Ian Page of Secret Affair

Written by Matteo Sedazzari
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ian page dave cairns secret affair matteo sedazzari zani 1

The sweat drenched kid moves his body in time to the powerful rhythm of the band. He sings in unison with the crowd, as the enigmatic beautiful lead singer mesmerizes the audience with his soulful voice. The handsome and smart guitarist sets the people on fire with Fender guitar.

Sharp dressed boys and girls are united in a dark backstreet East London pub, with music substituting drinking.  No one is putting pen to paper, yet tonight a manifesto is being written before their eyes. A declaration of principles that overshadow any religious beliefs that have been rammed down their throats by teachers and curtain twitching neighbours.  As the band ends with a vigorous crescendo, there is a feeling of belonging and unity is the air. The kid says to himself, “Best fucking night of my life.”

In 1979, the UK saw a sudden surge of kids dressed in Hush Puppies, Parka’s and Tonic trousers, the country was witnessing the first Mod revival.

Why there was a sudden interest in the late Seventies for the counterculture of the Sixties, is a subject of a long debate.  Perhaps many of the kids were disillusioned with the Punk music of the mid 70’s, and found inspiration from the music and the style of the previous decade.  A viewpoint that was strongly enforced by The Jam, who had been plying their trade on the Punk circuit.

The Mod Revival does seem to have originated from Essex and East London. It has been mentioned that during a trip to a Jam gig in Paris in 1978 a small number of Moddy type teenagers, mainly from London, met up in the Parisian bars and realised they were not alone. Maybe this was the night the Mod revival was officially born.

secret affair  dave cairns zani The popularity and commercial aspect of Mod was heightened further in 1979 by The Who and the film version of their classic 1973 album Quadrophenia, the  story of Jimmy the Mod in Sixties’ Shepherd’s  Bush. If there was ever a British film that was vastly instrumental in helping to kick start a counter culture, then Quadrophenia is without doubt top of the list. As many of the kids entered the cinema is their scruffy attire, they left declaring themselves Mods.

Like all countercultures it needed clubs, fanzines and most importantly bands to keep the momentum going and spread the word; enter The Chords, The Merton Parkas, The Purple Hearts and Secret Affair.

The original line up of Secret Affair, was Ian Page (vocals), Dave Cairns (rhythm and lead guitarist), Dennis Smith (bass), Seb Shelton (drums 1978 - 1980) Paul Bultitude, (drums 1981 to 1982) and later member Dave Winthrop (saxophone).

Ian Page and David Cairns had already experienced the music industry in their previous band The New Hearts. A poppy punk band, with a Sixties influence. Fresh faced and straight out of school, they seem destined for success when they were signed to a major label in 1977.

Yet The New Hearts were dropped by CBS a year later. Angry, yet optimistic Page and Cairns returned to the fold with Secret Affair.

Page and Cairns wanted to pay homage to The Who, The Small Faces, Smokey Robinson, Stax, Motown and more great music from the Sixties. In addition, Page and Cairns had taken to wearing the dapper clothes of the original Mods. Therefore their formation in late 1978 was perfect timing for Secret Affair, as they became a majorly important band for the growing Mod revival movement.

Their debut single Time for Action (September 1979) was an announcement that Mod was back.  

“So take me to your leader
Because its time you realised...
This is the time for action”

Perhaps the greatest Mod anthem of the Mod revival came from Secret Affair, My World. An triumphant track, with a power guitar sound, gliding strings, belting saxophone, boastful lyrics and proud singing.  My World has stood the test of time well as it stills sounds as uplifting as it was first released in 1980.  As a success, the life of Secret Affair was short, yet as phenomena, their legacy lives on.  

Secret Affair disbanded in 1982, after low attendance, lack of media interest, conflict with their record distributor, which led to poor record sales and the growing friction between Page and Cairns.

