“Why!? What’s he done?” Louisa, the landlady of the Tower pub asks when I mention that we’d like to take some photos to go with my interview of James Endeacott, the subject I had left sitting on a sofa in front of a pictorial shrine to the Arsenal football team. A man at the bar wearing shorts (in February) had put some loud ‘80s bangers on the jukebox and told me to call him MC Phil. James laughed as I returned to our table, “this is my local, I’ve been in here so many times. I’ve literally been picked up off the floor after having had too much and not once has she asked me what I do. That’s what I love about this place”, he holds his pint aloft and gestures around the room that is covered in nik-naks and memorabilia, “no one cares who you are or what you’ve done.”

So, let me tell you what James Endeacott has done. James has worked in the music industry since being a teenager, ended up being the A&R man for The Strokes and The Libertines, he’s judged the X Factor, and these days, amongst other things, he provides the breakfast show each weekday for Soho Radio, live from a little studio, upstairs in the Marina Fountain.

I always joke that at the age of 12, I was into punk but that I thought that Simon and Garfunkel were punk.

He was brought up by his mother and spent most of his childhood in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire, an area that was perfectly safe before the likes of Tommy Lee Royce started being a nuisance. “My mum only had a handful of records, one of them being Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits,” he says. “I always joke that at the age of 12, I was into punk but that I thought that Simon and Garfunkel were punk. But as much as punk turned my head at that young age, I still like stuff such as Simon and Garfunkel and The Beatles. Harmonies and melodies, that’s what I’ve always gone for.” James moved to London and joined a band in 1987.

They were called Loop, and even though James couldn’t play guitar, he learned three chords and blagged it. “All I’ve ever done is blag it!” he says. A couple of years in and the band had become more competent, James still only knew three chords, had discovered a fondness for acid house (and all that went with it), and so it was time to move on — the stage wasn’t for him, well not that one at least.

He began working for the Rough Trade record label in the early ‘90s and had been to see an unknown band called Tindersticks. He knew quite a few people within the industry by this point and, with an inkling that this band would ‘make it’, between them, they decided that James should leave his job at Rough Trade and manage them instead.

“What I’ve realised since, is that there’s so much stuff going on here in Hastings: people doing things and charging money and we’re all passing this money around, helping each other”

…ON THE LIBERTINES

“When Pete and Carl signed to Rough Trade, they got a large advance and they got this flat in East London that they named The Albion Rooms. They’d have parties there all the time, it was pretty hedonistic.

They had a lot of money and they ironed it all and put it in the fridge. Their fridge was literally full of crisp 20 and 50-pound notes. I was there once and I went to the toilet and I came out saying ‘the flush isn’t working Pete!’. It turns out that their water had been turned off and they’d bought around 80 litre bottles of Evian water and they told me to grab one and pour it down the loo. You can’t get much more rock and roll than using Evian to flush your bog. The Libertines are very dear to my heart and it all got lost in drugs and chaos. Pete Doherty is more than some drug-addled idiot who went out with Kate Moss.”

…ON SOHO RADIO

I do a daily morning show from 9am until midday and it’s called Morning Glory. When I started, I was losing my mojo in terms of managing bands. When I moved here I thought it would be over because they’d want me to be in Soho. But, every morning I get up and walk down through St Leonards Gardens and walk along the seafront, whatever the weather. That walk is good for the soul. Whatever mood I’m in in the morning, after doing those three hours I feel okay.

… ON BECOMING A DFL

Like many people who realised that they didn’t need to be in London, James and his wife Gillian moved to Hastings during the pandemic. After living in London for 35 years, James had been getting itchy feet. “I didn’t want to fall out of love with London, it had given me a brilliant life and we’d brought up three children there”. Gillian and James had met 40 years ago by the sea whilst at university and they decided that the sea wascalling them once more. “We’d been down here to visit our friends, Jess and Michael from The Marina Fountain and we said ‘let’s do it!’ with no real thought process going into it. All of a sudden it was a reality and I think had we known how good it was here, we’d have moved earlier. There was obviously a mass exodus of

people moving here at the time and there’s a bit of stigma with it but, fuck stigma, I love it here and I’m having a good time”.

As a self-confessed blagger, James was not used to paying for his good times, and in London he would ‘guestlist’ himself into gigs, festivals, parties, you name it. It wasn’t long after moving to St Leonards and embarking on the social scene, that he was right royally humbled.

