Neal Cook tells Andy Richardson how a Facebook chat led to his band reforming
It started over a pint or five on a merry Friday night. Neal Cook, founded of Wolverhampton-based post-punk stars The Wild Flowers, was chatting to fans on Facebook.
They were asking him whether he’d reform the band so that he could play a few gigs. As the evening progressed, Cook came up with a set list. The response was overwhelming.
“Basically, it was a kind-of not-quite-drunken Friday night. The Facebook reaction was great.
“They were all saying ‘you’ve got to do it, you’ve got to do it’. So we decided to do one hometown gig, in Wolverhampton, and another show in London.”
The Wild Flowers – Best of 83-90 will be featured at the Slade Rooms tomorrow night (August 24). It will mark the band’s 30th anniversary.
Things have changed dramatically in the intervening years.
“When we first formed in 1983 there wasn’t a great deal of places to play. There was JBs in Dudley and the poly in Wolverhampton.
“After we released the first single, we were just up and down the country in a van, playing anywhere. We got signed by a local label, Chapter 22, and then we supported Simple Minds at the Birmingham Odeon. That was massive. Things mildly took off from then on.”
The Wild Flowers released the singles Melt Like Ice and Things Have Changed in 1983 and 1984.
They also released their debut album, The Joy Of It All, in 1984.
That led to a deal with an American label, Big Time, which was keen for them to tour.
Neal adds: “Our good friends, The Mighty Lemon Drops, were doing well in the States so we were following on their tails.
“It was ill-fated. The distance over the pond was too great and things gradually faded.”
The internet however sparked a resurgence of interest.
The Wild Flowers fans from across the globe were able to reconnect. We tried to let it go, particularly after the 1990 album Tales Like These. We released another album, which was a parting shot. It was a mix of rarities. But we went our separate ways.
“I still play. I’ve got an alt-country outfit called Saltflat. We did Wolvestock last year. I’ve got my own label and I like to keep it small.
“I don’t want to go back to the ebbs and flows of the record industry. I’ve been let down and paid the price.”
Reuniting to celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary has been great fun.
“It’s been amazing to play all of those songs again.
“The original guitarist, Dave Harrison, started listening to stuff and it all came back very naturally.
“We were trawling through the back catalogue, picking out the singles and some of the fan favourites. On some of them, we wonder what we were thinking.
“But there’s a few tracks that sound really fresh, even now. We can’t wait to play them again.”