COMFORT IN SOUND – for Danny McCormack vocals & bassist with The Main Grains/Wildhearts

Music can heal and put the pieces back together again. It listens when no one else does. It’s alive. Music makes everything better…and it can trigger memories.

One of my earliest was listening to the radio and hearing ‘Leader of the Pack’ by The Shangri-Las. I asked Danny about his memories…

‘When I was younger I used to play my dad’s Johnny Cash cassette. I played it on one of those portable tape recorders under my pillow, it was my first headphones haha’.

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In an earlier interview with Danny (Death or Glory 8th September 2017) he talked about his time with The Wildhearts, The Yo Yo’s and current band The Main Grains. I asked him after your health problems and being away from music what does it feel like playing again ?

‘Well, it’s taken its toll out on me you know with the drugs and that. I‘ve only got one leg left and I’m trying to learn how to walk around with crutches. But I’m getting there you know. It all started at Reading Festival in ’94’.

Watch the clip on You Tube as The Wildhearts play the main stage and during ‘Everlone’ Danny injures his knee. At the end of the song the crowd are chanting his name.

Then Ginger (vocals/guitar) steps up to the mic… ‘You probaly thought Danny was turning into a hippy sitting down but he’s actually dislocated his knee so we gonna wait until the end of the gig and pop it back in’. Danny plays the rest of the set sitting on a flight case grimacing in pain.

‘We were live on stage, first song I jumped up in the air and bang, landed awkward. My leg bent the wrong way. The road crew said ‘we’re gonna take you off’.

I said ‘no fuckin’ way just get me a Jack Daniels and a line of coke’ haha. Afterwards I went to hospital and was operated on, it’s been really weak since then – but I did finish the gig!

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His current band The Main Grains are JJ on guitar, Ginna on drums and Ben on guitar with Danny on bass and vocals… ‘When we first got together it all fit in place. You know playing now is really fresh and exciting again and I’m doing it for the right reasons. Rehearsing, preparing and planning for gigs. I’m loving it, I’m in love with music again’.

The Main Grains have recently finished a tour with Tylas Dogs D’Amour, how did that come about ?

’I’ve known Tyla since Bam Bam was in The Wildhearts so that was going back to ’92. When I got The Main Grains together, I got in touch with Tyla and said we’d be up for any gigs that are coming up, he said yeah no problem man.

He kept to his word and got in touch a few months ago and mentioned the December gigs. We were more than willing to go for that.

Normally a tour can be weeks at a time but this one we were doing two or three dates on with a couple of days off in between.

It was good because with the gigs like that you have a few days to recover, come home, shower, get changed and get some proper food in yer. We started at the beginning of December and went up till Edinburgh on the 22nd.

But with the Ryan Hamilton tour coming up in March that’s different cos we’re 10 days on and 1 day off.

Supporting Tyla’s Dogs was brilliant. The Dogs crowd are same as our rock n roll crowd so yeah went down really well, it was great. Great bunch of lads, drinking buddies with a gig in between (laughs)’.

With the rise of Spotify, You Tube and others what impact has the internet had on music ?

’It’s totally changed the game. You can make a video yourself, put it on the internet and have worldwide release, overnight. Before you had to have a record company and certain amount of backing to get a video shown on TV.

But our track Unscrewed has had 25,000 hits on You Tube so far which is not bad for an unsigned band’.

Do you think social media is essential for any band ? 

‘Yes I do all that, it’s relentless. You have to be on it to let people know what’s happening and it keeps you in the public eye. Especially when you are starting out again because I had years off the scene and just getting myself together in the last few year. But it needs to be done.

I moved to London when I was 19, I wouldn’t had to that if the internet was about then. Managers, record companies, journalists were all in London so we had to base ourselves there.

The companies were all in London, New York or Los Angeles. That was the three main places, then Seattle was added with the Sub Pop label who were very influential back in the 90’s.

Nirvana are still making them obscene amounts of money now with the re-releases.’

Danny was in The Yo Yo’s who formed in 1998 and were signed to Sub Pop who released their debut album Uppers & Downers in 2000.

Before that he was in The Wildhearts with Ginger, lately they have been rehearsing some new songs written by Ginger. How did you get back in touch ?

’We had fallen out and hadn’t spoken for 10 years but he called me up out of the blue and asked me to play at his birthday bash in December 2016.

