Music interview – The Undertones: ‘It’s a great feeling seeing Teenage Kicks is still so popular’

The Undertones

THE UNDERTONES are heading to Leeds to play their classic hits.

As well as Yorkshire, the group will also be playing in Birmingham, Cardiff, Warrington and Sheffield.

Remembering previous events in Leeds, bass guitarist Michael Bradley says he was surprised that The Cockpit had shut down.

He said: “We played there three times and loved it. We also enjoyed playing a venue in Sheffield called the Casbah. It was owned by a former miner and his stories were great.

“That’s one of the things I love the most about touring – walking around places and appreciating where I am.”

Most fans will remember the Undertones for their hit Teenage Kicks, but Bradley says it wasn’t the biggest chart-topper.

Touring now is like going on a weekend away with your friends. We just have fun.

Michael Bradley

“It only reached 31 in the charts, so technically My Perfect Cousin was more successful – which is funny, because so many people remember us for Teenage Kicks.”

This is perhaps due to the countless times it has been covered since its release in 1978.

“I’ve been to various places, passing bars, and there’ll be a band playing Teenage Kicks – it’s a great feeling seeing it’s still so popular.”

From One Direction to the Punkharmonic Orchestra, a range of artists have covered it. But Bradley’s favourite is by Scottish band Union Avenue.

“They sound just like Johnny Cash – they did a great version of it.”

Inevitably, a lot has changed since they toured in the 80s. Firstly, everything has been modernised.

Bradley said: “The hotels are better, the transport, the equipment, the venues… The audiences are older, but there’s a variety of people – and a lot less pressure.”

But new lead vocalist Paul McLoone replacing Fergal Sharkey was undoubtedly the biggest change.

“It was different because it removed a potential source of conflict.

“No one really wanted to lift the phone and ask Fergal. We all thought of Paul independently. He came along for a couple of practices and it really worked.”

Bradley says in a band you can have the “occasional snap”, but ultimately you have to get along.

“Touring now is like going on a weekend away with your friends. We just have fun.

“We used to play up to 30 days in a row. Now we’ll do three shows in a row and appreciate it more. It’s easier to balance in short bursts and helps keep your feet on the ground.”

Bradley draws similarities between The Undertones and fellow Irish band, The Strypes.

“We did the Isle of Wight Festival last year and they were on just after us.

“They’re way more successful and cooler than we were, but I get the vibe from them that I think people got from us. All from the same town, all know each other, not glamorous or anything, just dress in ordinary clothes.”

This time round Bradley is most looking forward to “seeing people happy”.

“The atmosphere when we play Teenage Kicks – everyone goes mad.”

The Undertones will play at Leeds Stylus on November 24. Tickets are available online at £22. www.theundertones.com

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