Tea and Starting in the Music Business:
Tea Deviant: We’re here having tea with music manager and film producer Andy Gould of Faction Entertainment.
Andy Gould: I suppose I could go back to the beginning especially on this blog (laughs)
TD: Now was Tea Boy your first gig in the music industry?
A: No it was my second gig. We have in England something hideous called classism. You’re either working class or well to do. And we were decidedly, and happily, working class. My dad was a carpenter/builder my mom was mostly stay at home and worked at the local hospital switchboard. I just had this thing about the music. I loved music. When they had career day at my school when I was fifteen, this is a long time ago now, when dinosaurs roamed the earth (laughs) I said I want to be in the music business. And they were like no you ain’t going to do that. What does your dad do? He’s a carpenter/builder. That’s what you’ll do. You’ll follow your parents into what they do or maybe if you stay on at school for another three, four or five years you can go work in a bank or something. I thought, ugh, I don’t like that idea.
So I went into the middle of London and knocked on a bunch of doors and I eventually got a job as a bike messenger mostly for Chapel music, which is now Warner Chapel. About 8 months into it I was delivering some sheet music to George Martin’s office, the producer of the Beatles. There’s a job in England called a Tea Boy. The Tea Boy in England is like an intern over here or a mailroom job. It’s sort of like you get to do everything no one else wants to do but in England you also have to know how to make a good cup of tea or else you’re gone. And it just so happened that the guy they had making tea had quit or hadn’t shown up. So I got this job as a Tea Boy working for George Martin and a bunch of other English record producers: the guy that worked with The Hollies, the guy that worked with Tom Jones, the guy that worked with Manfred Mann. So at 15 maybe 16 I was working for the biggest company, albeit making tea but I remember calling my Mom you know, going, “hey I got in!” I knew I did exactly what I wanted to do. My Mum and Dad had been super supportive of it.
TD: They didn’t hold you back.
A: No. They weren’t musical at all but they were big fans of music. My Mom didn’t particularly like television. She used to listen to the radio all day.
TD: What were you listening to growing up?
A: My Mom was a huge Frank Sinatra fan and I am too. I was very lucky I got to take my Mom to see Frank Sinatra. I saw Sinatra seven times. He was really one of my heroes. My Dad was huge fan of this wonderful artist called Shirley Bassey. Americans might know Shirley Bassey from singing “Goldfinger” for the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever but in England she’s an institution.
So I got a real sense of what a good song was. Come about 1963/64 this crazy thing happened. People don’t really understand I think how culturally how big The Beatles really were.… the whole of Europe, and England in particular had been in this crazy second World War. It took about 10 – 15 years to rebuild all of Europe and around that time coming out of this really gloomy period these four guys came on. They had this crazy sense of humour and when the people gave them songs and were like, “Oh you’re going to record these songs,” they were like, “No, we’re going to write our own.” And that really hadn’t been done before. That was so massive it blew the music business apart. It was the biggest single thing I’ve ever seen in my lifetime of how one set of people can change everything. Because after The Beatles came along The Kinks, The Who, I mean it was endless.
TD: Even some punk artists covered the Beatles.
A: Well a good song is a good song. People talk about movies, which I do a little of too. You show me a good script for the most part I’ll show you a good movie. You show me a good song I’ll show you a good record. The Beatles just wrote amazing songs and they did it consistently.
So there I was making tea for George Martin and the other producer Ron Richards. After being told I couldn’t be in the business I was in it. I sort of had to leave there as much as it was a bit painful because nobody really ever left. I never saw a way to advance myself in the company. When nobody ever leaves where do you go, be the world’s oldest Tea Boy? So I went to work for a company called Radio Luxembourg and that one was a slight detour for me. Then I got a job at EMI Screen Gems. That really taught me about music publishing and how important songs were. Carol King was a client and she wrote all these amazing songs: “Will You Still Love me Tomorrow”, “You’ve Got a Friend”. Then a friend of mine owned a recording studio and they wanted to start a label down in Brighton - Pebble Beach. So I had a recording studio and we had a lot of people from Stiff Records come down and record. We made a lot of good records there.
TD: The Damned was with Stiff.
A: Yeah, The Damned was with Stiff, and Ian Dury, who I love. Oh my god, there’s so many. There were so many good artists and we had loads of them.
