Eddie MacDonald/Smalltown Glory – BBC Surrey Radio 17th December 2018
Transcribed by S J Henry from the original radio broadcast.
Interviewer: This coming weekend, I was laughing because I was engrossed, I was listening to Sylv, and every word she was saying right, I was engrossed in conversation with my next guest. There’s a big fundraiser taking place in Farnborough for Alzheimer’s Research UK. It’s a cause close to the organiser Pete Cole’s heart as both his elderly parents live with that devastating disease and Pete pulling then together a host of acts who are all given up their time for free, and among them is Eddie MacDonald, a founder member of the 1980’s group The Alarm. (Excerpt of 68 Guns plays).
Interviewer: So Eddie’s with me now. When you hear that music, I mean, that was from actually dare I say it a fair few years ago.
Eddie: Yeah it was.
Interviewer: Does it seem as long ago as it was?
Eddie: No, honestly it doesn’t at all. I mean, people still talk about the record and it’s obviously in a lot of tv programmes, it was on The One Show, I think about a week or so ago.
Interviewer: Oh was it?
Eddie: Yeah, and they did a big feature on it, and er it’s great that people still love the song, y’know, they love the band and it’s nice to be remembered nicely.
Interviewer: But here’s the very odd thing about you, I say odd, it’s just a kind of career change. You’ve kept the music going in one respect, but actually for the past 20 years or so your main business has not been music it’s been photography.
Eddie: It is indeed, yes.
Interviewer: How did that all come about?
Eddie: Um, we worked with some of the best photographers in the world, being in the band we were very fortunate to travel the world. Y’know work with Annie Leibovitz, Bob Carlos Clarke, loads and loads of great photographers, and I was a photographer groupie, I used to go and hang out after shoots and really got into it. I went back to college to retrain and then when the band split and done it ever since.
Interviewer: OK, but you’ve been doing that and it’s been a job and a rewarding career for you but the music’s never gone away.
Eddie: Never, no, I love it. There’s nothing better than getting on stage and seeing an audience respond to your music and if they sing and join in as you go along it’s absolutely an amazing feeling.
Interviewer: How do you look back on the time with the band?
Eddie: D’you know what, um, I wouldn’t swap it for the world. We were so fortunate to play with y’know, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, U2 and we shared some stages with some amazing artists. We played with Queen at Wembley at one of their last ever shows. I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody recently and I must admit I did well up at the end of the film because it brought up so much of my life back as well. Cos’, Freddie and Brian, they were amazingly kind to us, so um yeah, it was amazing times.
Interviewer: Yes, I guess almost you must’ve been at times starstruck?
Eddie: Oh yeah, I once sat on a plane in front of Slade.
Interviewer: (Laughing) Yes and we hear enough of them at this time of year!
Eddie: (Laughing) Absolutely.
Interviewer: Um OK, so best group that you got to work on, I mean Queen must surely have been the group to work with?
Eddie: Yeah, I mean Queen were fantastic, but so kind, so generous. Erm, I mean U2, I will always be grateful to sort of Bono and the boys, because they gave us a major break in America. But no-one had heard of us and we went to tour America without a record out, and they literally, because they loved the band, took us with y’know we got on really well with them, all Celts together sort of thing, and it was great. So to discover America, like, it was the land of plenty in that sense for musicians, it was wonderful.
Interviewer: And so you are performing then this coming weekend, it’s a very special gig this.
Eddie: It is. I mean, obviously, Pete’s gathered people together and erm, there’s no egos it’s all about, we are there for a reason, which is basically to support the charity, which is Alzheimer’s Research, and y’know obviously dementia affects so many families and people, and it affected my family and we’ve lived with it for a long long time and unfortunately y’know we lost our mother in law a year or so ago, a bit more now. It was something we, a journey, that was a very hard journey indeed.
Interviewer: It affects so many families, doesn’t it? The more you hear about this and how common it seems to become, any little thing that can be done to try and raise funds, be it to help those that are going through it or the research of course to try and find some cure to stop this from happening to other people. Eddie: Yeah, absolutely. In a way this is going to attract young people to this concert, I mean obviously there will be a mixed age group, and the idea is to try to get the message across it can affect anybody, y’know, and when it does affect them it changes your life as well. As well as the person that actually is affected by it directly because you have to deal with all the sort of symptoms of it, and those symptoms aren’t always obvious. So you’re always looking for those little signs and things, so for someone like myself to give something back and to help the cause it, it’s a really, y’know, feels good.
Interviewer: In terms of the music, tell me about the CD you’ve just handed over to me.
Eddie: You’ve got a CD that’s never been played on the radio, so it’s a first time, here we go. And, erm, yeah, again a lot of love gone into this. This is, to be honest with you, this is my therapy, because dealing with someone when they have got dementia, you need also to get your life back as well. Because it does take an awful lot of you, and um, this to me was my therapy, to try and get it out there.
Interviewer: Brilliant, ok, and on my Sunday show this weekend we will play a track from that.
Eddie: I’d be so grateful, thank you.
Interviewer: We will definitely do that and next year in terms of, y’know, what do you do? Do you do the music or the photography? After quite a long period of time the music is gonna take more of a front stage as it were next year.
Eddie: I think so, to be honest with you, they, they do work in harmony as they say, which is really nice, and I think what I’m looking forward to doing is taking songs that have been inspired by the last seven or eight years and maybe to talk about some of the hardships I’ve been through that so maybe other people don’t have to. I mean there’s a political element to it, there’s a lot of emotional element to it, and you get to a certain age where you really want to talk about things close to your heart. Y’know, when you’re young you’re angry, you’re frustrated, but there’s no reason for that to go away, sometimes to put it in a song is a very creative way of getting rid of stress.
Interviewer: Good stuff, well, the gig, if you want to see them doing their thing this weekend, Saturday night, doors open at 6pm, £10 advance tickets from wegottickets or you can get them in advance, as I say, there will be some, as I’m told, on the door, and we look forward to seeing and hearing more from you next year as well. Eddie, thank you so much for coming in and seeing us today.
Eddie: You’re welcome, thank you.
Interviewer: It’s really good to see you
Audio Link – Original interview can be listened to on this link
Helpful links in relation to the interview topic of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s Society – Website link to find out more about the work and support they do.
Alzheimer’s Research UK – Website link to find out more about the work and support they do. www.alzheimersresearchuk.org
Alzheimer’s Disease International – Website link www.alz.co.uk/global-information
Eddie Macdonald Interview December 2018
Eddie MacDonald/Smalltown Glory – BBC Surrey Radio 17th December 2018