We had a great time, so we’ve kept in touch and now The Wildhearts are going to be playing some gigs this year. It’s really exciting planning new stuff again it’s like I’ve got something really positive in my life to aim for you know.

I’ve done a lot of growing up lately, I’m clean now. I can talk to Ginger just as a friend, a human being. Together we’ve been through a lot you know’.

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The Wildhearts are on the ’Britrock Must be Destroyed’ UK tour during May 2018. Line up is CJ & Ginger (guitars) Danny (bass) and Ritch (drums). Also added to the bill are Reef and Terrorvision.

Dates during the Summer festivals are also being arranged.
‘I love the bloke to bits, and I have a lot of respect for the guy. Back then we were thick as thieves’ man, we were very close.

In the ’90s we used to go to a pub in London called The Intrepid Fox on Wardour Street in Soho. I loved that place. It was a sort of goth rock punky bar. People must have been buying us drinks cos I’m not sure how we could afford it – we were all skint!

The owner of the pub had a boot of a Cadillac car converted into a couch and the number of times I ended up sleeping on it after the pub closed haha.

Next morning, I would wake up and start all over again. We were always at The Marquee on the guest lists. There was a page in the Kerrang mag called View From the Bar and we were always trying to get our faces in there, that was a big thing getting in the gossip columns of the mags.

The Wildhearts spent a lot of time in the studio’s and we released a load of records. Ginger must have written at least a couple of hundred songs by now.’

In our last interview you talked about The Wildhearts supporting AC/DC. What are your memories of that tour ?

‘We were support on the Ballbreaker tour in 1996. We done a couple of months with them. We got on great with their vocalist, fellow geordie Brian Johnson, he really looked after us.

I watched them on stage every night, it was brilliant. Some nights I saw Brian full of cold, really bad, but they never cancelled a gig. Before he went on he’d take a sly nip of whiskey then straight into Back in Black. Brilliant.

I remember one night he came into our dressing room and said, ‘Pack yer t-shirts lads we’re going to America’.

We thought we had another few months on tour but sadly we ran out of money and left the tour earlier than anticipated. Gutted. But that’s the way it goes sometimes’.

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Have you any favourite songs or studio moments from that time?

Earth Vs The Wildhearts album was a great time recording. Mark Dodson worked on it, he was great. He also done Anthrax stuff. Mick Ronson played slide guitar on My Baby is a Headfuck. Mick Ronson..Ziggys Spiders from Mars…unbelievable !

He got it down in the first take but we let him play on cos we just wanted to listen. It was the last thing he played on before he died. Really sad it was, he was a really nice bloke.

That song goes down really well at gigs, it’s a sing a long, quite simple in context with the rest of the album because some of those songs are quite complicated.

Songs like Everlone had more to them you know. I like the song Mindslide. I love the sentiment of the song and I love the drumming on it by Ritchie, it’s phenomenal.

Mindslide was a b-side to the single ‘I Wanna Go Where the People Go’ and Earth Vs The Wildhearts was their debut album released in August 1993.
’I love working in the studio getting the bass down then watching the layers of guitars and vocals added. I love watching the track build and listening back on the big speakers. Hearing the finished track, it’s such a buzz, a real rush.

But playing a song live you get a cheer and its instant gratification. All the hairs on my arms stand up, it’s like being plugged into the mains. It’s better than any drug that I’ve tried, wish I could bottle it’.

What has music given you ? ’Well, it’s got me around the world and it’s like a feeling of belonging. You go to a gig and I feel one of the crowd. I’m with my people, being part of a community of music lovers, and I can express myself in music.

Being confident and comfortable in yer own skin which is important. It’s freedom. The ultimate that music has given me is freedom’.

Debut mini-album ‘Don’t Believe Everything You Think’ available on cd and ltd edition 10″ red vinyl NOW! http://maingrains.com/store

Next up for The Main Grains is a tour in March with Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors.

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Interview by Gary Alikivi January 2018.

Recommended:

Mond Cowie, ANGELIC UPSTARTS, Angels of the North 12th March 2017.

Neil Newton, ANGELIC UPSTARTS, All the Young Punks 4th June 2017.

CRASHED OUT, Guns, Maggots & Street Punk 6th July 2017.

Steve James, WARWOUND, Under the Skin 9th July 2017.

