Keith Mullin

Join me for a chat with Keith Mullin as he takes us through his journey in the music industry and into education. He shares insights on launching records, shifting career paths, and the hard graft behind both. Discover how unexpected radio success led to strategic changes, the challenge of juggling a burgeoning music career with day jobs, and the transition to teaching and mentoring up-and-coming artists.

Keith also touches on the value of education, making your own luck, and the importance of seizing opportunities.

Keith Mullin talks us through his journey in the music industry

Sean O’Neill: Had anyone said to you, oh, you always land on your feet or you’re lucky?

Keith Mullin: I do believe that. Yeah, you’re lucky. But I think you’ve got to be in it to kind of win it. I think you made your own luck.

Sean O’Neill: Who’s actually looking after, who’s making sure you had food, water, sleep, did the enjoyment factor. Stay there for a while.

Keith Mullin: Sleep there for far too long.

Sean O’Neill: Yeah. At least you rode the wave.

Keith Mullin: Yeah, yeah, we certainly rode the wave.

Sean O’Neill: Fully adopted 20 odd years.

Keith Mullin: Absolutely.

Sean O’Neill: Passports now.

Keith Mullin: I think you passed the test.

Sean O’Neill: And now I’ve got the best of both worlds. Come to the city, have my foundations here, great people. And now, thankfully, I can travel to anywhere I want, in the world when I want, and just enjoy it all really have it all.

Keith Mullin: Which is a great thing. Absolutely.

Sean O’Neill: So I am somebody that’s not big into music. I actually said that to you before, but your name has propped up so many times by so many people, and when they mention you, or they mention the farm, they’ve got so many amazing memories. And I did see you live years ago.

Keith Mullin: Do you?

Sean O’Neill: Through a friend of mine that was doing a show in the Epstein theatre.

Keith Mullin: Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah. The Epstein was a great theater.

Sean O’Neill: And we talked about traveling there. And you are someone who’s seen a lot of the world through the eyes of a musician.

Keith Mullin: I consider myself really fortunate, really, to have led the life that I’ve led, including its ups and its downs, you know, that journey. So I think I’ve seen some amazing things from a world view perspective, and I’ve met some amazing people, and been to some unbelievably beautiful places, also been to some places that are not necessarily so. So beautiful as well, but it’s all part of that experience.

So, from my perspective and growing up and where I suppose our background, and I’m saying our, well, I mean. I mean, the band, you know, because we’ve all have similar kind of backgrounds of various areas of Liverpool. But my particular background, really, when you think of kind of where I’ve come from, which is not too dissimilar to most working class people in the city, I feel extremely fortunate.

I’ve had that life, and I feel extremely fortunate to still be doing it now, just to a level that I find interesting and unacceptable in a way, because we’re still out playing music and getting offers for gigs to play music, and people are still engaging with our music 35 years later. Yes, I’ve seen. Been some amazing places, but I’ve seen some amazing things in order to be able to do that.

It’s kind of music that’s given me that, you know, and that ability to play and that being in a band that happened to be successful. So I don’t underestimate that in any way, shape or form. I just feel extremely fortunate to be in that position to be able to do that, really, because not everyone will get that opportunity.

Sean O’Neill: As we said before, Liverpool for me is home, and I’m extremely passionate about it. There’s lots that it’s given me, and the people in this city has been amazing for me. But there’s also. It’s not always easy to grow up in a city and then appreciate things when you’re younger. When you were younger, was music your outlet always, or what was it like?

Keith Mullin: Well, yes, I mean, it’s not easy growing up anyway, is it? Do you know what I mean? Growing up is a difficult. Is a challenge for everybody, and everyone has different, you know, different challenges. But for me, kind of growing up and coming from a kind of a working class background, I suppose if you want, we can call it that. It was challenging, and it was challenging because, you know, I suppose, of the family and the family set up because my dad was a joiner and he was a building worker and he’d been involved in the building working strikes of the 1970s.

There’s a consequence of that. He got blacklisted, and as a consequence, he was blacklisted. It meant he was always in and out of work. He was always in and out of employment and wasn’t necessarily in employment. And he spent quite a lot of those eighties years. When I call that my awareness, I suppose it was in my teens then.

So that part of the growing up was, was quite tough because from a young man, I suppose, point of view, it was, you’re moving into an era where there was a lot of unemployment and poverty, so there were no defined routes for you to go, really, those jobs and roles that you would expect them to go into, even though they didn’t exist.

So that was quite difficult prior to that. If you think of being from the early years and early ages, when I was in between like six to ten and my teens, you know, I had a wonderful life in that, you know, even though you, you could probably look back at it now and they will. We, well, we the way we kind of existed and lived it, you know, was pretty similar to everyone else in the north end of Liverpool, you know, but you don’t look back at it. I know we come from a poor background in that respect, you know, I mean, I lived on a Masonite, do you know what I mean?

Sean O’Neill: But did it feel wonderful at the time? My mom says, that’s what I’m saying.

Keith Mullin: You don’t want to paint it like.

Sean O’Neill: My mom says, because we had a fantastic time. The good old days, maybe they weren’t so good, but everyone worked hard and got on with it.

Keith Mullin: Yeah. Yeah, basically, yeah, that sums it up quite nicely. So, you know, we kind of, growing up, I always, you know, we’ve had a fantastic time, always enjoyed ourselves, you know. And music came in through the family, really, because my dad was an avid listener to music. My uncle, Uncle Arthur, he was a huge jazz fan. So they were both very much into their folk and into their jazz and into kind of sixties music. So they had records in the house. My nan was a pianist, so when we went, used to go around to my nan’s, we lived, he lived like five minutes from, from, from Everton football ground, you know, where kind of she grew up in the shadow.

And that’s where my mother grew up. And, and, well, they, they had a piano in the house and so, you know, she used to play piano. And so every Christmas, every party or when we go to my nan’s, you know, the entertainment then within the house, the piano was a piece of furniture. It was like a sideboard, you know, so it was, it was, she would get on there and she’d be playing piano, she’d be singing songs all night, you know.

