ART-pop pioneers 10cc are back on the road with their ‘Greatest Hits and More!!’ tour including Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre on Tuesday April 11.

Purveyors of some of the greatest pop records of the 20th century, 10cc has sold more than 15 million albums in the UK and 30 million worldwide. Noted for their studio polish, virtuoso musicianship, impeccable vocals and clever lyrics, their style was dubbed ‘art pop’.

The band earned critical respect and public acclaim for such singles as Donna (1972), Rubber Bullets (1973), The Dean and I (1973) and Wall Street Shuffle (1974), and have 11 Top 10 UK singles to their name - including No 1 hits I’m Not In Love (1975) and Dreadlock Holiday (1978).

Here Martin Hutchinson talks to 10cc co-founder Graham Gouldman ahead of the show...

GRAHAM Gouldman is a happy man, as the frontman of the current incarnation of 10CC, he is about to lead his band on another tour of the UK.

As a young musician in Manchester, Graham was a member of The Mockingbirds and had started writing songs.

The Mockingbirds never broke through, but Graham’s songs were in great demand.

He wrote No Milk Today for Herman’s Hermits, Bus Stop and Look Through Any Window for The Hollies, and Heart Full Of Soul and For Your Love for The Yardbirds.

Following a few years in America, he came back to England and helped start Strawberry Studios on Stockport with fellow musicians Eric Stewart (who Graham met when he joined The Mindbenders for a while), Lol Crème and Kevin Godley.

After some time backing and producing artists such as Neil Sedaka, they decided to release their own songs and it was Jonathan King who called them 10CC (for reasons I won’t go into here).

Hits such as Donna, The Wall Street Shuffle and The Dean And I followed, plus a trio of unforgettable chart toppers with Rubber Bullets, I’m Not In Love and Dreadlock Holiday (which came after Godley and Crème had left the band).

Eric and Graham went their separate ways eventually and both had great success in their solo careers, but as the years passed, the music of 10CC wouldn’t go away and Graham began touring as ‘10CC and Friends’, later dropping the ‘and Friends’.

Alongside Graham these days are Rick Fenn, who has been involved with 10CC since 1973 as studio and live guitarist; as has drummer Paul Burgess.

Mick Wilson is one of the lead singers (along with Graham) and plays guitar and percussion.

One change from the usual line-up is on keyboards:Musical Director Mike Stevens will not be joining Graham and Co, but they have an able stand in.

“That’s right,” Graham tells me.

“Keith Hayman will be with us on this tour. He’s a great musician and is our normal stand-in for Mike who has been very busy with Take That, Gary Barlow and Jeff Lynne.”

The band tour quite often these days, certainly more than they did a few years ago and Graham explains why he thinks this is.

“I think it’s a combination of things. Firstly, there appears to have been an upsurge in interest in 10CC’s music but also a desire for people to see ‘real’ live music – even among the younger people.”

“With us, everything’s live and the younger audience members can see through artists who use backing tracks a lot – they might be a bit fed up of the artificiality of it.”

“Also,” he adds, “We have spent a long time putting ourselves about and it’s snowballed.”

Going back to the use of tapes, the band’s music has always been very intricate. Back in the seventies when there wasn’t the technology to reproduce the sounds on keyboards, did the band use backing tracks on tour?

“No, we never used tapes – we compromised and there were things we had to leave out. Sometimes in the studio we double and triple tracked guitars which we couldn’t do on stage. What we had to do was use just one guitar with an effects pedal.”

The last tour showcased the album ‘Sheet Music’, but Graham says that they won’t be featuring a specific album this time around.

“No, not on this tour,” He states.

“We are going to cherry-pick tracks from ‘Sheet Music’ and maybe bring back a song or two that we used to do a few years ago – I’m not telling you which one, I’d have to kill you.” He laughs.

“We do spend a lot of time on a running order for the show, like we did with the albums. But there will be all the hits, album tracks as there is a hardcore of numbers that have to be included.”

The band has an impressive catalogue and while it’s difficult for Graham to pick out a favourite, there is one song he particularly enjoys playing live.

“I’d have to say Dreadlock Holiday. It’s very gratifying when you see the people joining in with it, but I do like playing them all.”

And with such a group of talented musicians around him, Graham is not tempted to make a new studio album by 10CC.

“No, I draw the line at doing it live. If there was more than one original member in the band, then it might be different. But as it is, no.

Graham and the band are very busy these days, as he explains.

“That’s right, we are going to Belgium and Norway before the UK tour and then in the summer we are doing lots of festivals. We even have bookings into 2018 when we will be returning to Australia and touring Britain again.”

“And I’m still writing songs. I’m hoping to put out an EP soon, but download only.”

Tickets for 10cc at Bournemouth Pavilion are available from BH Live Tickets 0844 576 3000

Martin Hutchinson.