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Author – Roger Marriott

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series Old Dog Books

Roger Marriott was born on a council estate in West London in 1967, and grew up in the 70’s and 80’s with a whole heap of bad music around me! In 1979 I discovered sixties soul which became the main soundtrack of my youth. For a big chunk of my career I strove to become a decent graphic designer. Later I had the chance to run some quite sizable marketing agencies, which I very much enjoyed. Now, I’m a London Taxi driver, which gives me great material for my main passion which is writing and enough head space to do it.



01. How did you get started in the world of words?

One day I asked my English teacher if I could use swearing in an essay – she said that if it was relevant that I could. At fourteen I made sure that I made it relevant just to get it in without a detention. She taught me that writing didn’t need to be stuffy to be considered good, which was inspirational.

02. Has it been a struggle getting your first book published?

Well, my first one was in 1994 – and that was a struggle for many reasons. Over the last twenty years it has got harder for authors, there is no doubt about that. Most publishers generally won’t read work that comes directly from an author; it seems that everyone needs an agent now.

03. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print, how did that feel?

My first novel, Waterstones – Tottenham Court Road in 1994. It felt surreal.

04. What was the main reasons that you started to write seriously?

I felt the need to tell a story, and believed that I could do it. I love the challenge of sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper, knowing that within a certain space of time, you as a human being can create something from words that no one has ever seen.

05. What’s a typical working day like when you are writing?

I’m up pretty early and getting the coffee down me. Then I’ll scope out what I need to achieve that day. Usually I start with the good old pen and paper, that’s how I work creatively – nowhere near a laptop for this stage. Sometimes I’ll fire up my old Lambretta and go for a spin to a local coffee shop and do some work there. Then once I’m happy with the sound of it creatively, I’ll start crafting it on the laptop, chipping away or adding bits to make it flow nicely.

06. What were your teenage experiences that helped to shape your later mindset?

There are so many, what a question! I guess a chunk of them are in my novel East of Acton which is semi-autobiographical. But I think the resounding one was that at fourteen I loved graphic design, like a lot of young people at the time I was into The Jam. I’d done some very rudimentary illustrations and cover designs and decided to phone Polydor records up and tell them about my work. I ended up going to their offices and meeting their creative director which had a lasting impression on me: If you want something and think you can add something, then do it, you have nothing to lose.

07. What was it like to be young in the 80s involved in Street Cultures, what were your pointers and outlook?

It was quite dangerous, but brilliant at the same time. There were so many youth cults out there that seemed to exist all at once – very exciting. I was seriously into the Mod thing which very much promoted a positive stance. It was all about progression.

08. What was that 80s period in London like for you as a young man outside of the Music world?

Busy and very positive. Outside of youth culture my work was my passion and at that time progression in the work place for working class kids wasn’t so much of an issue. Social mobility was possible. With a lot of hard work and some talent you could get somewhere.

09. How did the Media distort what was going on with youth culture at that time?

Apart from big names like The Jam, the media more or less ignored the Mod thing – a flash in the pan 79’ revival and then silence. We were invisible. I think the media always promote their agenda no matter what era. That’s why having the internet now is such a bonus – people can see and connect with what they are into, it can’t be hidden.

10. What music, films and books helped you to the pathway of all things alternative?

Wow, how much space have I got? Films such as Taxi Driver, Meantime, Nil by Mouth, The Long Good Friday and obviously Quadrophinia to name but a few. Books, Brighton Rock, 1984, On the Road, To Kill a Mockingbird, City of Spades, Iron in the Soul… just too may to list!

11. What other books do you wish you had written?

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, it was his first novel and is amazing and Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, it just moves at such a pace, you feel like you are in Monterey Bay with him.

12. How has the internet changed what you do?

Great for research and connecting with likeminded people, a real bonus.

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?

Write from the heart and just keep going. Write because you enjoy it, not because you want to become a millionaire, because it’s odds on that you won’t.

14. What projects are you planning for the future and please feel free to plug your latest book?

I’m writing the beginning of two new novels at the moment because I can’t decide between their concepts. I’ll see how they stack up after a chapter or two and then shelve one for later.

East of Acton has just been published and is available at: www.olddogbooks.net and www.amazon.co.uk

15. What has been the re-action so far to your book?

Well, it’s just about to be published, so we will have to see.

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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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June 10, 2016 By : Category : Culture Features Front page Interviews Literature Music Soul Tags:, , , , , , ,
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Author – Steve Piper

This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series Old Dog Books

Who am I?

Good question. All I do know is that I was born in the glorious year of ’69 among the royal hunting grounds of Epping. Born an accident but thankfully loved enough by one. The other only seemed to love himself. A sister soon followed me and then he upped and followed his own dream soon after, leaving us with our mum, nanny
and grandad.

Mum did well and I remember being a happy child. Mum met Al, a real diamond with a ‘70s moustache. We all moved in together on Chingford Hall estate, mum, me and Jo; Al, Adrian and Elaine. A ready-made Waltons! If only things were that simple. Always having to play catch up throughout my childhood was exhausting. Money was hard to come by but somehow I blagged it. I was a tearaway, ripping around the estate, vandalising, setting fires.

