“Synchronized”, the excellent new album from FM, was released by Frontiers Music on 22nd May. I had the opportunity to chat with one of the band’s founding members, bass player Merv Goldsworthy, via Skype on 26th May. We talked for about 30 minutes about the new album, the impact of Covid 19, FM’s tour plans and much more. You can hear that interview on the Friday NI Rocks Show for 29th May, which is now available on our MixCloud page - https://www.mixcloud.com/NIRocks/interview-with-merv-goldsworthy-from-fm-on-the-friday-ni-rocks-show-29th-may-2020/

The interview has been transcribed and posted below.



Check out the FM website for tour dates etc - http://www.fmofficial.com




STORMZONE – Cushy Glen

VANDENBERG – Freight Train

THE JAILBIRDS – Watery Grave


FM – Synchronized

Interview with Merv Goldsworthy Pt1 (6 min)

FM – Superstar

Interview with Merv Goldsworthy Pt2 (10 min)

FM – Walk Through The Fire

Interview with Merv Goldsworthy Pt3 (13 min)

FM – End of Days

NO HOT ASHES – Come Alive

ROMEO’S DAUGHTER – Attracted to the Animal

THUNDER – Like a Satellite

GIN ANNIE – Love Ain’t Here



THE HU – Wolf Totem (with Jacoby Shaddix)



GOTTHARD – No Time to Cry

HOOKERS & BLOW – Rocks Off

SAFIRE – Heartbreaker

THIN LIZZY – Black Rose


An interview with FM singer Steve Overland from 2014 can be found here - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/1454-ni-rocks-interview-with-steve-overland-of-fm.html

And a 2015 interview with Merv’s wife, Leigh Matty from Romeo’s Daughter can be found here - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/1935-ni-rocks-interview-with-leigh-matty-from-romeos-daughter.html



NI ROCKS – Hi Merv, thanks for taking some time to talk to Rock Radio NI. The new FM album Synchronized was released last Friday. We’ll talk about that in more detail in a moment, but we just played the title track. Can you tell us something about that track first of all?

MERV – It was a track that Steve brought in. It was a sort of finished demo and it sounded great. We all picked up on the title and thought that would be a great title for an album. You always sort of know when you get the opening track to an album – “Tough It Out” or whatever. “Diggin Up The Dirt” and “Black Magic” – them sort of songs. That was just one of those songs really and even though we only had half the material we knew that was going to be the opening track.

NI ROCKS – As I mentioned the new album was released on Friday by Frontiers Music. That’s the band’s fifth release through Frontiers in just over five years; since “Heroes and Villains” in 2015. They obviously like to keep you very busy!

MERV – Yeah, we just keep ticking along. We’re not very busy at the moment! (laughs). But, we try to keep busy. We’re always writing – even now we’re writing stuff for the next album. We just try to keep busy – album, tour, album, tour – that sort of thing.

NI ROCKS – We’ll talk a little later about the impact of Corona Virus on touring, but it also caused a delay to the release of the new album, which was originally scheduled for an April release. Was that decision purely down to Frontiers or what happened there?

MERV – Frontiers got behind on the release schedule, especially with Italy being the first place that it really hit big. We were all very worried about it and they just said how would you feel about putting the album back? We said we’d do whatever it takes to help you guys out. I think it was about half a dozen releases that they had to put back. I don’t know what they did with the rest of the schedule, but I know our schedule. We were due to release a couple of months earlier than we did, but under the circumstances you know! What can you say – you’ve just got to do the best that you can. At least it’s out there now and everybody has got it.

NI ROCKS – I had pre-ordered the signed CD, as clearly many others did, and the album has had some great first week sales figures. That must be great to see?

MERV – Yeah, we’re quite humbled by it all really. Number 1 in the Rock Chart, high placing in the Amazon chart. It’s fabulous; fabulous! Really overwhelmed by the response and all the great reviews.

NI ROCKS – The last studio album was “Atomic Generation” in 2018. When did writing start for “Sychronized” and how does the song writing process work in the band. I notice that the credits states that all songs are written by the five of you.

MERV – We work on the theory that if you’re in a band you’re in a band and you’re all in it together. It’s very rare that we write a song as a five-piece. Somebody will bring an idea in and obviously Steve has a lot of input because of the vocals and the lyrics. Everybody chips in as best they can. I wouldn’t really say that we’ve got a system. We tend to mix it all up. Steve and Pete will demo some songs, I’ll do some songs, Jem and Jim will do some songs separately. Then we might have a week together just working on ideas. We might not all be in the recording studio at the same time, but as long as we know where we want to take the song; everybody is usually cool with it. I think it’s good to a mixed way of doings things or you’d tend to get the same result. I think the more you mix it up, the more diverse and better album you get. I think the advantage of FM is having five writers and it makes it a bit easier.