After the disbandment of the group, Ian Page and Dave Cairns continued to work separately in the music industry for some years. Page formed Bop and released several singles. Whilst Dave Cairns went on to form Flag with Archie Brown of The Bureau. Later Cairns signed a record deal with MCA in the US with vocalist Alan King and the band Walk On Fire, with Cairns writing most of the bands material and unusually playing keyboards this time. It would be many years later before Page and Cairns would contemplate working together again.

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In 1999, after much persuasion Ian Page returned with a new band called The Affair, playing at the Mod’s Mayday at the Forum in 1999.  A twenty year celebration of the Mod revival. The Affair played all the hits of Secret Affair but featured no original members other then Page and saxophonist Dave Winthrop.  

The fans were pleased to see Ian Page back, but they wanted to see him perform with Secret Affair.

Their wish was granted in 2002 when the original line from 1981 returned with gigs at Bristol Academy, Birmingham and Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Paul Bultitude, Dave Winthrop and Dennis Smith have since left Secret Affair, but the two founder members Ian Page and David Cairns are still keeping the sound and the soul of Secret Affair very much alive.

At ZANI we had the pleasure of catching up with Ian Page in a West End bar, as he and Secret Affair seem to be writing another chapter in their exciting life. As well as celebrating thirty years of their debut single.

ZANI  - I heard that your first show of the year, at Whelan’s in Dublin on the 6th March was a brilliant night. And your London fans can look forward to your show at The Camden Centre 30th May 2009. What are the other plans for Secret Affair in 2009?

Ian Page – We recorded the Astoria show in September 2008. I am currently remixing and repairing the technical errors. Secret Affair have a long term relationship with a publisher called Peer, we don’t have a record company as such. But Peer Publishing have helped us over the last five to six years in a variety of ways, including giving us free recording time and promoting us. They gave us some money to make an album of the Live Astoria show. I can’t tell you when it will be released, or what label it is going to be on. Because the deal is, we will split the potential profit and investment between ourselves and Peer, as they are acting as our principals.

What I didn’t want to do was to phone somebody and say “I used to be a really happening band, and we’ve made another album. Can we have a record deal please?”  They just treat you like crap, which I found with another project that I done.  

ZANI – After the Camden gig what are your plans?

Ian Page – We’ve got a couple of scooter rallies that we are trying sort out, so we can mix and match.  We played Dublin, because we never played there before. It was a great gig, and that had a lot to do with the crowd. 

ZANI - I presume 2008 ended on a little bit of low, due to the problems over the support slot with From The Jam. Care to shed any light?

Ian Page – I think I should make it clear what took place there. I am not going to name too many names, but what I am going to say here is important. I have no problem with Rick Buckler and Bruce Foxton.  There is no feud between bands.  

We were approached here by someone from From The Jam, and asked if we wanted to play with them. It took us about five seconds to say yes, thinking what a fantastic combination that could be and a great night for people who like a certain genre of music.  

But From The Jam are gigging like a proper touring band.  I work, and some of the band members that we use have day jobs. So a full on thirty day tour is not something we wanted or could do. So they allowed us to kind of pick and chose what dates we thought were appropriate and could make. So we choose a selection of places we could do, which included The Hammersmith Apollo, the biggest gig of the tour.

So when you agree a deal like this, the prime people who deal with it is not the band, but the agent, who told us very late in the day, after written confirmations have been exchanged, fees had been agreed and more importantly magazine advertising had appeared telling people we were playing that night, that for some reason, the promoter told us that we were not wanted on that bill.

This was a problem in two ways; the first was that this made no sense what so ever. There is no past track record of any individual members of Secret Affair not getting on with The Jam’s rhythm section. The other problem was that the advertising had already appeared, which we felt was wrong. And to our knowledge no proper refund policy has been put in place for our fans.

I am not talking about thousands of people, but through our website, we had fans saying we have seen From The Jam before, and they were only coming a second time because we were supporting them. They had spent their money, and they couldn’t get it back. If there is anything we could do to get their money back we will do that.

