a DVD?

M: That's what it said in my email. I think EMI don't really want to talk to me, because I was never really signed to EMI as an artist, so they can't really talk to me about it. They'll have to talk to Adam, and he won't call them.

It was over ten years ago!
It was over ten years ago!

C: I remember reading somewhere that there were 25 songs recorded by you and Adam for Wonderful, so I'm led to believe. I think it was something Adam said in an interview.

M: What state of mind was he in when he said it?

C: No, I think it was some press pre-release thing and that there were 25 songs ready for the next album and it was just a case of narrowing it down to the last few.

M: Yeah, I think we did a lot more demos. We suddenly had this thing about doing some demos. We were going to buy a four track cassette recorder and we were going to do it here (in Marco's home). I'm going to play guitar and Adam is going to sing and that's going to be the demo. That's it. We're not going to do anything else. It'll be the bog standard, world's roughest demo. We could have done with one of them really (pointing to my Olympus digital voice recorder) but we didn't.

C: The sound on this is shit believe me.

M: We just wanted to get it on to something and then it was, "don't touch it until we take it to the studio". So then there's nothing to be lost, hopefully.

C: So, when you went through all that process, it was just a case of picking out the best songs and doing those properly in the studio. And that's what resulted in the album?

M: Yeah. I don't know what state they are in but there was a cassette I gave Andi (Vaughan) and it really is a drum machine, an acoustic guitar and a voice.

C: What about songs that were demo'd by yourselves at that time, when you were signed to EMI? Is there a licensing problem if you ever wanted to release those demos? Does it work like that?

M: There's never any licensing problem between companies. The only problem is how much people want to charge for them and how much people want to pay for them. In this situation it's probably not worth Sony licensing them. They would have to give EMI points and stuff like that. It's better just to go directly to EMI and do it with them.

C: So if there was, say for example, a four track cassette demo of Vampires, and it was good enough to release, you'd go through EMI?

M: Yes, because they own all that material.

C: I want to ask you about a demo claimed to be after Wonderful and thought to be considered as a single by Adam, Call Me Sausage. There seems to be no information in the public domain about this and nobody knows anything about it.

M: No, they wouldn't.

C: Well I need to know more about it basically. What do you know about that particular recording?

M: I know everything there is to know about it.

C: So what other recordings were done at that time?

M: We did one called Tough Blokes, Call Me Sausage (thinks...thinks more). Did you ever hear anything about one called Picasso Meets Gary Cooper?

C: No.

M: Okay, there were six songs. I can't remember if we did them all in that day and in that session. There was something about Picasso Meets Gary Cooper which we never finished.

C: I love the titles!

M: Well it wasn't called that, it was called something else. There's another one called Justine.

C: I wonder who that was about?

M: What else did we do? I can't bloody remember! I think Andi's got them all. I had them all on DAT.

C: But you must have them here! (looking around)

M: I don't. I don't keep old stuff. I don't keep any old stuff.

C: Do you think any of this stuff will ever see the light of day?

M: They might do?

C: "Don't rule it out". That's what you're saying?

M: Yeah. I really like them. Well SOME of them I really like.

Remember this?  Me neither!
Remember this? Me neither!

C: Let's move on to the DVD, Digital Tenderness. What stage are we at right now?

M: The stage we're at is, tomorrow (Monday 31/10/05) at 2:30 (pm) we are going to view the whole thing from start to finish and check all the menus and everything and then it goes off to manufacture. It's not going to be right tomorrow, but this is the stage we are at. It's like tomorrow we start proof-reading it and tying up all the things together.

C: And who will be doing that?

M: Me and Mark. Mark did all the menus and stuff.

C: How much of a headache has that DVD been?

M: A fucking nightmare.

C: What has been the most painful?

M: We really wanted to get that Old Grey Whistle Test footage. First of all they (the BBC) said "we will give it to you", then they said they won't give it to us. The BBC are a corporation that doesn't exist like other corporations. In fact they don't have to make money. But there are people who have now joined the BBC trying to make them be like other corporations. They are fighting internally with other people who like the old ways.

A still from the OGWT performance
A still from the OGWT performance

M: What the BBC don't understand is that although they own that footage, they also own those performances. They own those recordings, but they don't own the song. So the only thing they could ever do with it themselves, without my permission or Adam's permission is to put out a silent version. That's the only thing they could ever do.

Oh look!  Another one!
Oh look! Another one!

C: What about from a broadcast point of view?

M: They can broadcast them, but never sell them.

C: And that's no good to them, obviously.

M: We tried to explain that. I said, "look, we are the owners of the copyright", "but we own the performance", "yes you do, you own the performance, and the track, but you don't own the song". They're not getting this.

BBC performance of 'Antmusic'
BBC performance of 'Antmusic'

C: On that note, there has been, on a BBC DVD release, an 'Antmusic' performance from Top Of The Pops. So, was that a case of you saying "if we do that for you..."

M: No, that was done ages ago.

C: For the 40th anniversary of Top Of The Pops?

M: Yeah. They planned that ages ago. It's their footage, they can do whatever they want with it. They were given permission two years before they started the DVD.

C: So, with the Ant DVD, Digital Tenderness, do we have a release date?

M: February 2006.

It's not real, surely!
It's not real, surely!

C: What about a final track listing seeing as you're viewing the whole thing tomorrow?

M: If I'm looking at a virtually finished DVD tomorrow, you'd think I know what's on it, wouldn't you?

C: No, no. You know fuck all!

M: Correct.

C: Because you've left Mark to do it all.

M: Yeah. I got bored with it.

C: We know roughly what to expect, but what is on there that has not been released on any format whatsoever? What's new?

M: (silence)

C: Okay there are two different versions of the Kings video, shot from different angles. Is the other one on there?

M: There are two on there. I've never actually seen them to be honest.

C: Any live footage?

M: There was all that Manchester stuff but to be honest - we held that back because I want to do something else with it. I was going to put that on there but what happened was in the time we've been doing this DVD, my parents had been talking about moving. I'm the only child so I have to do it, which I don't mind.

M: Finally after sorting out all this stuff and deciding that they ARE going to move, I thought I'm going to have to sort all my stuff and put it into storage. In the garage, years and years and years and years ago, there was a huge drum case and I put it in there. I can't remember why I put it there. I put it there for safekeeping and it was supposed to be moved to somewhere and I forgot all about it. Then my dad covered it with boxes and tools and things. I'd forgotten all about it. Inside was this huge box and what it had was all the multitracks from the actual sound recordings from the Prince Charming Revue, Live In Tokyo, and all the live stuff we've ever done. All our live tapes which I'd never seen before.

C: It's just as well your parents are moving.

M: Yeah. All that stuff's going to go up to Sony.

C: So that's for future projects?

M: Yeah.

C: Are we looking at one disc for the DVD?

M: Yes, one disc.

C: What about packaging? Is it just going to be general DVD packaging or are we looking at something special?

M: Well, we went through all this thing about packaging. That's something me and Mark like, packaging. Then we kind of thought, "actually this stands on its own". There's a budget for the whole thing. If you spend more money on packaging then you can't spend money on the product. You have to balance both of those up. So it's just bog standard packaging.

M: Luke (Southern, from Sony) really wanted this leaflet that tells you what's on it. And I told him no-one ever looks at that. They screw them up and throw them away.

C: I fucking do!

M: Do you?

C: Yeah!

M: Well there's a leaflet in there anyway.

Why have I named this "booklet" I wonder?
Why have I named this "booklet" I wonder?

C: Thank you.

M: That's alright.

 

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