Paul Hardy on the UK: ‘We always use the political bias as an excuse’.

Our editor Matt spoke to Paul Hardy, part of Love City Groove who represented the UK in 1995 with their song, also called ‘Love City Groove’.

You can either listen to the interview which we’ve put below, or you can read the full transcript which is underneath the audio:

Hi Paul. Thanks for joining us today. When did you first discover Music?

My mother would play a stack of vinyl records while doing the housework and she’d dance all over the room. I’d join in. I’d remember most of the words to the songs. As soon as I started talking I began singing. She introduced me to artists I’d never heard of. I noticed the backing vocals etc. My mother introduced me to Keane. She used to always play stuff down the phone like Amy Winehouse etc. She’d always know who was gonna be a hit and who won’t. 9 times out of 10 we’d agree. We both have an obsession with music. I realised that my obsession was stronger than everybody else’s when I first started School.

How did you form Love City Groove?

Steven Rudden A.K.A Beanz had been asked to write a track for Record Producer Dave Ambrose who’s responsible for signing acts such as Duran Duran and Pet Shop Boys. Beanz was asked to write a summer anthem for 1994. He sampled together a few rappers. He had 2 separate songs which he put onto another song. He played it to me down the phone.  He said I’ve got this boy and this girl rapping a love song to eachother, but the song needs a chorus, so I went to Beanz’s house.

When I got to his house the sun was shining. It was a lovely day and so I sung “In the morning, when the sun shines”. Before we knew it we had a chorus. We went down to the pub and I entended to go back to do some more work. This didn’t happen and Beanz played the song to Dave Ambrose as it was.

Dave Ambrose liked it and said he’d develop the song further. I was called down to the record company. The song was played to Dave’s daughter in 1994 who liked the song. I adopted the curtain hair and the goatee beard cause I was desperate to look ‘90’s

Beanz said we needed a name quickly. The song was about love, it was an urban track, so city and I said ‘groove’ this then gave us the name ‘Love city groove’.

How was your song chosen for ‘A song for Europe’?

Dave Ambrose was going to release this with all the hype. We were hoping that this was gonna be the big summer anthem of 1994, but things got delayed. We then had a call from Jonathan King who’d organised The Brit Awards this year before. Jonathan asked if we’d be interested in entering it for ‘A song for Europe’, but we had 2 band members who didn’t want to.

We were told that the contest was gonna be looked at in a different way. The organisers wanted something that represented what was going on in the charts.They wanted something that’s more representative of British Pop music. We were also asked to do the show as we’re all from different backgrounds and are multi racial. My father is from Cyprus, Jay was Hispanic and reason was half Jamaican and half Irish. We were told that for the first time in a while we’d debut on Top of the pops.

Did you think you’d win ‘A song for Europe’?

I didn’t have a hope in hell of winning as we were up against such big names such as Sam Fox, my ultimate heroes 10cc and Jimmy Helms who was part of a band called Londonbeat. Jimmy had released a song in the ‘70’s which I was crazy about called ‘Gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse’ When we won the show I thought “What the hell is going on” Most of our votes came from kids and I think that our song reflected what was happening at the time

A lot of people were saying that the song was gonna chart, but no-one was really saying that it was a Eurovision winner. When I met the other acts and heard them sing live I thought we haven’t got a hope in hell. I didn’t think that it was a typical Eurovision song so the audience aren’t gonna vote for this. A girl on the switchboard said that she knew we’d won right from when the switchboards were open.

Once we’d found out that we’d won we were then put into a room full of press all calling our names and it seemed like a movie to me.

What was the UK press reaction when it was announced that you were to represent the UK?

The tabloids were really supportive of the track. I’m not taking any credit for what happened next but a lot of people in the Eurovision circle know that the following year due to our protests about not being able to use a backing track that Gina G was allowed to use playback and not the stiff and starchy orchestra that completely wrecked the song. It gave singers the opportunity to sing their songs in the way that they wanted them to be presented.

The tabloids gave us centre pages. It was weird. The more elitist papers like The Independent were more snidey. They would quote the lyrics and ripped it to shreds. The hoarded us in for an interview under the guise of a questionnaire and the questions were designed to make us look stupid. They were testing our intelligence, trying to make us look as foolish as possible. A lot of celebrities seem to get upset about anything negative, but we all took it in our stride.

Did you meet Terry Wogan? What was he like?

