STOCK AITKEN WATERMAN FAN CLUB
Mike Stock Interview
DISCOGRAPHIES, NEWS, REVIEWS AND MUCH MORE
Hazell Dean Rick Astley SAW
The end of SAW and bright new beginnings
Reproduced from Roadblock (c) Paul Smith 1994
MIKE STOCK INTERVIEW
In April 1994 I travelled down to London to do this interview for the first issue of Roadblock, the Stock Aitken Waterman fanzine.
Mike Stock had only recently split from his partnership with Pete Waterman, ultimately ending the era of Stock Aitken Waterman. The interview was to take place in his new studio complex which was actually a building site at the time. Mike gave me a tour around the building explaining what was going where and how it would all look once finished. Mike was very forthcoming and honest with his answers and the feeling I got from him was that he was excited to be starting all over again.
Can you tell me how you got involved in the music industry?
There are so many aspects to music aren't there? I picked up the guitar when I was 9 and taught myself to play that, subsequently the piano. I've never had a music lesson so I'm self taught. Which has its advantages and disadvantages, I can't do anything clever. I used the instruments as a kid to accompany myself singing. Then I formed various bands and I earned my living, in the music industry if you like, playing weddings and discos in clubs, and I did earn my living at it. I reasoned with myself that if I was fairly good I could keep on doing it till I retired like a lot of people do. During that time Matt joined the band as a guitarist and that's how I met Matt Aitken.
What age were you at this time?
Oh quite old really, I would be 27, I'm now 42. By 1983 though I had decided not to do that and I asked every member of my band what they wanted to do if I stopped working. I said I was going to concentrate on making a career out of song writing and production in the big world of music not the small world that we were in and Matt said he wanted to come with me. So I built a little studio under my house in Abbey Wood and started to write. I actually knocked the gigs on the head on New Years Eve of 1983/84. All the band members went their own way and Matt came with me. I had enough money to keep us going for about a year I reckoned and we gave ourselves that long to break it in the music biz in a big way. As a matter of fact we did in about a month. The first thing I did when we made a record was, went to Pete Waterman who I had known, 'cos he used to manage Pete Collins who produced Nik Kershaw. They happened to have produced a song that I had written. I have to say that apart from gigging, I had been writing all the time and chucking songs out to whoever would have them to see what would happen. So Pete was the first bloke I rang up and made an appointment to see with his new project that we had. And he, to his credit, could see what we were doing and where we were coming from and how he could help us. What we needed was a proper first flight studio not a home demo and he could supply that with his background and success as a manager. Initially Pete was going to be our manager, but I have this thing about managers, I don't need to be managed, I don't need to be told what time to get up, I hate it. So I said Pete the only way I'll do it is if we're all equal. And that's how it was formed, we've never had a contract between us and nothing more than a handshake.
What was the first release as Stock, Aitken and Waterman?
The first record we did that got a public release was Agents Aren't Aeroplanes "The Upstroke" in 1984. Then we had Hazell Dean "Whatever I Do" and Divine's "I'm So Beautiful". So the first one was Agents, but of course it wasn't the first song that Matt and I had written because I had known him for several years before.
Was there anything that you had written years ago that came to light years after?
Oh yeah, there was, I'm guilty of that, but only so far as if you're stuck for a song for an album or something. I do have a library of songs in my head that are kind of filed away and brought out when appropriate. But sometimes I would have done that, I would have re-hatched a song from 1980 or something if I thought it was appropriate.
Was Agents Aren't Aeroplanes an actual group?
They were entirely manufactured by us out of thin air, although they did subsequently exist because we needed someone to front the record. The first page of "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold" by John Le Carre has a quote at the bottom "What time will the Agent from Russia get into London, we need to pick him up and talk to him. Well Agents Aren't Aeroplanes you know". I was just reading it and thought yeah. At that time I think there was a penchant for silly names like Frankie Goes To Hollywood which caught the ear but really had no meaning or relevance.
