Rhoda Dakar Speaks to Eyeplug

Rhoda Dakar recently took time out from her growingly hectic schedule to speak to The ‘mighty’ Scenester about her current activity including her all new fab EP, ‘The Lotek Four Vol 1’ which is out now.


S: So, tell us a little about the new EP.

RD: It started out from an idea about when I first took my son to the studio. Cecil and Terry Callier were recording ‘Dolphins’, Doctor Robert was the producer, up at the Church (The Eurythmics’ studio) and my son was six months old at the time, and he was humming along.

They wanted to have a parents’ evening, a concert where the music teachers and the parents actually performed, so I said why don’t we do ‘Dolphins’? One of the music teachers played piano, we didn’t have a bass player. In our first run through, in the rehearsal studio, I recorded it on my phone. It sounded amazing. You really don’t need all the fuss. If the song’s good, and it’s played well, and the arrangement’s right, you don’t need all the extra stuff. It’s a different art form, putting the extra stuff on. So that was the idea for the EP, to get back to the essence of what a song is, so you have a good song, and record it in a good studio, with the minimum of fuss. It was all recorded it in two sessions, in one day. We were lucky enough to have The Black Barn. We recorded two versions of one song (‘Fill the Emptiness’) just to show that it’s not even about style in which you record it.

The EP was recorded with my live band, and that was the real joy because we already had an understanding. I teach vocals and performance, I‘m used to working with different people. It’s about weighing people up, seeing what they’ve got to offer, and seeing how you can get the best out of them. There are some people you can work with a million times and still never get anywhere with them.

S: What first got you into music?

RD: My Dad. He was a singer; he used to sing around the house. There was always something playing. We had a gramophone, and 78’s; they had a big record collection, my parents. I had wanted to be an actress, and my first job was at the Young Vic, at the theatre wardrobe. My grandmother had been a theatrical costumier, she taught me how to sew, so I got a job in theatre wardrobe, and I was there for a couple of years, and in all that time, there was one mixed race actor came in for one play. I had been in the Youth Theatre and we’d done Shakespeare at the Old Vic, and I went to the Young Vic, which is just across the road, working professionally, and I suddenly realised I’d be playing nurses and prostitutes for the rest of my life. I just had to re-evaluate what I wanted to do. I went into the Civil Service but I was only there for about six months, and in that time, I got in a band, and we got a deal. I’d actually been performing for over ten years by the time I got into a band. It takes a long time to be a good singer, and I wasn’t when I started, I’ve had to work at it.

S: How well did you cope with fame at such an early age?

RD: I had been around bands for a long time. I went to see my first gig when I was thirteen, so I’d seen lots and lots of bands and two of my friends were in the Sex Pistols, and I spent a lot of time with them. So I saw how they coped with it, and I saw how some didn’t cope so well, and how one coped brilliantly because he was very grounded and when he wasn’t doing anything, his Dad used to make him work for him. That keeps you on it. I have to say, that Paul Cook was a massive influence on how I behaved in the music industry. His attitude to people, his level-headedness, and I really loved that, so I took after him.

S: Which artists did you like when you first got into music? Are they different to the ones you were into when you first became a musician?

RD: Some of them, I am, I mean, I can’t say I’m a big fan of The Partridge Family anymore, but that was kind of the first thing. Very quickly, I was into David Bowie, and that’s remained a constant, although I have to say he went out of favour with me, and I think it was when I saw him cutting up lyrics, and I thought, I’ve pored for hours over lyrics, and he just cut them up and put them together willy-nilly. I was a bit huffy about that, especially as when I wrote very much from the heart.

S: Which of today’s artists do you admire?

RD: There are loads of young grime artists that I like, when my son was too young to go by himself, I saw Skepta, Wretch 32 years ago, and I think someone who is going to do well is Stormzy. He’s bright enough to know that you can’t take one idea and go with it forever, you have to branch out, and he’s got a little twinkle in his eye. There’s an American band called The Interrupters, I think they’re under thirty, and they’re like a ska-punk band, which wasn’t something I was ever into, but they have this song called ‘Take Back The Power’ which really resonates with me at the moment, you know ‘What’s your plan for tomorrow, are you a leader or will you follow? Are you a fighter, or will you cower? It’s our time to take back the power.’

S: Which person has had the most significant effect on you?

RD: Musically or attitudinally? It’s got to be Bowie, I as a fan when I was 13, even before I went to see him. At the time, to be a Bowie fan was like, we were called Bowie freaks; it was so different to what was going on. Also, I’ve met so many people, with whom I’m still in touch, and they shaped my adolescence. One of them, Jill from Bromley, ended up going out with Paul Weller, she was into Siouxsie Sioux, and so we all ended up knowing Siouxsie, back in the day. Essentially, the reason I’m still hanging around with bands is all about those people connected with Bowie. People I’ve reconnected with over the years, like Hugo Burnham, who was the drummer for the Gang of Four, he was one of our group, all have ended up connected with music in some way. I wasn’t one of those people tearing my clothing when Bowie died. I thought it was a shame, very much so, because I thought he was influential in a good way and the fact that he was starting to make music again. It was just brilliant. As I was coming up the escalator at Piccadilly, somebody was singing, ‘Where are we now?’ If a busker can’t ruin it, it’s a good song.

S: (Mentions ‘Kooks’)

RD: I was there; I did it with Dr. Robert! We did an acoustic version, we were invited onto the Women’s Stage at Pride, and we sang ‘Kooks’, and my son was like 18 months old, in the audience, in his pushchair. It (Kooks) was about his son, wasn’t it? I let my son think it was about him. I remember him (Duncan ‘Zowie’ Bowie) when he was a little tiny boy in his pushchair, ‘cause I used to sit outside Bowie’s house. I was that mad about him.

S: If you could travel back in time, to any place, when and where would it be?

RD: I’ve been asked this before. The answer I should have given is to go back to Swinging 60’s London, however, the real answer is that I would have loved to go to my Dad’s Jazz Club in Piccadilly, in the 40’s, and see what that was like. My parents met there in the Second World War, I’m sure my mother shouldn’t have been there, but in those days, people just thought ‘Well I might be dead tomorrow, let me just go and see what this is about, a Jazz Club in a basement behind the Regent Palace Hotel.’ My Dad hosted the Caribbean Club there, and the house band was the Ray Ellington Quartet. There is some great photos I’ve got from there, amazing. My Dad was so charming. Oddly enough, it would have been his 120th birthday today. He was 62 when I was born. He was from another era; he was the youngest of eleven.

S: Is there anything you would like to have prevented coming into being?

RD: Gosh. Very difficult, because you want to say, ‘prevent Hiroshima, prevent Nagasaki’, but I think I’d like to have prevented HIV. A terrible, terrible thing and I really don’t know how it came about. I don’t know how selfish this would be, but maybe prevent Trump being born.

S: If you could backtrack through your career, what would you edit, if anything?

RD: I don’t think I’d really excise anything. I’d like to add more. I’m putting this thing out now (EP) and I feel like I finally know what I’m doing. If I’d done more, would that have come to me earlier?

S: If you were to meet yourself in your early twenties, what advice would you give yourself?

RD: The advice I would give myself would be either ‘get yourself a decent manager’, or ‘learn about the music business’. I have lost and have been eased out of thousands and thousands of pounds over the years, because I trusted people to do things for me – because we never had a manager for more than about six weeks, I never joined the PRS. So I missed out on money there for example. Another one; just never reading paperwork properly that was given to me. Get acquainted with the business, and be on point, as the young people say.

S: What songs or arrangements are you most proud of, and why?

RD: I would say I’m proudest of this latest EP, particularly because I was in charge of making everything happen, for the first time ever. Nobody found the studio for me; I found it. Nobody decided on the tracks; I decided on them. I made all the big decisions, I designed it, and it’s all down to me. If there’s something wrong, it’s my fault. Even the free download, it was my decision.

S: ‘The Boiler’ is such a powerful piece of work. Did you have any misgivings about it? Has it ever proved a millstone around your neck?

RD: I don’t think of it as a bit of a millstone. For me, it was a transition between me doing acting and singing. It was the only original song we had at our first gig. It was where I started to become a songwriter. I’d think of it as a millstone if people still expected me to do it. That said, I can’t do it because it’s very much a piece about someone like my younger self, I’m not twenty, I don’t think the same thoughts. It would be me faking being twenty.

S: How did the launch for the EP go?

RD: I’m pleased I’ve had a positive response, it’s very rewarding, and we’re already writing the next one!

Rhoda Dakar spoke with Scenester1964 23/2/2017

Rhoda Dakar; The Lotek Four Vol. 1 (LTK4V1CD)


Coming from the doyenne of the 80’s Ska revival scene, and dressed in natty hounds-tooth (the EP, not Rhoda) the five tracks on offer here are a personal labour of love.
‘Fill The Emptiness’ opens as a languorous, swaying Lover’s Rock track, with some lovely falls in the voice, and a crisp, raspy sax solo to boot.

‘Tears You Can’t Hide’s high, pumping beat and tension and release dynamic shows Rhoda’s rounder, yet ironically, more stentorian voice tone.

‘You Talking To Me?’ has the kind of late night atmospheric sax and keyboard that welcomes you in, the voice smooth, even drifting into French at opportune moments.
Rhoda lets her voice soar on ‘Dolphins’, the ‘lapping water’ piano complementing the jazzy feel in a relationship tale.

‘Fill The Emptiness (Reefa)’ reprises in a very different style, and fits its piano riff well, the slide guitar setting it off beautifully, Rhoda duetting with herself at one point.


Scenester1964 7/3/2017


Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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March 8, 2017 By : Category : Articles Eyeplugs Front page Interviews Jazz Modernist Pop Soul Tags:, , , ,
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Andrew Matheson (The Hollywood Brats) Interview

The Hollywood Brats: Probably the best band you never heard of…

I got a few questions about The Hollywood Brats and your new book but we do not have to follow the script, we can just see where the conversation leads us.

AM: ‘Scripts are rubbish, let’s just trot, let’s go crazy. I am at the Dorchester actually having a little bit of a bash for The Hollywood Brats as the album came out last week and a paperback version of the book came out yesterday, so we have been knocking them back so please forgive me if we go off base here.’

So it’s an album and a book launch?

AM: ‘Indeed and it’s sponsored by Grey Goose so we have had a few vodka’s here. Oh by the way if you want a nice Vodka go for Grey Goose.’

Firstly, I would just like to talk about your memoir ‘Sick On You’, which is your failed attempt to turn The Hollywood Brats into rock n roll stars. It is a hilarious read and it has been almost impossible to put the book down. Did you find writing the book difficult?

AM: ‘It was not difficult to write at all the whole story is insane it was completely bonkers. I mostly worked from diaries, Brady (Euan Brady, Brats guitarist) and yours truly kept meticulous diaries although I did have to amend them somewhat as they were a bit salacious.’

What was you inspiration for starting a band in the first place? In the book, you talk with great humour about your hatred for music that was around in the early 1970’s. It would be fair to assume that this was one of your inspirations for starting a band?

AM: ‘Exactly, hatred is one of the purest emotions and I still have banks of it I really do. I absolutely detested music at that time, it was denim, it was old, bald guys, it was drum solos, guitar solos that went on forever and played by people who could barely play and it was bloody gongs, do you remember gongs? That music drove me nuts and still drives me nuts to this day and something had to be done and I thought I was the man to do it’.

Speaking of ‘gongs’, a man who did occasionally play one was Keith Moon and apparently he delivered a tray of drinks to you and the band after a gig at the Speakeasy?

AM: ‘Yes he did and he was a really lovely man and also a bit of a champion for us in the ensuing weeks until he forgot who we were, (laughs) but he was very nice to us and what a gentleman too and he was one of my heroes – and what a brilliant drummer.’

The Brats were originally called The Queen and you hit Freddie Mercury at The Marquee over band naming rights.

AM: ‘You hit Freddie Mercury you are going to have your knuckles scarred by those teeth right? Actually, I just gave him a backhand and I was just trying to swat him away as one would with a Middle Eastern fly. It wasn’t anything you can consider a fight let me tell you.

I want to talk a little about the debut album, which was recorded at Olympic Studios.

AM: ‘What a fabulous studio that was probably the best studio ever and probably is to this day, the types of characters that were there when we were recording was astounding too, The Eagles, David Bowie, The Bee Gees, Donovan.

Didn’t David Bowie walk in during one of your recording sessions and said he loved one of your songs. I think the song was ‘Nightmare’?

AM: ‘Yeah, Bowie did come in and he also let us listen to what he was doing at the time and it was the brilliant ‘Rebel Rebel’, (Hums the guitar riff) brilliant riff and then he came in and heard what we were doing, because that was the norm at Olympic, you know you could just wander around and listen to what each other were doing etc. Bowie liked what we were doing, he nodded his head like mad and tapped his stack-heeled toes and said ‘luv it! luv it!’. He was a lovely man and a low-key gentleman as well.’

The album did not get released at the time. How did you feel about that?

AM: ‘I immediately looked for a razor blade to slit my wrists (laughs) and not finding one. It was heartbreaking because I knew we had delivered something. But alas timing is everything and to quote from the Bible (not that I read one) is that ‘to everything, there is a season’.

It has been argued that the album is a Proto-Punk classic and listening to it now it has not aged a day.

AM: We delivered what we wanted to deliver and that is a good thing but nobody at the time wanted it at all. Everybody hated us and the closest we came to a deal was with Bell Records or some such idiotic label like that, who had people like David Cassidy on it and then they heard the Brats and told us they did not want anybody who sounds like that on their label. That was just the prevailing attitude at the time.’

Well the album was delivered with attitude and it is a dirty gritty in your face record and it could be argued that it was an influence on Punk Rock.

AM: ‘There was no Punk Rock when we actually made it and we recorded it in a vacuum. Everything was so vacuous at the time and all we knew was that everything needed to be shaken-up, grabbed by the lapels and driven mad. I mean you did not want your parents or your older brothers liking what you were into too. Rock n Roll had gone off the beam at that time, so we were trying to address that core problem’.