NI ROCKS – You mentioned the studio there and recording. There are a few different recording studios listed on the album credits. Do the band get together in a studio when you’re recording an album or do some people use home studios or things like that?

MERV – We do a bit of everything. We have some set studios that we use – some in the south and some in the north. There are a few in Cheshire that we use – that we’ve used for probably the last four or five albums. It’s whatever needs be. If you need a studio where you’re recording loud things like drums and guitars, then you need to go somewhere where you can make a lot of noise. If you’re recording bass or keyboards you can record it basically anywhere, just on headphones; just because of the technology that you have these days. Sometimes if they’re finishing a song up north and I’m down south, I won’t hear the finished thing until we start mixing; and vice versa for them. Basically you’ve got me and Pete in London, Jim and Steve are in Cheshire and Jem lives in the middle. It’s very rare that we’re all in the studio at the same time to be honest with you.


NI ROCKS – We’ll play another track from “Synchronized” now. This time can you pick a track and tell us something about it?

MERV – The next track is “Superstar”. This is a track that I wrote. We only had three days left to go before the mixing was going to be finished and it had to go off for mastering. I was round at Pete’s studio doing some bass and I said I’ve got this track – I’ve just written it, what do you think? I played it and he liked it. He said I’ve got this track called “Walk Through The Fire” – what do you think about this? I liked that so we went into a mad panic to finish these two songs and get them on the album. The one I was responsible for was a song called “Superstar”. We shot the video in Vegas.



NI ROCKS – As I mentioned earlier Covid-19 has obviously had a huge impact on the music scene worldwide and brought touring and live performances to a halt. An early casualty of that was the band’s first trip to Australia at the start of March, before things had really got bad in the UK. How difficult a decision was that at the time?

MERV – It was very awkward because when you get new promoters in different territories that you’ve never worked in before you like to give them every chance to make things happen. Our decision, because we had an album coming up, the plan was to go half way. Do all the rehearsals half way and get everything together and then fly in from LA to Australia and start doing the shows. Unfortunately, as we were in California shooting the videos we saw the festival starting to unravel and the financial problems and stuff like that. Right at the last minute; it wasn’t really because of Covid-19 that this happened, it was just really down to the promoters not fulfilling their obligations. We said we’d give you right until the day that the flight leaves for Australia, but if you haven’t managed to fill in the contractual obligations by then we’re gonna have to..you know! So, basically we hate it when things like this go down. You really want all promoters to be successful, but sometimes it doesn’t work. Unfortunately, on the day that we decided to change the flights from going to Australia to instead going back to England, we were locked down three days later so who knows what would have happened if we’d gone.


NI ROCKS – FM have just announced UK dates for April and May of 2021, in addition to some European shows in March as well. Is that an acknowledgement that planning live shows in 2020 is pretty much now a non-starter?

MERV – Well, to be perfectly honest, we’ve got a few shows still left in the diary for the end of this year, but how confident we are they’ll go ahead? It’s anybody’s guess really. I think the smart money is on moving your shows well into the future and just hoping that they go ahead. I’ll really like to think that some gigs could take place before the end of the year, but I ain’t confident.

NI ROCKS – I think you’ve got a festival in Scotland in November still on the schedule I noticed.

MERV – We have indeed yes. That’s the last date in the diary for this year. We had some shows that weren’t announced yet that were in Spain. We’ve just got our fingers crossed and just trying to go with the flow. We’ve already moved the UK tour twice. What can you do? We’ve got a fantastic reaction to announcing the tour dates; so just as long as things get back to normal at some point that’s all we can ask for really. I would hate to think of FM keeping social distancing – I can’t really see how it would work – especially on stage; I mean there’s quite a bit of social distancing that goes on on-stage because Steve swings that mic-stand around with a heavy base, so you’ve got to keep your two metres clear on stage otherwise you could get into trouble! I don’t really know what is going to happen for the rest of the year – your guess is as mine.

NI ROCKS – Yeah, we’re due to travel to London for a couple of gigs in October and November, but I don’t know what is going to happen with them.

MERV – Who are you going to see?

NI ROCKS – Thunder in November and Gotthard in October.

MERV – Fabulous. Both great bands. Thunder are good mates of ours; we’ve known them for a long time – when they were Terraplane. We both got signed at the same time to CBS. If they go ahead I hope you enjoy it. That would be a great first gig back.

