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Barrie Sharpe (Sharpeye) talks to Eyeplug

Barrie Sharpe, is a born and bred Londoner whose energy, style and creativity in music, design, fashion and nightlife helped to shape the Metro cultural landscape from 1980s onwards. We caught up with ‘Sharpeye’ recently to see what he is up to.

01 What was your Childhood like?

I Have Nothing To Fear I Have Already Seen The Worst – Sometime in 1964 my mother was admitted into Goodmayes Mental Institution. My sister Beverley and I were placed in a Victorian style children’s home at Gallows Corner in Essex, “Harold Wood Hall”. It was not a pleasant place, devoid of any love or warmth and it holds many dark memories. I was 4 years old, not yet of school age and left alone to my own devices from 9am until my sister and the other kids returned at teatime. As I had no supervision I got up to all sorts of mischief and was often punished either with the cane or locked in a cupboard for a few hours. I shared a bedroom with three slightly older boys, twins and their elder sibling; the three brothers bullied me at night and made lots of loud noise whilst arguing and giggling. We were situated next to the girls’ dormitory and the girls always complained about the noise. Each morning the housemaster would come in and question us; the brothers always blamed the racket on me and I was beaten, sometimes quite severely. I told Mr. Gee and Matron, the joint heads of the home: “We will deal with it”. But they never did and the beatings got worse. I saw myself as having no value.

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02 What were your early formatative influences in terms of music?

1970 – By the age of 10 it was established that I couldn’t write, had poor reading skills and was not going to amount to much: but I had different ideas. I had discovered reggae, wore slick neat mohair tonic suits, Brutus Slim Fit shirts, Italian shoes and had cropped hair with a razored-in parting just like the Jamaican immigrants, “Rude Boys”, as they liked to call themselves. Yes I was a skinhead; I loved reggae music and it was Prince Buster (my favourite reggae artist) all day long. There were no politics; I was only 10 years old. The first skinheads I ever saw outside the electric store (where they sold the latest reggae imports) in Petticoat Lane were black and proud. Original skinheads were a cross between West Indian style and music mixed with British working class youth attitude, a great combination. Of course there were racist skinheads: this was 1970 so racism was part of British culture, having to put up with a new influx of different nationalities every ten years.

1971 – I was 11 years old, a Skinhead but becoming a suedehead (growing my hair) and living in a kid’s home where the accommodation was small cottages. For some reason I was living with three older black girls. One night they decided to take me to a local youth club dance. I heard “Get On The Good Foot” and “Make It Funky” by James Brown. “Oh my God”, my whole world was turned upside down. What was this music? I had never heard anything like this before, it was my first spiritual awakening and I have not looked back from this epiphany: I was born again. I changed my style, I had to learn to dance like the black kids and the girls enjoyed teaching me; this was my new path. James Brown had changed my life; my journey had now started.

03 What about films and books?

An Angel In A Red Polka Dot Dress – I was excited. My friend Marcia May was taking me to see the new Wattstax movie in Leicester Square. The main attraction was Rufus Thomas performing “The Funky Chicken”; it would be my first time seeing these various American soul artists in action. The movie was great, the music funky and the dancing, locking and popping absolutely mesmerising. Then there she was, the girl in the red polka dot dress doing the ”Breakdown” for 35 glorious seconds (the Breakdown was the latest dance move from the States); an angel with smooth black thighs, dress so short that you momentarily glimpsed her white panties, but most of all she danced like a funky dream. I have loved the girl in the red polka dot dress ever since that moment.

Although the relationship with my father was turbulent, it is now coming to pass that many of my perceptions are based upon his views. At 15 years old he gave me Malcolm X’s biography. He explained why he thought MLK and Gandhi were tools of government to appease the masses, by preaching peace and not revolution. When I played “Free Nelson Mandela” he talked to me of Steve Biko…


04 Where does your love of fashion and design stem from?

(Tim Runnicles – School Friend) School for me was a memorable experience, it was at the advent of comprehensive schools and our school became an amalgamation of two schools, one a grammar school in a good area, the other a secondary school in a not so good area. I hadn’t been fortunate enough to pass the eleven plus as only the highest twelve marked students got places at grammar schools and I came fourteenth. Therefore I was at the not so good school. I initially met Barrie when the schools started merging. Like many kids at that time I had witnessed the demise of the mod era and the advent of the skinhead era before getting to high school, and I was a fan of the music that went with it. My first memories of Barrie were in the upper corridor, of the not so good school, with his hand held cassette player blasting out reggae and funk music. Another memory was Barrie’s high-waist trousers in about 73-74. His trousers were wicked, I believe he had them custom made, mine were the more normal off-the-peg jobs. He wore them with crepe wedged soled shoes, which were very stylish and very expensive. As we went through school, fashions changed and Barrie was always at the forefront of the change.

Barrie Was Always The Innovator (Eugene Kuti – Teenage Friend) I spent a lot of my teenage years with Barrie, we were soul heads and sometimes reggae boys; we were big into the soul scene and loved every minute of it. I remember scouring old second-hand shops looking for clothes that went with that movement; we also used to have our trousers made to measure, the baggier and wider the better. Barrie was always the innovator when it came to fashion and I followed him. We used to hang out at the hippest record shops listening to all the latest imported tunes and buying what we could afford. We had three regular clubs that we frequented: The Lively Lady, The 100 Club and Crackers. There we would drop the latest dance moves. Good times that I will never forget.

Levi Kid – This was the time of hot summers and the heatwave of 1976 was the best summer of my life, but there was one embarrassing incident. It was Tuesday, a big night at the Ilford Palais which would attract the most stylish dancers from all over London. I was there, Levi’s 501 jeans and jacket, cowboy boots etc, I thought I was so cool considering most of the other kids were still in their Oxford Bags (baggy wide 1930s Gatsby style pants). I was leaning against the wall trying to impress three very attractive young ladies. I thought I was doing fine, cool, funny, stylish; when one of them said “Who are you, the fucking Levi kid”. They burst out laughing in unison and walked away sniggering, leaving me mortified.


05 In your teenage years what was Clubland like at that time?

1974 – I was hanging outside a pub in Leytonstone, where the DJ played some good funky music, The Plough And Harrow. There I met Frenchie (Eric French) and Kenny Burns, they managed to talk me into going to a little club that they knew of just around the corner, “The Lively Lady” (later renamed Jaws). It was above a pub named the Heathcoate Arms; a strange place in the middle of nowhere, but when I got inside I knew I had arrived: it was heaven. This was the funkiest place I have ever been. Besides Frenchie, Kenny and another kid named Ian Richards (he comes into the mix later) and myself, everyone was black. Fortunately I could dance and after a few visits was accepted; living in mixed culture kids’ homes had paid off. In my new environment I was around some of the coolest dancers, like Trevor Shakes (who became a big influence on me for style and musical taste) and Horace Carter-Allen (who would eventually become my best mate). I was exposed to seminal new music, great style, and brilliant dancers: I had all the tools I would need and I was ready to use them. I started frequenting many underground funk clubs with my schoolmates Eugene Kuti, Milton Henry and Chris Thomas, who had the biggest Afro you ever did see. The amazing thing was that so many like-minded people, from all over London, came to a small windowless, hot sweaty room, full of condensation, above a pub at the back end of Leytonstone.

The Hot Summer Of 1976 – I first went to the Lacy Lady on a Friday night with Maxine Cirillo, a real cool chick. She attended regularly and dressed appropriately in 1940s attire, a style started at the Goldmine in Canvey Island. The Goldmine club was too far away for me, I didn’t like to leave London, thus I was never a “Gold-miner”. I was already over the 40s style, although I still favoured my American Air-force Captain’s uniform and white canvas Naval officers shoes. That night I was doing 50s work-wear: Dee Cee denim overalls with Sebago penny loafers and chambray prison shirt, top button done up. I looked dapper with my crew cut hair almost shaved at the sides, longer on top with a side parting; I may have even had it slicked back with grease. No coat was needed; it was the summer of 1976. We queued to get in; a lot of the dudes were carrying Woodhouse or Stanley Adams carrier bags (the trendiest men’s clothing stores) and I would soon find out why. We paid the £1 admission fee, which also entitled us to “Chicken In The Basket” (something to do with nightclub licensing laws) and climbed the old wooden stairs to the dance floor. As we entered, the DJ, Chris Hill, was playing “Hard Work”, by John Handy; the rhythm was infectious. The strange thing was he was kinda singing, almost rapping over the record: I had never heard this done before. The atmosphere was electric and the people were “getting down”. I was hooked. We plotted up by the DJ box and started to get down with everybody else. Chris Hill dropped “Got To Get Your Own” by Reuben Wilson and the whole place just tore up. Man it was hot; there were no windows and no air conditioning. Upon attending the condensation soaked toilets I realised what the trendy carrier bags were all about. In the bathroom dudes were changing out of their wet sweaty clothing and putting on fresh dry trendy garms from their bags. I got it and I liked it; this was the club where I needed to be. I got talking to some cats that were checking me out, I had seen them many times at the Lively: Sammy Grearson and Tigga, two slick dressers and bad dancers. They were both wearing cowboy boots, straight leg Wrangler jeans and tight white T-shirts. I was impressed: this style was new to me. The next day I went to Ken’s Western Store in Manor Park for my cowboy boots then off to the Carnaby Street flea market to nick a pair of selvedge shrink to fit Levi’s 501s from The Westerner store. There were many different styles at the Lacy: the whole 1940s Glenn Miller Swing thing was going on; Stylers (cool stylish dressers); Soul Boys (wedge haircuts, white socks – a style which I could never get with); Rockers (dressed in Gabicci cardigans, Farah slacks, and Croc shoes – a reggae thing); and Punks. Back then they called themselves “Zoobies”; the first Punks I had ever seen, not the obvious style later recognised as Kings Road Punk. These guys, with cropped multi razor parting hair, were wearing Smiths carpenter jeans (the customised back pockets made from transparent plastic) or baggy Peglegs (pants that narrowed at the ankle) from Acme Attractions and fluffy mohair jumpers from Sex (Sex and Acme Attractions were two of the latest trendy Kings Road stores). The footwear was Brothel Creepers, as worn by Teddy Boys in the 1950s or plastic beach sandals. The girls were wearing black bin liners as dresses, mohair jumpers, tight pedal-pusher pants with pointed shoes or boots. Most of the girls wore safety pins as earrings and had cropped, spiky haircuts; some also had cat’s ears styled into their hair. They all danced crazy to the funky music, some were good. UK Punk Rock music had not yet been instigated: this style had nothing to do with the American Punk Rock. After the Lacy Lady Maxine and I went on to a Covent Garden club on Neal Street, Chaugeramas (or maybe by then it was called the Roxy). We loved it, the reggae music was provided by Don Letts who worked in Acme Attractions; later he would become a successful filmmaker. The audience was mixed, gay, straight, funky, trendy, but mainly Punk. A whole new world had opened up to me; we danced all night long.


06 Tell us about the notion of Groundbeat, the Rare Groove thing and the sounds from that period?

1984 – I was still in contact with Diana Brown; she was now the assistant of Rene Gelston, a top stylist at Vidal Sassoon (later to become the creator of Black Market Records). I would often make Diana cassette tapes of all my old music, which she would take to work. Rene was always interested in the music that I provided and inquired about me. Rene had secured Friday nights at London’s Wag Club (formerly The Whisky A Go Go) and he asked me to DJ along with Dave Dorrell. The night was called Black Market. Friday June 1st, I turned up with all my old 70s funk records and the night was an instant success. However I felt the music that Dave and I were playing was not compatible; I was a purist and the combination was not my vision. I convinced Rene to bring in my neighbour Lascelle (I named him as Lascelles Lascelle on the flyers). Dave Dorrell came into his own with the success of the Raw Club in 1985 and then went on to make big waves in the music industry. Lascelle and I became London’s premiere DJ’s. We didn’t only play 70s funk, we played all styles of good music, as long as it was loose and funky. If there was a fashion party we would be playing the music, whether it was a magazine launch, gallery opening or a Grace Jones party; everybody wanted us and we charged accordingly. On many occasions we played whilst on Acid (LSD). The thing is, back then acid was taboo; perhaps that was the excitement, we had to keep it on the down-low. We didn’t tell anyone and no one realised, I always thought we sounded great but maybe we didn’t. The problem I often had was that the records looked like they were warping in my hands and I’m sure I messed up the sound levels – way too much bass – but it seems looking back – a good time was had by all; especially me.



