Source: The Hospital

Interview with Dave Stewart on April 20 2012.


GN: The list of projects coming out of Weapons of Mass Entertainment is long so the easiest place to start is with your diary. First up, Malibu Country – you’ve just started shooting the pilot at Disney. Tell us about how the concept has been processed through the ideas factory?


DS:  Malibu Country like other projects – we created absolutely everything for it so the person you take it to, instantly understands it. That goes so far as putting in into a specialised hand-made box. The box might contain a short script, an in depth description of the show, the branded look and feel, a visual piece accompanied by audio visual elements so the whole rounded perception of what I am presenting can be grasped easily with no long winded explanations needed.  Then when we go to a “star” or well known “director” or “show-runner” in this case it was Reba McIntyre (famous country star and actress) then pitch to a network like ABC, they see that this is an idea formulated to the point where all they have to do is say yes or no. This show has been greenlit as a series and will start airing in November on primetime ABC network in USA . The whole idea of why I wanted to create The Hospital Club, the concept, is actually what really happens in my company “Weapons of Mass Entertainment”  an idea factory, where you get a group of likeminded creative people with disparate abilities and you create “ideas” find partners to execute and retain part of the IP. Some people build spare parts for cars, some people create nice cupcakes for the shop window, we do the same thing with ideas, treat them in the same way, look at them from every angle develop them to a certain point where we have a rounded presentation as well as people attached who can help execute the project and then when you walk into that important meeting the concept is crystal clear. It’s like this movie/musical we are doing with Jonas Akerlund directing – who was just at The Hospital yesterday actually screening his new movie. Jonas has made three movies but he’s always Won many awards as best video director working Lady Gaga, Beyonce etc. In fact he made a video years ago for “The Prodigy” called “Smack My Bitch Up” when he first caught my eye .He’s incredibly wild and visual – and it’s the same thing – we at weapons of mass entertainment created the whole script, the music for it, everything and along with Jonas made our Visual Video presentation .  It’s a very bizarre musical about a zombie infestation in New York and only a musical can help save NYC.


GN: Does it take a long time to turn projects like Malibu from conceptual into a product?


DS: I have many ideas. I have about 20 things going on at any given time ranging from huge Vegas type shows to a one woman theatre show, to Movies and TV shows. Malibu Country took 2 years to get placed with ABC but some things happen immediately like in 6 weeks. I think the interesting thing is that The Hospital was always intended to be like this. Whilst I was living there in the UK I saw it as a place for people to create IP with each other, nailing it to some kind of presentation which could be the next Simpsons or South Park. There are kids out there making great animation, great scripts that are very funny – so let’s get them upstairs and see how long it takes to make the next South Park cartoon. If I was there at the club in London, this is what I’d be doing all the time but I’m in Los Angeles doing it with my own team that call Weapons of Mass Entertainment. I know there are different parts of the club doing different things but I’m not sure who’s the aggregator of these sort things or who pulls together certain talents and says right lets create something, let’s do it.I think that could be Sue now as she has a great vision , we have a shared vision actually and are starting to collaborate


GN: A good example perhaps is the music project we’ve been developing for the club – which you have been very supportive of, thank you. So we’ve shot our first six new up and coming bands here over the last month.


DS: Yeah, I went online and listened.


GN: …being able to use the amazing facilities that you set up here to record young bands like this gave us a huge sense of pride. It’s taken us a while to get to a point where we create content in this way but wasn’t this a big part of your original vision for the club?


DS: Well actually the vision was slightly different, my vision was that it would be a new form of film/tv/music /publishing company/management company combined , a new world order where artists would be able to create their own content, managed by the Hospital. But remember this was before iTunes existed. I could see something on the horizon like i-tunes coming and Netflix and I saw an opportunity to create a new transparent publishing company – a one stop shopping place with transparency,  everything accounted for, massive global digital distribution and creating content with state of the art facilities – and not just for music but for anything, basically Apple , Netflix Amazon and various other companies now have a massive part of that distribution part sewn up at the moment !


GN: so the plan is to run an annual programme to produce high quality audio-visual content for distribution for 20-30 bands, showcase some of them in the club with live headline gigs, potentially a longer term plan to offer a range of management services to help release content. Because we have the facilities, it feels like quite a different way of doing business – we are building a very direct relationship with bands and managers, even some of the indies are picking up. What’s your take on what we’re doing ?