ZANI – That’s a shame, and sounds complex to me. On a brighter note, your first band New Hearts, and Secret Affair supported The Jam, staying with The New Hearts, that was a nice support slot to get.

Ian Page – The New Hearts were young and very naive. We had read in the music papers like the NME, what bands like The Sex Pistols had done was to turn up at other people’s gigs and say “We are your support bands, can we play” and that’s how they got gigs. Now I don’t believe that be true, but at the time we did. So we turned up at The Dammed, The Stranglers, trying this scam out.

ZANI – Like it, a nice bit of hustling. Did it work?

Ian Page – Yes it did. Rat Scabies of The Dammed found it amusing and we got the gigs.  The New Hearts got quite a few gigs like that. We all liked The Jam, and we went to see them at a gig in Croydon, the Greyhound I think, we wore our stage clothes and hung about their dressing room.  As they rushed past, we done our usual blag that we had done with bands like The Dammed, The Jam found it hilarious.

They were many similarities between The Jam and The New Hearts, with the Sixties thing. But we were much punker then them to be honest. From that time onwards, they offered us a lot of support and they helped us. We got support slots on This Is The Modern World Tour.

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ZANI – That tour was unofficially labelled The March Of The Mods by The NME, two years before your March of The Mods tour.

Ian Page – Was it? I didn’t know that.

ZANI – Neither did I until I done my research.

Ian Page – Yes, you’re right, anyway we got support at The Hammersmith Odeon, which was a big gig for us. There was a lot of friendship between the bands, but to be honest with you Dave and I got on better with Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler than Paul Weller.

ZANI -   Fair enough.  Before we start to chat about Secret Affair, are the Page family from a long line of London Black Cab Drivers?

Ian Page – Yes sort of. My grandfather actually worked for MI5 and his cover was that of a cab driver. Then when he retired, he carried being an London cabbie. My dad was originally a ticket inspector but for the second part of his life he became a cab driver. My brother originally worked in the print and then he became a cab driver.

ZANI –Ever fancied doing a bit of cabbying?

Ian Page – No I haven’t, but I have nothing but admiration for cab drivers.

ZANI – Me too. OK, the birth of Secret Affair is a great story. You are an A-level student at Loughton College and you are playing the piano in your lunch break, when you are approached by a fellow student (Dave Cairns) who asks you to join his band. Would you care to elaborate on that?

Ian Page – Yeah, originally I am from Ilford. I couldn’t do the A – Levels there, because I come from an area if you have got an O-level you are called a poof. So I used to catch the 167 bus, which was an hour and half journey to Loughton College.  The college hall had a wonderful Bechstein Piano, which I would sit there and play it.

ZANI – What were you playing?

Ian Page – Good question, a lot of Bowie, tunes like Changes and Life on Mars.

ZANI – So Dave Cairns was impressed by your rendition of Bowie.

Ian Page - I think so. Dave Cairns had recently become a member of a New Wave Punk band, and the story as I understand it, but Dave might remember it differently as he often does, was their singer Adrian, a handsome man who had fallen in love with a girl and gone to Denmark in the middle of them working on a demo.  So they had no one to finish this demo and because they knew I was the bloke who sat in the corner, played the piano and could sing, they asked me to sing on the demos and that was it.

ZANI - Did you feel that this was your equivalent of Paul McCartney meeting John Lennon at a Summer fete?

Ian Page – Only if I could be Lennon. No, it was more the meeting of Nanker-Phelge.

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ZANI – That’s the name the Rolling Stone made up, yeah?

Ian Page – It was their collective writing pseudonym, yeah.

ZANI – I understand that your older brother played a big part in shaping what was to become the Secret Affair sound, as he bought  a lot of Soul and Motown records.

Ian Page - Yes, when I was seven during the era when Skinheads started to become Suedeheads. The reggae music of the sixties Mod Movement had moved along with the Skinhead thing and the Soul thing got put in the background.  And my brother was collecting Motown during this period, so I would hear all these records.

