If there is a more in-demand horn player in the UK than Terry Edwards then we’d be very interested in hearing who that might be, as this multi-talented musician has been a mainstay of the British Indie scene since the early 80s with John Peel faves The Higsons. With a new album Clichés paying homage to Big Star frontman Alex Chilton - in the same way that Chilton's record paid homage to his hero Chet Baker – about to hit the shops (well the shops that still remain), and a contacts book that reads like any music fans wet dream TM-O's Andy Basire checked in with the horn playing dynamo
Total Music: What do you remember from your days with the Higsons?
Terry: “Quite a lot really - what do you want to know? It was great to learn the trade as it were, make my first records, become friends with John Peel and his family and get to visit America. Hard to believe that I was only 19 when the band started and 25 when we broke up. I grew up in public with The Higsons. Unfortunately the records aren't as good as the gigs were, if memory serves, and it probably doesn't this far down the line! Occasionally one of the band members tries to get us to reform but there's absolutely no danger of that happening so far as I'm concerned.”
Total Music: How did you get into session work?
Terry: “The first thing I did - while The Higsons were still going - was to play for my old Essex mates Department S on their album (which didn't get released until long after they'd split up!) I carved a niche for myself as a horn player for Indie bands when there weren't too many of them around. It's also fairly unusual for one person to play sax and trumpet, so the one-man horn section was quite useful all round. When the Mary Chain needed trumpets on Munki it must have helped that they'd heard my covers EP of their tunes on brass.”
Total Music: We've not seen such an impressive, and varied session/live CV since BJ Cole (including but not limited to, Madness, Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Cave, Siouxsie Sioux, Spiritualized, Julian Cope, PJ Harvey, Tindersticks, Jerry Dammers' Spatial AKA, The Blockheads, Faust and Paul Weller), how does the session work. erm work, and can you tell us any memorable session stories?
Terry: “Yes, it surprises and amuses me, too. And I'm stupidly proud of being in the International Who's Who of Music (Rock/Pop volume). The more stuff you play on, the more you tend to get asked. I got to play with Gallon Drunk via their manager Nick Brown and drummer, Max, who was at the same university as me. Various members of Tindersticks loved the early Higsons records, so when I turned up on a Gallon Drunk album they sought me out. It's a chain reaction...
One of the strangest times I had in a studio was nothing to do with the work I was doing (strings and tubular bells on a Dopesmugglaz single) but the fact that the client in the studio next to me was David Bowie... I had no idea he was going to be there, so it messed with my mojo somewhat! He was as normal as you could be if you were David Bowie (we all ate together and swapped jokes, believe it or not) but it was bloody weird feeling.”
Total Music: Lydia Lunch always looks dead scary to us, is she as uncompromising and difficult to work with as her output suggests?
Terry: “Well, the image works then! Yes and no - Lydia is as Lydia does. She's easy to work with. I wouldn't necessarily want to be a wet-behind-the-ears promoter though. Fools aren't suffered. At all!”
Total Music: Obviously you have bills to pay but exactly what is it about you that drives you to work on so many different projects, especially the more borderline ones that must actually struggle to turn a profit (if you have a partner at home they must barely ever see you)?
Terry: “It's harder to hit a moving target! The Sartorial label is a labour of love (as is the Scapegoats, hence it being shunted to the back-burner far too often). Everything you do helps with something else, so everything is a learning process. I like playing music. I like working, but I often get that line from 'Once in a Lifetime' spinning round my head - 'How did I get here?' Four years ago my partner of 15 years decided we lived seperate lives under the same roof and she moved out. Does that answer the question? My cats love me, though.”
Total Music: You have also worked with Tom Waits, tell us about working with the great man?
Terry: “He's a great musician, that's the bottom line. He's passionate about getting sounds right, but at the same time seems to have a great sense of the unimportance of it all - if that makes sense. Funnily enough I've just been asked to play 'Rain Dogs Revisited' by David Coulter, the associate musical director on The Black Rider. Look out for that in July. I think it amuses him that my name's so close to the sax supremo Teddy Edwards who he worked with. He really understands theatre - I think that's why he works well with Robert Wilson.”
Total Music: You have managed to piss off several of our freelancers by not only having a very successful music career but also now being a published author, did you enjoy the whole writing process and do you have plans for any more?
Terry: “Yeah, sorry about that. The planets aligned on that one - I pitched the Madness book, along with 450 other hopefuls, to the 33 1/3rd series (they have an 'open pitch' policy every couple of years which I was alerted to), and pointed out that very little was written about one of the best selling bands of the 80s and that I was in a unique position to write about them. I'd love to write more but it's so time-consuming - and time's something I seem to have precious little of.”
Total Music: Your musical taste is clearly wide ranging, tell us what prompted your latest project Clichés, especially the lack of horns?
Terry: “I was really touched by the Alex Chilton album, Cliches, where he just sang standards, really straight, no hint of irony, and very simply. I thought it'd be a fitting tribute to him - so tragic that he died at 59 this year - and kept the album really personal. It was a bit of a discovery that I still had a voice (though I do harmony vocals with Robyn Hitchcock reasonably regularly). I guess we all have to do a Nebraska at some point or another...”
Cliches is out now on Sartorial Records. For more information on this and other upcoming releases go to