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13 Questions

13 Questions with Paul Simpson

When punk burst out of London and into the provinces back in the late 70s, a schism developed quite quickly.

 There seemed to be two ways to go when it came to forming a band. Firstly there was the standard thrash approach popularised by the 2nd wave of punk bands, such as The Lurkers, and the UK Subs, and secondly there was a more arty approach, demonstrated by the likes of The Slits, Siouxsie and the Banshees and even Sex Pistols.

Liverpool’s punk bands leaned very heavily in the direction of the latter. The city shied away from the more basic approach, initially at least, and instinctively headed in a more interesting direction.

Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes and Wah! created music that was imaginative, inventive and intelligent. This soon came to be known as post punk, but it was all just punk to us at the time.

It seems like a very Liverpool thing to do, to take the less obvious path, the path that has more artistic merit , rather than take the easier road more travelled. It is this approach that made the city such a fascinating and vital city when it came to music, it is also something that has filtered down through the decades ever since and has made the city remain such an important place on the musical map.

The Teardrop Explodes and Club Zoo: Success was theirs to lose, but drugs, guilt and mental deterioration seemed to make deliberate failure a much more likely prospect.

One of the creative souls that made this happen is Paul Simpson, as a member of some of Liverpool’s best and most legendary bands, such as Industrial Domestic with Will Seargeant and A Shallow Madness with Ian McCulloch.

He was also a founder member of The Teardrop Explodes, playing keyboards on their excellent first single Sleeping Gas, before leaving to start the indescribably wonderful Wild Swans, as well as finding the time to form Care with Ian Broudie.

The Wild Swans have released three albums and the same number of compilations, and all of you who have yet to hear these records are urged to do so as soon as is humanly possible.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, Paul has also released albums under his own name and as Skyray.

While all the above may be a fairly dry run through the life and times of Paul Simpson, a more colourful and involved account will soon be available in his memoirs, which it is hoped will see the light of day in 2021, along with another Wild Swans album.

Before all this, Sun 13 spoke to Paul Simpson and asked him 13 questions. Read on to find out more about first gigs, getting told off and being weaponized with whisky.

1. Where are you and what are you doing and how is that working out?
“Its 2:22 on a Monday afternoon and I am sitting at my desk in the study at my home in Waterloo, Liverpool. The sun is streaming in and illuminating half a dozen memory sticks and a stuffed crow on my desk.

I’m drinking a celebratory glass of red because I have just signed a contract with a famous literary agent. Only took me 20+ years. If you’d asked me the same question this time last week, I’d still have been drinking a glass of wine, but I’d have been drowning my sorrows.”

2. How have you been coping with the lockdown situation?
“I was coping really well until about a month ago when I realised I’d gone mad without noticing. Mild lockdown agoraphobia morphed into a few poisonous weeks of hating everything and everyone.

Anything could trigger me. Posts about Covid, Trump and Bojo. People’s mind-bogglingly obvious received taste in art and music. New packaging on a Crunchie. I’m better now. Smiley faced emoticons to the moon!”

3. Who is the nicest ‘celebrity’ you’ve met?
“Nicest celebrity? Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera. A total gentleman.

Back in 1991, he arranged to join Ian McCulloch and I in a London pub. Roddy walks in wearing a beautiful camel overcoat over his shoulders like he’s Marcello Mastroianni or someone, goes straight to the bar and brings back triple brandies and cigars for us all.

Sitting down he tells me he used to have my photo from the Teardrop Explodes days on his teenage bedroom wall back in East Kilbride. When I protested, he blew my mind with ‘Where do you think the name Aztec Camera came from? Your song – Camera, Camera’. Cue me fainting.”

4. When did you last get into an argument?
“Last Christmas when I was out buying presents in Liverpool town centre. Some stocky student looking guy appeared out of nowhere and just shouted Aaaaagh! in my face. He was daytime pissed and showing off to a girl he was with.

I calmly told him why fucking with strangers on Merseyside wasn’t the best idea he’d ever had. He didn’t like being fronted and squared up to me, threatening to deck me. He had about 30 lbs on me and 30 years age advantage but unfortunately for him, I was weaponised. Faced with the full bottle of Laphroaig I’d just bought, he literally speed-walked away. Backwards.”

13 Questions with Come in Tokio’s Phil Wylie: “I’ve been rummaging through boxes containing photos, cassettes and DATs from my Come in Tokio days, laughing, cringing, loving”

5. When did you last shout at the TV?
Every single night. Not at politicians so much as at overrated actors or weak dialogue.

6. When did you last consider quitting social media?
“I nearly left Facebook over Brexit. I couldn’t believe that not only some of my online ‘friends’, but people I actually know in the real world were proudly boasting of voting-in this fascist-friendly new dark age.”

7. When did you last make yourself do something you didn’t want to?
“1975”

8. What was the first gig you went to?
“I tell everyone my first gig was Roxy Music at Southport Floral Hall in 1974, but it was probably Hawkwind at the Liverpool Stadium the year before. They had their topless dancer Stacia performing on stage with them. I was 13 or 14-years old. You can imagine my delight.”

9. When were you last told off?
“About a month ago. Some thousand-year-old Basil Fawlty told me off for walking in the wrong direction down the biscuit aisle in Sainsburys. Because they kept changing the rules, I hadn’t noticed the supermarket’s latest version of Covid direction arrows on the floor.

He looked so frail pulling his tartan shopping trolley, I decided not to chase him with a bottle of scotch, but instead I adopted the fiendish Discordian tactic of over apologising to the degree he looked scared.”

10. What’s your first memory?
“My first memory is almost crying my spleen out in my high-chair because I was teething and my sister wouldn’t give me the free toy that came in the Corn Flakes box. ‘Don’t give it to him Mum. He’ll chew it’! It was a plastic spaceman and I wanted it very badly. Eventually she gave in and Goop! Straight in my mouth.”

11. What’s your guilty listening pleasure?
“I never feel guilty listening to music, nothing is forbidden in my world. Because that’s not the answer anyone really wants, I’ll go with the Lycra euro-disco genius of ‘Spacer’ by Sheila B. Devotion.”

12. Vinyl, CD, MP3 or Streaming?
“Vinyl for its warmth and for the sheer ritual of the static cling, changing sides and for the chance for the artwork to really help inform the way you listen.

Because my car has no Bluetooth facility, I play CD’s when driving and mp3’s when I’m out for a run. I had a fantastic ye-olde I-pod ‘shuffle’ moment at 8am this morning when running on Crosby beach. The sun was rising over Seaforth docks just as the massed saxophones of ‘Hit The North’ by The Fall segued into the delicate genius uplift of Mama Cass’s ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music’.

It was so beautiful and filmic that I ran to the top of a dune in a victorious salute to the sun. More Pee Wee Herman than Rocky Balboa I grant you, but it’s the thought that counts.”

13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
“Be magnificent.”

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13 Questions

13 Questions with Come in Tokio’s Phil Wylie

When I was a young, impressionable sort of chap, inexperienced in the ways of the world and just dipping my toes into the world of playing music, I thought that all a band had to do to make it big was to make good music.

Time has robbed me of this delusion however, because, all too often good bands are allowed to fall by the wayside and the fame, fortune and legend that is rightfully theirs is denied them. There are many reasons for this, such as fashion or money, but a lot of it comes down to pure dumb luck.Some bands get the breaks and some bands don’t.

