Colin Pratt is the sales director and all-round good egg at Chord Electronics. We chat with him about the music that moves him and how he developed his taste in tunes.

HP: Was music a big part of your early life? Was there music in the home? If so, what kind of music were you exposed to in your preteen years?

CP: My Mum and Dad were always listening to music, or so my memory tells me, it was a while ago! Classical music for the most part, particularly Choral music, but Led Zep II, Jethro Tull “Stand Up” and Deep Purple’s first album stand out.

One album in particular that makes me smile, Gryphon “Midnight Mushrumps”, I loved that and actually every now and again still play, I even squeezed that one in at Munich a couple of years back!

HP: When did you start to develop a deep interest in music and why?

CP: From a very early age, I remember me n a mate would finish our day at primary school and run to his house, pull an old Dancette turntable out from under his elder brothers’ bed, stack up a load of 7” records and play them till either his Dad or brother came home and I would jump out of his window and head home.

I was introduced to The Who, The Beatles, Hendrix etc but then I discovered Madness and The Specials, that was it! I was a 7 or 8 year-old Mod! I used to draw the Two Tone man all the time!

I remember when I was about ten my friend recorded Thriller onto cassette for me, I knew every word, on the other side was Scot Joplins Piano Rags, so I was listening to different styles and genres from an early age!

HP: How would you describe your musical taste and what has shaped it?

CP: I remember a few years later, early secondary school, I guess I still thought I was still a Mod. A compilation album called “Masters Of Metal” was advertised on TV, I heard short blasts of Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Accept and I just had to own it, it sounded so exciting! I bought it with my brother, we paid £2.50 each and then argued as to when each other could have it! From that point on I just needed music in my life! I got two paper rounds, that allowed me one LP a week, every Saturday morning I was in my local independent record store in Malvern, Counterpoint with £6 in hand, what can I buy!?

My older brother started to get into thrash metal and punk, I remember seeing the Sid n Nancy poster on his wall, you know, the one where Sid had carved Nancy into his chest, it was so provocative, dangerous even, then I needed to branch out from “metal” and I just started consuming any style, any genre.

I remember when my Mum and Dad said it was time for me to get my own stereo, I had to stop buying music while I saved up, that was really tough! My taste has become so eclectic, most people who know me pigeon hole me as a pure rocker or metalhead, I love all that, Ministry, Slayer, Death, Obituary, AC/DC but I also love classical, I mean, listen to Du Pre playing Elgar, it just makes me choke up.

When I was about 16 or 17 I was listening to heavier and heavier stuff when one day I heard heavy and electronic mixed together, I just stopped in my tracks, that was Nine Inch Nails, probably 1990, that helped me really branch out and discover new styles or genres. If I got into a band then I wanted to know who inspired them, who did they listen to growing up and then off I would go buying into the artist’s history. Nine Inch Nails really kick-started that because most heavy bands are influenced by other heavy bands, NIN were different, their influences were wild and varied.

The industrial scene and post new romantic was really cool. So now I have a deep love for electronic music, I also really like folk, alternative, Goth, Hardcore, punk, Hip Hop, there is music I like and music I don’t, it’s very simple for me. I have a close group of mates and we are always introducing each other to something different.

My son introduced me to the current Grime scene, at first, I was a proper Dad, don’t like it, just noise blah blah but then I started actually “hearing” it, I went to a couple of gigs, you know, Dad at the back, nodding my head. I went to a Bugzy Malone gig and I was blown away, the energy was incredible, its todays Punk for the kids, disaffected youths angry at the system. Basically, in a rambling way, all I say now is I love music, I just can’t define my tastes.

HP: Before the current “situation” with Covid-19, did you go to gigs and how important is live music to you?

CP: Massively! It’s my favourite night out, I have a couple of “gig buddies” who come along, kind of which mate fits which rough genre, it often involves pre-gig chicken wings or burgers then copious amounts of beer and rum and much laughter. The band starts and that’s it, straight down the front, I turn into a big kid!