Danny McCormack, THE MAIN GRAINS, Death or Glory 8th September 2017.

Steve Straughan, UK SUBS, Beauty & the Bollocks 1st October 2017.

Carol Nichol, LOWFEYE, Radge Against the Machine 15th November 2017.

A LIFE OF BOOZE, BANDS & BUFFOONERY with Steve Kincaide from The Bastard Sons of Cavan

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‘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 splendor 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 was indeed in town and that the couple are old friends.  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 program, unfortunately Peely played it at 45rpm when it was a 33 !

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‘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, 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? ’

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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 acoustic guitar with one string.

Back in the day it was Top of the Pops, not the music, but the look, it was ’70s 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 Dad’s 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 a while.

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 ’70s covers band!

By 1989 I found myself in a Gateshead Psychobilly outfit The Sugar Puff Demons. We recorded a debut album Falling from Grace for Link records.

When we went on tour, me being the newbee was the one laid out in the back of the minivan 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 shorter 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.

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‘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 World War Two 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 don’t 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’.

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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 separation, 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 belly full of whiskey’.

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‘Th’ Lunkheads first single for Japans Barn Homes records was recorded at The Soundroom in Gateshead with friends Dave and Fiz producing and engineering.

Fortunately 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’

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‘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’.

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Did you record any TV appearances 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!’

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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 christmas dinner, I promptly bought them a bottle of red wine instead’.

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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 Lynyrd Skynyrd 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 secretary) 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.

Recommended:

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.

GUN FOR HIRE – interview with Tyneside bassist Ed Thomas

Where did you rehearse & when did you start playing gigs ?

‘At first we’d rehearse at low volume in various band members bedrooms, with the drummer keeping time by slapping his legs, then he graduated to using a dustbin. A couple of times we rehearsed in a garage belonging to Ginger’s parents.

I was 18 when I played my first gig with The Cups a bit of a South Shields supergroup that lasted until ’86. Guitarist Ginger and Stidi on drums both going on to be in The Wildhearts.

Then I joined Gunslinger in ’88 and we used Baker Street Studio in Jarrow to rehearse until our singer Macca’s brother opened The Rock In, also in Jarrow. I lasted in them till 1990’.

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How did you get involved in playing music ?

‘When I was fourteen myself and most of my friends all wanted to play guitar. It seemed that everyone did back then. I think it’s because we had nowt else to do!

There were no computers or consoles and only three channels on the telly. All we had was music and it was only natural that we’d want to emulate our heroes’.

Who were your influences in music ?

‘I was a massive Kiss fan and I loved Ace Frehleys loose, laid back style. Low strung Les Pauls, man, you can’t beat ’em! Although I play bass I didn’t really have any bass influences and I started playing by accident!

I knew Ginger from The Wildhearts when we were 16 and he wanted a bass player for his band so he asked me to do it cos he said I was a crap guitarist.

To be fair, he was right, so I suppose he was the reason I started playing bass and kept at it because I found it to be much more fun than guitar!’

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What venues did you play ?

‘My first gigs with The Cups were at The Legion club and The Cyprus pub in South Shields, wild nights in there! There were a few great venues in Shields in the Gunslinger days, Fist drummer Harry Hill had just opened the Queen Vic and that was a favourite, always jumping!

There were also Cagneys in Tyne Dock and Laceys in Laygate! Quality! Heh heh. In Sunderland there was the Old 29 of course and I think it was called The Ivy House’.

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Gunslinger with Ed in the middle.

What were your experiences of recording ?

‘I only recorded a couple of times with Gunslinger. Once in ’88 at Baker Street Studio which had all the cutting edge gear but we couldn’t seem to get the sound we were looking for so it was a bit of a disappointment. Tracks were Holdin’ On, She Said and Gunslinger.

Then around ’89 we recorded twice in Micky Clark’s little 8 track studio in Frederick Street, South Shields and those recordings were much more successful!

Much closer to the edgy feel we wanted so we done Gunslinger, Holdin’ On and She Said along with High Risk, Broken Dreams, Falling to Pieces, I Got a Feeling and I’m sure there were one or two more that’s coming back to me, yes Shock Treatment, Play it from the Heart and Nothing to Show. But yeah really enjoyed that session’.

Have you any stories from playing gigs ?

