‘I was in Detroit in a band called Candyrag, it was 2001 and we were playing the Elbow Rooms, haunt of The White Stripes. A middle aged couple all dressed in leather splendour warned me of having a partner in the same band, then they invited me to a party to meet Iggy Pop. I politely declined only to find out from the promoter that Iggy is indeed in town and that the couple are old friends of I should also have listened about having my girlfriend as a singer, as domestic issues do fly out onto the stage. There is a video on You Tube where I get an almighty thump, deservedly so. The band originally started off as bored flatmates, the drummer used only a fire extinguisher at first movin’ up to a snare then a snare and cymbal. The band only split up when the singer KT (my girlfriend) got off with the USA tour promoter, but we all left friends tho’- there’s a whole other chapter for Candyrag alone! That band released a 7″ which was recorded at Washington Arts Centre 2001 and yes it was, wham bam in an out recorded in a day. We got it played on the John Peel radio programme, unfortunately Peely played it at 45rpm when it was a 33 !
‘I am now upsetting the psychos and rockabilly folk with The Bastard Sons of Cavan. A band that has had a new line up every year since 2010, current personel are Buff Harris/Bull Fiddle and Ed Smash, drums. Both based in Wales so in effect I’m in a Welsh band whilst living in London.
We were booked to play a Biker Festival on the North East coast. It was one of our first gigs. We turned up, set up started playing, drummer joins in, guitarist pipes up, bassist froze. The plugs were pulled, but not because the bassist froze but because this set of bikers love Folk not Rock. They kindly paid us, however I still wonder why they ever booked us in the first place? ’
What got you interested in music ? ‘I was living on a poor council estate in Chilton, County Durham, we had a broken record player and an accoustic guitar with one string. Back in the day it was Top of the Pops, not the music, but the look, it was 70’s glam after all. The only music I heard was when me neighbour blasted his Elvis records every Sunday. Nowadays it’s the latest thing that peaks my interest, whatever musical genre.
The first wave of Punk passed me by as I sat and simmered at home. I finally heard John Peel on the radio in ’78. Although I had never had any inclination to be in a band it was the second wave of Punk that made me wanna grab it with both hands. So I got myself a guitar from Bells the local music shop, they did hire purchase. Then I got a Crate combo from the catalogue. I learned how to play guitar then switched over to bass. The downside was I had to leave school and go on the dole to afford payments. There weren’t a lot of jobs and I didn’t want to end up in a factory – punk had a lot to answer for and that’s my excuse’.
When you joined a band what venues did you play ?
‘The first band that gigged were Anti-Climax
in 1981. The second wave of angry punk all mohawks and attitude, ideal for a bunch of lads in a Northern pit village. Those lads being Neil Campbell on vocals, my neighbour Gary Ward and Myself. Me and Gary used to switch from bass to guitar and anyone we could nab on drums – still an ongoing trend. We mostly played in youth clubs and church halls around the North East. My Dad was the chauffer – unwillingly I may add. One night Anti Climax
were at a local punk gig and we were asked if we could play a gig supporting Uproar
in Peterlee the next night. We said of course, then did what every Punk would do. I stole me Dads car, did the gig, crashed the car and got a hiding off me Dad when I got the bus back.
This was short lived due to me finding out the merits of sniffing glue, and finding myself on the wrong side of the law. So I was taken out of public circulation for awhile. I found myself relocated to Newcastle, with a much better scene all round. I got involved with several bands from full on punk to goth, even a stint in a 70’s covers band!
By 1989 I found myself in a Gateshead Psychobilly outfit The Sugar Puff Demons
. We recorded a debut album Falling from Grace
records. When we went on tour, me being the newbee was the one laid out in the back of the mini van with the gear piled up all around. But the band got thrown off that tour for upstaging the main act, and the singer went bat shit crazy. In the end we split up. This happened all within a year ! There were more short lived but very highly charged times in several bands with the longest being in Th’ Lunkheads
from 1993-2000. They had an ill fated tour of France and a jaunt over the pond.