One band who didn’t get the breaks was Liverpool’s Come in Tokio. The fact that fame was not to be this does not diminish the fact that the music they made was some of the best to be committed to tape. In fact, to those in the know, it adds to their legend. Come in Tokio have become a legendary lost band. A band who should have made it but who instead have a special place in the hearts of those who know them.

My own first exposure to the wonderful music they made was on John Peel’s Radio 1 show. Come in Tokio recorded three sessions of four songs each, featuring such classics in waiting as Say You’ll Never Go Away Again and Nature Call. Their sound was huge in scale and ambition, driving, epic and emotional rock anthems whose natural home should have been on stage in front of increasingly bigger audiences.

After such exposure, it should have been a done deal that Come in Tokio were snapped up by the record companies that had started to circle the band, but for whatever reason, this never happened and the expected breakthrough fell away.

But the worth of a song, and of a band for that matter, is not measured in terms of records sold but is instead measured by the worth of the art they create. And in that case, Come in Tokio are one of the most successful bands I have ever heard.

Scott Walker’s Fire Escape in the Sky: “A voice that could inhabit a room.”

Sun-13 spoke to singer/guitarist Phil Wylie and asked him 13 questions. Read on to find out more about life in lockdown, raiding the archives and seeing Ziggy Stardust with Ian McCulloch.

1. Where are you and what are you doing and how is that working out?

“New Brighton, in isolation with nearest and dearest (3 of us), feeling loved. It’s a strange time for all as we see humanity at its best and at its worst.”

2. How have you been coping with the lockdown situation?

“Trying to remain philosophical, though frustrated at times, always hopeful things will get better sooner rather than later.

Before lockdown in March I was gigging 1,2,3 times a week, my week usually consisted of prepping the forthcoming gigs”

3. What have you been up to recently?

“I’ve been rummaging through boxes containing photos, cassettes and DATs from my Come in Tokio days, laughing, cringing, loving, listening to a wide variety of music (mainly 60’s and 70’s). Discovering things I missed first time around and rediscovering old favourites.

I don’t tend to go out as I spend my working life in pubs and clubs. The lockdown has stopped that routine and to fill in my time and to alleviate boredom I’ve been on a journey to find old Tokio stuff, pictures, songs etc. purely on a sentimental journey.

I found stuff I never knew I had, so I put them on computer to dick around with speeds, tones and frequencies, which has been laborious but interesting for me and occasionally learning some additional songs by others to include in future gigs.

I’ve been shielding during this time for myself and for my wife who is recovering from successful cancer surgery. So in truth, apart from not being able to gig, things ain’t that much different in our household other than less money coming in.”

The Clash play Liverpool Eric’s: “That day everything changed… nothing in Liverpool was ever the same again”

4. When did you last get into an argument?

“Had a real ding dong with a hotel in Southport over a parking fine about 5 years ago.

Generally, if people think differently to me, that’s their truth, I do draw the line at racism and Tory supporters but all my family and friends are like minded so it doesn’t occur.”

5. When did you last shout at the TV?

“Today, Matt Hancock. Emphasis on the cock.”

6. When did you last consider quitting social media?

“I haven’t, because I’m not selling or promoting anything I just dip in and out to stay in touch with friends.”

7. Did you have any hobbies as a kid?

“I was football and cricket nut. Also, our mum worked at Birdseye and was in something called the record club so for a small fee my brothers and I would choose and collect 3 singles from the charts each week.”

8. What was the first gig you went to?

“David Bowie, the Ziggy tour, Liverpool Empire 1973. I was a fan after seeing Starman on TOTP, my brother asked for a ticket from our parents, it was given on the condition he would take me and included in our group of four who went was Steve Spence, the drummer in The Crucial Three and Ian McCullough.”

The Teardrop Explodes and Club Zoo: Success was theirs to lose, but drugs, guilt and mental deterioration seemed to make deliberate failure a much more likely prospect.

9. When were you last told off?

“What day is it today….I was told off last week for being too considerate a lover.”

10. What’s your first memory?

“Two strong musical memories on hearing We can work it out by the Beatles and Reach out I’ll be there by The Four Tops, even as a kid they both blew me away and left me with emotions I didn’t understand.”

11. What’s your guilty listening pleasure?

“I understand the question but I have none. If people think differently, fuck ’em.

As a kid Herman’s Hermits, but before Bowie, Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney and in the late 80’s  Harry Connick Jnr.”

12. Vinyl, CD, MP3 or Streaming?

“CD and streaming YouTube.”

13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.  Is there anything else you’d like to say?

“Thanks Banjo. Buy low, sell high.”

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13 Questions

13 Questions with Zee Davine

Flashback. 2018. I am at The Liverpool International Music Festival at Sefton Park, reviewing the weekend’s events for a local magazine.

Much of my time was spent at the It’s Liverpool stage, given over to new local bands. There was a parade of good, worthy bands of all kinds and, in truth, it was easy to write positive reviews all round for this display of upcoming talent.

But then, Queen Zee took to the stage and suddenly everything changed.

They burst onto the stage like a sparkly pink hand grenade, a riot of noise, colour and power. The whole audience simply could not take their eyes off them, they had such energy, such verve, such fucking power that, within seconds, all the previous bands were made to look like the boring, clumpy, lead-footed dullards they suddenly were.

Queen Zee were that good, that different and that important.

They had that much sought after attraction, star quality. This isn’t something that can be taught or faked, you either have it or you don’t. And Queen Zee had it, in spades.

Flash forward a few months, and Queen Zee are playing at Liverpool’s 24 Kitchen Street venue. Again their star quality is immediately apparent, mostly in the form of singer Zee Davine. Zee is without doubt the star of the show. It has been a long time since we last saw someone blessed with this amount of charisma, performance and charm. Zee is a ball of boundless energy and he and the band are poised on the brink of a stardom so obvious that I make mental notes to pass on to people, perhaps as they headline Glastonbury, to boast that I saw them in such a small venue.

At this stage, it seemed like the only thing that could stop Queen Zee making it to the top was if Zee was poached for another route to stardom, such as TV. Zee is that obvious a star that this seems like a distinct possibility.

For a glorious shining moment, Queen Zee were, quite simply, the best band in the world. But then, towards the end of 2019, Queen Zee split up.

Yes we were gutted and we wept tears of bitter frustration at the loss of this spectacular band, but then we spoke to Zee and found out that great plans were afoot, things that would move Zee beyond the confines of a mere band.

The first sign of this is Zee’s new outfit Tokky Horror, who have released their first single, Girlracer, which can be bought on Bandcamp here.

Sun-13 was lucky enough to ask Zee Davine 13 Questions. Read on to find out more about coping with lockdown, looking for lizards and being lied to by Rita Ora. 

1. Where are you and what are you doing and how is that working out?

“I’ve been home on Wirral all year and looks like I will be for the foreseeable. I’m finishing off the production on new Tokky Horror material for our upcoming release…“

2. How have you been coping with the lockdown situation?

“It’s bumming me out, I love what I do. I love playing music and touring. To not have done either of those for nearly a year now has taken a big toll on my happiness. I’m trying to lose myself in writing music and remind myself I’m very fortunate that I’m safe and fed and not grieving while so many people are having a tough time.”

3. Who is the nicest ‘celebrity’ you’ve met?

“Rita Ora lied to me once and said I have nice hair. At the time I was apologising to the hair stylist at the shoot about my neon orange mullet I had massacred myself while stoned. So thanks for trying to chill me out Rita.”

