Futurist pop legend Gary Numan answers 13 questions and tells us about getting arrested in India, his worst gig and why he doesn’t need to cook.
With a new album out and a Liverpool date on the horizon, Ant23 talks to Babybird about his incredible work rate, self-loathing and being spat at by Johnny Rotten.
Indie author, Gerard Canney, has released his debut novel, Ambition and talks about the writing process, austerity, self-publishing and much more.
Steve Lamacq comes to Liverpool with 6 Music and Banjo talked to the much loved DJ about festivals, gig etiquette and snogging couples.
As one of pop’s busiest men Glenn Gregory takes time out to talk to Getintothis’ Banjo about what he is up to and why he keeps himself so busy.
Allen, promoter, music fan extraordinaire and Liverpool legend, recently celebrated her 70th birthday, and we look back at a life less ordinary.
Banjo speaks to John Lydon about Manchester, advertising butter and his plans for the future.
Ponderosa Glee Boys sprang out of the late 70’s Eric’s crowd and have since achieved a cult status as one of Liverpool’s great lost bands.
Encouraged to start a band by none other than Jayne Casey, Ponderosa Glee Boys emerged as purveyors of fine post punk. Rooted more in the Public Image Ltd school rather than the New York/Velvet Underground influences of much of the Liverpool scene bands at the time, the Glee Boys stood out.
For a while, all was going well. Managed by the inestimable Doreen Allen, gigs at Eric’s, Brady’s and the Royal Court gave people a chance to catch them live and they signed to Inevitable Records, home of fellow scenesters Wah! Heat.
But there the good luck stopped and the band petered out. Unfortunately, Inevitable went bust before any records could be released, their singer left and the Glee Boys soon split up.
However, some high profile gigs and a lack of recorded material proved to be a potent mix for creating a mystique that kept the band in the minds of those involved in Liverpool’s music scene at the time.
And now, after all these years, the Ponderosa Glee Boys are back. With three Liverpool gigs over Christmas, the Glee Boys were finally able to show the world what it had been missing.
Ahead of this flurry of activity, Getintothis spoke to founder and vocalist Carl Eaton.
The Liverpool music scene of the late 70s was an incredibly fertile time and a great time to be starting a band. “It started for me at a very young age” says Carl, “The same as many others at the time by going to Eric’s and watching bands. It was something special, it was fresh and exciting to see Generation X, The Clash, The Stranglers – you know the ones. This gave a massive opportunity for local bands to fill in on some great support spots.
Big in Japan and The Spitfire Boys. were the first wave of Liverpool bands to hit and seeing all this going on really inspired me. Jayne Casey was the one who encouraged me to start a band and I learnt a lot from being around bands and a roadie Pink for Military Stand Alone.”
Getintothis: But with so many bands forming across the UK at the time, did it make a difference coming from Liverpool?
Carl Eaton: “We were a young punk band in a great place at the right moment. The Liverpool scene was very incestuous, everyone knew each other. It felt as if were all part of the same group. We signed for inevitable records with Wah! Heat and Dead or Alive though they ran out of money and folded before we could release anything.
Doreen Allen was our manager and looking back she had the patience of a saint as we were very difficult to manage. We wouldn’t turn up to record at times or turn up drunk, etc. We were a great live band and hated studios and the whole idea of sitting in a room listening over and over to the same song for hours on end.
We got sent to record our single on a couple of occasions except we just got stoned with the engineer so they sent us out of Liverpool to record in a place in Rossendale. Unfortunately, that engineer also lead us astray.”
So what happened to the band?
“We played some great gigs with some top bands like Killing Joke and John Peel loved us. We did a Peel Session that John replayed for us because he knew were skint and needed some spending money. I thought that was kind of him. I’m told we were one of his favourites.
The band got asked to play at the Futurama Festival at Stafford Bingley Hall with some other fantastic bands on the bill. We were told by the manager that Tommo, our singer, was leaving the band after the gig.
We came back to Liverpool and couldn’t find a suitable replacement so the band sat around for ages until we played Liverpool at the Warehouse with a brand new line up and me on vocals. It went down well but felt like flogging a dead horse so that was our final gig.”
How did the reunion come about?
“I now live in Australia and had a Facebook message asking if we would get back together and play a gig for the Liverpool homeless. At first, I thought it was a joke but after speaking to Alan Jones he convinced me it could be a fantastic night meeting up with some great old friends and it was for a great cause.
The other reason was that the venue belongs to Jayne Casey so it seemed fitting to end it there.
I got in touch with our original guitarist Dave Banks who agreed straight away. [Original singer] Tommo has just vanished and no one could find him which meant once again I got to do the vocal and hand over bass playing.
We were lucky to get our good friend Mark Robson in on drums for the gig which is great because Mark is from the same Eric’s background, also playing in Liverpool bands and a close friend to the band. I was going to start a band with Michael Mooney after the Glee Boys, but it didn’t take off. We were delighted when Michael agreed to join this time. He is an exceptional guitarist with experience playing with the Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs and Spiritualized to name a few.