DS: At the moment, there’s a whole sort of disintermediation process that’s started, there’s a lot of labels with a lot of bands who don’t know what to do with them, they don’t have the money any more for great marketing or tour support – all they do is sign a band, take most of their rights and then don’t do anything for them – the thing that I call “Sponsorbility” which I’ve mentioned to you before is one way forward . What brands really fit well with a film idea or a music idea. How can bands ride on the back of a Brand and work  creatively with them so both benefit and the result being remarkable so they can be seen with their hand waving above the crowd? I think WOME is a kind of functioning working version of what The Hospital will be. WOME, as a model, is a company that could lie on top of The Hospital, like a few extra floors on the top floor. Somewhere that all of us creatives can go to have ideas turned into practical assets which to take out to tender – which is kind of what you are doing right now with the bands and music which is why I was encouraging it.


Hey I’m just ARRIVING at A “REAL”hospital getting a metal pin taken out of my hand…


GN: Are you really? My God what happened?


DS: Oh, I got my hand jammed in a door, they want to take a look so maybe we can do some more later…




GN: Mollydooker limited edition 2010 Carnival of Love Shiraz hits the shelves On May 1st to support the forthcoming release of The Ringmaster General. How has this partnership come about? What was in this WOME box?


DS: With Mollydooker, I presented a concept that included artwork and a vision of A music driven experience that would benefit us both  like I was explaining previously about brands that fit. In fact we are now partnering on very small (3-5,000) but very special Live Music Festival in Australia brought to you by Mollydooker and The Ringmaster!  


GN: Can you tell us about the production process of the Blackbird Diaries and The Ringmaster General? Seems like a very organic almost improvised process. Have you always worked like this or have these processes changed over the years?


DS:  I always work like this but when it’s my own albums it’s more extreme as I enjoy the pressure of coming up with 15 songs in 5 days and recording them at the same time! The trick is I do chose the most incredible players to work with so things move very quickly once I sing the song once to them. I have collaborated on these albums with a few artists, when I say collaborate I usually mean duet. I just duetted with the week before she went up and won her 27th Grammy! Alison is amazing singer and violin/viola player and we worked on a song I wrote called “Drowning In The Blues” apart from Alison on my new album “The Ringmaster General” I duet with she is an amazing talent and with who is on tour right now with her album “Little Spark”.  


GN: I wanted to ask about one of the collaborators on your new record, Orianthi. How did you get connected with her and tell us about Pearl, another WOME project I believe??


DS:  Orianthi and I are great friends she comes and jams with me at my studio all the time . We are making an animated film set at the bottom of the ocean and involve a hermit crab called Pearl who plays the blues. I also co-wrote and produced her latest EP with her. Orianthi wanted to come to the studio in Nashville to hang out while I was recording and she ended up playing a blistering guitar solo on “Girl In A Catsuit”, a song I made up on the spot and recorded live with the band – Ori playing and me singing all in the same room – it’s all one take, then we shot the video next to my studios   


GN: speaking of great guitarists, we are bringing EMPs Hendrix exhibition over to the club in July during the Olympics. Do you have any tales / anecdotes to tell about Hendrix? What was he like to see live?


DS:  Watching Hendrix Live was a transcendental experience as well as a sexual experience it was impossible not to get lost in his mind and the music became a movie with his guitar playing the lead role , I was about 18 yrs old when I saw him and I still have his photo above my bed!


GN: Lastly, many of our members know about your longstanding history with the club but there’s a cool story about how you and Paul found the building; can you fill us in?


DS:  Well I knew about the building because I owned the two penthouses (which I joined together ) on the corner of Earlham Street , I had a 25 ft window that looked straight down to the Hospital on Endell street , I knew the building was empty and derelict in fact quite dangerous and full of people shooting up drugs etc. Paul and I were always talking about doing something creative together and my dream was always to build a creative space for collaboration that worked on all levels. When Paul and I first went in there to see it we wandered around in jeans and trainers climbing over all sorts of horrific toxic stuff left behind by the Hospital when they moved out , we were in operating theatres and down in the basement with weird jars full of insane stuff (Damien Hirst would have loved it) without realizing it we could have died from being contaminated with some of the stuff left in there. Later we watched these guys in what looked like space suits go in there nuclear protected garments etc. we looked at each other laughed and said whoa!


GN: Thanks again for your time. I hear you might play a basement gig at the club on Sep 6th – between your homecoming Sunderland gig and album launch. Keep us posted!


DS: Yeah see The gigs and other stuff here