Steve Cradock: ‘“I found all of the old masters and spent a month making Peace City West sound like I imagined it’

Ten years after its initial release, songwriter, producer and guitarist Steve Cradock has revisited his second solo, Peace City West.

Steve Cradock.
Steve Cradock.

“It was because it never originally came out on vinyl,” he says of the reissue, which is out today on his own label, Kundalini Records.

Unhappy with the original mix, the Ocean Colour Scene guitarist, who is also a key member of Paul Weller’s band as well as performing with The Specials, spent part of last year tweaking it.

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“I found all of the old masters and spent the best part of a month making it sound like I imagined it,” says the 51-year-old. “I took out all of the interludes and I just thought I’d concentrate on the songs and it seemed to make more of a collective album.”

Back in December 2010, Cradock had visualised “trying to make an underground, garagey type of record” at “beautiful farm” on the southern tip of Devon. “It was like living on the Moon while I was there,” he says. “I spent a month doing it. James Buckley (from cult TV show The Inbetweeners) came down with his girlfriend and stayed for a couple of weeks, and my kids were there all the time.”

The song Last Days of the World had been left over from sessions for Cradock’s previous album, The Kundalini Target. Its lyrics about the rise of technology and social media seem prophetic. “I wrote the chorus for that and Andy Crofts wrote the first words, so I have to thank him for that,” he says. “I guess it does still ring very true, that song.”

Many of the other songs were co-written with Crofts while they were “out on the road” with Weller. Cradock remembers: “We’d spend a lot of time in changing rooms just picking away at it and demoing it as we were on tour with Paul.”

The lyrics for Lay Down Your Weary Burden come from a poem penned by Weller. “I really liked it as a poem,” Cradock says. “He gave me a few, actually, just to see if I could do anything with them.”

Steve Cradock. Picture: Karen Allen

Peace City West has a 6os feel, with its mixture of psychedelia, pop and folk steeped in melody – some of the touchstones of Cradock’s musical taste. “I love new and old, I love all music,” he says. “If you’ve got an old-fashioned kind of song I guess unless it’s got rapping over it’s going to have a tinge that reminds you of something form a time gone by.”

As well as remixing Peace City West, Cradock has kept himself occupied during lockdown working on Paul Weller’s new album, Fat Pop. “It’s coming out in May,” he says. “It sounds eclectic, there’s acoustic pop, what I would class as Europop, it’s very soulful. It’s as though every song was construed as being a single. It’s just really exciting, it’s a great piece of work.”

Cradock has also been producing tracks for Weller’s eldest daughter, Leah. Her first single, Strangers, was released at the tail-end of last year. He says they are “not far away from completing” a full album. “It may need a couple of tunes, but the main part of it is done, it’s in a good state. At the moment she’s talking to record labels.”

He’s been setting up a new studio at home, and there is another solo album on its way too. “I’ve also recorded an instrumental album that’s going to be released on vinyl this year sometime,” he says. “I had a few bits of music and it seemed like it was for an imaginary movie. It’s quite meditative, for example the first track on the second side is five minutes of me playing gongs. Especially the second side is me playing simple melodies and repetition melodies, piano pieces and it seems cohesive as an album.”

Cradock also continues to be involved with The Specials. He reveals Lynval Golding asked him to work on an acoustic track. Additionally, he says: “There are lots of ideas floating around that sound very exciting but I haven’t really played on anything yet.”

The Specials have a tour pencilled in for September, while Paul Weller is due back on the road in November. Cradock says he’s missed playing live. “It’s not only us, it’s all the technicians and all the crews, it’s been a really bleak time for a lot of people,” he says. Of course I’m hoping things we be better later in the year.”

Peace City West is out today.