The Enid Interviewed By Tommy Vance for Radio 1

Transcribed by Christopher Hester

Richard Skinner (RS): "A recent live recording played on the program [The Friday Rock Show] prompted hundreds of letters, but the members of the band have remained a bit of a mystery, so to find out more, Tommy Vance met up with Robert John Godfrey of The Enid, and before we listen to their music, let's find out from Robert what the significance is of the name 'The Enid'."

Robert John Godfrey (RJG): "It was the ace of trumps in a Bridge game; It was the washing up after a party, when someone had to clear up the mess - that was known as The Enid. Anything of any importance was known as The Enid long before the band was thought of, and in a sense it was one of those private little jokes, but when we came to look for a name for the band, particularly when we had a manager who was insisting that the name of the band ought to be Thanksgiving, which I really could not tolerate, I mean, I just wasn't going to have that, The Enid seemed the obvious choice."

(Extract of 'Hall Of Mirrors' is played, fading into an extract of 'When You Wish Upon A Star'.)

Tommy Vance (TV): "Now there you heard two bits of music put together, the first part was actually a track, or part of a track from an album that came out in 1979, the album was called 'Six Pieces', and the track was called 'Hall Of Mirrors', and then we followed that by a single that came out in 1981, it was called 'When You Wish Upon A Star', and the central factor in The Enid is a gentleman by the name of Robert Godfrey who's in our studio now. Robert, can I just go back into your musical history, you were classically trained?"

RJG: "Yes, very unfortunately I suppose. (laughs) When I was 12, 13 years old, my career had been mapped out by other people, which said that I was going to be a concert pianist and shut myself away on my own for most of my life, keeping up a repertoire and practicising, perhaps 7, 8 hours a day. Now, I cannot bear to be alone. So, in the late 60s, I just dropped out, I waved two fingers at the Royal Academy Of Music and said that I wasn't going on any more. I'd done two Wigmore Hall recitals and I found them the most appalling strain on my nerves, and what I really needed was friends, 'cause I had none. So I did what most people of my generation did, I became very emotionally involved in the whole hippy movement, the ideals. That was the thing that brought me into contact with rock music and I was musical director with Barclay James Harvest for 2 years, from 1969 to 1971, and those albums which I did with them show this very very awkward marriage between what I was able to do with the orchestra and what the band wanted to do. Ultimately that ended in tears."

(Extract of 'Mockingbird' by Barclay James Harvest is played.)

TV: "So then came the formation of the band called The Enid."

RJG: "Yes, with a little bit inbetween; I gave up everything and became an operating theatre technician. Really by chance more than by actually going out and looking for such a job. And then I heard about the dilemma and demise of Finchton Manor, the therapeutic school that I'd been at, 'cause I was a very very naughty boy, I mean at a younger age; They didn't know what to do with me, but Finchton Manor knew."

TV: "What purpose did it fulfil?"

RJG: "It was a therapeutic community, which was a very free thinking do-as-you-like, where-what-you-like, no staff, no formal academic education place for seriously emotionally disturbed young men. Alexis Korner was a boy there. James Robertson Justice was a boy there. The head of the Inner London Education Authority I believe was a boy there. Tom Robinson was a boy there. Danny Kustow, who was Tom's guitarist, was there. So Finchton Manor was the most wonderful place and it was a question of trying to raise funds, which I did through distant connections of my family, which were wealthy, my direct family aren't, but they were, and we found this money to keep going but it wasn't enough. In 1974 Finchton Manor closed, so that money then got put into The Enid. I formed a group round the musical remnants of that place. We were an effete people who had been enclosed and institutionalised for most of our life."

TV: "It was a therapeutic thing?"

RJG: "It was, but the rock band had to be a proper rock band, it was no good just having it as an excuse, because I mean it wouldn't have survived. So the rock band came first and the community in which we lived was the result of having a rock band.

TV: "And then you went on the road, and you started to build a very good reputation in a very small way; a very solid reputation."

RJG: "That's right, because we were doing the antithesis of the punk revolution. It was not a question of being stubborn, or anything like that. It was a question that we'd embarked upon something that we could do. I was the last, if you like, of a Golden Age, because it was a Golden Age in a sense, when it was at its height..."

TV: "Yeah. The age of hippiedom and flower-power and psychedelic and so on."

RJG: "Exactly. It was, I know. Well of course that was at the end when we came along, so we had a very long period of problems; We had no problems with our audience, but there was an immense amount of problems connected with the music business itself, because any kind of success which we were able to produce, whether it was at Reading, or filling Hammersmith Odeon, or The Rainbow, or any of those things, was quite contrary to everything that was being preached in the music press, and indeed in the whole of the media itself, who were geared to something completely different, the antithesis of it."

TV: "Well the record companies always thought that you were 'eccentric', 'enegmatic' and 'strange'. And non-commercial."

RJG: "Yes. But of course record companies don't set trends like they think, they like to think they do, they follow them.

TV: "That brings me now to the fact that you are signed to RAK Records, which is a legendary company, Mickie Most company right; Hot Chocolate, Kim Wilde, Suzi Quatro, countless commercial hit singles and hit acts; With the reputation you have with record companies, 'cause I think this about your sixth record company, one would assume that really, a very commercial record company like RAK Records, would in no way entertain you. But they have and they're putting out a single.

