Cast singer John Power talks Britpop, the band’s current tour, and why he once fell out of love with their music.
Ten years ago, if you’d have asked John Power what it’s like to front one of Britain’s most popular bands, you might have got short shrift.
But fast-forward to 2013, and the vocalist is happy to tell-all.
Cast were one of the giants of the Britpop era, scoring seven Top 10 hits with songs such as ‘Walkaway’.
Now they’re back – currently enjoying a co-headlining tour with indie outfit The Twang.
“I quite like the idea of co-headlining,” Power says; that thick scouse accent still very much in essence.
“Slowly, I think people are discovering guitar music and our place within it. Sometimes you look at the audience and think they look quite old, but then you realise that some of the band are quite old as well. We do get younger people discovering us, though.”
Throughout the ’90s, the British charts were dominated by Britpop, and bands such as Oasis and Blur dominated Radio 1’s playlist.
Power’s mixture of powerful vocals and strong songwriting abilities, complemented by his natural coolness, made him as every bit as powerful a frontman as Liam Gallagher or Damon Albarn.
The band’s debut album, All Change, released on Polydor in 1995, became the highest-selling debut album in the history of the label. It featured four Top 20 singles, including ‘Sandstorm’ and ‘Walkaway’.
Their second album, Mother Nature Calls, was released to similar acclaim. Peaking at number three in the UK charts, it featured some of the group’s most successful material, such as ‘Live the Dream’ and ‘Free Me’, staying in the Top 40 for over six months.
Power, who was also bassist and second vocalist in The La’s, became one of the leading figures that proved the best image a band can have is no image at all.
The album cover for All Change shows the four members of Cast standing at the base of a monument in a busy square. All wearing black and looking impassively at the camera, it’s an image personifies the Britpop genre.
The band took their name from the final lyric on The La’s self-titled album: “the change is cast”. However, this is something John would never talk about until Cast reformed.
“People asked me about it all the time, and instead of turning away from that I’m quite happy to talk about it these days. Things were spiralling out of control and I took that lyric as a kind of divine message.
“The change was cast for me.”
Noel Gallagher once described seeing Cast’s live show as a “religious experience.” But this era of all-male, guitar driven music, fronted by effortlessly cool lead singers, would not last forever. As the millennium dawned and tastes began to change, the nation’s music lovers were poised to see where the Britpop giants would go musically.
Cast’s answer was their fourth album, Beetroot. More of a John Power solo album than a group project, it was a departure from their first three albums, incorporating a more funky sound centred on looped sections and horns.
Whereas their first three albums all made the Top 10, Beetroot stalled at number 78.
“It’s still a slight bone of contention with the rest of the band,” laughs Power. “They’ve never got over it – it was ahead of its time!”
Calling a hiatus that lasted for nine years, Power embarked on a solo career – releasing three albums. The sound differed from that of Cast and The La’s.
“The solo stuff had more of the roots vibes and rock and roll, which I love.”
While touring with his own albums, Power admits that he never played any of the old Cast hits.
“I fell out of love with what it was and who I was. I had to go away from them, and now I come back and I really appreciate what great pop songs they are.”
Reforming in 2010, Cast released a new album, Troubled Times, last year. It’s similar to their earlier material, with a fresh element that signifies they are still a force to be reckoned with.
“Obviously the new album was not a huge hit like All Change, which was a million seller, but it’s out there. It kind of stopped the band being just nostalgia, which was very important.”
Power will embark on a new solo tour once the shows with The Twang come to an end, but insists it’s not the end of the road for Cast.
“I think we should take a good break and get some new material, so we can come back again.”
Cast are currently touring the UK with The Twang. Find shows near you on WOW247
Watch the video for ‘Walkaway’:
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