07 You got a deal with London Records offshoot FFRR and released ‘Blind Faith’ as Diana Brown & Barrie K Sharpe and went onto release the classic ‘The Masterplan’ single and a decent run of singles up to 1992’s ‘Eating Me Alive’ what are your key memories from that hectic period?

Masterplan 1989 – Diana Brown and myself signed a deal with a major record company and had the first Acid Jazz style hit with “Masterplan,” hitting high in the UK music charts and somewhere in the US charts. We shot an amazing video (with no help or finance from the record company) influenced by the Marvin Gaye record cover “I Want You” and directed by first time director Earle Sebastian (the guy I met in St Tropez). We recorded three more successful singles and an album, but I was not a team player and the record company was very unsupportive, thus I needed to step on and do my own thing.

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08 You open the first Duffer of St George store in 1985 in Portabello, prior to your music career as such, with Marco Cairns, Eddie Prendergast, and Clifford Bowen, tell us about how you got started?

1984 – I was now hanging out in the daytime with Eddie ”Trendy” Prendergast, Marco Cairns and there was also Cliff Bowen, but he had a real adults’ job in the leather industry down in Northampton. The three of us would cycle around London visiting charity stores. In those days one could buy a second-hand Burberry mac for £1 or a pair of Brogue shoes for 50p. We would pick up double-breasted blazers with military patches embroidered on the breast pocket, silk cravats, Crombie covert overcoats and two-tone loafers, the most beautiful quality clothing you could imagine; we all looked quite dapper. There was much demand for vintage clothing from those not in the know, so we started collecting the best of it; we soon realised the value of these garms.

I was DJ’ing at Blackmarket (The Wag Club) so I was getting maximum exposure in my natty attire. A good example of this was wearing my Baker Boy (1930s style eight piece cap) which I wore backwards like the old style film directors; people on the street would laugh at me: “Oi mate you got your hat on backwards”. We had these caps produced by a traditional cap maker S & V Caps on Hackney Road; we could never get enough caps to meet the demand. All three of us were on DHSS work benefits: The Enterprise Allowance Scheme. We were usually skint and we nicked as much gear as we bought. Cliff wanted to get involved with our daily shenanigans; he gave us £60 to finance our small enterprise giving us bigger and better ideas. I knew a few contacts in the army surplus game, friends of friends. We would jump into my Peugeot 304 Cabriolet, roof down and shoot off to Brighton or Southend visiting old army surplus stores; we accumulated a vast amount of desirable stock.

Fly Pitching – Cliff, Marco and I went surfing in Newquay that hot August; I had to get back to London early as I was DJ’ing that Friday night. On the Saturday, Eddie and I went to the Reggae Sunsplash at Crystal Palace Bowl: we had an amazing time. On Sunday we went down to Camden Market and it all came to me. The following Sunday Marco, Cliff, Eddie and I were fly pitching our wares outside a closed store on Camden High Street; we wrote out a moody (fake) receipt from the shop owner, which satisfied the police. We were in business and were very successful, going home with big smiles and pockets full of cash.

The Name – I have no idea who came up with the name but it wasn’t me. One of the many books in our combined collection was “Dean’s Premiere Book For Boys”, circa 1960. It was a kid’s adventure book with various stories. One of the stories was written by Richard Lyne: The “Duffer” Of St. George’s. I don’t know why this story came to our attention or why the name was chosen, I guess it was just random; The Duffer Of St. George was now the name of our new Portobello store. I couldn’t get my head around it then and I still can’t now, but Duffer was our name and it worked.

Not one of us had a clue what we were doing. Eddie had worked in Take Six (a very fashionable men’s clothing store in the early 70s) and Yves St. Laurent in Bond Street. Marco was good at graphics. Cliff had a limited knowledge of leather manufacturing. My passion was for style: buying and stealing the latest fashions then re-fitting them to my taste, something I had done since I was 10 years old. I lived and breathed fashion, music and clubs, nothing else mattered except the obvious: girls! .


09 What types of items were you drawn too and how did you assemble such a diverse range of styles to fit and synch into a new look?

See above!

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10 It was at that time that your ‘Cat in The Hat’ iconic Club night mushroomed in Leicester Square? You captured a very special buzz there?

The Cat In The Hat 1985 – I was not happy with the door policy at the Wag; I won’t go into detail but my friends could not always get in. We (The Duffers – Trendy, Marco, Cliff and myself) decided to open our own club night in Leicester Square: The Cat In The Hat. The basement club was small and dark with a low ceiling, held 200 people and was hot. At the new venue Lascelle and I really did our thing, if a record was to our liking it would be repeated many times in a row; the crowd was ecstatic. It was at The Cat In The Hat where we re-introduced to the world records such as “Across The Tracks” – Maceo and the Macks, “I Believe In Miracles” – The Jackson Sisters, “I Know You Got Soul” – Bobby Byrd, “Express Yourself” – Charles Wright, “Think About It – Lynne Collins” and most of the other tunes people were starting to recognise as Rare Groove. Lascelle and myself wholly instigated the whole Rare Groove scene, although many others claim it to be their own creation. We also had the pleasure of Paul “Trouble” Anderson playing with us at The Cat In The Hat. DJ’s such as Norman Jay, Trevor Nelson, the Soul II Soul Crew and many of our contemporaries frequented the club. Basically Lascelle and I were in the right place at the right time. Besides Trevor Shakes, our biggest influence, we had already heard DJ’s at the Wag, Beatroute and warehouse parties (Hector, Jay Strongman and Steve Lewis) dropping an offering of 70s funk in their sessions, but we played funk all night long and turned it into an art with a cult following.


 
11 What tracks stood out for you from that period?

The Truth – In 1974 I saw the Movie, “Come Back Charleston Blue”. For me the memorable part of the film was “Express Yourself Part II” performed by Charles Wright And The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. The one-minute of rhythm at the intro was mesmorising. I managed to find the album “You’re So Beautiful” with this track on it, but had great difficulty finding Part I – no one had ever heard of it. Eventually, in 1977, I found the “Express Yourself” LP in an obscure jazz store; even in its day this was a rare unknown track. 1984: I played “Express Yourself Part I” at Black-Market in the Wag Club. The rest is history: anyone else staking claim to this discovery is twisting the truth.

In 1984 Lascelle and I were trawling through boxes of vintage 7’’ records. Back then we could pick them up for 10p, they had not yet been called Rare Grooves, as they were so cheap we could buy as many as we wanted on a whim and throw the crap ones away. “I Believe In Miracles” was one of these records. Lascelle picked up a record by the Jackson Sisters, he had never heard it before but the name “Jackson Sisters” was appealing. The rest is history: anyone else staking claim to this discovery is fabricating the truth.

In 1985, Although neither Lascelle nor I owned “Across The Tracks” by Maceo & The Macks we were intensely dropping this heavy rhythm with great passion. It actually belonged to Horace who was DJ’ing at the Wag Club. I am not sure which one of us played it first, but we played it at least 10 times a night often three or four times in succession. This tune was celebrated by all with much excitement and soon became the record that epitomised the Rare Groove scene. The tune was soon bootlegged and eventually re-released, bringing this underground scene to the world’s attention, thus destroying the purity of its essence. The rest is history: anyone else staking claim to this discovery is distorting the truth.

Unorthodox Soundtrack (Femi “Fem” Williams – Clubber, DJ, Producer, Friend) Imagine a world without songs such as “Across The Tracks” by Maceo & The Macks, “Think About It” by Lyn Collins, Bobby Byrd’s “I Know You Got Soul”, the forceful funk of the JB’s, the quirky sweet arrangement of Foster Sylver’s “Misdemeanour”, or the chance to do it good to Charles Wright’s “Express Yourself”. That was my world prior to religiously frequenting Black Market at the WAG Friday nights circa ’84-’85. This was a place of sanctity and escape from the drudgery of Thatcher’s Britain despite a pretty rigorous colour bar, which was fully sanctioned, approved by Tommy (the seedy owner) and enforced by Winston’s security team. There was an international cross section of the coolest in the capital, a self-acclaimed church of style, with an unorthodox soundtrack. Barrie Sharpe at the pulpit with his fellow father of funk on the wheels, Lascelles Lascelle, preached a sermon that relayed loose funk, blackened disco and reggae with a reverential air of distinction. Way before Facebook and digital imagery we danced alongside Sade, Boy George, Run DMC, George Michael, Grace Jones, Paul Weller and host of A, B, etc list stars (note; no celebrities) against the funky backdrop provided by Barrie and Lascelle. Many bands and DJ’s were influenced by this time and I still have the sound of first time I heard the female James Brown and her significant other ringing in my ears. Forceful formidable funk ‘n soul that to this day I have the preachers to thank for.


 12 You eventually developed your own thing with ‘Sharpeye’ what was the driving force?

1995 January I’m Gone – With a more commercial product Duffer was starting to regain its foothold in the fashion market; by exploiting the brand DUFFER we had become a household name. Our new hoodie was everywhere: magazines, TV, celebrities, everyone was now sporting DUFFER across their chest. As successful as it was it was not for me. I didn’t feel part of this new branding, I was bored and wanted to design. We could no longer sell Duffer designs, just branded goods. Sadly I split up with my wife Hiywet and my personal life changed drastically, I needed to grow up and take responsibility for my son; my life style did not allow for this change so I was going to have to adapt. I left Duffer amicably, walked out on my record deal, left my band and cancelled my music tour sponsorship with Levi’s; my life changed forever.

13 What happened with the Duffer brand as it basically went global and off the scale? You sold up and moved on?
 
Duffer changed from being a street style and design concept into a commercial brand.

This smooth talking, suntanned, flash German tennis player was now my boss! Thomas was an idiot; he bought the company and then gave it back to us to run, Marco and I on design and Eddie in charge of the accounts. We had already proven that we needed management but Thomas knew better, what an idiot! I didn’t like Thomas at all and had no intention of staying in his employ for very long. I started planning my escape. Earlier in the year we had been commissioned to do a collection for a Japanese company, Ready Steady Go, but we spent the money and no collection was produced. No one had the guts to tell the client that we had spent all the money. As I no longer had any loyalty to Duffer I informed the Japanese agent of our indiscretion and offered to produce the collection for them myself under the name Sharpeye, my childhood nickname; I never missed a trick. Sharpeye with its fine attention to detail took off in Japan: the writing was on the wall.


14 ‘This Was Not Part Of The Masterplan’ is your first edition memoirs – where can folks grab a copy?

You can get a copy here folks!

15 What other projects have you got planned for ‘Sharpeye’ for the coming years?

Sharpeye now produces exclusive limited edition clothes and shoes / 1-in-TEN – Rude Boy enhanced 1930s style
!


16 What do you think about the current music scene in the UK and beyond?

Very few magic moments… check this out!


17 What about the Fashion Industry or ‘Street-Style’ of today?

I have no idea? I am not in the fashion industry…

18 What about a film to document your story?

A work in progress

19 What about the EU situation – in or out?

I perceive that we need a drastic shake up in the UK; I would prefer out. However, I think it would destroy British economy

20 Has the passing of time mellowed you? What would you say to an 18 year old Barrie if you could?

Forget that shit – They can’t hold you back…

Look beyond the beyond
Where the wind whips the sea
Where unicorns roam and shadows run free
There you may find the wizard you seek
Dancing on the edge of your dream…

Weblinks
www.sharpeye.uk.com
sharpeye-31-01-60.blogspot.co.uk
www.saatchionline.com/Sharpeye

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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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February 23, 2016 By : Category : DJs Fashion Features Icons Interviews Music Style 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.