I would just like to return to the book, which has been critically acclaimed. Are you flattered by the positive response to your memoir?

AM: ‘I am very happy about it and people have said such nice things about it. It is a bit difficult for me to answer this question but yes I am very pleased at the way it has been received. It has warmed the cockles of my soul let’s put it that way.’

Well it is an incredibly funny book and it has the humour of Spinal Tap except The Hollywood Brats were so much poorer.

AM: ‘(Laughs) so you have a sense of humour? I like that’.

I hate to mention this but I would argue that too many comparisons have been made between yourselves and the New York Dolls. It is clear from the book that any musical or aesthetic comparison was a coincidence only.

AM: ‘It makes good sense to mention it and it is just one of those bloody weird things that happens in this world. When we first saw their picture in the NME, we were aghast as they were doing a similar thing to what we were doing. I respect the New York Dolls, but we wiped the floor with them musically’.

You were given a copy of the Dolls debut album and you were not that impressed by what you heard.

AM: ‘No, not at all because we had built them up in our minds so much and we were like, oh my God how can there be another one of us? When we heard their music we wiped our brows and went phew. We didn’t dislike the Dolls or anything like that, but we thought this was serious competition until we dropped the needle on the record.’

Cherry Red Records have recently reissued the album with a bonus disc of previously unreleased material, and after four decades since the album was recorded do you think The Hollywood Brats are finally getting their dues?

AM: ‘Well I don’t think there are any dues. You do what you do and you just put it out there and the devil takes the high most. You put something out in the marketplace and let the marketplace decide and if they were not ready then but ready now, so be it. I am not bothered in the slightest by the way, I am having fun and what is happening now has engendered loads of new opportunities for me. I am having a blast. For God’s sake I am at the Dorchester having a party and if you want Vodka then make it Grey Goose.’

I have heard a rumour that the BBC is making a documentary?

AM: ‘They are and I am being filmed right now as we speak’.

Really? Are you involved behind the scenes? What part are you playing in its production?

AM: ‘I am the boss of everything that is being recorded by the BBC except your show. You’re the boss of that.’

You recently appeared at Glastonbury. How did that go?

AM: ‘Glastonbury was absolutely amazing. I had never been before and it was utterly amazing, the people were fantastic and it was as muddy as I had been told it would be.’

How did a dapper man like yourself deal with all that mud?

AM: ‘They told me I would have to wear wellies. Can you imagine me wearing willies? I told them no chance and I managed to get to the stage looking immaculate.’

So you were there to promote the book?

AM: ‘Yes I was applauded on and applauded and cheered off and they gave me drinks throughout the talk, and that is how I judge the standard of how things are going (laughs).’

Finally, I have heard that the Brats have reformed. Can we expect a tour soon?

AM: ‘You know what? I read that in Mojo recently and I thought is that right? I better get singing or something. We have had offers from all around the globe and who knows. We are all alive and well and we all have our own hair, which is essential for me and if you’re going to reform and one of us were bald I wouldn’t allow it. To answer your question yes I think it might happen and you will be the first to know.’ ‘Oh and by the way, if your’re thinking of having a Vodka then try Grey Goose’.


Longjohns recent Hollywood Brats LP review is below

In 1971 an 18-year-old Andrew Matheson arrived in London with just a guitar, a few quid and a head full of ideas about forming the perfect Rock n Roll band. Matheson drew up a five-point list that these band members would have to adhere to and the rules were simple. You had to “think like a star’’, have great hair (preferably straight hair), must be slender, young, and absolutely no facial hair and above all no girlfriends.

Matheson found his kindred spirits in the shape of Norwegian Stein Groven (Casino Steel), Euan Brady, Wayne Manor and Lou Sparks. These members would form the nucleus of The Hollywood Brats and Matheson’s attempts to turn these disparate bunch of Brats into bone-fide rock stars failed abysmally, and this glorious failure is told in hilarious detail in his recent memoir, Sick On You: The Disastrous Story of Britain’s Great Lost Punk Band.

The Hollywood Brats also recorded what might be considered one of the first British Proto-Punk albums of the 1970s, and it has been re-mastered and re-packaged by Cherry Red Records as a vital 2-CD set, which includes their one and only long player, plus a bonus disc of  “Brats Miscellany’’, featuring, rarities, a few cover versions and a number of tracks that were muted for a second album. The set also includes detailed liner notes with written contributions from Matheson and Casino Steel.

As this album suggests The Hollywood Brats should have carved out a niche for themselves, but the tale of the Brats really is a tale of starvation, struggle, comedic bad timing and bad luck. Whatever momentum The Brats were starting to build-up was then quickly thwarted, when Matheson opened up the NME one morning in 1972 and what looked back at him was a band that were the total mirror image of themselves.

The New York Dolls were another tough Rock n Roll band with an equal amount of androgynous glamour, but they had the added bonus of having a record deal, a publicity machine and (sadly for the Brats) a tour booked for the U.K.  The comparisons visually and musically are obvious, and although both bands ploughed a similar musical furrow it is a mere coincidence only as Matheson explained that he had never heard of the Dolls until he picked up the NME on that fateful day in 1972.

The Hollywood Brats debut album is played fast and loud and has the swaggering attitude of the Rolling Stones and T-Rex thrown in for good measure.  However, the Brats were amplified just that little bit louder, and took the gender-bending pretensions of Glam that little bit further by smearing themselves in “Cleopatra Eye Liner’’ and “Cherry Blaze Outdoor Girl Lipstick’’. One can only imagine Matheson preening on stage in his glam rags, puckering up his ruby red lips to sing The Crystals classic “Then He Kissed Me’’ (featured here) to the baying violent mobs that frequently attended their live shows.

It would be too easy to get side-tracked by the doomed failure of The Hollywood Brats but two things should be remembered. Firstly they looked great and steered well clear of food encrusted facial hair, “upper lip fringes’’ and the dirty denim, which was so prevalent in the 1970s. Secondly, they recorded a lean, mean, muscular album that had songs that were full of bravado, wit and spades full of nihilism.

The album never saw the light of day in the U.K but was subsequently released in Norway before Cherry Red Records happened across a copy of this ultra rare album in 1978. It is largely thanks to them and Matheson’s brilliant memoir that The Hollywood Brats have not been confined to the dustbin of musical history. Although the album may not be an out and out classic there are still a handful of great songs on it, plus it has the added bonus of being played by glamorous lady boys draped in feather boas and dripping in lipstick, mascara and red nail varnish.

The album has attitude and it sounds lean, raw, and dirty and as Matheson explains in his memoir he was “driven by the purest of all emotions, which was hatred’’. Matheson made no attempt to hide his complete disdain for music that he considered was full of it’s own self-importance and he argued that “music needed to be grabbed by the lapels and shaken up’’.

Matheson steered these London ‘belles’ away from standard boring guitar noodling and dull drum solos and the ubiquitous Prog Rock pretensions that were so prevalent at the time. Instead The Brats aimed for something much more visceral, efficient, tough and above all sexy and provocative, but sadly for the Brats no one at the time was listening.

Listening to the album will probably draw the listener to the conclusion that The Hollywood Brats sound like a hybrid of the Stones and the New York Dolls. However, the album should be taken on it’s own merit, and there are a handful of great tracks, including album opener, Chez Maximes, Nightmare, Courtesan, Zurich 17, and Tumble With Me, which are all Glam rockers, have tough guitar riffs and sound equally trashy and vicious.

However, the album has the one stone cold classic and it is the hate-filled closing song Sick On You.  The vitriol poured out by Matheson towards a girl he no longer loves is delivered with such snarling venom and when he spits the opening words “you wanna know what it’s like condemned to live with you, it’s some kind of suicide, some phase that I went through’’, the moniker “Proto Punks’’ may indeed be fully justified.

There is definitely a correlation between The Hollywood Brats debut album and Matheson’s memoir that they are almost mutually dependent on each other, and should be enjoyed together. This album has the swagger and attitude you would associate with the Brats Glam Rock peers but, has the added impetus of rage and frustration thrown in for good measure. The Hollywood Brats were condemned to failure and obscurity but their combustible anger filled music would inadvertently manifest itself in Punk Rock, so perhaps we should be thankful for small mercies.


Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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July 26, 2016 By : Category : Articles Features Front page Garage Glam Interviews Music Punk Rock Tags:, , , ,
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Jimi Tenor talks to Eyeplug

Jimi Tenor 

Born 1965 in Lahti, is a Finnish musician. His artist name is a combination of the first name of his youth idol Jimmy Osmond and the tenor saxophone. His band Jimi Tenor & His Shamans released its first album in 1988, whilst Tenor’s first solo album appeared in 1994. “Take Me Baby” became his first hit in 1994. He has released albums on Sähkö Recordings, Warp Records and Kitty-Yo record labels. Tenor has performed several times with the avant-garde big band Flat Earth Society. In 2009, he contributed a cover of an Elektroids song to the Warp20 (Recreated) compilation album, as well as having his song “Paint the Stars” covered by Hudson Mohawke. Eyeplug caught up with him recently for a friendly chat.

01 You were born in Finland in the 1960s, what was your childhood like there?

I lived in a small town called Lahti. I was a very shy child, but I was very active. I played piano and flute at the local conservatory. I was also very interested in theory of music. But I was also into sports and was playing all kinds of sports. Street hockey was a big thing for us.

02 At what stage did you veer towards music as a career direction?

That was quite early. I transferred to a music school and we had a good choir there. There were regular performances with the choir and I always enjoyed performing. Then later when I was 14 I started to play in various bands and that was kind of it. I really loved everything that had to do with bands. The music, hanging out. That’s what I wanted to do.

03 What were your early musical inspirations?

Finland in those days was a special place. The radio was really old school and wouldn’t play much the kind of music that I was interested in. But I remember from early childhood big radio hits like Sergio Mendez’ “Mas Que Nada”, some Beatles hits, Harry Belafonte. But at home we would listed to The Rolling Stones, Iggy and the Stooges. OK these are things that people know internationally, but what I would really hear everywhere in Finland was Finnish music. Mostly it wasn’t anything I was interested in until Punk Rock happened. Finnish Punk Rock was quite brutal, very lo-fi. I loved that.

04 How did you develop as an Artist and a Creative outlook?

I have always been interested in repetition. I don’t have a “golden ear” or perfect pitch so sometimes it’s a bit hard for me to hear very complicated chords. Maybe that’s why I naturally have been drawn into repetition and music that doesn’t have too many changes. I saw a TV series about minimal music and that was important. I got into the idea of shamanism, on order to try to get to another mental state via repetitious music. I formed a band called the Shamans. To be honest we weren’t anywhere near repetitious enough to get to another level! Later on I found an article about Futurism and Luigi Russolo. I wanted to make my own noise machines and make music, without keys or chords.

05 How did you find the dynamic of forming bands and working with others?

I like playing in bands and hanging out, but I don’t like to organize rehearsals, equipment, transport. Also calling people and making sure everybody is going to come to rehearsal space is a drag. So at some point I got into drum machines and found electronic music. It was interesting technically, but also socially. I enjoy being alone and with drum machines I could do cool stuff. I noticed that with a machine making repetitious music is much easier. In fact it’s really hard to make any changes. The old drum machines were not so sophisticated when it came to changing patterns, so you needed to work to get things out of them. And that’s exactly what I liked. I enjoy the struggle.

06 What challenges have you encountered and how have things changed over the years?

One of the biggest challenges was to get out of Finland. Finland was mentally far away and I wanted to do stuff. So we started to play in Berlin in mid-80’s and got some ideas how things are done. But one of the biggest challenges has always been the language. I like music with vocals and I like to sing a little bit. I tried to find an angle where I could sing in English and make some kind of sense. Make simple lyrics. Of course I could sing in Finnish, but the way the world is it’s hard to to get gigs outside Finland if you sing in that language. Like Japanese people also most Finnish people listen to English language music as instrumental music. What I mean for us the language is mostly sounds, different syllables. The lyrical content doesn’t mean much to us, the main thing is the sound and the feeling. Maybe I’m simplifying a bit, but that’s more or less the case. Of course these days I do understand quite a bit, but still if I go to sing English language songs in karaoke, I will definitely need the lyrics underneath.

OK now the world is very different from 80’s. It’s easy to get contacts wherever in the world. I think the new challenge is to try to keep a certain amount of mystery about oneself. If you expose all your secrets in social media, you become a local guy so to speak. And you can’t be a messiah in your own country. Your place in the social media is your new country in a way.

I guess one challenge is to make enough money to survive. For me things have been quite similar always. You play gigs and sell records after the shows. That is still very much valid. Sure, some big names made plenty of money in the 70s, 80s , 90s from record sales. I never really experienced that lifestyle. Maybe briefly in the 90s but that money went into all kinds of nonsense like video clips.

07 What types themes do you embrace within your compositions?

Lyrically I try to use plenty of metaphors. But the basic themes are always pretty much the same: Love and our place in the universe. That’s about it for me. I do a lot of pseudo scientific lyrics, titles like “Selfish Gene” and “Black Hole”, but they are love and sex in the end. Having said all this about lyrics I have to point out that most of my music is instrumental. 90%. I think it’s easier to talk about lyrics than music. I would really love to do long interviews about theory of music and what I try to go for in terms of composition, but I find it hard to explain anything in short interviews. But when I start writing a new piece, I try to go for something fresh. Not always start with piano, or drum machine. I one always starts with piano, like many do, then you end up having music that is good for piano. For example when I write music for afrobeat band, I would try to get a rhythm going that is natural for that specific band. I think about the players and what they can do. In this sense I agree with John Cage: you need to know the musicians you’re writing for. You need to know the band, and then when I do horn lines, I play them with horns on the demo. I don’t play them with keyboard because keyboard is not a horn. I don’t want to play keyboard lines with my saxophone! Even when I do big band music, I try to play the parts myself. Get into the feeling how playable a part is and how musical it is.