It was a kind of strange song for the time
Oh God, it was yes. And you know the reason for that was because we didn't know what we were doing. Had no idea what we were doing. I had written songs since I was a kid and that wasn't a song, song. We had gone into the studio and Pete had taken the demo which was entirely different from the way it was finished off which was really more of a song song and then for the first time in my life I was let loose in a real recording studio, the Marquee in Wardour Street. We discovered all sorts of effects and noises and things and we went to town and lost the plot really (laughs) and it became something entirely different. It was a bit of a gay club hit but it had no real chance of crossing over to the mainstream chart.
What do you think was the secret of SAW's success?
I did an interview last week with BBC Radio 3 and they kept going on about the formula and I kept saying well I wish I had sold it to someone.
Do you think it was because you gave people what they wanted?
Well that would be guess work largely because you don't know for certain. I think our tasks tended to coincide which was part of it. I think really the question is have you learned to write a song therefore can you from time to time break the rules and get away with it. You know like a pilot who's learnt how to fly can sometimes loop the loop or something and unless you were really skilful you wouldn't even attempt it. So I now think there are some things I've learnt over the years that I will attempt things. And that is sometimes what makes a song a hit. That it's got something a little bit different in it. One of the rules has been bent or broken. In our case there isn't obviously a formula but the responsibility of writing the songs is always mine and I have always gone on the basis that at some point I have to sit outside myself and think how is someone who has never heard this before going to react and does it make sense to them. Has it a direction. And sometimes deliberately make it a bit awkward to understand at first. I used to have a saying with Matt at least if it has a positive smell to it, even if you hate the smell you'll react rather than just rushing over you. There have been occasions I couldn't believe that we did what we did but they were conscious decisions, blow it let's do it anyway.
Did it not really annoy you when people said your songs all sound the same?
Well you see that's product identity and I think there is truth in that but I don't see why that it's surprising being the same people who wrote and produced them. I mean I can hear a Beatles song a mile off. But we did of course, try to break the mould occasionally just to shut folk up. We did "Roadblock" for example which wasn't to upset people but really it got on top of us at one point with people saying they can do this and they can do that. Music is music and we were there to please a certain sector of the record buying public not our mates down the pub. A lot of pop stars do that you know. They are more concerned about what their mates think than they are about the public. I'm not saying that I'm a public service. The cash, money rewards are brilliant but I will never turn around and say, which the Radio 3 guy was saying come on I should be so lucky, I would never turn around and say it was some cheap nonsense song. It might have been that, it wasn't intended that way, I intended it as seriously as I have any song. It's just the way it turned out unfortunately. That was very particular to Kylie that song. I didn't know anything about her. All I was told was she is the most popular girl in Australia because she does this TV soap, she's 18, very good looking and everybody loves her. I said she should be so lucky. I actually said that to Matt, that was the reason we did that title. I didn't know it was going to be a hit as big as it was but I wouldn't turn around now and say of course it's crap even though it only took me physically 40 minutes to write and make the record. I was embarrassed at the time because she turned up to make the record and I didn't know she was going to be there.
I wasn't too sure if that story was true.
It's absolutely true. I had no idea she was going to be there. She had been in London for a week, which I didn't know, and was waiting for our call. David Howells and Michael Hurl from the BBC arranged for her to come over, put her up in a hotel and said don't worry Mike and Matt will give you a call when they are ready, to which I was blissfully ignorant. Finally on the Wednesday she was due to fly back to Australian at 3pm. She turned up at the studio at 11am and said well if you don't do it now we're going. And I said oh right, kind of bluffed it like I know I was expecting her, told her to go have a coffee and went back to the studio and hurriedly put a backing track down that was sufficient to sing to and she came in, and I'll say this for Kylie, she is the quickest singer I have ever worked with. Absolutely spot on, almost immediately. I mean she's not a Whitney Houston, there's no vocal gymnastics there, but I think her training as an actress, learning a script a day for Neighbours trained her to listen, I'd sing her the song and she'd be there immediately.
You have always liked to work with artists quickly haven't you? without singing for hours and hours.