4. When did you last get into an argument?

“I’m not a very argumentative person so I have no idea! “

Zee Davine Interview: “Pop music now, I feel, can be anything”

5. When did you last shout at the TV?

“I always talk to the TV, it’s my best friend. I give the characters advice as the plot unfolds. I’ve just watched #ALIVE and no spoilers, but it’s a zombie flick so there were plenty of “BEHIND YOU!“ moments.”

6. When did you last consider quitting social media?

“I don’t have any of the apps on my phone, and I only ever use the platforms for work related stuff. Updating about releases etc. If I could I wouldn’t have them at all. But being a musician, or producer, or DJ in 2020 really requires a level of self branding.”

7. Did you have any hobbies as a kid?

“Before I discovered music when I was about 10, I was obsessed with nature. I’d always want to be in the woods looking at bugs or going to the beach near me to look for lizards. I wanted to be a biologist like my Dad.”

8. What was the first gig you went to?

“I have a few answers to this. The first gig I tried to go to was The Coral at Liverpool Uni in maybe 2003? 2004? But turned up late and was then too young to be let in. So the first “proper gig“ I got to see was 65daysofstatic in Manchester Academy. They had a support band first on called Gay For Johnny Depp, who were this New York queercore band that blew my mind. And my first exposure to hardcore punk, so I left like I wanna do that.”

9.  When were you last told off?

“I’m always getting told off! Normally for smoking in the house, so probably that.”

10. What’s your first memory?

“I have some really heavy first memories but a nice one is drawing an elephant on my first day of pre school.”

Uniform: Shame – “a withering coalition of sounds from the darkest pits”

11. What’s your guilty listening pleasure?

“Probably some really shitty nu metal, some of it like early Slipknot has aged well but I still love Crazytown and P.O.D.”

12. Vinyl, CD, MP3 or Streaming?

“The only vinyl records I own are the ones I’ve written and the White Album by the Beatles that my grandad gave me, I’m normally skint and £20 is alot for me. I miss having stacks of CD’s that was my generations thing, walkmans and CD books, but now my laptop doesnt even have a CD drive. Most the music I listen to now is streamed, so as much as I hate it, streaming for the ease. “

13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.  Is there anything else you’d like to say?

“I’ll plug the new single “Simulate Me“ which is out October 14th

Categories
Interviews

Peter Hook Interview: “I’ve managed to take Joy Division all round the world”

Banjo chats to to Joy Division and New Order’s bass viking about self belief, starting again and the absence of a happy ending.

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13 Questions

13 Questions with Bobhowla

Things are happening with Southport’s Bobhowla, so we threw 13 questions at frontman Howard Doupé to get to the bottom of it all.

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Interviews

Orbital Interview: “We’re trailblazers for the next generation”

Orbital’s Phil Hartnoll talks to Banjo.  And talks. And then talks some more.

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News

Candy Opera release new single These Days Are Ours

While some bands get a fair slice of the cake, others seem to be denied a place at the table for no discernable reason.

Just last night, Sun13 towers had a soundtrack of Thomas Lang to go with our Saturday night Malbec and the discussion turned to why, in a world where Sade can be massively successful and amass a 50 million pound fortune, is Thomas Lang not a household name.

The answer is as cruel as it is true – talent is not always enough.

In the music business, the cream does not always rise to the top and success seems to be as much down to lucky breaks and prevailing fashions as it does to talent or quality.

One band who have suffered this more than most is Candy Opera.

Taking their cue from the likes of Pale Fountains, Love and Aztec camera, Candy Opera made smoothly superior 80s pop music with soul.

Other bands loved them and Candy Opera supported the likes of The Pogues and The Go-Betweens. The media loved them, with great reviews in Sounds and Jamming magazines, along with a slot on Granada TV.

But for whatever reason, none of this seemed to stick, and Candy Opera split up in 1993, leaving only a few demos to prove their existence.

An astonishing 35 years later, Firestation Records heard these demos and fell in love with them. A long overdue phone call was made and Candy Opera’s debut album, 45 Revolutions Per Minute was finally released.

The album sold out almost immediately due to their legend growing in their absence.

Now Candy Opera are ready to release new album The Patron Saint of Heartache and lead single These Days Are Ours can be heard below.

The song is a classic slice of epic, widescreen pop music. It is also proof that talent does not disappear when we grow older.

These Days Are Ours starts with the line “All the best things of your life will pass you by in the blink of an eye“, a line made more poignant given the back story of the band.

The song casts an atmosphere of summer and, listening as the sun streams in through the windows, is as perfect a song as we’ve heard since, oooh I don’t know when.

If the rest of the album is as strong and skillfully executed as this, then Candy Opera’s indian summer could be just around the corner.

If this is the case, there would be a sense of justice being done and a wrong being righted.

These Days Are Ours and Candy Opera deserve a wider audience. Let’s get behind this record and demonstrate that sometimes talent can win out and the good guys can win.

Personally, I hope we see Candy Opera finally get their place at the table and get their slice of cake. They deserve it.

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Interviews

Dave Haslam Interview: “There is a redemptive power in music”

Following the release of Dave Haslam’s autobiography Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor Banjo chatted with him about moving from post punk to dance, losing the safety net and playing The Smiths at Cream.

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13 Questions

13 Questions with The Damned

The Damned’s Captain Sensible is our latest 13 Questions victim

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Features

Voodoo: Liverpool’s best dance club

Voodoo was Liverpool’s first and best techno night and has been running, on & off and at various venues, since 1993.  Starting at the Mardi Gras, this dark, sweaty cellar brought some of the biggest names in techno to the city; the Chemical Brothers, Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin and Jeff Mills are just some of the acts who were involved in making Voodoo famous across the country…along with the Voodoo crowd themselves.

My own first experience with Voodoo happened after a search for a proper dance club.  This was when both dance clubs and the Internet were in their infancy, pre-Google, so the only way to find somewhere really was word of mouth or just trying different places out and trusting to luck.  We tried a few places around Liverpool, Manchester and Lancashire with limited success, but they had an air of acid tourism about them, in that there seemed to be a lot of people wanting to look at the weirdos they’d read about in the papers.  Plus they were all still the old type of club, slightly done up for a new crowd, they didn’t seem right, or any different.

And then one Saturday night someone suggested we try Voodoo, so we piled into cars and headed off.  As soon as we walked down the stairs to the dark basement all thoughts of this club not being the real thing were banished.  A hot, loud club full of people really going for it on the dancefloor, no posers, no tourists and DJ Lewis (The Orb’s tour DJ) banging out the tunes. 

Minimal lights and no theatrics meant that the music and the crowd were allowed to be the main things in the club.  Everyone seemed into it, even the barstaff were jigging away whilst passing out free water and serving the occasional pint.  Our conversion to Voodoo wasn’t instant, but we had at least found a night we wanted to return to.  A couple of weekends later we were back and then, slowly but surely, Voodoo became our club. Later it became the centre of our life.

Voodoo had echoes of my first clubbing phase when, as a wee lad, I went to the Eric’s matinee shows.  Again there was the chance to wander into a grimy basement and see acts who had been in the newspapers or on Top of the pops just days before and a sense of being involved in something that was about to go overground.  Sometimes the planets seem to just line up right and everything seems to click into place, this was one of those times – we were in on the ground floor and those coming after would regret missing what was going on.