The band get on really well and all musically on the same page.”
Any future plans for the Ponderosa Glee Boys?
“Well we decided to write a complete new set of songs in keeping with our roots from the Eric’s era. We have a single out called Wake Up and an album coming out within the next month. We had only planned to form to play one last farewell gig however we were asked to do the Jeremy Corbyn gig which we used as a warm up for District and we went down really well. The new songs are great so hopefully we nail it and they are well received. We have been offered more gigs but who knows what’s next for us.”
The gigs themselves turned out to be a celebration rather than merely a sad farewell.
At District, there is no denying that the night belongs to the Ponderosa Glee Boys. As the equipment is set up there is a palpable buzz in the air and District fills up with eager, anticipative souls. From the off the band do not disappoint.
Bravely electing to write a completely new set rather than spend their limited time re-learning their old one, they come across as effortlessly current. Guitarist and local legend Michael Mooney is simply astonishing. We should no doubt expect nothing less from a man with his track record, but his guitar work gives the songs an epic edge. When Mooney and fellow guitarist Dave Banks lock together, the Glee Boys really take off and their resulting sound is huge and impressive.
All the songs heard tonight such mass appeal it is shocking to think that this may be the only chance we have to hear them live.
Carl Eaton’s grumpy front man manner belies his obvious delight at being back on stage with the Glee Boys in front of such an appreciative crowd. Ponderosa Glee Boys have moved way beyond both their punk and post punk roots and have arrived at a sound that acknowledges where it comes from but aims squarely for the present.
Ponderosa Glee Boys are, after only a few short weeks together, in a place where many bands never manage to find themselves. They are tight, musically defined and have a set of songs that demand to be played repeatedly. As singer Carl now lives in Australia, the logistics of recording and rehearsing are obviously tricky, but surely walking away from this having got everything to this stage would be tricky also.
At least this time, they will leave behind them some physical trace of their existence, with their excellent Awake! album available now from Punk Town Records.
Dance Music legend Trevor Fung talks about the changing face of Ibiza and the birth of Acid House
Banjo speaks to ex-Pistol Paul Cook about his past and his present.
With Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs’ much anticipated second album King Of Cowards boxed-off, we chewed the fat with the Newcastle five-piece.
Holy Holy are a long, long way from being a tribute act. Comprised of the mighty Woody Woodmansey on drums, Tony Visconti on bass, Glen Gregory and James Stevenson on guitar, they are more accurately described as a Supergroup.
Woodmansey was Bowie’s drummer through his rise and peak, playing on Hunky Dory, Aladdin Sane and Ziggy Stardust itself, amongst others, while Visconti produced many of Bowie’s finest albums. Glen Gregory of course is best known as frontman for Heaven 17, and Stevenson has played for The Cult, The Alarm and Scott Walker.
So when the opportunity came to speak to Woody Woodmansey about his latest project, it was more than we could resist. After all, how many chances to you get to speak to a legend?
Woodmansey has a gruff Northern charm that all the years of international travel has failed to dent. He is chatty and down to earth, it is only when he starts referring to Bowie and producer Visconti by their forenames that you realise that you are talking with rock royalty.
His tales of forging a sound and identity with Bowie, and of the unique vision that he passed on to his band, are incredible to listen to. He also laughs a ,lot, a laugh that tells of a life well lived.
So, what can we expect when Holy Holy play Ziggy Stardust at the Phil?
“Well, we started Holy Holy about three years ago, and when we played with David during the Ziggy tours and the Aladdin Sane tours, it was always a case of you play all the notes in the right order, that’s taken for granted, but on top of that it’s the spirit of the show, you know, it’s the communication that’s intended with those songs.
So we concentrated on that – not that we’re going to play a bum note [laughs], but the senior thing is getting the atmosphere of the song, and the spirit of it across, and that’s what people can expect. There are thousands of tribute acts and singers out there, especially now since David passed away, but I haven’t seen many that have captured that [laughs]”
Which means that Glen Greggory has got some pretty big shoes to fill.
“Yeah, he’s amazing. When we started, Tony [Visconti] had just done an album with him in America, and so when we put the band together, I rang Tony up and asked whether he’d be interested in doing it he said “Yes, but we gotta get Glen Gregory, he’s amazing”. And in three years, we’ve done two American tours, a Canadian tour, a Japanese tour and two English tours, we haven’t had one bad comment about his vocals.
Which is quite hard to achieve because, as you said he’s filling some big shoes. But he does it as Glen Gregory and he pulls it off. He really understands the music and the songs and I think the fans get that, they get that he knows what he’s doing.“
Well he probably grew up with those albums in the same way that a lot of people have. How does it feel taking these classic songs back on the road these days?
