"I'm always writing and recording for other projects, so my life doesn't depend on it."
"It always makes me laugh when you see books about how to write a hit song," states Graham Gouldman. It's a levity underpinned by a half century of hit writing and recording, Gouldman having penned hits for The Yardbirds (Heart Full Of Soul), The Hollies (Bus Stop) and latterly as part of the band that truly made his bacon: 10cc.
"First thing you do is look who wrote the book and how many hits they've had," he continues. "Generally they haven't had any. But y'know, there are people who try to explain songwriting. One of the greatest songwriters in the world, [famed American composer] Jimmy Webb, wrote this book which goes into great detail about the writing process; but really no one can teach you how to do it. You've either got it or you ain't."
And of course there was a time when Gouldman and his band most certainly had it. Songs like I'm Not In Love, Dreadlock Holiday and Life Is A Minestrone garnered the Manchester quartet critical praise and chart position. Gouldman, along with the hugely regarded Kevin Godley/Lol Creme songwriting partnership, is now synonymous with the more artful side of '70s soft rock.
"What pleases me I hope pleases you enough to buy it, or download or stream it. Y'know, to hear it again."
Though the personnel have changed, 10cc have continued as a live outfit since the early '90s with Gouldman out front, and their latest antipodean jaunt will once again feature the band's veritable trove of hits. Despite the songs being decades old now, and Gouldman having played them countless times, the crush of repetition and boredom appears not to be an issue for the 69-year-old veteran.
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"I don't have to combat it because I don't feel it. I mean, if I didn't want to do it, I don't have to do it; so that's one of the main things," he drily notes. "The other thing is that it's not the only thing I do. Y'know, I'm always writing and recording for other projects, so my life doesn't depend on it."
In fact, Gouldman could well be living in superannuated comfort on any balmy island of his choice, which makes you wonder why a man on the brink of 70 bothers with the grind of touring. "The easiest bit is the playing," he confesses. "The travelling can be tiring but it depends on your attitude. Y'know, if you're with people you like and you're travelling in quite a comfortable way and not sitting on an amplifier — we don't do that anymore — then most of the time it's quite fun. Plus the fact that you get to places that you would not normally see."
On the upcoming Oz tour those places will include venues like Bendigo, Airlie Beach and Wollongong, in addition to the more traditional capital city gigs. As Gouldman says, "I have this thing in my head wherever I'm playing, where I'm imagining what it's like for someone who hasn't seen us or heard us before. Part of my head is always in the audience."
None of which truly explains why 10cc's songs have endured. "We could talk about this for hours but clearly there's no answer to it. It's all instinct, really. Y'know, one tiny change can make the world of difference. Ultimately, what pleases me I hope pleases you enough to buy it, or download or stream it. Y'know, to hear it again." And again and again, and so on.