Laurie Mansworth has been at the helm of UK Melodic Rock/AOR act Airrace since they formed in 1982. The band recently released their excellent third album 'Untold Stories' and we caught up with Laurie for a chat about guitars, songwriting, early attempts at punk rock and Billy Bragg...
1. What is your earliest musical memory?
My earliest memory of music was the Radio. I was brought up in the sixties so the radio would always be on in my parent’s house. This is where I found my love for music. It was the best era for great songs. I think you’re like a sponge when you are young. All those influences seem to come out when I start songwriting.
2. Do you remember the name of your first band?
Yes, they were called Plastic. A couple of mates and me put together a punk band. It was awful. We had one song, ‘Tina of the chip shop’ lol. We couldn’t really play, but this was the start of playing in a band for me. It sounded shocking but I loved it. My friend who was in the band was Billy Bragg’s brother. Billy sold me my first guitar. It was Columbus 335 copy; he was in a band called Riff Raff at the time.
3. Which current artist do you hear and just go Wow?
I rarely listen to new artists to be honest. I just don’t think the songwriting is on par with what was happening in the 60s and 70s. Most recordings sound good these days but the songs seem to lack melody and hook lines. I like something you can sing along to and that’s not what I hear with today’s music. Maybe it’s a generation thing but I much prefer listening to older artists.
4. Do you sit down to write songs or do you wait until your mojo comes to get you?
I tend to just let them come. I will pick up a guitar or sit at a keyboard and just play for fun then an idea will just pop up while I’m jamming around. I never sit down a specifically to write a song. I like to let the songs come naturally. My best work seems to happen that way.
5. Big venue or small venue - what's your favourite to play?
I have to say the bigger the better. I like playing small venues but I prefer the bigger gigs. The Hammersmith Odeon is my favourite gig of all time. I remember seeing AC/DC there when I was fourteen. That gig changed my life and I always wanted to play there after seeing that show. Fortunately, I’ve played there many times since. I have also played some massive festivals and arena shows but those old Odeon style gigs have always been my favourite.
6. Who is the one artist you wish you could share a stage with (past or present)?
Jeff Lynne. He is my all-time favourite songwriter.
7. Bowie, Prince, Sinatra, Elvis which departed great means the most to you?
Bowie all day long. He was a mind-blowing talent. I like a lot of his songs through the years. He was always looking for a new sound and was cutting edge right until the end. I think Ziggy is my favourite period. My sister was a big Bowie fan so she would play him all the time in our house. I remember the first time I saw him on Top of the Pops. He was playing ‘Starman’ and it had a big impact on me.
8. Is a saxophone solo ever ok?
9. Should music be free?
It’s a travesty that this question even comes up but unfortunately, it is relevant. Everyone knows music should be paid for, how else can musicians survive? Songwriters are getting ripped off mercilessly and no one seems to care. I hope someday those responsible will be exposed.
10. Can you remember the first record you bought and what have you bought recently?
The first single I bought was The Sweet ‘Blockbuster’, and it’s still a song I play all the time. The most important record I bought was Dirty Deeds by AC/DC. That record was a game changer for me. My most recent purchase was 10cc’s greatest hits. Like I said, there’s not much new music that I really like around at the moment.
11. What was the last song that made you cry actual tears?
Anything from REM makes me cry. I can’t stand them.
12. Do you binge watch Netflix / Amazon / DVD box sets (any recommendations)? Do you have a guilty pleasure in Film or TV you’ll admit to watching and loving?
I love old school science fiction, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, UFO, X files… That’s my kind of stuff. I do binge on Netflix occasionally. I especially enjoy a good documentary. I also really enjoyed the series Dexter. It’s a bit gory but a brilliant series you should check it out.
13. What is the most important thing to you that you can see from where you are right now?
My Gibson Les Paul
You can catch up with Laurie and Airrace as the band are touring in September 2018 with Frontiers labelmates The Treatment.
21.09.18 CARDIFF Clwb Ifor Bach
22.09.18 LONDON Underworld
23.09.18 NORWICH Waterfront
24.09.18 CAMBRIDGE Portland
25.09.18 MANCHESTER Rebellion
27.09.18 WOLVERHAMPTON Slade Rooms
28.09.18 SHEFFIELD Corporation
29.09.18 NEWCASTLE Cluny
30.09.18 GLASGOW Stereo