And so my connection to music, I suppose, really, from those early days, comes from that. It kind of comes from my nan, it kind of comes from the family and it kind of comes with the connection to the music that they were playing and listening to at the time, which was, you know, kind of a lot of your popular songs of the day.

And my dad had a, was a huge Bob Dylan fan and very much into that kind of folk Skiffle type scene. And my uncle, I used to, he took me to my face to have a gig. My uncle, he took me to see Duke Ellington in the theatre in Southport when I was five years of age, you know, so I was quite fortunate because he bought tickets and he kind of took me to go and see some of the, some of the great Duke Ellington in his orchestra. I can still remember the gig now when I was five, but I can’t remember too much about the music in FM, but I just remember the enormity of it all. I was quite overwhelmed by it, but apparently it was well behaved.

Sean O’Neill: There’s so much science about the first seven years of your life, that imprint period is what sends.

Keith Mullin: So it’s a family thing, the family thing, you know, and that sense of kind of that, that’s how you entertained yourselves in those days. You know, if you wanted to, you know, a party and you had music. I mean, it wasn’t necessarily about DJ’s or putting even putting records on it in a lot of respects, although they did, you know, it was about self-entertainment. And so whenever we had house parties, whenever young, all the guitars would come out, you know, at a certain time of the night when everyone had enough to drink, you know, the guitars were coming out and everyone would be singing.

Sean O’Neill: But you weren’t drinking at five.

Keith Mullin: No, no. I’d be normally, normally standing on the stairs hiding because I was supposed to be in bed. So I’d be listening to what we’re going to do.

Sean O’Neill: So how did you then how did you learn your craft? Are you a music teacher or….

Keith Mullin: I didn’t have a family. I didn’t have a music teacher. My music teacher was my dad and my brother basically, you know, brotherly. I mean, my brother Lee’s younger than me. He started picking up the guitar and playing before I did. And there were several guitars in the house which were kind of brought in. My first ever guitar was a Hofner President and it was.

My dad had brought it in because he hadn’t been paid that week and he was doing their work on, I think it was Mister Pickwick’s in Liverpool at the time. He was refurbishing that club and he hadn’t actually been paid and he’d been paid a certain amount of money. So they gave. Paid him in a guitar, which my mother wasn’t too happy because she didn’t have enough money to feed us all that week. So she brought the guitar and he gave it to me and said, that’s yours. So I kind of. I kind of.

Sean O’Neill: My grandfather got paid in a block of cheese one day by taking sheep to the farmyard. So that’s kind of what happened. I understand, I understand.

Keith Mullin: The story necessarily eat it, but I think the expectation was a lanes it maybe bring the food later, you know. So I kind of started to learn on that. My first chords were taught to me by my dad and the first chords were taught to me by my brother and they just left me alone. And then I just got up myself and taught myself from there, really.

Sean O’Neill: Did you know earlier on that that was going to be your future?

Keith Mullin: I knew early on that I was completely absorbed in it. I’m very of that, when I was that age, I was quite introvert. I was in school, I was considered slow in school I was considered someone who was not necessarily intellectual in any way, or as a slow learner, is what they used to call you. And Kiev will never amount to nothing. And that was because I’m now what you consider to be neurodiverse.

I’ve got dyslexia and various other twitches and kind of things which you only find out years later that that’s what was wrong. So I was quite introvert in that respect. So playing a musical instrument as something I could just sit for hours and do and not realize that I’d spent like 6 or 7 or 8 hours doing it. And so my mother.

Sean O’Neill: No one told you put that guitar.

Keith Mullin: Well, no one told me to stop because, I mean, because now my mother always used to say, there’s no point in speaking to him when he’s playing, because he just not listening, he’s not at home, you know what I mean? And that’s. I kind of got into that mindset quite early, so I knew I wanted to do something with music even when I was. I’d left school and was working on various kind of jobs that I didn’t like, you know, I even had him. I had a job with this bricklayer once, and I was laboring under this bricklayer, and I was a hard carrier, you know, and, and he used to kind of flick cements at me off the ladder when I was running up and down the ladder with bricks and cement and all of that, you know, for the thing.

And then I left the job and then went at a local college to learn how to read and write music there, and stayed there for a bit and then left there. But I always remember I met him years later, this bricklayer, and he said to me, he said it was when the farm had started to do well, and he managed to come up to me in the pub, and he was like, made up that you’re doing really, really well. He said, I made up, you left.

So what do you mean? He goes, were you shit, I’d carry it. He said, you were never destined to do that build and work with us. Your head, when you were all. Your head was always in the clouds, he said, you, you were always in the clouds and you were always just obsessed with music and stuff like that. And when the day you left, we were all made up because, not because we didn’t like it, because we wanted you to go and do something better because you weren’t. You weren’t cut out for this and I felt. I felt. I thought that was quite touching, really.

Sean O’Neill: So when did the period come from you left, you started understanding, reading, writing music to creating the farm?

Keith Mullin: I didn’t create the farm, I mean, the farm was already in existence. I’d been in existence for about three or four years before I joined. It was the mid-eighties, so I’ve been, you know, involved in lots of different things I’ve been marching to London on right, to work marches. I was quite politicized then and I was in and out of going to football matches like most young men, I suppose, working class men were doing at that time.

They’re even going to watch Liverpool or they’re going to watch Everton and involved in that fashion, I suppose, thing of the day and the music is part of it so I kind of followed that path and I was in and out of looking for employment, I was in a relationship and I had a child when I was quite young as well but the guitarist of the farm had left and two friends of mine knew Peter who from going to the football and they said to him that it was Billy Dunne and Andy Dunne I think it was, or Billy Dunne and Peter Dunne two lads I know from growing up who we hung around with who were also Evertonians and I’d said to Peter, because they knew Peter really well, and said, look, there’s a lad by ours plays guitar and he looks the part, meaning a lot like I go to football matches, do you know what I mean?