My oldest friendship was formed on that estate; a bond that was initially made through music, fashion, circumstance, tolerance and understanding; I was a hard one to get along with. We are still in touch today. A move to Walthamstow accelerated further forays into fashion, music and occasional criminality. And there I remained for the best part of 14 years, eventually leaving school with 4 cse’s, finding work as a carpet fitter and spending my evenings and weekends with mates, listening to music, fighting, riding scooters, drinking, visiting seaside resorts with hundreds of others, taking drugs, meeting girls; one of whom, Melissa I eventually settled down with and had two children, Charlie and Rebecca.

Then came the wilderness years; long hair, beards, surfing, camper vans, grunge, US punk and rock music, all resulting in a move to Cornwall where we lived happily for 14 years. Renewed and newly formed friendships made by chance and through the ‘net softened an aversion to all things past and we began exploring the revitalised scene that had once been our life. It was fun.

Kids grew up, moved up to London and Brighton (no work in Cornwall, poorest county in England by all accounts), we followed. And here I am…

01. How did you get started in the world of words?

I’ve always had a hunger for the written word. As a kid I was an avid reader, a fantasist; I played out stories in my head. The first proper books I read were probably ‘The machine gunners’ by Robert Westall; I love it and still own a copy, and the Enid Blyton books. I would imagine that I was part of the gang; Secret Seven, Famous Five. Most of my early reads tended to be about belonging.

As time went on I suffered from a lack of parental persuasion that meant that I never got to explore any talent that I may have had for the written word despite my English teacher at senior school singling me out for praise and encouragement. I loved English at school. I was also a good actor but these things didn’t seem to matter in the East London of the ‘80s.

My first writing in print came about as part of the ‘80s mod movement. I produced a fanzine called ‘Listen here’ with my best mate Darin Gosling. The title was a nod to the Brian Auger track on ‘Befour Befour’ (Forget the release date; it’s a great mod club dancer!).

LH was a London-centric rag but I think it was well put together. It ran for 4 issues. I would be interested to know if anyone has any copies. I have none. After this initial dip of the toes I didn’t write for a very long time.

02. Has it been a struggle getting your first book published?

Soul destroying! I’ve never thought I was good enough to be worth anything so I took any perceived ‘rejection’ badly. I wrote ‘Too Much Too Young’ approximately 10 years ago after a difficult period in my life. It was initially a very naïve attempt, full of typos, timeline errors and poor grammar and yet it got some interest from mainstream dealers.

Feedback was that I had something that was commercial and interesting but that they were unsure how they would market it despite me explaining why I thought it was marketable (The Specials had reformed and were touring, Amy Whitehouse and the Ordinary Boys were name checking them).

One lady found my prose too ‘street’!! All those who expressed initial interest lost their bottle. I lost heart and put it away, got on with paying the rent. This summer just gone, my daughter Rebecca completed her journalism course and we were having a chat in the garden. She asked if she could get it out and have a look. She encouraged me to punt it out again. So I sent Paul Hallam a proposal which he liked and bob’s your carbuncle as they say.

03. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print, how did that feel?

I once wrote a piece about the London mod scene for Teletext in the ‘80s. That was my first experience of how hacks can take something and weaken it. The finished article was a very watered down version. It was edited to death. I was embarrassed by it.

I wrote for mate’s fanzines but this didn’t feel like ‘real’ writing although I felt I had a knack for it. I also wrote some pieces for George Marshall’s
‘Skinhead Times’.

My first proper piece in print was for Scootering magazine. I wrote a piece about a very eventful journey to Exmouth mod rally. I think I still have a copy of
it somewhere.

I find it anxiety inducing to know that a piece I have written is about to be scrutinised by many. I have a tendency to focus on what has been edited out rather than the fact that they have decided to use it. It’s a natural default of mine. I am getting better at enjoying the exposure. An old friend Guy Joseph once told me ‘even bad press is good press’. I’m not convinced. We live in an ultra-critical age and it takes strength of character to absorb some of the diatribe that can be
flung around.

04. What were the main reasons that you started to write seriously?

My overactive imagination and noisy brain is my driver. I have tons of ideas with lots of gaps to fill. I like to use a very expressive, descriptive style of writing; I visualise as I write. I can taste, smell and feel when I write. I also found a lot of writing about youth culture, fashion and music was too intellectualised and analytical. I am not convinced that this is how it should be. What is there
to analyse?

It was what we did; it was exciting, inspiring, violent, heart breaking, adventurous, brave but mostly it was just good youthful exuberance. Through my writing I try to get those feelings across to those that weren’t there and to remind those
that were.

You can’t rewrite history, though many try, but you can use it to make a very enjoyable story. I believe that any observational piece about bygone eras, fashion, music, whatever, is ‘a truth thy own’; disputable but hard to disprove.

05. What’s a typical working day like when you are writing?

Real life gets in the way. I write in the evenings and at weekends mainly as I have to hold down a day job. I carry a notebook around with me and try to write ideas, thoughts, down as I go. I’m not very consistent to be honest and often kick myself if I forget something later on. I get frustrated if I start something and it loses its flow. I have tons of unfinished bits and bobs lying around and I am my own harshest critic.

06. What were your teenage experiences that helped to shape your later mind set?

I would suggest that my old man fleeing the nest when I was 3 years old had the biggest impact on my teenage years. This shaped me in many ways and caused me to seek out qualification through association. I was drawn to the company of others, gangs: the more ‘on the fringe’ and tougher the better.

Adopting rudeboy fashion in the early ‘80s helped fuel an early interest in Jamaican music: a flame that was initially ignited by finding and listening to Prince Busters ‘Al Capone’ from my mum’s collection of two 7” singles at a very young age. Bravery of curiosity and exploration rewards those who step outside
the lines.