I once read an article in the NME, where Julie Burchill reviewed the week’s singles and slagged each of them off for not being by The Sex Pistols or Patti Smith.  She went on to say that the reasons she loved the Pistols so much was that they were so total – you couldn’t love them without realizing how shallow, feeble and inconsequential every other artist was.  Voodoo operated in a similar way, once the place had got under your skin, all other clubs didn’t even come close. 

One night a lad came in with a brand new Cream tattoo only to curse his luck that the week he’d had the logo tattooed on his chest he’d found somewhere better.  Compared to the rising ‘Super Clubs’  it was a no frills experience, but the techno scene was always about the music, the crowd and the shared experience, and this is where Voodoo won out over the likes of the Creams and Gatecrashers of the day.

New Year’s Eve at Voodoo was pretty much the high water mark of my clubbing experience, as well as the reason I no longer like going out on New Year’s Eve; nothing comes close to matching that time, that complete abandon – people on shoulders, hands in the air, like every gig you’ve ever seen on TV or seen a picture of and wished you were at.

As further evidence of Voodoo’s no nonsense approach to clubbing, one New Year’s Eve techno legend Robert Hood was booked to play, but was late arriving as he was in his hotel room waiting for the club to send a car to pick him up.  The car, of course, was never sent, so an angry Hood turned up at the club and tried to create a scene.  Hood was told, in no uncertain terms, to leave and the party carried on without him.

As a happy end to the story, he was recognized by some Voodoo goers who had failed to get tickets and was taken to a house party where he DJ’d into the early hours, apparently having a great night.

The turning point for me, the day where Voodoo became more of a way of life than just a club, was when a coach trip was arranged for 42 Voodoo goers to get to the Tribal Gathering festival in Luton Hoo – perhaps the first proper Dance music festival, precursor to the likes of Creamfields

I desperately wanted to go, but none of my crowd did, so I decided to go on my own; I knew a few of the Voodoo folk to say hello to so I thought ‘what the hell’.  I may have gone on my own, but I came back with 41 new best friends.  From here on in Voodoo became an essential part of our lives.  For the next two years I only missed out on four Voodoo weekends, and I regretted those.

Other coach trips were arranged and the Voodoo crowd invaded other clubs for a night, such as the Orbit in Leeds when our own Andy Nic was invited to play alongside techno pioneer Joey Beltram or Sankey’s Soap in Manchester for the great Jeff Mills Lost Weekends.

What these clubs must have thought when 42 up for it scousers landed on their doorstep is another matter, but I can only assume they didn’t mind too much as the favour was returned and they came to visit us.  The coach trips themselves have become the stuff of legend amongst those who attended, with tales of mass shoplifting from service stations, 60-odd year old coach drivers trying their fist spliffs and long, hazy journeys back to Liverpool from far flung parts of the country.

Voodoo also invaded the Big Love and other Tribal Gathering festivals and we partied and danced our way around the country.  Some of the friends we made came to Voodoo to see what the fuss was about and our own social networks were formed.  And all the talk of club friendships not lasting or drug friendships not being real is just so much media bullshit, as my Voodoo family and I have grown up together, been on holidays and attended each other’s weddings.  Those friendships forged in the white hot Voodoo heat will be with me for the rest of my life.

Voodoo’s spiritual home was unquestionably at Le Bateau.  It may have moved to bigger, even better venues over the years, but Le Bateau is where it started and where its heart was – the right setting for the right crowd at the right time.  Le Bateau closed at 2.00, so after people had left a crowd would gather on the pavement and the question of where the party was would go round the still buzzing group.

Taxis would be hailed and the night was carried on at a flat, in a basement or god knows where.  The cliché about living for the weekend was completely true here, as sometimes we would leave our beds on the Friday morning and not see them again until Sunday night or beyond, recovering through the week and Blue Tuesday before readying ourselves for another Voodoo weekend.

In some respects the parties that followed Voodoo were an extension of the club rather than something separate; the same faces, the same music and everywhere you looked were Voodoo flyers and posters blu-tacked to walls, doors, ceilings and windows.  Voodoo became a tribe, something that identified us as a group of people.

Who were we? What did we do?  We were Voodoo.

Voodoo’s success meant it had to move to larger premises and the 051 club years had their charms and many further adventures were had, but whenever I think of Voodoo, whenever I hear an old Voodoo classic being played, it’s the sweaty Le Bateau basement that I return to in my mind.

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Interviews

Glenn Gregory Interview: “I don’t have much of an ego and, truth to be told, I don’t much like being in the limelight. “

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.

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Interviews

Doreen Allen Interview: “I gave Johnny Thunders his rider when he came to do the soundcheck, and it was a bottle of brandy and a bottle of Baileys. He asked for a pint glass and poured it all in”

Allen, promoter, music fan extraordinaire and Liverpool legend, recently celebrated her 70th birthday, and we look back at a life less ordinary.

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Interviews Live

Ponderosa Glee Boys Interview

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.

Banjo

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Moongoose’s Yorkie Interviewed: “Soundtrack music for the imagination.

There are some words you never expect to have to type out next to each other. ‘Electro mariachi music’ are three such words, but then along came Tokyo Glow, the latest album from Moongoose.

Moongoose are David ‘Yorkie’ Palmer, ex-bassist from Space and all round local legend, along with guitars from Paul Cavanagh and video treatments from Mark Jordan.  (Incidentally, can I say how much I love seeing a video person listed as a band member.  It shows a post punk sensibility and takes me back to the heady days of early gigs from the like of Cabaret Voltaire and the Human League.)

Yorkie’s place in legend first came thanks to his involvement in the punk and post punk scenes in Liverpool. Tales of the likes of Echo and the Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes rehearsing in his mum’s basement are part of the unique folklore that accompanies the city coming back to life and stepping out of the Merseybeat shadow.

Moongoose have had an enigmatic path so far.  EPs were slowly leaked out, there was a gig in a cinema, the occasional burst of activity on social media, and two under the radar albums.  But nothing that prepared us for Tokyo Glow.

Tokyo Glow took me completely by surprise.  The Moongoose tracks I had heard before this have been very good indeed, but when taken together in one hit like this, the effect is to be unexpectedly plunged into another world.

All 10 tracks on Tokyo Glow are instrumentals.  But really they are much more than this; they are soundtracks.  Listening to this album is like watching a film in your own imagination; by the end you feel like you have watched a Blade Runner style spaghetti western from beginning to end.

The songs that make up Tokyo Glow are expansive in both scale and ambition.  Opener Bullet introduces us to the aforementioned electro mariachi, which is catchy as hell and an irresistible call to move.  Imagine this playing over an epic Tarantino film trailer.

The Clash play Liverpool Eric’s: “That day everything changed… nothing in Liverpool was ever the same again”

But one of the albums strengths is that no two tracks sound the same, yet they all sound like Moongoose.

Track 2, Tokyo Aflame, is another upbeat track, rich in atmosphere and texture.  A soundtrack to a Bond film, should they ever get around to making a good one again.

A Floating World calms things down and would not sound out of place playing at the Café Del Mar, soundtracking an Ibizan sunset.

This is carried over into Sleep to Disappear and actually, most of the album.  By this point, it is easy to forget that we are listening to just one band and not a mix CD that has been expertly put together to take the listeners on a journey.  The range of feelings, moods and sounds is astonishing.