“There was a book event at the Kino and it was only about eight quid to get in but I knew the publisher so I said ‘can you get me on the guestlist?’ So Gill and I get into the Kino, about thirty people are there and Ben gets up on the microphone and starts taking the piss out of me for getting on the guestlist, saying ‘well here we are, we’ve got some people here down from London who didn’t pay, they wanted to be on the guestlist instead…’

What I’ve realised since is that there’s so much stuff going on here in Hastings: people doing things and charging money and we’re all passing this money around, helping each other. And I was coming down with this London attitude of I’m gonna get in for nothing. It was a big life lesson and I’ve left my old blagging ways behind me. What I believe now is that we’re all in this together, that we all rely on each other. It’s about the community and supporting your local pub, or pizza place or butchers or whatever, and keeping the money here. It’s quite a hippy ideal but so what? Hippies are alright aren’t they?”

“Last week we were in the Horse and Groom which is one of my favourite pubs. We walked along Silchester Road and there’s this little studio called Day Glo and they’re having this event called Ready Salted. We went in and there were DJs, cocktails, and they were selling crisp sandwiches! It was the sort of thing that if you saw it in Shoreditch, you’d think ‘what a bunch of wankers’ but because it was here it was brilliant!”

“You can live your dream here, but you can also be supported and be supportive. Gill and I didn’t think we were retiring when we moved here but we did think we’d calm down a bit but that hasn’t been the case. She gets massive F.O.M.O here!”

Living right by the sea and seeing it on a regular basis makes you realise how insignificant we are. It grounds you. But it also makes you think that the possibilities are endless.

What three elements make great music for you?

Melody, passion and attitude, not necessarily in that order.

Which musicians do you rate currently?

Aircooled are a local band: a bunch of people in their forties who are just having a great time and they’ve really energised St Leonards and Hastings. But also Hot Wax are ones to watch out for and their management team is excellent, I think they’re

heading to great things. There’s a great band called Looking Glass Alice from Hertfordshire, as well as Muriel Grossmann who’s a brilliant jazz saxophonist, she’s a real force of nature.

What has been your favourite gig?

It’s difficult because so many gigs mean so many different things. But I would say one of the best gigs was seeing Sonic Youth in 1985 at a place just off Portobello Road. It was an afternoon gig, I’d got the coach up from Devon and I was 20 years old. It changed the way I felt about live music: they were smashing their guitars with screwdrivers and scraping their guitars against the amps. Everything was detuned and it was almost theatre.

In terms of excitement, it was probably when I saw The Strokes at the Barfly in London: it was their fourth or fifth gig in the UK and their first big, London gig. The anticipation and the atmosphere in that room was something I’d never experienced before. The band was ready to go on other than the singer, Julian Casablancas. I was downstairs with him and he was so nervous that he just couldn’t go upstairs and he wanted to chat with me about my kids instead. Eventually, he walked onto the stage, grabbed the microphone, slammed it down, and then they went into a riff and the place just erupted!

Something was in the air that night, it was like it was year zero and it felt like the passing of the baton. It was electric and they were ridiculously good. They were the five most beautiful men and I always said that every boy wanted to be in the band and every woman wanted to shag them and I wanted to do both. Only trust people who wanted to do both, they were insane.

And what is the worst gig you’ve been to?

Art Garfunkel played the South Bank. It was awful, dreadful and schmaltzy. He wore a dinner suit and a bow tie, he ended with Bright Eyes or Bridge Over Troubled Water and then he announces that he’s going to bring on a very special guest… and he brings out his son who is about seven years old and who looks just like him: dinner suit, bow tie and the big, frizzy hair. They sang Feelin’ Groovy together. Just Awful.

Most controversial musical opinion?

I don’t like Radiohead, I think they’re awful, and I think Britpop was one of the worst times for music… ever. It was the epitome of the ‘90s and lads and Loaded mag and I hated it.

What never fails to get you on the dancefloor?

Say Hello Wave Goodbye by Soft Cell, you can smooch to it.

How has music shaped you?

Music has made me a better person, it’s taught me a lot and it continues to. It is constantly on my mind. My mood is defined by what I listen to and sometimes what I listen to defines my mood. Some days I’ll just listen to Bob Dyan and nothing else. Other days if I hear Bob Dylan I get angry. Listening to music is just what I do, it’s like breathing… or drinking. Every so often I pinch myself and say “I’m just a working class lad from Halifax, how did I get here!?”

And with that, we were done… and a little bit tipsy. “I’ll probably be back for the meat raffle”, I thought, as Bon Jovi erupted from the jukebox and MC Phil waved cheerily.

Catch James on Soho Radio, weekdays 9am — 12pm and monthly around the round table with Steve Lamacq on 6 Music.

James Endeacott photographed by Ethne Lily

Author

  • Mel Elliott

    Originally from Barnsley in South Yorkshire, Mel Elliott graduated with an MA from The Royal College of Art in 2007, after which she started her publishing label, I Love Mel. Mel's pop-culture colouring books have sold worldwide and her children's books have been published in many languages. Mel has worked on projects with major publishers in the UK, USA, Italy, Taiwan and South Korea. She is currently working on her first YA novel... as well as Get Hastings.

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