Right Said Fred

Next week Right Said Fred get set to make their big UK comeback by going head to head with Steps for the number 1 slot. Already a massive hit in Germany "You're My Mate" is making waves on the Box and MTV. We caught up with lead singer Richard Fairbrass to reminisce about the mad characters of pop, to take the mickey out of Radiohead and get serious about the BBC's programming of "marginal issues" such as gay and religious issues. They're our mates:

Q: "You're My Mate" is going head to head with Steps. Do you think you'll make the top spot?
A: I have little or no time for that nonsense know as Steps!!! I think anything would be better that rubbish. Frankly, a more meaningless pop band I can't think of, off the top of my head. You only have to listen to the original of "Chain Reaction" to know that there's no point in doing that track. That track was a piece of work the first time round and Diana Ross did an absolutely amazing job so why people would touch it I don't know.

Q: Who do you think is going to win the chart battle the week before - Kylie or Posh?
A: Well I haven't heard the Posh Spice single and have no intentions of doing so. The Kylie song didn't knock my socks off as much as the last one she did. But I like Kylie - I think she's cool and she's a trooper!!!! Of all the options that were given, as limited as they are, I'd go for Kylie.

Q: You must look around though and think where are all the mad characters in pop music nowadays?
A: Well its what happens when record companies start making bands!!! If you wanna step out of line and do something a bit odd it never going to be done from the chairman of the label down. Its going to be done by inventive A&R guy going out to a club on a Monday night and finding something strange. That's how it happens and it doesn't happen when you start putting things together over the television or by advertising in stage magazine for 5 boy dancers.

There were always manufactured bands. The Monkees were a manufactured band. Take That were. But its just not very inspiring anymore and its got a bit bland. There are lots of other bands out there doing some interesting things but most of it is not to be found in the boy band / girl band arena.

Q: So what do you listen to then if its not in your face pop?
A: I like particular tracks and its never really specific bands. I really like the Gorrilaz stuff, the Wheatus single and the new Travis single. I didn't like the previous stuff I'd heard but "Sing" is pretty good. The problem is if you're over 25 you remember a lot of the songs and most of its covers - so its hard to get really excited about a new version of "Lady Marmalade"!!!!

Q: Where do you come up with the ideas for songs. You can't expect us to believe you sit round for hours labouring over the songs can you?
A: I actually think its a good thing not to listen to too much music. I really do. I don't think you should listen to too much of what everybody else is doing otherwise you just end up consciously or unconsciously copying it. Its good if you can to let pop music wash over you without specifically listening to one thing and trying to copy it.

We've always just tried to write a street level no pretence kind of pop song. With "You're My Mate" we wanted to write a song about just being mates - there are lots of love songs out there right now but there aren't that many songs about friendship. Once we had that idea we knew where we wanted the song to go.

Q: It must have been great to get these Ivor Novello awards and having the old fogies going "Music - its not like it was in the old days"?
A: I think there is good things about the old days and really terrible things about the old days - the problem is you only remember the good tracks. There was plenty of shit around in 1965, 1975 and 1985. I never regarded the Ivor Novello awards as being very worthwhile and the reason I say that is they were awarded for being "the most played songs on radio". I mean we were very pleased about the radio play but I didn't see why we should get an award for it.

Q: Its good to have a fun band around again because there so much depressive music around with the likes of Radiohead and Coldplay?
A: There was a really good episode of the Simpsons the other week and they had Smashing Pumpkins in it. Bart Simpson was going to a Smashing Pumpkins concert with Lisa and she says to Bart "Isn't This Great?". And Bart said "Well I think depressing music is like shooting yourself". Its easy to be miserable but you need it all because you wouldn't want every band to sound like us.

Q: Aside from the band you have done a lot of TV. Is Gaytime TV coming back this year?
A: No its not. As I understand it what's happening is the BBC has been given a permission to start BBC 3 and BBC 4. And I think BBC 3 is for "marginal issues" like gay stuff and religious stuff - you know, things like that. They cancelled Gaytime because they knew where they were going to place that strand. Working with Rhona was really good though, she's a got a really dark view of the world.

To be honest we had to fight tooth and nail to get music on that show. Historically they found with audiences that when the music came on they switch over or switch off. People tend to watch their music within a dedicated music show rather than in a magazine show.

You'd be surprised how many out popstars there are who wouldn't do Gaytime. If you think of an out popstar, and we all know who they are, none of them would do it!!! Absolutely none of them, they were very disappointing.

Q: Back to the band what are the plans for the next 12 months?
A: The main thing for us would be to do a full UK tour with a live band which we've never done before. Its been done in Europe before and I think our live shows are where we are at our most effective. At the moment our home market is Germany because were doing really well but my guess for the UK Tour would be next Summer.

"You're My Mate" is out September 24th