And so they hooked us up and they come round to mine, to him to audition me. I suppose that’s what you call basically go and play, let’s see what you can do. So I played some stuff for him, I can’t even remember what I played for them. And he said okay, yeah, come to rehearsal. So I went to rehearsal and that was it. I was in, you know, after one or two years.

Sean O’Neill: Have you got a particular style of music then?

Keith Mullin: They had a particular style of music, yeah, with the farm, which was, you know, which was kind of influenced by like the likes of the style council, likes a madness, likes of the specials, and independent music in the eighties. So it was definitely something I liked and something I was into and I was made up to get in the band because they already had a reputation, you know, so for me to join such a, what was perceived locally as a high profile band, it was a bit of a — It was an achievement in that sense, but also as well, I mean, if you kind of go back to some of them kind of difficulties I had experienced at that time in expressing myself.

Music for me was a voice, and the farm as a band, for me were a voice because we connected completely on an intellectual level. We connected completely on a sort of values level, of things that we believe in and things that we values. They were the same, you know, and we were very much of the same generation, a football match going generation who was into music, who were politicized in that way.

So music has always been, for me, that voice that I would not otherwise have. Because you didn’t have a voice then. You know, when you look back through the kind of eighties and what this city was going through at the time and the ongoing battle and war that it was having with the fact that then touch of government of the day, the farm represented to me an extension of that, like an extension of that voice that you’re able to make social commentary through music and hopefully have some form of impact, you know, obviously, we never expected the impact we eventually had, but at the time, it represented that, you know, as well as it was, it was an opportunity to be able to go out and play, you know, your own music or with an independent band, you know.

Sean O’Neill: So I think people that do know, you obviously know where you ended up. For the people that maybe just aren’t quite sure you’re in the band, you’re doing what you love, you’ve got your voice. And then you started making impact. How rapid was that impact?

Keith Mullin: It was very quick and it was very quick.

Sean O’Neill: Was it like overnight….

Keith Mullin: You thought it wasn’t overnight. I mean, people every overnight.

Sean O’Neill: Take me through the story of how you started waking up in the morning thinking, bloody hell, we’ve made it here, what have you done?

Keith Mullin: It wasn’t necessarily an overnight thing, because every. Every overnight success can take years to make. You know, when we would been around in the wilderness, I suppose, if you like, all kind of gigging around, putting records out, doing John Peel sessions, doing the things that bands were doing in the eighties for a long time. And I think I’ve been in the band for about five, six years before that took off. But that took off as a consequence of us engaging and dance music basically taken off. Dance music started to take off. The way we looked as a band had all of a sudden become acceptable.

So I think we had to become. Because in the early eighties, if you didn’t look like Kajigougou, no one was interested, do you know what I mean? If you didn’t look like, wild haired and have huge suits on or really flamboyant. No one was interested. He didn’t know what the record labels. And that didn’t get us at all. He looked and thought, you just look like football hooligans. And really, do you know what I mean? That’s what they thought. You just look like that. I mean, do you not think you should go?

Sean O’Neill: He’s not tempted to look a bit more rough?

Keith Mullin: It’s cool now.

Sean O’Neill: Sparkly.

Keith Mullin: Yeah, it’s cool now. And everyone wants to look like that. But back then, no one looked like that. No. Especially no one in a band looked like that.

Sean O’Neill: So you were just being yourselves then. You dressed, you sang how you wanted to sing, and you dressed how you wanted to look.

Keith Mullin: And so I said, house happened, didn’t it? In late 87, 88 and 89. And we’d started to listen to that type of music. We influenced that music. And we got. Our manager at the time was a guy called Kevin Sampson, and he put a tape into the hand of a character, a DJ in London called Teddy Farley, who we kind of wanted to work with because we were going in the studio and trying to make something different to what we’ve been doing. You know, we’d come through a change in the format of the band as well. We no longer had a blast section, and we had a keyboard player and things like that.

And so we were looking for it. The music was on a different route and changing anyway. And I remember Teddy. Kevin saying, Teddy listened to the demo and said, it sounds like they’ve never been to a club in their lives. Something along that lines. But he said he really liked what we were doing and maybe we should hook up and wait together. And we got some financial backing as well. And as a consequence of that, we set up our own record label called Produce Records. Not really knowing what we were doing, we just called it that, and then began to learn how to release records ourselves.

Sean O’Neill: So who did you get in to help?

Keith Mullin: Well, we got. We started to work with local people that we knew. We got Dave Picholingian, you know, who now runs Modern Sky Records, one of the most kind of happening record label, independent record labels out there at the moment. And Dave and a few other people began to work with us and help us out and stuff and work with us for a while. We started working with Teddy Farley, started working with Charlie Chester in London, who was owned club nights.

And eventually Charlie Vents. He went on to Ibfield and one of some of the most interesting club nights in Ibfield. And we had a little bit of money. We had a bit of money and got a financial, kind of bit of financial backing to be able to do some of the things that we wanted to do and then started to make music that became relevant at that time.

So the first kind of big recordings we did was a cover of a song called Stepping Stone, you know, and we kind of did a club version of that with Teddy Farley. And he brought the — Remember the bankroll snap. Well, before that power record went huge, he kind of brought that into the studio as a record. Say, listen to this. He said, it’s only done so many copies, no one will kind of know, won’t go anywhere. There’s no one will know it to put the loop. So we — we kind of sampled, you know, some of those, some of the drum beats and loops and built a record around that. And it was a huge club hit.

But by the time ours was becoming a huge club hit, that was number ten in this yards, but kind of. No one really said anything on you. So this kind of thing that we thought we were going to be quite unique with wasn’t necessarily so unique. And so that was the first record that we raised in independently that blew up as an independent record. It blew up organically through the clubs, even to the point where we were kind of number 40 in the chart on mid weekend was number 40 that week in the tiaras.