Anyway, he and I used to go to Judo every Sunday but we got bored of that so we used to bunk off and go to Petticoat Lane. Petticoat was heaving with record stalls, little wooden boxes with Trojan, Harry J and the All Stars, Upsetters and records like that. And the first record I nicked under his direction was Jimmy Cliff’s Love of The Common People.  

ZANI – Stealing your first record is a bit like having your first cigarette. When you were learning the art of shoplifting at an early age, did you think you might become a singer, because you fell into it by accident. I don’t mean that in a rude way.

Ian Page – You’re right, I did fall into it by accident and I didn’t know then I wanted to be a singer.

ZANI – Your first band The New Hearts, were signed very quickly and at early age (16) in the autumn of 1977 by CBS. Did you feel that maybe you had signed too young, and perhaps CBS had signed you not on the grounds of musical merit, but wanting to add to another Punk band to their rostra, like their other signing The Clash?

Ian Page – I did not think of that level of complexity back then. I had sung on this demo, and I was working in this Supermarket stacking shelves to earn some money, the Superstore in East Ham, just round the corner from the Ruskin Arms. I used to pop in there to see the bands. So I didn’t really give it much thought, I was a teenager. I do understand your point, unusually we were offered a record deal very quickly.

ZANI – The New Hearts were signed as a Punk band, but you were never that impressed by Punk.

Ian Page – I became quickly disillusioned. I thought it was a working’s man revolution that was going to knock away the top essence of the Rock and Roll hierarchy. What I didn’t think was  that it was a King’s Road monopoly manipulated by an entrepreneur who owned a clothes shop.  
ZANI - You demonstrated that sentiment in Time For Action, “We hate the punk elite.”

Ian Page – I am glad you got that, because nobody ever did. We hate the punk elite, didn’t mean we hate punk. One night I was at the Speakeasy at five in the morning, with some of the Bromley Contingent, (Punk Faces) and I suddenly realised I don’t like these people, and they don’t like me.

The flaw for punk, was that it wasn’t musical enough. Who are one of the most enduring bands of Punk? The Stranglers. Why? Because they could play. Who was the best band of that era? The Jam. Why? Because they could play. All that “we don’t tune our guitars”, I hated all that anti-music shit.

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ZANI - OK, just staying a little longer with The New Hearts. You were signed for a five-year deal, but dropped after a year due to lack of commercial success. But you and Dave were kept on a retainer, not bad going.

Ian Page - The New Hearts was my apprenticeship. CBS at the time had a studio in Whitfield Street, and we were constantly in there to record our material. From this I learnt how the studio works, what the engineer is doing and how to write songs.

ZANI – What was your mental state during this time, especially towards Punk and the Music industry?  

Ian Page – I felt that Punk ended up as a betrayal and I felt there was another way of doing it. But I liked the fundamental ideas of Punk. But I was getting uneasy about the potential targets. On one hand, the Punks were saying we hate Genesis, because they are progressive rock, who I secretly liked. Then the hatred started to extend to very big bands, like Led Zeppelin, Lou Reed and David Bowie and I was thinking they can’t all be bad.

I was very sick of the business, and the lying of Punk. The real enemy were the A and R men in their shining tour jackets, perm haircuts and medallions. These men were wankers and the people who could have done something about it, were turning into wankers themselves.

ZANI - The advert you put in, to get a new rhythm section, has to go down in Rock History as one of the best ever ads, “Must have a grudge against the music business”.

Ian Page – To be honest, we didn’t get much in response to that ad, apart from the odd call “Yeah, I’ve got a grudge against the music business and can I join your band”. I used to go to a lot of gigs, and in particular I loved The Young Bucks with Seb Shelton as their drummer. I used to see Advertising a lot, and from watching them, I could see what a brilliant musician Dennis was. Advertising had a Sixties essence about them and The Young Bucks were a Soul band. I was thinking this could work, we have the Soul thing here, and the Sixties thing there. 

