Brian Nash was the guitarist in Frankie Goes To Hollywood. He is now a solo artist under the name Nasher, with a new album out and a gig this week at Brighton’s Marlborough Theatre.
What are your thoughts on Brighton?
I have played there a couple of times and it was always terrible weather. I’m hoping that coming down this time in June we’ll all have a bit of sunshine. Brighton’s great but I’ve been about half a dozen times and I’ve always had terrible luck with the weather.
How did Frankie Goes To Hollywood come about?
It was kind of on the back end of the punk scene really around 1980. There was a very famous club in Liverpool called Eric’s that was the very heart of the punk scene. Everyone who was there on its opening night to see The Stranglers went on to form bands, people like Ian McCulloch (Echo & the Bunnymen), Pete Wiley (Crucial Three, The Spitfire Boys), Jayne Caset (Big in Japan) all Scouse luminaries in waiting.
Back in those early days were there artists that you all looked up to?
People always say that if you’re from Liverpool you must be into the Beatles and all that and whilst we recognised what the Beatles stood for they were the music of our mums and dads. We were into Echo & the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes and Orchestral Manoeuvres because that was music from Liverpool but from our generation. You would see these people walking around town, you’d see Ian McCulloch getting on the bus. I never saw any of the Beatles on the bus.
Some younger readers might not be aware of how controversial Frankie Goes To Hollywood were at the time, was the outrage a help or a hindrance?
With regards to the (BBC) ban I think it was a hindrance in terms of (the single) ‘Relax’. It was already predicted to be number two the week it was banned so it robbed us of that number one spot and getting to play on Top Of The Pops. When ‘Two Tribes’ came out we had created a bit of a stir and had a hardcore following but for many people it was an introduction to Frankie and they then went back and looked for ‘Relax’ which stayed in the charts for like 53 weeks and went back up the charts so we had singles number one and two in the charts. John Lennon had to die to get that.
What do you think was the appeal of FGTH?
We had appeal with teenagers and young girls got into it which is what happens you get famous but our original following were more edgy and rebellious you know, especially young gay men who saw two young guys (Holly and Paul) being openly gay.
We live in such liberal times now compared to the eighties – back then Boy George said he would rather have a cup of tea than have sex, Elton John was still married and George Michael wasn’t saying anything about his sexuality. The fact that Holly and Paul were so open about theirs, it wasn’t something people really did. The other three of us in the band – people simply related to us being eighteen or twenty having the time of our lives!
The music videos introduced middle England to what were then, pretty radical concepts…
The thing about that first video was that it was openly gay, really overtly gay. There were already people like Kenneth Williams, John Inman, Larry Grayson and what have you. That sort of gay person was seen as okay if they were sort of asexual. There was no sort of macho threat with them.
I was still a boy when we did that video (‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’) and I didn’t have the full understanding of the leather gear and what all that was about. For us, we wanted to look like Mad Max (laughs) because that was the vibe and a massive influence on the band so that’s what I saw but other people who were a bit more knowledgeable probably saw something else. It was the fact it was so clearly gay – that’s what caused the offence for people, they thought it was some dangerous message for youth.
Frankie were a massive chart success in the UK but how were you received in other parts of the world?
The Germans loved it. The Germans love a bit of pervy sex anyway so they got right on board! In Germany, France, Italy and Holland it was big and we had a really decent sized following in America but not that big chunk in the middle – it was on the East or West coast where we got a lot of support from college radio. MTV at the time would not have been playing anything that looked even slightly camp or gay, I think that they had only just started playing black artists.
Tell us about the show you are bringing down to Brighton…
I’ve just brought out an album called ‘432-1: Open The Vein’ which is basically the music of a man in his fifties looking at the world around him. For the last couple of years I’ve been doing a preamble for songs telling a few stories – I am aware that listening to a twat with an acoustic guitar just rambling on can be a bit uneventful but when telling stories, engaging with the audience and having Q&A the feedback I have had from people has been that “the stories are wicked”. It’s like “An Evening With…”! The album is a belter though and there’s a video I uploaded last week for the election called ‘Prostitutes And Cocaine’, a song about George Osborne and THAT photograph.
Have you ever been to Hollywood?
Many many times. Frankie first went to Hollywood to be in a movie called Body Double and spent five days hanging out in L.A. I couldn’t live there but it’s a nice place to visit.
Marlborough Theatre, Saturday 24th June 2017, 7.30pm, £10/8
Interview by Matt Upchuck
Photo by John Johnson