One January Friday – A case of mistaken identity with AJ Barratt Pt.2

Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘Two Tribes’ video shoot by A.J. Barratt


You did the Two Tribes video, which then ended up being on some of the sleeves (‘Two Tribes (Carnage)’ / ‘War (Hidden)’).
I took stills, yeah
What was the atmosphere like during the video shoot?
Video shoots are actually quite boring, they are endless, over and over again.
But if you think of the time frame of the Two Tribes video shoot – after ‘Relax’ but before the ‘Two Tribes’ single release – they still could have been a one-hit wonder. A very big one-hit wonder but when you think of what Two Tribes became, it was even bigger, who could have predicted that? Nine weeks at No.1, that crazy video which was one of the most memorable videos of the eighties.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘Two Tribes’ video shoot by A.J. Barratt
Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘Two Tribes’ video shoot by A.J. Barratt

That was interesting doing stills on that, I remember Jill Sinclair coming down and she was breast-feeding a child on the set! Which was weird because you’d be doing stills of this mayhem and you’d turn around and (mimes wave), ‘Hi Jill’. I think there was a sense of that video being something that would really turn heads worldwide. And it did. I don’t know how many videos had been done like that, that didn’t just have the band going, ‘I’m playing bass, I’m playing guitar’… I suppose Duran Duran springs to mind (‘Girls On Film’, ‘Rio’).
There were a few, I’m sure Bowie did something but then, again, this is why I like it all, because it isn’t the conventional. With ‘Two Tribes’ I imagine there was some excitement and trepidation, ‘we’ve got a lot to prove…’?
There was a sense of a band really on the crest, surfing as much as they could because they knew that this was about as good as it was going to get.
They must have known that they had a hit single?

FGTH TT Carnage XZTAS3 front cover
Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘Two Tribes (Carnage)’ (cover)

Oh yeah, it’s quite an old song as well, I think Holly had had that for a long time, it wasn’t something (they’d) just written.
Are you actually in the video anywhere given that there are a lot of photographers or were you always behind the film cameras?
I’m not in the video but if you YouTube ‘Bible Belt’ by Zeke Manyika I’m the guard on top of the mine – my only role!
You did the shoot in the tram shed for ‘The Power of Love’ where they’re all in white? Wasn’t that done just before they jetted off to do the US tour?
I don’t know if it was the night before because I went on that tour for, I think it was, No.1 magazine. Because of my contacts with the band – and don’t forget I was in my third year at college here – I got this phone call saying, ‘Do you want to go the States?’. It’s like a Friday afternoon, I’m trying to get through my degree year and I get this call saying, ‘can you go and do this for No.1?’ And I’m actually ‘Johnny no one’ (laughs).
So, then I have to go and see the head of college and say, ‘look, do you mind if I have a week off because I’m doing something?’ He says, ‘yeah, you lucky…, go and get some experience’.
So you were there when they went down the avenue on the tank and things like that?
Yeah, there’s stills in the book that I took (And Suddenly There Came A Bang!) yeah, I was there for all that. I’m sure there’s stuff in here… (pulls book from bookshelf and out falls a folded promo poster for Art of Noise‘s ‘Into Battle’ release).

AON Into Battle promo poster orig
Art Of Noise ‘Into Battle’ A2 promo poster (untreated)

Oh, look at that, I didn’t know it was in there! I remember going into the NME offices one day and I saw this poster on their wall, and someone had added a third line to the bottom of it. (Reads from poster) “Noise Is Golden, Silence is a dead giveaway, and Bullshit stinks”, that’s what it was!
(Laughs) That’s what somebody had written.
Anyway, (returning to the book) there’s stuff from out on the road here, not all these are mine, there’s some live stuff, there’s the record shot again (Holly, Paul, Ange and Juicy Lucy from the ‘Relax’ 12″ picture disc).

Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘Relax’ 12″ Picture Disc (front)

These aren’t all me, (looking at the Camden Palace photos backstage) some of these must be by the other guy you mentioned (Steve Rumney). You see, I didn’t really understand at that time, that it was going to be such a phenomenon so me and Jayne went down, we were on the guest list, Paul was there and I just took my camera and took a few things.
Did you develop and process your own photos after you took them? How did it work? Did you supply negs and a contact sheet with favourites highlighted or did Paul and XL choose?
After processing the negatives I’d make contact sheets and print up shots that I thought were worthwhile.
There’s a weird one with Peter Powell, he did his show in London then he flew to New York to interview the Frankies, it was in the Rockafella Centre. (Carrys on leafing through), there’s some more live stuff, them on the steps of the Whitehouse, there’s the stuff for ‘The Power of Love’.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘And Suddenly There Came A Bang!’ (interior page)
Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘And Suddenly There Came A Bang!’ (interior page)

This is post-big hit(s), the album’s probably out or just about to be released?’
I don’t think the album was out before that. My favourite photo in here is this one (Mark O’Toole asleep hugging a bin at an airport) He’d almost died the night before, he’d been given some pills and he just took ’em and turned blue. The next day we had to get a plane and he was shocking, like, ‘can somebody watch him please, just in case he…’ (laughs)
With the ‘Power of Love’ pictures, if you look at their faces they all look really pissed off
I think it just wasn’t them, it was Holly, yeah – ‘dress me up as an ambassador to the Viennese State’ – yeah, the rest of them were like, ‘fuckin’ ‘ell la’, you know? They were quite a bristly lot – the lads – the other two were artistic and Paul is just a lovely chap, he’d talk to anybody and he’d be the loveliest life and soul of the party, a really sweet guy. The lads, you know, they were tough guys.

