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The Doctor is in! Interview with Alan Fletcher

Alan Fletcher is undoubtedly best known for playing the hugely popular Dr. Karl Kennedy on internationally syndicated soap opera, Neighbours. What you may not know is that Alan Fletcher is a successful singer/songwriter, and regularly tours the UK with The X-Rays and The Waiting Room. With a massive student following, Impact’s Adam Dawes, Elouise Smith and Julie-Anne Walker sat down for a great chat with Alan when his tour stopped in Nottingham.

You are a star of stage, screen and music. Which do you prefer, and why?

I really don’t have a preference. I see myself as an entertainer, and I just love performing for people. I really couldn’t choose one, because it would be like cutting an arm off! I’m very lucky to have such an umbrella of skills, and areas to show them to people.

You’ve sung as a soloist and in a group. What environment do you prefer being in?

I definitely prefer being with the band. I like solo concerts, and performing some jazz and swing is great, but I find that 5 piece bands fill the room much more. It also means that everyone is showcased and we are much more of a unit as opposed to the whole thing being about me. Its also really great when people within the band like Tommy Rando develop their own stuff, because we can put his music on The Waiting Room website.

What are your influences when you’re working with the band?

The last single we released was called ‘So Wrong’ and it was pretty edgy and punky, and had some definite vibes of The Arctic Monkeys. I love British music, and it is definitely a big influence on me. Artists like Manic Street Preachers, The Wombats, The Enemy, Kaiser Chiefs, The Fratellis, Jamie Scott and Elliott Smith are all fantastic.

I enjoy bands like The Killers as well, who found success over in the UK. I think I prefer British music to American because it has a great working class, regional voice. I definitely relate more to the Northern style of music; it feels so independent.

What sort of music do you listen to on the road?

In the car, I listen to a real mix of music. I listen to Green Day all the time, and Elvis Costello. The Doors, David Gray, Kaiser Chiefs, Nick Drake and Ben’s Brother. I’m always on the lookout for new stuff to put on my playlist, and there are some great Australian artists coming through right now. It’s tough that the market for independent music is so small, yet the UK is such a great environment to get your music out there.

You have a real cult figure status in the UK. How does that feel?

I really wasn’t aware of the popularity of Neighbours over here at all. I came over here in 1999 to do a pantomime in Llandudno, and couldn’t believe the reaction I got. The next year I was in Sheffield, and I got such a massive response. I couldn’t walk down the street without people coming up. I was in Derby the other day and someone ran up and down the street, because they couldn’t believe I was in their town! Things are much more relaxed back home in Melbourne, where people come and say hello from time to time, but over here, people are so surprised to see me! Its been great, its given me the ability to take Neighbours from just being an acting job to broadening my horizons as a performer overall.

Lily Allen recently had a cameo on Neighbours. Are there any British soaps that you’d like to appear in, either as yourself or Dr. Karl Kennedy?

I think it would be pretty funny if Dr. Karl popped up on Doctors. But as a patient, telling everyone what to do. That’d be fun.

A number of successful singers have come from Neighbours. Did you have any advice for them?

I certainly haven’t given them advice about their music! Most of the folks from the show have been very stylised and American – its all very manufactured. The music over here in the UK is much less “put together”. I wouldn’t want to offer advice because they have to make their own way.
In fact, I first met Kylie in 1987 when she was releasing Locomotion. I thought that was quite a cheesy pop song, but look at the incredible success she’s had. I still think that I Can’t Get You Out Of My Head is one of the best pop songs ever written.

Do you have any advice for any up and coming artists reading this interview?

Perhaps they could give me some advice! I’ve been very lucky to be able to tour the UK for 9 years now. Actually, I would advise anyone to get out there and just play and tour as much as possible. These days, there’s not a huge amount of money in selling music, but touring, using social networking and websites can really help in getting your name out there. If people can just hear your music, they can then make the decision to pay to see you. Really though, you have to love it, have a thick skin and be completely true to yourself. That’s true of all the creative arts.

Adam Dawes, Elouise Smith & Julie-Anne Walker

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