08 How do you technically prepare for the studio side of your work?

That depends. When I’m in my own studio I use drum machines, sequencer, a couple of synths, flute and sax. That’s my normal thing, but I use a lot of percussion, DIY instruments. I try to have a mike always ready to go right next to my chair. I work really fast. I get an idea and I will play it with my flute or sax. I don’t know it’s it’s a technical aspect, but I try to get something down right after my first morning coffee. If I have hard time figuring out a melody I would wait until next morning and try to do it after one cup of coffee. It usually works out. I’m talking about rough ideas here. But I don’t necessarily make a difference between demos and final recordings. I would say about 40% of my releases were originally recorded as demos. You never know when the right feeling is there. So I record everything with a good mike and good sound. My studio is a horrible mess, but I’m very strict about the signal that goes to the recording device. Everything high quality and no extra nonsense in the signal path. No buzz, hum, or noise. Unless it’s required of course. When I record horns I try to get a little bit of feeling of the room where it was recorded at. I don’t enjoy really dry saxophone or vocals sound. I want there to be a bit of life in the recording.

09 How do you find playing live these days, what stands out and why?

I enjoy it very much. Those are the moments I feel alive. I haven’t noticed any big changes of how I feel on stage. Maybe a bit more relaxed these days. I ‘ve noticed that I’m more comfortable playing saxophone these days. Experience helps. Flute playing is the most natural thing for me and I feel wonderful when I play solos. It just flows.

10 What is your typical productive or creative day like, what shape does it take? What would make it a succesful day?

Like I said it starts with coffee and then I have immediately a writing session for about one hour, sometimes more if I have a deadline. I start really early, you know 8am or 9am. Most of my ideas are gone by 11 o’clock and then I start doing the arrangements and the less intuitive things. Then I go to get some food and afternoons I run errands, take my kids to hobbies. In the evenings I tend to do more music. Might get more ideas, but that happens seldom. When we go to studio with a band then of course those days are full on creative rush. We don’t go to studio that often and the time there is always very restricted. So once you’re in there you have to go for it! But those days are special. Normally I do my music in a disciplined way. Everyday, but not too much. I don’t want to ruin the fun side of it.

11 How do you feel the wider Music Industry relates to artists such as yourself? Do you have strong thoughts on how it works today?

I don’t exists for them. I don’t think I have any role in the mainstream music industry. And I guess that’s fine. They can keep their “idols” TV-shows and all that. I don’t want to have anything to do with Live Nation and that kind of bullying music business. Having said that, it’s kind of hard to avoid Live Nation. They’re everywhere. I’m happy that there is an underground scene and I belong there. I don’t need to talk to A&R people, I don’t need to do show-case gigs.

I like the idea of digital releases, but I’ve noticed people don’t take releases seriously if they have only been released in digital format. That might change quite soon. LPs are back and that’s fun but I don’t care about the formats that much, as long as I hear the music I’m fine.

12 Being from Finland, yet living and working in various other Cities and places, do you retain a spirit or deep flavour of your homeland, how does that manifest itself?

I don’t try to sound Finnish on purpose, but I think my music still sounds Finnish. That’s fine with me because that’s who I am and I’m thankful that I have that special flavor. I have worked and I still work from people around the world. It’s easy to get lost in the multitudes of sounds and styles that I’m exposed to. I want to embrace different cultures but same time I want to be myself.

13 Please tell us about your recent work?

Well, I did a single for Philophon calld ‘Tropical Eel, Order of Nothingness.’ That came out in March 2016. I released a big band album on Herakles Records called ‘Mysterium Magnum’ in Sept 2015. At the moments we’re working on an “Itetune” album. Itetune is a band that uses only DIY instruments. We actually finished the mixing last night and it’ll be out on Sähkö Recordings. We’re also working ona new album with Jimi Tenor & Kabukabu.

14 What plans have you got for 2016 and beyond?

2016 I will play gigs here and there. Jori Hulkkonen and I will perform our film “Nuntius” in Vilnius on June 17th. Nuntius is a special project. It’s a silent film that will not be released. It can only be seen when Jori and I perform it live. I mean we do the music live. Sometimes our actor Mr Normall also appears on stage as himself, so the project has a bit of theatre in the mix.

15 Can you tell us a short, funny story please?

I asked my North Korean friend “how’s it going”. He said “Can’t complain!”


Jimi Tenor and his Shamans
Total Capacity of 216,5 Litres; LP (1988, Euros)
Diktafon; CD/LP (1989, Poko Records)
Mekanoid; CD/LP (1990, Poko Records)
Fear of a Black Jesus; CD/LP (1992, Bad Vugum)

Sähkömies; Digital/CD/LP (1994, Sähkö Recordings)
Europa; Digital/CD/LP (1995, Sähkö Recordings)
Intervision; Digital/CD/LP (1997, Warp)
Venera; EP/CD, (1998, Warp)
Organism; Digital/CD/LP (1999 Warp/Sire Records)
Out Of Nowhere; Digital/CD/LP (2000, Warp)
Cosmic Relief; Digital/EP, (2001, Sähkö Recordings)
Utopian Dream; Digital/CD/LP (2001, Sähkö Recordings)
Higher Planes; Digital/CD/LP (2003, Kitty-Yo)
Beyond The Stars; Digital/CD/LP (2004, Kitty-Yo)
ReComposed by Jimi Tenor; Digital/CD/LP (2006, Deutsche Grammophon)
Live in Berlin; Digital (2007, Kitty-Yo)

With Abdissa Assefa
Itetune; LP (2011, Temmikongi)
With Kabu Kabu[edit]
Sunrise; EP/CD (2006, Sähkö Recordings)
Joystone; Digital/CD/LP (2007, Sähkö Recordings)
Mystery Spot; 7″ (2008, Sahco Records)
4th Dimension; Digital/CD/LP (2009, Sähkö Recordings)
Mystery of Aether; Digital/CD/LP (2012, Kindred Spirits)

With Tony Allen
Inspiration Information Volume 4; Digital/CD/LP (2009, Strut Records)

With Lary 7, Mia Teodoratus; Soft Focus
Soft Focus; Digital/LP (2013, Sähkö Recordings)

With Nicole Willis; Cola & Jimmu
Enigmatic; Digital/CD/LP (2013, Herakles Records)
I Give To You My Love And Devotion; Digital/CD/LP (2014, Herakles Records)

With Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators (As also Jimmy Tenor)
You Better Change/Raw Steaks; 7″ (2003, Sahco Records)
If This Ain’t Love (Don’t Know What Is)/Instrumental; 7″/Maxi/WL/CD (2005/2007, Timmion Records/Above The Clouds/Differ-Ant)
Keep Reachin’ Up; Digital/CD/LP/Cass (2005/2006/2007/2008, Timmion Records/Mit-Wit Records/P-Vine Records/Light In The Attic/Above The Clouds/Differ-Ant)
My Four Leaf Clover/Holdin’ On; 7″ (2006, Timmion Records)
Feeling Free/Instrumental; 7″ (2006/2007, Timmion Records/Above The Clouds)
Tell Me When/It’s All Because Of You; 7″ (2013, Timmion Records)
Tortured Soul; Digital/CD/LP (2013, Timmion Records/P-Vine Records)
Paint Me In A Corner/Where Are You Now; 7″ (2015, Timmion Records)
Happiness In Every Style; Digital/CD/LP (2015, Timmion Records)
One In A Million/Instrumental; Digital/7″ (2015, Timmion Records)
Let’s Communicate/Instrumental; 7″ (2015, Timmion Records)

With Nicole Willis featuring Tony Allen
All For You/Touching; 7″ (2015, Sahco Records)

With Myron & E with The Soul Investigators
Broadway; Digital/CD/LP (2013, Timmion Records)

With Willie West & The High Society Brothers
Lost Soul; Digital/CD/LP (2014, Timmion Records)

With The Soul Investigators
Vulture’s Prayer/Bad Viberations; 7″ (2015, Timmion Records)
Soul Groove; Digital/CD/LP (2015, Timmion Records)

With UMO Jazz Orchestra
Mysterium Magnum; Digital/CD/LP (2015, Herakles Records)



Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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April 22, 2016 By : Category : Articles Beats Dark Exotica Front page Interviews Jazz Music Pop 0 Comment

Patrick Macnee – Obituary

Mrs Peel We’re Needed!

The sad passing of Patrick Macnee, the star of the legendary cult TV show The Avengers has no doubt left fans of the show in mourning. According to reports Patrick Macnee died peacefully on Thursday at his home in Rancho Mirage, California with his family by his bedside.

Patrick Macnee died at the age of 93 and was arguably most famous for his brilliant portrayal of the quintessential English eccentric secret agent John Steed in the ‘’Spy-Fi’’ television series in the 1960s. However, Macnee made over 150 appearances in television and film, which spanned across 5 decades and he also had a distinguished military career as a seaman in the Royal Navy during World War II.

Patrick Macnee became indelibly linked with the character John Steed as Macnee came across as a well-spoken, witty, and charming old school English gentlemen much like his alter ego in The Avengers. For fans of the series Macnee and John Steed were almost inseparable, and he acknowledged this in 1967 when he said in an interview that ‘’I know the part of Steed was created for me, and it was developed from my own background and personality, but I am still a long way from being typecast’’.

However, fact and fiction often get blurred in these scenarios, and need to be separated in order to get a clearer picture of Patrick Macnee’s life prior to his most famous role.  Macnee was born in London in 1922 and was raised in Berkshire by a wealthy and somewhat aristocratic family. Despite this seemingly privileged lifestyle there lay family dysfunctionality, which came in the form of his eccentric father and lesbian mother. His father Daniel Macnee trained and bred horses, but his extra-curricular activities included heavy drinking and gambling, which saw him whittle away the family fortune. The young Macnee was then raised by his newly divorced mother Dorothea Mary and her lover.  Macnee would later attend Summer Fields School in Oxford followed by a stint at Eton College, and it was at Eton that he developed a burgeoning taste for life in the performing arts.

It appeared that Macnee’s acting career took the traditional route of theatre, television and films. However, it seems that Macnee’s early foray into television did not run smoothly and he landed peripheral and unsatisfying roles in films such as Pygmalion in 1938. His role as an extra in this film set the immediate template for his acting career, which stagnated to some extent and was cut short altogether with the onset of World War II.

Macnee was enlisted into the Royal Navy in 1942 and the carnage that he witnessed in WWII, including the death of close friends prompted him to famously resist using a gun in The Avengers, despite protestations from the producers of the show. Once he completed his military service he won a scholarship to study at the Webber Douglas School of Dramatic Art. He subsequently resumed his acting career and appeared in minor roles in films such as The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), and as young Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol (1951), and the musical comedy Les Girls (1957).

Perhaps it was these more minor roles, which led Macnee to try his acting luck in the United States and then Canada with the Old Vic Troupe. However Macnee landed only small and somewhat inconsequential roles in television and films. When Macnee returned to the UK he landed a role as a producer on the Winston Churchill themed documentary The Valiant Years in 1960 and within a year his acting career would be relaunched in spectacular fashion when he was cast as John Steed in The Avengers.

When Macnee was cast as Steed in The Avengers in 1961 he was in a supporting role as the show initially focused on Dr David Keel played by Ian Hendry. It would be fair to say that The Avengers in 1961 bared little resemblance to what the show eventually became famous and much loved for. As a viewing spectacle these early episodes of The Avengers were plodding, staid and devoid of any sense of  real irony or subtle humour. It was the irony, innuendo and wit that characterised the series in the mid to late 1960s so splendidly. But what sent The Avengers into a whole new spear of popularity in 1962 was Macnee assuming the lead role after the departure of Ian Hendry, and pairing his alter ego Steed with a succession of assertive, independent and intelligent female assistants.

It was a stroke of genius on the part of the producers to team Steed up on an equal footing with a female, who more often than not came to his rescue when he was in trouble. The succession of actresses to assume the joint lead role included Honor Blackman, Dame Diana Rigg, and Linda Thorson. The Avengers became very popular when Steed was paired with Cathy Gale played by Blackman; however the show became a runaway success when Steed was paired with the delectable Mrs Emma Peel (Dame Diana Rigg) in 1965.

John Steed and Emma Peel became arguably one of the most identifiable and charismatic double acts ever seen on television. Both characters had chemistry between them that was magical and utterly irresistable to watch. The witty dialogue and innuendo, which was playful, light hearted and often flirtatious was part of the appeal for viewers as more often than not there was the suggestion of romance between the two characters

They were indeed a match made in television heaven as viewers were treated to fantastical story lines and surreal visuals that were stunningly brought to life when colour episodes were introduced in 1967. Macnee was also a style icon in his own right and his alter ego Steed was always impeccably dressed in Saville Row and Pierre Cardin designed 3-piece suits, beautifully tailored shirts and a cravat or tie. Part of the allure for fans of The Avengers was the stunning clothes worn by Steed and his female assistants. His immaculately tailored suits and his legendary bowler hats and umbrellas set this dandy far apart from everyone else in the sartorial stakes.

Macnee and Rigg became so famous in their roles that they must have been in danger of being type cast. It must have been almost impossible for viewers at the time to digest the news that Rigg was standing down from her role as Emma Peel in October 1967. Her final appearance in Forget-Me-Not coincided with the introduction of Steed’s latest sidekick Tara King played by Linda Thorson.

The tear jerking final episode sees Emma Peel say an emotional goodbye to Steed with the quip ‘’always keep your bowler hat on in times of stress’’, which added a comic and poignant finale to one of television’s greatest ever double acts. Emma then gets into her car with her bowler hatted husband Peter (who bears a remarkable resemblance to the on looking and bemused Steed) and glances back at Steed with a wry smile on her face, and it is this final knowing glance at Steed and then her husband, which confirms that her ideal man all along was someone who was the mirror image of Steed.

The Avengers would continue until 1969 and Linda Thorson as Tara King had the unenviable task of trying to fill the massive void left by Diana Rigg. The relationship between Steed and his new cohort was even more flirtatious, suggestive and innuendo laden than ever before, but sadly for Linda Thorson her character was a little subservient and often came across as vulnerable and silly, which undermined the character and was the antithesis of her predecessor. However, by 1969 the show ran into financial difficulty when it lost the backing from ABC in America. The producers reluctantly decided that The Avengers could not continue and the so called last ever episode Bizarre was screened in May 1969.