I don't believe you can do it. You can't do that. That's the cruellest thing. 3 hours is the maximum I'd ever get somebody to sing and even that's ridiculous. Even Pavarotti doesn't sing for 3 hours, but there are stories I have heard them. In fact when I first worked with Bananarama, we did Venus, I think I had them in and out in 45 minutes, really that quick. They couldn't believe it they said it normally took them 14 hours to do a vocal spread over a couple of days. I couldn't hear anything wrong with it, it sounded like Bananarama. I could have worked for hours to make them sound like someone else but there's no point. And Kylie had a distinctive voice and she sounded like she sounds. You know Kylie left us a couple of years back and she's spent this time making an album, I know they've done up to 26 tracks and still haven't found a single. But I've heard comments from DJs who say she sounds brilliant, I said what do you mean, they said well it doesn't sound like Kylie, she sounds all mature and black. Which is what Kylie wanted to be, credible, sexy and sophisticated. Anyway I'm left thinking I don't know why she can't be what she is, I mean it's brilliant what she is, but she wants to be someone else.
So how does it feel to have been part of a phenomenon like Stock, Aitken and Waterman?
I didn't feel most of the elation that Pete obviously felt because he went out and did all the shouting about it. Matt and I for the most part spent 12 hours a day every day in the studio and that was all that there is to it. As somebody once said to me when we were having lots of hits, don't forget to stop and smell the roses, and I didn't really. Looking back on it the success doesn't really interest me. Successful is when I feel I have done a good job and I feel very happy about that. The pats on the back are when the public enjoys it as well, and the money is great but the actual personal glory involved doesn't really happen with me. I have to do my job, it's almost like a calling for me. I wrote from a very early age, it's what I wanted to do no-one pushed me. Then when I was about 9 or 12 the Beatles hit and that kind of made it rigid in me.
What about the industry, you were put down by them a lot. Did that make you bitter towards them?
No, not really. Anyone who achieves success is going to get knocked, that's inevitable really. Whereas, a lot of the criticism levelled at us wasn't really at us it was Pete because Pete would often say things in public and he upset a lot of Radio One producers. He wanted to call us the Hit Factory, he wanted to devalue what we did and make it cheap because that really upset the snobs, because there are musical snobs so he went the other way entirely and it annoyed me. In introducing he would say I wrote Too Many Broken Hearts in the bath, it took me 2 minutes that's how good pop music is. I'd say Pete why did you say that? And then he went in print and said I think I'm like Walt Disney and Mike and Matt are like a couple of the animators. It annoyed me because I don't mind him making himself look big but don't make us look small.
Pete has a big ego, he's an honest bloke and he honestly loves music as well but he couldn't control what he said and he should have been a bit more subtle about it. He would say things to deliberately get he limelight and the attention. It doesn't matter how much of a lie it was, in fact he used to say to me that the public doesn't want to know the truth, and there is a certain truth in that, but they also don't like being lied to either. And the truth of our success, you talk of being a phenomenon, the truth about it was amazing, why he couldn't keep with that instead if inventing outrageous stories, because he made it unbelievable and that's what annoyed me. He took a lot of the glory away from us by making up those stories. Whereas the truth of our success was pretty amazing anyway. It didn't need elaborating on. One day we were poor, next day were rich, one day we were unsuccessful the next day we were and that's amazing when it happens. It doesn't happen to many people and we were very very fortunate in that respect.
It must be difficult, but which is your favourite SAW song?