NI ROCKS – Gotthard were supposed to play in May. We saw them last year – they played the same festival that you played last year in Switzerland actually – Rock the Ring.

MERV – Yeah, fabulous.

NI ROCKS – Unfortunately, once again, no Northern Ireland date on the tour schedule. It has been quite a while since you’ve been here now.

MERV – No date yet! (laughs) In big letters! We’d love to come to Ireland. Having an Irish manager is not much help in this situation (laughs). I’m sure when Steve Strange our manager thinks the time is right dates will go in the diary. We’d love to do some shows with No Hot Ashes – great friends of ours. We’d love to put that together. It’s never far from requests for what we want to do. We had plans in the works for this year, but the first thing that happened was that the No Hot Ashes keyboard player had a little baby. So we shelved the dates for then and just as we were looking to do something late spring this year, at around about this time, we didn’t get the chance to even look at it really. But it’s definitely on the cards for some time. We love coming to Ireland.

NI ROCKS – I actually work with Eamon the singer (from No Hot Ashes)

MERV – Ah, he’s a star Eamon. He’s front-lining it now. He’s a bigger star doing what he is now than when he’s actually singing. He’s a frontline worker there and hats-off to Eamon and everybody like him. We can’t thank them enough for what they do.

NI ROCKS – Yeah, he’s been working very hard the past few months.

MERV – I bet. And I’m sure we’ll find out all about it in the future. I’ll be the first one to hand him a pint when he’s finished his set, don’t worry about that.

NI ROCKS – Releasing a new album when you can’t immediately tour to support it of course isn’t ideal of, but many bands have been finding alternatives such as live streaming. I know all the band members have done Q&A sessions. Have you anything else planned for the next few weeks?

MERV – Not really. That was an idea that came from Jim. When we saw the tour dates moved once and then moved again we were just getting really frustrated. We weren’t sure if we should put the album right back and not release it, but Frontiers wanted to just change the schedule slightly by about six or seven weeks. But then we were presented with a plan of not being able to tour it. Luckily we’d made three videos. We said if we stagger the release of them and a lyric video for “Change for the Better” it keeps us in the public eye and gives the album some sort of profile; and that’s what we did. I know we haven’t got any dates coming up and that’s why we did the Q&As and things like that. But I think you can over-do these things. We’ve all done one. Steve had so many questions that he had to do two. If the fans feel that they want us to do some more then we’ll probably do some more, but we’re really working on getting the whole touring schedule for 2021 and that’s what we’re working on now.

NI ROCKS – Leigh was my guest on the Show about five years ago after the release of the last Romeo’s Daughter album.

MERV – Fantastic. Great stuff.

NI ROCKS - How are the two of you coping with lockdown?

MERV – We’re struggling with it like everybody else, but making the best of it. Some days we cope with it admirably and some days it can be a right pain in the neck if you know what I mean. She’s nicked my office for a start! Leigh runs a voice-over company that does voice-overs on ads and things like that, so she hasn’t really had any time off. She’s been kept busy with all that and I’ve just been trying to keep out of the way (laughs).

NI ROCKS – Over the years the two of you have toured together many times with FM and Romeo’s Daughter. Have the two of you ever actually collaborated on something musically?

MERV – Well I played with Romeo’s Daughter for a little while. I played on “Delectable” and apart from on tour when Leigh has got up with the band and Craig has got up with band; and sometimes on Romeo’s gigs we’ve got up with them and things like that. That’s as far as it’s gone really. As far as song writing goes with Romeo’s they’ve got it well covered. Craig is a great writer, along with Leigh and Andy and the rest of guys – they do a great job. I wouldn’t mind Steve and Leigh doing a track together but it’s just never come up. They’re busy doing their schedule and we’re busy doing ours. We’d like to tour with them again – it’s a great band to tour with and we’ve got a lot of history together. The first time we met Romeo’s Daughter was in 1989 on the “Tough It Out” tour which was our biggest tour to date. Happy memories and we’re all good mates. I play and do a lot of TV stuff and writing with Craig and Andy anyway, outside of FM. I don’t know if you know the programme “Would I Lie To You” – me, Craig and Andy wrote the theme tune for that. We work together on little things like that, but it’s not that well known that we do stuff like that. When I’m not doing stuff with FM, that’s usually what I’m doing.

NI ROCKS – We’ll get back to the new album again and play another track. Do you pick another one and tell us something about it?

MERV – We’ll go the second track that we wrote when we were on a dead-massive tight deadline and we were helped out by a good friend of ours called Adrian Smith who plays guitar in Iron Maiden. Luckily he cleared his studio so that we could have the last two days and the last track we did for the album was this track and it’s called “Walk Through The Fire”.