‘The Ivy House in Sunderland! I think we were the first band they’d had on there, so they had no idea what to expect. We got in trouble for parking outside.

The landlord wouldn’t let us use the front door, so we had to go in through the cellar and up the steps into the bar, and he nearly had kittens when he saw our gear. He said, ‘that lot looks far too loud for in here’.

It was only a little place so we stashed our guitar cases in the cellar and by the end of the night we’d had enough hassle from the fella so we filled our cases with cans from the cellar and carried our guitars out separately!’

What are you doing now and are you still involved with music ?

‘I had an eight year break from music after Gunslinger. I got a proper job and everything! Back in 2000 though I felt the urge and to be honest it never really went away.

I’ve been in cover bands ever since, Kneejerk Reaction around 2003-09 then The Enzymes until 2013, Horizon from 2012-16, The Rawmones for one year in 2012 and at the moment I’m playing in Andromeda and The Spacehoppers, as well as helping out with my mates PA hire business. I’ll be involved with music til the day I drop!’

Interview by Gary Alikivi 2017.

RADGE AGAINST THE MACHINE – musician Carol Nichol talks about Lowfeye’s forthcoming album.

Based in Durham City, UK, Lowfeye are musicians Alan Rowland and Carol Nichol…

‘Initially I write the songs on piano or guitar. Alan plays the bass and drums then put’s it all together in his home recording studio.

Lowfeye’s new album Pow is due for release very soon and initially it got interest from BBC Introducing after I wrote a track called Demons based on the character played by British actor Tom Hardy in BBC drama Taboo’.

‘Demons’ and ‘Dynamite’ have the dreamy smothering sound reminiscent of 90’s trip hop band Portishead mixed with a 60’s tv/film soundtrack.

Is there any producers out there looking for a soundtrack ? Impressive stuff from the dark duo, and the BBC interest was entirely justified.

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‘All styles on the album are completely different to each other because I am a lover of music and its history. I can appreciate all the years of amazing music styles.

A track on the album could be a dark Nick Cave style song, set to heavy guitar like Search and Destroy by Iggy and the Stooges. Or a film sound track style from the 60’s. I write how I feel and we try to capture those elements in our production.

The track Pow is very haunting and it’s based around a girl who is is trapped in a volatile relationship and is crying out to her mother. The chorus Pow in one word captures the cry for help.

Another song I wrote was Poor Little Rich Girl and is about Andy Warhol’s relationship with Edith Sedgewick who became his muse in his film Factory Girls.

Her addiction and child abuse were covered up leading to her death at a young age. In the end Warhol dismissed any involvement in her life.

Other songs can be political or critical of society. I find the mainstream music scene along with TV celebrity’s awful. It’s bland, its beige, it’s plastic and unfortunately we are spoon fed this crap by radio and tv.

Some songs can be slightly humorus which is like my track Beautiful WorldNow the worlds run by millionaires they can take from you in a blink of a stare and they walk like dogs in a beautiful world’.

Who were your influences in music ?

’I was brought up by an eccentric mother who brainwashed us all with diverse sounds so I’ve never been in a box listening to one style.

My main influence as a kid was David Bowie, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, and Kate Bush – especially as she was a complete one off. She probably inspired me to get into music.

But I hated anything trained, as I’m a self taught musician and perform how I feel at that time. You meet too many musicians who have become manufactured and it’s boring.

To be honest I was a John Peel fan as he looked for something different in music and not the obvious, discovering amazing bands which really influenced me growing up’.

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pic: Will Binks

‘I think you go to see a band as well as hear them. I struggled with dyslexia and I am 90% visual, so a real lover of front artists like Ian Curtis, Dave Byrne, Jaz Coleman, Lux Interior, The Cramps, Iggy, Dead Kenndeys and X Ray Specs.

As a very young girl I particularity got blown away with the birth of punk not only in the UK but in America. I found it exciting with all that energy, and loved the rebellious side to it. Still love it today.

I also front an original punk band The Relitics formed by Mick Hall in 2015. We have been supporting bands like the UK Subs, Chelsea, 999 and we did Rebellion 2017.

It’s all good fun as you find people that are aged 40 plus have more passion to get out there and perform original music and have a voice in today’s beige society. The Relitics have released an album and vinyl and due to release a second album soon’.

When did you start in music ?