To listen to Tokyo Glow on headphones is to be carried away on a near psychedelic journey, blissed out and happy.

By the time the title track closes the album, we have come a long way together, Moongoose and I. It has been a journey of spiritual peaks, my own visuals and Moongoose’s extraordinary vision.

It is a journey I will be repeating many time over the coming months and years.  This is an album that will stay with me, we will become firm and lifelong friends.

Undoubtedly one of last year’s finest albums, Tokyo Glow is just superb.

The question is, how could Moongoose follow this up?

During the lockdown, a lot of bands have found difficulty in doing what they need to do, whereas Yorkie has responded to this new world by doing what he does best – being creative.

The band have released two EPs, Yellow and Black, both on German Shepherd Records, which can be found by clicking the links. Further Moongoose works can also be found on Bandcamp here.

The Black EP is full of John Barry flourishes and, for those of us of a certain age, slightly hints at theme tunes to The Persuaders and the like. The tracks are variations on a theme and are best listened to as a single piece of music that kaleidoscopes its way into your brain.

Yellow is again rich with imagery, with the mind filling in visuals to go along with the cinematic feel of the music.

Sun 13 spoke to Moongoose mainstay David ‘Yorkie’ Palmer to see how things are in Moongoose world.

Hi Yorkie. How are you?

“I’m very well thank you. Just working on a couple of anniversary releases:

A Moongoose box set and a re-release of my solo album ‘Pitch A Ladder To The Moon’ and all of its related b’sides and Ep’s.”

How have you been getting on with the lockdown?

It’s been a very unusual few months.

When lockdown was first put in place, my first priority was to give my three boys their own rooms, so I relocated my House Of Light studio downstairs in the house.

This proved to be a godsend as everyone has been getting along with each other, without any arguments.

The new studio location is much better as well. Much more room and natural light.“

How would you describe Moongoose?

Soundtrack music for the imagination.”

The Rolling Stones Beggars Banquet 50 years on: the first injection of cool

How do you go about writing your songs?

I don’t stick to one formula, I like to approach each project differently so as to (hopefully) keep each release fresh.

The albums Organic Technology, Missives From The Memory Machine and Tokyo Glow make up a sort of sci-fi trilogy about how technology has infiltrated into our daily lives. There are good points and bad.

I love comparing the reality of today with the old utopian/dystopian sci-fi movies I grew up with, such as ‘Rollerball’, ‘Soylent Green’, ‘Planet Of The Apes’, ‘Logans Run’, etc.

One thing I find really inspirational is titles, I love making up titles as a starting point/jumping off point for the listener.

I used to be a singer, and of course a lyricist, but because Moongoose is an instrumental band titles are my only outlet in that area…so I make the most of them.”

Do you bring your post punk past with you into Moongoose?

My PUNK past has informed everything I have ever done. If you lived through Punk, I don’t think it ever leaves you.”

Your songs sound like soundtracks, is this something you have in mind when you all get together?

“When I first started Moongoose that was the main intention: to do instrumental music, music that was designed or intended to be instrumental, as opposed to those tracks labelled instrumental because the singer couldn’t get his shit together.

All the band members have a love of soundtrack and instrumental music. As a kid I always bought soundtrack albums, sometimes for films I was too young to see, or were no longer being shown in cinemas (for example the early James Bond films with their magnificent John Barry scores).

My brother thought I was a right weirdo. I remember him walking in the room while I was listening to Jerry Goldsmith’s wonderful score for Logan’sRun with the lights out. The look of scorn on his face was priceless.”

How has the lockdown affected the way you work?

Well, after the release of ‘Tokyo Glow’ I wasn’t intending to do anything new with Moongoose till next year. However, while relocating my studio downstairs and sorting the boys rooms, I was listening to a lot of old Film Noir and Giallo soundtracks as well as watching films from both genres.

As the studio move was completed, I wanted to try out the new room and found myself wanting to do something to reflect my love of both these sometime neglected or forgotten genres.

I had touched upon Noir with my previous band The Balcony and with Space introduced some elements of Giallo. The only problem during lockdown was that I couldn’t get the usual band members around to contribute their usual essential talents.

I could send Mark Jordan tracks for him to do videos for, but the others were unavailable, so I asked my son Jack if he would be interested in helping out.

He brought a fresh perspective and outlook to the Yellow and Black Ep’s and contributed guitar, bass and keyboards across the tracks.

The fact that he wasn’t aware of either of the genres (well, he loves Dario Argento’s Suspiria) meant that what he contributed was based purely on the titles for the tracks and what he felt the atmosphere dictated.

Bob Osborne has been a great supporter over the years, so German Shepherd Records were the obvious choice to release the last two Ep’s.

Just wanted them released as soon as possible and he made it possible. We were still recording and mixing while he was arranging the releases.”

How is it making music with your family?

It’s always a joy. I recorded a song about 13 years ago called Alone. It uses the Edgar Allan Poe poem of the same name as it text. It was suggested to me by an old friend many years ago, but I hadn’t gotten round to it.

I recorded it with my good friend and Windmill compadre Mick Dolan and we got my 5 year old son Matthew to add vocals.

It is now included in the forthcoming film about Derek Jarman by Mark Jordan.

For both Windmill albums (‘Wanderlust’ and ‘A Different Door’) both Jack and my youngest son Ben sang backing vocals.

They both played keyboards on the  b’side to the Moongoose single ‘Headache’: ‘20th Century Spirals’.“

What have you been listening to lately?

I’ve been listening loads to This Heat, Faust, African Head Charge, Andrzej Korzynski, The Ghost Box label, Swans, Midsommar (soundtrack), A Year In The Country, The Room In The Wood.

As well as this, I’m compiling the Yorkie album and the Moongoose box set.”

In amongst all the stress and disruption that has come about as a result of the pandemic and the lockdown, it is easy to feel that the world has ground to a halt, that all we are able to do is to try to keep ourselves afloat, treading water but not necessarily getting anywhere.

It is reassuring and impressive to hear that art and artists are still doing what they do, creating, making music and making plans.

Both Yorkie’s solo album and the Moongoose box set give us something to look forward to, a light shining in the fog.

And that is art at its best.

Banjo 

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Features

The Clash play Liverpool Eric’s: “That day everything changed… nothing in Liverpool was ever the same again”

Clash were undoubtedly Liverpool’s favourite punk band. While the Sex Pistols’ debut gig at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall has been acknowledged as the starting point of that city’s punk scene, The Clash’s first gig at Eric’s performed a similar magic for Liverpool.

The gig was witnessed by Jayne CaseyJulian Cope and Ian McCulloch, who went on to form Big in JapanThe Teardrop Explodes and Echo & The Bunnymen respectively, amongst other bands.

Also in attendance was one Pete Wylie of Wah! fame who, legend has it, approached The Clash’s Mick Jones after the gig to tell him how he had been inspired him to form a band.

The story goes that Jones handed Wylie his guitar with the words “Pay me back when you’re famous.” Wylie later stated “That day everything changed… nothing in Liverpool was ever the same again

It wasn’t that Liverpool didn’t love Sex Pistols, but that, apparently, they just weren’t that good when they played Eric’s, for what would be the only gig the band ever played in the city.

Also, this was only the 3rd gig at Eric’s, so both band and venue were still unknown quantities, which meant that only around 50 people were present.