And we were like, shit, you know, we just were like, what’s happening here? But the reason it didn’t go into the charts is because, from our perspective, we didn’t produce any other formats. We only produced a twelve inch single. We didn’t produce cassettes, we didn’t produce seven inch. We didn’t do all the different formats that you’re supposed to do to get the critical mass of sales, to get you up the charts. And we only did a twelve inch.

So remember all just running around hushed, rushing around hurriedly to try and get an editor. Seven minute, seven minute, a seven inch former, because that original track is seven minutes long, and no one in them days would play anything that was seven minutes long, you know, but that’s what we made it as.

And it got a lot of airplane, but it kind of sets us up. I think if that had exploded as a track at that particular time, it had probably been too much, too much at the time for us. You know, the timing was wrong, but that laid the groundwork done for everything else. So that’s when it all started to go a bit crazy, you know, and. And it went.

Sean O’Neill: So you’re still producing music in Liverpool, you weren’t….

Keith Mullin: Yeah, we had a record label on….

Sean O’Neill: Wall street and you weren’t touring or you’re basing and recording.

Keith Mullin: We were based in Liverpool. We were kind of recording in London. We were using Madness’s studio at the time in London. And we were recording in London based here. We had our own offices here, we had our rehearsal rooms here. And we were working with London people and different. We started to put a different team together and it all grew very quickly.

And then that year we went out to Ibiza with Charlie Chester because we’ve been invited out to Ibiza to play some of his gigs out there in places like the coup club. He was running club nights out there. And he had a two week, three week event, I think, out there. So we decided with a producer called Angus Cameron to get the fund and to go out and film it.

So we kind of, as a group of people, as a label. It was Kevin Sampson’s idea in the main to. It was our manager time to film what was taking place in why we were out in IB fair. And that became — That was a call to Shaw film about chillin. And that became the first ever documentary, docu, if you can call it docu drama, maybe, documentary on youth culture and music in Ibiza. The first people ever to go out in there and film what was going on was us. And we kind of went out there and did that. And then Kevin Sampson was working for Channel Four at the time. And what he didn’t tell him he was managing us. So what, he come back, maybe the days when he could go into TV and say, I’ve got this. And it’d be on the TV like three weeks later.

So he went in and saw the top editor, the commissioner said, I’ve got this thing. It’s been filmed on a beef and it’s amazing. It’s what’s happening now underground. No one can see it, do you know what I mean? And he basically sold the two and they didn’t know he was managing us at the time. So we kind of got away with. He kind of got away with it. It was a stroke of genius.

And then it was — It was on it. It was featured on a channel four, on them Friday night on Primetime TV as a one. And it got the most viewing figures for any youth culture movie that year, documentary that year. And just so happened we were releasing our single the next day called Groovy Train.

Sean O’Neill: And that’s what that blew.

Keith Mullin: Groovy train up here. And that’s when it started to go, absolutely. Crackers, you know, so just be.

Sean O’Neill: So you’re going crackers the next morning?

Keith Mullin: Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: Because I know what it’s like when things overnight do extremely well.

Keith Mullin: Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: Or not so well in what’s happened, me, in the past, I hadn’t always had the foundation. So whenever something blew up in my world, it blew over very soon after. Had you got a –You know?

Keith Mullin: No, we didn’t have the foundations in place because we were learning as we went along. You know, when we were working with our mates in the record label who were running the record label, we’d never own a record label in their lives, you know, I remember when, just to give you an example, remember when. I think it was music week, rung up our record label at the time and said to one of the people, the people in Wayne Chand. It was Wayne Chand. He was. I met him the other week in a taxi. He was driving a taxi. He answered the phone, yeah, he answered the phone and he said, can we speak to the ANR departments? He went, yeah, okay. He just put the phone down. He just puts the hand on it, then scratches the thing ago.

Okay, yes, the A&R department. But between that, he’s shouting around the room, someone on the phone wants to speak to the A and R department. He wants to go, f*** off. I’m not speaking to him. So he gets back on the phone, he’s like, yeah, this is Wayne aid from the DNR department. Said, okay, you want to talk about the farm? Suddenly started, like, he started doing this interview and he’s like. And he started asking him bizarre questions about marketing and sales and ratios and all this. And he said, well, I’m gonna never forget it. He says, I said, hang on a minute, mate. He said, listen, you have to f****** slow down there. He said, you know, we said only three weeks ago, I was putting all them plastic bits on the end of laces. He said, I was fitting them, lad.

And it was just like — It was just a moment of epiphany, you know, it’s just a kind of crazy moment that summed up. Summed everything up, really. And so it was a bit like that. We were kind of learning as we were going. We were working with some amazing people. Working with some amazing people. But unfortunately, you know.

Sean O’Neill: So it all happened at once.

Keith Mullin: Yeah, but I mean, everyone around us, everyone around us was lovely people. Like Suggs was managers for a bit with Kevin, but everyone was as crazy as the band, do you know what I mean? And you’re getting a hell of a lot all at of once. So it’s that learning how to deal with that, I don’t think. I didn’t deal with. I don’t think all of us didn’t necessarily deal with the same thing very well. You know, it kind of really put it in a really unusual place because that was never.

There was never the intention to be famous. It was never the intention to be in a famous band. You know, playing top of the pops and all things were amazing. You know, it was like, wow. It felt surreal because you’ve watched this show all your life.

Sean O’Neill: But did the enjoyment factor stay there for a while? Because I’ve met some incredibly stayed there.

Keith Mullin: For far too long. Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: Okay, so at least you rode the wave.

Keith Mullin: Yeah, yeah, we certainly rode the wave.

Sean O’Neill: Tell us a bit about riding the wave, because there’s so many people out there that don’t really know what it’s like to ride that wave.

Keith Mullin: Yeah, it’s kind of difficult, really. You know, I mean, it just becomes. Your life could just become out of control very, very quickly, even on. What you’re trying to do is reign everything in and all of a sudden you get everything that you’ve. You could possibly think that you might want in life kind of flown at you, you know? And it’s amazing getting all the adulation. So keeping your feet on the ground becomes very, very difficult. Especially when you, you’re surrounded by kind of people who were just as elated as you are to kind of all be as unexpected. You know, it was something that’s completely unexpected. So….