‘I have been in bands all my life. My first band was when I was 14, then I joined Gerbils in Red Wine. We used to rehearse down the Fowlers Yard in Durham which is home to Prefab Sprout and The Toy Dolls.

We done a gig where a girl at the front dragged me off stage by my hair. I was a skinny little thing at the time but I managed to punch her giving her a black eye. She was a big lass and she didn’t half hit the floor. The door men at the pub where laughing more than anything.

In 1992 an A&R guy linked to ZTT records put me forward as a backing singer for Seal before he shot to fame. The European tour was for 30 day’s in Germany, France, Holland, Spain and Sweden. That was a great time.

I remember playing the Ewerk centre in Koln with Lloyd Cole supporting and after the gig ended up getting smashed on tequila and waking up with a shower cap on my head haha. I had a chance to go on tour again but declined as my father died suddenly.

After that I joined a band The Faraway Tree this was with two female vocalist’s, myself and Rebecca Crawford who now lives in Perth, Australia.

We played a number of gigs and appeared on Tyne Tees TV entertainment show East Coast Mainline. I have played most venues in the North East especially the Newcastle Riverside in 1990’s and continue to go and see a lot of bands.

I like the small venues better, the more intimate places the better for me as it captures the atmosphere at gigs’.

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Have you always been involved in music ?

’Yes I worked at Circulation Records in 1999-2014 which was set up to run a new deal for musicians 18 -24 to support them into music.

At the time I was in a band formed by Chris Labron who played keyboards for Warfare. We played Stockton Festival and showcased bands and dj’s at the event.

We also had guest speakers at Circulation Records like Bruce Dickinson, Simple Minds manager and Julian Cope. We arranged bands to perform with Slash and Snakepit in Berlin’.

Have you filmed any TV appearances or music video’s ?

‘I wrote a song called Individuality and performed that on Tyne Tees TV programme East Coast Mainline, which led to being asked to sing a wartime song in a Catherine Cookson period drama, and be an extra singing in it.

On the day of filming, actress Catherine Zeta Jones was complaining about not being asked to sing the song and said she had a single out at the time.

We all ended up standing around the piano singing it with the camera on her and my voice in the background’.

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What are your future plans?

‘Lowfeye album Pow will be available soon digitally on Spotify, iTunes and hard copy. The sleeve artwork was done by Rebecca Crawford who was in The Faraway Tree with me.

She teaches Art & Design out in Australia and features on one of the songs we recorded when she came over this year.

We are already working on the second album. You can find Carol Nichol and Lowfeye on Facebook and You Tube.

I will also be doing regular gigs with punk band The Relitics in North East venues, and hoping to be playing Lowfeye gigs next year after the album release.

A lot of the songs are targeted at soundtracks for film and TV – Peaky Blinders next year, you never know’.

Interview by Gary Alikivi    October 2017.

BEAUTY & THE BOLLOCKS – UK Subs & Hi Fi Spitfires guitarist Steve Straughan

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‘Since joining the UK Subs I am more busy than ever, which I love. The UK Subs have a 40th anniversary gig in November, a UK tour then a five week tour of Europe.

I’ve got a lot going on and always have since I first picked up a guitar after hearing Never Mind the Bollocks. Blew me away. It still does today’.

Who were your influences Steve and how did you get involved in playing music ? Was there a defining moment when you said I want to do that ?

’1970’s music was healthy at the time but nothing was opening the doors for me. Music was always there in the background like the glam rock thing, but it just wasn’t grabbing me. It was like black and white tv, nothing special.

But when punk came around it gave me that extra thing like colour tv. It just had that extra spark, that beauty. What can I say, it was incredible.

I remember watching video clips from The Great Rock n Roll Swindle, songs from the Bollocks album – that made me want to do it myself.

Also listening to The Stranglers album, Rattus Norvegicus, and a lot of other punk stuff from 1977. That whole scene was electric. I rode the wave of punk rock to get into music first, then went back to the likes of 70’s glam to appreciate it.

There was a keyhole to my musical heart and it was punk that opened it’.

‘Where I lived in Sunderland we had a healthy punk scene. Watching the likes of Red Alert at Monkwearmouth youth club was very influential. Watching lad’s from my area and who were just a little bit older made me realise that it can be done.

