Interview: Paul Bridgewater, Radio Moscow

The name RADIO MOSCOW has been around since 1987, when former DIAMOND HEAD guitarist Brian Tatler decided to form his own band…

I can still recall an early Marquee show in 1987, during which a six-piece version of Radio Moscow did a passable impression of U2 doing an equally passible impression of a big-budget American AOR band. Interesting stuff but hardly riveting.

Lead vocalist Paul Bridgwater wasn't in the band back then but he laughs coyly at my recollections.

“I think Brian grew tired after a while of trying to present radio Moscow as the next U2,” to he quips,with just the faintest hint of sarcasm in his voice.

Bridgewater has been in Radio Moscow for the past two years has now assumed a more decisive role in the running of the band since Brian Tatler secured a solo deal with WEA and quit to reform Diamond Head last year.

“Originally Brian and I were just writing together. There was no question of me joining the band, but when their original vocalist (and Bono soundalike) Storm quit I stepped in,” Paul explains. “ It was always Brian's band, though, but at the time it was a gig and we were happy enough to go along with that. For me the only real gripe was having to play a couple of Diamond Head songs,  'Am I Evil' and 'Play it Loud,' in the set every night. I was never really a fan of theirs!”

Did Tatler's decision to quit come as a surprise?

“Not really,” answers Paul. “He got offered the deal and he went for it. Nobody in the band blamed him for that, but at the same time the rest of us wanted to carry on.”

Apart from Paul, the rest of Radio Moscow are bassist Aldo Mazzei,  drummer Rich Battersby, and temporary guitarist Tim Andy Manford. Aside from a 4-track EP recorded last year with Tatler, the band's first vinyl excursion is their debut album World Service released on September 2nd through Status Records. It's a spirited collection of melodic hard rock songs, gutsy but tuneful, and well represented by the likes of "Standing," "Message For You," and the powerful, athemic "The Flame."

“The closest I can compare us to is FOREIGNER,” muses Paul with surprising honesty. “But apart from them I don't think we sound like anybody else! My influences are very traditional,  you know ZEPPELIN, PURPLE, HUMBLE PIE, but we deliberately didn't want to go for a sound that was very derivative of any of those Great British bands. I think we've got our own style.”

The songs on World Service were written by the band with Tatler, which suggests something of a change in direction for the Diamond Head guitarist.

“Well, on paper, Brian and I were not a compatible songwriting partnership!” laughs Paul. “I'm very much into the blues, whereas Brian was always a real heavy metal fan, hence Diamond Head, but in the studio it worked. I know you'll often hear lot of horror stories about bands not wanting to play certain songs once somebody's left the band, but that isn't the case here! All the songs on World Service are at least a year old but we're pleased with all of them and happy about the direction of the album as a whole. The biggest problem was not having a full-time guitarist after Brian left. Tim (Manford) is an old friend of ours who helped us out for the album and some of the live dates, but this isn't really his scene and he didn't want to commit himself to the band full time. We've now recruited a new guitarist Jank Briar who really fits in, understands what we're trying to do, and and is 100-percent behind us.”

The production on the World Service was handled by big Mick Hughes, METALLICA's sound engineer and an old mate off the band from their native Birmingham. 

“We met Mick through Brian,” explains Paul, “ and he expressed interest in producing the record. To the best of my knowledge this is his first production job, but we trusted him implicitly. In fact, we're really pleased with the way the album sounds. He's got an ear for what sounds good and what doesn't, which is why Metallica have always had so much faith in him. He's also something of a character and a joy to be around!”

Aspiring British rock bands appear to be having a better time these days than they did, say, four years ago when Radio Moscow first started. The emphasis, as far as record companies and the general public are concerned, seems to have shifted away from the glossy American sound, so popular during the mid-80s, towards a rootsier, traditional feel, exemplified by the likes of THUNDER and THE QUIREBOYS. It's a healthier marketplace for the likes of Radio Moscow, but surely one that's already full of some very hot competition. Paul ponders the question for a while.

“I don't really think about it to tell you the truth,” he answers. “I don't want that to sound arrogant or make it sound as though we think we're so much better than the rest,  but I've always had something of a tunnel vision about this. If you spend too much time worrying about what everybody else is doing it's likely to screw up your judgement. I've every respect for bands like Thunder and the LITTLE ANGELS, but we have our own ideas and our own approach, and we won't be swayed from that by what those bands happen to be doing.  I think we've got enough going for us to stand up against those groups. At the moment our number one priority is the album, so we intend to spend most of September out on the road promoting that, playing anywhere that will have us!”

And after that?

“Who knows. We're negotiating getting onto a bigger tour as support, but that could all fall through so I don't want to give any names away,” reveals Paul. For the time being, though, it's just going to be us and the clubs!”

Tune into radio Moscow if you get the chance!

Mark Blake
Riff Raff
September, 1991

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