“Well we kind of got in full in the face really. We were on tour in America playing The Man Who Sold The World, and – unplanned – we were playing the High Line in New York on David’s birthday and when we got there the staff said ‘we’ve heard a rumour that David is going to come down and sing with you’. And we said ‘well we haven’t heard that rumour, but we hope he does! [laughs]. And then during the show Tony Visconti phoned David up from his mobile and he answered.
He said ‘we’re onstage just down the road from you and we got the audience to sing happy birthday to him over the mobile. And we played a bad karaoke version of Happy Birthday to him over the phone [laughs]. He really liked and then he said ask the audience what they think of Blackstar, his new album, ‘cos it had just come out on his birthday. And they went mental. Which he thought was really nice.
And then he said ‘Good luck on the tour, catch you later’. And then a day and a half later, our next gig was in Toronto, we got called early in the morning and we got the news. That was surreal to be honest.
I mean it was for everybody really, nobody saw it coming. And it was like ‘wow, what do we do? Do we pull the gigs out of respect? And then Tony said that [David] had worked right up to the end, even when he was ill, he’d work as long as he could on the musical and the album and then go home, rest and then come back again. And I remember on the Ziggy tours, he didn’t always eat properly and he was not a healthy specimen all the time and he would catch bad flu.
And some nights he could hardly talk and we’d say ‘shall we pull the concert?’, and he’d say ‘Nah, I’ll get there’ I’ll do it’. And he would, he would pull it together and then collapse afterwards. So we thought that we ought to follow that example, that was his thing – the show must go on. So it did.”
One of the most striking things about the Ziggy album is how it constantly gets rediscovered by new generations of fans and bands. When you were recording it, did you get any sense that you were recording something of historical significance?
“[Pause] No. [laughs] No, you don’t, I mean we moved from The Man Who Sold The World to Hunk Dory and that was, I guess, for me it was a songwriter’s album. It was David going ‘I can write on Piano, I can write on guitar’, he was kind of streamlining everything he’d done before into a direction, and I think that the Ziggy fell and the Ziggy concepts started to happen a little bit during Hunk Dory. Life on Mars probably should have been on Ziggy and Queen Bitch probably could have been on there.
So it started to come to fruition on that album, but he still hadn’t really started to join the dots up at that point. But when we’d finished Life on Mars, Ken Scott called us in and we sat there and even our jaws dropped. It was like ‘it that what we sound like?’ [laughs]It was a dawning on us. And then you’re a bit worried and you thing that there’s nothing out there like that, has it gone too far?
But that track was probably the one where we went ‘wow, there’s a lot more to his songwriting, he’s got more strings to his bow than he’s actually shown by this point’.
But you’re just doing your next song really, doing your best on that next song or that next album, so you never thought that in 40 years people would still be appreciating it. And the fact that it’s been on the radio all that time, it’s never really disappeared. We thought it was good, we always thought we were good [laughs], you wouldn’t do an album and think ’yeah we’re really shit aren’t we”
The rate you all worked at back then was phenomenal. There was at least one album a year and a huge amount of touring; how did you find the time to write, record and rehearse?
“Well luckily we didn’t have to write, David did most of that. But I guess you go into a sort of rock n roll bubble, you know, the rock n roll lifestyle, and you’ve decided to play that game so that’s what it means. It just became a matter of ‘that’s how we do it’. You didn’t get much time off, I don’t think I had a Christmas off or a birthday off or New Year’s Eve off through that whole period, you’re always doing something.
You’re in the studio or you’re on the road, you know. But you’re doing what you love so you never really see it as hard work. And then when you get back off a tour and you get back to your flat, put your suitcase next to the chair, sit in the chair and wake up two days later! [laughs]
Bands don’t seem to operate like that anymore, there are longer breaks between albums and tours.
No, they don’t. But I think a lot’s changed. It could be that the 70s were closer to the roots of rock n roll, ‘cos it had only been out twenty years. So all the inspiring music and what you listen to when you’re learning your craft, you pick it from the roots of rock n roll. So when you have to do new stuff, you’ve got that attitude in your head. I think now that, all these decades later, it’s probably lost a lot of that.
And then with technology coming in it makes it easier for people. The way we worked you had to get that song in three and a half minutes, you had to play it correctly, with feeling, more or less immediately. Nowadays you can do a chorus and then go ‘well lets cut and paste it into a song’, and that wasn’t what music, or rock n roll particularly was all about. It’s that feeling, it’s not just the right notes.
There’s thousands of musicians who can play the right notes, but can they get any feeling into it? I like to hear the human being playing the keyboard, not wonder if it’s a sample or if there’s a real drummer been anywhere near it.
When were touring, I remember one night there was a girl sitting at the front and she’d been singing along with every song, and Tony stopped the show and he said ‘how old are you?’ and she said ‘fourteen’. And he said to the audience ‘there’s a girl here, fourteen, and she knows every word, and at the back there were 70 year olds and they were headbanging! And they were singing all the words as well [laughs]. And the a lot of the people at the meet & greets are teenagers, so I guess good music will always get through, will always get discovered.“
My theory with David Bowie is that everyone has their own version of him that they think of as theirs. Mine would be the Hunky Dory era, but with your completely different vantage point, what is your David Bowie.