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The secret of a good band or a good piece of music is the collaboration. You don’t have to like the same thing, but you do have to have the same set of references. So I could say to Dennis, you know the bass riff from Mustang Sally, and he knew what I was talking about.

So in the end, Dave and I hired the two best musicians we could get. Why they joined us, I do not know. I suppose that Dave and I are very persuasive and we had a backlog of songs, with record company support even though we wanted to get out of our record label.

ZANI – They probably won’t know the answer themselves, because when you are young, you do things by instinct anyway. It is only when you get older that you analyse your every move.

Ian Page – Suppose so. The other thing that separated Dave and I from most musicians, is that we had a plan.  We were self-managing, marketers and we didn’t sit around smoking joints and asking people to join our band. We said we have a vision that we could move the Punk thing along, and recall the Sixties influence. The kids are going to be called Glory Boys, and there is going to be a fashion movement. There won’t just be a bunch of songs, this was going to be the whole thing.  

ZANI – That is an inspiring vision to a teenager, and still inspiring now to an older man.

Ian Page – Thanks, and the first demo tapes that Secret Affair done, had My World and Time For Action on it.  

ZANI – You have written a few songs about the downside of fame, I Am Not Free But I am Cheap, When The Show Is Over and One Way World.  

Ian Page – I am Not Free But I am Cheap is about the phoniness of fame

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ZANI – Is that something that still concerns you or aren’t you bothered anymore?  

Ian Page – I sit back and bask gloating in my own egoist nonsense. Exactly what I said will happen, has happened. The NME and all those other wankers, they decided by their own declaration that Joy Division was going to happen, and Mod was not. Joy Division was all this, and Mod was all bit too happy.

But who is left?  All these Mod influence sixties guitar types, there is no Sounds, no Melody Maker and The NME has become Smash Hits. We are now a celebrity obsessed culture, who obsess about celebrities who we don’t even know who they are.

ZANI - I agree 100 per cent. You are a great lyricist, and I find the lyrics to New Dance, threatening yet brilliant “I’ll slash the face of open summer, crack glass in the faces of pretty young lovers”. I know I don’t have to recite them all to you, as you wrote them, but please explain these ones. What inspired you to write them?

Ian Page – Trust me, I do know them.

ZANI – I had a hunch you might.

Ian Page – The secret to certain lyrics is that you should be able to play a pseudo, the singer is not saying I hate the world, and I want to smash it up.  My point is, is that you might say a thing like that, that New Dance are Punk lyrics.

ZANI – Yeah, but also there is a beat generation feel to it.

Ian Page – I was reading Ginsberg, Kerouac at the time.

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ZANI – I though the Beat writers might have influenced you, do you like The Outsider by Colin Wilson?

Ian Page – Do you mean The Outsider by Albert Camus?

ZANI – No, the book Colin Wilson wrote in his bed-sit in Hampstead when he was skint. It’s on the study of externalisms. I am not an expert on externalistism, but from a novice’s point of view, it’s a great insight into literature and it can act as a template to the Mod movement, about being an outsider, but I don’t want to analyse the Mod thing too much.

Ian Page – Because it can put you in a contentious position. A position where you ask is the Mod Experience external.

ZANI – I know, and we could be here for hours. Back to New Dance.

Ian Page - Let’s forget about my lyrics for a second. Think about the lyrics of  The Who’s original Quadrophenia album,  is that an album about being a Mod or is that an album about the  experience of a kid who has taken too many drugs and society wouldn’t understand him. The original album is a milestone, the sleeve notes with the photographs and the graininess. The film Quadrophenia would be better if it had been shot in black and white. You know the song The Punk And The Godfather from the album?

ZANI – Of course I do.

Ian Page – “You declared you would be three inches taller, You only became what we made you”. Those lyrics, and my lyrics that you are referring to, are more in that zone.  (At this point Ian stands and gives out a quick burst of “Sing a happy song.”) I am not adverse to a bit of happiness.

