“October The trees are stripped bare of all they wear but what do I care”

October

We’re building up a head of steam as RPM goes live and one of the first thing Craggy does is pick up the cowpunk noisemakers Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and their ‘Poor Until Payday’ album (Oh yeah the one he didn’t review) That aside October saw Fraser jet off to warmer climates before chasing the Damned around the country and flying to Holland for Helldorado.  But more of that later.

Several of us bought ‘Speed’ no not the drug but the fantastic new album from Swedish action rockers Scumbag Millionaires it is a thoroughbred non-stop wall of noise a turbocharged ride of exciting punked up Rock n Fuckin’ Roll and it deservedly got a rave review round here.

Whilst we’re on the subject of new records it seemed pretty much everyone picked up a copy of the Primal Scream ‘Memphis Recordings’ and most scratched their heads wondering how the band ditched these swinging versions for the more straight rock versions that made the commercial release but we’re glad it did see the light of day that’s for sure.

Bringing up exciting new bands a promo for ‘You Say I’m Too Much’ by Estrons flew into our emails and proceeded to work its way around the review team as those that did hear it wanted to review it but the one pulling the lucky straw was Johnny Hayward who rushed out and picked up a copy and a ticket to see them live on the strength of the record that blew him away.  One of the reasons why we do this is because we are music fans and discovering new bands and albums still gives us a buzz when it happens and especially when it’s this good.Certainly a potential album of the year right there.

Other notable releases this month were the magnificent Virginmarys ‘Northern Sun Sessions’ and ‘Master Volume’ from the Dirty Nil. We also got stuck into a couple of fantastic interviews – firstly Gerald got Tyla to sit down long enough to tell us all about his new album as well as more in-depth responses to some burning questions Gerald wanted to ask someone he greatly admired it was the perfect time to get the exclusive lowdown on the new ‘In Vino Veritas‘ album that was due out in November which we were lucky enough to review first I do believe. As it goes Gerald also picked up the honour of reviewing that to which he gave it a glowing report and one that will certainly be near the top of his end of year list for best album.

Another album we got to review first and another that would easily be a contender for album of the year and that’s the debut solo album from Role Model frontman Rich Ragany.  ‘…Like We’ll Never Make It…’ is a beautiful, skillful master class in songwriting and showed another side to the guy we call Rags and we were the first to ask the question of how this guy isn’t everywhere? How he’s not on the cover of music mags? Seriously it’s a weird business sometimes but we get it and so do others such has been the response from people who’ve taken the time to sit down and listen. Anyway, Released via pledge it gets its CD birth in the new year with a release show that will sell out fast and it has a supporting cast that makes me blush thinking how good it’s going to be and RPM will be there too.


I also got to interview one of my favourite players the one and only Alvin Gibbs.  We chatted about his forthcoming album as well as his time with Iggy and Cheap and Nasty and found out about Alvin having a degree in History which isn’t something most musical artists can boast as well as a few choice stories about his love of the Subs as well as his book Neighbourhood threat (now entitled ‘Some Weird Sin’) having a makeover with a new chapter  and title and a book I can’t recommend highly enough.  It really is one of the finest books about touring and being in a band out there and absolutely captivating read and one you won’t want to put down.

Also if that wasn’t enough we also got the lowdown on The Hip Priests new album and it was exclusively revealed that the new album that’ll hit the shops in the new year will be called…Nah click the link and read it yourself.  As well as the new album we spoke about playing in a band on shit island and about the expansion to a five-piece.

 

We could go on and on about all the great records released in October this year but we’d run out of time and we need to review the live shows we took in. So Fraser made sure I mentioned his Kiss Kruise and the fact that he finally got to meet Vinnie Vincent but knowing the kiss set up I can’t see if its Vinnie or if he sent his mother instead with a note explaining.

There were so many shows in October Johnny went gig crazy taking in a diverse range of genres from the Canadian thrash-punks Voivod who RRRRooooared into Cardiff and put on a fantastic display then he headed East to Newport Rock City when he spent a rather splendid evening with Ancient Shapes where he declared the evening to be such a success that it was one of the best gigs he’d been to all year and the only thing missing was the sold out sign on the door. 