“Well, it’s probably a blend. It’s probably what we went through from The Man Who Sold The World, which taught us what we could do as a rock band, to Bowie’s songwriting really coming through on Hunky Dory. That for me was probably the classic album I think. There was no gimmicks or anything, it was just ‘these are songs, they’re well crafted and well sung. And they’ve got messages and it’s a good product’. And then Ziggy was the concept and that brought it all.
And we were able to bring all that together and put it all in a show. And the Aladdin Sane was what happens when you’re on the road, writing and recording at the same time. It was more rocky. And it was our impressions of America, we probably played a bit different when we were over there; it’s bigger so you think you have to play louder [laughs]. So I guess my Bowie was stretched over four albums.
I guess it ended up being such an iconic character that he created in Ziggy, and he made sure we were all on the same page. You couldn’t stand behind him as a blues guitarist from Huddersfield with ripped jeans and not a clue what he’s all about. And he did a good job of that , he didn’t do it all in a weekend. He would say ‘we’re going to see a play tonight’ and we’d say ‘what’s the play?’. And he’d say ‘I don’t give a shit what the play is, watch the lighting guy, he’s the best one in London.’
So he kind of brought theatre lighting into rock n roll, which hadn’t really been done before. And with clothes it was kind of an education process, we had to know what was happening to make it all believable. It was a good journey, we weren’t just musicians playing things.”
How closely did you follow his career afterwards? Did you buy his records, see his shows?
“I saw him a couple of times. I kind of like the weird side of him, as opposed to the Let’s Dance commercial stuff. Cat People (Putting Out Fire), weird concepts like that, I always felt that was David.
He never sang like anybody else or worked like anybody else. When you hear “Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow” coming out of the lounge you wonder ‘What the hell is that all about’, you know [laughs]. And that’s why I liked him, it was the weird, freaky side. For me he was one of the most creative individuals in music. And as a songwriter he had that ability to point you in a direction, even if it was weird.
And at the end of the song, you had your own story, you knew what it was about. It might not be what he meant it to be about, and it you ask a hundred thousand people you might end up with a hundred thousand different stories. But that was his talent, he could write it so that you could contribute to it, he didn’t join up all the dots.“
And one last question, will you be doing any U Boat songs?
“[Laughs] No, definitely not!”
Before their gig at Liverpool Arts Club, Banjo spoke to Creep Show about egos, remaining childlike and being lonely.
With New Order drum maestro Stephen Morris’ autobiography now published, Banjo catches up with the post punk legend.
With their new album Abolition of the Royal Familia proving that The Orb are still at the peak of their powers, Sun 13’s Banjo talks to main man Alex Paterson.
Punk rock progenitor and one-quarter of arguably the greatest ever punk band, The Sex Pistols in conversation with Sun 13’s Banjo
Like a lot of people, Glen Matlock looms large in my cultural background. As one quarter of Sex Pistols, he was directly responsible for the total upheaval of my teenage world. He was the band’s main musician and was the closest we were likely to get to a Sex Pistol you could take home to meet your mum.
The Pistols and punk appeared quite suddenly in my life. I have a crystal clear memory of a day in my last year at school when I was told of a band who had appeared on TV the day before and swore ‘like troopers’.
Again like a lot of people, this was the first time I had heard about Sex Pistols. It was not to be the last.
I lived hundreds of miles away from where the program was broadcast and nobody in my school had seen it, but its shock waves had made it to my neck of the woods the very next morning, so we can see the effect this program had on spreading punk across the country.
But, and this is an important point to Matlock, there is more to him than his past. To the point that it is easy to imagine him coming across this article and feeling immediately dispirited that yet another interview with him starts off with that band and that interview.
He has played with Iggy Pop, The Damned and The Faces, but the shadow of the Sex Pistols looms large over him to this day.
Glen has a new album, Good to Go, released this Friday, 21st September. Recorded with Earl Slick and Slim Jim Phantom, it is an album of unashamed, unadorned rock n roll. To promote Good to Go, he has been keeping himself busy, playing gigs in such far-flung corners of the globe as Korea’s demilitarised zone and the banks of the river Ganges in India.
When I spoke to him he was in the middle of an intensive couple of days of back to back interviews, and sounding fairly worn out and weary with the whole thing, as anyone would be spending that much time answering the same questions and giving out the same details.
‘Sorry’ he tells us at one point as he struggles to answer a question, ‘I’m a bit interviewed out today, I’ve done about 9 or 10 interviews so far.’ Yeah, I saw your schedule I tell him, I’m amazed you’re still going.
Back on a roll, he continues. ‘I’ll tell you what I did do earlier’ he says, ‘I did The Wright Stuff tv program, then I did some Russian tv thing. But it’s all part of life’s rich pageant. I think my maxim to life these days is just say yes to most things that come your way.’
