The Bolshoi. The debt we owe to Beggars Banquet is more money than you could ever think about

I posted my first interview with The Bolshoi, from back in 1985 when the band had just started. As promised here is the follow up from two years later, with the added bonus of an unreleased cracking demo of one my favourite tracks of the time, TV Man. As you will see, quite a few things had changed and the pressure from their record label was beginning to tell.

This time all four members of the band were present. Trevor Tanner, raconteur, vocalist and also the guitarist, Jan Kalicki on drums, Nick Chown on bass, and Paul Clark on keyboards. I pressed the button, the tape rolled and chaos ensued...

JAN: "Dog ends in Chilli is a great name for a band!"

TREVOR: "An interview...Right we are off. Excitement personified!"

NICK: "Everybody shut up or we will be here all day"

BTA: We haven't talked for a while, bring me up to date on what happened since last we met.

NICK: "We got an album out"

JAN: "I got married"

PAUL:  "I'm older"

TREVOR: "Jan has yet to gain a son"

PAUL: "Nick was the chief bridesmaid"

NICK: " I actually was the best man but I knew that anyway"
TREVOR: "Jan finally bought some new underwear from Marks and Spencer. Umm, what was the question again?"

BTA: Well as much as I want to know about your private lives I was really trying to find out what the band had been up.

JAN: "We got ourselves a new flat for the band!"

TREVOR: "True, but I think Simon wants to hear more about the band. We released Friends, are working on a new album, have been to America, and have even played with Pete Murphy on stage in Hull"

NICK: "I got to play the Bauhaus song 'Kick in the Eye' with him"

TREVOR: "We are really proud of Friends. It was received with much critical acclaim  as you no doubt have seen. But we like it anyway. We think we are a real band now. And to top it off, our next album (Lindy's Party) is going to be bloody amazing. I know everyone says that, but it is true.

Get this right, we have been to America, done two albums, one mini album and one full one and we are getting famous everywhere. I got this letter from a Japanese girl the other day and we are number six in the import chart there, which is pretty incredible as we have been nowhere near Japan.

PAUL: "You never told me that."

TREVOR: "I have not seen you for a few days."

PAUL: "Well you could have phoned me up, you have my number"

TREVOR: "Next time Paul. Anyway, TV Man is out and selling quite well. Radio 1 is holding out against the inevitable and still refusing to play it, but its only been out a week or two and has sold more than Books on the Bonfire and Away put together"

JAN: "What! Honestly? This not just interview bullshit?"

TREVOR: "According to Beggars Banquet today, yeah.

NICK: "It has sold twelve copies then!"

TREVOR: "No, its over 15,000 already"

BTA: And what have you got planned for the next twelve months?

TREVOR: "Worldwide domination"

JAN:  "I want to get married again"

NICK: " I want to get married like Jan did"

TREVOR: "Nah. We just want to get successful. That is what we all desperately want. The new album will really do it for us, and if it doesn't whats the point? If we don't get success we might as well be sitting in our bedrooms playing trendy music for our parents.

We want to play to everyone. The whole situation is crazy. If most people knew how much it cost to keep a band like us going. I can give you a statistic, you know we did the Pete Murphy tour. Well, that cost us £6,000. We lost over £6,000 in two weeks and we are prepared to do that so we can play around the country.

That comprises of a sign on fee (paid to Pete Murphy) band wages, food, hotel rooms and all that crap. And our van is so conked out it took us seven hours to get from Newcastle to Glasgow. That's what we do to play in front of people. And to top it off I dropped my best guitar, it cost me 600 quid, and it's irreparable."

JAN: "And playing all over America is going to cost us another £50,000 pounds at this stage, but we are bigger there than we are here. We actually make money in New York and Los Angeles but nowhere else.

TREVOR: "That business thing does affect you in a way. You have to look at your aims in life as a band, try to reconcile playing to as many people as possible without losing too much money.

The idea that a band does not need to sell records and does not have to do fuck all than just be a band is crap. Tonight we are doing this gig and we are only on 10 pounds a person.

Our label really wants some big record sales. I saw how much on paper we are in debt to Beggars Banquet yesterday. It's more money than you could ever think about, its an immense amount of money, hundreds of thousands of pounds. 
If we ever get any money we have to pay that off first. So to be a rich rock star today you have to pretty damn rich. But the reason we went into music isn't for the money anyway. We used to live in the West Country near you. Jan bought a drum kit and I got a guitar, but for what? All that money just for a hobby, something to do.

So we have elevated it above just a hobby and made it our way of life. And that is why we are here now. People we knew then in our early bands are working in factories. A lot of people hate us for that"

BTA:  But a lot of people love you too, you even get screaming girls coming along to gigs these days.

TREVOR: "That's not my aim as a person, getting screaming girls and all that. My aim is just to be in a band and continue to be in a band for the long term. But we can't do it without record sales.

And that's so difficult. The amount of bands that me and him (points to Jan) have been in since we were kids is incredible. Not because of money, but commitment, people didn't want to practice, or even turn up to gigs.

They were too weak to follow it through, it takes a lot of strength to continue. It takes an awful lot of strength to move to London. I know you are from Bristol, you know how that whole area is like a musical graveyard. Anybody who wants to be in a band needs to move to London to be seen by record companies.

It's no use being a big fish in a little pool. It's its a waste of time. The band we were in, Moskow, we were the big men in town, but so what, it was nothing. So we moved to London where we were nobody.

We worked in shoe factories, croissant houses, even as motorbike couriers, all to just to achieve our aim.

Some people say it's been easy for you, and I say just 'Fuck off' as I know what we have been through and it takes a lot of strength and willpower.
One thing I learnt about going to America is that you realise how great it is to be English and the esteem that foreigners hold English people in through a misguided idea of what England is like.

The only thing that English people have got going for them as musicians is that it rains all the time here, and there is fuck all else to do except go to your bedroom and mess around with your guitar."

PAUL: "Or get Wet"

Lindy's Party was a great album, and the band were gaining success, particularly in South American countries like Brazil and Argentina, as well as making an impact on college radio in the US and developing a fan base there. But it was not enough, and the band imploded while recording a new album for Beggars Banquet, Country Life, which was eventually released as part of a four-disc box set.

Trevor went on to form Kite, before eventually heading to the US to escape the rain. I did one interview with Kite, and that will be on the blog soon.

Oh, and here is the rather wonderful TV Man demo. Never released, raw, and with slightly different lyrics. Five minutes of that wonderful Bolshoi sound! 

Photos by Simon Proudman


  1. voces se acham uma banda gotica?

  2. eu sou da america do sul,brasil.

    1. Hi Marcos. Were they Goth? They were adopted by Goths, probably because of their initial supports (Pete Murphy, Xmal Deutschland, etc). I think they were just a damn fine rock band. They should have continued, their success in Brazil and South America could have been replicated elsewhere.

  3. Very nice interview and great pictures too! Never seen those! Im from Argentina and like The Bolshoi since they came here in 1987. I think Trevor is a great great artist (really love his solo 3 box-set). I knew Paul has been doing some music over these yeras, but never knew anything about Nick and Jan since the band broke. Cheers!