We met him when he gave us our award at ‘A song for Europe’ He used our joke in succession which was ‘these are BBC chocolate’. He seemed to find it amusing and used it several times in a row. It was amazing to see him at work and I did get star struck.

He went to Ireland to do the commentary and we had breakfast with him over in Ireland in this fancy 5 star hotel.  We knew him well enough that we called him Tel. Every person that you meet has a TV persona and a real persona, but Terry was exactly how you see him on the telly. He had a very clever sense of humour. Down to earth, but well articulated. He had a certain way of talking which got him famous I guess. I remember when he started to break on TV and he’d done a lot of radio. People were fascinated by the way he spoke and he had that famous smooth silky voice.

We’d be chatting away and he said that it was his last year, but apparently he said this every year until he finally left. He said that he was upset at how political the show had become and we realised that he was getting very disgruntled and annoyed that we weren’t getting the votes. We were pleased to come at least 10th.

We also met him at the big Eurovision party. He was our guest and drunk the bar dry. He liked a drink our Tel and I met him at the ‘Never mind the buzzcocks’ Eurovision Special in 2011. There was myself and Cheryl Baker who had to be recognised in the line up.

You can see a clip of the episode of ‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks’ that Paul’s referring to below:

What was the experience like at the Eurovision? What were the singers from the other countries like?

They were so nice. They all spoke English and all of them congratulated us because the song was making waves in Europe and it was the first rap song in Eurovision. Everyone was so supportive of eachother. There was a sense of “we’re all in this toghether, let’s have some fun”. Some countries were taking it more serioulsy than others as they had better songs.

We didn’t feel like our song was going well with the irish orchestra. We knew that we weren’t gonna be able to get around that as it was out of our hands. Alot of other singers were doing a lot of vocal exercises, but we didn’t need to as the song wasn’t that challenging. The entire Eurovision cast were on the same coach and they’d sing old Eurovision songs together. There was no sense of rivalry on the night at all.      

What’s your memories from being at the contest in ‘95?

The whole thing was one big laugh for the whole week. We had four SAS security guards because it was in Ireland and they’d only just fallen upon peaceful times. Things were very uneasy still and being the only English act meant that people were worried for our safety. We’re not allowed to speak to the guards. They have guns under their jackets and their quietly in 4 corners of every room that we go into. They’d go to nighclubs with us etc just incase anything happened.

On the day of the contest Jay decided that he needed new trainers. Trainers were really important and he asked if he could go out in Dublin to get some new trainers a few hours before the contest. He ended up getting a full police escort with 4 SAS guys. That was pretty surreal.

So many things happened and the whole thing was riddled with funny moments.

Do you still keep in touch with the band members of Love City Groove?

In 2011 Beanz and I met up again for the first time since 1995 and asked if I wanted to reimagine the song. It got quite alot of attention from some radio stations. I re recorded the whole chorus and I was happier with this than the ’95 version, and we made a video in Trafalgar square.

We wrote a track for the Eurovision convention in Manchester in 2011. I did a version of ‘Save your kisses for me’

I’ve spoken to Jay a few times in 2011. He started a new career now, but never told his colleagues of his involvement in Eurovision.

I’ve kept in touch with Reason on Facebook remembering the old days. She’s still involved in the music industry, singing etc. She was involved in an African version of Loose Women for a while.

Could we see a reunion?

Never say never, however Jay turned his back on music around ’96. I don’t think he’d have any interest, but you’d have to ask him.

Beanz, myself and Reason are still active. Beanz is still working as a producer and has still had lots of success.

Why do you think the UK are doing so badly and what do you think the BBC should do to up their chances of doing well again?

We always use the political bias as an excuse, but beyond that we’re still not left with a winning song (I include myself with that)

In the last 10 years every winning song has made someone feel something. That could be a great voice, a great performance, fantastic visuals (some of them take your breath away compared to us) it has to create a moment. Many winning songs have had all 3 of those things (ie. Spectacular visuals, a great singer and performance)

We’re sending very average songs and it makes me wonder if we want to win. We need to do our homework like a boxer. A boxer will look at previous fights, looking at their technique and we need to do the same with winning songs.

What are you up to now?

I’ve got a web show coming out soon. I’m always asked to do interviews this time of the year. The show is called ‘Love city Eurovision with Paul Hardy’

I won’t be talking too much about Love city groove

Thanks for talking to us Paul and the best of luck for the future!

You can see the UK National Final for 1995, ‘A Song For Europe’ below, aswell as Love City Groove’s entry in 1995 underneath this.

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