There’s a mate of mine who’s in the fashion business, and when we ask what we’re up to, we always quote Newton’s Law of Motion at each other – a body at rest stays at rest, a body in motion stays in motion, unless an exterior or equal force acts on it, or something like that.
But if you say I’m just waiting for the phone to ring it invariably doesn’t, and one thing begets other things.’
Glen Matlock also still sounds like someone who is passionate about the music he is making and is very keen that it gets listened to.
Tell us about the tour and these far flung dates you’ve been playing.
‘Well it’s not really a tour, but I’ve been playing selected dates. I’ve just got back from Korea, I’ve had something in India, just a one-off thing, and I’ve had a five night residency in a place in Canary Wharf, I’m going over to Dubai for a gig with Chris Spedding and then in September I’m going to Scandinavia for some shows, just me and my acoustic, which is kind of one down from being a comedian I think. ‘
It all sounds a long way from Monday nights in the 100 Club.
Yeah, but that’s alright too. When you’re an older bloke you take what comes along and as long as you approach it with a good heart, it all comes out alright in the end. The main reason I’m doing this is for the new album, which I’ve got to get people to dig somehow.’
So tell us about your new album?
‘It’s a bunch of songs I’ve been writing over the last four years. I wanted to so something a bit different, not the same old punk kinda thing, which is fine, but not when you’re not playing to the people who did it with the first time around.
And I saw Bob Dylan play, maybe three or four years ago and I can appreciate Bob Dylan. I’m not his biggest fan, but the band he had were fantastic. He had Charlie Sexton on guitar and the bass player was Tony Matthews, who plays stand up bass. And the drummer was fantastic and spent most of the set playing with brushes, and I thought that’s really cool, you can get the songs to come through, how can I do something similar?
And I thought ‘I know, I’ll call Slim Jim Phantom, he only uses half a drum kit, I’ll ask him if he’s up for doing it.’ And he suggested using Earl Slick on guitar, who I’d worked with before. Chris Spedding plays guitar on a track which I’m quite pleased with, with him being a member of The Wombles!
And I wanted to make the album a little more Americana-ish. I don’t think I’m ever going to get on Radio 1 these days, but I know that Radio 2 and Radio 6 are playing music like that, so I thought maybe I should change the tune, production wise.’
Would you want your stuff to be played on Radio 1 these days? Did you ever want your stuff to be played on Radio 1?
‘I think anyone who writes a song wants as many people as possible to hear it and then be able to decide whether they like it or not. If you write something that’s catchy and people hear it a couple of times they might think it’s really catchy.
Music is about communication, so the more avenues there are to get it out there the better really.’
Where do you look to for your influences these days?
‘Just what’s going on in my life really, and how I’m dealing with it and how you’re rising or not rising to the occasion or dealing with the pitfalls of it all. I’m not on some heavy political bent, because we all know what’s wrong with the world and you end up preaching to the converted and can come across as a bit Billy Bragg, which I don’t want to be.
You write in songs what you can’t necessarily express on a piece of paper and it brings out some emotional thing. Or that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.’
Has the way you write music changed over the years?
‘Nah, it’s the same old shit basically. Most songs I write, I’m walking down the street and an idea comes into my head, and if that idea doesn’t go away it’s time to pick up the guitar and work out the chords that go with it.
Every songwriter’s got a mental bag of half ideas that they can use and reference, but the whole thing is about trying to get across what’s on your mind. It doesn’t always have to be of the most fantastic consequence, but I think it’s got to be as succinct and direct as possible.
I try to write songs as if I’m having a conversation with somebody. I do like to think there’s a bit of humour in my songs, I think we can all be a bit tongue in cheek about things sometimes.’
Well it must all work for you. You’ve written some of the best songs ever recorded and it’s taken you all over the world and last over 40 years. You must be doing something right.
‘I suppose I must be. I don’t know what yet. [laughs]’
One thing I noticed recently, looking at the calendar, is that a few weeks ago it was the 40th Anniversary of the first time I went to Eric’s in Liverpool, and it was to see you in Rich Kids.
‘Were we any good?’
You were great, Rich Kids were a brilliant group.
‘I’ll tell you what I do remember about Eric’s, it used to whiff a lot because they had a problem with the drains, but also I do remember playing there with Iggy Pop, must have been in ’79, and I’m pretty sure we did a matinee performance for the underage people.
And instead of having the usual intro music to come on to, we played the theme tune from A Fistful of Dollars and Iggy would come on.
But by the time he’d come on, in that Iggy Pop style he has, there was all these kids dressed as scouts down the front.
And they started singing Happy Birthday, and for a split second he was dumbfounded and then he turned to the band and said ‘well fuck you’ and we went straight into Kill City.
I met some really cool people there, in fact we played there with the Pistols really early on. We played upstairs and there weren’t that many people there, but I skived out of packing the van and when I went downstairs there was this whole thing going on.
