|THERE'S A DIFFERENCE AT McGERALD'S YOU'LL ENJOY|
6 May 1989
A GUY CALLED GERALD, one of Britain's hottest dance music creators, works at McDonald's, but he's also serving up some sizzling sounds. Robin Smith gives him a grilling. Juicy pics: Benjamin 'Quarter Pounder' French
Can I have a Big Mac, double fries and your autograph please?
Up at McDonald's in Manchester not only the burgers are sizzling. Working in the restaurant is A Guy Called Gerald, whose single 'Voodoo Ray' and album 'Hot Lemonade are leaving grill marks at clubs across the country.
If you're selling records, most people automatically assume you can rush out and make a down payment on a red Mercedes and a chic little flat, but until the royalty cheques start flooding through his letterbox, Gerald knows differently.
"I might have a bit of fame at the moment, but I definitely don't have a fortune," he sighs. "Sometimes it used to be difficult to scrape enough change together for my bus fare, but some of the people who came into McDonald's recognise me, which is nice .
"I live in this kind of squat. There's a leak in the bedroom ceiling but its sort of cosy. My girlfriend's there with me, but I think she gets a bit pissed off if I'm out all hours. Sometimes we have rows. She threw a glass of orange juice over my equipment I keep in the room. It took me ages cleaning it off."
When he's not at home, you'll often find Gerald trotting around the streets of Manchester, mumbling, rapping and singing into a tape recorder. He finds the rhythm of walking the streets for hours is good for inspiration.
"Most of my ideas just come out of my head or from the things I've heard. Sometimes I use word association, I like weird word combinations. 'Voodoo Ray' is a pretty bizarre title and 'Hot Lemonade' is a pretty strange concept."
Gerald says his sounds are a combination of soul, funk and traditional disco, mixed with influences from jazz greats like Miles Davis and Chick Corea.
"I call it spirit music. I suppose it's based on ancient African music which, even though it's centuries old, still reaches out to us. We can't escape those tribal rhythms; they're still at the centre of music. I like to respect the past while looking towards the future."
When he can, Gerald raises the cash for the return airfare to New York. He even does shows over there for free to get his name around and because he likes the people.
"The vibe is so strong, people seem to be a lot more relaxed and they work better together. One thing I have noticed is that the big macho image behind rap music is starting to die out, and that can't be a bad thing.
"A lot of the guys are taking off their heavy gold chains and wearing softer gear. You don't have to stand on a street corner looking tough to get your message across any more, and its not cool to keep a gun or a knife down your trousers."
Manchester, though, looks like being Gerald's home for a long time to come. One day he hopes to start his own record label and promote the city's talent.
"If I ever make enough money then I don't want to blow it all on myself. I want to do something positive with it. I'd like to use some of it to help other people, because I know how hard it can be to break through."
Gerald comes from a tough background. He went to a school where the music teacher was stabbed and the games master had fights with the pupils.
When he started creating music, he posted tape after tape to record companies all over the place before he was picked up by the local Rham! records.
Now he creates his basic tracks at home in between going for long walks and thinking about repairing the leak in his roof. He certainly doesn't want to mix too much with all the trendy young things down in London.
"I think I've got a bit of an edge coming from Manchester. I'm not really into the sort of people who go to clubs and act a certain way because they've been told it's the way to behave in a magazine. Besides, when you use soap in London you can't get a good lather because the water's no good."
Gerald does want to increase his profile, though, and several major record companies look like they'll be chasing him for a deal.
"Maybe I should have called myself Jazzy G or Dazzy G," he laughs. "But Gerald is my real name and I thought I'd take the piss a bit by calling myself' A Guy Called Gerald. You know, sometimes music needs a bit of a dig in the ribs.
"I'm my own boss. I listen to a lot of other stuff and it sounds like it's copying what's gone before. It's like an artist copying something with a piece of tracing paper, rather than turning out original work of his own. I like the feeling of being original."
A Guy Called Gerald is shaping up to be the Big Mac of dance music. Dig in - you won't be disappointed.
[Author: Robin Smith]