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ZANI – Nice version. So, that’s your artistic take on being a performer? You are obliviously happy in certain parts of your life, but when you go on stage, your pseudo is that of an angry man. Like another East Londoner, Steven Berkoff.

Ian Page – Yea, but he’s mad and talented.

ZANI –  However, travel seems to have inspired you. The streets of New York inspired you to write Streetlife Parade. As you use a combination of visual elements, personal thoughts and experiences to pen those lyrics. Now that’s a nice song.  

Ian Page – I always loved the U.S., and I loved New York before I got there.

ZANI – I loved the city as a kid from watching Kojak, he’s quite Mod in his overcoat and pork pie hat. Sorry, I said I wouldn’t go on about Mod.

Ian Page –Apparently, the first film that ever made an impression on me at the age of three, was King Kong. According to my parents, When Kong was at the top of the Empire State Building and he got killed, I cried, because I was rooting for the monster.

ZANI – We all were, because he was the outsider misunderstood by society.

Ian Page – He could have been.

ZANI – There certainly is an element of that in the 1976 remake. Jack Prescott, Jeff Bridges’ character, knows that they’ve taken him out of his environment and he’s the victim.

Ian Page – I see you’re right there.

ZANI – Going back to Secret Affair, as most fans know, it wasn’t the Mod movement that originally inspired you to form the Glory Boys  concept, but the Spivs of the 2nd World War, and the film Performance, is that right ?

Ian Page – It’s rather weird, Dave Cairns and I used go to the late night movies a lot. It was the one thing we really had in common, apart from the music of course. There was a late night cinema in Notting Hill where we would catch four or five cult movies in one night like Performance, Vanishing Point and Easy Rider.  Even though Chad is the bad guy in Performance, he does have empathy.   

What is brilliant about Performance, is the scene where Mick Jagger becomes the boss, that is the notion of the Rock Roll thing tying in with the Gangster thing, and Dave and I  thought this was cool. But it doesn’t mean that we sympathised with gangsters.

ZANI – I love the scene with Jagger as Turner, when he says “The only performance that makes it, that makes it all the way, is the one that achieves madness. Am I right? Eh?”

Ian Page – Good quote. There is a scene in Performance, where Turner won’t talk to Chad probably. So Chad tries to please Turner, so he can stay in that his home in Powis Square. So Chad says “Mr Turner, I think we have a lot in common”, “What do we have in common” “Mr Turner I am a performer, rather like yourself” “What do you do” “I juggle.” Fascinating line.

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ZANI - Like many, I love and rate Performance as a great British film. Did you see Jagger’s role as the drug abusing and decadent rock star as a warning sign. Something you never wanted Secret Affair to inspire to or did you think that would be a great way to live, off your nut all day long, sleeping with long-legged blondes in a town house?  

Ian Page – No, but at the time what Performance represented, was the only proper voice and muscle that the Working Class had; Gangsterism. That is why everybody went around and pretended they knew the Krays.  

ZANI – Yeah, I’ve met a few. Can you explain the concept of Glory Boys?

Ian Page – No one believes this, but I swear to you we had the Spiv thing, the smart dress thing, the Soul music and the Sixties thing. We put that all together, then we looked at each other and realised we were Mods. It was just so natural. We knew that our thing could never be bigger than a whole generation of British Culture.

And I thought I was entitled to speak for that bunch of people, because what I am putting into to music is what they are saying to each other. That spokesman for a generation bollocks from the media, that came about because I was a mouth piece.

ZANI - Another part of Secret Affair history is your Glory boys following.

Ian Page –They were a bunch of East London lads, who were Mods. Like us, they were pissed off with the punk. I got involved with them, because I was a local lad.

