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30 Years of Innocence: Interview with Moving Pictures’ Alex Smith

May 7, 2011

Today I have a special guest on the Write on Track blog, someone whose voice has been on constant rotation on my record player or CD player for – no, it can’t be 30 years! But the tour is called ’30 Years of Innocence’ so it must be. Alex Smith returns to Australia in July for a one-off reunion tour with the almost-original line-up of Moving Pictures.

Welcome to the blog, Alex.
Tell us about the beginnings of Moving Pictures.  How did the band get started?

I had been singing in bands around Sydney for quite a few years,singing blues,soul, jazz, r&b and rock.

I had started writing songs and began to think about a line-up that could play them as I heard them. Ian had been in a band called “This side up” with me and I knew I wanted him.  He brought Paul Freeland into the mix. I heard Charlie playing with The Great Dividing Band …  and kinda poached him and moved into his house.  I had known Garry through a girlfriend of mine, I thought he was out of town fruit picking BUT he turned up at our guitar audition and that was it. I had gone to high school (St Ives High) with Andy and we had been in bands together since we were twelve! He turned up at our first official gig and was too big to get rid of. And the rest as they say was history or was that hysterical.

Did you always want to be a singer?

It is all that has ever meant anything to me. Little bloke,no good at sport etc bad at school, but big voice and confidence — not a really hard equation really.

Who are your musical influences and why?

I think my two main musical influences are a guy called Martin Apte who was the guitar player in my high school band and a very dear old friend of mine called Bohdan Polanski who was a guy who was a few years older than us, but, who encouraged and mentored in a most wonderful and enthusiastic way.
Outside that I wanted a band that sounded like a cross between Ian Hunter and Graham Parker.

What is your favourite memory of the band?

Just being in it. ( you had to be there!!!!!)

What is your favourite Moving Pictures song to perform?

That kinda changes a lot. It was so long ago. But I think Wings…. Sisters of Mercy…. Cherie….

What is your songwriting process? Music or lyric first?

I don’t really have a process ( that used to drive them crazy in America). Sometimes words, next time chords or melody or a riff. Sometimes the song is written in 3 or 5 minutes sometimes it may take 20 years .

Which song do you wish you had written and why?

“Love minus zero/no limit”  by Bob Dylan …..   well, Just because it is a song of perfect abstract beauty.

 Last tour you said you had to relearn the songs.  Do you have to relearn them this time around?

A lot of practice has been going on in my house. I think my neighbours are putting together a petition to get rid of me. ( It’s a bit like the villagers with pitch forks in a Frankenstien movie)

 Have you been writing or performing since the last incarnation of Moving Pictures?

I always write.. thats what I do.. It’s not a tap you can turn off.
I have a little band called “The interpreters ” That plays the odd gig (very odd really)

We play a kinda weird Gumbo of swampy soul… Dr John etc  just 3 guys no bass, no drums. 2 guitars and piano.
It’s fun and no pressure. And I get to sing.

 Any chance of a new Moving Pictures album?

Chance would be a fine thing….. Who knows … all our lives have moved along they’re own paths.

Do you cringe in pain as much as I do at the awful insurance ads? 

The Advantage of living in London is that I have NO idea……

See you all soon     Alex (wol) Smith

You can catch Moving Pictures and relive your own days of innocence at the following venues:

Lizottes, Newcastle – Saturday 23 July and Sunday 24 July – tickets on sale now.

Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre, Nowra – Friday 29 July

State Theatre, Sydney – Saturday 30 July – tickets available through Ticketmaster

Tickets on sale Monday 16 May.  Ticketmaster pre-sale starts Tuesday 10 May.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2011 2:09 pm

    Loved the interview, Di and Alex! All the best for a fantastic anniversary tour. Sounds like it’s gonna be a great show.

    I’m a “rock wife”, but thankfully our neighbours, who are in very close proximity, seem to be very tolerant of all the jamming and recording in our house.

  2. May 7, 2011 4:04 pm

    Thanks for dropping by, Vanessa. You know there are some musicians I wouldn’t mind living next door to. A free preview of their shows perhaps? Such as my favourite blues man whom I saw play solo a few weeks ago in Melbourne. Just him, his guitar and harmonica for almost 3 hours – bliss. (had never seen him solo before) He could sing the phone book and I would listen. But when I requested one of his original songs, he apologised and said he’d have to relearn it for next time. And then he did Nutbush City Limits and I thought WTF? It was the last thing I expected to hear him sing.