RJG: "Yes, well I think that's because of a change of tact if you like by The Enid themselves. We said 'Right, who is the best record company?' Not for our music, because we'd spent years trying to find the right record company for our music, and of course there wasn't one. So we said 'Who's the best record company? Let's write something that they're going to like."

(Extract of 'And Then There Were None' is played.)

TV: "That's the single which is out by The Enid at the moment, the a-side was called 'Then There Were None'. Let's talk about Claret Hall, which is a great name for a start, but you tell me, and the audience, what Claret Hall is."

RJG: "Well it's essentially the home of The Enid; The three of us. It's also a recording studio, because every penny that we managed to get our hands on or borrow, we invested into our recording studio, in other words we created a recording studio on a farm. Once we'd got the recording studio that then pays our day to day bills because we record all sorts of other people there. And that of course has kept us afloat both financially and with the facilities to carry on - irregardless of what the media - or the record companies think of what we're doing. They can't stop us."

TV: "Have you, or any of the other members of The Enid, worked with any of the other people who've used Claret Hall?"

RJG: "Yes, up to a point. I mean I've had a situation where I've had to, the backing tracks, well the whole tracks of Lena Zavaroni have been brought up to me to put the orchestra on. I've had things like that happen. Kim Wilde - we did most of her recording that Ricky couldn't manage, whose a, I must admit, he's 19, I think he's 20 now, one of the most talented youngsters that I've ever come across, but he struck up a particular relationship with Steven, our lead guitarist and chief engineer, and they created a sound for Kim."

TV: "What was the initial reaction of Mickie Most to 'Then There Were None' when he first heard it?"

RJG: "Well, I've only heard from my manager, I can only go by what he has told me, and Mickie's reaction to that was, having heard 16 bars of it said that it was a hit, and that's all I know, I haven't discussed the matter with Mickie, I don't know, I've only met him once and that was during the Kim Wilde situation when he came to the studio to do with her. I've never met him."

TV: "Let's turn to the b-side which is called 'Letter From America'."

(Extract of 'Letter From America' is played.)

TV: "That's the b-side of the current single out by The Enid, it is called 'Letter From America'. It has been voiced occasionally that the methods of production that you use and the layering techniques that you use sometimes tend to dilute the attention of the listener."

RJG: "I think it's a valid criticism. All I will say is that within The Enid's music there are layering techniques there and there are all sorts of hidden gems withinside the music which won't become apparent, either within the lyrics, or with the music itself on first hearing. They are there."

TV: "I think I'm right in saying that the last time you performed live was last year at Reading. Since then you haven't done any live performances at all."

RJG: "I know people who are quite prepared to spend £7 or £8 on rounds of drinks in a pub, perhaps 2 or 3 times a week."

TV: "Right. You're looking at one."

RJG: "Right. OK. But there's lots of people that are like that, but if you charge £4 or even £5 for a ticket, at a live performance, they think they're being ripped off. I'm not doing any more live performances until I know that we can fill halls with people who are prepared to pay the value for the money."

TV: "This is, I think, because, you're well in debt."

RJG: "Oh, absolutely, and it's all because of doing live performances, and I'm not prepared to lose any more money, I don't want to make a single penny out of doing it, but I'm not prepared to lose any more."

TV: "Quite recently on The Friday Rock Show we broadcast some live tapes that were recorded at Hammersmith Odeon, and they were, and infact still are, unavailable on record. So I said on the air that if anybody was interested in obtaining these tracks, because they're not bootlegs... or anything like that..."

RJG: "Oh no... what they.. well they are bootlegs, but I mean what it was, I was so fed up with the bootleg situation because our concerts consisted of the first 5 rows of a field of microphones; there were people just holding a microphone up, and I didn't stop it, you know, I... our whole approach was not to have the place lined up with bouncers confiscating recording equipment, I'm just not like that; I'm - if they want to record it, let them record it, so I thought, right; We'll have a 24-track recording and we will do a proper bootleg of it. So they can have their bootleg but it will be of absolutely top quality."

TV: "I then said that if anybody was interested, write to us and we would send the letters to you. We got in excess of 700 letters. So this would indicate that the market is there."

RJG: "It is there; Absolutely there, but it's very very difficult to convince record companies that such a market exists. So much so that they won't even try. I mean the album 'Six Pieces', of which you started playing a track off, sold 500 copies because the record company didn't even let the public know that it was available, and it wasn't in the shops and all that situation."

TV: "There is going to be a new album."

RJG: "It's... there has been a new album, which was refused by our previous record company, not our previous record company, but the record company owned by Lord Grade, PYE Records. They felt that the whole concept of the album was too controversial and that they didn't want to touch it."

TV: "Well we're lucky enough to have a track from it, and it's called 'Raindown'. This is about what?"

RJG: "Well it's essentially about rain, but I mean I think that if you want to, if you like to consider that rain which might contain significant amounts of plutonium, then, so be it."

(Extract of 'Raindown' is played.)

RS: "Raindown... Interesting music - The Enid, from their unreleased LP. My thanks to TV for that interview; What an interesting one too. But I'm afraid that's just about it for this week's Rock On. Don't forget I'll be back on Roundtable Friday at 5:45."