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March 18, 2015 By : Category : Articles Eyeplugs Features Front page Icons 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 eyeplug.net 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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Kirk Brandon by Richard ‘Jock’ Watson

jockRichard ‘Jock’ Watson started the infamous Limited Conspiracy Fanzine in his hometown of Glasgow in the early 80s at the tender age of 16 or 17. All these years later he has kindly offered to share selected pieces from it with Eyeplug and it’s readers, so that folks can re-discover what would otherwise be a lost culture of pre-internet, pre PC, tablet or Smart Phone Fanzine Culture, that was present in every outpost all over the UK and beyond. All of it driven with passion, obsession and alientation on often borrowed pennies, on stolen typewriters and moody photocopiers and a ‘DIY not EMI’ love for the bands of that time. Limited Conspiracy interviewed some pivotal and influential Artists, some of them sadly no longer with us. We pay tribute to the pioneers, grafters and innocence of this Fanzine era that has been all but lost to history.

Kirk Brandon from The Pack/Theatre of Hate had a newly formed band called Spear of Destiny with a new LP and sound, Richard ‘Jock’ Watson spoke to him in the early 1980s. © LC.

RW: Could you tell us about the New LP?

KB: The new LP is very round and it’s got a hole in the middle and it plays at 33rpm (Spoken in a very bad Scottish accent, si I instantly knew Mr Brandon was a joker at heart). But on with the show – No seriously! Actually it’s a very jolly little Album, nothing too depressing on it!

RW: What’s the difference between this and ‘The Grapes of Wrath?’

KB: It‘s played very well and it’s more me that it’s ever been. I’ve finally got it together and it sounds like what I’ve always wanted to hear, it’s what Theatre of Hate should really have sounded like.

RW: Do you still listen to the old Theatre of Hate records?

KB: I don’t sit around thinking about what I used to do, I just sit around and write new songs!

RW: Do you care about having hits?

KB: No I don’t care, we get really good numbers at our Gigs now, the people are coming and we’re on the way up again, so I have no complaints!

RW: You seem to be constantly Touring?

No we’re not, well not really, that a fallacy put forward again by the NME, their excuse to have a dig. We’ve not toured in a long time, we done 15 dates a while ago and now we’re doing these 10 dates and that’s it for a long time. Most people tour England at least a couple of times, but you don]t listen to the Papers and what they say – they are irrelevant, they don’t bother me in the slightest!

RW: What do you listen to in your spare time?

KB: I listen to Ska Music, I love Ska and Blue Beat. I also like Church Music, Robert Johnson of the Delta Blues as they call him, I also like Prison Music!

RW: The Ska thing does that include Two-Tone?

KB: Well yes as well as the original Blue Beat, but Two-Tone I really like!

RW: What is your connection with Boy George?

KB: Well I helped put his band together for him, Jon Moss and another friend of mine – I gave them some time and the rest is history really!

RW: Are you not sad that Culture Club has had all of that chart success and that you haven’t?

KB: No, I see it this way, I told them they would be big, the biggest thing in the world as far as ‘Pop Music’ is concerned. They didn’t believe me! But they got a lot more bottle than most of these people and actually think a lot, they are not cabbages you know!

RW:  So who is?

KB: Well a lot of people allow themselves to be.

RW: Do you mix with other ‘Pop Stars’?

KB: Well I don’t, but I go to The Palace (Camden Nightspot) because I know the DJ, Rusty Egan, he is a friend of mine. I steer clear of most Clubs that I went to years ago, because I meet a lot of cranks, there’s a lot of potential aggro, I know the management of The Palace, I have done for years, I used to go when it was called the Music Machine!

RW: Do you like Scotland?

KB: Yes, Glasgow is the best gig in the world, so many people say it, but I am saying it’s true. Glasgow is always a wonderful atmosphere, the audience are nice people, which makes a change.

RW: The last time you played in Ayr, there was a guy in the audience giving you stick. What was that all about?

KB: Yes it was some ignorant bloke in the audience, he was sort of maintaining that I had ‘sold out’ or something? So I had to point out that to even be in Ayr that night had cost a lot of money. As ‘TOH’ side of things progressed the debts and costs got bigger and bigger, I’m not whinging, and in the end it became crippling. So I folded the whole thing up, I had to do a deal with the Record Company otherwise it was all over. It costs money to do these places. I had to start Spear of Destiny, you see ‘TOH’ were maybe sometimes slightly innocent, they didn’t want to just get on and play music, maybe even their heads got a little big and they couldn’t be told! I dunno? (shrugs).

RW:  What about the future?

KB: We’ll I would like to produce bands, because we’ve done a lot, started off bands, we’re quite responsible and i think we have done quite a lot. Most of it we don’t talk about. I’ll carry on for a few more years or until such times as i can take it no further, just like TOH and The Pack and other bands that I have been in. But this thing is going to get big, so I’m told, because people enjoy listening to it, it’s not commercial, but it’s good!

RW: What’s your strongest track, Liberator?

KB: Its’s a good song and there are others that are a s good as it, it’s all good. I can’t differentiate because I write it all, so it]s up to you to decide what is good and what isn’t!

RW: What about the next S.O.D single?

KB: The Record Company are trying for ‘Young Men’.

RW: Do you have no say?

KB: Yes, but it’s such an involved Business and so much lying goes on. It’s impossible sometimes! I gave up working with the A&R department, we just go and play to people and make records for their enjoyment. Thtat’s all I was ever in it for, to entertain. There are other things of course, but this is what it’s about! I like the Studio, but I love playing live. I used to Tour 235 days a year, we Tour Europe but not America, well not yet. There was some talk of it, but I don’t know!

RW: Are you bothered by what people in the Audience say?

KB: No I’m not bothered myself, but it is a bit sad that the guy in Ayr did not want to understand. I suppose he will keep his hardcore mentality or whatever they call it these days. In a few years he will fill bitter that he has missed the boat somewhere as far as his own life is concerned. You can’t dwell on the past, never!

* Kirk Brandon is currently Touring with various Spear of Destiny/Theatre of Hate/The Pack sets, check out www.kirkbrandon.com for all latest info.

admin

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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November 1, 2013 By : Category : Eyeplugs Features Front page Heroes Icons Interviews Music Post-punk Tags:, , , , , ,
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John Peel by Richard ‘Jock’ Watson

jockRichard ‘Jock’ Watson started the infamous Limited Conspiracy Fanzine in his hometown of Glasgow in the early 80s at the tender age of 16 or 17. All these years later he has kindly offered to share selected pieces from it with Eyeplug and it’s readers, so that folks can re-discover what would otherwise be a lost culture of pre-internet, pre PC, tablet or Smart Phone Fanzine Culture, that was present in every outpost all over the UK and beyond. All of it driven with passion, obsession and alientation on often borrowed pennies, on stolen typewriters and moody photocopiers and a ‘DIY not EMI’ love for the bands of that time. Limited Conspiracy interviewed some pivotal and influential Artists, some of them sadly no longer with us. We pay tribute to the pioneers, grafters and innocence of this Fanzine era that has been all but lost to history.

John Peel circa 1980s interview with Richard ‘Jock’ Watson. © LC

RW: Why have you recently been playing a lot of old Country and Western Music? (i.e. Girls of the Golden West)

JP: Well the reason for this is that, when I lived in Dallas from about 1960 till 1964, this was the sort of music that was going about. In the place I stayed which was Wako, and the guys I drove about with were mainly into Country and Western and that we used to do was to drive along singing Country and getting totally pissed and it was all good fun and the Girls of the Golden West were one such group, and I played their music because nobody has really heard it before. It’s better than playing records that everyone’s got.

RW: You mean Joy Division don’t you?

JP: Well yes, I don’t see the point, I mean I’m not knocking Joy Division or anything because they are a very good group, but everyone’s got the records. And also I get people writing into the Programme who say they don’t like Reggae and they want me to play tracks from the Clash and the Sex Pistols first albums, I mean come on, everybody knows them, I’d sooner play some new stuff.

RW: Do you like any of the music that’s in the Chart’s?

JP: Ah, you see people have this pre-conceived idea about me that all I like is records by Groups with stupid names and funny haircuts. I like quiet a few of the records which get into the charts.

RW: Like what, recently?

JP: Well apart from the obvious things like the Bunnymen and the Smiths and that, I Like that S.O.S Band record “Just be good to me”, that was truelly wonderful. And the Weather Girls “It’s Raining Men”, that was great.I played that ages ago. And the Womack & Womack record “Love Wars”, I really like that.

RW: Do you still like the Cure, the Banshees, The Bunnymen and New Order, the old faithfuls you know?

JP: It’s funny this, right the Cure, well until recently I’ve went right off them. Their last few singles were shit, but I quite like their new LP. The Banshees their most recent stuff is crap except the new single, their best in a long time. The Bunnymen, Ive liked from the start, and I still do. And who else, oh New Order, well sometimes they make quite good records, but live, they can’t play at all. Kid had a live recording of them and if I had been making a bootleg of that gig, after five minutes I would have switched the bloody tape off, it was that awful. The same with Simple Minds, I used to really like them and Jim Kerr is a really nice bloke but “Sparkle in the Rain”, to me was a progressive rock album.

RW: What about ‘pretty boy’ Pop Stars like Duran Duran?

JP: It’s funny you should ask that, because two of them were on the ‘Lairds’ Programme the other day, and they are two of the nicest people you could meet. You see when folk come to the BBC to do interviews, there are always loads of fans outside and John Taylor and Nick Rhodes stood outside for hours signing autographs, something which is rarely done. And I mean most of the girls were young about 13 or 14, and sweet and innocent. But they weren’t that naive as we at the BBC found out. As they had spray painted on the wall of Broadcasting House ‘Nick, Nick we want your dick!’, which I thought was quite good.

RW: Take us right back, who were your first musical heroes who did you like after that?

JP: Well my first ever Rock’n’Roll Idols were Gene Vincent, Duane Eddy and Little Richard. Then there was Little Feat and Captain Beefheart and the Faces, then the Undertones. And now my three favorite Groups are the Cocteau’s, the Fall and Misty In Roots.

RW: What about the Cocteau’s eh, Pop Stars?

JP: Yes I suppose its a good thing in a way, but I don’t know if Elizabeth will be able to handle success, we’ll have to wait and see.

RW: What is the greatest record ever made?

JP: Well my favorite is “Teenage Kicks” by the Undertones, I just don’t think there will be another record like it, it had everything.

RW: There were rumours about you leaving Radio One, is that right?

JP: Yes, the Bosses thought that my show wasn’t appealing to enough people and they wanted to play Kenny Rogers between 10.00 O’ Clock and midnight, the type of music that appeals to everyone.

RW: What would you do if you lost your job?

JP: Be a Bus Driver.

RW: Are you getting too old for this anyway?

JP: Well I’m 44 is that old? There’s this thing Walter’s says “we’ll be in trouble if Peel ever reaches Puberty!”.

RW: How does it feel to be the most influential Disc Jockey in the history of the world?

JP: I’m not, I just play music that you don’t usually hear on the radio, and don’t talk a lot of cliched DJ bullshit.

RW: Do you go out and see a lot of bands?

JP: No I never have the time to go and see bands. I mean what with getting 50,000 letters to open everyday, I don’t have the time and also I’ve got four young children, so I need to spend time with them.

RW: The Smiths, what do you think is so good about them?

JP: They are just an excellent band, things were boring when they came along. And I like the Sandie Shaw thing as well, my kids like that.

RW: Do you still like the Fall?

JP: I don’t know really, I think I probably prefer the old stuff to the new, but I do still like them.

RW: Why did you stop the Festive 50?

JP: It was the same records year in year out, so I still do it, only just the best of the year Top 50.

RW: Were you really crying when you heard the Cocteau’s Single “Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops”?

JP: Yes, you see it came into the office, I just sat and looked at it, played it on the show, and I had to hit myself in the chest to stop me crying. I’m a very emotional person, I cry when Liverpool win, I cry for different reasons.

RW: I would cry if you left Radio One, and so would many other people I know?

JP: So would I.

RW: What do you think of the DJ’s who constantly play things from years gone by?