Sean O’Neill: Well, if you went to bed early and the rest of your band mates didn’t, that would be pointless really.

Keith Mullin: Yeah. I mean, when we used to go on the road, it used to get a little bit hectic, you know what I mean? Because, I mean, you’re gigging every night, so every night’s a Saturday night, isn’t it? You know, it’s not like, you know, on Monday night, a gig night, so it’s a Tuesday. You might get one day off, two days off in seven days. So you get one into seven days or six days, depending what, how long Peter’s voice was gonna last. And then them days, it was five, six gigs, then a day off. Five, six gigs, then a day off.

So you’re living that life while you’re trying to record music. So you’re never really home. You’re constantly in a van. You’re constantly going from town to town to town or moving at interviews or doing stuff. So it becomes time but if you’re kind of drinking and partying a little bit while you’re doing that, it becomes you get out of control quite quickly and you kind of lose all sense of who you are and reality. And I can’t sit here and say that that didn’t happen to me. It kind of did, you know…

Sean O’Neill: Who’s actually looking after, who’s making sure you had food, water, sleep.

Keith Mullin: No one. You know, because….

Sean O’Neill: Money, there’s no cash.

Keith Mullin: Management, our management, and I love our management, you know, at the time, could be as bad as the band, you know?

Sean O’Neill: Yes, we’re all in it together.

Keith Mullin: So there wasn’t really anyone saying, whoa, f****** put the — Pull the reins there, you know, it was, it got out of control, you know, and I don’t think that’s. I don’t. I don’t think anyone could go through what we went through, and it not happened any differently the way it was difficult, you know, but also, we had probably had some of the most amazing moments in our life.

Sean O’Neill: So at that moment, you didn’t really. It’s not like some of you were resisting. You’ve just all.

Keith Mullin: I think we were all very conscious of where we come from. We were all very, very conscious. And in a way, we were kind of like, at times you can become disappointed in yourself because you begin to think, I’ve become what I don’t like, do you know what I mean? In terms of our values and our beliefs. We’re kind of feeling guilty about having all of that kind of opportunity and even financial opportunity to some, to some respect.

You know, you can, that can impact upon you, you know, and I think that impacted upon all of us. You know, the farmer, you know, people used to ask us, you know, do you throw hotel, do you throw TVs out the hotel room? And to be used to say, no, we normally tidy them up, you know, we’re not that type of band, you know, we’re not driving cars into, into swimming pool type of band, you know, but I can guarantee no one will be able to keep up with us if on a night out, you know, and many people tried, you know, back in the day, yeah, I tried to keep up with, and that was, that wasn’t because we were like, it was a challenge. It was just because that’s, that’s the way we were, you know? You know, we weren’t like, we’re not alcoholics or drug addicts or nothing like that.

Sean O’Neill: Did you always turn up? Did you always do your gigs, always turned up and did the job?

Keith Mullin: Yeah, yeah, always, always we always sober going on. Well, most of the time.

Sean O’Neill: There’s a story about. Story about Hollywood. Whenever you went to Hollywood.

Keith Mullin: Yeah. Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: Do you want to tell us what story is that? You met a girl. LA.

Keith Mullin: No, I think it was San Francisco, back in Ed. Yeah, I had an accident, didn’t I? Yeah, that’s an accident. And ended up falling off a cliff and having 80 stitches in me, smashing all my hands up and messing all my ribs and couldn’t play the last two gigs of the saw because it was, you know, that was out of control. You know, that’s all really, I can say, you know, I’m calling it a control. It was just what’s like living on the road? I mean, you don’t, you know, you’re on a bus with a whole load of other kind of people, and you’ve got, like, you know, riders and drinks. You can basically do what you want.

And if there’s an expectation that you’re kind of behaving in this way, and so your life is, you know, getting up in the morning, you’re going into, you know, you trying to. You’ve gone to bed, kind of getting up in the morning and, you know, looking for a shower and, you know, getting some clothes on and stuff. And then you’re outside the venue, especially in America, you’re kind of on a bus and then look for some food, and you’re going into the venue, you’re doing a sound check, you know, then you’re looking to gift beds. You’re going back onto the bus.

Do you know what I mean? And then the gig going and waiting up, and then you go and do the gig, and then you go into the dressing room after, and it’s. It’s been an amazing gig. So everyone there wants to meet you. So you’re having drinks and, you know, doing meet and greets, which is what the record labels expect. Everyone was your best mate, do you know what I mean?

And there’s all kinds of people in the after show, and you do an after show, and then you all do, you know, by that time, you’ve had. You’ve had a skin full. Do you know what I mean? And you’re p***** again. And then you roll them back onto the bus and then having a few drinks, and you go the next town, and it becomes that on repeat.

Sean O’Neill: The old day.

Keith Mullin: Every day.

Sean O’Neill: You know the saying, what goes up must come down.

Keith Mullin: Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: I’ve had my — My DNA mapped out from a cellular level. My DNA.

Keith Mullin: Okay. Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: Where my dopamine levels, my serotonin levels. I know biologically how I operate.

Keith Mullin: Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: And I’ve always been interested because I’ve realized that when I haven’t lived the highs that you have for so long, but maybe mine’s a bit more frequent. My observation and downs and when I was given the results, to be fair, it’s not really a surprise. I knew that my body needs and craves high levels of dopamine to keep me on a certain level, because the higher I get, I naturally go down.

Keith Mullin: Okay. Yeah, yeah.

Sean O’Neill: Conversations like this, meeting great people, sharing stories, over time, I naturally realized that’s what I need. Okay, I can go and party, I can go out all night with my mates because I actually enjoy that. But I do realize there’s a down after business exercise surrounding myself with great people. All of those things have given me the high, but not over the top. So if you’re living a life of what people dream about or we crave, was there many downs in between or was — Was it — was it like….

