Sitting in a small, quiet cafe in the centre of Hoylake, I am sitting with John Duffy, former member of local band The Coral. The Coral were a Hoylake based band who grew bigger and bigger in popularity and eventually becoming big on the national and international scene, hanging out with the likes of Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis fame.
John tells me how the band members met playing football in the park and how six average 17 year old boys wanted to make music and start playing gig’s. John also explains his huge decision of leaving the band at their peak. The band had released some of their biggest hits, playing sell out concerts when John decided that the life of boozing and touring worldwide finally got too much for him. I started the interview by talking to John about the history of the band but John also gave his opinion of what he thinks lie’s ahead for his former band members.
What age did you first start performing?
School age really
How did the band start?
In school, and whenever a house was free. Then a music teacher used to let us stay behind so we had a free practise room which was good.
Where you with the band when it first started?
I was around, because we all used to hang around really, it wasn’t really until money got involved that I actually started working with them. We always used to play together anyway, we’d probably still be playing together now even if there was no money involved.
How did you meet?
School, Hoylake’s a small place and we all went to Hilbre High School and it was just like, playing footy in the park and that. Then Oasis came out so everyone started playing guitar.
Who were you biggest musical influences whilst growing up?
Well obviously it’s Oasis and The Beatles, The Jam, The Verve, basically the big 90’s indie explosion but Oasis is the main one really.
Tell me about your first gig?
Err, I think it was in O’Neil’s on Fenwick Street, Liverpool because Jay and Ian’s dad knew the club manager there so we had a few gigs’ there, I think it was like our first 3 gig’s there.
How do you feel that The Coral have influenced other successful bands such as The Rascals and The Zutons?
Well ye, its good isn’t it, it’s good that you can inspire other people to pick up guitars and that. Ye its flattering really, isn’t it.
As the band has become so successful, why did you decide to leave?
It was a lot of things really, I don’t know just when your with someone everyday for seven years , you know what I mean? It was little bits and bobs that weren’t working. So i stopped playing and started tour managing them, that went well for a bit, but you’re just away all the time.
Do you regret it?
In a way, in way no. You know what I mean, I’m getting married next year, so I’ve got to settle down.
Are you still involved with the band?
Not really, no. We’re still all mates though, I went to see them in London last month and I’ve just been with my brother (Paul Duffy) now sorting out Christmas presents (laughs) but ye we’re still all friends.
When you were younger, did you ever imagine that the band would be this big?
Err no, no because you don’t really think when your kid’s your just playing, kinda messing around. When things started happening, it was like being thrown in the deep end, its like six 17 year old kids in the back of a van with all the ale you can imagine, so you just kind of go with it. When it went kind of big, its scary and you had to take a step back and chill out for a bit, thats why so many band members end up in rehab because if you wanted you could drink all day, everyday. I did that for a bit and it’s not healthy.
Where do you think the band will go from here?
I don’t know. I think they’ll stay where they are, they’re respected throughout the music business and have some really big fans like Noel Gallagher and stuff like that. I think one day they’ll bring out THE album, like that will make them massive even though they have been doing it for the last....14 years, they’ll have that album.
What’s the best gig you have ever played?
Glasgow, Glasgow Carling Academy. I can’t remember when it was, probably about 2005.
Why was it so good?
The Scottish fans are like ravenous, they’re amazing. At the end of the gig, me and Nick were going off-stage and they were lobbing loads of cans at us (laughs) for some reason, apparently thats what they do if they like you. So me and Nick were just running around volleying loads of cans back at them, they loved it. So it was great, probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever done.
Were you ever star struck – did you ever meet any of your musical heroes?
Ye, I met Noel and Liam (Gallagher), that was funny. We actually went to a pub in Germany and watched the Man City game with Noel and had a few beers and that. I was proper like star struck you know. Ye it’ll have to be them, they are this generations rock stars.
What did you learn about the music business?
It’s not a nice place at all, everyone’s got their own opinion of what you should do and you’ve got to have like six hit singles on each album, and there’s just a lot of pressure.
What do you think about the X-Factor and the influence on music culture?
Well, I’m a massive fan of the X-Factor, I love it on a Saturday night, there’s nothing better. Ye, its discovered a way to sell a shit loads of records in a small amount of time, forget about whoever it is, even that Leon Jackson sold loads. I’m showing off my knowledge here (laughs) but you know when proper people win it its good, like Leona Lewis who’s actually good.
Who’s your favourite?
My favourite this year was Wagner but he’s gone, but I like Rebecca, I think she’s really good, I hated Katie, I hate Cher and Matt, I don’t like him, I think he’s too weird. And I don’t like them kid’s, One Direction. So ye, its Rebecca all the way.
What did you play?
Err, percussion, so like keyboard, I played a bit of drums but I never did that so ye mostly just percussion.
Who’s your favourite band at the minute?
I like all sorts of indie music but I like Mystery Jets at the minute, I’ve seen them in Liverpool recently.