Macnee would eventually reprise his role as the much loved John Steed in The New Avengers in 1976, and this time he was assisted by Purdey (Joanna Lumley) and Mike Gambit (Gareth Hunt). Although the show was very popular with viewers it failed to recapture the magic and humour of the original series. Although there was chemistry between the three characters it rather felt like the show should never have been resurrected as The Avengers was a quintessentially 1960s show, and all the avant-garde ideas of the original Avengers was sadly never repeated in the latter carnation of the show, and the series came to an end in 1977 after a run of 26 episodes.

Macnee’s other significant acting roles included parts in Battlestar Galactica (1979), This is Spinal Tap (1984), A View to a Kill (1985) and Around the World in 80 Days (1989). However, Patrick Macnee will forever be remembered for his brilliant portrayal of the bowler hatted and umbrella wielding eccentric British secret agent John Steed, in one of the most influential television series ever made in the UK. The Avengers enduring popularity ultimately lay in the casting of a pair of fabulous characters in John Steed and Emma Peel. The brilliant portrayal of the eccentric, stylish, witty and lovable spy John Steed will keep the memory of Patrick Macnee alive in the hearts and minds of fans of The Avengers for many more years to come.

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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June 29, 2015 By : Category : Articles Cult Culture Eyeplugs Front page Heroes Media Picks TV Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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The Fuse Review – Colin Bryce May 2015

The Fuse: Brilliant Sun (3ampfuse/ of all let me provide you – the international readership – with a bit of the history of this Western Canadian roots-rock outfit.Back during the explosion of new music in the late 70s the Fuse, as they were then known, were a popular local attraction in their hometown of Winnipeg. The line-up then (and now) consisted of brothers Jeff, Don and Paul Hatcher, and their close friend David Briggs. Alongside their many original tunes the band performed classics by the Kinks, Stones, Chuck Berry and the likes of Graham Parker, Nils Lofgren and Elvis Costello. A couple of name and line-up changes (The Six, Jeffrey Hatcher and the Big Beat) followed and eldest brother Jeff ends up in Vancouver in a line-up featuring pop legend Billy Cowsill. Calling themselves the Blue Shadows they released two critically acclaimed – though not very well-known – albums. My recommendation to you here now is that you track those two albums down.

After the demise of the Blue Shadows, eldest brother Jeff returns to his hometown and the gang (brothers Don, Paul and David Briggs) get back together to do some new music. Augmented by bassist John Neal and multi-instrumentalist/songwriter extraordinaire Ken Pinchin the line-up becomes known as Hatcher/Briggs and release the Getting There from Here CD (2010). Turns out that was just a teaser and the sold-out local gigs (infrequent but always stellar) were encouraging enough to re-christen themselves the Fuse and get another long player under their belts.

So, here we are now in 2015 with the latest by the re-christened Fuse. The rusted out car on the cover is hardly reflective of the music within. A fully restored El Camino might have been more appropriate in this instance. The band’s mature blend of countrified roots-rock, funky Band-esque bomp, psyche and baroque pop, and track after track of harmony-fuelled lyrical splendour place them head and shoulders over countless pretenders and if all goes well this carefully crafted gem should find itself in regular rotation on any number of radio programs and music players still dedicated to real people playing real music with all their heart and soul.

Grab a Copy Here!

Facebook Page Here!

Colin -Mohair Sweets- Bryce

One of Canada’s late 70’s “punk” rock crowd and from 1997 to 2007 the fellow behind Mohair Sweets print and webzine. Currently passes the time by playing the odd gig or two, shaking his head, wringing his hands and pondering whether or not the tape vaults of the legendary Pirates are really exhausted.

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May 19, 2015 By : Category : Articles Features Front page Music Pop Reviews Rock Tags:, , ,
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Count Indigo speaks to

Count Indigo is a versatile pop singer, performer lyricist and compere of surprising vocal and aesthetic range. His music encompasses smooth baritone soul grooves, dark falsetto dance rhythms and exhilarating orchestral arrangements. The uniqueness of his approach to music – making comes out of combining mature themes of joy and betrayal and with a beguiling soulful accessibility. A decade of acclaimed nightclub & festival performances all over Europe and honed an intimate, humorous showmanship personified in his album, Homme Fatale. We caught up with ‘The Count’ recently and he explained his new ‘Crowd Funded’ Queens Ransom Project in some (semi-secret) depth.

01. When did you first start in Music, what were you doing prior to this date?

​I started writing songs whilst still at college in the Eighties and had a couple of bands. Clay and The Magnificent and The Love Ambassadeux. (The band name’s spelling wasn’t my idea!)

02. What brought your Sound together and how did you decide on that moniker?

The sound, the aesthetic is down to how I wanted audiences to feel and behave rather than any overwhelming love of a particular genre. Lounge music, library music written for advertising or incidental music is all about a lack of ego and mood setting. It’s wonderful as a means of getting under the listeners skin. I got my nickname ‘The Count’ from wearing suits and vintage clothing even when brassic as a student. Whilst I adopted Indigo from Duke Eliington’s jazz blues ‘Mood Indigo’.

I started a nightclub (Indigo) playing rhythmic midcentury soundtracks and library music. It allowed people to chat, dance and enjoy really varied entertainment without pre judging the content.

03. What are the diverse influences that shape your current sound?

Its all about people. I’m really enjoying working with great musicians again after a lot of time in programming suites. The opportunity to collaborate with Kenny Clayton for instance gives me a direct link to the heyday of beautifully crafted pop practitioners like Matt Monro, Petula Clark and Shirley Bassey. How to craft and then really interpret a lyric. While a bass player like Dale Davis is fantastic for channelling that melodic funk tradition from James Jameson to Bootsy Collins.

04. At present you function in various formats and sizes, how does that function when touring and the onstage set-up?

Count Indigo Original
For my own original Count Indigo yachtpop sets like Queens Ransom I have a 5 piece band that glows in a soul/loungecore disco glory. I occasionally do a vocal PA without them.

Count Indigo Vintage
For a set that concentrates on covers and the wholly easy-loungecore tradition I ‘m well known for I work with The Brighton based 7-piece Jet Set International complete with sitar and go-go dancers.

Twickenham Toy Orchestra
Finally I have a rather joyous side project The Twickenham Toy Orchestra, which is a six-piece ensemble doing covers like Golden Years and The Ace of Spades but on kids instruments.

05. What can someone that has yet to see your live show expect to see and hear?

Twenty years of compering means I like to really engage an audience. A Count Indigo set is slick moving from bossa-novas to 70’s funk onto Daft ‘Punkesque’ disco over drive. A loungecore set cranks up the kitsch familiarity of huge ‘60s soundtracks and fabulous shifting melodies.

The Twickenham Toy Orchestra charms the socks of you with a cheeky joie-de-vivre. In the end everybody wants to get down to Word Up done on a melodica, kazoo and kids drum kit!

06. What types of people do you attract along to your Club events?

It’s very genuinely inter-generational. The new music attracts people in their twenties after some authentic grooves and provocative subject matter. ( There aren’t too many funk outs referencing kidnapping the Queen for example). The interpretative bands offer something a little more cosy and humorous with a funky go-go twist.

07. You have played many established festivals and historic venues, and even been on TV a good few times, what were the high and low points and stand-out memories?

The Count’s first live appearance on British T.V. was on the very first show of Chris Evans’ TFI Friday. A hilarious live session on French T.V. backed by Parisian band A.S. Dragon comes to mind. My face, when the presenter announces the arrival of ‘Cunt Indigo’ is quite a picture!!! Russian T.V. interviews are always pretty surreal experiences, involving fabulous parades of of utterly un-self conscious fashionistas. I loved presenting at The Vintage Festival at Goodwood in 2010 – what an ambitious and fully realised jamboree. Shame it didn’t endure really! Contact me here for bookings!

08. What Countries are most receptive to your current Sound?

Anywhere keen on sunshine and the metropolis. So Southern Europe and the American West Coast, New York, Paris and my traditional hunting grounds in Eastern Europe. I’m also hoping to thrill Latin America soon!

09. How do your songs develop? What is the usual process of writing new material?

I usually find a subject matter inspiring first and almost always start from a fully realised lyric and melody that I then flesh out with a writer or arranger.

10. What are your Heroes and Zeroes from music and beyond?

Darius Milhaud via Burt Bacharach
Nelson Riddle
Scott Walker
Billy Strayhorn
Lee Hazelwood
Bruno Nicolai
David Whittaker
Danger Mouse
Willy Brandt

11. What is your current favourite music and influences? What do you think of the current music scene?

I’m not much influenced by contemporary music, but like listening to the acts listed below. I don’t think there really is a current music scene as such, as things have become so atomised and domesticated by the digital revolution.

First Aid Kit
Perfume Genius
Matthew E. White
Gregory Porter
Mikey Georgeson And The Civilised Scene
Death and Vanilla
Curtis Harding
Forever Pavot

12. You have collaborated with various people, how did that come about and work out?

I’ve worked a lot with French producer and composer Bertrand Burgalat, founder of Tricatel Records. We were introduced by my manager of the time when he produced my second single Her Other Man. We also co-wrote Trinity together. Tricatel produced my album Homme Fatale but its lack of commercial success meant we went our separate ways, although we still gig together from time to time and have written regularly together over the years.

13. What shows/events have you got planned for the near future?

Best place to keep up to date with my dates is to visit my all new cool website here!

14. Are you involved with any other outside projects?

The key ones are the clubs Mrs Peels ( and The Variety Discotheque.

Mrs Peels is very much a penthouse take on more obscure grooves of the Swinging ’60s. Featuring go -go dancers, body painting and live music. All in on the 4th floor cocktail lounge of a hitherto private club.

Variety Discotheque reignites light entertainment in a nightclub setting featuring the party sounds of DJ The Psychedelic Milkman against the Backdrop of house band The Twickenham Toy Orchestra and visiting performers featuring magic, comedy, sword swallowing and trad jazz spoons playing.

15. Tell us about your unique taste, style-sense and outlook?

I love to entertain and seduce an audience with performances that hark back to the wealth of post war showmen and women from Louis Jourdan to Sammy Davis to Grace Jones. I’m more a made to measure guy than bespoke. Given too many sartorial choices I’m prone to disappearing up my own fundament. I believe that the art of entertaining comes out of embracing and challenging your audience to adore melody and good timing.

16. Is there anyone that you would dream to work with on a mini-project?

I’d love to get Michel Legrand (who I interviewed once) to do arrangements on a fabulous sex and soul E.P. I’m planning away now as we speak!

17. Please feel free to plug any of your recordings that may be for sale?

I’ve recently become the sole vendor for my album Homme Fatale. Its never had distribution in the U.K. and its a neo-soul tendencies prefigure bands like Gnarls Barkley and Metronomy.

18. What does the future hold for you all?

I’ve recently completely rediscovered my creative mojo after being completely immersed in my loving role as a father. I want to make at least 2 E.P.s a year for the rest of my life and also develop a whole range of fun live formats and products that make people happier!

19. Tell us about the Queens Ransom project?

Queens Ransom is a crowd funded fantasy Yachtpop E.P celebrating my kidnapping of Elizabeth II on the eve of her becoming the longest reigning monarch in British history. Check it out here!

20. Can you tell us a joke please?

I once upon a time had a bad experience telling Bruno Brookes (who?!!! ) a joke once and swore to never tell one again! Sorry!

Web Links


Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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March 27, 2015 By : Category : Articles Exotica Features Interviews Music Pop Soul Tags:, , ,
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Adam and the Ants 1977-79 – Nick Sweeney

I’ve just finished reading Adam Ant’s autobiography Stand and Deliver. It was very readable, if a bit repetitive at times; it’s horribly honest. It goes into Adam’s music, influences, early and family life, sex addiction, rootlessness – he bought several houses in several different places and was unable to face living in any of them for long, often returning to his tiny London flat – and loneliness, even as one of the most popular entertainers in the world. It also details his quest to get some acting roles that would match his success in pop music, his depression, his mental illness, and finally his several disorderly conduct arrests and sectioning in recent years. It ends on a relatively positive note. Adam is now back doing the circuit of small-to-medium gigs – the results are all over YouTube – and the odd (and often rather combative) interview in between living, until we hear differently, a quiet life.

Reading the book has prompted me to revisit my one-time love of Adam Ant’s music, though it never really died out. I was a fan of Adam and the Ants in the late 1970s, before his rise to phenomenal fame in 1980, in which he really did see off all the competition. I first saw the band on a bill at Soho’s Vortex Club in mid-1977, supporting my other fave band of the time, Siouxsie and the Banshees. I was blown away by the energy of the performance, and the manic, dangerous edge it brought to the atmosphere. The first line-up I saw featured Adam singing and playing guitar occasionally, Andy Warren on bass (a thin, gaunt figure described in Ants publicity as being called Winkle and Watson, for some reason), the handsome Dave Barbe on drums and a guy called Johnny Bivouac on guitar. What was it about Johnny Bivuouac I didn’t like? His hair was all wrong, I thought, sort of freeze-dried-looking, and he wore a cap-sleeved t-shirt, which was so sort of pre-punk disco. Was I shallow, or what? (Yes, I was.) Great guitar player, though.

Adam was beautiful, no other word for it. His hair wasn’t very punk, either, all Romany curls, and at least one of his eyes was often slathered in eyeliner – or he wore clear-framed National Health specs – his lips lipsticked black. He looked like a hyperactive mannequin, a crazed escapee from the Commedia dell-Arte – you know, Pierrot, Harlequin, medieval Italian Punch and Judy show. He was a New Romantic a few years before the movement he would later despise came into being. But I guess what made him beautiful, ultimately, was his sense of don’t-give-a-fuck-ness: that is always something fantastic to behold. On a more basic level, I also loved his skanky leather trousers, his strappy boots from Sex, or Seditionaries, as Westwood and McLaren had rechristened the shop, loved his bare torso when he got half his kit off, with its tattoos, scratches and bruises, its hint of puppy fat at one gig, his ribs showing starkly at the next.