JP: I don’t see any point in it. It’s like me not playing Joy Division. I mean devoting your whole show to the Beatles and 1965, it’s silly.

RW: You didn’t like Blue Monday?

JP: Well at first I didn’t like it and then I grew to live with it. Then I loved it and then I got well fed up with it, but it is good.

RW: Well apart from Peely telling me that the Banshees last Single “Swimming Horses” was codswollop, and that people really do think the Chart and Football Correspondents are different people from him, that was about it. Goodnight, I think this one fades in…

See more info here & here.

admin

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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November 1, 2013 By : Category : DJs Eyeplugs Features Front page Heroes Icons Indie Interviews Music Punk Tags:, , , , ,
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The Monochrome Set speak to Eyeplug

The Monochrome Set are proud to announce the imminent release of their 11th studio album, Super Plastic City, on October 17th. Please note that all the online prices include postage to anywhere in the world. CDs & t-shirts will be cheaper at gigs. The CD will also be available at various outlets worldwide.

01 You formed circa 1978 from art-school punks The B-Sides, To quote the Asahi Evening News, 1993: ‘When B-Sides singer Adam Ant quit the band for an ill-fated solo career, The Monochrome Set was born.’

Wit and style were there from the get-go… I think they wrote that line… but I wished I’d said it.

02 Andy Warren and Lester Square helped shape the early Antz sound and were key to The Monochrome Set, yet the bands were both highly individual and unique?

That’s because Adam & I were/are the main artists, and we are different.

03 Your early live shows saw you working with film maker Tony Potts can you tell us about his role and the collaboration?

He lived in the same squat as JD Haney, and became a friend. In our second year, he came along to a gig with projectors and films. I can’t remember who’s idea it was. Anyway, we thought it made the live show more interesting, so we expanded the film show by buying more projectors and making screens, which we took on tour with us. However, much of this was stolen in the US tour of 1982.

04 Rough Trade found you and put out ‘He’s Frank’ your debut single, what were the Rough Trade years like?

Rough Trade were good and helpful, I liked the people there, but we felt like we never really fit in. Dindisc offered a deal, and we moved over. They didn’t offer much more money than Rough Trade. We did the same with Cherry Red and WEA in 1983/84. It’s difficult to know if these were the right decisions for us, but they happened.

05 The term ‘Indie’ back then was a genuine DIY arty mindset that seemed to generate 7 inch singles in droves, it became a ‘style genre’ eventually which housed clichés in abundance?

That term, when it was used, referred to small record companies, rather than bands or a musical style. There was a proliferation of bands, and singles still sold (in those days), so it made sense to revert to the 60s mode of releasing singles. Especially when a lot of bands only had one good song.

06 Major offshoots seemed to be the place to release LPs, was this to do with promotional budgets etc?

I think there was a fair amount of misunderstanding. Sales from Indie shops were not allowed in the charts. Major sales were massaged. Complications arose with bandwagon-jumpers. Money was waved. Wrong decision were taken by some.

07 What were the melodic, atmospheric and style influences on you LPs throughout the 1980s and 1990s? What shaped the sound references?

It was mainly a combo of late 60s & early 70s UK & US music. No point in me being more specific than that, as I don’t have a lot of control over what I write!

08 Your extensive back catalogue is diverse and bravely embraced many different approaches which we feel set you apart a little?

Well, we don’t play what is essentially the same song for 11 albums.

09 Where would you point a modern day newbie fan as a good place to start The Monochrome Set journey of discovery?

Hmm… the new album, ‘Super Plastic City’ is very well worked, and does represent a fair amount of our sound, I think.

10 Was the comings and goings of band members over the years (some coming and going several times) difficult to maintain focus and momentum?

Not really… adverse personal issues have a vastly greater negative impact. You can usually deal with a changing line-up, but it’s best if the band is stable and happy.

11 There is always a feeling of positive wit, style and artfulness in your writing and songcraft, has there been times when this simply vanishes or gets jaded?

Maybe, due to other reasons, reflecting one’s personal life.

12 There has been a certain vintage nostalgic warmth and charm that sort of lures the listener into tales of multiple double meanings and hidden taboo?

Well, I don’t know. There is depth in our music and lyrics, which is really the result of our continual but slight exploration into areas we don’t understand. If I could describe a typical TMS song, it would be: ‘a classic pop song, which contains elements that lightly tamper with the forces of nature’.

13 Do you think The Monochrome Set have been easily mis-understood over the years and harder to ‘pin down’?

Our music has always been impossible to describe, and I can see why – we regularly, but not calculatingly, incorporate other musical styles into the basic song pattern. Each song is written and treated as an individual. But they’re still mostly 3 minute pop songs, all done with a very similar lyrical style, and most following a very similar or same arrangement pattern.

14 You developed a loyal and in-the-know following from around the World over the years, what places stick out in particular?

Our 3 big sales areas are the UK, Japan, US. We have an old relationship with France, but it’s not an easy country to tour – but dates are in the pipeline. Currently exploring a return to Italy. Will try to… I’m not sure you meant the biz end! You just want me to tell you stories about midgets and alleys. *(the editor spat his coffee out at this point!)

15 Tell us about the formation of Scarlets Well?

TMS split up in 1985/6, and I then did a couple of productions. One of them, ‘Songs For The Jet Set Vol. 1’ featured 3 or 4 different girl singers, and I thought of the idea of having a band with a few lead singers in it. It wasn’t initially meant to be a live band. The musicians were mainly Orson Presence (the guitarist & keyboardist from TMS) and myself, with Toby Robinson (the producaer) also contributing. Aesthetically, it was very different to TMS, and a great deal of fun. I think the 2nd album, ‘The Isle Of The Blue Flowers’, may still be the best I’ve made, or been involved in.

16 You reformed the Monochrome Set in 2010, why there and then?

Tetsuya Nakatani of Vinyl Japan contacted me in Spring 2010 to enquire about TMS reforming for a short tour of Japan, and we said yes. SW had just released (what would be) their last album, and I didn’t at that time see TMS as more than just reforming to play the old stuff in Japan. I had my stroke at the end of July, and after the operation, I decided that I couldn’t continue with two bands. It seemed to me that SW had run its course, and I decided that I’d continue TMS as my only band, and the one I’d write new material for.

17 You suffered a serious health issue in mid 2010 with a SAH (a form of stroke), would you mind telling us about how this came about and it’s affects on your life and work?

It was due to a ruptured cerebral aneurysm, and aneurysms are really a mechanical fault which develops and may burst. I was told that this is not due to lifestyle reasons; it’s just bad luck. In my case, it was good luck, as the mortality rate is approx. 45%. Quite soon after leaving hospital, I started writing songs about being in hospital! I was initially not keen on this, but decided not to stop the flow. It has since become much easier to write songs, as my central consciousness is now slightly weaker, and less able to stop the artistic side.

18 After your health issue and reformation, you have certainly got back to a busy and hectic schedule, tell us about getting back into the swing of things?

It’s not really busy as such, I think. I had some difficulties on tour and on stage, with temporary aphasia, but it passed. My brain has now seemingly rewired itself to that my lexicon functions are kept operational, at the cost of my walking co-ordination – this is called ‘neuroplasticity’, and is the subject of the title track of the new album.

19 You have a new record called ‘Super Plastic City’, can you tell us about the recording and songs?

We recorded the album at One Cat, which is the same studio (well not quite exactly, as they’ve moved into larger premises) that SW used for Black Tulip Wings and Gatekeeper.

20 Does the collection of songs on ‘Super Plastic City’ echo the sound of other past LPs and if so how?

Maybe… I don’t know how, exactly, but it does seem to encapsulate a TMS sound in many ways.

21 What themes and feelings shaped the songcraft on this latest offering? The sound is very warm and clear from what we have heard so far in preview?

The album doesn’t have a tight lyrical theme in the same way as Platinum Coils, but I suppose many of the songs are personal. The sound differs in that, apart from some organ and percussion, it is a 4-piece band now. Many parts were worked in some detail, so in that, the approach (if not necessarily the sound) is quite similar to Strange Boutique.

22 You have a set of live shows to end 2013, does your energy level have to be considered these days or are you liable to extend the list of dates across Europe?

Currently, plans for 2014 are for a 2nd UK tour, Italy, Germany, Paris, Japan… it won’t be a shed-load, as the band aren’t collectively available for more than about 3 weeks (of weekdays) per year. First come, first served.

23 Whats in store for The Monochrome Set down the line? A movie or book perhaps?

I don’t know… at the moment, we just keep going.

24 Are there any modern bands that you would namecheck that you feel are ‘chopping the onions’ as it were?

There are probably many, but I don’t pay attention.

Weblinks

themonochromeset.co.uk/

Forthcoming gigs & sessions:
19/10/13 – The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, UK (tickets here)
20/10/13 – The Georgian Theatre, Stockton, UK (tickets here)
21/10/13 – Mono, Glasgow, UK (tickets here)
22/10/13 – The Continental, Preston, UK (ticket links from site)
23/10/13 – Eric’s, Liverpool, UK (tickets here)
24/10/13 – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham, UK (tickets hereherehere)
25/10/13 – The Jericho Tavern, Oxford, UK (tickets here)
26/10/13 – Thunderbolt, Bristol, UK (tickets here, search “The Monochrome Set” if you can’t find)
23/11/13 – 229 the venue, London, UK (tickets here)
30/11/13 – MJC / Espace Hélios, Lambres-Lez-Douai, France (tickets tba)

*All images courtesy of B.I.D and the TMS website (thanks folks), extra special thanks to Steve Brummell!

admin

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.

More Posts - Website

October 14, 2013 By : Category : Art Cult Eyeplugs Features Front page Heroes Icons Indie Interviews Music Picks Post-punk Tags:, , , ,
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Kaleidoscope’s Peter Daltrey speaks to Eyeplug.net

Peter Daltrey of UK Psyche Icons Kaleidoscope, took some time out of his busy creative day to answer some of our questions prior to the Band’s first London show in 40 odd years in Isington in November 2013 (get your tickets fast folks they are flying)…

01 Tell us about your early Mod years in the early 1960s?

After a short spell as a rocker with full leather gear and slicked-back hair I became a Mod. Some guys went for chubby Vespas, but I always preferred the sleek Italian lines of the Lambretta. Fashions changed monthly, weekly: one minute everyone had chrome bars and carriers front and back, then just on the front, then the back, then no bars, but with chromed side panels. I had my panels sprayed racing green with a big white number on. We wore USA Army parkas and Pork Pie hats, loafers and short, dyed slacks. Then Fred Perry shirts with close-cropped hair. It was a nightmare trying to keep up.

02 You were known as The Sidekicks, then The Key before eventually forming as Kaleidoscope?

We had played our first gig at a nurses’ party at Fulham Hospital on the 26th June 1960 something, but the next day we had our first public booking playing for kids at the Cinema: Saturday Morning Pictures; a British institution. I remembered it fondly myself: off to the cinema via De La Mura’s to watch cartoons and space serials and the Lone Ranger, yelling and chewing and punching. We got a gig playing in the interval. We set up in front of the stage at the ABC cinema in Edgware, north of London. The kids didn’t shut up for a minute. But we got a taste of what it was like playing in front of an audience.

By August we had gained enough confidence to book ourselves into Central Sound Studios, 6 Denmark Street in London. We recorded ‘House of the rising sun,’ ‘Mona,’ ‘Hi Heel Sneakers’ and our very first self-penned composition, ‘Drivin’ around.’ We wanted some songs of our own; we wanted to rise above being just a covers band. Ed and I just fell into writing without anyone ever discussing it: Ed wrote the music and I wrote the words. Terrible bloody songs to begin with! But we had all gradually become ambitious, driven on by the encouragement of friends and family. Around this time we had a name change to The Key.