NI ROCKS – The current FM line-up has now been together for 12 years and has released 7 studio albums together. That’s longer than FM were active before the disbandment in 1995 and more albums than you released during that period. How important do you think that continuity has been in the success over the last ten years or so?

MERV – I think it’s meant everything. I think that’s why we’ve got such a high chart position this time. I think people are appreciating the longevity and the high standard that we’ve tried to keep over these albums. It has helped us a lot, having the same line-up, the same producer, using the same studios. It does help once you get a team together. We struggled at first during “Metropolis”, “Rockville” and all that. I think when we finally moved to Frontiers the jigsaw was complete. We’ve changed management several times and I think that was the jigsaw completed. I feel that from “Heroes and Villains” onwards it has got a lot easier. That set the level for the song-writing; on the come-back “Metropolis” and then “Rockville” we thought we tried we tried to keep it up but you never can tell you know. You just a bunch of songs and pray that it’s going to be ok you know! We never have a real master plan. You just write the songs. A lot of it is trying to get the diversity on the album. You might have four or five songs that are very similar so you can only use one or two of them at most and you have to put some by the wayside. That’s usually why you have to come up with 18 or 20 songs for an album; just so you’ve got that diversity. When people are listening to them it takes them on a little bit of a ride; it’s not all one tempo, one key, one style; you’ve got your major and minors songs, your ballads, your up tempo, your mid tempo. That’s what you’re looking for really in an album. I don’t know if that is disappearing now with streaming and things like that where it’s more a track at a time. But we still come from the old school where an album should be like a listen through for 45 minutes or an hour, whatever it is. It’s just an old school way of looking at it I suppose.

NI ROCKS – When it comes to picking setlists on tour how do you decide what the mix is between stuff from the early albums and stuff from the later albums?

MERV – (Laughs) It’s really difficult and it’s getting more and more difficult as we go. Sometimes we get a real surprise when we throw in a song in that we’ve never played. I mean “Tough It Out” was a perfect example of that when we toured with Gun and Dan Reed in December last year. We knew we had no choice with the set-list – it was just what it was – it was the order of the album and we were just going to play it like that. We weren’t going to short change anybody, mix stuff about or change any arrangements. We weren’t sure about it but when we started playing the tracks live I think it was a sort of pat-on-the-back for what we did back in 1989. The album was much stronger than we thought it was and even though some of the songs we hadn’t played live, they worked great live. I think it has gave us a little bit more confidence now to look more into the back catalogue and to try and dig some songs out. We never really played “Someday” in the old days – we never played it; I think we played it a little bit on the “Tough It Out” tour but that would be it. It was Jim that said you should put that song in the set; it’s really popular with the fans. We kept saying, no, it’s not even our song; somebody else wrote it. I remember we played it at a place called Holmfirth Picturedrome in Yorkshire – the first time we ever played it, we hit the first chords and the audience went crazy! It was like – he’s got something here you know; maybe we should be playing these songs. It’s so difficult when you’re right in the middle of it all. You have your favourite songs and not all the band members like all the favourite songs. My favourite song is the B-side to “Frozen Heart”; which is “Dangerous”, which wasn’t even on an album; but Steve really doesn’t like doing it (laughs) – it’s a democracy at the end of the day so sometimes I get it in the set and sometimes I don’t. I think that’s the same with the rest of the guys. They all push different songs; but I think we are looking into the back catalogue more and trying to drag stuff out that we haven’t played in a while just to mix it up a little. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do, but you know!


NI ROCKS – I also interviewed Steve (Overland), quite a few years ago now just before the Foreigner and No Hot Ashes tour that which came to Belfast. I couldn’t believe that was actually six years ago. A lot has happened since then. Did you ever imagine when you reformed for Firefest in 2007 that you’d go on to release another seven albums, play the festivals or tour with the bands that you’ve toured with?

MERV – I never thought that we’d do another gig to be honest with you. We were definitely, definitely this is a one-off thing. For a start we all had so much work on doing other stuff. We put the time aside to rehearse and do Firefest and we’d agreed to do it but there was no....there couldn’t be a plan to do anything else because myself along with Steve, Pete and Jem we probably had hundreds of gigs in the diary that we didn’t want to let people down. It was such a strange gig and such an outpouring of emotions towards us and it really caught us off-guard I’ll be absolutely honest with you. We sat down after the gig and it was a bit like we’re going to have to deal with this! Not only did the fans enjoy it, we really enjoyed it and we wanted to do more. We knew that there was plenty more left in the tank of the band to do more albums – we knew that when we split up; but sometimes the time isn’t right. I never really thought that I’d be doing this at 60 if you know what I mean, but hats off to the fans. It’s all down to the fans really because we’d totally given up on it all and it was the fans that got us back to do Firefest and the fans that have kept it all going now. While they’re still behind us we feel that we owe them – because they stuck by us during all that time when we weren’t even around. Hats off! I think as you get older you appreciate that so much more than you would do if you were younger. I suppose you have to have a career as long as ours to appreciate something like this.