A friend made a recording of this line-up from a gig at Oxford Street’s 100 Club, a ton-weight cassette player secreted round his waist, and the recording came out brilliantly; I was able to learn all the songs, obsessively working them out on my guitar in the right keys, finding, often to my dismay, that they weren’t always in the keys guitarists like – lazy ones, as I was then; Deutscher Girls started on D flat, FFS, a chord I’d barely heard of. My respect for Johnny Bivouac increased. This was to be important to me a year or so later, when Johnny left (or was dumped, actually – Adam already had a history of getting rid of band members on a whim, though I didn’t know that at the time) and, after seeing an ad in Melody Maker, just by chance, after an hour of getting over it I went to audition as a replacement. Because I’d been listening to the tape, I was able to turn up and just play the tunes. Adam asked me, “Do you know B-Side Baby?” and I went straight into the guitar intro as he was about to recite the chords, and also led the band into that Db chord starting their ode to mädchen-in-uniform Deutscher Girls. They were impressed. But they were more impressed by 17-year-old Matthew Ashman, who got the job instead of me, so there I went, back into obscurity for a few decades… Was I too ugly, too spotty, not punk enough – was my Rickenbacker guitar just not cool enough? But both Andy Warren on bass and first Ant guitarist Mark the Kid Ryan bashed Rickenbackers. Was it my hair, then, not enough gel, or too much? Or was I just a bit too porky for the stripey teeshirt I wore to the audition? (Not everybody can get away with horizontal stripes, but it was very similar to the one I now wear sometimes in the Trans-Siberian March Band.) No, none of those things, I hope. It was Matthew Ashman; he was pure class on a guitar, pure rock n roll, and I just wasn’t.

With the phenomenally talented Matthew, the Ants went on to a different phase, and a whole load of different songs, that culminated in the album, out on independent Do-It Records, Dirk Wears White Sox. None of the songs they played at the early gigs made their way onto that album; they only turned up later on bootlegs, or were revamped occasionally on slicked-up versions on the b-sides of some of the hit singles, once Adam was a star. Those early songs featured themes of S&M, sex in general, murder and Nazis, basically, though there was the rather sweet Send a Letter to Jordan (about Adam’s obsessive letter-writing to one Pamela Rooke, who worked in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s King’s Road shop Sex), a cover of Perry Como’s Catch a Falling Star and the gentle French music hall pastiche of Young Parisians. Deutscher Girls, Nietzsche Baby and Dirk Wears White Sox (which ghosted only as a title on the Do-It album) all worked through fetishised pictures of Nazism; they poked fun at it, though this wasn’t always clear to the music press, who dismissed the Ants as a Nazi band at one point, despite their having a black drummer in Dave Barbe, and Adam being a descendant of British Roma. Il Duce described Mussolini as a ‘fatty fasciste – they call him the fat boy’ and had a derisory chorus of Santa Lucia in the middle of it, so it was sometimes difficult for Antpeople (as Adam dubbed us fans) to see how it could be taken as anything other than black comedy. The S&M songs included Beat My Guest, Whip in My Valise, Ligotage, You’re So Physical and Bathroom Function. There were other tunes, such as the subtle, slow Song for Ruth Ellis, which had the hook ‘Violence in Hampstead’, and a frenetic tune just called Hampstead, ‘a place for fairs and not for revolution  – you’re deprived of being deprived’. There was Lou, known to fans as Andy Warhol Video from one of the few coherent lines in the chorus, a song about Lou Reed, the verses of which were screeched out by band manager at the time, Jordan – that same Pamela Rooke, from McLaren and Westwood’s Sex/Seditionaries boutique, and a big face on the early punk scene. There was also the comic, smutty Juanito the Bandito – ‘he’d even make love to a dog’ – and the rather grim Light Up a Beacon on a Puerto Rican, which dealt with racism, albeit in a rather repugnant and aggressive manner. A lot of people also missed the pure music hall-type humour of songs like Friends, basically a list of claimed friendship with famous people from all eras punchlined with the line ‘If I come on the night, can I get in free?’

In Derek Jarman’s film Jubilee, along with Deutscher Girls (shown briefly, on a background TV), the full version of the Ants’ gig-opening tune Plastic Surgery features. The film was a bit of a mess, but was worth seeing for this sequence alone, in which Adam threw himself into the performance with such zest that he dislocated his knee.

I must add that I think the tunes on Dirk Wears White Sox, with Matthew Ashman on guitar, are pretty good – I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t like them at all. Animals and Men is surely the only tune ever written about Italian Futurism; Car Trouble Part 1 and Family of Noise arrived at punk-funk-disco years before the Red Hot Chillis. The Day I Met God (and was impressed ‘at the size of His knob’ – tch, really, Adam) is a sublime piece of on-the-road observation: ‘We was coming back in the van, from Milan, and I saw God, right there’. Like you do. Catholic Day, again, is a first, as far as I know, a song about JFK’s assassination, his ‘sporty young hairstyle’, his brain falling on Jackie’s knee on that day in Dallas. Never Trust a Man with Egg on His Face is a menacing piece of sci-fi. All good. But not the Ants I’d known, followed, recorded, learned, looked forward to. Serious twenty-something post-punk types like me, with our floppy fringes and long overcoats,  and a bit up ourselves, were a pretty fucking hard-to-please bunch, I guess.

A lot of the early tunes are now available to hear on YouTube, accompanied mostly by still pictures, and often from dodgy live recordings, and consequently they’re a bit scrunchy, but they give a real flavour of the barrage of sound, and the innovative, and often chaotic, nature of early Ants performance, at a time when most 1977 bands were trying to be secondhand Sex Pistols, and intoning crap tunes about boredom, or being boringly ‘political, maaan’, in bad imitations of the Clash. Adam and his Ants were never as rock n roll as the Pistols, were never as doctrinaire as the Clash, were not as precious as the Banshees, nor as arty as Wire – I thought the Ants got it exactly right in having a decent mix of all those different elements.

Andy Warren went on to join The Monochrome Set – one of my favourite bands from the same period – while Dave Barbe and Matthew Ashman were stolen by the scheming Malcolm McLaren to back the 14 year-old Annabella Lu Win in his new project Bow Wow Wow. Adam had paid McLaren a grand for advice on the next phase of his career – “Do cowboys, Adam,” mockney Malkie said out of the corner of his mouth, “do Indians, mate, do pirates, swash your buckle, bit of flash, bit of brash, become a prince charming…” – so Adam didn’t come too badly out of the deal in the end.

Bow Wow Wow ploughed a similar furrow, sporting Vivienne Westwood’s new off-the-peg pirate look, with Dave Barbe stripped of his sharp and punky name and restored to Dave Barbarossa – the legendary Redbeard the Pirate. They played Burundi drums and Duane Eddy guitars, speedy fifteen-fingered basslines, tunes about corsairs and other planets, the Eiffel Tower as a phallic symbol. They released an album on a cassette, had Annabella photographed in the nude. They were great, but never quite the business, despite being talented, photogenic, controversial and newsworthy. What went wrong with them? For the mass market, the formula just didn’t work as well as Adam’s: he had it, and they didn’t.

Adam hooked up with Marco Pirroni, another man with a great pedigree on the punk scene, who’d been there from the beginning, wearing the shirts, playing the guitar, po-faced and workmanlike, canny enough to tell the shite from the shine. Marco was (and still is) a rare talent, and the best thing that happened to Adam – I’m sorry to hear they don’t talk anymore these days. I didn’t mind some of the tunes they had massive hits with – I liked some of the Kings of the Wild Frontier album, resigned myself to be exasperated and then amused to see that the line ‘Dirk Wears White Socks’ had gone from an entire song about comedy Nazis and slapstick Berlin decadence in 1977, to the somewhat meaningless (to all but original Antpeople, who were still rather mystified by it) title of a 1979 album, to an even more cryptic line in the chorus of an unmemorable 1980 non-tune, the weak Don’t Be Square be There.  By the time Adam was standing and delivering and doing the Prince Charming two-step with Diana Dors, shaking hands with royalty and appearing on Jim’ll Fix It I thought it had all become a bit too cartoony. (In fact, several children’s mags did indeed feature cartoons in which Adam was the hero, totally messing up my metaphor here.) I can see that he never would have made it with the early tunes – Princess Margaret and her sis probably wouldn’t have tapped their feet along to any tune that went ‘Tie me up and beat me with a stick, beat me, beat me’ – and that Adam did what he had to do to become the world-famous song and dance man he craved to be, and turned into. I’m glad he made it, glad he became a name and a face, a look and a haircut and a style of his own: I’m glad he ‘sold out’ – as we Antpeople sniped for an inordinately long while – and got the fame he deserved for the hard work he put in. He paid a massive price for it in the end, unfortunately. I’m also glad his hidden legacy of early tunes is now around and available though, just as it ever was, you need to seek it out, though I’m too much of an ole fart these days to want to listen to the songs TOO often.

Many thanks too our guest writer: Nick Sweeney is a talented published Author and member of The Trans-Siberian March Band © 2015.


Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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March 18, 2015 By : Category : Articles Eyeplugs Features Front page Icons Punk Tags:, , ,
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The Dub Rifles Interview

The Dub Rifles were a Canadian underground band based in Western Canada in the early 1980s. The band took R&B forms (soul, funk, ska/reggae) and merged them with a variety of “punk” attitudes and sounds. After releasing a couple of extended play 45s and touring steadily for a couple of years the band relocated to Montreal and quickly came to a crashing halt. Now, thirty years after their final gig at Toronto’s famed El Mocambo club Sundowing Sound Records has released a collection of their studio and live recordings.

01. Where did the name Dub Rifles emerge from?

The name came from the idea that dub is head music and I sort of tied it to a “shooting for higher consciousness” theme. I was young and looking for answers basically I think. It seemed a good idea at the time. It was years and years before someone else came up with it and now a reggae band from Uruguay uses it. I’ve never contacted them about it. I should though coz I have a bit of a weird fascination with the place. Maybe they’ll invite me for a visit!

02. What was the local Winnipeg music scene like in late 70s and early 80s?

Dismal. No style. The same as everywhere else pretty much. The geographic centre of North America (where Winnipeg is located) is/was as you would expect pretty much – full of pickup trucks, baseball caps and bad moustaches in an attempt to “be a man” and the rest. Back then there also seemed to be a lot of emphasis put on being a “good player” and all that muso crap as well. Terrible times really wasn’t it? And yet those types of bands, that attitude and lack of style persist even today. Shocking really. The stories of being chased or threatened because one didn’t look every other member of the Eagles are pretty much true. I imagine you remember the “threat” of punk rock the media/corporations created. Pathetic. Of course we’re now over-run with hipster douche bags and wanna-be gang bangers. (Yawn)

03. How did the band come about and decide on that final format and line-up?

I’d been playing music in teenage bands and all that since the tail end of the glam rock era as it evolved into what became known as the “punk” scene. After one of those initial local scene bands called it a day I became acquainted with our bassist Clint through a mutual friend (Jimmy “Vendetta” Green) who went on to play in a fairly well known band from here called Personality Crisis. (Check out Chris Walter’s bio on them here). We started messing about, introduced another pal who wanted to play sax and tackle a bit of reggae/soul and we were on our way, um, somewhere. It wasn’t too long before we’d added a second horn player, maybe a half-year or so.

04. What were your all listening too at that time?

I was trying to recall all this as we put the compilation together and remember very fondly a tape we had on permanent repeat in our rehearsal space that featured quite a bit of the Temptations psychedelic stuff, the Wailers Rasta Revolution record as well as various Motown and late 70s punk/revival things. As a band we only ever learned a couple of covers that stuck around, and they certainly reflect our listening choices, which were “Gabrielle” by the Nips and “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” by Guns for Hire who many will recall as morphing into the great Dept. S.

It was a very exciting time in music and the rise of independent labels from Chiswick to Rough Trade released countless things we liked. We can’t forget too the downtown New York thing that was home to so many fantastic funky and arty things like the Raybeats, Contortions, James Blood Ulmer and all that. And yeah we did listen to a boatload of reggae and original ska stuff like Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear, Dillinger, Skatalites and more. Matumbi and the first couple Steel Pulse records were really big with us. This was around the time too that the Intensified and King Kong comps were out as you probably remember. They also got many listenings.

05. How much did other styles of music and other scenes from abroad influence your outlook and sound?

As I mentioned the scenes elsewhere were pumping out tons of great things but we also grew up when radio wasn’t as completely controlled as it is now. So there was lots of stuff from pop and soul to country on the radio. We dug all that. I mean obviously it wasn’t all good and it was certainly deteriorating rapidly. A local radio friend of mine recently commented to me that its basically three guys in Toronto currently dictate what gets played across our country. No regional flavour at all anymore basically. Fucking tragic. The thing with being from a place like Winnipeg – even though it has a population of three-quarters of a million people – is that it has never been a media centre so we’ve almost always “imported” some influence or another – or been accused of importing it! That’s the way the world works though isn’t it. I mean the original mod scene wouldn’t have been what it was without the Ivy League style, the Italian scooter and American R&B would it?

Having said that though a couple of things that sprung up out of here – that could only really have come from here – remain one or two of the my greatest musical/artistic influences. And they certainly affected the way I approached music and life as a result. If you haven’t heard, Canada has an incredible inferiority complex. The US influence is huge but we also grew up singing “God Save the Queen” in school and our national broadcaster (CBC) has usually had an, or at least did when we were kids, assortment of British creations in its line-up. The point being basically that as Canadians we usually get accused of “aping” somewhere else when in actual fact there have been some incredibly original creations artistically. One review of the Dub Rifles in Tony Fletcher’s Jamming all those years ago basically said as much. He was wrong. Sorry Tony. I mean, and this is no offence to Tony, and I’m saying this sarcastically and not quoting his review directly but y’know, “How could any of those poor lumberjacks in Canada possibly come up with anything etc…” Fuck that. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the filmmaker Guy Maddin? He’s one of the scene guys who has done very well and is recognised for bringing something a bit special to the party. Musically it’s happened as well.