As The Key we played many of our own songs in a set. We were quite creative on stage. We used to have a cute girl in a mini skirt sitting on stage with us. She sat there reading a book of poetry throughout our set. Ed and I would eat an apple during one number. Probably meant to be very symbolic and mysterious but just made it difficult to sing with a mouthful of apple mush. And then during our finale number – the explosive and now long lost ‘Face’ – I bit on a plastic blood capsule and collapsed on stage just as the last chords were fading. It caused a right old riot and we were chased out of the building by the gig organizers who had called an ambulance, completely fooled by my Oscar-wiining on-stage death and they felt pretty silly having to explain their donkey-brained mistake. We were pushing at invisible boundaries.

03 What other bands did you admire and how did you hear them and their music?

We were Beatle nuts, simple as that. The Beatles were our musical gods. It’s been said so many times but the Sixties really was a magical time in many areas, music and fashion in particular, but also film and photography.

We measured everything we did against the Beatles. We had our own style but we were attempting to always achieve their standards. They set the bar for so many bands. I also liked Donovan, Leonard Cohen – Dylan, of course. He was my ultimate hero at the time along with the man who invented great pop music, Buddy Holly.

04 What was the nightlife and live circuit like in those heady days?

We were so focused on our own band on our own quest that we didn’t go to gigs or clubs. We were obsessed with only one band, Kaleidoscope.

06 What shaped your song-craft?

The Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ changed everything. ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ was the catalyst. I was never entirely happy as the lyricist writing endless soppy love songs. The Beatles showed us all the way, followed closely at the time by the Bee Gees who wrote amazingly weird songs like ‘Lemons Never Forget’ and the flawless ‘New York Mining Disaster 1941.’ It didn’t kick start me into writing songs like ‘The Murder of Lewis Tollani’ and ‘Dive into Yesterday,’ as I used to assume; I have since found out that ‘Horizontal’ came out after we were writing such songs – but it did show we were heading in the same direction. But don’t forget that Psychedelia was very short-lived. It lasted not much more that eighteen months. It was that truly magical period between late ’66 to early ’68. Fortunately for us this was the time we hit gold, securing our first recording contract with a major label, Philips/Fontana, and getting all the time we needed in a professional studio.

07 What were your thoughts on the emerging UK psych scene at that time, the girls, cars, fashion, clubs and drugs?

By now Carnaby Street had properly erupted in a florid flush of boutiques with loud music and mini skirts and Mary Quant rippoffs and lace shirts and high-heeled boots for men and see-through dresses and it was spend spend spend! Teenagers had money and they were going to spend it. Records. Clothes. Alcohol. Cigarettes. Drugs. Holidays in Spain. Hairdos. Cheap food. Magazines. The tide was turning. The old school grey drab Fifties establishment was drowning. We were going to change the world. And we had our own leaders, thank you very much: John, Paul, George and Ringo.

08 What kind of pressures, challenges and expectations did signing for Fontana and the music industry at large provide for young bands like yourselves?

On the 24th February 1967 we had our first recording session as Kaleidoscope at Philips’ Stanhope Place Studio just a giant leap for mankind from Marble Arch. Although nervous, entering this mysterious, subterranean dimly-lit cavern, we knew that we could not allow anything to go wrong. We recorded ‘Holiday Maker’ and ‘Kaleidoscope.’ Unlike every recording session we’d ever had before – in egg-box dives – we were not disappointed with the results. In fact we were stunned by the clarity of the results, fascinated by the recording process and pleased to find that the engineers were friendly and co-operative. The actual recording process was taken out of our hands and was something of a mystery: we did what we were told in terms of levels and retakes. The arrangements were down to us, although Dick did have some input via carefully phrased suggestions. We were always willing to listen and incorporate inventive ideas. But all the songs went into the studio fully-formed. We never wrote in the studio like some bands. Our songs were very carefully written, rewritten, arranged and polished long before recording sessions. Dick produced, obviously aware of the beating of our novice hearts, allowing us time to settle down, to accustom ourselves to the cathedral studio. In fact, the studio was so enormous that when we set up our equipment we only occupied a small area, but this was how we preferred it – reminiscent, perhaps, of our nights rehearsing at the school hall in Acton not so long before.

09 You released 6 singles for Fontana in a short period of time, were you happy with them as a collection or set of work?

We always approached singles in a different frame of mind to writing for albums. In fact most of our singles never appeared on our albums. I’m very happy with the singles – but still frustrated that we came so close to chart success but never close enough. The songs were finely honed to be radio-friendly. Both ‘Jenny Artichoke’ and ‘Bordeaux Rose’ came so close to providing us a hit record. Both were what we referred to in those radio-dominated times as ‘turntable hits’.

Our career was scuppered by our own record company whose distribution was so lousy it was legendary in the business – a fact unbeknown to us upon signing our contract with them.

10 You also released 2 seminal LPs around this time, what was that studio experience like and the entire writing and production process?

They were magical days in the huge Number One studio at Stanhope Place. Our second home. Dick was always willing to open his door to Ed and I. He was always asking us for new songs. In the studio itself he took subtle control but always allowed our creativity to rule the sessions from the studio floor. We often recorded all afternoon and long into the evening.

The entire writing and production process…?! I’ll have to bow out of that one. There’s only twenty-four hours in the day and I ain’t getting any younger. Suffice to say it was exciting, exhilarating and rewarding.

11 This set you on the way to being well known in the ‘Swinging London’ period, how had the clubs, culture and scene evolved in this short period?

No idea. We never went to clubs. We were far too busy gigging and writing. The ‘scene’ in any era is often vacuous – and then and now holds no attraction for me. Sorry – were you hoping for ultra-colourful anecdotes of swinging London….? * (Editor – yes but the truth is more rewarding by far!)

12 Jagger and McCartney were big fans, your lyrics were evocative and painted pretty and vivid milestones?

Jagger and Pauly… Were they really? I doubt it. Probably something an interviewer said to heighten interest in his piece.

Looking back it’s easy for new generations to ridicule the style and lyrical content of music from way back then. It was a colourful burst of fashion in music. And as we all know fashion comes and goes swiftly. Fortunately for us it is also true that there is nothing new in this world and fashion styles always return. Psychedelia is again enjoying a substantial revival — and it is great to have caught that wave.

We were certainly not writing to appeal to the druggy crowd. At this point we had very little experience of drugs having dabbled frighteningly in the early Sixties’ purple heart period and being put off pills for life. Younger people look back and think there were drugs and free love available on every street corner. Nope. We weren’t particularly interested in the former and the latter didn’t come up and offer itself to us. Besides, we had total tunnel vision: we lived for our music. Nothing was going to make us waver from our righteous path.

13 Your sense of harmony and melody and ability to create memorable tunes meant that your horizons were moving constantly?

‘Faintly Blowing’ showed our maturing as writers and musicians. It also showed that the record company were still fully in support, willing to invest a lot of money in studio time and orchestral arrangements. Yes, of course, we were looking for a hit record. Dick Leahy wanted to release ‘If you so wish’ as a single — possibly as a double A-side with ‘Black Fjord’ but he lost his sense of direction and went for the more immediately commercial ‘Jenny Artichoke.’ Although ‘Jenny’ was a massive radio hit being played constantly on our one radio station at the BBC, it failed to sell for the same old reason: poor distribution. With hindsight that single should have been followed by the ‘If you so wish’/‘Black Fjord’ single. If Philips/Fontana had then got there act together properly with better distribution and promotion, we would have had a hit that would have really stood the test of time, more likely to endure than ‘Jenny.’

As writers Ed and I were always seeking the perfect song and this inevitably lead to us improving over time. We were always pushing ourselves further.

14 What was the final straw for Kaleidoscope and how did you evolve into Fairfield Parlour?

We then changed our name to Fairfield Parlour after we shrugged off our Psychedelic colours and embraced the progressive folk sound that was fast approaching. We didn’t feel the name Kaleidoscope was appropriate for our new sound and image. In retrospect I guess it was maybe a bit of a mistake. We should have stuck to our guns, proud of our name. But at the time it still seemed the right thing to do.

We had fallen out with the suits at Fontana/Philips because we had failed to produce a hit single. These were executives that thought, at first, they had the new Beatles. They gave us an ultimatum: record the songs of some hit writers -Tin Pan Alley hacks – or your days with us are numbered. We went into the studio under protest and attempted to record two songs that had been scraped from the bottom of a bucket that a publisher was chucking out. The sessions – fortunately – were a disaster!

The Radio 1 DJ, David Symonds had noticed our slightly rudderless ship passing through his studio on numerous occasions and now approached us with a proposition: Let me manage you and get you away from this blindfolded record company. We jumped at the chance to try something new. Ed and I were writing differently. Gone were the battalions in baby blue and in came the lonely old spinsters cutting up pictures of wedding dresses and photos of Marlon Brando. A name change was therefore suggested.

As Fairfield Parlour Farm – yep, we dropped the ‘Farm’ bit in the cold light of the next morning – we, or rather our shiny new manager, approached Fontana and demanded a new contract where we would record independently of the studio and simply lease the tapes to the company, retaining copyright. They agreed, but suggested we climb aboard their new label, Vertigo. Which would best suit our more progressive music, that being the way musical fashion was heading after the short-lived Psychedelic flower withered and died.

15 This period saw you invited to enter into the world of film with the ‘Eye Witness’ soundtrack which housed the new bright young thing Mark Lester?

An up and coming Director offered us the job of writing and recording the theme song and incidental music for a feature film, ‘Eye Witness.’ From the depression and dejection of just six months previous, we were now on a high, rising phoenix-like from the ashes of our former selves. 1970 was clearly going to be an outstanding year!

16 Eventually you were invited to play one of the key events of this entire period, The 1970 IOW Festival?

This really was going to be ‘the big one.’ Not only had we secured ourselves a place on the billing for the 1970 Isle of Wight festival – our manager had persuaded the organisers to let us write and record a ‘theme song’ for the festival. We cut a demo of the song, ‘Let the world wash in,’ at the Livingstone Studios in East Barnet. The Foulk Brothers loved it and so we spent two nights at Sound Techniques in Chelsea recording the song. Lennon’s classic, ‘Across the universe’ is a little too obviously the influence for the song, but nonetheless, the resulting track is warm and sincere. It is one of my favourite recordings of the band, featuring a full, well-produced sound, focusing quite correctly on the chorus.

From the 16th to the 20th of August we rehearsed at a pig farm in Woking. Yes, that is right. In the height of a sultry summer we were in a narrow tin-roofed pig hut strutting our stuff. (All right it was a new building that had yet to see a poor porker.) We’d discussed our set, arriving at a list of songs that reflected our more pastoral side, as some of the critics liked to call it. We would play more of our acoustic songs, the ones we often left out of college gigs. We realised from the outset that we were likely to be dwarfed by the physical dimensions of the gig and the stage itself. We would look ridiculous if we went out there in the middle of the day with our heavier material. We all agreed we would be grass- chewing-folk-loving-bucolic-gentle-rockers for the day. But the pre-gig excitement had already permeated the pig hut. This was going to be enormous.

The day after we left Woking, ‘Let the world wash in’ was released. The rest is history as they say – well our nadir, perhaps. You will have to buy a copy of my book, ‘I Luv Wight’ to read the whole sorry saga. Suffice to say the single bombed and our experience of the festival was tainted by the raging politics behind the scenes concerning the fate of the record at the festival itself.

17 What was the come down like post IOW Festival, what happened next?

‘White-Faced Lady’ shelved for two decades. Disillusion, despair, heartbreak – and rebirth…

18 As a Solo Artist you have been very productive indeed, releasing 19 or so LPs on various labels?

I can’t stop writing and recording. A creative person can`t simply turn off the tap – although having said that the bloody tap occasionally turns itself off. Yes, plenty of albums to choose from for those fans of the band who might be tempted to dig into my own body of work.