Yachts were playing and I was stood there having a drink and everyone was waiting for me. I got in the doghouse with everyone over that, but I met Clive Langer, Maybe Ian Broudie and Jayne from Pink Military.
It was good to realise that there was this thing outside of London. In our capital city ways, we may have been too high minded to think there possibly could have been.
But also likewise I remember going down to Newport or Bridgend in Wales, we did a series of gigs there and I met Steve Strange for the first time and got chatting to him.
And they were the same, they looked like punks before punk had been invented. And he asked where we were playing next, and it was a gig in Burton on Trent.
We stayed in Wales and by the time we got up, he was already in the car park waiting for us. He actually helped us carry the gear in, which I doubt he ever did since [laughs].’
Were you aware at the time, when you were playing these gigs, of the effect you were having on people and the outburst of creativity that you left in your wake?
‘You know what, I don’t want to sound big-headed, but yeah I think so. We knew we were polarizing people somehow.
We had this self-confidence, maybe not so much on my part personally, but Steve was the biggest ne’er do well in London. He was the spirit of the Sex Pistols, John put it all in words, I came up with the tunes and Paul provided the backbeat and kind of went along with what Steve said.
They were a double act and to me, they were always like Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, which was fine by me as I liked Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.’
How do you feel about the way the Sex Pistols and punk turned out over the years to now, where we can still feel the ripples from what you did?
‘Good I suppose. I don’t really know any different. I remember reading some interview with Keith Richards and the interviewer asked him about the price of milk, and he replied ‘Don’t ask me mate, I’ve been a rock star all my life, what would I know’
And I don’t know any different, I’ve always been saddled with the Pistols thing. I’m proud of it, but it’s a bit of a double-edged sword because here we are talking about that rather than what I’m doing now.
And I kind of hate it for that sometimes. A little bit.’
Well back to your new album then. There’s quite an old school rock n roll feel running through it.
‘Maybe so, I like all that kind of stuff. I’ve tried to do something slightly different within the confines of what I like and do and the people I’m playing with and get the songs across. My favourite song on the album is Speak Too Soon, which is kind of earthy and quite up.’
My favourite is Wanderlust at the moment, although that could change – there are some catchy riffs on there.
‘That’s a bit of an older one that I’d never really recorded before, that’s kind of my hats off to Roadrunner, but not by Jonathan Richman, but by Junior Walker and the All Stars. I do like the bluesy kind of stuff sometimes.
I’m chums with Pete Wylie, although I haven’t seen him in a long while. But I’m a big admirer of his, and he called one of his album Songs of Strength and Heartbreak and that’s what I subscribe to lyrically, finding a way through the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
Pete Wylie does the most fantastic version of a Gilbert O’Sullivan song, Alone Again Naturally, just him and an acoustic guitar. It’s heart-rending.’
Matlock has a huge library of tales he can tell about his time in music, with every mention of a band of a city inspiring more anecdotes of a life well lived. And more tales are doubtless being generated as he continues to tour and make music.
Do you still keep up with new music?
‘I do, my kid’s in a band and they play me new stuff and it sounds alright, rocky kind of stuff. One of the bands I played with in Canada were really good, and the name is fantastic too. They were called Ringo Deathstar. And Ringo went to see them. [laughs]
I met him, I was helping out his son Zac, and his dad actually plays pretty good guitar. We did a showcase gig for the record we were making at Raymond’s Review Bar we were telling Zac we needed to go on stage. And he was saying ‘no, no I’ve got to wait for my dad’ and I thought ‘wait for your dad?’ before remembering who his dad was! ‘
Well according to your schedule Glen, you’re late for a radio interview now.
‘Have I? oh blimey, I didn’t know that. I’d better go then’
And with that Glen Matlock says his goodbyes and heads straight into another interview, no doubt adding further to his fatigue and world weariness. It says something of the man that he is still prepared to put himself through such a punishing schedule to promote his work. He is obviously still proud of his work if a little frustrated that it is not naturally finding a wider audience.
Reflecting on our conversation later, I think to myself that one of the common threads that runs through the lives of people who were caught up in shaping the early days of punk is that of the huge difficulty dealing with the huge void that followed when their part in it all seemingly came to an end.
Steve Jones and many others turned to heroin to fill their days, The Slits’ Ari Up retreated to Borneo, living with a tribe almost completely cut off from civilisation while others abandoned music completely, turning to other careers. Others were not so lucky and didn’t manage to make old bones at all.
Matlock’s approach to all this has been to keep his head down and keep making music. There is a certain dignity to this calm and steady approach, one that shows that Matlock has managed to avoid the pitfalls of his profession with ease.
We wish him well in his quest to carry on doing what he does, especially when what he does is release top drawer rock n roll in this manner.
Glen Matlock has left his past behind him and has, as always it seems, still got an eye on the future and a place in his heart for rock n roll.