I can’t stand how some so-called music fans in our industry poo poo live music, “but its amplified” “it’s a PA” “the acoustics will be rubbish” get over your selves!

HP: Best gig ever and why?

CP: I can’t name one, there have been so many, and each for different reasons, so I will just have to list some of them:

  • David Bowie: Earthling tour…because it was Bowie, I still get goose bumps thinking of that one!
  • Nine Inch Nails, The Fragility Tour at Brixton Academy…just wow, it was like the dawning of a new era of artist, I think they are one of the most important acts in modern times! •Watching Patti Smith rehearse in a tent, there was only about 15 of us there, I was speechless, choked up in fact and then to actually meet her after was just incredible. She is such a kind warm human.
  • Fields of The Nephilim with our head of Pro, Tom Vaughan, we laughed, danced and drank, simply one of the most fun nights out ever!
  • Any Ministry gig half a dozen beers and a pint of rum!
  • Goldfrapp Tales Of Us show with the LCO at Royal Albert Hall, that one brought a lump to my throat, visually and sonically it was incredible!

HP: Have you ever walked out of a gig? If so, which one?

CP: Only once, The Mission, I never liked them, I had gone to the gig because I loved the support act. I did try and stay out of politeness, but three songs in I figured I wasn’t going to be won over!

HP: List your top five albums and a little about why you chose them.

CP: These kinds of questions are so tough! I could list albums that should be in the top five all day long! I feel almost rude for omitting some! I think I probably have twenty top fives!

  • Nine Inch Nails “The Fragile”, an amazing album, I still hear different elements, sounds, noises in this whenever it gets played, I genuinely think it is the modern equivalent of The Wall, actually better!
  • Pink Floyd “The Wall” I never understood this album on vinyl, the turning over, constant breaks in the music, I was just a fan of individual tracks. When I got into CD it then made more sense, but I still preferred one disc to the other. When I could finally play it as a single piece from the hard drive, then it made sense, a total masterpiece. I am definitely both feet in the Roger Waters camp!
  • Fields Of The Nephilim “The Nephilim” Bought based on a review, I had never heard of them before, I was intrigued by the comment “he with the voice several levels lower than gravel” I just fell in love with it, the last three tracks Celebration, Love Under Will and Last Exit For The Lost are some of the finest segues and tracks ever committed! One of my most played albums ever •Bad Brains “The Quickness” Wow, Bad Brains rocked my world! This album is often my “I need a fix” album, turn it up and get blasted, their mix of reggae and hard core, sublime! I was sold after the first drum lick, love em!
  • GoldFrapp “Felt Mountain” I remember when I first heard this and where I was, I genuinely stopped, turned around, said “what’s this?” Then went straight out and bought it. Alison Goldfrapp is a fantastic artist, this is a true genre-defying album.

HP: Let’s narrow it down to individual tune; list your top five tunes, not necessarily from your top five albums and why you chose them.

CP: I really couldn’t say top five, they constantly change, just like the albums, but here is a quick blast, there are so many more!

  • Ministry: “Burning Inside” Watch Ministry in concert playing this tune and you will either get why this is here… or not!
  • Patti Smith: “Elegie” Horses is one of my favourite albums and this is the stand out track. •Fields of the Nephilim: “Last Exit For The Lost” The slow builder, it grows from a really sombre lament into an almost operatic crescendo, probably my favourite live tune ever!
  • Louis Armstrong: “We Have All The Time In The World” Just sublime, I have to stop and listen to it whenever it comes on.
  • Martha And The Muffins: “Echo Beach” A song from the past, growing up, it just stuck with me, a great pop song, it’s like school is over, it’s summer time!
  • Ray Charles “Georgia on my Mind” As soon as his voice half cracks on the first utterance of Georgia I was sold. If you know the history of Ray Charles and the significance of this track you cannot fail to be moved. I love Ray Charles music so much.

 

HP: Choose one “feel good” record that gets you on a dancefloor or in a mosh pit.