I have two albums (one with Damien Youth) currently available on GRA Records in America: and a third due for release soon…

And another on Rocketgirl Records, a double CD with Damien Youth: 

And a fab collaboration with US Psyche-Masters Asteroid#4 called ‘The Journey’:

If all goes to plan I will be joining Asteroid#4 on stage on the 20th of October to premier a few of these songs:

19 What about your various books and work as an Artist?

I have six books out at the moment – available here, – with a seventh on the writing & recording of ‘The Journey’ album coming shortly. And my continuing passion is photography which currently takes up more of my time than music – although that is about to change…

20 You have a much eagerly anticipated London show coming soon (17th Nov in Islington), that must be a real buzz?

Indeed. I have done a couple of tours of America over the last couple of years but this will be my first show in the UK for over forty years!!! Blimey! Yes, I am really looking forward to playing our back catalogue for those fans who have followed the band for decades and for the new fans who have only just stumbled across us. Faintly Blowing, Lewis Tollani, Snapdragon, The Sky Children etc etc… I have a feeling it will me a memorable evening! Get your tickets here folks!

21 What have you got planned for the future?

A great deal. No time like the present. Strike while the iron is hot. Best foot forward. Nothing ventured etc etc. You get the secret picture.

22 Can you tell us a joke please?

A guy walks into a Bar and takes himself a quiet seat. Before he can even order a beer, the bowl of pretzels in front of him says ‘Hey, you’re a handsome fellow!’  The man tries to ignore the bowl of pretzels, and orders a fine Pilsner beer. The bowl of pretzels then says ‘Ooooh, a Pilsner, great choice. You’re a smart man!’  Starting to freak out, the guy says to the bartender ‘Hey what the hell, this bowl of pretzels keeps saying nice things to me!’ Bartender says ‘Don’t worry about it, the pretzels are complimentary!!!’

Weblinks & Credits
For all things Peter Daltrey go to:  www.chelsearecords.co.uk
Thank you To: Anna Pumer Photography: www.annapumerphotography.com

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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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October 14, 2013 By : Category : Eyeplugs Features Folk Front page Heroes Icons Interviews Modernist Music Tags:, , , , , ,
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Indie Icons – The Primitives

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Cherry Red Icons

Fronted by indiepop blonde bombshell Tracy Tracy, The Primitives emerged from the independent scene of the mid-80s that spawned The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, The Wedding Present and Primal Scream. Their sound distilled the shimmering guitar jangle of the Byrds, the buzzsaw style of The Ramones and 60’s girl group melodies into two and a half minute pop gems. Regular session guests on John Peel’s radio show, with many an appearance in his Festive Fifty, their career was boosted/hindered when Morrissey named them as one of his favourite bands.

A widely acclaimed first album, Lovely, made them the UK’s indie darlings, while the huge success of the single ‘Crash’ saw them cross over to a mass audience. Further chart success followed, along with two more studio albums, Pure and Galore, plus extensive tours of Europe and the US, before the band called it a day in 1992. Guitarist Paul Court and drummer Tig Williams continued to work together on various musical projects throughout most of 1990s, while Tracy contributed vocals to Band of Holy Joy amongst others, and also recorded with several outfits working in the dance music field. In 2008, Mojo Magazine voted the Primitives’ second single ‘Really Stupid’ one of the Top 40 UK indie singles of all time.

The band were reunited in 2009 by the untimely passing of their original bass player Steve Dullaghan, (RIP) reforming to play a show in his memory later that year in their home town of Coventry; their first show together for 17 years. Bolstered by its success they went on to tour the UK in April 2010, receiving a rapturous response, followed by a headline slot at the Indietracks festival and shows in the US and Europe.

In 2011 the Primitives released the Never Kill A Secret EP through Fortuna Pop! The record featured two brand new songs and two covers of semi obscure female fronted songs. The two covers were a precursor to their latest album Echoes and Rhymes, released on Elefant records in 2012. They found time to speak to eyeplug.net recently…

01. You’ve had few line-up changes in your history. What would you say kept you together so well?

Probably the fact that no one is interested in any music we’ve done separately, so if we’re going to be involved with making music then it seems it can only be The Primitives. plus we’ve never fallen out much.

02. You’re currently touring with a re-release of ‘Lovely’ to promote. How is the tour going? Are the audience basically your ‘old faithfuls’ or are there many new faces in there?

The Lovely tour starts September 21st, but yes we have a mixed range audience. Some very dedicated fans from the first time round and some new ones too.

03. What is your opinion of the current pop scene? What aspect of it are you excited by? What aspect do you dislike?

There’s always something to like, because there is so much out there and so much more is accessible. There’s a lot of that clueless Topman ‘indie’ stuff about too.  I don’t know their names, because I’m not interested in them.

04. What are your thoughts on the reissue of ‘Lovely’, particularly the bonus tracks? Are you pleased to see them out again? Do you think any are closer to the sound you started with?

We were never totally happy with the album, because as I’ve said before, it was kind of thrown together with stuff we’d recorded mainly throughout 1987, so it felt more like a compilation album. Hearing it in 2013 I can appreciate it for what it is. I still have niggles about bits of it and I’m not sure if some of the versions of the songs are the best, but there’s plenty to like. I don’t think it’s ever boring, which would be the worst thing.

The bonus tracks are fine. They’re mainly B sides and it’s nice that ‘Things Get In Your Way’ has been made available again, coz it’s a good little song and we only ever did that live in the studio version, which was buried away on a ‘Crash’ b side. You also get ‘Way Behind Me’ which is in a similar style to ‘Crash’ but possibly better. It was originally on our 2nd album Pure, but ended up on the US release of Lovely as it was released later the same year as Lovely. Beat version of ‘All The Way Down’ is also a big favourite.

05. Did you have mixed feelings about any of them? Which ones and why?

The live tracks maybe. They were recorded with a couple of mics out in the audience and don’t sound so good, but then again I guess they capture the atmosphere like a better recorded version of an old bootleg cassette

06. Are you writing any new material? If so, are you at the demo stage or studio recording?

Yes we’ve been in the studio recording new stuff… possibly for an album, for release early next year.

07. How has the appearance of new technology affected you? Do you like to keep up with the latest kit, or do you prefer your old, tested equipment? What are your reasons?

We use modern recording techniques with vintage gear, because that’s what is available to us and we were happy with the overall sound of our covers album ‘Echoes & Rhymes’ which we recorded in 2011 in this way.

08. How did you arrive at your sound? How much were you affected by your peers and how much by those you admired?

We originally sounded like The Birthday Party, The Gun Club and The Cramps. When Tracy joined we realised she probably wasn’t going to be into shrieking into the monitors with her top off, so a few pop songs were quickly written, almost in a mocking way at first i.e we’ve got a pretty little girl fronting the band, let’s sing about flowers and stuff. But we kept our original racket and I guess we were looking towards that Marychain nice songs with noise thing.

09. Which musicians/bands/singers did you admire when you were first playing? Why? How far do you feel they influenced you?

Bo Diddley, Rowland S Howard, Velvets, The Cramps, The Fall… it’s really just about the approach and attitude. When I was 15 and trying to learn to play guitar I wasn’t interested in being able to play ‘Purple Haze’, I wanted to just put D and G together and play ‘Waiting For The Man’ or play that Bo Diddley rhythm.

10. How do you feel The Primitives fit into the current pop scene? Do you feel you have younger kindred spirits? Who are they?

I don’t think we fit in at all. I’m sure there are some modern bands with affinities to the Prims… l’ll check Last FM and get back to you.

11. What’s your world like? Books? Films? TV shows? Pastimes? Why are they so vital or important to you?

Nuts In May
Vision On
Planet Of The Apes
Svankmajer’s Alice
Poor Cow
Night Of The Hunter
Comet In Moominland
Bedazzled
Blue Jam
Dog Day Afternoon
Midnight Cowboy
Buffalo 66
Psycho
Memoirs Of A Sword Swallower
The Wicker Man
The Thing
Performance
Dead Man’s Shoes
The Fan Man
Sexy Beast

Just some stuff I like that helps displace stuff I don’t.

12. Who would you say has inspired you the most, and why?

I think I would have to say The Velvet Underground. I started listening to them when I was 14 and I thought I was the only person in the world that knew about them. They felt like a secret friend for a couple of years, until I met other people who listened to them too. They’re more or less a household name these days, but they still represent a sort of benchmark for the other stuff…the hidden away stuff.

13. Who do you wish had never been born, and what do you wish had never been invented?

I’ll go for everyone’s favourite mass murdering christian hypocrite Tony Blair, for the obvious reasons and for setting the precedent that anyone trying to become PM these days has to have the demeanor of a particularly cheesy after dinner speaker at a gorgonzola convention. I wish the bidet to be uninvented – they’re supposed to be posh, but really they’re just little monuments to a certain human bum function problem, right there staring you in the face in the bathroom. Why not just have a hydraulic sink?

14. How do you see The Primitives developing over the next year or so? Will you embrace change? Will you stick to the template? A middle course?

We will go backwards, while looking sideways at the future.

Web Links
Offical Site: the-primitives.co.uk/
Facebook: facebook.com/ThePrimitivesOfficial
Twitter:  twitter.com/PRIMITIVESband

Tour dates  
ents24.com/
Sept 2013
21 Bath Moles
22 Glasgow King Tut’s
23 Edinburgh Electric Circus
24 Manchester Sound Control
25 Leeds Brudenell
26 Wolverhampton Slade Rooms
27 Southend Chinnerys
28 London 100 Club

Link to buy the current Releases
Echoes-And-Rhymes-The-Primitives/
Lovely-~-25th-Anniversary-Edition/
Everythings-Shining-Bright-Lazy-Recordings/

Scenester

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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August 29, 2015 By : Category : Eyeplugs Features Front page Icons Indie Interviews Picks Tags:, , , ,
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The Action: In the Lap of the Mods by Scenester

by Ian Hebditch & Jane Shepherd with Mike Evans & Roger Powell

Fame’s lottery has no caller, no bran tub and obeys no known physical laws. The fickle finger flexes, flicks its nail at a nondescript bunch of talented youngsters, and leaves the other thousand hopefuls awaiting their turn, sometimes forever. Today, even the small talents who are prepared to work themselves to death for fame and fortune have a chance at the big prize. It’s not the present day which interests us, however. It’s the untrammelled electric storm of 1960’s Britain, and just one of its young bands, The Action.

The indicators all seemed to be there. A tough, tight-knit unit which learned its chops by ear, from original imported USA recordings. They honed their R n B/Soul covers, poured their hearts into their performances, attracting a dedicated and loyal following in the clubs that were the stamping ground of the young and the stylish. They weren’t alone in their love for this taut, irresistible music, and they played alongside many of the bands who would find the success that The Action was sadly to be denied.

Perhaps it was the paucity of original songs that held them back, or that their apparent fan base was a little too localised to admit a wider audience. Whatever the reason, it seems a cruel irony that The Action’s destiny was to be thwarted, and it’s taken nearly fifty years from the first single release to see a worthy tribute to them.

‘In the Lap of the Mods’ is a surprisingly dense, wordy volume, illustrated with as many publicity photos, candid shots, promo labels, gig posters and record covers as could be mustered. The early life, professional career, changes within the band both in membership and material, and disappointing aftermath, are detailed with impressive thoroughness. Their reformation in the 90’s under the auspices of the New Untouchables organisation proved welcome to old fans and young alike. The many reminisces of the old fans do sometimes begin to read like the entire history of Portsmouth’s Birdcage Club, but happily disprove the old adage that ‘If you remember the 60’s, you weren’t really there.’ How people can give a blow-by-blow account of individual gigs at over forty years’ remove, when most of us have difficulty remembering a gig we attended six months ago, is a still, and remains mystery to this writer!

Publicity photos are always a joy to look through, set firmly in place and time, their desperate attempts to sell their subjects as one thing, with their true nature lurking below the surface gloss. The awkward, besuited and bow-tied poses of ‘Barry and the Boys’, from their days backing the mercurial Sandra Barry, have a school boyish quality to them that may have been intentional. Their later transformation into a waist coated, cow licked beat combo, with a bonfire of guitars, is about as convincing as the Rolling Stones’ attempt in the same period. No harm done though, as their Mod threads were on the way, and it’s in this crazed, urgent time that image and music were as one. There’s still a reluctance to love the camera, but with a confidence born of playing to a discerning audience to buoy them up. The rare splashes of colour in the photos are very welcome to those of us who feel that monochrome is cool, but colour far more revealing, in an age when British life was literally stepping out of the black and white and into a new found glorious multichrome.