To choose a different path to others, through deliberation or circumstance, takes effort, dedication and often courage; strength of character to continue doing what you want to do despite negativity, abuse or ridicule from those who would never understand. This was a long lesson I learnt from those who I hung out with as a teenager and all through in to my adulthood.

Many of the most creative people I have met have interesting and often chaotic stories to tell about their formative teenage years. They were those
curious explorers.

07. What was it like to be involved in ‘80s Street Cultures, what were your pointers and outlook?

Tribalism; and it was great. The lines were drawn and obvious unlike nowadays. It made the world an interesting and often violent place. I have been a rudeboy, casual, mod and skinhead. I loved them all.

The most important thing to remember is that the fashions and movements I got involved in were without question created and promoted on the street. Wearing the wrong or inferior item could create hell for you. We had no internet to guide us. Specialist shops were exactly that. We watched the older lads and learnt. Word of mouth was the key.

It was innovative, even the casuals; a happening that surprisingly seems to be so fondly remembered by many nowadays, were creating and evolving all the time. I have a memory of two lads with the same size feet buying Adidas Gazelles in different colours then swapping one over so they could wear one burgundy and one ultra-blue at the same time!

As far as my mod influences went: the East London and Essex mods were top (I know others will dispute this). I liked the fact they dressed smart but weren’t prissy. They weren’t scared to fight back and I liked that. They also promoted R&B sounds rather than the glut of Northern Soul that was doing the rounds at clubs. R&B felt so much more authentic to me, so much more mod.

I was lucky to have a cousin Jim Watson who edited a fanzine called ‘Right Track’, another London-centric ‘zine, with Garry Moore. He used to send me copies which I initially found confusing as I was a Who/Jam mod at the time. What I read though influenced me greatly. I have loved hard, sharp styling, dark well-fitting mohair, great shoes and the blues ever since. My mates used to joke that I was a skinhead in mod clothing.

I loved the mod scene but jumped ship when it became too ‘Austin Powers’ for me. I had always admired the smart and sussed skinhead styling of the Camden crew and this just seemed a natural progression for me as I was already mixing with them. This was the period that had the biggest impact on me without a doubt. Collecting reggae records, wearing good gear, great friendships, drinking hard and having a rep: it was the best and most influential time for me.

08. What was that 80s period in London like for you as a young man (outside of the Music world)?

Despite high unemployment in Britain at the time I never felt the impact. I lived in London. I left school and got a job the next day. It was a busy time. Most of my mates and me were well employed and flush. And we spent it like water. London was evolving as it always has done from the beginning of time, not always for the better (I worked on the Docklands developments) and as always it was a hive of activity. It was easy to take it for granted.

What we also took for granted was the gradual degradation of the estates, areas and community that we grew up in. Funding was squeezed, leaving maintenance and repair short. Thatcher’s reign seemed intent on destroying the working class and our environment. I’m not entirely convinced that she didn’t succeed in this. Violence was a regular occurrence. I witnessed a murder of a youth I knew in my home road and lost a couple of school mates through the ‘80s, stabbed and hacked to death.

I was partial to a scrap myself, never spiteful or malicious but it became a habit. I found myself in serious trouble in the late ‘80s, three court appearances in one year. I narrowly avoided imprisonment. It was a big turning point for me. I knew I was not kitted out to do bird. My favourite place to hang out in the mid to late ‘80s was Camden Town. It’s hard to explain how youth-driven, how creative a place Camden was. There were punks, rockabillies, skinheads, metalheads, blacks, whites, French, Italian, Spanish; all sharing the same space and it was okay. Fights happened as they did everywhere folk happened to drink but the next weekend we went back. In the ‘80s I worked to live. Now I often wonder if I am living to work.

09. How did the Media distort what was going on with youth culture at that time?

Mods were seen as a joke by anyone but mods. Even scooter boys took the piss out of us. When the media cottoned on to something we were doing they always made it look like a boy scouts movement, too soft, insipid, twee. Being ‘revivalists’ allowed the implication that we were rehashing something that had died a natural death. What they could never see was how any cult can be reinvented and
enjoyed further.

You only have to look at the second generation skinheads in the late ‘70s to see how far any re-shape can go and though it is not everyone’s idea of progress or improvement, politics aside; it was their own creation and their right to do it. Any exposure of youth culture through the media was usually poorly researched and/or edited. It was always trivialised and made to appear quirky or presented as idiotic and anti-social.

Those I knew who were part of any youth cult, whatever that may be, took it very seriously and tended to demonstrate a distrust of the media. Football violence was harder to distort. It was real, in their faces, and after the ‘70s skinhead crews, came the ‘80s casual firms but the media never really caught on to this movement. Casuals are probably the least documented youth cult of all times.

10. What music, films and books helped you to the pathway of all things alternative?

I love my sounds deep, dark, heavy and gritty; organic and real. As a young teenager I was surrounded by reggae, 2 Tone, new wave and punk. I was immediately aware that you could dress in a way that told those in the know where your allegiances lay. Madness and The Specials were without any doubt my earliest fashion influences. Those brogue shoes the Nutty Boys wore! The MA1 flight jackets, Fred Perry’s and sta prest trousers! 2 Tone introduced me to early reggae; Trojan, Pama, Studio 1. This was an almighty revelation leading on to further exploration of roots, dub and version galore.