Keith Mullin: Absolutely. You know, that causeless downs?

Sean O’Neill: Were they daily or were they weekly or how did you manage? Because it seems like you just.

Keith Mullin: Well, I mean, it’s a big thing in the music industry right now about mental health and people’s mental health issues and stuff like that. And the downs, you know, what we had as a band was each other, you know? And we did always look after each other and have issues because there’s no one else gonna look after you in this industry, you know? And I don’t mean that respect to anyone that’s ever worked with us.

Some amazing people we work with, but, you know, people have got their own shit to deal with and they got their own lives to deal with. And, you know, record labels only in, you know, one because we eventually moved off our own independent record label onto a major. And they’re kind of interested in the bottom line, you know? And as long as you’re on stage doing what you do, they couldn’t give a shit what it takes to get you there.

Sean O’Neill: My grandma has a saying. She always, I used to say how people are my friend and people are there to support me, and she goes, you’re great because you’re doing. Wait till you stop doing and you see how great you are, basically.

Keith Mullin: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so that kind of — Your grandma’s a wise woman, you know, that’s kind of. We had each other, really, and we kind of had each other’s back with stuff. I can’t imagine what it’d be like to have to go through that as a solo artist, you know, we did, you know, have each other and we kind of, you know, when we, as a group of people, and our managers at the time had our backs and stuff like that, so we had a core group of people.

And at times it did become about us against the Wales, you know, because once the press turn on you, you know, they kind of do. They did. In our particular case, that can become a really dark place, you know.

Sean O’Neill: Why did they turn on you?

Keith Mullin: Because, I don’t know. It’s just the way the music class can be in. In the UK and probably behavior a bit like p*****, you know what I mean, as well. So we probably contributed to that or I was, you know, I mean, and, you know, I mean, it’s just the way it is. And then things go ebb and flow and go, you know, journey in a particular way, so. So, yeah, from 91 to 95 was like Spartacus. We had love see no color, we had hullabaloo, and we’d had three really, kind of really interesting albums that had done well.

One, probably the last one, didn’t do as well as the others. And. And then we kind of moved to that point where we just. Everyone had just had enough. The kind of reasons we were in it, we’d outgrown them, really. And it wasn’t fun anymore and it wasn’t — We weren’t enjoying it, you know, and it was kind of difficult to get any attention because the music world had kind of moved on.

Sean O’Neill: I reckon that’s because you understood that you’ve enjoyed it, you’ve experienced it, you understood that all of the things you craved in life, how you thought would. Would make your life whole, you’ve moved on as people, or you realize you couldn’t sustain it.

Keith Mullin: Probably a bit of both. Probably a bit of both. You know what I mean? It is unsustainable behaving in that way. But also, it was that point where we’d all started doing different things. It just drifted apart. Everyone went home and that came to an end. And then the farm as individuals, probably one of the only. I don’t know, as a band, they’ve all gone off to be really successful in the different things they did after the farm, and we kind of have all done well in that.

Sean O’Neill: Is there any particular influence in your life or in the farm’s life, one or two people or circumstances that when you look back, they were the main reason or the people behind your success and your ability to move on?

Keith Mullin: I think. I think, yeah, I think sometimes you don’t really have a choice, do. Yeah. I think sometimes it’s a case of you just got to deal with the circumstances that are coming along. I mean, I know for myself, I’ve always had innate abilities just to leave things behind me and just, okay, that’s — Let’s move on to the next thing you know. When I think everyone in the band began to do that, I mean, not discovering what you’re supposed to do after the band, I think, took me about four or five years to work out.

Sean O’Neill: Some people never get it.

Keith Mullin: No, it’s difficult. You can’t.

Sean O’Neill: I still don’t know what. I’m not in the music industry, but I still don’t know what I really want to do.

Keith Mullin: I don’t. I don’t. I kind of don’t mean about knowing what you want to do. It’s. It’s like, because, I mean, when you came into. When we met today, you sort of heard a lot about you every time we had a go, hear about you, you know your name, and that’s what I mean. So in a way, it imprisons. It can imprison you. So basically, people know me as Keith from the farm. They don’t necessarily know Keith Mullen, do you know what I mean? And that’s the thing.

So to be able to move beyond that as an individual, and I think most artists and bands will go through that, takes a bit of time to work that out. Some people never really get released from that grasp. And also for other people to view you or value you for something else is a challenge, and it is difficult.

And I feel everyone in the farm has been able to do that. Everyone, individual farm, has been able to do that, which is the reason we’re now still together. We have to do that. We have to go through that particular process. To kind of discover a little bit more about who we are and who we are as people and as individuals, you know, and as a group. So it was, it was — We always. We didn’t fall out of each other. We just kind of went on and then started to do our own things. And then after that round about the early noughties, we — Peter started to do some djing for a guy called Calvin London, who was working with the album reform the Happy Mondays at the time. And we kind of got to know him. And I was doing some djing up in tame mills with Peter, and it was just a bit of fun, you know.

And then we kind of got asked to do some with the farm, get back together to do some gigs. So we kind of thought about it for a while, and then we had one meeting up in a hotel one Christmas where we had a Christmas lunch as a group and put it to. We put it to the band and the band said, okay, let’s give it a go. And this is around about 2004, 2005. And we started to do one or two gigs then. And then we got offered a gig out in Dubai.

Yeah, we got offered a gig out in Dubai and went into dam. We kind of had so much fun doing it, we just thought, well, if people offer us gigs, we’ll start playing regular. And we’ve been playing ever since. So we got an agent at the time and we’ve just been nonstop playing ever since. And we’re able to do that. And because the farm isn’t that, even though it’s the reason I do a lot of stuff now, and it is how some people define me, it’s not to be all and end all of my life anymore. And it’s not to be all an end of.

Sean O’Neill: Back to the enjoyment as a teenager.