The Action may never have another book written about them, but this bright, affectionately written tome would make future projects a little superfluous. Tributes from such luminaries as Sir George Martin C B E, Phil Collins and Pete Townsend are good reading, even if they leave you even more puzzled as to why The Action ended up a footnote when others became household names. If you’re already a fan, you’ll shrug at the hefty price tag at the thought of what you’re getting in exchange. I’ll leave you with just one thought; if you know a great band, don’t keep them to yourself.

Scenester1964 – 26/11/12

Scenester

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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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Cult Culture Eyeplugs Front page Heroes Icons Literature Modernist Newsplug Picks Reviews Tags:, , , , , ,
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In Conversation with Jenny Spires by Michelle Coomber

Michelle Coomber hosts a rare and exclusive interview with Jenny Spires, ex-girlfriend and lifelong friend of Syd Barrett. Jenny talks of her life with Syd and hanging out with Pink Floyd, her experiences with the in-crowd and watching the moon landing with Jerry Garcia! She shares her memories of those she holds dear and the iconic places she frequented during iconic times. Jennifer Gentle, the beautiful lady with a true rocking soul.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

I was born in Jamaica but grew up in Cambridge. My childhood was very free, if a little solitary. I had two older brothers; one of them used to read all the time and the other was into sport and played a lot of football. Occasionally, I was allowed to tag along but not often. There were few girls of my age living nearby, but we all went to different schools, so we didn’t really get to know each other until I started to ride. This brought me into contact with local girls going to Pony Club camps and Gymkhanas.

I was a restless child; I had a bike and was allowed to go out and about, so I would go off for the day. Turning right took me towards the village, I used love going to the Blacksmiths and often hung around there or I’d cross the railway tracks to the chalk hills of The Nine Wells and The Beech Woods. Turning left took me into Grantchester, past Byron’s Pool and on to the Grantchester Meadows. It was a fabulous playground for any child with very little traffic and open countryside to wander. I had started to take ballet classes on my arrival in England and continued with this until I left Cambridge at seventeen, so that was a big part of my life over the years, too.

Were you the archetype ‘Wild Child’?

I wasn’t at all. Having older brothers brought me into contact with some very cool music. Rock & Roll, Blues and Folk. But it took forever for my Mother to allow me to wear pedal pushers, for example, or jeans, come to that. Though, by the time I was eight, my brother had tuned me in to Elvis, The Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Richie Valens, Lonnie Donegan, Huddie Ledbetter, T-bone Walker, the Platters, Fats Domino, James Brown, Woody Guthrie, Jessie Fuller etc. Coming to Dylan and the sixties’ rock scene was a natural progression.

We had to write news books at school and I’d regularly write things like “Last night I listened to Bony Maronie”, or some such thing. Then my book would be returned with “See me” on the bottom of the page and I would have to explain all this to my teacher. I think she assumed I lived in a wild place, but it was a very regulated and orderly home. My father worked for The MRC and my parents were just normal, but I was getting turned on to Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekala. Later, when my brother was boarding at school, my dance studio was above the best and only record shop in town. After classes, I would head on down to the basement to the listening booths and get the Stones, the Kinks, Them, the Pretty Things, the Beatles, the Animals, The Who, Small Faces etc.

When did you start going to music venues?

Gradually, I began to go the youth club and local dances, but it was always about the music for me. I quickly learned the dance of the day, but I was totally disinterested in boys and found it disconcerting when they asked me to dance. I preferred to dance on my own because I thought they couldn’t dance. I found these kinds of dances didn’t give me the Drifters or Charles and Inez Foxx, though.

Cambridge had a few music venues. The Corn Exchange was a skating rink and sometimes put on local bands. There was a thriving bands scene in Cambridge.  The early sixties was a very creative time. Somehow, I had acquired a taste for Atlantic Soul and Motown, so I’d go to London to find this music. I started to try to and see these artists when they came to the UK, but I was still pretty young and they never came to Cambridge, so I would go with girlfriends to Stevenage Mecca, where I saw Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding etc and the mod boys could certainly dance there!

When I was fourteen, I saw the fourteen year old Stevie Wonder in Bishops Stortford performing ‘Finger Tips’, fabulous! These live performances really got to me. I started going to London clubs with a couple of girlfriends. We’d say we were staying over at each other’s homes but we went to London to hear Georgie Fame at The Flamingo or Long John Baldry at The Scene and take in The Yardbirds at the The Marquee. I did this for quite a time and my parents didn’t catch on at all. I wasn’t a wild child, though. Quite a lot of my friends were doing the same thing and more. 

You became Syd Barrett’s girlfriend in the sixties and remained a lifelong friend. How did you both meet?

My middle brother was at Cambridge Tech and friends with people from the art school and he was really good mates with Steve Pyle. They were ‘beats’ and drank in pubs a lot. One very cold December night in 1964, we went to The CSU Cellars to see an art school band called Those Without. Steve was drumming and Syd was playing bass. During sets, he sat down and introduced himself.  He told me he was at art school in London and played in a band which had just changed its name from the Tea Set to the Pink Floyd. An odd name, I thought, but he went on to tell me they were just making some demo tapes hoping this would get them a residency in London. I was fifteen and a half.

Those Without wasn’t great. Probably, a typical art school type of shuffle. Syd asked to meet up and go for coffee and he rang me a few days later and we arranged to meet at a cafe called The Guild but he was a little put out that I’d brought a friend along. She soon went off, however, and we walked back to his mum’s house in Hills Road where he was staying for the Christmas holidays. He showed me his paintings and I was fascinated by him. I saw him again before he went back to college. He played at the Victoria Ballroom and I was there with friends but I didn’t really speak to him.

Unbeknown to me, he’d sketched me at the Union Cellar, and a couple of days after New Year, this beautiful pink tissue-wrapped letter arrived with a sketch of me and his address in London, asking me to write to him. I did, and then he was home at the weekend. He came home every weekend except for when he was playing. And mostly, if he was playing, I went to London with him.

How did your life change after meeting Syd?

It was strange really, because suddenly my life changed from full on clubbing to having a boyfriend at art school in London who used to write to me all the time saying he loved me and telling me about his life at college and his band. My parents really liked him, and he could drive, and I saw him every weekend. He would phone and we’d chat and he’d come to get me and we’d do some cool stuff. He was lucky enough to have kept his room at home where he had canvasses, a guitar, amp and all his painting paraphernalia.

Occasionally, I wanted to go out with my friends and he was fine about that, but mostly we’d listen to music and chat about college and have fun going to the cinema and all those things, really. We were very close, he wanted photos of me and sent me photos of himself, but I soon realised that he’d had another girlfriend before me, he was nineteen and she was older and still living nearby. Libby and he were still friends and I gathered that she was quite upset that they’d split up, but she had another boyfriend by then. Well, things did pan out with Syd and I wasn’t bothered at all by their friendship. Syd and I carried on going out until just before the summer. It was very loving and very intense. We discussed all things in the universe and under the sun; marriage, children, love, sex, books, literature, the world, philosophy, art, music, poetry. It was a lovely, cosy time.

What were your personal thoughts on having a steady relationship at this particular time?

I was thinking about my situation and realised that having a steady boyfriend wasn’t best for me at the time and it was too intense, I had my O levels and it was all getting too much. I wanted to leave school and go to Lucie Clayton. I saw modelling as an extension of my dance training for some reason. I auditioned and got in but my father wouldn’t let me go. He said I was too young and I had to go back to school, it was difficult. I was going away in the holidays and decided I wanted to take some time out. Syd was upset but I was determined, so we just drifted apart but he was my first boyfriend and that always seemed to draw us back together over the years.

He played at my sixteenth birthday in July and when he went back at college he was still writing to me and phoning, he would say how he was missing me. We carried on writing right up to Easter of 1966 and we still went out but not all the time. He was very patient, when I think about it!

I think he was going out with Lindsay by now and they were moving into Earlham Street together. I was in London by the late summer of 1966, my father having relented and let me go to Lucie Clayton. I was visiting Syd and Lindsay and other friends from Cambridge and hanging out at 101. The Pink Floyd was gigging quite a lot and Syd was inviting me along to some of the shows. This continued to 1967, so I was around all the time until he left the band. During 1968, I didn’t see much of him on a regular basis until he took the lease on the flat at Wetherby Mansions.

Syd refers to you as “Jennifer Gentle” in his song ‘Lucifer Sam’, how did you feel when you first heard it and what is your favourite song by Syd?

Well, when I heard ‘Lucifer Sam’, I didn’t really think much about it. Of course, I think it’s a wonderful song; I love it. It seems to have one foot in the past, musically, and one in the future.  I was so used to hearing him sing and write songs and he had sent me poems and written songs to me in his letters, previously.  Also, I knew the story of ‘Lucifer Sam’ and wasn’t surprised by it. He often said to me “You’re so gentle and I love talking to you”, so it seemed normal, really. It is such well-known song now.

You worked for the same model agency as Kari-Ann Muller, who was Roxy Music’s first LP cover model. Who did you model for and what fashion style appealed to you?



(*Jenny appears in the fashion images in this film)

After I worked for Lucie Clayton, I joined Ossie Clarke’s English Boy in early 1967 and ended up on the head sheet hanging in the shop. I’d been hanging out at Granny Takes A Trip as I loved their clothes and was going to the Speakeasy and UFO and their clothes were off the wall! If you were on the scene by mid-1967 you’d be hanging out at Ossie’s shop Quorum in Radnor Walk, too. Hendrix had just hooked up with us and he was this wonderful, larger than life, shy gentle person. He really cut it.

I can’t ever remember doing much with Ossie because I seemed to lose all interest in the fashion modelling thing. I did some film extra work, but was more interested in just hanging out. I only met Kari-Ann briefly at this time. She was living at Beaufort Street and lots of mutual friends lived there, too. I used to visit Jocq and Sue who lived upstairs and I met up with Syd there. Twink and others were all living downstairs, so it was quite a large social scene. This is probably where Kari-Ann and Syd met briefly. He and Lindsay had split up but they got back together before the tour. Later, Lindsay also worked for English Boy and often with Kari-Ann, so they were friends and they both carried on modelling in to the 1970s. I loved Kari-Ann’s Roxy cover, it’s a classic.

The sixties and seventies saw many changes on a political and social level, especially for women. Did you get involved with political activism? How would you define these decades from your own experiences?

For me, this point in the 1960s was a high point in our cultural development. I was wholeheartedly behind the challenge with the authority of the day. We may not have got far with it, but it was good to see that thread so overtly picked up again with punk later. The whole philosophy clicked with me. I was an anti-war campaigner, although I was never politically active as such, ineffectual really, it was the zeitgeist – I was part of that consciousness.

One could not avoid having the seeds of feminism in one’s psyche as a woman. The 1960s, especially in the music business, was dominated by the boys. Part of my decision to stop modelling was to do with this. I disliked the way girls around bands were traipsed and draped; I didn’t want any part of it.  I loathed the whole groupie thing that grew in the States and became so big there. I still had this On the Road stuff going on with me. I was a Tomboy and that’s what probably appealed about being an English Boy for a while. I didn’t want to wear see-through, floating, organza clothes.  I liked strong lines with the notion of uni-sexual androgyny.  This independence stayed with me throughout. I still wear Levis, boots and leather jackets most of the time.

Peter Whitehead made a film in 1994 dedicated to Syd Barrett which is on YouTube and includes various live Pink Floyd footage and a promo trailer for his 1967 documentary ‘Tonite Let’s All Make Love In London’. What are your thoughts on this tribute film and also his controversial documentary which featured ‘Interstellar Overdrive’?


Yeh, interesting! I first met Peter in late 1966, I was seventeen. He was such a fascinating man, I thought he was wonderful and we became close. I loved his basic philosophy and was naturally fascinated by his filmmaking. When he showed me the footage for his film ‘Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London’, I suggested he use ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ for the music and he heard them play, he agreed. He met Syd a few years previously in Cambridge and knew I had been his girlfriend.  At the time, Ant Stern was Peter’s assistant and they came to UFO to hear the Floyd. Peter spoke to Pete Jenner and arranged to take them into Sound Techniques to record. They hadn’t done any recording at this time, although they were about to record ‘Arnold Layne’ which Syd had played to me over the Christmas holiday in Cambridge.