The Clash, Ian Dury, The Jam and Joy Division among others set me up for alternative sounds in turn leading me on to heavier sounds; American ‘hardcore’ (read punk) bands such as Fugazi, Bad Religion and Jesus Lizard. Proper, original blues and R&B continue to season my senses; Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, Freddie King are favourites and get regular spins in my home. I’m also listening to a lot of R.L.Burnside and Junior Kimbrough at the moment. It’s all strands of the same web.

Image-wise I have always had an affinity with outlaws, oddballs and the hip whether in film or music. Quadrophenia was the film. Not the most original influence I know but the most honest. Although to be fair I was already exploring pastures alternate by the time I saw the film. Remember we did not have the vast media that youngsters can access nowadays. Richard Barnes ‘Mods’ and Nick Knights ‘Skinhead’ were books I stole from the library.

At the time these provided the best, if not, the only reference to the original styles we sought. I was surprised when I met Richard recently that he was quite unaware of the impact his book had on second-generation mods and if you check out the pencil drawings in Nick’s book too, you will get it. Dicken’s Christmas Carol and MacInnes ‘Absolute Beginners’ ‘City of Spades’ are books close to my London heart. If you read them you will understand why.

11. What other books do you wish you had written?

The one’s still in my head! I have something in the pipeline which I am hoping those Old Dogs will like! Watching the first Rambo film ‘First Blood’ lead me to read the novel of the same name by David Morrell. This read highlighted the power of descriptive writing for me. The novel is a darker and more claustrophobic tale; more dangerous, more tangible than the film it inspired.

12. How has the internet changed what you do?

It hasn’t much to be honest. I am still quite a novice regarding formatting, promoting and things like that but I have a lot of support. What I have found the net invaluable for is research. When I proof read ‘Too Much Too Young’ I was able to cross check and ensure that details were kept as accurate as humanly possible. The instant accessibility is something we all take for granted. Before the ‘chip it was a trod to the local library for referencing.

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?

Find your own style and be confident in presenting it. There are many copyists and only one you. If the writing works the right person will notice it. It happened to me.

14. What projects are you planning for the future and please feel free to plug your latest book?

‘Too Much Too Young’ is a fictional story set in East London of a friendship between two very different lads who are brought together through a love of 2 Tone music and the associated fashion of rudeboy. Set in the early ‘80s it explores their coming of age in parallel with Thatcher’s first term in office. It’s a good mix of teenage naivety and gritty realism; a strong blend of dark and light; black
and white.

The aim is for the first press to be released in December all things being equal then I am looking to get out and about promoting it with plans to get to Brighton, Bristol and hopefully the Midlands.

Following this I intend to get my head down and complete a novel I am in the process of writing; a crime caper set in the ‘80s that provides an intimate insight into that elusive cult; the casual. It’s going well and I hope it will be a well-received follow-up to ‘Too Much Too Young’.

I am also thinking of approaching a well-known ‘80s band member with a view to co-writing his biography. I cannot exaggerate the stories he can tell. This chap has lived a life!

I am also writing articles for publication. One of which will be in the next edition of ‘Street sounds’.

15. What has been the re-action so far to your first book?

Paul Hallam at Old Dog Books has shown belief since I first presented him with the proposal for ‘Too Much Too Young’. His enthusiasm is an antidote for any doubt or lack of motivation one can experience. My favourite email from him (of which there are many) is the one where he said that a scene in ‘Too Much Too Young’ gave him vertigo!

We have already received interest from the 2 Tone museum in Coventry and shops have already put in advance orders. I can’t give too much away as Paul would feed my knackers to the old dogs but ‘Two Much Too Young’ has already got the stamp of approval from very special quarters.

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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 30, 2015 By : Category : Culture Front page Interviews Literature Tags:, , ,
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Author – Matteo Sedazzari

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series Old Dog Books

01. How did you get started in the world of words?

I was inspired by Acid House. I attended clubs and warehouse parties, and was overwhelmed by the energy and passion of those nights. I was too young for Punk and even with the Mod revival of the late 70s I was still a school boy in short trousers, figure of speech. So this was really my first counterculture, I was old enough to be an active member. It felt like a revolution, dancing with attitude, passion and style, I loved it. I was reading a lot of Ken Kesey, Hunter S Thompson, Jack Kerouac at the time, and my then girlfriend was studying journalism at the Elephant and Castle, so I was surrounded by words, if you get my drift. I was reading the back of a Ken Kesey book, Demon Box and it included the words Positive Energy of Madness, I loved it, I thought let’s do a fanzine called Positive Energy of Madness.

Using the photocopier at work, I knocked it out and sold it around clubs and record shops. But in hindsight Acid House was too hedonistic to be deep, in a nutshell it was all about losing the plot, but I had fun, interviewed a lot of the DJs like Danny Rampling, Andy Weatherall and even got to interview Paul Weller, as he was dabbling with house music at the time, a lot of people forget that.

02. Has it been a struggle getting your first book published?

I have to give a little bit of history to answer that question. Paul Hallam is my publisher , and before I wrote Crafty Cigarette, Paul and I were friends, still are, plus I was and still am doing an online fanzine called ZANI. I emailed him an article which I had written about a forgotten band from the early 70’s called Jook, a terrace band from Scotland and London that sounded like The Who. Paul loved it, really loved it then I saw an article in his magazine, Street Sounds, about Richard Allen, author of the Skinhead books and youth pulp fiction. It dawned on me I could write a youth pulp fiction.