Keith Mullin: It’s back to the enjoyment as a teenager. We kind of got lost a little bit in the middle, even though it was amazing. And I don’t in any way underestimate how valuable that is, but it kind of from a life journey point of view, that we’re kind of back to who we were when we were traveling up the motorway in a car or a van going to a gig, you know, we kind of missed being in a van together and missed that camaraderie ship of us. It’s also against the world, and I’m being in a gang, I suppose you could call it, if I wanted a better way together. And we all still get on, you know, I’ve been in a. I tell my students that I work with in Lippert, I’ve been in a band longer than some of them being alive, do you know what I mean? And you know.

Sean O’Neill: You know, what sets your band apart and probably sets the bar really high is that you mentioned at the start, your values.

Keith Mullin: Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: It sounds to me that the reason you have managed that journey and come out the other side and back now doing it, you enjoyed it at the very start. You had the whoo! And you’re back doing it for the same reasons, is, as you said, at the very start, you find people with similar values.

Keith Mullin: Yeah, well, you know, we’re making new music at the moment, you know, which is doing really, really well. You know, we’ve got to sing a lot. Somebody funnily enough. And Carl, let the music in brackets take control. But we’re singing about and, you know, and that’s just come naturally, it’s just come organically, you know. Me and Steve and Peter have been doing some writing, and we kind of sat down, and especially me and Steve kind of sat down listening to it and thought, it isn’t exciting us, it’s not kind of what we’re doing. We won’t ever let anyone hear it, you know.

And it took a while for us to be able to play this music to some people, and we released it. The first single, feel of love before Christmas, was playlisted on radio, too. It’s been like getting hammered everywhere, and it’s done a lot for the band. And we got this next single coming out and it’s like. So it’s kind of getting interesting again, from our perspective. But the songs are about something. The songs are making social commentary pretty much in the same way that we all have, we always have, and we’re doing it ourselves again.

At the moment, it’s all completely DIY and we’re having a bit of doing it, you know, when we’re not necessarily a. Under any kind of constraints, and we’re not under any. Any kind of predetermined kind of approaches to how we should make music or what we should actually say. If no one likes it, we don’t really give a shit, you know what I mean? Because we can just all go back to our lives quite comfortably and pretend that we never, ever happened, you know?

And also, but the fact is that people do like it, and the fact is that we’re enjoying doing it, and it’s so different now. We can just put music up on our Spotify account and we’re not asked, do you know what I mean? It’s really an interesting time, really, as opposed to be making music.

Sean O’Neill: You make it sound so easy, but I know from someone that runs multiple business, because ultimately you’re a business.

Keith Mullin: Absolutely, we are.

Sean O’Neill: You have an economy and you have to balance the books. Has that been plain sailing, operating as a business as much as it has your value?

Keith Mullin: It’s been a lot of hard work. There’s a hell of a lot of hard work goes into it, you know, to set up. I mean, before we released the first record, I’d spent all summer with a few of our members and different people setting up four or five records to go out, you know, and that’s after we recorded it and doing. To actually sit down, do all the business meetings with people, get all the team on board or cut all the particular deals that you need to cut. So actually set up a series of records to go out to have a particular impact, I suppose, you know, and that’s what we did.

And then immediately put the first record out and had to change the plan, you know, because it was done a lot better than what we thought. And so we thought, well, we won’t put a record out in two weeks’ time. We’ll put it out after Christmas because we’ve got playlisted on radio two and we need to let that play out before we go to the next tune. So that’s kind of what we’ve done.

So, yes, it is very, very business’ like in that sense, but it’s the type of business that you enjoy doing. And we kind of got to the point now where we’re like, right, we need help, you know, at the moment because we can’t necessarily do all of the work that’s being thrown at us and do our job. So we are, you know, speaking to people at the moment.

Sean O’Neill: You know, what type of people can’t really say industry, music industry.

Keith Mullin: And what I mean by speak to people is there’s different people that we’re going to come in and work with and just join the team.

Sean O’Neill: Okay.

Keith Mullin: Yeah. The team that we’ve already put together from an independent point of view.

Sean O’Neill: You know, you touched on before life after the farm as what you did as individuals. Can you tell us more about yourself and what you’ve done?

Keith Mullin: The journey to where I am now really started to take shape around about 1999, the year 2000, where Lipper asked me to come in and help them manage a new program that they got funded for, which was called New Deal for musicians, which was the then Labour government initiative. And it was a guy called Steve Powell that asked me to come in there with another person that won the bid was another person called Jeb McKenna. And they were working in an area in there. And myself, Eddie London and Matt Flynn went and set, basically ran that program for them and ran it successfully for a four year, five year period.

And basically I’d said, I’ll come and do it, but you let us run it the way we want to run it, was the deal, really. And we went in there and became mentors and we were mentors to local artists and local, local bands. And it was the first time, I suppose, in history where if you were unemployed and on the dollar, you could claim benefits and go on to a course the way they teach you about music. And that’s what it was.

And bands like the Lezutons come through that course, that course. And a lot of other artists and bands did as well, you know, and did well as a consequence of it. But we did so well with that course. Lipper then said, will you be interested in commenting for me? Will you be interested in coming and doing some teaching on the degree? You know, so I’d never really considered teaching as a career, you know, at all, really to that level. So we said, yeah.

So then I started to have a look at it and learn a little bit about it and then start to engage in it. And over a couple of years, they weaned me into doing various things there. And then I went and got a master’s degree and then a he teaching qualification. You know, I’d gone back into education to go into education, which is revelation for me because I was always the kid of school, as I said earlier, it was told was slow.

And so to kind of go and go elevate and go and do an MA, which is a masters, was something that was a real challenge, you know. I didn’t think I could do it until I just like everything in life. I remember just saying to them, show me what. What you do? What are the essays? What’s an essay? You know, I mean, I’d never written a freaking essay in my life. Do you know what I mean? So I had to look at it, read through. I thought, well, you know, I can.

Sean O’Neill: Do that GDP now.