We also took in Classic rock when Leigh Fuge went to the Tramshed to see Glen Hughes where he was suitably impressed whilst Nev went across the river to see the finest in Americana done acoustically by none other than Chuck Prophet who was supported on the night by Jesse Malin a firm favourite of the team here. It was certainly all happening out West meanwhile in old London town Armitage happened upon a show where The Dirty Strangers followed a magnificent performance by Rich Ragany and the digressions but The headliners from Los Angeles The Brutalists made it a memorable evenings entertainment guvnor.

Sadly October wasn’t all wine and roses as we got the news that Biters were going on an indefinite Hiatus but Tuk later revealed he was heading into the studio to record a solo album which we look forward to in 2019. however, the real tragedy unfolded in California as the news swept social media that Our friend and incredible musician Todd (Youth) Schofield lost his life.  It was one of those news stories you hoped was fake news and just an internet trolls mischief but it was later confirmed by his good friend Skye Vaughan-Jayne.  Todd will be really missed by a lot of people most notably his daughters and close friends.  Todd was a gent we had the pleasure of meeting several times when he toured the UK as part of Jesse Malin’s band and also when out with Chelsea Smiles. When Johnny was the head honcho at Uber Rock he had the pleasure of interviewing the guy who was very supportive of an alternative website championing rock n roll and for all the records he played on we salute you, Mr Youth, you will never be forgotten.

Before the month was out we still found time to review some fine records most notably Martins breakdown of the new Nicotine Pretty EP ‘Real Life Glories’ whilst Dom forensically picked through the charred remains of Deathtraps ‘Gotta Get Some’ and I even managed to take in a couple of their live shows where the songs came to life and were subsequently throttled to death through the medium of  garage punk rock n roll it wasn’t pretty but I liked it – no I fuckin’ loved it! – great stuff!

Gerald flew in his Prophets Of Addiction album review which again impressed us at HQ whilst Ben was mightily Impressed with King Brothers and their wild Garage beats. There was even time for Jeff Dahl to drop by with a new mini album in tow which he recorded in Sweden with the excellent Demons.  It was next month when I got to put some questions about his work and plans.

 

 

Seeing as its the last roundup of 45’s in 2018 we check out some recently released singles as well as look forward to some about to hit the shelves of virtual stores (mainly) and gawp at some videos made.  here goes.

First off you might have gathered already here at RPM that there are bands we believe in wholeheartedly and right at the top of that list is without doubt shit islands darlings of the underground The Hip Priests.  They have a brand new album in the bag ready to unleash on us mear mortals early in 2019 and I’ve been reliably informed that it is going to blow us away so when they said they had a split recorded and ready for release how could we turn down a sneak peek at the masters of garage punk rock n fucking roll and their awesome new split featuring a pretty impressive Satanic Overlords.

The Hip Priests/The Satanic Overlords – Split (Gods Candy Records)

with their usual promised exclusive for the Spasm Gang issue this blindingly good EP kicks off with ‘Press Darlings’ and as far as I can hear its a profanity-free bundle of pure energy and a chorus that you will just want to shout back at Von Cruz when you catch them live.  The bulked-up duel guitar attack of Silent Mike and Austin Smith is a real force here and at a time when Shit Island is crying out for bands to rise up and rally, the Hip Priests are front – centre. I’d go over the top with these guys as long as ‘The Nihilist Twist’ was playing from the circling choppers.  Now its fair to say when they’ve done splits before they’ve not shied away from a challenge  as bands like the mighty Dwarves have accompanied them. I have to say these two songs from The Satanic Overlords give The Priests as close a run for their money than any predecessor has as their superb take on ‘Beat My Guest’ is a killer and the delivery is pure proto-punk that would raise an eyebrow from Handsome Dick if he were to hear this bad boy.

V8 Interceptor – Steamin (self Release) Well next up we have a video shot in a caravan.  Awesome? Fuckin’ right it is in a mobile home for God’s sake – enjoy

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Andy McCoy – Soul Satisfaction (Ainoa Productions Oy) 