Being in a band back then was more like being in a gang but extended with instruments. Punk gave you the ability to tell your story and release your frustrations’.

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When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ?

’From the start I’ve been really busy gigging and recording. I haven’t stopped, over the years I’ve played in a number of bands.

Way back in the early 80’s my first punk band Formal Warning played youth clubs and school halls in the Fulwell and Seaburn area of Sunderland where we lived. That lasted till around ’82.

As I got older I joined Red London and toured all over Europe. I then joined a band called Holy Racket. Again toured all over Europe.

We played brilliant gigs but one great memory was supporting Rancid at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Loved that. I’ve played guitar for the Lurkers touring around Europe with them from 2009 until 2012.

I was guitarist for a couple of years in the Angelic Upstarts we played many great gigs including a USA tour.

I formed Hi Fi Spitfires and toured a lot in the UK and abroad. One great tour was supporting TV Smiths Adverts and toured with 999 in Germany. We have supported everyone in the punk world really, like The Damned at the North East Calling gigs.

Since joining the UK Subs just over a year ago, we have played extensively in the UK, Europe and the USA. Is that enough for ya’.

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What were your experiences of recording ?  

‘Over the years I have recorded with all of those bands I’ve talked about. Best thing is I’ve kind of found my home when working with producer Fred Purser at Trinity Heights in Newcastle. Fred was once guitarist of the North East 70’s punk band Penetration.

Some of the bands who have recorded at Trinity are Angelic Upstarts, Toy Dolls, Red Alert, Red London, Holy Racket and Hi Fi Spitfires. Holy Racket recorded the album Anthems For The Doomed And Dazed there, North Rebel Radio and Subliminal Chaos all of which were released on cd.

We also recorded some material which was later released on a 7 inch single called Anoraxia.  Hi Fi Spitfires recorded the album England Screaming there which was released on cd and the album Nightraid which was released on cd and vinyl’.

‘We have always paid for everything ourselves, no record companies involved at all. If your serious about being in a band it’s obvious you have to record and release material.

It’s not cheap to do it though. To record where we do it’s £220+ per day. On top of that there is the cost of pressing on cd or vinyl. The price of vinyl is unbelievably pricey. This is why I have only managed to do the vinyl route a couple of times.

We are at the moment talking to a good friend who has agreed to put the money up to release our first album on vinyl like he did with our second’.

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Have you any funny stories from playing gigs ? 

‘I could honestly write a book. Here are just two. A long time ago I played a charity gig in Sunderland. A friend of mine asked if he could come along as he had not seen any live bands before. I remember beforehand he was a bit nervous meeting the rest of my band.

He kept asking if everything would be ok. I kept assuring him that everything would be cool and there certainly would not be any kind of trouble as it was a charity gig.

As I got ready and packed my guitars he went to the shop and got some ale just to take the edge off as he was quite nervous around new people. At this point I just thought he was having a couple of drinks.

Fast forward to the gig and just before we went onstage he told us how grateful he was for letting him come with us. About five songs in I was aware that something was going totally wrong by the people’s faces in the venue.

I turned to my side to see my once very nervous mate running round the stage and pogoing naked. The security was called and he was escorted from the building. We were told to get off the stage.

I asked why and the bouncer said, ‘shut up, get your gear off, your barred’. After the initial shock I laughed my head off all the way home. I think we gave those people something extra thanks to my mate’.

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‘Years later I agreed for the same lad to come on tour with me in Belgium with the band I was in at the time Holy Racket. He assured me all the way there that he had learned his lesson and he wouldn’t do it again.

There would be no repeat performance. I know he was very embarrassed about it.

During our performance on stage he was looking in a cupboard and found a horses head mask. He came running on the stage naked, with the horses head on and a sock fastened to his cock. I couldn’t play for laughing. I remember the audience loving it’.

‘Next stop for Hi Fi Spitfires are return recording sessions with Fred Purser at Trinity Heights, Newcastle. We are recording a five track cd called Doors To The USA. Yeah can’t wait’.

Interview by Gary Alikivi September 2017.

Recommended:

Crashed Out, Guns, Maggots and Street Punk, 6th July 2017.

Steve James, Under the Skin, 9th July 2017.

Evo, No One Gets Out Alive, 8th October 2017. 2017.

Steve Kincaide, Life of Booze, Bands & Buffoonery, 11th January 2018.