‘In France we found the gigs being cancelled left right and centre at the last minute – and we were running out of cash. The lads were feeling low so I grab them and point them to the Pyrennes and say ‘how many folk on the dole up North have seen this ?’ Fortunately local band The Catchers helped us out, plus entertain us with their hot rodded cars. I was in the one that run out of fuel halfway up a mountain and had to cruise back down in reverse – just before the Police caught up!! I remember I was in the toilet in a venue in Bordeaux when I heard a commotion. I got out and the Police had raided and arrested the landlord – no gig that night. In retrospect I believe wearing WW2 German helmets may have been a wrong fashion choice for the band.
1997 we landed on American soil, Detroit Rock City – only to be whisked off by security and questioned. We claimed to be just visiting and sticking to our guns we got through it. Only to find that the promoter had got cheerleaders with L..U..N..K..H..E…A..D..S on their shirts waiting for us. Eventually we did the gig but I was ill with food poisoning. Someone scrawled Lunkheads are Drunks on the toilet wall, which was not far wrong as the promoter had enough empties to keep him in groceries for a month. Lunkheads first demo was recorded in a barn on a old 2” reel to reel, it was made more interesting as it was a pub due to shut down and several kegs of cider and lager needed emptying – job done. Those recordings may resurface soon on vinyl through Trash Wax records as part of their Garbage Grails, better late than never’.
Did you support any name bands ?
‘Over the years I have supported many bands of various genres from ? & The Mysterians
at the Magic Stick in Detroit to Wonk Unit
at The Angel in Durham. Played in venues long gone now like The Mayfair and The Broken Doll in Newcastle. Every one of them a blast whether playin’ to just the bar staff or 2,000 punters who dont know who you are! When I was in Blood and Thunder
87’ish we were supporting UK Subs
in Carlisle, during I Wanna Be Your Dog
some old codger grabbed the mic and started singin’ – well it was only Charlie Harper, bless’.
What was your experience of recording studios ? ‘The Cluny studio in Newcastle was the first time. I was in a band called Peroxide in 1986. Very professional and very posh surroundings to us bunch of punks. The desk was sixteen track total seperation but the sound was very sterile. Luckily we were a tight three piece outfit so it went smoothly. Can’t remember the cost to be honest but it wasn’t cheap. The tracks were gonna end up on a split vinyl E.P. (Bloodsucker on Other records) but by the time that was sorted out we had changed our name to Blood and Thunder. Only one track was used State Rebel, a cringe inducing anthem that to listen to now I have to have a bellyfull of whiskey’.
‘Th’ Lunkheads first single for Japans Barn Homes records was recorded at The Soundroom in Gateshead with friends Dave and Fiz producing and engineering. Fortunatly I got community service in said studio – as they say killing two birds with one stone. Now The Bastard Sons of Cavan record at Western Star in Bristol, resulting in three albums all on the Western Star label.
In Newcastle I went to several studios all with varying degrees of failure, trying to find value for money. Then I found First Avenue in Heaton which I stuck with for many years ’til that eventually changed for the worse. No disrespect to Dave Curle he’s a champion engineer, the place just leaves me cold. Anyway we got £1,000 from the record label to record an album so we hauled the P.A. into the studio and recorded it all live. The whole thing cost ninety quid so we split the remainder, including with the engineer, and lost a few days from our lives. The label from Colorado was well pleased with the results…phew! Much as I love the studio I prefer playing live and putting on a show’
‘Whilst in The Campus Tramps we recorded two E.P.’s. One for Barn Homes Japan and Knockout Records Germany. Both recorded at the Bunker in Sunderland on 8 track. However the producer/engineer got the monk on as one of the labels used his name on the promotional adverts. Him being a well known singer in a well respected hardcore punk band won’t help his cred helping us low life Thunders/Ramones influenced trash! Not mentioning any names but his band rhymes with mace and it has leather in it. The first session we lost the master tape so we had to use my ropey cassette copy to master the record. The second session had to be remastered at First Avenue as the original was apparently too high…go figure’.