06. What type of equipment did you have access too?

You mean like the coconut phone? Kidding. We had and still have some great studios here. Guitars, drums and the like, especially back then, were often available for a great deal at a pawnshop or in the local “Buy and Sell” rag etc. Gear (cough) never a problem my man.

07. What were your studio forays like, a good or bad experience?

Uh, shall we say, inexperienced? Good but inexperienced. The idea of doing some demos really never crossed our mind too much. This was before the 4-track recorder was out and we just kinda figured, y’know, go in, bang it out and voila! So we did. Studio time was also pretty expensive so we made it work the best we could. We had a great guy for an engineer, named Howard Rissin. He went on to do a number of big Canadian things including the Irish Rovers! He owes us I think for helpin’ him to learn the ropes. Don’t you think?

09. What about live shows from around that time, anything that stands out?

You mean like being hit with human excrement? Ah, yeah, there were some real interesting moments.

Our local venue – at least where we made a name for ourselves – was a place called the Royal Albert Arms. Anyone who toured across the country at that point – and later – played there including the likes of Husker Du, Urge Overkill and countless others. When we began playing there the owner was a decent guy who cared about and invested in the place. We used to play six night stands there and make decent money. After it changed hands it didn’t fare so well and became a kind of a CBGB’s of the west. Frankly you can stick that. I mean really, who wants to play some place where the toilets don’t work and you get threatened working the door. Not me. Fuck that. Anyway it’s up for sale now and who knows. Been closed a couple years and unlikely – in my opinion – it can be revived to a decent sort of place. The old “Albert” and another about a hundred feet from the place called Wellingtons were both plenty packed out many a night back then. No bloody video games and computers keeping the kids indoors.

In terms of gigs for the Dub Rifles outside of that venue we did open a few nights for the mighty Steel Pulse and that was a complete education. I have no idea what they thought of being in some bar in the middle of Canada back in the very early 1980s but for us, and the crowd there to see them it was just unbelievable. They were super nice and just fantastic to see. If you passed them a spliff you could be sure it wasn’t coming back.

The other lot we played with one time was the Angelic Upstarts. I doubt we were very good at the time but they had Paul Thompson of Roxy Music on drums. I couldn’t believe it. I made some comment to him about some Commie hall in the North End of Winnipeg being a long way from Madison Square Garden. He told me they were buddies so he was doing the gig. Nice. But I also learned later, and was standing there when he was talking to Mensi and never even twigged, that Tony “Feedback” Morrison was the bloody bassist! Had I have realised!! I’ve talked to him about it a number of times now and thankfully he doesn’t remember us, ahem, but y’know, small world.

We also played quite a bit in Toronto and that was a lot of fun. We chummed with a band called Blibber and the Rat Crushers who were a punky bunch with a drum machine – named Blibber. We just thought they were the best. Tons of fun they were and the Queen Street scene in Toronto back then was hopping with bands. After Toronto one of our favourite places was Halifax on the East Coast of Canada. We played the art college there and some other joints a few times. We also misbehaved quite badly out there and it lead to a rather expensive Rickenbacker bass being smashed against a mirrored pillar on the dance floor and as a result our immediate firing from a gig that we really needed to get paid for so we could get to the next bloody one!

10. The collection of NO TOWN NO COUNTRY is just being released, can you tell us about the project?

I was approached by Chris who runs Sundowning/Dub Ditch Picnic Records here who I’ve known for a number of years about maybe reissuing the original Notown EP and I told him I personally wasn’t so keen unless it could be remixed and that I would prefer to do something a bit more expansive considering there was some decent stuff sitting in a box somewhere. He bit and so my pal/band mate in our Driving Wheel R&B project Lloyd Peterson – who just happens to run a studio and be a top-notch engineer – was my first call. He’d been after me for years to get at the two inch tape and save it so we did that, found and saved some decent live stuff, re-EQ’d the second EP from vinyl – because the master tapes ended up somewhere in Jamaica to be re-used. Sigh… Uh, and so once we got all that together, got my old Mohair Sweets ‘zine pal Ron White to do some graphics and Chris came up with the cash – bingo! So far so good. I think some of the people who had maybe heard the name but not the music are pleasantly surprised. See full eyeplug review here!

11. What types of day-to-day challenges did you have to face up to?

Back then with the Dub Rifles? Sheez. Getting enough cash for gas and food to get us to the next gig mostly. In town here it wasn’t an issue really. Rent was cheap back then and a part-time job often was enough to get one through. The problem with having a band on the road back then that played original stuff – that we didn’t encounter in our hometown – was that gigs were often just the one night so the money didn’t match up to expenses. Thankfully my old man invested a grand or so in an old half-size school bus we converted to a decent touring vehicle. Gas was cheaper then – thank god – and as long as we weren’t doing the twenty-plus hours to Toronto too often it was all-good. It should be noted he never got his money back but I think it provided the folks back home with some sense of relief knowing we at least had a roof over our head – of some sort anyway.

Of course we did have to deal with the whole “punk rock bad” thing as well even though we didn’t sound anything like they expected we would once they finally heard us.

12. How were you treated by your record labels, the industry and local media that you worked within at that time?

Well we were the record label so if there was any money we immediately bought spliff. That was nice of us.

The industry, such as it was in Canada back then, didn’t have a clue. They were just a bunch of holdovers from the early 70s in their handle bar moustaches and cocaine dreams. Take a look at the Canadian charts back then for a laugh. Complete fucking rubbish. College radio was and still is the only real support independent acts get. Sadly it pays nothing in terms of royalties. CBC (our national broadcaster) provides some support but really folk/roots is their bag typically. CBC did play us a bit back then and the New Music program on national TV did a piece on us once – near the end of course. I was completely fucked in the head by the time we did that. Not pretty.

The local media was largely those same Genesis loving twerps running the record companies apart from maybe one or two. It wasn’t until our age group started graduating into those positions that our scene grew to gain a hair of respect.

13. Where are they all now and what are they doing?

One in Montreal, three of us here in Winnipeg and now one in Saskatchewan. It was years before I talked to the drummer (residing in Montreal) though the sax man Matthew and I saw each other quite a bit over the years because I lived not too far from him in southern Ontario for a time. We all play a bit here and there though Matthew has since replaced the tenor sax with the bagpipes.

14. What about a few re-union shows, you only live once after all?

Problems are distance, time and money. We tried about a decade ago but the initial rehearsals ended in a fistfight so it was laid to rest. If someone wants to stump up a few grand I suppose it might happen. Separate corners please! Might have to get a pound of weed in though to get us tuned up as it were. If one thing is true about the Dub Rifles it is that we LOVED our weed.

15. Can you tell us a joke please?

Steven Harper and the current Conservative governments environmental and energy policies. Sadly it’s just not very funny.

Photos: Carmen Arndt and Assorted others (please feel free to contact us for a credit)


Sundowning Sound Recordings:

Canadian Music Encylopedia entry: 


Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 23, 2014 By : Category : Articles Features Front page Interviews Modernist Post-punk Reggae Tags:, , ,
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John Lydon – Nick Churchill’s Interviews

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Nick Churchill Interviews

Nick Churchill has kindly given exclusive permission to to revisit some of his classic interviews from the past few years or so, also his reviews and selected articles from his own archive. We hope that you enjoy these as much as we do and feel free to share them accordingly! First up, none other than John Lydon.

As the first new music from Public Image Ltd in 20 years is released, John Lydon is donning his showman’s hat and talking it up, a one-man army of startling soundbites. The album, This Is PiL, is out on May 28 and is Lydon’s attempt to assimilate all that’s happened to him in his 56-year journey from cradle to stage. Self-funded and released on the band’s own label, PiL Official, John’s still doing it for himself.

It’s the only way he knows how. Savaged by the self-appointed arbiters of cool for participating in I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here and starring in a TV advert for Country Life butter, John couldn’t give a hoot. He wanted to get Public Image Ltd back on the road and in the studio… and there’s only so many Sex Pistols reunions the world can take.

Ah, the Sex Pistols… still gobbing after all these years – though spitting was never actually young Johnny Rotten’s thing. Winding up the public was though, which is why he’s given the green light to re-issue God Save the Queen in time for the Jubilee bank holiday weekend. The fact that PiL’s album comes out the same weekend is, of course, a complete coincidence.

John still loves the Pistols, but accepts the band is a dead end. He is absolutely consumed by the endless horizon of PiL though. It’s his creation, everything he wants it to be – and more. Passionate, pluralist, cantankerous, quirky, awkward, PiL is John Lydon at his unmediated finest and there are few things finer.

As the good folk of Bournemouth will be able to see when PiL play the O2 Academy on July 31 – a mere 36 years after the Council banned the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK tour from the Village Bowl.

“’Ello. ’Ello. ’Ello.” The voice on the phone is unmistakable as it unintentionally intones the  stark opening to Public Image, PiL’s 1978 debut single. What follows is a 40-minute private audience with one of modern music’s most iconic figures… and he doesn’t disappoint.

’Ello John, pleasure to speak to. You’ve taken your time getting to Bournemouth so what are you bringing to share?

I come bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It has been a while and it’s been an uphill battle financially. They’ve had a stranglehold on me for years for nearly two decades, but I won’t take no for an answer. It might take me a very long time to get a yes but here we go – yes yes and yes!

Public Image is, I mean I put everything I have, my heart and soul into it, that’s just the way it is. Although I’ve been attached to some very large labels from time to time they weren’t really helping it to run along.

It’s very upsetting to think of all the bands that those labels have signed which are just pale imitations of PiL. It’s a bizarre world we live in, but, you know, you’ve got to have resilience. It’s what made Britain great.

I get the sense you don’t care for the music business too much?

It’s a bit like the blitzkrieg really, or the Blitz of London, without being too amateur dramatic about it, but record company shenanigans are a little bit like it – the nightly raid into your psyche, the endless intrusions by these creatures – why can’t you write a hit? But I have, there are many of them. It’s really about the demise of the record industry, which they brought about themselves. They deserve it.

In the same way I’ve had few things to say about the Royal family, but as individual people I don’t mind most of them. The trouble is record companies become institutions very quickly and that’s when it goes wrong.

There are new labels, a few little ones, and we’re working with one or two of them so the hope is they don’t go that route. As soon as you stop being able to phone up your record company and speak to a human being you know it’s over. Once you hear that automated voice telling which box to dial into, you know it’s the end of the line. Virgin was a lovely company, back when they had that place in Vernon Yard… God, that was a long time ago.

It was, John. I wonder if you’d go on holiday to Jamaica with Richard Branson now as you did after the Pistols split in 1978. What was that all about?

Yes, well he was the only one at the label I was still vaguely attached to who knew anything about reggae, who was warm to the ideas. It was very good because emotionally it helped me no end. It was a very difficult period after deciding to break up the Pistols and he helped me right through it. It warmed me up to the idea of starting a new band so I did.

I learned how to write songs in the Pistols and then I learned how to deconstruct with PiL. For me, I have to know what the rulebook is, then set fire to it. It’s a bit like reading the Bible, you read out the lines that you need and lose the drab. I’m no evangelist, no fundamentalist! The music really is an amalgamation of all the influences from birth until that current point isn’t it? But it isn’t copied you have to be true to your environment because once you stray outside of that you end up with art nouveau jazz and that don’t do anyone no favours.

Punk’s angry tide washed away an old guard and sent the bloated prog rockers running for cover. Now that the punk generation is as old, than those it deposed do you listen for what your contemporaries are doing?

No, because it interferes with what you’re doing so I don’t listen out for it, but every now and again I hear something and I’m either disappointed or pleased and leave it at that. There isn’t a huge wall of judgement going on, not now. There used to be – I loved taking the mickey out of The Clash, but they gave me all I needed on a platter, it was so easy. They definitely helped.

But I tell you who’s come out of it well – Paul Simonon. What he’s doing in Barcelona, his artwork is stunning, absolutely stunning. Creativity doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with music and he’s at the point where he’s making something wonderful. Shame it’s all Spanish themes but he does live out there and you do have to be true to your environment.

Where do you get your energy from John? You’re 56, what keeps you going?

It’s compulsive in a very weird way. It’s not an obsession but it is obsessive, the need to be creative and to be challenged by the effrontery of the powers that be, of their lies. That peeves me. And there’s the fuel for the engine, while there’s pain in the world I won’t be short of a song or two. It really annoys me at how those freedoms that have been so hard fought for have been allowed to let slip by the way. It is such a controlled state that we live in. Back when the band was starting it was done with a brutal police force, now it is done with a camera on the street corner. It’s all removed from reality, from the humanity. We’re all part of the machine now and do not have a separate agenda. But they’re not interested in the crime, or stopping the crime, they’re interested in the fine. They’ve finally managed to turn crime into a money making machine which is horribly impressive in its own way.

Got all your own teeth?

Actually I’ve not got all my own teeth. Just lately I’ve had four implants in the front of my mouth because the infections were overwhelming. I only hope it doesn’t affect my singing voice. Mind you I can feel the weight of all this titanium, I’m magnetised – very useful for picking up safety pins.

That would’ve been handy once upon a time…

Still is actually, safety pins are always useful.

Is it hard work to be John Lydon, PiL singer, agent provocateur, polemicist and commentator? When can you just be John from Finsbury Park?

