Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside discusses breakdown, pop stars and overcoming stage fright at RTE Q&A
Most pop stars are shy but obsessed with music, says Green
Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside discussed his mental breakdown and how he overcame the stage fright that stopped him playing live for 20 years at a rare public Q&A session last night.
The session at Rough Trade East in Brick Lane, London, was attended by a crowd of around 100 on Monday night. As well as the Q&A session, it also included live renditions of ‘The Sweetest Girl’, ‘The Word Girl’ and ‘Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)’ played by a three piece Scritti line up.
Gartside also told music journalist Peter Paphides that the 80s pop stars he socialised with during the band’s heyday, including George Michael and Pete Townshend, were usually shy and invariably obsessed with music. Robert Palmer, he said, despite his lounge lizard image, would spend dinners at expensive Chelsea restaurants discussing Studio One basslines.
Gartside discussed how his breakthrough hit ‘The Sweetest Girl’ was originally intended to be a duet for Kraftwerk and Gregory Isaacs. Isaacs had agreed to the plan but Kraftwerk never responded to the offer to provide the music. Several years later, he ended up spending the evening with Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider, who had briefly explained “we don’t like reggae”.
He blamed the relentless promotional schedule he was obliged to undertake after chart success, mainly with regional TV stations in the US, for slowly destroying his self-respect and ultimately leading to the breakdown. “I don’t like sincerity,” he joked, “but the insincerity was incredible.”
After a stretch in hospital in West London on heavy medication, he moved to a remote cottage in Usk, Monmouthshire during the 90s and locked all his musical equipment away in a room he never entered. However, after getting into the habit of travelling to Bristol or London to buy hip-hop records, he slowly began to experiment with music again. “One by one the instruments made their way out again,” he said. At the time, he wanted nothing more than “to be DJ Premier – I just loved that sound.”
Asked what his current tastes in music were he replied simply: “hip-hop – it’s all I listen to.”
As the band prepares for a UK tour in late September and early October to celebrate the 35th anniversary reissue of the debut Scritti Politti album Cupid & Psyche 85, Green recalled his return to the live arena. He was persuaded by Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis to do a live show under an assumed name – Double G and the Traitorous Three – at the intimate Brixton Windmill, to help him overcome his notorious stage fright. Having assembled a band from friends at his Dalston local, including the barmaid who had never played bass before, he enjoyed the show so much that more followed.
“I feel I missed out on that fantasy of travelling around the country with a bunch of mates, getting pissed and playing gigs,” he said.
Scritti Politti play:
21st Sep 2021 » Norwich ¦ The Waterfront
22nd Sep 2021 » Birmingham ¦ Town Hall
24th Sep 2021 » Cardiff ¦ The Gate SOLD OUT
25th Sep 2021 » Manchester ¦ RNCM Concert Hall SOLD OUT
27th Sep 2021 » Glasgow ¦ St Lukes SOLD OUT
28th Sep 2021 » Leeds ¦ City Varieties
29th Sep 2021 » Gateshead ¦ Sage SOLD OUT
1st Oct 2021 » Brighton ¦ Concorde 2 SOLD OUT
2nd Oct 2021 » London ¦ O2 Shepherds Bush Empire