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At This Godley Hour
Now a Wicklow resident, Kevin Godley remains a contrary fellow, steadfastly following his creative vision wherever it takes him. That vision was born on Manchester’s music scene during the Swinging ‘60s, led him to leave 10cc at the height of their powers and, with old ally Lol Crème, spurred him on to create some of the earliest and most memorable music videos of all time. Re-entering the spotlight with his innovative WholeWorldBand app which is being previewed at this year’s Music Show in the RDS, Godley talks to Craig Fitzpatrick about his astonishing career.
Craig Fitzpatrick, 21 Feb 2012
I was surprised by how many musicians were open to the project. These big names, and some notoriously difficult to deal with types like Lou Reed, were all keen to participate.
We’d done a video with Lou before that he’d liked. So that was a help. Once you get to a certain point on a project, there’s a tipping point where it becomes magnetic. People want to be a part of it. Plus, it didn’t demand too much of people. It allowed them to react to things rather than sitting down and agonising over it.
Moving closer to home, and your new home of Ireland, you have, of course, worked with U2 for years. You met them just as they had ‘dreamt it all up again’ and went on to create some of their finest videos. Why has that relationship endured?
We push each other. One thing I like to do is put people in unfamiliar situations and see how they perform. As opposed to standing there singing into a microphone, which we all know Bono can do extremely well. But having him lying on the floor, being thrown out of a wagon, having a camera go 360 degrees around him, is a different kettle of fish. If you’re a natural performer like he is – going back to Bill Clarke again – it brings out that extra thing that you didn’t know you had. There’s a ‘moment of jeopardy’, which is how Edge describes it. Things going wrong, which gets the adrenaline going.
When things are going wrong, are there clashes of heads? Larry’s been known to drag his heels when presented with ideas from the more ‘arty’ end of the creative spectrum.
There’s a fifth member of U2 and it’s not Paul McGuinness. It’s U2. What I mean by that is, every member of the band might have a different opinion but, in the end, they know if the finished thing is right for them. It’s like a hive mind. They’re as willing as anybody to try stuff. It becomes obvious pretty quickly what’s going to work. When we were doing ‘Sweetest Thing’ we knew it was going to work. What we were doing was quite radical. We only discovered that thing of Bono not singing the night before, because of the hat. There was something of the Buster Keaton about it. Maybe we don’t sing. Let’s try it. We did and it was meant