I called Paul and told him I had a novel ready called A Crafty Cigarette about growing up in the Mod revival in the suburbs during the late 70’s and early 80’s, would he like to put it out, he paused for a second, and said yes. I hadn’t even written a word, let alone had a plot, just a title, but I knew I could do it, so I started writing it and bingo, Crafty Cigarette was published. I know this sounds easy, but I spent many years writing as a labour of love, meeting new people, so I applied my trade in the evenings, and my time had come to get a book out and hopefully go further as a writer.

03. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print, how did that feel?

My first interview in my fanzine Positive Energy of Madness was with British Rapper Dizzie Heights, he had a club track out called Would I Found Love, it was an anthem back in the day. I was very proud, looked at it the other day, it’s naive and badly written, but so what, I was driven by passion.

04. What were the main reasons that you started to write seriously?

To be creative, that simple, and be happy, sorry I really can’t go deep on this one, because I just write because I love it, better than going down the pub or watching X factor.

05. What’s a typical working day like when you are writing?

Same as a day job, start at ten in the morning, finish at six in the evening. If I write in the evening, it will from six to nine with the phone on silence and in a drawer. I have a schedule and keep to it, I don’t need inspiration as I am full of ideas and energy all the time and I don’t get writer’s block, just sit in front of the PC and hit the keyboards. For sure some days I will be more productive, I am disciplined.

06. What were your teenage experiences that helped to shape your later mindset?

A lot. I think school and my hatred for teachers, then discovering The Jam’s All Mod Cons via my brother’s record collection when I was 12. Seeing all these exciting bands appearing on Top of the Pops, Madness, The Specials, The Beat, Secret Affair and hearing about a new film called Quadrophenia by a band I hadn’t heard of called The Who. Getting back into The Beatles, then calling myself a Mod before I owned or wore one item of Mod clothing. I became a Mod, as it gave the outsider a voice and its own rules, different from school, parents , the police or the church, I am pretty much like that now as then, as I ain’t corporate culture, do not trust the police, don’t go to church, but now I don’t belong to any tribe, just make up my own mind, I like to be me and…. Free

07. What was it like to be an 80s suburban Modernist, what were your pointers and outlook?

It was good fun, remember we were still school boys, so we were school boys in Parkas causing mischief and mayhem in our town centre, we didn’t have the money nor allowed to go into London due to our age, so we created our own world, even made a role-playing game called Mods and Rockers, based on Dungeons and Dragons, we should have patented it, I would be a rich man today. I suppose The Jam especially Paul Weller and Ian Page of Secret Affair were our pointers, as they offered debate in their interviews, they were stylish angry young men from two good bands, they gave us an insight as well as making us dance. Richard Barnes Mods! book was our bible, from that we learnt how to be different as Mods, drop the Parka be daring with our clothes, so my outlook was to be different yet to belong to a gang, like any gang we had our own values and rules, good or bad, but they were ours.

08. What was that 80s period in London like for you as a young man outside of the Mod world?

I got into London when I was a late teen, well after the Mod thing. During the heyday of the Mod revival, we would only venture into London, well Carnaby Street, to go shopping during the school holidays, it was an adventure and could be dangerous, due to the Skinheads who liked to pick on kids. Then a few years later a good friend of mine worked in a clothes shop in Fulham, so we, well me and two others, started hanging out around there and ventured into the Kings Road, it was the days when Levis 501’s and other fifties type clothes were big, along with slick back hair or fifties style hair cuts. London was fun, still is, we just did what any 18 to 19 kids did, or some, dressed up, went to clubs or bars, drank, smoked weed and chatted girls up. But not the depth of Mod, and I was missing that as I am, and was back then, a deeper thinker. I was living for the moment, so I wasn’t studying what was going on, all I can say is that we left suburbia and found that London had more to offer than the local pub, and I still feel like that now. I could go into detail about certain things, but that would be like Uncle Albert from Only Fools ‘n’ Horses with his war stories.

09. How did the Media distort what was going on with youth culture at that time?

The media love a scapegoat and will distort it, of course they will as the journalists will see things at face value, not go deep and want to scaremonger the nation, create panic and hatred. The original youth culture, The Teds, faced the first wrath of the media. There’s an excellent book called Teddy Boys a Concise History by Ray Ferris and Julian Lord, that really goes into detail about how the media distort the truth and exaggerate events. I experienced this more with The Sun and Acid House in the late 80’s. I was attending a few ‘raves’, how I hate the word, that made The Sun headlines, and what they reported and what I experienced were two totally different things, in lay man’s terms, why couldn’t they write 1,000 plus or whatever the figure was, about kids dancing in harmony until the early hours, they were having fun, no trouble. No they wanted to make out it’s evil, cos it sells papers. But I suppose it all adds to youth or counter cultures being rebellious cos if the parents or the establishment get it and like it, then it ain’t worth doing.

10. What music, films and books helped you onto the pathway of all things Modernist?

OK I will answer in terms of which of the above influenced me during my time as a school boy Mod, otherwise the list would be endless. Music: The Jam, Secret Affair, Motown and Atlantic Soul, The Who, Small Faces and even they were not Mods, The Beatles. Films: well not Quadrophenia as I didn’t see that until late 1982 on video, but Midnight Cowboy, Blackboard Jungle, To Sir With Love, Ealing comedies, Z, Saturday Night Sunday Morning, If, Unman, Wittering and Zigo. Books: George Orwell, was reading that before Weller name dropped it, as my brother gave me Animal Farm when I was 11 years old, Jack London, loved his work, 101 Dalmatians, loved the feel of London in that book. Wind in the Willows, Emil and The Detectives, both magical books, James Herbert The Rats. I would like to say music was more of an influence In terms of the pathway to Modernist, but the films and the books did shape me, and all I have mentioned are still important to me now.

