INTERVIEW: Stuart Deabill – The Style Council Soul Deep co-author

INTERVIEW: Stuart Deabill – The Style Council Soul Deep co-author

Soul Deep – Adventures With The Style Council is a new book by Stuart Deabill, Ian Snowball and Steve Rowland charting the history of one of the most enigmatic groups of the 1980’s, through the eyes of the fans and those who worked with the musical collective.

The high-quality hardback book will feature personal stories and unseen photos as well as personal memorabilia from fans collections. They’ll also be interviews with some of the musicians and background team who worked with The Style Council between 1983 and 1989.

Soul Deep showcases some of the original artwork and photography that adorned the single and album sleeves as well as the tour posters, trade ads, merchandise. The authors revisit some of the live and record reviews that The Style Council received from the likes of NME, Melody Maker, Sounds and Record Mirror.

The 240 page hardback book will come in 2 editions, standard and limited.

(Limited has now sold out)

Soul Deep is being crowdfunded through Kickstarter and there are several packages available. To pledge for a copy, go to the following link via Kickstarter

Soul Deep is published in November 2020.

About The Authors

Stuart Deabill has co-written 3 books with Ian Snowball including the best seller – ‘Thick As Thieves – Personal Situations With The Jam’, that Paul Weller described as “the best book on The Jam, and it’s fans, I’ve ever seen”. He works closely with designer Steve Rowland on other projects through the AFTN imprint and lives in Watford.

Ian Snowball’s first gig was The Style Council in Brighton in 1985, and became a drummer because of his love of Steve White’s playing. Ian has written books about The Who, Mods, Dexy’s Midnight Runners as well as work with DJ Marshall Jefferson and Madness’s Lee Thompson. He’s also penned several novels and lives in Maidstone.

Steve Rowland’s love of style and music was inspired by The Style Council throughout the 1980’s leading to a life immersed in music, design and writing books. He has co-authored 2 books ‘Modzines – Fanzine Culture from the Mod Revival’ and ‘Punkzines and lives in Brighton.

Interview with Stuart Deabill

When did you first come into contact with the music of The Style Council?

March 1983, eagerly awaiting the world exclusive video premier of Speak Like A Child on The Tube. Everyone was waiting to hear Paul’s next move and a light hearted romp on an open top bus in the Malvern Hills, set to a very upbeat 60s inspired soul pop classic, a world away from the Woking Wonders sound. I still think it’s sounds fresh some 37 years later.

What was it about their music that appealed?

A freedom of expression. From rap to jazz, from funk to folk, classical to classic pop, there was no boundaries or limits. It didn’t always work but I always loved that you never knew what was coming next.

Was their look also a factor in liking the band?

I could never love a band that looked shit, so yeah. Thought the blazers, college scarves and loafers around the time of the 85 winter tour was a fantastic look, as was the White Double Denim Levi’s in 87. I also felt a big affinity with drummer Steve White who was around my age and a fellow casual in those early days as well. Lacoste and Pringle Cardigans to the fore!

There have been other books written on The Style Council. Why should people consider buying this one?

Its vibrant, stylish, fun, serious, bright, varied and a great visual and oral representation of a group that rode the 80s as a maverick soul collective.

The onus is also disproving the myth that the 80s was nothing like the way some of those awful I Love The 80s programmes portray. The Miners Strike was as close to a civil war as I’ve known in my lifetime. Not forgetting the IRA bombing mainland Britain on a regular basis. It wasn’t all shoulder pads, big hair and fucking Duran Duran.

Did you ever see the band live?

I saw The Style Council about 20 times. I didn’t miss a London gig until 1987 when I had tickets for all 4 nights at the Royal Albert Hall when I caught severe tonsillitis the week before and couldn’t eat for 2 weeks. Right old state. Bless my old man who went up the first night and managed to offload the lot to a tout.

The 2 gigs that stand out, was Brighton on the Fav Shop tour where the band were on fire, which was Ian’s first gig (I didn’t know him then btw), and the first time I saw them at The Dominion. It was more like a revue, with Billy Bragg doing 2 short sets, The Questions in the middle and TSC bookending the night. Not sure if it worked as a whole but there was some quality on show. Whitey on Dropping Bombs on the Whitehouse was the first time I’d ever enjoyed a drum solo. What I also enjoyed was watching all those redundant Mod / Jam Army types not fucking getting it in the slightest. And some still don’t!

The band went through many line-up changes, the nucleus of the band being Weller and Talbot. Why do you think the band went through so many line-up changes?
It was always Paul’s original idea to work as a collective, rather than a rigid rock band, and keep it fresh and exciting.

Where has the archive that appears in the book come from?

Picture wise – Fans, former musicians, collectors as well as various 80s publications and of course the brilliant artwork that adorned each release by their designer, Simon Halfon.

Plus there’s loads of new interviews to go alongside the visuals, as well as mine and Snowy’s recollections.

Have you interviewed any members of the band for the book and do these interviews feature?

We’ve just started the interviews and hoping that everyone involved in the main TSC body of work will have some part in the book, however big or small. All of them know we’re coming!

You have a book launch scheduled, what can people expect at the launch?

A Q&A, book signing and a DJ for the after show.

The band are still deeply loved by many fans the world over. All of the bands material has aged well would you agree?

Yes, especially the singles and albums up to ‘The Cost of Loving’. That was the first inkling that the band wasn’t fallible. Still 2 or 3 great songs on that, though the production ages it. As Paul says “no one escaped the 80s unscathed”.

Then Confessions of a Pop Group was released in 1988 to a lot of critical derision and is now fondly thought of by many as their greatest record. It’s an amazing piece of work. Though it went over my head back then.

What is your favourite period of the band?

For me the period between 1983 – 85 is my favourite. I was on board wholesale, every gig, release, interview, TV appearance was exciting.

What is your favourite 5 songs by the band?

Long Hot Summer – amazing memories evoked of the summer of 1983, off one of the greatest EP’s ever made.

When You (Call Me)
A classic B-Side that showed Weller’s romantic side, and why there was as many women into The Style Council as geezers.

Have You Ever Had It Blue
Used in Absolute Beginners, the film based on the book by Colin MacInnes. The jazz / pop single from 1986 is one of those classic stand alone singles, that always moved the heart and mind.

I love the way Paul and Mick take a family’s struggle and unemployment and put it to a soulful, mournful lament. It’s a understated and underrated song. And a very factual song for many back in 1985 unfortunately.

Mick’s Up
Again another B-side and this colossal Hammond driven instrumental was always a live favourite.

What is your favourite album by the band?

Our Favourite Shop. The complete album by a band at the peak of their musical career. Some of the songs are amongst the finest in Paul (and Mick’s) career for me; A Man of Great Promise, Walls Come Tumbling Down, A Stones Throw Away, Down in the Seine, Homebreakers are real stand outs.

Are you involved with the forthcoming About the Young Idea exhibition which is set to feature a section on The Style Council?

Finally, what are you hoping the legacy of book will be?

If you’re already a fan, I hope it connects with your view of TSC and we’ve done a great job in reflecting your love. If you’re a music fan but not delved into their back catalogue, I hope we’ve made you understand why we feel The Style Council should be duly celebrated. It’s certainly about time.

Further information on the Soul Deep book can be found via their Facebook page and their Kickstarter page