Wayne Hussey can be said to be something of a well travelled soul, both musically and geographically speaking. Moving to Liverpool in the late 70s, he was involved with the scene that sprung up around the famous Eric’s club and joined ex-Penetration singer Pauline Murray in The Invisible Girls, later being snapped up by Pete Burns and Dead or Alive.
From here he joined the Sisters of Mercy and moved to Leeds. When The Sisters fell apart, he formed The Mission, where success took him to London. Later in life, love took him to Brazil, where he now lives with his wife.
It is fair to say that The Mission has been his most enduring and successful band, still active over thirty years later.
The band rode the crest of a wave as, for want of a better term, goth started to flourish and became a huge live draw, headlining Reading Festival twice and selling out Wembley, tearing around the world on a diet of Blue Nun wine.
While The Sisters have become what is politely referred to as a ‘Heritage Act’, whereby they tour old material to a nostalgic audience, effectively becoming their own tribute act, The Mission seem to have reached a perfect balance whereby they cease operations almost completely between albums and tours, coming together again when their muse strikes.
Outside of The Mission, Hussey has released solo albums and collaborations, testament to his creative drive and desire to continue making music.
Ahead of The Mission’s latest Liverpool gig at the O2 Academy on May 19, Getintothis caught up with Wayne, to discuss life, love and Liverpool.
Hussey has an immediately recognizable voice. Anyone who was even vaguely into the 80’s goth scene will have come across The Mission and, more than likely, seen them live. His voice has an almost jovial quality to it and, unusually for an interview situation, he asks almost as many questions as he receives, turning the whole thing into more of a chat than any kind of formal question and answer session.
He also has an infectious laugh that peppers our conversation, which adds further to the good-natured atmosphere. It is also easy to tell that Wayne has done many interviews over the years, and chooses his words well, not being afraid of pausing to search for the right word or phrase to best express himself.
As Wayne was a Liverpool resident for some years, this is naturally where our conversation starts.
“It’s been a while since we played there actually. We have been busy, but considering that I lived in Liverpool for six years, it’s always nice to go back. I think it must be getting on for ten years actually”
Do you still feel any connection with Liverpool, given that you spent some of your formative musical years there?
“I have very, very fond memories of living in Liverpool. I moved there when I was just turned 19 and left 83/84, so I was there for five or six years. I remember it just being sunny all the time, but I know that’s not right because I’ve been to Liverpool since [Laughs]”
No, I can assure you it isn’t sunny all the time.
“No, but that’s how I remember it. It must have had something to do with the drugs at the time I guess [laughs]. I lived in the Tuebrook area, but moved to Sefton Park, as you did then when you were in that kind of crowd”
What are your main memories of that time?
“Well, obviously I used to go to Eric’s. It was kind of the epicenter for our generation of musicians. When I saw our generation of musicians, I mean the alternative musicians, not the ones who would play the nightclubs and clubs but the more…..punk musicians I suppose.
Not that I ever considered myself to be punk. But I saw a lot of bands at Eric’s, I was even in bands myself who supported big bands there. It was a good time.
And I’m still obviously a big Liverpool supporter. When I was a kid, football was my big passion, but then in 1972 I saw T Rex and Bowie, so that changed the course of my life”
So how did punk affect you when it first broke?
“Well I was still in Bristol am I saw The Damned supporting T Rex on 76, I saw The Clash, Television supported by Blondie before I moved to Liverpool. And then once I got there I met some people who told me about Eric’s and I saw a lot of gigs there.
We supported The Pretenders, the original Ultravox, Joy Division supported the band I was in”
So that would be [late 70s Liverpool band] Ded Byrds then?
“Yeah, that was Ded Byrds. Bloody hell, you’ve done your research [laughs]”
Well I saw Ded Byrds there a few times, I saw your gig with Ultravox. In fact, I have your autographs somewhere.
“Bloody hell [laughs] You must have been the first person to ask for my autograph.
I think there were too many egos in that band. When we supported The Pretenders, Seymour Stein was at the show, as he’d just signed them for America, and he saw us and loved us, so we signed to Sire, we were about to go on tour with The Ramones, then we just had a fight and split up”
That must have been really frustrating!
“Well, I don’t know. You never know what course you would have taken if things had been different, maybe the Ded Byrds would have been around and we’d be playing The Masonic [laughs]”
After all these years of playing music, what’s in it for you these days? “Well, I love music. I love listening to it, I love sitting down with a guitar and trying to play along to somebody else’s record and seeing if I can play it.
And if I can’t then I just take what I’ve worked out and write my own song [laughs].
From the time I first started playing guitar I could never play anybody else’s song, so I listened to records and tried to assimilate what I could and end up writing my own song.
Which has actually stood me in pretty good stead I think, and I still get a big kick out of making records and writing songs. When it kicks into place there’s nothing quite like it”
I remember Billy Duffy [Guitarist from the Cult] saying that punk stopped him from listening to a lot of older rock music, and that when his punk conscience let him, he discovered that he really liked a lot of it. Was there a similar thing for you at any time?