I used to meet them at the Barge  Aground Pub in Barking, round the corner from Ilford, so a movement was formed, but they were violent. There was a nasty dark side to those kids, and in the end, they became a problem for us. They were devoted to us, which was great for Secret Affair.  But when we went to Huddersfield, for one of our first gigs outside of London gigs, they perceived the audience as their enemy. I thought “No, this is not what this is all about.” But they were at the heart of it and they deserve whatever credit that it’s worth.  

ZANI - On a positive note am I right in assuming that the name Secret Affair derives from the band, Love Affair, The Thomas Crown Affair, and the formation of a Secret society?

Ian Page – Yes, two elements. One element that would speak of an organiser of the Sixties and the other element, that was special, separate and elite.

ZANI – Elite, so you wanted to be elite?

Ian Page – Absolutely, I think that is the heart of it. All our fans knew that. I always exclude The Jam from this analogy, but we were classier, more professional and slicker.  We were accomplished on our instruments and more sophisticated with our lyrics. And the name Secret Affair reflects that, but I suppose you could accuse me of contradicting myself.

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ZANI – Like we hate The Punk Elite?

Ian Page – No, I am talking about the working class element of what we did. My belief is that what we did, the whole point of serving the working class, was that it was aspirational.

ZANI – Interesting.

Ian Page - One of the keys to writing a good song title, if you are looking for a good idea, is to try and ensure that it is a song title that appears in common speech or somewhere else in the language. And the great thing about the title Secret Affair, is that every another weekend you will see in News of The World, “the vicar had a secret affair with the minister’s wife.” We seriously had that in mind when forming the band and I don’t always tell people that.

ZANI – Nice bit of Marketing. The Mod Revival, was defined in the recording of Mods Mayday at the Bridge House, Canning Town. Which featured of course, Secret Affair, Squire, Beggar, Small Hours, Please tell us about that day, and do you still listen to the record?

Ian Page – No,I don’t listen to that record. Let’s move on.

ZANI -   Short but informative answer. You had your own record label, I Spy, with a distribution deal with Arista Records, who were later taken over by Ariola.  As well as releasing your own records, I Spy signed Stax hero Eddie Floyd, and SKA legend Laural Aitken.  Would you have liked to see I Spy Records develop further?  

Ian Page - What Dave and I were doing at the time was pretty unique compared to a normal band. Even though we had support from our publisher Bryan Morrison, who would handle some of the high level business elements of what we did, we still had retained more punk principles than some of the other punk bands, in regards to a degree of business and creative control.

We noticed The Specials and The Two Tone thing, and thought that was cool. And realised the I Spy thing could be a useful device in creating some kind of barrier between ourselves and the music business. And at the time for obvious reasons, we didn’t have a lot of trust in it.  

Of course there was the possibility of creating longevity in what we did, in signing other bands, but there was an element of phoniness about it, because the degree of control that I thought we would have, we didn’t have.

ZANI – Did you think it was more a token gesture by Arista records?

Ian Page – Not to start with, but I think it ended up as one, especially when Ariola took over. Two Tone didn’t end up as one, but there again they sold a lot more records than we did. Stiff remained a probably independent record label, because they sold a lot of records. The only act on I-Spy record, that sold any records were Secret Affair.

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ZANI – I take it Squire didn’t.

Ian Page – We signed Squire, because we wanted to be at the heart of inspiring new talent. They seemed one of the better, more tuneful bands of that genre. In regard to the Eddie Floyd thing, what physically sickened me,  was that the guy who had sang Knock On Wood, didn’t have a record deal. So whatever I could do, I did. Laurel Atkins was one those artists, whose records I would steal from Petticoat Lane. I knew all his stuff, it was outrageous that he didn’t have a record deal.  So I thought it was a moral obligation to have a record label that could serve our business end, and we could help other artists. But in the end, we stopped selling record ourselves, so we lost that power.