There’s a lot of love in what I do, I’m all about love. When I was in the Jungle that was entirely me, that’s how I am. I want a cup of tea I’ll go and get the wood. I want a shower and I’ll use the bloody great pond that was there. That was me. It’s pointless to be anything other than yourself when there’s that many cameras pointed at you – far more than CCTV anyway. What I can’t be doing with is people moaning about what they can’t have or can’t do. Just do it – half the fun of everything is doing it for yourself. I won’t be molly-coddled into acceptance and programmes like Mock the Week make it easier for politicians to get away with it, they’re not helping. They make fun of politicians and we have a snigger and suddenly all’s well with the world. Well, I’m sorry, but all is not well with the world. It’s the British way though, too politically correct. We’ve got to get back to shock tactics, that’s where human beings thrive isn’t it? Go and talk to the old folks in the neighbourhood, the old boys and girls, they have tremendous things to say, great stories, learn a bit. It’s worthy to be in their company, be honoured, get used to the old lot, they’re not to be ignored and spurned, that’s how they end up alone and defenceless. Get over it.

Are there people you look up to, people who’s advice you heed?

It’s easy for me to say this at 50-plus, but I’ve always been that way, I’ve always listened to the adults around me, always have. I listened to Pete Townshend – ‘I hope I die before I get old’, what were you thinking of there, Pete? Ridiculous. Something I never fail to point out to him when I see him. But I’ll tell you this about Pete Townshend, he is a good fella though. Always helpful, he’s not a selfish bleeder, he looks out for young bands, he does. He gives them studio time and hints and let’s you in on a few tricks of the trade, there’s not many in this industry that do that.

Talent needs to be nurtured and encouraged…

You need to feel you’re part of something. When we started with the Pistols it was just a wall of hate like we had no right exist – is that how that load of old codgers is behaving? They need to understand. I would welcome hearing what they had to say but I think they took too literally that Never Trust a Hippy thing because I think deep down they all knew that’s what they were. They’d got their safety, their positions and their careers all lined up for them and they didn’t want change. But change is wonderful – you change your underpants, change your music!

Your passion for music seems undaunted by the passing of time?

You should learn from music, not imitate, but expand on it. I don’t like that world dance stuff because I find what happens is it’s all concocted from these wonderful flavours of different cultures and concocted into elevator music where the beats become very monotone. It’s painting by numbers and that would be the antithesis of me. Finding the real stuff happens quite naturally if you get yourself out and about. And again, you must listen to the old fellas, they’ll tell you a thing or two. You realise the more you travel, people are generally the same the world over – good-natured, deep down inside if you give them a chance.

How was America? There’s a lot of anti-American feeling in this country because we think the American people are like their politicians.

It’s just a veiled jealousy, it really is. Those fellas, they really do believe in get up and go, you know. They don’t sit back and moan, it’s not the American way and I love them for that. That’s not our way though, but the colonies are doing well!

You’re back in London now so was it time for a change, or is it work?

My family’s here – business too sometimes. It was police harassment that drove me out, it became monotonous it was so regular – constantly visited on a Friday night. Don’t know what they expected to find. It got that I got to know one or two of them, I’d see them in the pub in the week and they’d apologise to me for last Friday’s raid – ‘Sorry about that’ – and we’d laugh. That’s a very British response. It’s how things really are, not the way they’re supposed to be. We forget that each individual policeman is just like us, they’re part of a community, with families and things like the rest of us, they’ve got to get along, they’re not their job. It’s not really a Them and Us in anything, not really. It’s all Us.

You must have noticed some changes though.

We’ve got this current thing with Red Ken and Boris, has that made it yet to the rest of the country?

It’s like a Punch & Judy show…

It’s become a real Punch & Judy show, yes, thank you, we’re on the same wavelength. It makes people look away from the real issues. That’s how Labour got away with what they did last time. They spent more time advertising themselves than they did on doing anything. What a mockery they made of us, the damage is done the Labour Party threw it all away and for what? They became, well I don’t know, just a corrupt organisation above a bookies on the high street. I’ve got to begrudgingly say I used to like the Iron Lady – hated her politics, hated what she was doing, but at least she meant what she said. The lady’s not for turning, up until the point she turned, there goes the let down yet again. Even though you might not like them or disagree bitterly with them, you do like the sense of at least they mean what they say. Power corrupts. They get used to no-one saying no, that’s it…

A bit like rock stars then?

Oh yes, absolutely. This vision of pop stars meeting back stage at the festivals and getting on with each other, whoa, no way! Kin’ hell it’s the seven deadly sins re-enacted. It can be highly entertaining, but when you’re nervous and you want to get on and do your bit it can be very, very annoying to have to put up with them. I tend to shy away from it, but then again that seemed to earn me the reputation of being slightly aloof.

Do you cultivate your separateness?

Yeh, I find that what a lot of people are trying to do is steal your thunder, to keep you unoccupied on the job in hand. Particularly if they’ve just come off they don’t want you to go on and be better, whatever that means. In music, the principal of competitive behaviour shouldn’t exist.

But they try to turn music into a competition, look at the glut of so-called talent shows.

American Idol is currently unwatchable. It’s not really interested in music, it’s searching for characterisation of things that people know – territories and avenues of music explored 30 years ago and they now just want a theme park version of that. It’s always here’s the rock singer and no doubt they’re wearing a fringed jacket with long hair, the country singer. It’s misrepresentation and breaking down of things into departmentalised boxes and remove the genuine hostility. American Idol couple of years back approached us, they wanted to use Pretty Vacant for a singer they had on called Bo Bice. He was the rock ’n’ roller and he was the bloke I was referring to earlier in the fringed leather jacket and long hair. There was no way on Earth I was gong to give permission for this, never ever. With all the hardcore elements of the song removed.

Incredible, a total lack of understanding…

Well, that explains Simon Cowell… but then the Pussycat Dolls wanted to do a version of Pretty Vacant too. I’ll tell you, it’s a constant battle to try and preserve the sanctity. I’m not being overly precious and many bands do do cover versions, but it’s when these kind of institutions try to co-opt you, you have to say no, you really do. That’s why we turned down the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame because they were trying to co-opt us into a dead institution that never gave us any help in the first place.

There’s still a massive demand for the Pistols’ music though and you’re re-releasing God Save the Queen for the Jubilee.

We’re re-releasing them in chronological order and if you want them on vinyl that’s all well and good, there it is. No harm done and it’s not being rammed down your neck. And for me, it’s an unfortunate coincidence because it comes out at exactly the same time as we’re releasing this new PiL record, it’s almost like Universal what are you doing to me? It’s intriguing though to compare the two.

As it was when the first PiL album came out just around the time the last few Sex Pistols singles appeared – the ones without you. What can we expect from the new PiL?

Prepare to be stunned! I hope it’s everything that has happened to me in that record, otherwise what the hell am I doing this for? Of course it is, the longer you live, the more you learn, the better you will be at portraying the truth and the more accurate I hope I’ve become in my songwriting. I don’t mind exploring my faults in a song, in fact they’re full of them because that’s all part and parcel of learning to grow up, the honesty. But when I put myself on a stage I know that I’m begging for an open wound! There’s no protection at that point, I’m not hiding behind an image and I sink or swim by the thrill of the moment. I enjoy that, but I panic like fuck before I’m on. But for me, the most honest I am in my whole life is those moments on stage.

The current PiL line up is a mix of old and new faces. Guitarist Lu Edmonds and drummer Bruce Smith worked with you in the 80s, while bassist Scott Firth is new to the band – a tough gig being as previous PiL bassists like Jah Wobble and Jonas Hellborg have left big shoes to fill.

It’s very hard to pull it off because we like to play for two and a half hours. Lu and Bruce are very tuned into one another and I’ve known them for years and the new bass player is phenomenal.

That’s quite a difficult thing to do for a young man to come in and not be an imitation of something that’s gone before. We like our bass in PiL but it’s not a regime, it has to find its place. I loved Scott the moment he turned up with his resume – the Spice Girls and Steve Winwood – I said: ‘Genius! This is exactly what we need.’

PiL has had something like 49 different members! We joke about that, but in a weird way Public Image is kind of university of music, it’s a music school. We’ve launched so many different careers. It’s a shame some of them aren’t grateful, but they got their diplomas, what more can they ask for? They’re my babies and I love them, every single one of them. There’s no resentments or anything in me like that and everybody who knows me knows that.

People do take exception sometimes though, don’t they?

Yes, isn’t that great? That’s how us as a species are. We all know when we see mistakes what makes you so angry is that you’re aware you have those mistakes in yourself, you’re really hating yourself and it’s kind of a learning lesson for a few of them out here. I went through that very early and learned that running around badmouthing doesn’t get you anywhere… unless it’s the Sex Pistols. We just love to do that with each other. There’s a camaraderie in it that we never understood.

Do you still have fun with those chaps?

Yes, yeh, I really do. The Sex Pistols is a finite part of history and mustn’t of course be forgotten, but I don’t know if we’ll do more because I can’t write a song for them. As soon as I get pen to paper I want to put it into PiL and I can’t help that – I just love PiL so much.

Public Image Ltd  – This is PiL
Out May 28 on PiL Official through Cargo UK Distribution

This Is PiL
One Drop – “It is about my early youth in Finsbury Park. Fantastic! Hello, we’re all teenagers don’t you forget it! At any age, stay young.”
Deeper Water
Terra-Gate Human
I Must Be Dreaming – “Well, you know, I must be to put up with these governments.”
It Said That
The Room I Ate In – “That’s about drugs and council flats. And there’s a tragedy that still continues.”
Lollipop Opera – “It’s basically a beautiful bunch of background noise and music to sum up Britain and all its wonderful ambidextrousness.”
Reggie Song
Out of the Woods

Nick Churchill

Nick Churchill has written professionally for more than 25 years. Currently a busy Journalist undertaking a wealth of celebrity interviews and human interest features to writing speeches, generating web and media content and production scripts. His first book, Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles & Bournemouth - got great reviews. He has also worked on projects for Duncan Bannatyne, Harry Hill, James Caan, Scott Mills and Peter Dickson, the voice of The X Factor. His obvious passion for words and natural genuine integrity is most refreshing.

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March 14, 2014 By : Category : Articles Eyeplugs Features Front page Punk Tags:, , , ,
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A.N.T.Z by Johna Johnson

People Often ask me what it was like following Adam & the Antz before they went Poptastic here’s a snippet of life as a soldier ant pre pop time!

ADAM & THE ANTZ – Retford Porterhouse / Birmingham Digbeth Civic Hall – 13/14/79

I was really looking forward to this tour which started on a Friday night at Retford Porterhouse The Parizians tour finished in Feb and they had only played at the Lyceum in April since then.

On the day of the gig I arranged a lift from some punks from Leeds who’s names escape me now They lived in a some high rise flats in Hunslet or Beeston? It was a typical punk gaff back then. We swopped some Seditionaries clothes with each other I got a grey parachute shirt with a red sleeve of one of them I cant remember what I swopped it for though? After a beer or two, we set off to Retford, which was a typical little village in the middle of the Lincolnshire countryside. There was a row of shops that looked like any street in any town and then a village square at the bottom of the street with a couple of pubs. So we headed down there. There wasn’t much happening so we headed back up to the gig. The venue was in the middle of the row of shops on the right hand side. Then you went up two flights of stairs to get in. It was like a lot of clubs in towns and cities up and down the Country but it looked a little out of place in sleepy Retford. On the 1st floor was where they held the local disco where all the ‘Normal Normans’ would congregate to dance round their girlfriends’ handbags. As we walked in the venue I was quite surprised how modern it all looked. The stage was to the right as you walked in,  the bar to the left, I went round the corner to buy drinks and congregate. The dance floor was just in front of the stage. It was a decent sized venue. As soon as I walked in I saw all the familiar faces: Pete Vague, Duncan Grieg, Martin Pope, Jon Srobat, Spud , Kev Allison, Jerry Lamont and tons of others.

There were a few new faces on board from London as well (it was also the 1st time I met Dean Parko from Cleethorpes who as been a great friend ever since). It was one of these herbert’s that introduced me to the delights of glue sniffing. Money was tight so I didn’t have a lot of money for drinks and there was quite a while before the Antz came on so there I was in a toilet cubicle sniffing glue ‘a cheap punk rock off your head option’, after a while things started to get hazy then the next minute the toilet door was kicked in and there stood a menacing bouncer before me. I was in no shape to challenge him or even speak to him, so he just grabbed hold of me then dragged me right outside, telling me I was barred! That news shuck my me back in to reality, I was gutted but didn’t know what to do about it. People were coming out on my behalf to try get the bouncer to change his mind. I was pleading myself telling him I’d travelled from Bradford for this gig, that it was my favourite band. But he wouldn’t change his mind, so there I was sat on the steps of the Venue thoroughly pissed off.

Then Andy Warren the Antz bass player came out to see what I was doing outside – I told him what happened and he laughed. Then he went to have a word with the owner and the bouncer. Suddenly I was allowed back in. The bouncer said he was keeping his eye on me for the rest of the night. To say I was well behaved for the rest of the evening was an understatement, until the Antz came on, then I was down the front with everyone else as soon as the intro tape started playing Gary Glitters ‘hello I’m back again’ followed by Missa a Luba ‘Sanctus’ then Hanns Eielser’s fanfare! Adam had a new look.

Out went the Kabuki make-up, green army Mac, shirt and leather tie, and sash look, and now he had a camouflage face make-up, cowboy style shirt, leather trousers, black kilt and black sandals with white soles. The Retford gig was great, It felt so good to see the Antz again people were running around asking if I was going to Birmingham the day after? I was ment to go back to Bradford after the gig because funds were low then catch up with the tour in a couple of days but now I was like an addict needing his fix Of course I was going to Birmingham. I said good bye to the lads from Leeds then stood around with all the Antz lot that were stopping over night in the train station. As we were stood there all the locals from the Disco below piled out on to the street. They took one look then walked past. Then as they got to the bottom of the street they started on some Punk kid, who took a bad pasting. We all ran down to help then they shot off. Then the Ambulance turned up. Then everyone got some food and made their way to the train station . The waiting room was small but quite cosy. It had a old style fire blazing away, so everyone just settled down for the night until the morning when the train came.