“Not really, because I was into a lot of music before punk came along, so I was into Bowie and T Rex from the tail end of 71/72, and then Roxy Music. So I was kind of one of those weird kids at school who moved from pop music into rock.
I got into Black Sabath and Pink Floyd – Pink Floyd were actually the first band I ever saw live. Pink Floyd cost me a quid [laughs]”.
Bloody hell, it cost me a quid to see Ded Byrds.
“[laughs] Billy was a few years younger than me, but what punk did for me was it made me realise that anybody could get up and play, it wasn’t about being a virtuoso, it was about having energy and good ideas. And an attitude as well.
Although I have to say the a lot of the punk music at the time, particularly the English side of it, was a little too non-musical for my tastes. I preferred more the New York end of things, Talking Heads, Television, that kind of vibe.
For an 18/19 year old, it seemed a bit more musical to me. So I never had that, but I do think that when punk came along there was a degree of de-learning.
By then I’d been playing for three or four years, so I was already of a certain proficiency on the guitar and I think I had to kind of, not dumb it down, but to approach it differently, and to de-learn.
With punk you had to throw the rule book out of the window”
Which is what made the music that came after it so interesting I think.
“Yeah, absolutely. Without punk there wouldn’t be 95% of the bands that are around today”
What records are you listening to these days?
“Well I don’t go out and actively look for new things to listen to, but I read reviews and if there’s something that sounds interesting I’ll search it out. Or if someone recommends something I’ll have a listen.
But someone said that when they look at my Facebook page, I’m always recommending bands! They said you recommend Tame Impale, you recommend The XX, Laura Marling, or The Smoke Fairies. I said I suppose so, but I considered that I just went backwards into more and more older music.
But I still like to hear new things and I think there is a lot of good music out there, I’m just not particularly exposed to it out in Brazil”
So why did you settle in Brazil?
“Well my wife’s an actress, so she needs to be there for her work, where I can pretty much do mine anywhere in the world. I do miss the interaction I have to say, when there’s a group of you in the studio playing, I do miss that”
So you kind of write by email these days?
“Well throughout the band’s history I’ve kind of written the songs and then taken them to the group. It kind of gives me license to say that this is how it goes. Sometimes I go in with very strong ideas and sometimes with almost no idea at all and we bash it around until we find something we like”
I wrote an article on your fans and the lengths they would go to follow you around and go to your gigs and they still do to this day. You have the most dedicated fans I think I’ve ever known, what do you put that down to?
“I don’t know really, to be honest with you. I’d like to attribute it to some kind of integrity that the band have, but I don’t think we’ve got more integrity than anybody else.
I think there are a whole load of bands from the 80s who benefitted from the fact that the fans were young at that time and have stayed with them.
I’m not sure that the same thing applies to 90s bands. I think that, whether we like it or not, nostalgia is a big seller and I think that people come to shows not just for the visceral moment of being there, but also they come to relive something, to remember something”
But at the same time, you’ve never really rested on your laurels, you’ve always created new music and moved it forward.
“Well there is that, but I would say that’s been more detrimental to us really. There are some bands that haven’t made records for years and they still command a very loyal audience.
There are bands that make the same record over and over again and are huge.
I think with us, my boredom threshold is very low, so I like to make records that challenge me as well as challenge the audience”
So what’s next for The Mission?
“Well we do these shows, then we have some more in November playing with Alice Cooper and then after that we’re going to take a break. I think we’ve been back together since 2011 and I’m just starting to feel a little bit bored with the rock band format.
And I think that with the last album we did I kind of tied up a lot of loose ends in my own little mind and I think it’s just time to do something else.
That’s not to say that we won’t get back to it at some point, but I think it’s time we all had a little break from it and did something else. And I know that Craig, Simon and Mike need it too. So we’ll finish the shows this year and take a little time out. Also, I’m writing my autobiography”
Well that should be a good read.
“Well we’ll see [laughs]. It depends on what I decide to keep in or edit out. But I’m having fun writing it that’s for sure. It’s amazing how you can remember one thing and it opens up a load of other memories.
And it’s quite interesting, even when I’m talking with Craig and Simon, and we’re talking about a particular incident we all remember it completely differently. So this will be my take, my memory of things”
Well, one last question Wayne. How easy is it to get Blue Nun these days?
“I haven’t drunk Blue Nun in years! Somebody brought a bottle to a show two or three years ago, and we opened it and tried it and, aw God man, how did we ever drink that stuff [laughs].
I’m on the red these days”
And with that we say our goodbyes. Wayne Hussey has come a long way since the Ded Byrds, and even a long way from his time in The Sisters.
From Liverpool to Brazil and from cheap white to a (presumably) more classy red. He sounds like that rarest of creatures, a musician who is at peace with his past, is enjoying his present and has an eye on his future.
We wish him well and we’ll see him from the mosh pit soon.