I’m actually having some tea as we speak.
TD: It’s a High Mountain Oolong.
A: A High Mountain Oolong, ok.
TD: From Taiwan. It may be your thing, maybe not.
A: Hey, I like me tea.
TD: Good :)
A: I still make tea every morning. English. PG Tips, thank you.
TD: How do you take your tea?
A: Always with a little milk no sugar cuz I’m sweet enough (laughs) I love it. I’ve lived in America now since 1979 and it may be the one thing that I’ve always clung onto, you know in terms of being English is my tea and my horrible bad taste sense of humour, because the English are the great sarcastic bastards of the world
TD: Brilliant comedians
A: Yes they are.
TD: Do you remember how the Beatles took their tea?
A: I think I only made tea for McCartney one time. I think he had it with milk and sugar.
TD: You were in Manhattan during the Studio 54 time?
A: Well, I was actually right at the end of that time. I got head hunted to go to New York in 1978-79 and like the heyday of Studio 54 was 1976 but it was still going and it was pretty amazing. There was nothing like that where I come from. I come from very working class South London, and you walk into this place full of like the beautiful people, you know as they say, and people were doing all sorts of outrageous stuff sort of right out in the open. That was the weirdest thing about Studio 54 how like I saw people having sex people doing drugs but not in the VIP room, basically in the club. It was sort of, “wow this is cool. This better than where I’m from.”
TD: Sounds like the punk scene but in a more mainstream place.
A: Yeah well it was very upmarket. And then what was great about New York in that time was, you could go from Studio 54 on a weekend and then go down to CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City and all those really cool punk clubs, some of the ones that you don’t hear about so much like Hurrah and Trax. I saw so many famous bands. That’s how they started and you see bands and now they’re playing arenas. That time in those late 70s early 80s when the punk and new wave scenes broke I saw so many … I saw the Clash in a club, I saw Elvis Costello play in front of not that many people, I saw The Police play and loads of others like Gary Numan … a brilliant, quite interesting time. That’s one of the things about being around the business for a long time when you become sort of one of the older people in the business, which I am now I suppose. You see a lot of stuff. You walk into a cold, rainy, snowy club in Buffalo to see a band and it’s U2. I was there to see another band. They just happened to be on the bill. I mean you couldn’t possibly know that the guy with the mullet singing you know in front of 30/40 people was going to win the Nobel Peace Prize one day. I remember thinking he was a good front guy.
From Tea and the Beatles to Rob Zombie and Producing Films:
TD: You mentioned how the Beatles affected music. I think you were part of something else that affected it. Rob Zombie wanted to direct his own videos and he wanted to make his own films. To my knowledge at that time there were not many people, if any, doing that. And now many artists direct their own videos.
A: Yeah, I first met Rob in 1991 and he had a real vision of what he wanted. He said the first thing he wanted to do is make sure that he could direct his own videos. When I said that to the head of the record label he looked at me like I was literally mad.
TD: He had a vision for his videos.
A: Well, he had a vision for himself. He said ‘I want to be in White Zombie but then have my own career and then direct my own movies. Probably do horror films and then parlay the success of horror films into doing something that would win me an Oscar.’ And we did it all. I worked with him for 24/25 years. We’re not working together now but it was a great partnership and I have nothing but respect for what he does and what we did together was crazy.
TD: You were up for it though. You didn’t shoot him down about that, you embraced it. You even became a producer of films.
A: I produced every film. I got most of those deals put together
TD: One of the things you said in your keynote at Youbloom LA was don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do this because you can.
A: Right. I had this sort crazy thing when that guy, my guidance officer said I’d never ever get in the entertainment business because those jobs are reserved for the well to do. I was like, oh man I fucking hate that. So as I said I went and got my job and I always sort of had a thing about that guy. I always said if I saw him on the street I’d want to punch him in the face. Then someone smarter than me said “No you couldn’t be more wrong, Andy. For someone so smart you’ve got this incredibly wrong. You should find that guy and buy him a beer. Because he gave you the one word that you needed to hear which was no” It hit me like a ton of bricks that he’s right. That was exactly what I needed to hear. I didn’t need someone to go “we’ll look into this for you”, because then I would have just sat back and waited. Maybe. When he said no, I was like “fuck yes!”