The reaction on social media when we announced Dr & The Medics would be joining us at this year’s Farmer Phil’s Festival was overwhelming. I mean, who doesn’t love their classic number one hit ‘Spirit in the Sky’?
We caught up with chief surgeon, The Rev Dr Clive Thomas Jackson, over e-mail ahead of next week’s Shropshire Hills-based spectacular to gauge his mood ahead of the event…
FPF: First of all, it seems bonkers that I’m interviewing a guy whose band were featured as part of a sticker set I got back in the mid-80s after collecting up a load of crisp packets and sending them off to KP to claim my prize! I’m pretty sure you were alongside Nik Kershaw, Five Star and maybe Bros – so, congratulations on being the first of those to play Farmer Phil’s Festival!
CTJ: It’s an absolute pleasure! I have previously played festivals with all those bands apart from Bros, as it happens – variety is the spice of life!
FPF: It’s 31 years since you released ‘Spirit in the Sky’ – so just what have you been up to for the last three decades?
CTJ: Cheeky question and the full answer will be saved for the biog! Three decades in a sentence? That’s a tough ask! I think the important bit is when I started touring with the present incarnation of the band. At the end of the nineties we were dead in the water and the remaining original band members gave up. We’d had a good run and amazing fun, and had I been in my right mind I’d have done the same! However – I’ve never been one to give up. I got a new line up together, started playing covers in some of the dodgiest venues ever and over 15 years built up our reputation as a live act to the point where we now play a good few of our songs in amongst crowd pleasers. We’re back recording an album, have had two number one hits in the USA Dance Charts last year (but don’t panic – the show is our usual brand of rock!) and 2017 is set to be our busiest year for over 25 years, so we must be doing something right! The funny thing is our comeback has been longer than most band’s careers! 2017 is also our 35th anniversary, and we look forward to celebrating it with you next weekend!
FPF: What is it that keeps a band going more than 30 years? Do you still get the same buzz you got in the early 80s, for instance?
CTJ: I guess my previous answer above covers this. You have to have unswerving belief, make sacrifices, but most of all enjoy it. If you’re not having fun the first people to notice are the crowd. As the clock ticks and you realise it will all end one day, you appreciate it even more. Being able to perform at events like Farmer Phil’s Festival is a privilege and the day you forget that is the day you should stop doing it.
FPF: A lot people consider the term ‘one hit wonder’ a little derogatory, but I have it on good authority you wear that badge with pride, is that right?
CTJ: Yes, despite being a two-hit wonder (‘Burn’ charted at number 23) and having the aforementioned dance hits, I always want to be known as a one hit wonder – it’s got a nice ring to it. In the unlikely event that we ever have another hit I think I’d be genuinely upset!
FPF: I assume you’ll be treating us to both at Farmer Phil’s Festival this year? What else can we expect to hear from Doctor and the Medics? You’re renowned for your unforgettable live shows after all – a former winner of NME Live band of the Year no less!
CTJ: Well you’ll have to wait and see! Actually, ‘Burn’ doesn’t feature live for a myriad of reasons, but I can promise everyone a large proportion of the set will be songs they know all Medic’d up!!!
FPF: This is, of course, your first visit to our annual shindig in Ratlinghope. Is there anything you’d like to say directly to our festival goers ahead of the event?
CTJ: Yes, Sorry for being late to answer this interview but we’re really looking forward to seeing you all. Festivals mean a lot to me, they enrich people’s lives, they are good for the body and soul, and so to everyone involved in putting on the show and those supporting it I say ‘thank you’ and I hope we can add to everyone’s enjoyment!