FGTH XZTAS5 12" inner right
Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘The Power of Love’ 12″ (inner gatefold detail)

Later on, when they were allowed to do their own interviews, I think that really came out. Morley and Horn cultivated this ‘lads’ persona a bit didn’t they? I think Paul even named them ‘The Lads’?
Yeah, he did. But his idea of what ‘lads’ are is a bit different from reality, (laughs) He wasn’t prepared for them, ‘the louts’ would have been better. They were pretty heavy guys. Now, they would have been in gossip columns every day but… wild days really, absolutely amazing.
So, I’m this photography student from Stockport and suddenly, I’m in a limo going from New York to Philadelphia to see the Frankies play for the third time.
They were probably in the same position as well? They can’t have been much older than you? Plus all the adulation, girls screaming at them etc.
Well at that stage… I’ve been in the States with indie bands and they’ve been on stage and they come out and kids would come and say, ‘Hiya, that was a great gig, can we buy a bit of merchandise?’ It was like that then, if they’d have been here (in the UK) it would have been crazy but there… I remember after the Philadelphia gig, it was a campus gig so the changing rooms were like the sports hall or something. Kids would come round the back and, very respectfully, just knock on the door. Paul would poke his head round and, ‘Hiya’, it wasn’t all ‘bang!, bang!’ (mimes people hammering the doors down).
But had they done Saturday Night Live by that point?
I don’t think so but they did do it on that trip because there was a big party afterwards. But I remember going in to see the editor at No.1 magazine before the trip and she said, ‘when you’re with the Frankies, get Prince’. I says, ‘yes, you’ll need prints’ and she said, ‘no, the Frankies will be meeting Prince. Unfortunately, on the way over, he said, ‘no’, so it didn’t happen but the idea was to get a cover with them meeting.
So, that trip was a week?
I think so, I flew in to New York with Max Bell and Regine Moylett, who later went on to become U2‘s PR. She was the Island Records PR because ZTT went through Island and Regine became their PR. Wonderful but then she went on to go on tour with U2 for 18 months and that did her head in.

FGTH WTW 12ZTAS26 cover front
Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘Watching The Wildlife’ 12″ (cover)

FGTH WTW 12ZTAX26 cover back
You also did the stills for the ‘Watching The Wildlife’ animal imagery for the final Frankie single, what was the idea there? Was that briefed by Paul or was that stuff that you were doing again for yourself?
No, that was basically, ‘we’ve got a video of some stuff, can you take some off screen?’. There was a lot of stuff like that, ‘we need something here, can you take a photo?’, well, yes but why didn’t you think of that before? Towards the end of ZTT (in terms of the end of the first phase of the label before the new deal with Warner Brothers in 1988) there wasn’t a great deal of planning at all and then they’d get these images and say, ‘we could do with a still of that’. You know the record that Glen Gregory did with Claudia? ‘When Hearts Run Out Of Time’, and there’s some photos on the back, some photos of Theresa Russell taken from the video screen – all by me. (laughs)
Not even official stills? (There are also several on the Roy Orbison ‘Wild Hearts’ 7″ double pack)

RO Wild Hearts DZTAS9 7" front cover
Roy Orbison ‘Wild Hearts’ 7″ double pack (cover)

There was talk of me going out to take photos of Roy Orbison and I was starting to get to the stage where I was beginning to realise, ‘oh, I’d quite like to do Tom Waits…’, and they said, ‘Roy Orbison?’ I said ‘yeah, that would just be like…’ and then he died!’ (Laughs)
One last question: the last Frankie 12″, it’s one of the remixes and, for some reason it’s mocked up to look like a German release. There’s a picture of Holly covering his eye and he’s got a kind of fake eyeball…
Black, yeah…

FGTH WTW 12ZTE26 cover front
Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘Watching The Wildlife’ 3rd remix 12″ (cover)

what’s that about?
I took that at the video shoot and I’ve no idea why he’s got a black eyeball, it was like a fake insert but I just remember thinking, ‘I must take a photo of that because it’ll come in handy’. (Watching the video again there are a couple of scenes where Holly has animal eyes superimposed on his own eyeballs). They got David Bailey in to do a video for Frankie (‘Rage Hard’) and I did stills on it. They basically had to re-do the whole thing because he filled the studio with smoke. I was doing stills and Bailey comes over and says, ‘are you getting much?’ and I said, ‘well… no, because I can’t see anything!’. He said. ‘yeah I know, it’ll clear in a minute, you’ll get some good stuff’, which was very nice of him but then Jill Sinclair rang him up and said, ‘look, this is shit’ (!). I think Morley redid it, I think he re-edited the whole thing to make it look like ‘something’, which would entail him going into an editing suite and telling some guy to do this and that.
It’s quite sad watching that last video for ‘…Wildlife’ because you know that it’s the end and you can see that they probably know that too.

…and there we end our chat with Tony ‘AJ’ Barratt but don’t worry, there are many images as yet unseen that will be appearing here over the coming months as the releases pile up. We’ve jumped forward in time a fair bit with this half of the Frankie-centric interview but next we go back to the one that really blew the doors off. Frankie are coming…

All photos © AJ Barratt. All sleeve and picture disc art scanned from my personal collection, © ZTT. All text © ArtOfZTT 2013.

2 Responses

  1. Hi-

    AJ Barrett was a real influence to me as a photographer and I would love the opportunity to email him and let him know.

    Can you please let me know how to get a hold of him?

    Thanks and have a great night.

  2. 1st of all, thanks a lot for both interviews with AJ Barratt. I searched internet and could not find any related stuff _at_all. so strange. are you in the know, by chance, why there exist no official site out there?..

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