On January 11th or 12th we went down to film and record them. It’s a fantastic piece of filming on Peter’s behalf and brilliant for his film. He was the first to capture them at a time when they were virtually unknown but looking and playing so well.

Syd lodged with Duggie Fields in Earls Court after leaving Pink Floyd and the British music scene was exploding. Did you stay in touch with the band and did you observe the changes in Syd’s musical direction as a solo artist?

It was Syd’s flat and Duggie shared with him. They had shared together before when we were all at 101; Duggie is such a lovely man and so prolific. He immediately set to work painting, which I think was very good for Syd at the time. Duggie was so reliable and he had a very stabilising effect on Syd. He was out of the band and was behaving very strangely all through 1968. It was good that he showed some signs of sorting himself out by now. They moved in just before Christmas in 1968. Syd painted his floor blue and orange and then I moved in, too. For a while it seemed Syd and I were back together again, but right then, he wasn’t terribly well.

It had been a roller coaster of a couple of years for him and I was convinced he was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Naturally, I felt very protective of him. He had been the most articulate and interesting person I’d known but by now he was quiet and withdrawn. He was just doing nothing; he’d smoke a few cigarettes, drink tea and lie around listening to music. For us, it was a kind of strange continuity, since we had so much history, so we didn’t need to talk.  He didn’t want to go anywhere or see anyone. It was comfortable and that was enough. He was playing guitar and sang songs which I’d heard before, somewhere along the line, and I understood he wanted to put them together for an album. I never thought of it in terms of Syd moving into a solo career but I suppose that’s what he was doing.

What else was happening in your life at this point?

I had my own plans. I’d been invited to America by friends who had visited London in the fall of 1968. Syd wasn’t too happy about my leaving and asked me not to go but my mind was set and I wanted to do some travelling. Not long before I left, I bumped into Iggy, who had nowhere to live, so I took her back to the flat where there were several other people, too. Rusty and Gretta were regular visitors and it seemed the best thing to do. She didn’t know who Syd was but it was better that she didn’t at that time. However, she did know Duggie from their clubbing days, when she used to go to the Orchid Ballrooms, I think. Anyway, when I left, she was still there and when Storm and Mick arrived to do the cover for “Madcap” a few days later, she was wandering around with no clothes on, so they asked her to be in the shot. The rest is history and the cover is wonderful. When I saw it later, I thought it couldn’t have been better.

You sang backing vocals for the cult psychedelic band Art and their stunning LP cover for “Supernatural Fairy Tale” was created by the designers of Granny Takes A Trip! Did you have aspirations of becoming a musician or singer and did you write any songs?

I was never aware of who all the musicians on that record were. I was on the first Hapshash single and, yes, later on I auditioned for a band which never really came to anything. Shame, because I’d have loved that. I should have tried to get into some backing vocals, perhaps.

 You mixed with very creative and experimental people and you must have lived in the fast lane during this time. Did you attend the ‘14 Hour Technicolour Dream’ and go to gigs on Eel Pie island? Which events or places stand out most for you?

I didn’t ever go to Eel Pie Island.  I would have loved to have gone to the Crawdaddy in Richmond when I was doing the mod thing, but it was so far from Cambridge to be honest. Lots of great things came out of all that, but I was just that bit too young.

I did mix with some fabulously talented people and, indeed, I lived in the fast lane on the underground scene. Of course, we all went to ‘The 14-Hour Technicolor Dream’. Before this, I was at the launch of IT at the Roundhouse in October 1966 and the launch of UFO in December. I knew about ‘Wholly Communion’ which had taken place in 1965. I was hip to it all and going with Syd to the Spontaneous Underground at the Marquee and their London Free School gigs, I was very aware of the changes happening and, this for me, culminated in ‘The 14-Hour Technicolor Dream’. I think we were all pretty worn out by this time and I felt it was time for me to drop out a bit after 1967, which I did.

You moved to the States during the late-sixties, why did you move and who did you associate with during this period? 

I didn’t move to the States, I only visited friends there. It was a lovely travelling period for me. I saw all the things I wanted to see over the years and had a great time doing it. Of course, music was all important and I saw some of the greatest bands. Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Quick Silver, Creedence Clearwater and I went across from California to the Woodstock Rock Festival. It meant that I had missed London, the Stones in Hyde Park and The Isle of Wight etc, but I was in America at an exciting time and  Santana were just out of this world. It was a fabulous festival of music.

You watched the first moon landing with Jerry Garcia which must have been pretty special! How did this friendship come about and what was he like?

Watching the moon landing with Jerry Garcia just came about through my having met some of the Grateful Dead when they were in London. I’m not sure why I happened to be at his place that day. It had been my birthday a couple of days before and I was on my way up to Oregon and stayed over there on my way. Jerry was a very generous host but he was quiet, really. He offered me drinks, but I don’t drink and I remember how he was surprised by that but we were so amazed at the moon landing and it was extraordinary for me hearing the Floyd play. I can’t really remember having any real meaningful or deep conversation with him. It was just very relaxed with just a few of us sitting around with food and wowing out on the moon landing.

There were many music venues in Cambridge including the Dandelion Cafe, Dolphin pub, Alley Cat and the existing Corn Exchange. It still has a thriving arts and music scene but what do you remember about the venues and people?

I never went to The Dolphin Pub because I was too young when it was active and I never really did pubs. I would meet friends in them or go in to play the juke box.  I often went to The Alley. Llater on, I would go there with Syd when he was in Cambridge or when he played there. The Corn Exchange had been a skating rink before it was a music venue and it was really exciting; A vault of a place with a wonderful wooden floor, so as you can imagine, the noise and the music was so loud, everyone was belting round the place which was great! I started to go to local bands’ gigs and when I came back from London, after I’d been in the States, a friend of ours called Steve Brink was putting on bands there including Hawkwind, the Pink Fairies and later, MC 5. It’s been refurbished over the years and I recently saw the Aussie Pink Floyd show which was amazing.

You were married to Jack Monck, bass player with the Pink Fairies, who formed the Stars with drummer Twink Alder and you were instrumental in persuading Syd to join them. However, his time with the band was short-lived. What was this period like for him?

I met Jack after I came back from the States. He was at Cambridge Tech when I went back to Cambridge for a while to take my A levels. I thought I’d go back to college and do something different in my life. I totally lost touch with the Floyd and other people. Jack ran a blues club called Juniper Blossom with his friend, the drummer Pip Pyle. When they moved to London, he and Pip were in the band Delivery with Carol Grimes.

In 1970, Jack left that band and we went back to Cambridge and lived near Huntingdon. Syd was at his mum’s home in Hills Road and I hooked up with him again. Jack wasn’t aware of who he was. He’d never really been on the London music scene. All he knew was that Syd was an old friend of mine and a musician, so there was no pressure. Syd had lost a lot of his wonderful, loquacious articulacy. He was a lot quieter but he’d giggle and beam at things that caught his attention and these moments lit the room. He was still very charismatic, his laughter was infectious and some of that remained.

He was relaxed whenever he came to see us, I was pregnant by now and he loved that. Anyway, he and Jack fell into a bit of jamming as we always had instruments at the cottage. I think Twink was also in Cambridge and, of course, I knew him from London. Somehow, we were going to the Kings Cellars to see Eddie ‘Guitar’ Burn play in early 1972. I think Jack was also playing, but that afternoon I was with Syd and asked him if he wanted to come long and I suggested that he bring his guitar because he might want to jam. So, we went to the gig and he jammed with Twink, Jack and others.

The next day, Jack and I went to see Twink where he was living above Steve Brink’s shop What’s In A Name, and I suggested that we go round and see Syd as he was living just up the road. I knew Syd was looking for people to play with and I thought here are two musicians; perhaps it would help him to play for a bit. So, I said it would be so nice for Syd to have someone to play with but I wasn’t particularly thinking of them actually forming a band, that idea seemed to evolve on its own as it were.

At this time, Syd was living in the basement at his mum’s house and she answered the door and invited us in. We went down into the tiny cellar with Syd and his usual stack of canvasses, guitars and music. The ceiling was so low that Jack and Twink sat on the bed. I had been looking at the canvasses with Syd and then I suggested it would be nice for them to play together. Everyone agreed and that’s how Stars came about, really. Syd loved it, he was never quite himself after his breakdown in London, but he was still up for doing things and seeing people.

What current artists do you enjoy and what are your favourite albums from your collection?

This is difficult. I love live music and my tastes are quite eclectic,but I’m more of a rocker. Recently, I was given Bob Dylan’s ‘Tempest’ which I love. I listen to all kinds of things from Bob Marley to Blur, I love Graham’s voice and guitar. I’m just setting some goal posts here and they take in an inordinate amount of music, the Incredible String Band, Soft Machine, Love, Peter Green, The Clash, Dr Feelgood, the Pretenders, the Cars, Cure, the Stones, Pink Floyd. The list is endless really!  I love some opera and what is generally termed as classical music, too. These days, there are some  really brilliant female vocalists around and that even includes some of the girl bands.

Tell us about your involvement in film production, are there any projects that you would like to plug?

I haven’t really had any involvement in film production as such, just yet. There is something in the pipeline at the moment, but I’m not really up for talking about it right now.

I attended the exhibition of Syd’s paintings, personal letters and writings at the former Idea Generation Gallery; it was both a fascinating and moving insight in parts of his life and thought processes. How do you think Syd would be living his life, if he was still with us today?

Well, those Exhibitions would not have taken place if he was still here. He’d have been quietly living his life, as he was. I truly believe he reached a level of contentment in his later life, though.

I sometimes wonder how he would have been if any of us had interrupted his flow. It was because we understood he didn’t want us to do that, therefore none of us did. It just shows how much we all loved and cared for him, that we didn’t. We’ll never know how it would have been, if we had. And that’s a sad thing for me, sometimes. All any of us wanted was the best for him. I still have a huge amount of respect for him.

What would you say to the sixteen year old Jenny Spires?

What a question! Well, I’d have to say have a good time and stay true.

How do you think Syd would like to be remembered?

I know he would love to be remembered for his wonderful songs. I think he would have loved to know how, deep down, he was really loved by all his friends from that time, too.

Thank you to Jenny Spires and also to Mike Herbage for his help in arranging this interview. 

Links:

sydbarrett.com

Michelle ‘MimiVonTussle’

A child of the 50s, remembers the 60s, partied in the 70s and was hung-over in the 80s. Used to sit in David Bowie’s garden, Biba’s shop window and leaned on the jukebox in SEX, stood up occasionally. Raised in Fulham by very cool parents and a stone’s throw from The Nashville, The Greyhound, Hammersmith Odeon and Kings Road. Still mourns the Speakeasy and Wardour Street’s Marquee plus other deceased London music venues and greasy spoons. Worked for Mary Quant in the 70s and enjoyed the social scene that went with it. Was surrounded by punk squats in the mid-70s and hung out at Beggar’s Banquet basement studio watching bands drink and rehearse while avoiding electrocution. Went to Lindsay Kemp’s mime classes with punk goddess Jordan, we were both rubbish. Grew up with Paul Cook and got hit over the head by Sid’s guitar at the Speakeasy. Saw many iconic gigs back in the day including New York Dolls at Biba’s Rainbow Room and Ziggy Stardust’s farewell show at Hammersmith. Lived in NY & LA in ’79, mainly went to gigs and posed in a leather jacket. Worked in live events production for The Hippodrome in the 80s and produced and directed fringe theatre while working in film and TV in the 90s. Still dabbles in publicity work and writes scripts which gather dust. Works at Ealing Studios and recently formed a film production company. Always listening to music and reads constantly, re-learning guitar and loves all things creative. Still writes with pen and paper. Started to talk to people at bus stops.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Articles Eyeplugs Features Front page Heroes Icons Interviews Music Picks Rock Tags:, , , , ,
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