BUDGIE - Next Stop, Cuckooland!
by Martin Popoff

Pioneering Welsh hard rockers Budgie are back with their first album of new studio material in 24 years, if you can believe it, launching You're All Living In Cuckooland a few months ago and promptly getting back onto the tour trail they've sporadically known for decades.

The band now consists of leader and bassist Burke Shelley, longtime (and classic lineup) drummer Steve Williams, and new guitarist Simon Lees, their last, John Thomas having been fallen by a stroke all those years ago. And the new record? Well it's raw and riffy like the Power Supply days, eccentric but not as crazily so as albums like Impeckable or If I Were Brittania, and wise of word like most everything the thoughtful Shelley has put together.

Says Burke (a man who can kid about his own beak, but not the big ones artists put on the birds gracing his covers!), clearly pleased to have the new record out, "Well, one of the main things about this record is that I've had my hands in everything, writing, producing, even the album cover, so that's helped form it into what it is. And also, the shape of the record, I'm always wanting a good six rock songs, songs you can do on stage live. I'm always looking for belters, you know (laughs)? So I start out with the bare bones, and I know I've always got loads of songs that are just more pared-down songs, just play them on acoustic guitar, and sometimes I introduce, you know... I like to have the band there. So they tend to be more for the album. That's not to say we won't do them live at some point. It's just that, you know, we're a rock band who likes to get out and punch it out, you know? So we tend to keep the dynamics quite high in the set when we play, and then drop it down. Do the electric softer songs, like Turn To Stone, which has a section that's kind of slower; it's in the live set. But to have some dynamics on the album, I tend to use the acoustic tracks. So that's the bare bones of it all - a collection of rock songs surrounded by some other album tracks."

Great album cover too... "Well, I just got fed up with it," sneers Shelley. "All my life I've been talking to people at record labels; I would give them ideas, and I'm thinking a couple years back, there's a T-shirt for when we were playing in San Antonio. So they gave me some designs for a T-shirt, and when it came back I was so annoyed. So I'm trying to control this as well. So I chose a friend of mine who was an artist, who I've got great faith in as an artist. I went and said, here's an idea of what I wanted, and she had it done virtually the next day. She's brilliant, this woman."

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