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Author – Craig Brackenridge Part 2

This entry is part 6 of 9 in the series Old Dog Books

Scottish writer Craig Brackenridge has been writing about movie sleaze and demented Rock ‘n’ Roll since 1995 and has written for the magazines Street Sounds, Total Film, Bite Me, Best For Music, Dog Eat Robot and Mad Music For Bad People along with a number of album sleevnotes for Cherry Red Records.

His first book ‘Let’s Wreck’ was a part-biographical look at the Psychobilly scene from the early 1980’s to the 2000’s. 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 his books ‘Psychobilly’ (Old Dog Books), ‘Glory Boys’ (Caffeine Nights Publishing) and the blood-spattered Western ‘Apache Gold’ (Stormscreen Productions) are his contributions to the genre he loves.

01. Tell us about you latest offering for Old Dog Books?

‘Rave On Scooterboy’ is about Terry, a young scooterist in North London, 1988. He’s a committed scooterist but also curious about other underground scenes. Along with his workmate Stevie, he gets immersed in the growing rave scene and it starts to take over his life fairly quickly. Things move into overdrive when they start to promote their own illegal raves but along with the money, drugs and easy sex that come their way there is also trouble in the form of local hoodlum Ricky ‘Dodgy’ Harris. As things descend into chaos and bloodshed Terry realises that the only people that can help him are the ones he has let down the most.

02. What was the Scootering Scene like in the 80s?

There were far more committed scooterists than me about but from 1987-1991 it totally took over my life. It was one long blur of two-stroke engine fumes, pilot jackets with patches, army trousers with beer towels, great music, booze and bunk-ups (occasionally!!). The most amazing part was leaving your home town behind whenever possible and going to places where there were (literally) thousands of people that shared similar interests. The experience of keeping the same pants, trousers and boots on for three days straight was also unforgettable.

03. What began the change towards folks seeking new things like the Acid House Scene?

I think the attraction of being part of some underground scene must have attracted a lot of people who had not previously been part of any subculture. Mainstream clubs in the late 1980’s were mostly fucking awful – shirt, slacks, no trainers, no entry with a funny haircut, girls dancing round their handbags to Stock Aitken & Waterman then all out for a fight outside the kebab shop at closing time. Raving all night in a loved-up atmosphere must have seemed like nirvana to a lot of people.

04. What about new drugs like MDMA and ‘E’ becoming available to more and more people?

I’m not sure if the drug was created to enhance the music or the music enhanced the drug but it’s fair to say they both came together at exactly the right time. People that would quite happily knock lumps out of each other if they were on cheap speed or pissed up seemed to be happy to congregate with a ‘dove’ down their neck.

05. How did people react to the vastly different music on offer at the Rave type events?

I’m sure the drugs must have played a large part. If you were ‘on one’, as youths of that time used to say, it was almost like an epiphany and the music, the lights and the whole experience made sense. If you weren’t then it probably seemed like a sweaty hell-hole in a disused building with someone’s car alarm going of at ear-splitting volume. I don’t think there was any grey area with the music – you either got it with a semi-religious fervour or thought it was shit.

06. Was the ‘Rave Culture’ partly responsible for the end of tribalism in Youth Cultures?

I honestly don’t know what happened but it did seem to ‘blend-in’ a wide range of punters. I’m sure there are still hardcore ravers out there somewhere but I suspect that any Mods, Punks or Scooterists that drifted on to the acid house scene have long since drifted back to their original style. I think the warehouse rave scene got so much national publicity that many people just got involved out of curiosity and then got kind of swept along by it for a few years. There’s no doubt that things did change around then. Before 1988, subcultures were fairly insular and there was not much crossover but I’m not sure if rave was totally to blame. It could have been grunge, the internet… I don’t know? Thatcher?

07. What was it like to ‘mobile’ on a Scooter in huge numbers and take over Seaside Towns?

It always amazed me the buzz that emanated from the big coastal runs. You started of with a few mates from your town, met a bundle more in the city then the numbers slowly grew with every mile that you got closer to your destination until all you could see were scooters. The first time I went to Scarborough, in 1987, I was shocked by the numbers that were there, it felt like scooterists had taken over the town completely.

08. What types of bands were popular with 80s Scooterists?

So many styles of music were part of the scene and that’s what attracted me to it in the first place. The majority of the events I attended were from the Midlands up and my booze-soaked memories certainly recall Northern Soul, Motown, Ska, 60’s Garage, Psychobilly, Punk, revival Mod and even some Glam Rock. Psychobilly bands that played quite a big role at runs, scooter do’s etc. were The Meteors, King Kurt, The Coffin Nails and The Highliners and no matter where you were someone was always playing Al Wilson’s ‘The Snake’ and Billy Ocean’s ‘Red Light Spells Danger’.

09. How does ‘Rave on Scooterboy’ compare with ‘Psychobilly’ your other ODB title?

‘Rave On Scooterboy’ is a real step forward for me, with a lot of research behind it to build up the story. ‘Psychobilly’ was basically autobiographical with names and places changed to protect the guilty. Generally though, I strongly believe that the experience of belonging to a street culture, or movement if you like, is a pretty shared experience. That feeling of being part of something is an unbeatable feeling, so this book should have a pretty wide appeal. If you were there you can remember the feeling, if you were not you might wish you were.

10. Where can folks grab a copy of ‘Rave on Scooterboy’?

Straight from the folks who are putting the boot back on the bookshelf with modern pulp fiction – www.olddogbooks.net

 

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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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June 10, 2016 By : Category : DozenQ Eyeplugs 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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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

November 30, 2015 By : Category : Culture Features Front page Interviews Literature Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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