11. What other books do you wish you had written?

Harlan Ellison’s Memos From Purgatory, he wrote this when he was 19, with no publishing deal, saved up and went to live in Hell’s Kitchen in the 50s, joined a street gang so he could research them, that shows a true writer with a lot of courage. Dostoyevsky Notes from Underground, a great narrative of struggling but a lot of black humour, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, pulp fiction at its best and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, an amazing thriller written in two first person accounts, how she switches from the male and the female and develops the plot is overwhelming, first book in years I read in one reading. Loved them all.

12. How has the internet changed what you do?

Yes and for the better, no printing costs, that’s if you have your own website, and especially with blogging platforms, you don’t need to be an expert web designer to get an article published. You write it, lay it out, hit publish and bang it’s out on the net, then plug via FaceBook, Twitter etc. I love the Internet, not just in terms of self-interest, but information and films, music that are there 24/7, but I make a rule, I don’t surf after ten pm, do people still say surf ? I like to watch a film, then read a book.

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?

Just do it, set yourself an agenda and timetable, keep to it, with no excuses and have fun.

14. What projects are you planning for the future and please feel free to plug your latest book?

Well I am plugging Crafty Cigarette, which is fun, enjoying that, learning about marketing, trying to get some reviews, which will happen. Penning a collection of short stories, under the working title of Love Is?, which is influenced by Harlan Ellison, Hunter S Thompson, Chuck Palahniuk , gonzo and insane short stories about everyday life from love to work, need a break from writing about Mod and want to test myself as a writer.

15. What has been the re-action so far to your first book?

Good, been on London Live radio and BBC Surrey, getting plugs all over the social media, even getting fan emails, been trolled, but too draining and boring to talk about. But got a long way to go before I can give a real answer, as it’s early days, but I am loving it.

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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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November 30, 2015 By : Category : Culture Features Front page Interviews Literature Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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Author – Craig Brackenridge

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series Old Dog Books

Avid Scottish writer Craig Brackenridge has been writing about movie sleaze and demented Rock ‘n’ Roll ever since 1995 and has written for the magazines Total Film, Bite Me, BFM and The Encyclopedia of Cinematic Trash.

His first book ‘Let’s Wreck’ was a part-biographical look at the Psychobilly scene from the early 1980’s to the 2000’s. This mutated music genre grinds together the very best of Punk, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rockabilly and many other boot-stomping forms of music into a hellbound racket that has been starved of the oxygen of the mainstream music press for too long.

In a bid to continue to record the history of Psychobilly for posterity he launched ‘Vinyl Dementia: The Psychobilly & Trash Record Guide’ in 2004. ‘Hell’s Bent On Rockin’: A History of Psychobilly’ followed in 2005 and was an attempt to chronicle the entire Psychobilly genre for Cherry Red Books. After the mammoth task of ‘Hell’s Bent…’ Craig decided to move into fiction as he has been a long-time fan of exploitative pulp paperbacks from the 1970’s. Short snappy novels filled with bikers, skinheads, teddy boys, boot boys, youth gangs, randy window cleaners, sexually frustrated housewives and ruthless characters from the old west are what he enjoys the most and both ‘Psychobilly – The Novel’ and the blood-spattered Western ‘Apache Gold’ are his contributions to the genre he loves.

He currently writes for the music magazines Street Sounds (UK), Mad Music For Bad People (UK) & DogEatRobot (Italy) and has created sleevenotes for selected rockin’ releases from Cherry Red Records and Triumph / Western Star Records. More fiction featuring mods, rockers, ravers, cowpokes, zombies, truckers, hookers and New Town swingers is in the pipeline.

01. How did you get started in the world of words?

I always wanted to be a writer but was generally too lazy. In 1995 I was mostly working late shifts at a massive branch of Tower Records in Glasgow and with access to stacks of books, movies and music I thought I would start work on my own fanzine. Tower sold loads of fanzines from Indie writers so I reckoned I could write it there, print it there (on their photocopier) and then sell it there. That was my first finished work, the shortlived ‘Encyclopedia of Cinematic Trash’ which featured film reviews and news on horror, Blaxploitation and Spaghetti
Western flicks.

02. Has it been a struggle getting your first book published?

I waited years for someone to write a book on Psychobilly and it never happened, so eventually I thought I would write one myself. That became ‘Let’s Wreck: Psychobilly Flashbacks From the Eighties and Beyond.’ It’s a pretty slim book that was part history of Psychobilly and part recollections of how I originally got in to the genre and my experience singing in a number of low-level Psychobilly & Trash bands. I financed the publishing of that myself, on the imprint Stormscreen Productions, using a well-rattled visa card but thankfully the book sold pretty well. That allowed me to publish, ‘Vinyl Dementia’, and then an early version of the novel ‘Psychobilly’. This then led to my publishing deal with Cherry Red Records for ‘Hell’s Bent On Rockin’.

03. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print, how did that feel?

I had an article on Blaxploitation films published in Total Film magazine and I was buzzing with excitement. They made a pretty big spread of it, it looked fantastic and they paid me £110 for writing it. I thought that was my writing career off to a flyer… then I never made a bean for another three years.