    Not sure I’d want to live next door to a drummer. Maybe Kevin from Noiseworks because he was such a lovely guy when we worked together.

    But Alex, if you were my neighbour, and rehearsing, I wouldn’t be signing that petition (or digging out the pitchfork). You could sing as much as you wanted.

  3. May 7, 2011 5:26 pm

    Great interview Diane, and congratulations Alex on the upcoming reunion tour, I hope it is a huge success!
    I know what you mean about the writing tap, I have one of those too, only for novels not songs! (but, you never know 😉 ) …shame I can’t sing.


    • May 8, 2011 5:06 pm

      Juliet, I need to find a tap for editing and turn it on. Writing tap very easy. Editing – my brain doesn’t want to know.

  4. Karina permalink
    May 7, 2011 9:03 pm

    Great interview Diane !!! I wish I could live a long way from the dreaded ads! Hopefully there are royalty payments out there to ease the pain haha. Wish I could pop over to Sydney to see the gigs. Alex – if Perth is ever on the radar – please consider Friends Restaurant at the Hyatt – they do brilliant gigs with dinner in a lovely cozy environment and only the best of the best play there !!

    • May 8, 2011 5:07 pm

      Maybe Perth isn’t on the Moving Pictures radar, but it’s definitely on my radar. August 2013. Yep, I’m planning ahead.

  5. May 8, 2011 12:33 am

    Fantastic interview, Diane and Alex. Alex, thank you for taking the time to share your story with us and all the best for your tour.


  6. Louise Reynolds permalink
    May 8, 2011 11:12 am

    Thanks for the interview, Di and Alex. Moving Pictures were the soundtrack to my youth. Great, great songs. Have a wonderful reunion tour, Alex.

    • May 8, 2011 5:11 pm

      “The Soundtrack to my Youth” – now there’s a title for a book. Sadly, I’m now thinking about the soundtrack to my middle-age. Scary. Thanks for visiting, Lou.

  7. Anita Joy permalink
    May 8, 2011 11:15 am

    And that’s why I don’t watch TV, I hate ads that take fave songs and ruin them!

    Good luck with the reunion tour, Alex – I’m in Brissie so will have to hear about them from Di, who I know is going t0 have a blast.

    • May 8, 2011 5:13 pm

      I always thought ‘Weber’ should approach Crowded House for a commercial: ‘Everywhere you go, you always take the Weber with You’.

      Now, Anita, Virgin is having a sale at the moment…not so far Brissie to Sydney.

  8. May 8, 2011 4:55 pm

    OMG I adooooored Moving Pictures and totally wanted to snog Alex Smith 😆 being that they came along smack bang in high school. Wish I’d seen them in concert… had to be content with Pseudo Echo instead 😉

    • May 8, 2011 5:03 pm

      Ah Paula, we must be about the same age. Now what do you mean you had to be content with Pseudo Echo instead? Did you snog one of them? LOL. Anyway, now’s your chance (to see Moving Pics in concert that is). Buy a ticket to the show at the State Theatre so you won’t regret missing them this time around.

  9. dehelen permalink
    May 9, 2011 3:39 am

    What fun to follow a band for so many years, and to get to interview your idol. And have him be such a nice, accessible guy. Kudos to you both! I hope the tour is a smashing success and leads to a new CD.

  10. May 9, 2011 10:40 am

    This story is so much fun, Diane. It reminds me of my motto to be young forever.

  11. Chris Cooke permalink
    November 9, 2011 11:16 pm

    HI! Just came across this interview.
    I was at Lizottes in Newcastle for the second concert, the first had been a sellout the previous night and I was told it was a massive show with alot of the band members families attending.
    As usual, the dinner was excellent which was followed by a wonderful trip down memory lane with what seemed like a band who had never stoppped performing.
    I have been to many concerts/ dinners at Lizottes over the few years they have been open in Newcastle and they have all been awesome. Bands like 1927, The Chiorboys, The Flood, Spy V Spy, Jon Stevens, Diesel and Jon English but this was the best by far…
    I hope that one day they may bring out a new album and more tours as they really seemed to gel together and enjoy themselves.


  1. Are you ready to bust loose with Moving Pictures? | Write on Track

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