Yes it is difficult. The most successful song is probably "I Should Be So Lucky", that's one of the bitter ironies of life, it just so happens that that is the one that hit the public between the eyes. So in that respect I feel that I have written a piece of history there, that is what I think is amazing because it is used and quoted so often. Harry Enfield did it on his series on TV "Men Behaving Badly". He was talking about going out with a girl and his friend was saying I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky lucky, I should be so lucky in love. Then any time he said I should be so lucky, he'd go lucky, lucky, lucky. So in a sense it's kind of become an every day phrase. But the best song?? I have lots of songs I like for lots of reasons. That one for that and I think from the point of view of what's personally given me greatest pleasure is one of the songs I did with Suzette Charles called "After You've Gone" has turned out really well. Which is an interesting one but it has a very strange spiritual lyric, it's not so much a direct pop song as some of the others. I like "Roadblock" because it was a smack in the face to certain people that needed it, snobs. It was brilliant one day with Bananarama and Siobhann who became part of Shakespear's Sisters was always the most awkward cuss in the world and all we wanted was "Love In The First Degree", "I Heard A Rumour" uplifting pop songs and she was always a pain in the butt and never really wanted to do it, always dragging us back. She wanted to do something a bit more credible and one day I played her "Roadblock" before it had been released, just our tape of it and I asked her what she thought of it and she listened and went yeah it's a 70's funk track isn't it, you could never do anything like that. She actually said those words. I couldn't have scripted it better. She said you could never do anything like that. I went oh really and let her stew for a while.
I bet you loved that.
Ha, ha! Yes it was brilliant. Then, of course, for years we were getting slagged off particularly by a paper called Black Echos which was a Soul/Reggae weekly magazine, and, of course, we had done a few records with black singers and they would review them and always say oh it's crap, terrible, yuck, stuff like this is crap. So we sent them a copy of "Roadblock" to review and the reviewer just wrote these words "The best Goddamn track of the year", because they didn't know it was by us. So I like that song from that point of view. It's just snobbery again. We were picking up an award from the Disco Mix Club at the Albert Hall and all the trendy DJs in their funny hats and whistles down the front just pelted us with beer cans and rubbish. The industry was out to get us they really were. I know it sounds a little bit paranoid but they were. I think eventually Pete upset too many people.
Who was your favourite act to work with?
Well the biggest thrill was Paul McCartney on the Hillsborough record. Cliff Richard was the most professional and on the ball chap and a great bloke. Donna Summer because she was a musical actress and she would sing and just blow you away. For a songwriter for somebody to take you like that was marvellous. Kylie because of the success, I couldn't have predicted that one but she was our most successful artist.
How did you feel when she said she wanted to start writing with you?
Didn't you just know it was going to happen. It was a shame because she just can't write. The problem with artists is they are never happy with their lot. I mean Elvis Presley didn't write songs and Frank Sinatra has never written one in his life. I don't see it follows naturally that if you can sing you can write. Pavarotti doesn't write but he sings brilliantly and that is an incredible talent, and to be a pop star is an incredible talent and not many people have got it and yet for some it's not enough. So it's always a disappointment when it gets to that and it's not as if they're not earning enough money. They actually earn a lot more that I ever do. I mean an artist could be on 9 or 10% whereas Matt, Pete and myself shared between us 4%. I mean unless you have a real calling and believe what you have to do is write songs, then it's pure greed.
Was it not really difficult for you then to write with her?
Yes, terrible, but what can you do with an artist who has sold you 50 million records when she says I wants to sit and write with you now. It's dreadful. How can I even begin to teach. I started when I was 7 and have made millions of mistakes. She wants to start at 21 and accelerate the learning process, well you just can't.
Who would you most like to work with?
With what you've said, what about Paul McCartney?
Paul McCartney has written some of the best songs ever, has a great flair for melody and in his younger days had the most lyrical voice ever.
Whether I'd like to work with him now I don't know. If he would do what I say then I would but I don't think he would. If he wanted to make hit records I could tell him where he's going wrong. I couldn't necessarily put it right but I could say this is what you're good at Paul, stick to this 'cos you're the best in the world, but you know I don't suppose he would take it form me. I also like Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel, but I can't really say that I'd like to work with them. But I do love them as artists and writers.
Is there anyone in today's charts you'd like to work with?
The thing that I really like most of all is to find a new act and that's the blank canvas to work on and the feeling that you're breaking new territories and coming up with something that hasn't been done. That's what I like to do best. Mel and Kim for example was a big thrill for me to actually start with two East London "Jack the Lads" which was great. Rick Astley was great from that point of view, and even although a lot of people looked down on her, Sonia was good from that point of view because I couldn't have foreseen that her first record would go to No 1 like it did. And that was probably one of the final straws as far as the record industry was concerned in the way they viewed us. I think they kind of felt we were taking the rise out of it. I think they felt that but it wasn't done that way. I had comments come back to me about Sonia. They didn't think she was talented or had anything about her and they thought well if they can make her a hit, they can make anybody a hit. Which is unfair on her. I think it was overkill really. You can't have Bananarama, Sam Fox, Sinitta, Kylie and Sonia and not expect people to say not another bimbo.