Everyone was awake quite early and sat about chatting about what they thought of the gig the previous night, Adam’s n new look and what they thought the Birmingham gig would be like. After a while we all got on the platform to board the train to Birmingham. I was in a precarious position, as I hardly had any money, which meant I would have to bunk the train to Birmingham. You never worried about things like that then, things always worked out. I got within two stops of Birmingham before I was caught. This was mainly due to a combination of hiding in the toilets. I was caught coming out of the toilets and told the conductor he had just checked my ticket and was going back to my seat and moved in the direction he had come from re-affirming, I think? That he had checked all the people’s tickets from that end of the train. I finally got caught when I let my guard slip, thinking I had got away with it and fell asleep. The options were pay or get nicked, so I had to go round the train tapping 10p’s! All this and without a Mohawk hair cut as well! I managed to get quite a bit of money to pay the train fair and had a bit spare.

We arrived in Birmingham quite early so we hung around the Church near the Bull Ring, a famous Market in Birmingham. There were loads of Chinese tourists who came up to us and offered us money to take photos of us to show people back home. So that was more money in the coffers! We then went to walk around Brum and get something to eat. We came across this record shop that had a Italian and Portuguese copies of the Parizians single. They were hard to find for sure! I could only afford one of them, so I bought the Portuguese copy, thinking that would be the rarer, something I was to regret as I have only just found a Italian copy some 33 odd years later and it was a lot more expensive than in the shop in Birmingham! We went back to the others at the Church and decided to find a certain pub, where all the local punks went. After looking around for about an hour, we eventually found it, but it was empty. We had a drink then returned to the Civic Hall. Just in time to watch the band do their sound check. After I spoke to Mathew Ashman (RIP) and Andy Warren to make sure I was on the guest list and general chit chat.

My mate Gary O’Connell (RIP) turned up from Bradford. He asked how I was getting home the day after, as the Antz had a day off. I said I don’t know, he said we could get some Coach tickets. So we went across the road to the Bus Station and asked how much the Coach fair would be back to Bradford the next day. We then put that money in our back pockets for safety so as not to loose it.

I was starting to think this was going to be a great night. I had made a bit of money the gig was sorted out, bought a record, had the Coach fair home and had a bit of money left for a couple of beers. I was standing outside the gig talking with Pete Vague, Tom Vague and Gary and a large group of Punks turned up across the road. Then we realised it was more Antz crew who had come up from London. We felt great, there must have been about 100 of us now. We couldn’t wait for the gig to start and people were still turning up. Boxhead from Liverpool, Paul Wanless from Middlesbrough and another lad from Boro, a lad from Leeds, who’s name I can’t remember now.

Eventually the doors opened around 7.30. I got my name ticked off the quest list and made straight for the bar where everyone else was. I noticed that all the security were Hells Angels from Wolverhampton, which we thought was a bit strange, but we just ignored them. We all sat in the bar, it was like a private party as there where no Punks from brum there. Then this girl, I had seen at a couple of Antz gigs turned up. It also turned out she was from brum. She had turned up with another guy from Bradford. Barry Jepsom (who would later become the bass player for Southern Death Cult) She said we could stop at her house after the gig – things were just getting better. She told us that that the Skinheads had told the local brum Punks not to turn up because they were going to attack the London Antz crew, and anyone who was there was libel to get attacked if they were not Skinheads.

The Skinhead issue became the main talking point from then on. (The Antz crew were getting a bit of a reputation for being a bit handy in a fight as Antz gigs were sometimes quite violent, but the way people danced at the gigs visually looked violent to outsiders. It was like no other Punk gigs I ever went too. The Antz crew were not that bothered however ,as there had been many a scrap at gigs since they did the Parizians Tour and before at the London gigs. Punk gigs around this time were often starting to resemble football matches, without the Police to monitor the situation. Lots of people started touring round the Country following groups in fairly large numbers. Soon as you landed in another city the local hooligans would find out and mob up. Suddenly someone shouted ‘they’re here!’ We all rushed over to the window to look.

Outside, there were about 100 Skinheads walking down the middle of the main road, blocking all the traffic. They stopped outside the gig and started shouting abuse up at the Antz crew. The Ant’z crew returned the taunts. The Hells Angels wouldn’t let the skinheads in the gig, probably because they knew what was going to happen. Some of the Skinheads climbed up the drainpipes and climbed in through the windows, but were delt with immediately.

There seemed to be a break in proceedings so we concentrated on the gig itself, thinking that because the Skinheads couldn’t get in they had gone away! We were sat in the bar then the Gary Glitter song ‘Hello, Hello I ’m Back Again’, came on and every body started singing along. The Antz played this before every gig to let everyone know they were coming on stage. Along with Missa Luba’s ‘Sanctus’ and another track we knew as ‘the fanfare’ by Hans Eeisler.

The Antz hit the stage to the usual frenzy of delight. The atmosphere was electric. They were about to start singing their 4th song, ‘Animals and Men,’  when all of a sudden we heard this loud noise and turned round. To our amazement there were the Skinheads! They were spread out all across the hall with arms linked, goose stepping slowly towards us, as to box us in near the stage to make sure that know one could get past.

Adam started the intro 1- 2 -3 -4 to start the song and I noticed that the Skinheads leader had a Man Utd shirt on? So as they charged forward, I went straight for the guy with the Man Utd shirt on (being a Leeds fan he was an obvious target) I shoved these two Millwall Skinheads (who followed the Antz and were on our side) out of the way and whacked the Man Utd fan straight in the face! To my amazement this had no effect on him at all. He didn’t see who had hit him, so I jumped back out of the way and started helping out others who were getting attacked thinking I was a bit lucky there maybe? The fighting seemed to go on for what seemed ages. Adam was on stage saying ‘I’m sick of you lot, you travel all over the Country to see us and just end up fighting!’ Then he walked off the stage. The Hells Angels were attacking the Skinheads as well so, together we managed to get the Skinheads out and own the stairs and eventually out of the venue. They locked the doors.

We went back in the gig and Adam came back on the stage and the gig was finished in peace. The Antz were great as usual. With Adam being annoyed with what had happened earlier the music seemed to reflect Adams anger. They were loud, energetic, and aggressive. With everybody on a high on adrenaline from fighting the Skinheads ,everybody seemed to be dancing in a state of frenzy. They always danced like that, but even more so tonight. It was like some sort of testosterone ritual. It’s really hard to describe how people danced at Antz gigs – it’s got to be seen to be believed. The music seemed to transform people into potential ‘homicidal’ maniacs. I have seen people, who are placid in nature, turn into potential maniacs once the music starts. My mate Duncan showed some photos someone took of people dancing at an Antz show and they all looked like they were having a nervous breakdown!

To see the ants live was an unbelievable experience and no other Punk gig came close, including the Sex Pistols. The nearest atmosphere to an Antz gig was the Meteors, but then half the people at the Meteors gigs used to follow the Antz origanlly anyhow! At the end of the gig I went back stage to speak to the band. Adam was really pissed off, so I went back outside to sort our sleeping arrangements out.

I met up with Gary and Paul, then Barry came up and said that that girl from brum had changed her mind about us stopping at her house and that there had been a mix up, so we made our way outside. When we got out side there were loads of Police everywhere. We were told we would be getting a Police escort to the Train Station, as that was how most of the Antz crew had come up from London.

As the Police marched us back to the station the Skinheads tried to attack the front of the escort (It’s an old football hooligan tactic to get all the weaker ones in the middle of the escort, so you can protect the front and the back). Me, Gary, Popey and a few others went to the back of the escort as that’s the most vulnerable part of the escort, as the Police will protect the front but your more open to attack from the back, that’s if your attackers have any brains. So far the skinheads weren’t showing any. They continued to attack the front, and the Police kept them at bay. The Skinheads then split into two groups. They kept probing at the front of the escort, throwing bottles, but keeping their distance so they didn’t get nicked and to occupy the police. Eventually the Police had enough and charged the Skinheads down the road. Leaving us with no protection. Then those Skinheads who had split off earlier from the main group, came out of hiding and attacked us. We got all the people to the front that could look after them selves and the weaker ones at the back. There were about equal numbers and after a while we managed to get the upper hand.

It’s hard to describe a ‘free for all’ as you don’t have that time to be an observer. Your just trying not to get hurt and concentrating on protecting yourself.  The only thing I can remember is Popey picked up one of those circular metal road lamps and whacked this Skinhead over the head with it, leaving him lying in the middle of the road. This had a dramatic effect on the other Skinhead’s appetite to continue the fight and they then dragged there mate to safety. The police then realised (as usual) that they had been out flanked by the Skinheads. The Police quickly hearded us into a street, so as to make sure we were under their supervision again. At the end of the street we could see that an Ambulance had arrived to attend to the injured Skinhead that had been hit earlier. Everyone started cheering! The Police went over to see what was going on, and then the Inspector then came over to where we were and addressed us all. He asked if anyone knew anything about what had happened to the Skinhead. Someone shouted out ‘I think he tripped over his big mouth!’ and everyone started laughing. Then some said ‘why don’t you ask him… in a few days when he wakes up!’ Everyone started laughing again. Apparently he was in quite a bad way. We realised Popey could be in big trouble, so we hid him in the middle of the escort In case one of the Skinheads had seen him hit their mate and could point him out. The Skinheads had now lost their appitite for a close contact brawl but were still up for ambushing us with bricks and bottles all the way to the Station.

When we finally arrived at the Station the Police escorted everyone towards the the London train. We said goodbye to everyone as they got on the train, in two minutes the train had gone. All of a sudden we were stood in Birmingham train station on our own just me, Gary, Paul and the lad from Leeds, with nowhere to go and the Skinheads were still outside the station. We went up to the Police and told them the situation , thinking they might put us up in a Police cell for the night, but they just said in no uncertain terms that they didn’t care what happened to us, and that we shoudn’t have come to Birmingham anyhow. This was a standard reply by the Police to football fans that had been attacked on their patch.

With the Antz gig resembling a football match rather then a gig ,we were not surprised by their attitude. We walked to the end of the platform to return into the Station and we could see that the Skinheads were still in there. We realised that if the Skinheads got hold of us we would get one hell of a beating after what had happened to their mate. I didn’t fancy our chances either of trying to walk back into the Station itself. Luckily the Skinheads thought that everyone had got on the train to London so they were not particularly looking for us. We looked around and saw a little opening at the side of the Station and we saw that there were some Taxi’s parked there. So we made a dash for it , then one of the Skinheads spotted us and they started running towards us. We just managed to get into the Taxi. We jumped in. The Taxi driver got half way through the usual  ‘where to…?’ and we just said ‘anywhere!, just drive!’ The driver could just see all the Skinheads approaching the car and he said ‘are they after you?’ We rsponded ‘yes!’ So he set off as fast as he could foot right down, realising his car would get smashed to bits if they caught up to us!

We just about set off before they Skinheads got to u . We got to the end of the short road then realised that the traffic lights were on red. We looked behind us and the Skinheads had also seen that the traffic light were on red and set of in pursuit of us again. We sat there wondering what to do and praying that the traffic light would turn green. The Skinheads got to within a foot of the car then luckily the light turned green! The driver, who was as scared as us, just put his foot down and we were off again… phew! Everyone breathed out, including the driver. We drove of into the distance and we all started to relax. Our Taxi driver asked us what had happened and we told him we had been to see the Antz play. He exclaimed ‘all that trouble for a concert, what’s the world coming to?’ We all laughed! He asked us where we were going again. We said we had know where to go. He said that we can’t just drive round brum allnight which we knew deep down. We counted up all the money we had between us which came to £5. We just said we want to get out of brum centre and try find somewhere to sleep!

After a few suggestions we decided to go sleep under the Motorway Bridge. It was July so the weather was OK , and we had a duvet so it wasn’t that bad. We were just glad to have survived the night. The next day we all woke up with the early sunlight with a slight hangover and very hungry. We hadn’t eaten since the afternoon before. As we found our bearings we realised we were about 6 miles from the City Centre. We set off walking towards the Centre. We had no money left for food or a Bus fair back in to the Centre. It took us about an hour and a half to get back to the main Bus Station. We were really knackered, but relieved to get there. We sat down for a minute to get our breath back. Paul had his ticket for the coach back to Boro so he said farewell and left. The lad from Leeds had a train ticket so he departed to get his train. Me and Gary then went and queued to buy our tickets back to Bradford.

We got there and the queue was massive, eventually after what seemed a life time we got to the front of the queue. ‘Two tickets to Bradford please!’ Certainly! Then the women behind the till asked us for our money. We gave her our money and she said sorry but there’s not enough! We said we came and asked the price the day before. She said that the prices had gone up over night. We could have died right there! We stood in front of her looking unwashed and dishevelled, starving and hung over. We explained what had gone on the night before and that we had slept on the Motorway all night I also said if I could have one wish it was to get home. I started to think of walking all the way back to the Motorway and hitchin’ it home, I think at that point I just wanted to die!

Gary was sat on the floor at this point in despair and I was about to join him when the women behind the till said she would pay the difference for us. I think it was about 60p each. I said ‘I will return the money as soon as I got home!’ I don’t think she believed me, but she gave me her address. I was just glad she took pity on us or was it the thought of having to drag our bodies up from the floor so she could carry on serving customers? I didn’t care, I was going home. I think it is one of the only times I can say a was glad to be going back to Bradford. When I got back to Bradford I said goodbye to Gary and I went home and had a long beautiful sleep. The next day the first thing I did was send the women the money back. At tthe next Antz gig, I bumped into the girl from brum that was going to put us up. She asked why we didn’t come back to her house . We told her that Barry Jepsom had told us that you had changed your mind. She was angry and said she would have a go at him when she saw him again!

© Johna Johnson a big thanks to him for letting share this on his behalf!

Johna Johnson

Johna Johnson is a writer and collector and well known face and much loved character on the UK Punk Scene. Having followed and worked with a lot of the leading bands from ‘back in the day’, he is currently working on a Compilation Book Project about his and others passion for the original Adam & The Antz (pre-pop) and is open to talks from Publishers and serious interested parties. Please feel free to get in touch using the links here below!

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February 4, 2014 By : Category : Articles Cult Eyeplugs Front page Icons Literature Punk Tags:, , , ,
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