Of course, over the years the number of people who have since claimed they were there is probably over 100 times the number that actually attended, such is the impact punk has made on history.

By the time The Clash played on May 5 1977, things had changed. Punk was exploding all over the country, attracting the outcasts, the curious and those in search of something to match how they felt and to give voice to the noises in their heads.

Liverpool at the time was not in a particularly good place; financially in the trough of an economic slump following the decline of its docks and shipping industries and culturally still looking for a way out of the shadow cast by The Beatles’ unprecedented success.

Musically, Liverpool had yet to find a post-Beatles identity, although The Real Thing had kept the city’s flame burning in the charts.

When Roger Eagle and Ken Testi decided to open Eric’s, Roger, perhaps sensing that change was in the air, asked those members of his club he took under his wing not to listen to The Beatles, for fear that the past would infiltrate the new present.

Jayne Casey, One of those who were so instructed, remembered “A couple of years ago we’d been to a funeral and we were all sat round a table. There was me, Ian McCulloch and Pete Wylie. Ian looked at me and said, “Have you listened yet?” And I said, “No, have you?” And he said, “No” and we both looked at Wylie and said, “Have you?” And he said, “No” and we both in the same second said, “Yes you have! We know you have!” And he was like “I haven’t, I haven’t” but we were like “We can tell from your composition that you’ve listened to them for years!” So we’re convinced that he listened, he pretends he didn’t but he did.

But the music that was being made by the new generation paid no heed to the likes of The Beatles. The Clash themselves penned a song called 1977 that famously claimed “No Elvis, Beatles or The Rolling Stones in 1977”.

The Clash (Copyright: Chalkie Davies)
The Clash (Copyright: Chalkie Davies)

The Clash were everything a band should have been at that particular point and place in music. Young, good looking, well dressed, confused and even contradictory.

Their songs combined political thrust with killer riffs, signing about hate, war, being bored and riots. Live they were described as being like “three James Deans coming at you”, as the front line of Mick Jones, Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon charged and attacked, backed up by the mighty Topper Headon.

That gig revitalized the city’s music scene. People met there and were jointly inspired to do something.

What nobody could have predicted at the time was how much they could go on to do. There are times in life when the stars just seem to line up and things work out right, a one in a billion meeting of minds and talents, and this seems to have been one of those occasions.

People formed bands before they knew what kind of musicians they would turn out to be, taken by The Clash’s messianic call. We can thank the gods of chance, or perhaps some other agent of destiny, that this crowd included the extraordinary voices of Ian MCCulloch, Pete Burns, Pete Wylie and Holly Johnson, along with the mercurial talents of guitarist Will Sergeant, drummer extraordinaire Budgie and art prankster/cultural terrorist Bill Drummond.

It may be the case that this astonishing pool of talent would have come together regardless of this particular gig, but the point remains that The Clash lit the touch paper and the firework duly went into the higher atmosphere and exploded.

The Clash were one of the first bands this writer saw at Eric’s, a few months on from their debut appearance,  on their Tommy Gun tour.

As confession is alleged to be good for the soul, I will hold my hand up and say that I was never a massive fan after their initial run of singles, nailing my colours to the Pistols’ mast instead.

That said, this was without question one of the most thrilling gigs I have ever seen, The Clash were undoubtedly at their best live, unmarred by the poor production of their first album and the American sheen of their second.

To this day I can remember the energy of the gig, along with the heat, the packed crowd and the feeling that, somehow, this was a gig that would stay with you long after we had left the venue.

I had never seen Eric’s so crowded, perhaps the fullest I ever saw it, with the possible exception of Iggy Pop. The size of the crowd was such that people had spilled out from stage front through to the bar area, making even a glimpse of the stage tricky.

The Specials were supporting them on this tour and, although I tell people I saw them it is probably more honest to say that I glimpsed them, through a doorway and over people’s heads. The crowd looked hot and we didn’t fancy getting caught up in the heat and mess of it, just for a support band.

If I had the chance I would tell my teenage self to get in there and catch one of our era’s most important bands while they were still unknown. I was amazed at how popular they seemed to be despite few people in my social circle having heard of them.

As The Specials left the stage and people headed to the bar, we saw our chance and pushed our way in. Thankfully we got to within a few people of the front of the stage and The Clash burst forth and blew our teenage minds!

Playing their first album and early singles, they already had a run of songs to make most new bands weep with envy.

With the Sex Pistols banned from almost everywhere and soon to split up, The Clash were head of the punk pack at this point, and made a nonsense of the myth that punk bands couldn’t play their instruments.

The people inspired by their first Liverpool, gig have achieved much in the years since and have doubtless inspired other people in their turn.

Perhaps this is the ultimate compliment for a gig, or even a band – that they create these ripples in a pond to such extent that they are still being felt all these years later.

Liverpool, and indeed the whole world, would be so much worse without them.

Banjo

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Features

The Teardrop Explodes and Club Zoo

Banjo looks at the Teardrop Explodes and their Club Zoo folly, where one of Liverpool’s most famous bands went off the rails.

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Features

The Warehouse: Liverpool’s Forgotten Club

For some reason, the Warehouse tends to be left out of Liverpool’s clubbing history, so Banjo attempts to put that right.

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Features

Eric’s – a personal journey through Liverpool’s original punk club

Punk has become many things in the 40 years since it went overground.

It has become acceptable, stripped by time and familiarity of the ability to shock.  It has become common place – punk fashion and influence can be seen pretty much everywhere.  It has become an exercise in nostalgia; punk bands still play gigs to the same crowds who saw them decades ago, cosy gigs reliving a collective youth.

And it has become commodified, a trend that in truth started worryingly early.  These days, Ramones and Joy Division t-shirts can be snapped up in Primark, extravagantly dyed hair, ripped jeans and multiple earrings are mainstream and raise not a single eyebrow.

But it was not always like this.  Oh no – once upon a time, Punk was a dangerous, exciting thing to be involved with. Questions were asked about it in the Houses of Parliament and just looking like a punk could get you chased, beaten and worse.

In those far off days, this shocking new phenomenon was news!  Music papers particularly couldn’t get enough of it, devoting almost whole issues to its rise. But, John Peel aside, it was almost impossible for young teens to actually hear the music itself.

Thank God then for Roger Eagle being, not for the first time in his life, in the right place at the right time. And, more importantly, with the right attitude.

Following on from creating successful and influential nights at the Twisted Wheel in Manchester and the Stadium in Liverpool, Roger, along with Pete Fulwell and Ken Testi, opened Eric’s in 1976, just in time for punk to spread out from London to Manchester and then to the provinces.

The first band to appear at Eric’s were The Stranglers, followed a week later by The Runaways and then The Sex Pistols. Eric’s had clearly tapped into a rich vein of exciting new music with punk beginning to explode. Not that it was ever a punk club per se, also featuring gigs from such diverse artists as Steve Hillage, Van der Graaf Generator, B.B. King and many reggae artists such as Prince Far I and Inner Circle.

The first run of gigs at Eric's
The first run of gigs at Eric’s

Roger Eagle was one of the rare breed of people who were more interested in the art of what they were doing rather than the finances, so the more popular gigs by the likes of The Clash and The Damned funded gigs by artists less likely to pull in a large number of paying guests, but Roger would rather spend time and money showcasing wonderful music for a smaller audience than have it ignored.

His legendary enthusiasm for music and for turning other people on to bands he loved was undoubtedly one of Eric’s best assets.