NI ROCKS – I was reading a recent interview that you did for Rockpit in Australia – before your planned tour. It’s clear that you’re a huge Thin Lizzy fan, and over the years you’ve had a lot of connections with that band or former members of the band such as Gary Moore – touring with him. As a fan, do you have a favourite Thin Lizzy related memory or story?

MERV – I’ve got lots; lots and lots and lots! Some – being Phil – you can’t repeat! He was an absolutely fantastic bloke. I only knew him the last couple of years of his life. I was introduced to him by – the first band that I played in was a band called Streetfighter, with John Sykes, he was a real good mate when I was a kid – we played in our first band together and then he went on to join Lizzy. So at the very last gig in the UK at the Reading Festival he introduced me to Phil and we became good mates. He lent me his equipment for “Indiscreet” and I used his bass on seven tracks and I had his bass when he died. During all that time he was busy doing his solo thing and doing Grand Slam, but he was always really, really kind to FM. He was a really funny guy – he had a great sense of humour – and he gave us a load of advice. The first tour that we did was with Gary Moore and he was getting up on stage most nights playing “Parisienne Walkways”, “Out in the Fields” and stuff like that. It was just great having him around. I was in America when he died. I’d seen him around about the 23rd December (1985), just over a week before he died. I said I’ve still got the equipment, I’m going to America – are you OK with that? He said, yeah fine, you need the bass to do a couple more tracks. That was the very last time I saw him – he didn’t look great, but I never thought he was going to die. I’ve got really, really good memories of him.

I wouldn’t play bass if it wasn’t for Phil. I went to see Thin Lizzy in Manchester Freetrade Hall – I was 17 years old and it was the nearest thing I ever had to a religious experience. Next day I wanted to be a bass player – it had that much effect on me. For my best mate to join Lizzy was just incredible. Other things have happened since. We toured with the larst version of Lizzy with Marco – not the very last one – but the one with Marco Mendoza, Brian Downey, Scott Gorham, Darren Wharton and Ricky (Warwick) on vocals. I did a couple of the sound checks because Scott wasn’t around and I really enjoyed doing that – playing “Jailbreak” and other Lizzy tracks on guitar. It means a lot to me – they are my band. He’s my favourite musician and I must admit during the lockdown I’ve been watching a lot of Lizzy stuff. I found a couple of songs which I’d never heard – which is fantastic! They’ve been my source of comfort – my go to band – since lockdown and I must admit I’ve probably listened to everything they have ever done. He was such a fantastic song writer. His delivery on his vocals – his metering – the way he used to put a vocal across – the way he could just switch up a lyric during a song! He never sang the same thing twice on a lot of songs. We miss him. If he was around now he would love all the adoration and the way that people still regard him as one of the best musicians ever – he would love that I’m sure.

NI ROCKS – Do you find much time to check out some of the newer bands coming through and if so which of those impress you?

MERV – We see a few on our travels. We did a festival with Those Damn Crows who just brought the house down – they were good. We did a tour with Skid Row and the opening band was a band called Hollowstar – I thought they were great – a lot of energy. Gin Annie, another band who we know quite well who we’ve seen come up through the ranks at different festivals. It’s great to see these bands – because when you first see them they’re on at 11 o’clock at the festival when you’re arriving or midday; and then you see them a year later and they’re on at 4 or 5 o’clock and getting a bit higher up the bill. That’s great to see because eventually all us old dinosaurs will need replacing; so we need the young blood to come through and take over.

NI ROCKS – That’s all the questions that I have for you, but we’ll finish by playing another track from the new album. Again, can you pick a track and tell us something about it?

MERV – This last track is a song called “End of Days”. It was written long before all this happened, but if you listen to the lyrics it is quite dark. It was quite hard to listen to once we started lockdown and all that and we weren’t sure if we should release it or not. In the end we talked to the record company and decided against it because it’s quite a dark message. It says a lot about the mess that the powers that be have got us into on a lot of this. I don’t think our government have handled it very well. “End of Days” – here it is.