After such an amazing track record it must have been hard to see a lot of the later SAW and S/W material not doing well in the charts especially when great stuff like the Bananarama album was around.
Yes, I liked it as well but Bananarama have never been a big album seller.
And Boy Krazy?
Well, they were a hit in America which surprised us. That was one of the last projects that Matt and I did and I think it kind of broke his back. This all happened in 1990 when Pete came back into the business in full control.
That brings us nicely to the big question - why did you split from Pete?
Well lots of things really. The seeds were kind of sown in 1990 when Pete came back into the business in full control. You see Pete did not write the songs. The writing of songs fell to me and to Matt. I think Pete was quite conscious of this so to make up for it he made himself into a kind of showbiz personality with the Hitman and Her TV show and the Hitman Roadshows and things like that. Like I was saying Pete used to just say outrageous things just to be centre stage and get the limelight. This was his way of being part of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. But then around 1990 he decided to come back into the business and take control.
It's funny that that's about the time a lot of stuff was not being hits.
Well, I think there was a deliberate act to destroy what was there so he could rebuild it in a new way, which over the years he has attempted to do. Which basically undermined song writing and production and highlight the idea of bringing records in and remixing. It was the cult of the remixer. And he started to want to make records to suit the Hitman and Her which is your 18-30 lager louts type of person. It's not what I wanted to do and it's the way it was going so a few of them weren't hits, most of them never got released. I mean I did a whole album with Boy Krazy and it was only released in the US and Japan. I did records with loads of people you've never heard. I did an album with the Cool Notes. The single "Make This A Special Night" wasn't the intended single to prove my point, I made a track with them which everyone loved called "Love Is A Freaky Thing" which ended up on the Boy Krazy album and everyone went barmy for it, but then they had it remixed by 6 different people and everyone went off it. I could probably spend days going on about what happened and I honestly put my hand on my heart and say I don't think I tried any less hard ever. Because it's my name going on it and I wouldn't risk my reputation. But a lot of the time the decision were taken away from me and were made for the wrong reasons like to be trendy to be hard to be credible to be I don't know what.
Rumours are that you fell out over Phil Frances' involvement with new dance signings at PWL.
Yes, Phil was brought in by Pete and to me what he does is at the reverse of what I think should be done. Phil Frances has been given a cheque book, goes around the world buying songs and puts them out to see if it is a hit. He puts out 70 has 2 hits, that's just nonsense.
That's the way PWL has gone isn't it?
That's why I left. It's so stupid. There is a studio at PWL, there are writers and producers and engineers. They are just buying in cheap records from abroad and by-passing the studio, by-passing the engineers, by-passing the heart of the building, the engine room from which all it's success is built. I think there is a place for Phil Frances' type of record company mentality, there's a place for it obviously but not in the set up like PWL when you've set yourself up to produce and manufacture raw materials. And now they've totally gone off in a different direction and in the end that's the reason I left. I was fed up complaining about it over the years. I though I've just got to put up or shut up.
What about you and Pete? Are you still friends?
.... I've always liked Pete as a bloke no matter what I've said or what I'm saying now. He is a very very likeable man, you would definitely buy a second hand car from him, but he has made a lot of errors of judgement. One of the things that hastened our falling out was when he sold half of the company to Warner/WEA and that was the biggest mistake he made. He needed the money and he sold the company. What he sold really, they weren't interested in buying Phil Harding records, what they actually bought was Stock, Aitken and Waterman's entire recorded works. They own the rights to, for example, all of Kylie's recording, it's not PWL it's Stock, Aitken and Waterman, but he sold it under the heading of PWL. They now have the rights to exploit these works and repackage them and do whatever they like and I can't do anything about it. and it's wrong because what's on those tapes is my work and Matt's work, it's our playing, my singing, our writing, our editing, it's ours not Pete's, there's no Pete on there. I should have seen that one coming. I trusted that we would be dealt fairly by Pete because we had a third, third, third arrangement but that only went so far.