This writer’s own calling to Eric’s came whilst still a fresh-out-of -school 16 year old, starting what would be my final summer holiday, marooned between the childish world of school and the more grown-up world of college. 

Towards the end of my school life, a schoolmate had moved away, only about 5 miles down the road, but enough at that age to make it difficult to maintain a friendship where seeing each other every day was normal and effort free.

We have, in fact, remained friends to this day. We got into punk together that year, neither of us knowing the full seismic effect this would have on the rest of our lives.

On the second week of this summer break, this friend phoned with an invitation to join him and some others in going to a punk club in Liverpool to see Magazine play a matinee show. To my eternal regret, after hearing all the shock horror stories in the press, I bottled out and stayed at home, wracked with jealousy.

When I found out the day had passed without major incident, we plans to go the following week to see Rich Kids, the band  Glen Matlock formed after leaving The Sex Pistols. So when the next Saturday came around, I pocketed my £2.50 pocket money and headed off to a brave new world.

Graffiti was quite big with punks at the time, not the arty tags or Banksy murals we see now, but crude Magic Marker scrawlings of band names and slogans. We all set pen to the train shelter while waiting for the train into town.

Terrible really, and the kind of thing I hate to see these days, but it seemed to be somehow important then; part of the Destroy culture that punk embodied, a lack of respect for your elders and surroundings. We thought we had a point to prove; to go against the grain, be disruptive, sign your contempt for the world and your surroundings as boldly as you can.

There was an interview with John Lydon’s wife Nora, many years later, where she recalled in 1976 being advised not to have these punks in her house, not because they would steal or break anything but because they were likely to write on her walls in paint and pen.

Arriving at Eric’s, we found we had to first become members before being allowed entry (something about it being a members only club gave it extra freedoms within the law, such as staying open late).

At first this extra expense was dismaying, taking my last 50p as it did, but looking back, 50p for a year’s membership of Eric’s must be classed as something of a bargain.

I paid this and the £1.00 entry fee and went down the Eric’s staircase for the first time. Memories of this portentous event are scarce, but it was like nothing we’d seen before.

Previous experiences of music played at anything above front room levels of volume had been local discos, and Eric’s was nothing like that. Dark, damp and with dirty red walls, walking down those stairs was walking into another world.

Proper bands played here, proper punks came here and we were entering their world. This was a big deal, although how big a deal was not immediately apparent.

As this was a matinee gig for under 18s the bar served only soft drinks, so we bought Cokes. This was a masterstroke of Eric’s – adding a matinee show meant that bands could be booked for two shows in Liverpool and then another night at Manchester’s Factory venue which in turn, made it more financially viable for bands  to make the trip North.

Away from those practical considerations, it meant that a generation of kids, ideally aged in 1977 for the shockwaves and upheaval of punk, could be part of things in a way that otherwise would have been beyond our means, schemes and wildest dreams.

It is impossible to overemphasise the impact this had on a bunch of 16 year olds from the sticks. Being a punk in a small town was to be in a small minority and made walking its streets and corridors a dangerous prospect, but Eric’s gave young outsiders a place to belong, maybe for the first time.

In return, the Eric’s owners, movers and shakers seemed genuinely fond of the young crowd and what they brought to the club.  Big in Japan dedicated their only proper release to “the Eric’s matinee crowd” and their singer, Jayne Casey, still tells the tale of when Iggy Pop played Eric’s on his birthday.

The matinee crowd, myself included, burst into a spontaneous version of Happy Birthday to You in a way that a grown-up crowd would most definitely not have done. Not expecting this reaction, Iggy grinned from ear to ear, his rock star persona punctured by this young gesture.

Iggy Pop at Liverpool Eric’s: Shock was part of the currency of the early punks and, in Iggy, they had inspiration of sorts

Memory is not perhaps 100% reliable here, but there were a plethora soon-to-be famous faces working on the bar or on the door.  Ian Broudie certainly used to be on the door a fair bit, and there are blurry recollections of Mac, Julian Cope and Pete Wylie’s talents being employed in some capacity or other.

I seem to remember Pete Burns DJing occasionally. I always strongly suspected that he brought records down from his day job at Probe Records, played them in the club and then took them back and sold them, along with a nice crackly coating of sweat and beer.

The bar area was the first room you walked in to as you came down the stairs, with a dark seated area with the legendary Eric’s jukebox to the right and the stage area through a doorway in front.

After collecting our Cokes, we took our place stage left, me marvelling at the fact that I was in a punk club for the first time in my life.

Everyone looked punkier than us, so mental notes were made to make a few changes to wardrobe in future. The long hair had already gone, chopped off a few days after hearing God Save The Queen for the first time.

After standing around for a while, the support band came on. I had no idea who they were and had never heard them before; few people had then. The lead singer walked to the mic and said, “Hello. we’re Joy Division.”

So the first live punk band we saw at Eric’s turned out to be Joy Division!  Sometimes fate just seems to treat you well. Obviously this gig was now a long time ago and we had no idea just how immense Joy Division would turn out to be, but I can clearly remember the bass lines of Transmission and She’s Lost Control and can recall them playing Ice Age and They Walked in Line.

We were instantly hooked. From now on Joy Division were our band and we saw them every time they played a matinee show, as well as gigs in Preston and Leeds. We saw them go from support band to headline act, although the first headline show I saw them play was to less than 20 people.

After they finished their set, we waited for Rich Kids to take to the stage. We were about to see a Sex Pistol and were beside ourselves with excitement. Again, time has dimmed my memory of the gig somewhat, but loud punk music (or Power Pop as the Rich Kids were briefly classed) had well and truly got us and this was without question the most exciting day of our young lives.

Following the gig, the band came out of the dressing room and hung around the bar, chatting and signing autographs.

At the tender age of 16 and in one single afternoon, we had been to a punk club, seen Joy Division and got an autograph from a Sex Pistol. How could we not fall in love with this wonderful place?!

My second trip to Eric’s was to see The Clash on their Tommy Gun tour, ably supported by The Specials, in one of the best and most overcrowded gigs we ever attended. Eric’s had delivered again and our fate had been sealed.

For the next two years or so we would be back every Saturday. I even once, through a special mixture of sulking and badgering,  forced my poor suffering parents to cut a holiday in London short so I could be back in my beloved Eric’s to watch Joy Division again.

It doesn’t happen often in life that we are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, but when it happened  I am eternally glad that I made the most of it and have so many memories of my time at this legendary club.

Banjo

Categories
Lost Albums

The Teardrop Explodes Wilder: “A bloody-minded look into the downside of success”

The post punk boom of the late 70s and early 80s made stars of some strange people.

Marc Almond bringing high camp to Top of the Pops, Phil Oakey appearing in Jackie magazine with a chain between his two pierced nipples and Adam Ant displaying his Pure Sex tattoo to theatres full of young fans are but three examples of how punk sensibility clashed with a world not quite ready to take it all in.

We can add to this Julian Cope standing on a piano, tripping his face off and wearing a night shirt on Top of the Pops, with The Teardrop Explodes.

There is a sense with all of these of square pegs in round holes, of people perhaps not immediately cut out for mainstream fame bringing their baggage with them.

And none more so than the archdrood himself, Julian Cope.

When they first started, The Teardrop Explodes were a fine, if slightly odd, band formed in the embers of the punk scene that had raged through the UK. Countless bands were inspired by the likes of Sex Pistols and The Clash to pick up guitars and make music of their own.