Did you record any tv appearences or music video’s ? ‘The only time I’ve been on TV was for a late night chat show about tattoos. When I found out I was the star attraction and not in the audience with my girlfriend and band mates (Steve Straughan – now punk superstar, Keith Lewis, Snarling Horses) I demanded a taxi home to get some decent clobber on…i.e. a pair of brothel creepers and some very loud Hawaian shorts!! The Sugar Puff Demons did try and produce a music video for Burn The Church. I still have several VHS tapes full of footage of us miming our damnedest around Jesmond Dene, anyone out there willing to make something of it, go ahead.
The Bastard Sons of Cavan do indeed have a video available to enjoy on You Tube recorded by TuffJam it was a day of insanity. The bassist failed to turn up so we blagged a family friend to stand in, splendid!’
Any stories from the gigs over the years ? Where do I begin ? I may say in my defence I did drink quite a lot of Thunderbird and some of these events have been relayed to me second hand. Like hanging the guitarist out of a second story window in Edinburgh, setting fire to the quiff of the singer in a restaurant, getting thrown out of the gig during the soundcheck in London – only to be let in to do the gig then promptly thrown out again and making Eugene (Rezillos) Reynolds carry the P.A – after he pulled the do you know who I am stunt. We all love a party but one at some student digs in Sheffield in 1989 got out of hand and the Police were called. Instantly I hid under the bathroom sink which was quite a squeeze as I’m over six foot two. Chuck the singer of Frantic Flintstones gets under the bath. He’s five foot nowt. Police arrive and turf everyone else out. There was quite a bit of friction amongst the bands the next day due to me and Chuck having all the creature comforts as they all sat outside in the van freezing.
‘I was in a band called Burning Hells and had a few years of crazy times that involved drinking bleach, bleeding eyes and overall stupidity. But in 2004 we done a gig in Barrow-in-Furness. The car was crammed with all the gear and we hit the road, only to break down in the middle of the motorway and in the middle of nowhere. We got the car off road and I lie down on the bank taking in the sun waiting for the AA. Only to be informed the car is not taxed, tested or insured – action stations!! We locate the problem, it was a leaking fuel pump, fixed problem with good old gaffa tape. We’re back in business and did the gig’.
‘In 2006 I was in Hangmen helping out on double bass supporting Tiger Army on tour. The previous year I did a warm up gig in Manchester and ended up at a student party. Blustering in I pick up a pint glass, urinate in it, promptly drink it all and declare this party started. At one point there was a chicken on my head and I was crowned the King Of Xmas. The cat was fed all the cheese and the fridge emptied. I bumped into the students again and they said I owed them a xmas dinner, I promptly bought them a bottle of red wine instead’.
What are you up to now ? The Bastard Sons of Cavan are still bothering stages and studios in whatever guise. I have King Konker still waiting to get outta the traps, they are two guys, two girls playing garage punk trash. Action Seekers, a Stooges rip off which is basically my 16 year old stepson Louie playing all the parts that I’ve wrote. Last but not least Cleatus Stillborn, an experiment of fusing Lynard Skynrd with Psychobilly. I’m back on bass with two seasoned musicians Alex (a Doncaster bloke who spent most of his life in California) on vocals and guitar plus Lenny (whose Mother was Led Zep’s seceratery) on drums.
Oh did I mention Billy Childish wrote a song for me way back in 1992 “My name is Kid Kincaide…you use your own!!”
Interview by Gary Alikivi November 2017.
Mond Cowie, Angels of the North, 12th March 2017.
ANGELIC UPSTARTS: The Butchers of Bolingbroke, 1st June 2017.
Neil Newton, All the Young Punks, 4th June 2017.
Wavis O’Shave, Felt Nowt, 6th June 2017.
CRASHED OUT: Guns, Maggots & Street Punk, 6th July 2017.
Steve James, Under the Skin, 9th July 2017.
Wavis O’Shave, Method in the Madness, 5th September 2017.
Steve Straughan, Beauty & the Bollocks, 1st October 2017.
EVO, No One Gets Out Alive, 8th October 2017.