So now starting from scratch again it must be an exciting time for you.
Well we've got out first record coming out at the end of May, we made it in another studio, which is Jocelyn Brown and Kym Mazelle singing that old Barbara Streisand / Donna Summer classic "Enough Is Enough". We've done a completely over the top camp version. It's a bit of fun, it's good fun and was great doing it and they enjoyed it. It's a summer good time record. I will be working with both of them again but as individuals.
Rumours again that you are to team back up with Matt, any truth?
Yes, the Jocelyn/Kym record was with Matt and we will be working together again more closely, I reckon about 90% of the time. He left PWL because, basically, he had a shorter fuse than me. Matt is not a self motivator. My role in the team was very much more in the studio getting things going, getting it started, coming up with the ideas and kick it all together and Matt was my right hand man in that sense. But you wouldn't ask him to get things going, he's not that sort of bloke.
Has he done anything musical since he left?
No, he's done nothing, he's been waiting for the moment that I left Pete. He wouldn't get it going himself, we're not all that type. I am. I mean contrary to popular belief I found Pete. I went to seek him out, he didn't seek me out. I asked him to be a part of our team and in that sense Matt was as well so Matt is not going to do things on his own. But now that I've left Pete we've got together, we've done that record and we're doing more. I didn't want to put onto Matt the pressure of either you're in or you're out because he's had 2.5 years of semi-retirement. He was frustrated because he wanted back in but felt he couldn't do it on his own and also he wouldn't want to be in direct competition with Pete and me. But now that Pete's made it impossible for people to work with him, I can't work with him and Matt can't work with him, Matt and I will work together again and when the studio is built I'll be able to talk a bit more about that. At the moment my main concern is getting this thing built. I bought the place in December, we had to demolish what was inside which was a whole load of offices and stuff and at the moment we are probably about a month away from completion. At the moment I couldn't be happier and the future looks extremely bright. I hope that I will be able to fly the flag in the way that I wanted to. I spent that last four years at PWL thinking it would be better to stay and fight from the inside for things to change. Matt ran away from the fight, probably he was right in that it was an impossible battle.
What can you see happening at PWL if things continue the way they are going?
Gradually more and more I think, their future is not going to be in producing and writing songs. If it's possible for there to be another team similar to us who Pete takes under his wing that could develop, but I think Pete probably wants to retire now and get out of that side of it by buying in products though he can do that.
What about FKW as the new team?
That stood for France, King and Waterman but it wasn't Pete Waterman it was Paul Waterman, Pete's 21 year old son.
PWL is having a bit more success with these types of records and with releases on its new labels.
Well yes, they are, they are putting records in the charts but they go in one week and drop out the next because what they do is a phoney kind of marketing. What they do is sell to the trendy DJ's. So if you sell to enough DJ's you'll get into the charts. Uou've only got to sell 20,000 to get into the top 10. Get the DJ's to buy it.
A lot of the artists have had little or no success when they left you, do you see that as a credit to yourself?