Where the post punk bands covered themselves in glory was by refusing to follow the path of identikit punk thrash that was well trod by 2nd and 3rd generation punk bands and by applying their emerging musical abilities in a new and different way.

These bands had an innate desire not to follow the crowd. This led to some of the most wonderful music we will ever know being committed to vinyl by bands who were not interested in fame or its trappings, doing what they were doing out of a need to create.

It was in these post punk bands that the true spirit of the explosions of 76/77 bore fruit.

One of these bands was The Teardrop Explodes.

Formed around the triumvirate of Eric’s, Probe and the Armadillo Tea Rooms, Liverpool bands sprung up regularly, often lasting no longer than a day or two. Eventually though, some of these bands left the tea rooms for the rehearsal rooms and actually started writing songs.

Dirty Three’s Whatever You Love, You Are 20th anniversary: “A labyrinth of unsullied splendour”

The Teardrop Explodes wrote three songs, Sleeping Gas, Camera Camera and Kirby Worker’s Dream Fades. Bill Drummond, ex of Big In Japan persuaded the band to record all three songs, releasing them as the band’s first single.

On it’s release, Sleeping Gas was awarded Single of the Week in the weekly music papers. Suddenly The Teardrop Explodes found the spotlight shining on them for the first time.

Further singles Bouncing Babies and Treason were released and The Teardrops were one of Liverpool’s brightest hopes. However, success eluded them and their rivals Echo and the Bunnymen signed to a major label and left Julian and co behind.

It wasn’t until 4th single Reward went top ten that it seemed to be time for The Teardrop Explodes to have their own chance at the big time.

Treason was subsequently re-released and made it to number three, and The Teardrop Explodes became pop stars.

Lacking a stable line up, Julian Cope became the band’s face and focus, essentially employing and firing a series of players who were little more than session musicians.

Debut album Kilimanjaro gathered rave reviews and it seemed that everybody loved The Teardrop Explodes. What could possibly go wrong.

Well the answer to that is pretty much everything.

Pop fame sat uneasily on Cope’s shoulders and took to taking huge amounts of LSD and isolating himself. An American tour came to a messy end and Cope sacked fan favourite Alfie Agius. By now he had a reputation approaching that of Mark E Smith when it came to the ruthless way he dealt with band members.

Drummer Gary Dwyer was the only other continuous member of The Teardrop Explodes, and deserves great credit for his part in their story and for being the prop that held the band up when falling apart may have seemed inevitable.

Nevertheless, anticipation for the Teardrop’s 2nd album was so high that Cope had wanted to call it Everybody Wants To Shag The Teardrop Explodes

Eventually called Wilder, it was in part designed to turn off The Teardrop Explodes new audience of pop fans.

There is still a rich vein of Cope’s love of classic pop running through Wilder, but it has an angular, awkward and arty approach that belied their status as staples of Smash Hits magazine.

Opening track Bent Out of Shape is a straight forward enough song, but underpinned by some strange noises and opens with Cope singing “All my life I’ve been bent out of shape, can’t you see it’s killing me’ adding “these are dreams that I never had” as if he has already had enough of the fame that landed at his feet.

Next up is Colours Fly Away, starting with a brass band section that harks back to the glory days of Reward. Fans could be forgiven that The Teardrop Explodes have picked up from where Kilimanjaro left off. But again, the opening lines show Cope’s unease with his success: “More by luck than judgement here I am, smiling at the fighting once again.”

Seven Views of Jerusalem is a jumble of beats and squawks with Cope seemingly in stream of consciousness territory, singing “I cut off my nose to spite my face, look at all pests around the place. Everyone’s laughing they think it’s disguise, but haven’t you seen all the lines round my eyes

Lyrics such as these seem a long way from the same person who burst into the public’s affections by singing “Bless my cotton socks, I’m in the news

Pure Joy is trite and throwaway, but next track Falling Down Around Me is one of the album’s highlights. Built around a stuttering mix of bass and drums that seem to have little in common with the guitar track, the song has echoes of David Bowie from his early days, in particular the World of David Bowie album that was so popular amongst the Liverpool post punk cognoscenti.

The Culture Bunker is classic Teardrop and references Cope’s early days in Liverpool as he mentions The Crucial Three, the band he started with Pete Wylie and Ian McCulloch, as he sings “I’ve been waiting so long, waiting for The Crucial Three, wondering what went wrong

Passionate Friend is another classic. Apparently written for Ian McCulloch’s sister, thus deepening the rift that had grown up between the two one time friends.

Tiny Children takes things down several notches and gives us a sense of Julian as a lonely figure writing his disquiet and depression down for us all to read, as if we were sneaking furtive glances through his diary. Lyrics such as “I could make a meal of that wonderful despair I feel” provide a glimpse into a troubled psyche and his approach to the people he now has to deal with is detailed when he sings “But each character is plundering my home and taking everything that is my own

The chorus of “Oh no, I’m not sure about those things that I cared about. Oh no, I’m not sure, not anymore” give the impression of an unhappy soul rocking himself in a dark corner.

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Like Leila Khaled Said further details an unhappy outlook, for some reason juxtaposed with Leila Khaled, member of the revolutionary Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the first woman to hijack a plane. Smash Hits suddenly seems a long way off.

And The Fighting Takes Over continues the downbeat, introspective theme still further, reading like an examination of Julian’s failing marriage in a sad but blame free manner, concluding “we were just a pair of little children, two children, no surprise

Closing track The Great Dominions is perhaps the greatest song The Teardrop Explodes ever recorded, an open-hearted epic that again seems to look at his crumbling marriage.

The band provide a sympathetic backing as Julian pours his heart out in his own symbolic manner. The Great Dominions reads like the aftermath of a long and emotional argument, with Cope singing “Suddenly I came to my senses, a night on fire put out all traces of feeling

The ending refrain saw Julian singing naked in a dark studio, his voice cracking as the tears come towards the end of the repeated line “Mummy I’ve been fighting again”, as the song climaxes around him.

As emotional as this is, it is difficult to see that the young fans who bought Reward would take to this tearful soul bearing with the same enthusiasm.

Of course, the post punk fans that the band had brought with them were more than able to love the sounds they found on Wilder, it was the pop fans that might have found it a more challenging listen.

Cope’s aim was not to make bad music, but to shake of his teenybopper image, a mantle that is easy to imagine never sat well on his shoulders.

Before the band could finish their third album, it was all over for The Teardrop Explodes. They remain one of the bands who have never reformed and probably for good reasons. Theirs is a tale that has too much depth, too many messy relationships and involved too many bad trips.

But, despite Wilder perhaps starting the death knell of one of post punk’s greatest bands, it is a mighty statement and one that deserves returning to.

A pop star who is prepared to open himself up to his public in this manner is a rare thing. We are reminded of the troubled output of Syd Barrett and Tim Buckley, but presented in a pop arena.

Wilder is a bloody-minded and honest look into the downside of success, when all The Teardrop Explodes had to do to ensure their continued success was to put on a happy face and smile for the pages of the pop glossies.

And as such, it is one of the bravest documents a band hungry for fame have ever committed to tape.

Banjo

Categories
Interviews

Glen Matlock Interview: “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”

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.’

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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.

Jah Wobble Interview: “Joining the Pistols would have been a huge mistake”

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.

Banjo