04. What were the main reasons that you started to write seriously?

I always felt, and still do really, that two of my favourite things – Psychobilly culture & exploitation paperbacks – have always deserved a bigger audience and some decent books. That’s what drove me to get started and that’s probably still what keeps me bashing my keyboard.

05. What’s a typical working day like when you are writing?

In the past few years as I’ve been writing regularly for magazines it helps to have a lot of deadlines and stay motivated. When I’m writing fiction I sometimes go long periods of time without doing much other than research but when I really get into it on a daily basis I listen to music for a bit to get me into it then just write solid for 2-3 hours, take a break for 10 mins then repeat. The first half hour of each session is usually shite that gets edited out but if I get in the swing I never notice the
time passing.

06. What were your teenage experiences that helped to shape your later mindset?

So far all my fiction has been a thinly-veiled re-run of my teenage years with names & places changed to protect the guilty. Apart from my Western novel ‘Apache Gold’ – I’ve never been a bloodthirsty 19th Century Lawman (as far as I can remember).

07. What was it like in the 80s to be involved in Street Cultures, what were your pointers and outlook?

I know history would like to paint the 1980’s as a time of shite pop and yuppies but it was fiercely tribal. If you did decide to get involved in a subculture it was an amazing buzz because you got to meet people from all over the country and really feel part of something but it also meant that there was a lot of hassle from other subcultures. When me and my mates went out in Glasgow there were only a few pubs & clubs that would even let you through the door. This created an ‘alternative’ scene that rubbed shoulders with Punks, Goths, Skins and Scooterists. I loved this part of it as I’ve always had a wide range of musical tastes. Glasgow has always had a lot of religious and territorial divisions over the years and the alternative scene seemed to ignore that – which was a bonus.

08. What was that 80s period in London like for you as a young man outside of the Music world?

When a group of us first travelled down in the late 1980’s to the legendary Klub Foot in Hammersmith’s Clarendon Hotel that was like entering Psychobilly Valhalla. The Glasgow Psychobilly scene was not huge so to see that many Psychobillies and top bands in one room was jaw-dropping. To be honest, my memories of every trip down to the big smoke are pretty sketchy. I was usually spark out with the booze before we reached Watford Gap but a few years later I played a gig at The Sir George Robey and that was pretty special as well. Both those venues have now been demolished and when I went to the 12 Bar in Soho last November it shut down a few weeks later – I must be a fucking jinx.

09. How did the Media distort what was going on with youth culture at that time?

Ah, don’t get me started. Apart from a brief love-affair with the music papers in the early 1980’s, Psychobilly has literally been starved of the oxygen of mainstream publicity since 1988. It’s as if it has never existed even though it has never been gone. The music press have always created an idealised picture of what they want people to believe is ‘hot’. The NME inflated the whole shoegaze / C86 Indie scene because it suited them but look in the actual Indie charts of the mid-late 80s – sure that type of stuff was selling but so were loads of Psychobilly, Trash and punk releases. Sounds was the only rock weekly that really reflected what was happening but unfortunately it closed down. I’m still dumbstruck by how little coverage some underground music genres receive.

10. What music, films and books helped you to the pathway of all things alternative?

Musically it was hearing the first two albums from The Meteors. I had always bought Punk & Rock ‘n’ Roll singles since I was a kid – bands like The Stray Cats, UK Subs, Matchbox, Darts, The Sex Pistols, The Clash etc. Hearing that The Meteors had taken the best of both these genres and created something new was literally life changing. There was no going back to drifting between Mod & Indie like I had been.

With films, ‘Quadrophenia’ was the starting point. I had always loved gritty TV drama like ‘The Firm’, ‘Made In England’ and rough Scottish TV plays like ‘Just A Boys Game’ and ‘Just Another Saturday’ but ‘Quadrophenia’ captured the true feeling of what it is like to be part of a movement and I never forgot that. When I got into Psychobilly a few years later I understood it even more.

My biggest book influence was a book about skinhead culture called ‘Spirit of ‘69’ by George Marshall. It captures the whole scene at that time in great detail and George published it on his own imprint S.T. Publishing, which later published the entire canon of cult 1970’s youthsploitation author Richard Allen and a magazine called ‘One Eyed Jacks’. I always wanted to write about the Psychobilly scene in the same way George wrote about the skinhead movement.

11. What other books do you wish you had written?

‘Confessions of a Window Cleaner’ and the Western thriller series ‘Edge’. I was born too late to cash in on a time when these type of books were in every bookshop in the country. I love exploitation paperbacks and I will keep writing this type of thing until they come back into fashion.

12. How has the internet changed what you do?

The internet has helped with research in a big way. I can find dates, maps, record releases etc. in seconds. When I wrote the reference book ‘Hell’s Bent On Rockin’ it nearly killed me – hours spent leafing through flyers and fanzines and scouring record sleeves and labels for names and dates. Now sites like Discogs cough up all that info in seconds. When writing fiction I mostly write about actual places and events and put the characters in between all that so it’s great to dig up old pictures from that period to get me in the mood.

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?

Don’t wait as long as I did to get started then keep at it. After getting a few early pieces published I kind of sat back but new writing can become old hat after a month or two so you have to keep going or lose momentum. Generally each book or article I have written has led on to the next one and as novel writing takes up so much time you have get yer thumb out on an almost daily basis.