A lot of people have said there's no life after us, which is not really fair. I think the problem is in the management. To be a good manager is as rare as being a talented artist. That is the problem, weak management. If I managed a talent such as Rick Astley and he turned around and said to me after two American number ones straight out of the can from us, two consecutive number ones and obviously his success here and in Europe, if he turned around and said to me I want to write my own songs and produce my own records I'd slap him about the head. As a manager I'd say what are you doing, are you stupid, what on earth's got into you, it's nonsense. That's what's sad about it, Rick is a very talented singer singing other peoples songs, not his own. He has an amazing voice. What I mean is he sold millions of albums world-wide, 6 or 7 million in America alone. He was so big in America. He preceded and was the forerunner to the likes of Michael Bolton and those sort of singers. At that time there was no penchant for that kind of singer in America, it was simple not required. They were into something entirely different, and Rick comes along and breaks the mould and sets a new kind of trend. To turn around and say like he did that he wanted to write and produce his own material and gamble what he had is crazy. Really I was only involved in the first album, the second album is another story that I'll tell you about, but the first album he produced half of it himself and wrote the songs, I only did 6 songs. We gave him an incredible deal for any young singers first album, a hell of an opportunity. Now he was with RCA and they chose the singles that were to go out, they could have chosen his songs but they didn't, they chose our songs and they were right, although we did have to force them to put out "Never Gonna Give You Up" in America because they didn't like it, but they chose our songs. With Rick I spent about 2 months in the studio that's all. The first thing we did was "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" but I thought to myself this guy is too talented so I wrote "Never Gonna Give You Up" and it worked out perfect and it went to number one. Then I did the tracks with him. So within 2 months we had had a number one and he turns round and says that he wanted to do the rest of the album himself, he even wanted to direct his own videos which is just ridiculous. He very quickly got the George Michael disease. He wanted to do everything himself. He wanted to take his own picture, he wanted to decide which clothes he wore and he did it all on his own and in the end he ended up with a hedgehog coat which really backfired on him. Ha, ha. Do you remember that? That was his decision entirely. He was complaining that he didn't want to dress up in suits like we had him do. so that's really annoying. In answer to your question I don't feel happy that it didn't happen without us, I just think after all the work we put into it, what can Rick sing, how can we get away with it and we get it right. Gone ... out the window.
The second album he made he was well late in delivering it to RCA and they were going to penalise him but luckily for him the tapes got destroyed by a fire and he had to make the album again in a hurry and like a fool I agreed to help him out and I wrote two or three songs really quick and I just shouldn't have done it after him really kicking us in the teeth. I'm not happy with what Rick did, I'm not happy with what Kylie did. I've nothing against Sonia or Jason Donovan because to our shame we were persuaded to drop them.
After working with and making a great success of Bananarama they left you to work with another producer (Youth) and they really slagged you off. Then after very little success with that collaboration, hey presto they are back working with you again - why do it?
I must be a glutton for punishment really. I didn't bear a grudge because emotions run high in this business. I can't really say a lot about that because I don't read the press. I tell you what your making me worried now, ha ha, because they did say to me, Keren and Sarah, by the way Mike half the things you've read that we said about you, we didn't say. The press exaggerated or misconstrued or they downright lied. I said Oh it's alright don't worry about it, and I still don't know what they are talking about because I didn't read anything so I don't know what they said. Maybe if they told me what they said I wouldn't have worked with them, ha ha. I just tend not to read anything about me or us. Maybe I should have a pop back sometimes, but I just think it's sad because most of the artists that have slagged us off have done very well from the partnership, because we did work as a team with the artists. Oh well, that's life.
OK then, have you got any hobbies outside music?
Golf, swimming, archery; (I'd like to point out that in the office that we did the interview Mike had a huge lethal looking bow ... probably in case we stepped out of line), tennis, cricket, football and I do all of them. I will do any form of sport given the opportunity but I don't get enough time. I do a bit of archery at weekends and a bit of golf. I've got motorbikes on my farm, I have a farm in Sussex which is a great bolt-hole just a few hundred acres of rolling English countryside.
What is your proudest achievement over the last 10 years.
Professionally I suppose you mean. I'm still here, I haven't given up ha, ha. No it is tough in a profession like this which is extremely competitive and there's a lot of back stabbing and things said about me that make me out to be terrible, things which I'm not. I've always attempted to be straight with people, which doesn't always pay. I'm proud of the success. According to the British Guinness Book of Records we have become the most successful songwriters of all time beating such people as Lennon and McCartney. Of course, that's only in terms of numbers. Nobody would necessarily agree in terms of quality they all have their views about that. We've had more hit records than anybody else and some that I'm very proud of. If you were to ask what would you inscribe on your tombstone I wouldn't mind just "Mike Stock - songwriter" that would be alright for me. If they put "Jolly Good Egg" at the bottom that would be OK too. And he produced a few.