13 Questions

13 Questions with The Ponderosa Glee Boys

The Ponderosa Glee Boys have become something of a Liverpool Institution and their December shows have become one of the year’s highlights.

It’s a shame then that this damn pandemic is putting a stop to this year’s trip. This is even more of a shame when you realise that they would be playing tracks from their forthcoming album, Demigods of Bedlam.

Their long awaited (over 40 years in the making!) debut album Wake Up was an unabashed triumph and one of last year’s very finest records, so we here at Sun 13 are practically salivating at the thought of a second long player. The demos that lead singer Carl Eaton has been leaking out have only made the waiting more unbearable.

The overall feeling of the demos is of intense, claustrophobic songs full of lyrical dread about the times we live in.

Carl lives in Australia these days, so the time the Glee Boys can spend together recording and gigging is limited at the best of times, never mind when Covid19 is forcing us into smaller and smaller lives.

This is one thing that makes their gigs so special, there is a real sense of their appearances feel like an event, a rare happening that you absolutely have to be it.

The Ponderosa Glee Boys are one of Liverpool’s best bands, and we hope that they can come back to our stages as soon as lockdowns permit.

In the meantime, we got in touch with singer Carl over the ether and subjected him to a set of our fiendish 13 questions.

Read on to find out more about being told off by your daughter, death threats from America and pissing in water pistols.

1. Where are you and what are you doing and how is that working out?
“At the moment I’m on the Gold Coast in Australia. Just got out of the recording studio working on the last 3 songs for the Demigods of Bedlam album. Recording time has been very limited since Covid so its taking longer than we anticipated. I’m healthy and safe and lucky enough to be enjoying the sunshine and cold beer so not complaining. Spending more time with my family has been a bonus as well.”

2. How have you been coping with the lockdown situation?
“Lockdown here I imagine was the same as most places around the globe though they seemed to have managed it a lot better than most places as they acted early and Queensland has been relatively lucky.

Borders are still locked down here between states and no international flights which will stop me travelling back to the UK this year. I’ve used the lockdown time to be more creative and hopefully that will be reflected with the album.

Lockdown has opened my eyes to how poorly some governments have reacted but that’s not much of a surprise.”

3. Who is the nicest ‘celebrity’ you’ve met?
“The nicest celebrity I’ve ever met is a hard one but would for me would be fellow Liverpudlian Joe (Jose’) McLaughlin from Gerry and the Pacemakers.

He kindly played additional guitars on a few of the tracks on the AWAKE album last year after we met him in Australia where he now lives. He loves everything Liverpool and is a beautiful human being.

He is extremely talented on many instruments and I love talking to him about his life. We still keep in touch.”

4. When did you last get into an argument?
“I try my best to keep out of arguments these days, I think you get smarter with age but the last one I had was in the form of a personal message on messenger with the person finding my lyrics not to his political taste and threatening to kill me If we ever went to America.

I don’t think the chances of that are likely as we would be refused visas haha.”

5. When did you last shout at the TV?
“Liverpool Leeds game at Liverpool’s defense.”

6. When did you last consider quitting social media?
“All the time.  There are so many people who need to be shaken to Wake Up.

I love it to keep up to date with what’s going on the to be fair. I don’t post much personal stuff anymore, just the odd PGB related stuff and a few like on friend’s posts.”

7. How would you describe yourself?
“I think I’d say over the years I have become a better person. I might upset a few people with what I say but I think I’m honest and I stand up for what I believe is fair and right.

Hopefully I’m not wrong.”

8. What words of warning would you give your younger self?
“I’d tell myself not to pack in the music for 35 years, I’d have written a few hundred master pieces by now.”

9. When were you last told off?
“My daughter tells me off all the time about my music taste.”

10. What’s your first memory?
“My first memory is a hard one but I have a memory of steam trains at Mersey Road station and being afraid of the smoke.”

11. What’s your guilty listening pleasure?
“You to me are everything by the Real Thing .. Is that bad?” (No it isn’t!)

12. Tell us a secret
“We used to piss in water pistols and spray the audience with them at Eric’s when some punks used to start the spitting thing.”

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

“I’d like to wish everyone all the best and hope they all get through this global nightmare. We look forward to playing over in the UK again as soon as possible.

The album Demigods of Bedlam is fantastic so far and we hope to get it out in a few months. Its been hard getting studio time and with Covid the band haven’t been able to get over to Australia this year.

I’ve had to play most of the instruments which has allowed me to experiment more. I’m really proud of where its at so far and I think there will be a few shocks in there.

Big Love to all X”

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.