ZANI - After your debut album Glory Boys, came the less commercially successful Behind Closed Doors, which had the classic My World. Do you feel you might have been a little ambitious in the change of sound and style, and you didn’t want to record Glory Boys Part two? It’s a Rock and Roll cliché that the second album is always hard for a band.

Ian Page – Dave and I didn’t write as closely as we did before, which is a classic second album situation that a lot of bands go through, as you are rushing to write the material.

ZANI – Did you think Business As Usual would put Secret Affair back on the map?

Ian Page – Of course, every band thinks that.

ZANI – Final question, Soho features a lot in Secret Affair, so I presume this is your desired part of London. What is your favourite place in W1?

Ian Page – Easy, the old Marquee, not the new one.

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ZANI – Thought so. Thanks for your time.

Ian Page – It’s been a pleasure.

There could only be one place to go for a man who has made London, especially Soho and live music, an important part of his psycho-social make up – and that is The Marquee.

Thanks to the Internet and their loyal fan base, interest in Secret Affair has always been there and with some new ad-hoc shows, Ian Page is back in the limelight. Interviewing Ian Page was an experience, finding firsthand that a man who is known to pull no punches, has not lost his touch.

Secret Affair should have been more successful, but that has not made Ian Page bitter, instead it has made him made reflective, honest and wise. Prior to the interview, I was under the impression that he would be arrogant and discourteous, but he is far from it. Charming, witty, a show-off and colourful; all the perfect ingredients for a front man.

It is far too simple just to call Secret Affair a Mod band, as they had more rock and soul than can be tightly hemmed into a subsection of music, putting them on a par with Rare Earth, a rock and soul fusion band who were once signed to Motown and produced a breathtaking rendition of Get Ready (covered by Secret Affair). Upon reflection, the Secret Affair certainly had the sound, the look and the style to appeal to global audience, especially in the US.  In fact just before their disbandment, the band did play a US tour of historic venues, such as the Whisky A Go Go, maybe this could have been a sign of things to come.  However sadly, we will never know.

I sense within Secret Affair there was a self-destruct button, in the form of David Cairns and Ian Page. It has been documented over the years they have had a rocky relationship, however despite this confrontation Page and Cairns complement each other well in terms of music, clothes and intelligence, maybe too much and there lies the problem. But on a positive it is a friendship, that has been tested, and if there was not love between them, would these men still be beltering their hits and new songs with passion today.

Recently there has been trend for new and upcoming bands to cite The Clash, The Specials, The Jam and some cases Dexys Midnight Runners as their influences. And for many years, Secret Affair have been criminally overlooked, yet with bands like Union Jackal proudly  referring to Secret Affair as a musical reference,  the sound of Secret Affair will be here for a long time, and at ZANI we say that can only be a good thing.

Thirty years later the kid who is now a man, is rummaging through the vinyl records of his youth. He is enjoying his day of solace, as his wife and children are away with in the in-laws. The man is in a reflective and positive mood, as he blows off the dust on his album covers. His mind starts to take a trip down memory lane, as the album triggers off a chain of events and choices. Even without hearing the anthemic opening album track, the man stands proud and says to himself “Best fucking night of my life.”

/secret affair ian page dave cairns the kid

(c) Words Matteo Sedazzari / ZANI Media

Read 28266 times Last modified on Wednesday, 07 April 2021 13:11
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Matteo Sedazzari

Matteo Sedazzari

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ZANI was conceived in late 2008 and the fan base gradually grew by word of mouth. Key contributors came from those of the music, film and fashion industry and the voice of ZANI grew louder. So, when in 2013 investor, contributor and fan of ZANI Alan McGee* offered his support to help restyle and relaunch the site it was inevitable that traffic would increase dramatically and continues to grow. *Alan McGee co-founder of Creation Records and new label 359 Music..


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ZANI is an independent online magazine for readers interested in contemporary culture, covering Music, Film & TV, Sport, Art amongst other cultural topics. Relevant to modern times ZANI is a dynamic website and a flagship for creative movement and thinking wherever our readers live in the world.