> Alan Fletcher
in May, Perfect Blend brought you reviews of two of Alan Fletcher
and band Waiting Room's sell out gigs. This month sees
Alan (and Waiting Room) return to the UK to pick up
where they left off. Here, we speak to the man himself, and
find out exactly how he got into music, whether he'd like
to see Karl and Susan reunited, and what it was like to be
part of those infamous 20th anniversary episodes.
on being invited back to the UK for a second tour.
Thank you. It's very exciting.
do you like the UK?
I've always loved the UK. I've got a lot of family here and
I've done 4 pantos, and have probably been here about 6 or
7 times. And I always have a good time. I like the smaller
places, I mean, I really like being in places like Durham
and Sheffield. Some of the big cities can be a bit big for
me. Yeah, it's just a gorgeous country. Fantastic place.
your health this time?
<laughs> Yeah, no, I'm fine, I'm fine. Although, I'm
always going to be tired vocally because it's such a big gig,
and we do so many of them. But I'm fighting fit.
good to hear. How did you first get into playing and writing
I started very young - my Mum bought me a guitar when I was
quite young, and I always plodded along with it, and I used
to play guest spots in bands and things like that, but it
wasn't until 18 months ago I got serious about playing music
and creating my own band.
You've got a support act this time,
so will it be arena tours next?
Arena tours? <laughs> Well, I don't know about arenas
but our main ambition is to bring more of our originals into
it. And I really like playing to crowds of about the size
we are at the moment. I think it works really well. This is
the sort of size audience I just love doing and the gig's
absolutely pumping. I think this is the kind of the size that's
right for our type of band.
time I was here, I think you played two Waiting Room
tracks. Will we hear more tonight?
Yeah, we'll do at least three tonight. We play for an hour
but it seems like a really short time.
felt like five minutes in May. Do you have any plans for a
Well, actually, what we're going to be doing is adding tracks
to the album we've got now and hopefully having it distributed
in the shops next year.
you see the band as a full time career option in the future?
I don't know. I love acting, and I think that music and acting
compliment each other very well because they're both about
telling stories, they're both about entertaining. So, I would
like to think that I could integrate the two together. I don't
know that I could be in a situation where I was doing music
you could perform anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
We've got a beautiful music bowl in Melbourne - the Sidney
Myer Music Bowl - I think that would be sensational. <pauses>
No, I reckon it would be Glastonbury.
would you most like to sing a duet with?
The person I'd love to sing a duet with would be Natalie Bassingthwaighte
from Neighbours. She's now in Rogue Traders,
and they're getting gold record and platinum record status
with their stuff. She's a sensational singer, and I worked
with her on The Rocky Horror Show - we actually did
a duet on that.
you prefer to act or to sing?
I don't have a preference. I think when you're singing, you're
acting. I don't feel any different about the two things. I've
done a lot of music theatre, and that's music and acting combined.
That's the way I look at it.
also a budding photographer. Have you had much time to indulge
in that hobby recently?
No, I actually stopped taking peoples' headshots this year
because the music's taken over. I'll always be a keen photographer,
and I could go back to it at any time, but it's on the back
burner for now.
lot of Neighbours stars have taken the step into the
music industry. Are there any of these whose music you particularly
Sure, Kylie's sensational, Natalie Imbruglia's stuff is wonderful.
As I mentioned, Natalie Bassingthwaighte and Rogue Traders
- I went and saw her the other night when they were supporting
Kelly Clarkson. Rogue Traders are absolutely awesome, and
I can't wait for Nat to do some of her own stuff aswell. You
know, I still like some of the early Jason Donovan stuff.
People always talk about soap actors going into music, but
really, everyone's very different. If you listen to Natalie
Imbruglia's stuff, if you listen to Rogue Traders,
if you listen to Kylie or Jason, everyone is working a different
And, likewise, the stuff I'm doing with Waiting Room,
it's not pop as such. It's not me trying to be an overnight
sensation. We're about playing live and just gigging live
and having a good time.
do you think of the recent bout of talent shows such as Australian
Idol? Your support act is Kirsty Crawford, a finalist
on Pop Idol 2003.