CP: To get me on the dancefloor it has to be either Ska or heavy and it has to be a gig and I have to be drunk, I am the worst Dad dancer in the world! So not really one tune, it just needs to be “that vibe”

HP: I always find this question nigh on impossible to answer, but I will ask it anyway. Which band or artist is your all-time favourite and why?

CP: I was thinking Bowie, the day he died really got to me, such an incredible artist, so versatile, happy to change and morph as he wished, but then thinking about it, I guess I would probably have to finally choose Nine Inch Nails, their music was so important to me through those years when you absolutely obsessed over music, listening to each note, sound, ambient noise, when you tried to decipher all the lyrics. I still play their music now and still love them, I just choose an era depending on the mood. Trent Reznor is simply a genius.

HP: What music did you have played to get married to: first dance?

CP: My wife walked down the aisle to The Beatles “Here Comes the Sun” and we danced to “Stand By Me” Ben E King, we had heard that the first dance feels like it takes forever, so we picked the shortest track we both liked! We just wanted to get to the beer and then party by that point!

HP: What do you think of the current popular music scene?

CP: Love it! I think there are some incredible artists out there, you just find it in different ways to when we were younger. The Grime scene in particular is so exciting, as I mentioned earlier I was introduced to some new stuff by my son, Bugzy Malone is one artist, Litle Simz is also brilliant, I would recommend her albums to anyone, there really is some incredible stuff out there, also Jehnny Beth solo stuff plus Savages, I mean come on, amazing!

HP: What do you see as being the future of recorded music? Do you think we are heading to everything being online over physical media? How do you see bands prospering from their music? Three questions but all connected, I think.

CP: Tough one, exposure is so difficult, I think different forms of social media and platforms like SoundCloud etc will become the norm. I see bands experimenting with their own websites etc, we have a lad at work who’s band is just breaking and it is amazing how hard they are working at the moment for so little reward. I do think physical media will go, the masses are demanding everything be streamed or cloud based, which is a shame, but that is progress. I watched Nine Inch Nails experiment with this, he released four E.P.s rather than albums, I think that is the way it will go. Artists will end up making songs or they will be mini featurettes, maybe.

The good thing now is you can at least listen to a sample of new stuff, in the old days you trusted one person’s opinion and if that reviewer had a bone to pick or inevitably had delusions of grandeur the artist would not get a fair review. I always remember a rock magazine reviewing Guns N Roses Appetite for Destruction, they were classed as a second rate Aerosmith, then when GnR got popular they were heralded as the second coming of the Stones!

I do hope that touring or at the least gigs and merchandise will still be a source of income, I sill feel live music is so important.

HP: There was a time when we’d see the likes of Motorhead in the charts and on Top Of The Pops, why do you think that has changed and all we seem to be exposed to on the telly is what I would describe as flaccid pop?

CP: Honestly, I don’t think this has changed as much as we think it has, firstly charts are nowhere near as important now, in fact isn’t it just playlists? There has always been what you call flaccid pop, a lot of bubblegum pop, but let’s face it, if that was popular, then who are we to question it?

Because we like music that is more leftfield shall we say, there is an ever present feeling we are right and the masses are wrong and somehow we must educate them in the error of their listening habits, we must show them how to listen to “real music” which in its own way is still just a form of musical snobbery. I really don’t mind if people wanna buy or just invest time in acts that will come and go, it makes some happy and they still like and have an interest in music.

HP: Vinyl, CD, or streaming?

CP: Kind of CD and streaming, I still buy music on cd, I then rip it or I buy downloads but I try and buy them direct from the artists site then stream from my server hard drive, I use streaming services to discover new music. I walked away from vinyl years ago, I was ok with the sound, but the faff of ownership, cleaning them, clicks and pops eurgh, no thanks!

HP: Choose three tunes to have played at your funeral.

CP: Haha, these all depends on who goes first! If I go before my wife these will get vetoed! Fields of the Nephilim “Last Exit For The Lost” and then probably “Bike” by Pink Floyd, just for a chuckle!

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