Keith Mullin: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I was like, I can do that. You know what I mean? I love reading and I love researching and all of that. And one thing I can do is I can focus on shit. Do you know what I mean? But that’s because the way my brain works, I can just obsess on something and sometimes a bit too much. And so I got through the MA because, you know, a guy called Mike Jones, he was running the MA at the IPM over in Lipu University. And I kind of did that and it did really well in it.

So I got all my qualifications and thinking then I’ve kind of become an educator, a higher education level, and I’m now an academic, you know. And then from going through that academic thing, I’m now a subject leader. And I’ve written an MA for Lipper, which is called music industry management.

So I’m now course leader and subject leader, Lippa teaching other kids how to do it. And the beauty of that is they allow me to do all of my professional stuff because me doing the professional thing that I do brings value to their educational program. So it kind of fits. So I’ve done all that along with working with that. I work with Ian doing. Doing various other different projects.

So we do lots of live music projects. We do filming projects. I’ve done, you know, kind of music for documentaries. I’ve done, you know, there’s a whole list of stuff that I’ve done outside produced. I’ve managed bands. There’s all loads of different things.

Sean O’Neill: Have you ever had anyone said to you or you, you always land on your feet or you’re lucky?

Keith Mullin: Yeah, I think. I think luck is. I do believe that, yeah, you’re lucky, but I think you’ve got to be in it to kind of win it. I think you make your own look. I don’t believe luck just happens. You’re there and you.

Sean O’Neill: Masters wasn’t lucky.

Keith Mullin: Sorry?

Sean O’Neill: Your masters wasn’t lucky.

Keith Mullin: Oh, it wasn’t lucky. No, it wasn’t lucky. I had to put some freaking working on that inside here, you know. Boy, I was a bad. I had the ability to obsess, you know, and get it. So it’s not, it’s not. I wouldn’t say it was locked. I see. I think there is luck is. Is involved in it, but I definitely think you, you need to be there in order to get the look, I’m….

Sean O’Neill: Forget who said, the harder I practice, the luckier I get. That’s a famous one. There’s the theme again, look, part of the game.

Keith Mullin: But you’ve got. Got to be in — It’s a winner.

Sean O’Neill: Every time I sit here and talk to so many interesting people, it’s the exact same thing. Whatever industry you’re in, if you’re. You have to get in and stay in.

Keith Mullin: I’ve always been.

Sean O’Neill: And be good at what you do.

Keith Mullin: Be good at what you do. Absolutely. And be ready for those opportunities when.

Sean O’Neill: You quit or make sure you created everything around you, that the opportunity will eventually arrive and you’re ready to take it.

Keith Mullin: You’re also ready to see which is the most often. So most people won’t see the opportunities in front of them. You know, they don’t see as an opportunity or, you know, they — I’m always a half a glass half full person rather than a glass half empty, I suppose. You know, I kind of recognize what’s not good for me. I kind of recognize now what the type of things that I don’t really want to get involved with, you know?

Sean O’Neill: You know, kids. I left school or almost left school when I was 14, did very little for the rest of the time. And now I am so much into educating myself. Yeah, I’m always reading, I’m always researching and all the rest, although for different reasons, I was reasonably good at school. We’re kind of on the same journey.

So, you know, kids now that are, whether it’s music, whether it’s business, whether it’s some other field that they want to get into, do you try and convince them to stay and stay at school at the age of 13, 14, 15, 16 and see it through? Or do you say, you know what, it’s okay if you don’t, if you’re going to choose.

Keith Mullin: Especially, I definitely talk about the value of it, the value of education. There’s certain things I wish I’d known, you know, when I was younger, I didn’t know, you know….

Sean O’Neill: Could you get them at school if you weren’t into it? Can they? — Is it? I suppose I could have lessons in life.

Keith Mullin: I suppose some of the stuff I could have sought out, I could have probably listened more, you know, at certain times in my life when it didn’t.

Sean O’Neill: Listen, I know that if I was to redo it again or give a younger version of myself the advice, there’ll be pointless doing it any other way. Because the only reason I get that what’s happened me has then become the story and the lessons and the guidance to not do it again.

Keith Mullin: Absolutely.

Sean O’Neill: Whether if I had just gone into steady education for another 10 years till I’m 24, I wouldn’t have learned all them lessons that nearly put me over the edge multiple times.

Keith Mullin: I wouldn’t have never, I would never have gone into education if I hadn’t have learned the lessons that I learned as a professional, you know, I mean, I kind of, me, my, my career going in the way it would kind of coincide quite, you know. You know, well, with the emergence of a place like Lippert, who were looking for people who worked in the industry to help educate so that there was convergence going on there in that respect.

But I was also, I suppose from both mine and their perspective, the right person to be doing that at the time because I was very open to it. I didn’t feel that in any way threatened or intimidated by it. I just knew, thought, I can do that. Do you know what I mean?

Sean O’Neill: In every way, we are all, we are teachers and we are students together at the same time or in different parts of our life. And I just — My message to everyone is, if you don’t want to do it, it’s okay. If you do want to do it. It’s okay. But you’ll end up finding your way. Although you might choose some easier paths.

Keith Mullin: No, you’d absolutely do. I mean, there is no, like, defined root. These things, you know, everyone’s journey is different. You know, one thing I do say to my students, it’s not necessarily about the destination. It’s. It’s. It’s about the journey. It really is. The learning is the destination. The learning is the shit you do as you’re going along, you know, and some of the lane you’ve even got it, you’re even going to take on boards, and some of it you’re not. And when you don’t, you’re just going to repeat that shit bit until you actually learn, you know? I mean, so the learning isn’t necessarily, as I say, in the destination and it’s in the journey.

Sean O’Neill: Thank you so much!

Keith Mullin: No worries, man!

Sean O’Neill: That was an incredible conversation!

Keith Mullin: Thank you very much for having me in!

Sean O’Neill: Thank you very much!

Keith Mullin: Cheers!