14. What projects are you planning for the future and please feel free to plug your latest book?

An extended version of my novel ‘Psychobilly’ (with 33% more rockin’ & rumpo) is due to be released by Old Dog Books imminently. After that there is a late 1970’s Mods novel which I co-wrote, due in 2016. I’m still seeking a home for the printed version of my Western novel ‘Apache Gold’ then there is a Psychobilly-themed film in the works along with more smut & subculture fiction for Old Dog Books.

15. What has been the re-action so far to your first book?

The main thing people have so far mentioned is that they felt the book mirrored their own lives at that time, fairly accurately. Getting into Psychobilly for the first time seems to have been a shared experience from Dusseldorf to Dundee and all points inbetween.

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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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November 30, 2015 By : Category : Culture Features Front page Interviews Literature Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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Author – Paul Hallam

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Old Dog Books

01. How did you get started in the world of words?

I started my own fanzine ‘Sense of Style’ in 1983. It was sposed to be the professional word for the mod scene. It was all layed out to look like a mag rather than a fanzine. I think we spent too much time on the look and not enough on the content.

In 2011 I set up countdown books a publishing company with Eddie Piller and Cass Pennant. A year later myself and Garry Bushell began publishing Streetsounds magazine – now onto issue 13.

Old Dog Books is my latest imprint specialising in pulp fiction.

02. Has it been a struggle getting your first book published?

As a publisher I’ve never had one of my own published til now, with this photographic book of 80s mods. That came about in a weird way. Channel 4 contacted me to talk bout the mod scene back in my day. I showed the director Ewan Spencer my photos and he asked to borrow them. A week later he came back and said he wanted to publish a glossy art book using them. BUY HERE!

03. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print, how did that feel?

I wrote short stories about my youth for various books. I think my favourite pieces were in the book by Pete McKenna and Ian Snowball – Once Upon a Tribe. Since then I’ve written for quite a few books mainly about growing up a mod.

04. What was the main reasons that you started to write seriously?

I don’t often see the word serious and Hallam in same sentence.

05. What’s a typical working day like when you are writing?

There are no typical days.

06. What were your teenage experiences that helped to shape your later mindset?

All of them. Everybody has a story. I think it should be compulsary for every person in this country to be interviewed in their 50s and their
memories preserved.

07. What was it like to be an 80s involved in Modernism, what were your pointers and outlook?

For me it was amazing. It took me from being an average kid in suburbia and put me behind dj decks all over the UK and a large part of Europe. It gave me the confidence I exude today. It also gave me a big chunk of my close friends who are still here with me 30 plus years on.

08. What was that 80s period in London like for you as a young man outside of the Music world?

It was dangerous. the world hated mod for some reason. Every trip into a big town could be threatening. I got into more fights as a young mod than I ever have done at Millwall (usually on the loosing side). It was quite common to park my scooter outside my first job in Feltham and come back to find it kicked over.

09. How did the Media distort what was going on with youth culture at that time?

By the time I got involved 1980-81 the press had tired of mod. Occasionally they would write about something like the Untouchables band or do a bad story if somebody from eastenders had confessed to being a mod 20 years earlier – I think the Sun ran a story where Anita Dobsons head was stuck on a photo of Eddie Pillers parka in the mid 80s. Other than that they left us alone.

10. What music, films and books helped you to the pathway of all things alternative?

Music for me went in this order. Tommy Steele, Beatles, Solo Beatles, songs that the Beatles recorded by others leading on to…. the originals. So I would hear tracks from Please Please Me album. and then go check out Arthur Alexander, The Cookies, Isley Brothers. Which I guess lead me to mod indirectly.

Half A Sixpence is the best film ever. Quadrophenia. Loved it in 1981. Hated it in 1985. Finally understood it in 2012. Richard Barnes Mods book shaped my life. Why else would I have ever started drinking coffee?

11. What other books do you wish you had written?

I wish I had written all the books on Old Dog. I don’t have the attention span to write a whole book tho I do have an idea…

12. How has the internet changed what you do?

Makes things easier and yet harder. If I had started Countdown/Streetsounds or Old Dog Books back in the 90s I’d probably be selling 10 times more than we are now. But the other side of that is, we would have to be relying on shops and distribution etc. None of this mail order online stuff back then.

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?

Do it with passion but for fun. Not many authors sell as many books as
JK Rowling.

14. Please tell us about your exciting new venture Old Dog Books?

There was an article in Streetsounds about 2 years ago on 70s Pulp books. Richard Allen skinhead books etc. Craig Brackenridge met up with me January 2013 and showed me a short story he had written called Pyschobilly. I read it in an afternoon. I loved it. I asked Matteo to write me a short fiction story based on growing up Mod in suburbia last September. I then forgot bout it. 8 months later he messaged me and said ‘’ve nearly finished the book!’ I read the first draft. Loved it and thought why can’t we do this for all music genres?

So Craig got out Psychobilly. Rewrote it. Added some more chapters and that became book number 2. Steve Pipers story is even odder. He turned up at my 50th birthday with his draft novel – all printed out and bound nicely and said read this. I did and bang that’s book number 3 sorted!

15. What has been the re-action so far?

Terrific. We thought lets print 1000 copies of each book. Sell online and in a few shops but we now have a sales/distribution company working for us so the books will be in shops all over the country in the new year. Id like to produce 6 a year – 3 in late spring 3 for Christmas. Long plan is to get some or all them made into short TV plays/Films.

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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.

More Posts - Website

November 30, 2015 By : Category : Features Tags:, , , ,
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