Thursday, April 09, 2015

Taite Prize reflection: Dylan Taite interviewed, July 2001

Dylan Taite, Real Groove, july 2001

Backchat: Dylan Taite. By John Russell, Real Groove, July 2001.
Dylan Taite. Just what can you say. He's in a league of his own. A maverick's maverick. He'd prefer not to be called a journalist, nor a television director. A football-mad "audio visual structuralist'' fits just right. And he's often in the right place at the best time. Pals with the Sex Pistols in 1976, Taite loaned Malcolm Mclaren the idea to sign their EMI record contract outside Buckingham Palace. Three years on, Robert Nesta swapped friendship with Taite during his 1979 NZ tour. Bob. Dylan. And the universal language of soccer. "I've always looked like a tramp," he tells Real Groove.

Of all the musicians you played with, who was the best footballer? 

"I'm a bit biased there but Bob Marley was simply the best, a really cool player. Bob was George Best compared to people like Rod Stewart who, I think fancied himself as a footballer. It was really the football that got me close to Bob. He'd ring up in the morning and it was always 'Hey mon, got de ball'. His team was called The House of Dread. A couple of games I played with him and a couple of times I played against him. It was just great.”

It’s not possible to get access to musicians nowadays, like you had with Marley. Why?

"Then, with Bob, the music business was 80% music and 20% business. Today the music business is 80% business and 20% music. You did get a chance back then to meet people, to get close.

"You've got to remember that way back then, you didn't have hoards of people wanting to get interviews, it wasn't quite as popular with the mainstream media. There was no record company exec or 10th rate manager saying, 'Hey, you can't get near the gig with a camera'. Back then there was no trouble at all, you could walk around on stage with a camera."

Have you ever been less than 100% straight on screen?

"I might give the impression of being right out of my head, but the best way to answer is to say that I'm always in control. [laughter] You can work that one out yourself. I do like being professional."

Do you believe the theory that television serves to keep the general populace in a stupor? Or enchanted?

"I probably have the thought that the mainstream media, which certainly includes TV and lots and lots of radio, they are very much a diversionary opiate for people kept like mushrooms. I suppose that's the way I'd see it."

Is it too easy to become a celebrity in New Zealand?

''It's quite easy everywhere... one thing that I've always disliked is a tendency to be addicted to the cult of celebrity I suppose it is easy to become a celeb. I know some people are quite happy to have their photo in every magazine, but I've never understood that, I just can't see the point.

"Long ago I learnt to accept that if you were on television you've just got to be prepared to be stoned in the streets. It's the sort of job where anything you do can be analysed by some halfwit who can say what the hell he likes about you. But I never cared what anyone says about me. The wonderful thing is they can never pick on my appearance 'cause I've always looked like a tramp, and I'm happy with that."

Was Malcolm Mclaren a genius or an opportunist?

"I think he was both. I think the Sex Pistols was Malcolm's big and only idea he ever had. But I've got to be fair to the guy, he seemed to have a lot of the ideas for the band. I think he got hammered a bit unfairly in The Filth and the Fury. What I found with Malcolm, years later whenever I see him being interviewed, when he did The South Bank Show, he pretty well repeated what he said in his first interview. He only had one interview in him."

Who was the last band to really impress you?

"I guess I should be able to come up with a whole lot of names, but I've always believe in the new, l don't really believe in old music. And I like the idea, perhaps, of people buying a CD, listening to it once, then chucking it in the rubbish bin. Because there's so much comes out now and there's so much that's new, you can't possibly follow that old pattern of, 'Hey man, I bought this record 20 years ago and I've just about worn it out', I don't believe in that. Hottest single I've heard recently, Techno Animal, 'Dead Man's Curse'. Hadn't heard it before, thought it was great. ''

When you were at TV3, occasionally a record label would not grant you an interview because
Holmes had demanded an exclusive. So you went to the airport with a camera and interviewed them as they came through Customs. What does that say about your character?

"I'd say it shows I'm honest and I'm hellbent on doing what I'm entitled to do and what a certain audience would expect. All this nonsense about exclusives, I've never believed in them. If people ring me up and offer an exclusive, my answer is 'don't bother.' If  I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it my way. I don't play those games at all. And I certainly don't play games where record companies try to dictate what you can or cannot ask. And I'm not going to pull things from interviews to suit the record company or even the artist.''

How do you think the top-dog suits at TVNZ view Dylan Taite?

“I would say, they would see me as a jigsaw that’s been dismantled and put back together the wrong way. I think that's the way they see me, if they see me at all. Look at me! I’m hardly what people want in some sort of homogenised television environment. I am what I am. I'm not what I wanna be. I'm not what I'm gonna be. But I'm sure as hell not what I was. But I believe in what I do.”

Dylan Taite passed away in 2003. Read more about him here, at AudioCulture. 

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