Heatwave are a particular band that always carried weight around my household due in part to my dear mother and aunties love for them. This love was so much so that the pair of them bought tickets to see them in concert in Cardiff back in ’78. After the show the pair of them decided to sneak backstage and try to meet the members in person. They sweet-talked a pair of security guards, threw on their lippy and managed to bypass the large pack of like-minded groupies trying to do the same thing. So the hard part was done right? Wrong, after passing the many obstacles that mediocre 70’s concert security poses the girls came face to face with the band and lost their bottle quicker than Katie Hopkins on a date with a guy called Tyler who works as a tiller and has decided to take her to a bar called Tyler’s.
One of the band members who were present at this incredibly brief meeting was Mr Roy Carter, guitarist and vocalist for the band and on July 18th he performed live at The Soul Suite, located in Pen-Y-Bryn, Wrexham. I was fortunate enough to catch up with him at the venue a few hours before the show and you’ll be happy to know that our encounter was far less fleeting than the one described earlier. We sat, chatted and even cyphered back and forth at one point, unfortunately I didn’t have anybody on hand to film so you’ll have to take my word on that one.
I must say that due to his down to earth personality and willingness to talk this was one of the easiest interviews that I have ever conducted. Roy is a true professional and it was a pleasure to rub shoulders with a figure with as a rich a musical background as he truly has.
PS. My blog is non-profit and I am not being paid to write that last part!
What follows are the highlights of the interview:
Before you joined Heatwave in 1977 what were you doing for a living?
I was in a few reggae bands and I used to work freelance. When I say freelance I mean I used to literally stand outside venues with my guitar playing and then catch the band before they went on. I’d be like “give us a gig mate” and then when the guitarist would go for a slash I’d hop up on the stage and have his spot. Needless to say I wasn’t on every guitar players Christmas list around that time!
You contributed heavily to Heatwave’s second album, Central Heating, and the third album, Hot Property. Which track on this record is your personal favourite and why?
Out of every track I would have to say my personal favourite is Mind Blowing Decisions. I contributed heavily to the track and I feel like it took the band away from its usual direction. It was also one of the first tracks where Rod (Temperton) wasn’t in full control of the writing duties (laughs) which was very interesting.
Through CBS Records you guys performed at Martin Luther King JR’s birthday celebration. How was this for you?
To be honest it was pretty scary and was very hard to think of it as ‘just another show’. This was because of the honour that it was but also because during this time we were in competition with The Real Thing who had just hit really hard with You to me are Everything and were signed to the same label as we were. Due to our styles there was a bit of friendly rivalry there, we were constantly trying to outdo each other and the birthday show was a real ace in the hole for us.
Critics hailed Heatwave’s shows as ‘exciting’ and ‘must see’. Do you have any particular memories or stories from concerts you would like to share?
(Laughs) I remember we were playing a show in the Chicago Theatre and about halfway through the set Chaka Khan climbed on the stage and took over on the drums for like three songs, she was a fan.
We also supported The Commodores on one of their tours. I didn’t really know much about them and before this point none of us had met Lionel in person. He approached us in a hotel lobby and invited us into the executive sweats for a party with the rest of the band and some…very pleasant company. When we got up there the BBQ was roaring, the bar was paid for and fun was had by everybody. You know Lionel’s a nice guy and a lot of other peeps up their were crowding around him and asking questions, man I was more interested in the bar and that very pleasant company I was talking about (laughs).
You have a number of musical achievements and accolades under your belt. Which would you say is your proudest?
I worked heavily on an album for Courtney Pine called Journey to the Urge Within that ended up being voted Best Jazz Album in the UK. I was really proud of that and still feel honoured to have been a part of it.
Where are you currently residing?
I live in Birmingham with the missus and the kids. I’m from near West Ham originally but I wanted to get out of London if the truth be told. Around those parts theirs no land so you can only build up and I wanted the kids to have a garden so it’s all good at the moment.
Do you have any projects coming up that you would like to talk about?
Yeah man, my Stylistics tribute act is currently on the road and we have some great dates coming up. I love singing those records and the crowds are ridiculously good but they do get a bit taken aback by the British accents when they talk to us after the shows, it’s like, ‘where a tribute band mate, key word being tribute!’ I remember one time we did a show with a Michael Jackson tribute act and honestly he never broke character.
What does your one-man show entail and what can fans expect and look forward to?
Fans can expect and look forward to hearing what they want to hear. I honestly don’t even know what my set is going to be until I get there and take a look at the crowd. My shows aren’t linear, I play what the crowds want to hear and that makes it even more fun and makes sure that everybody leaves with a smile and their money’s worth.
What is your favourite genre of music?
Has to be RnB and I’d say my favourite singer is Phyllis Hyman.
Finally, have you ever performed in Wrexham or anywhere else in Wales before and how do you find it?
I’ve performed in Wrexham a few times before in the Brymbo Cricket Club at a charity event and at the William Aston Hall. I’ve performed in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Pontypridd untold times. We built the A470 back in the day!
Thank you very much for your time.
No problem at all mate, thank you for yours.
Just want to give a massive shout-out to the Soul Suite and everybody working there. Its a great new venue in Wrexham that provides a nice break from the norm for people looking for something a bit different from the usual. ‘The usual’ being sticky floors, extorntionate booze and DJ Play-it-Safe on the one’s and two’s! Check-out the Facebook page right here >>>>> https://www.facebook.com/#!/soulsuitewxm
Thanks for reading!