Stage Times: Ian Broudie

The Lightning Seeds frontman looks back on three decades of indie pop history – from scoring Euro 96 to hitting back with this year’s See You In The Stars

“Is it really 13 years since our last album though?” laughs Ian Broudie. “It feels longer. It says 13 years on this press release thing, but I really think I wrote Four Winds in 2006. And it came out then, didn’t it?” It didn’t, as it happens, but 2006 feels just as long ago now as 2009 anyway, especially when you’re waiting for a new Lightning Seeds record to come out. 

Now finally returning with See You In The Stars, the seventh Seeds record to date and the first in far too many years, Broudie is excited to be getting back on the road again with a major UK tour starting in Oxford on 28 October. We caught up with Brodie (the day before he was due to film a video with Frank Skinner for the new World Cup version of ‘Three Lions’) to talk through his memories of life on stage. 

Lightning Seeds - Pure HD

The First

I always envisaged myself as a guitar player, and I thought I’d find a singer to just sing my songs. But then that just never really happened. And I ended up recording a couple of songs at home myself. And then one of those was our first single, which was ‘Pure’. So I didn’t really have a band, and I couldn’t really play live. So I was very nervous about it all and I didn’t actually play any gigs live until the third album. 

After that, I kind of had to grow up in public. Most people get good at singing by playing little gigs and playing local pubs, but I was literally going to have to start with a sold out show. So I was very nervous about playing my first gig. As I got closer to it, I got worse. Luckily, I’d just produced an album for my friend Terry Hall and he was like, ‘I’ll tell you what, it might make it a bit easier for you if we did some gigs together to start with, and that way you’d be singing but it wouldn’t seem quite as daunting’. It was very kind of Terry, and it did help to ease me in. 

So my first gig with The Lightning Seeds as a singer was in Sheffield, playing The Leadmill. I haven’t been back there since actually but we’re finishing up the new tour there in November. It’ll be quite cool to go back and try and sing in tune!

The Best

You know, there’s been loads of moments that I’ve been so grateful for. I loved playing Glastonbury. I’ve played it a couple of times now, and it was great playing in the rain when England were about to during ‘The Life Of Riley’ and ‘Three Lions’. I loved playing the Hillsborough concert where we headlined at Anfield too. That was just a marvellous moment. I enjoy playing live so much. It was great playing in Mexico to a Mexican crowd. Live music is just such a brilliant kind of never-ending roller coaster of experiences, and the songs just come to life every time in a different way. You visit different places and find different songs are the popular ones too. Some places we play, ‘Pure’ is massive. Somewhere else it’ll be ‘Lucky You’, or ‘Three Lions’. 

The Biggest

Glastonbury in 1998 was probably the biggest crowd we’ve had, but I never really know about the crowd sizes. It certainly felt big at the time. It felt important too, you know? I’m actually less nervous the bigger it is. If I’m in a pub, and there’s 18 people and they can all actually come over to you and see you, that’s when I get scared. 

The Smallest

We’re doing some in-store shows in a couple of weeks actually and I’m nervous about those.  I think there’s one in Liverpool that’s in a really small record shop. I once did a little acoustic thing in a Rough Trade shop down the road from me and they asked me to go in and do a few songs with no microphone, no amps, nothing. I just had to go in and get my guitar out. It was trial by fire. I could see every face in the room. 

The Worst

Oh that one’s easy. We played Shine festival a couple of years ago and that was probably the worst gig of my career. All the technology went wrong. The click track was coming out of the PA. I had a massive cold, just a terrible temperature. It was for a festival I love, so I really wanted it to be good, but it really wasn’t. I just had to battle on. I just stood there the whole time thinking, ‘beam me up’. And I just I really hope someday they rebook us. They definitely won’t.

The Weirdest

I played some very weird gigs when I was in the first band I joined, Big In Japan. I think our manager just used to phone up clubs in the north of England and book us on, without looking up what kind of place it was. So we turned up at a lot of places that were all highly inappropriate for a little punk band. I remember playing a pup in Bradford in the middle of a snowstorm, and it was at the time the Yorkshire Ripper was around. If you were in a van, and you were driving through Yorkshire, the police just stopped and searched you all the time, and it was especially bad for that Bradford show. There were no women at the gig because they were all too scared to go out. And it was such a weird little pub in the snow. It almost feels like a dream now. Like something from a horror film. That was one of the weirdest experiences in my life. It was dark.

The Lightning Seeds - Emily Smiles (Official Video)

The One That Made You Want To Play Music

I always wanted to play music, since as long as I could remember probably. But there was a club in Liverpool, when I was 17 or 18, called Eric’s. That was the place where I actually got to see bands and talk to them and realise they were normal human beings, and to think that I could maybe do it too. And that would have been everyone really from The Clash and The Pistols to, you know, The Ramones, The Damned and Elvis Costello. They were the kind of bands that were around at that time, and they were the bands that I got to chat to at the sound checks, because I used to help load the equipment. We used to rehearse in there as well. That was the period in my life, and that was the place, where I thought, ‘I might actually be able to do this…’

See You In The Stars is available to buy and stream now. The Lightning Seeds kick off their new tour on 28 October, touring throughout the UK in November. Find tickets for the Lighting Seeds here.