Yeah, and she's fantastic. I think in most cases, the people
who come through those shows are fantastic. You watch them
grow in front of you and I think it's all good. Shannon Noll
in Australia and Guy Sebastian have both become very well-established
recording artists and have done very well, and there's been
quite a few in the UK having success through X Factor.
As an actor, I just get a little bit sick of reality shows.
I'd rather see drama, but that's just personal preference.
type of music do you listen to?
At the moment, I'm back into listening to rock and roll. I
used to listen to a lot of jazz, a lot of swing and country
music. But now I listen to a lot more alternative music. I'm
back listening to all my old Elvis Costello stuff. I like
listening to Blur, The Killers, and Oasis. I listen to a lot
of John Mayer - I love John Mayer. David Gray, I think he's
sensational. There's a spate of nice balladeers at the moment.
James Blunt has got a good album, Back To Bedlam. Daniel Powter's
one song is good, but I don't know about the rest of the album.
So, it's pretty eclectic, but I listen to a lot less back
catalogue now than I used to.
question do you hate being asked?
When will Susan and Karl get back together? Because I don't
have the answer not because I hate the
laugh> A variation of that question is coming up!
Well, I'm always asked that question. I can tell you that
Karl realises that he made a mistake…
think most people realised he'd made a mistake!
…yeah, but he doesn't know how he can possibly repair the
situation. The audience is going to get treated to some very
good storylines over the next 12 months which will revolve
around Karl and Susan and the way they interact.
wait! Are you making any TV or radio appearances this time?
Yeah, I'm doing BBC Breakfast on December 2nd, and
I'll also be on Jo Whiley's show. And I'll be doing radio
all over the country. The Breakfast team did a couple of Neighbours
specials for the 20th anniversary, and they said when I was
back over here, they'd have me on the couch.
who'd been at the Glasgow gig called Jo Whiley's show today
to say how great you were.
Oh, cool. Excellent. Well, they're getting her all primed
do you manage to fit your musical commitments around your
It's not too bad. I only play one night a week in Melbourne
- I'll probably do two nights a week next year - and we finish
pretty late. I have a 6.45 start the next day, and I've got
to pace myself. Neighbours is my priority and I've
got to make sure I look after myself and don't muck it up.
are they managing to explain Karl's absence?
Well, actually, Karl's got a new girlfriend and we've just
seen the beginnings of that in Australia, so he goes to New
Zealand with her.
going back to something you touched on earlier; I know you
can't tell us whether Karl and Susan get back together, but
do you want them to?
I think it's what Karl wants and I love working with Jackie.
Even if they're not together as long as I get to work with
her, well that's good. In a way, it's kind of like, if they
get back together then where do they go from there? So I think
there's still a lot of value in playing out that story - the
'are they going to get back together'? story.
did you find being part of this year's 20th Anniversary celebrations?
It was very exciting. I mean, it was just a great time. I
was going through a very strong storyline, breaking up with
Izzy. To have everyone come back was wonderful, you know -
Ian Rawlings was in the building, Terry Donovan was in the
building. The list goes on, there were just so many people,
and every time you walked into makeup, there'd be a new person
there. So it was just a terrific atmosphere. There was a real
sense of celebration, and that was really heightened when
the BBC came over and did the anniversary specials because…
is told his dinner is ready>
just got one more question, is that alright?
No, keep talking.
must get asked this all the time, but what do you think is
the secret of the show's success?
I think it's because it's got a lot of comedy in it. And I
think it blends its comedy and its drama really well. It's
got some great characters like Toadfish, who are involved
in comedy, but also serious stories. And that's probably one
of the keys to its success - the fact that it manages to blend
its comedy with its serious drama. So it's never too heavy.
Interview by Kate. Added on 26th November 2005