Its been a while since we’ve had any new music from the most talented guitar slinger of a generation and it was this time last year when he released his one track Christmas single so this is a most welcome CD to emerge from Finland. My only complaint about this is a four-song CD single for the price of an album is a bit of a sting but on inspection the fourth track ‘Wild Kingdom’ is listed as being a non album track which would suggest that the sheriff has an album all wrapped up and ready to go which is exciting and by the sounds of these songs its certainly going to please the purists amongst us who want to hear the king of the six-string knock out something along the lines of ‘Too Much Too Soon’ or ‘Building On Tradition’ and not Grease Helmet. The lead track is a rocker with a whole bunch of that McCoy magic built around a rolling riff and a big groove with his unmistakable drawl capping off a fine tune.  Now ‘Gimme Time’ starts off with some super cool sax and then a gentle paced song that is a step in the right direction – great song! ‘Bible And A Gun’ is a honky-tonk romp as is the non album track of ‘Wild Talk’ plenty of bluster and a rollicking piano laying the foundation for McCoy to do his thing.  Welcome back Andy we’ve missed you now get this album done we need it! Facebook

CJ Ramone – Christmas Lullaby (Fat Wreck Chords) With a month full of big hitters CJ is in great company and with the first and only festive 45.  Two track one being a cover of The Kinks ‘Father Christmas’ and the other being the lead track ‘Christmas Lullaby’ being a classic Ramones lite Crimbo tune the only thing its missing is some sleigh bells oh wait, hang on – there they are.  Well done CJ for taking this on.  In a world that’s gone to shit and left fights right on every turn the festive tunes seem to have dried up until now.  Its warm and fuzzy and a little bit of festive fuzz from CJ.  His rework of the Kinks tune is more what you’d expect from a former Ramone bruda.

Purchase Details Here

 

Alvin Gibbs & the Disobedient Servants – Ghost Train (Time & Matter Records) An album that has really got us excited here at RPM is the soon to be released long player from UK Subs four stringer Alvin Gibbs.  Alvin has put together a two-track taster from the album in the shape of a traditional two-track seven-inch record with amazing artwork from Gaye Advert this features a plethora of special guests that would be a veritable whos who of punk rock n roll and on the one side you have the fantastic ‘Ghost Train’ which is Alvin looking at mortality because lets face it, none of us are getting any younger it sounds like the finest bit of punk rock n roll Iggy never wrote.  It would have fitted in on his Brick by Brick album with its meandering rhythm it’s a real grower that you’ll find yourself humming long after the song has finished.  Make some room for the flip side as ‘Clumbsy Fingers’ is spectacular and has Alvin’s motoring bass line that really attacks your core.  Now if Guns n Rose were to announce a new single and they played this on the radio there would be a collective wetting of gentlemen’s undercrackers and the magazines would be clamoring over themselves to tell you how good it is so with a bonkers solo from the one and only Brian James to boot it falls to me to tell you that if there are any left you really do need to pick one up – Pronto!  Buy Alvin Gibbs Here

Young Skulls – Bomb Train Blues’ (Slovenly Records) With a swirling organ and a frantic beat Young Skulls have got this garage punk rock n roll thing off to a tee and with the opener ‘Bomb Train Blues’ they scream and howl their way into my brain with relative ease because this is excellent.  Continuing the locomotive theme  (and I thought it was Christmas) on the B Side is a slower but none the less agressive menacing ‘We’re Gone’ its wreckless and exciting as it pounds towards its natural death They’re not fucking about here kids there are no festive jingle bells or chestnuts roasting on an open fire just raw vital garage punk rock.  check em out Bandcamp

 

 

The Troubled Bones – Broken Biscuits EP (Self Release) Its a longish story why its taken this one so long to get onto RPM but its here now and that’s all that counts.  Leading the way is the brooding slow burn of ‘Broken Biscuits’ with its hand jive rhythm it’s walking a path previously trodden (more recently) by the likes of Jim Jones and at times the Urban Voodoo Machine Trouble Bones understands what it takes to make good music and do it with aplomb. With their roots in a blues-based voodoo swamp rock thang, there are traces of the Cramps in this and ‘Ma Cherie’ is a great number with its waft of European chic there is a certain Joie de vivre to proceedings and a most enjoyable EP it is too.  Check out them Troubled Bones at the link and tell em RPM sent you  facebook

 

Ditchbanger Demos (Self Release) I daren’t not give these gents a few words after contacting us as one look of their artwork it could be my ditch they’re diggin’. Coming out of the big smoke this three-piece aren’t fucking about with a thrashing punk rock n roll that isn’t taking any prisoners and from the off ‘Light A Fire (Under YOur Ass) is like the classic Uncle Sam heaven or Hollywood album in delivery.  Sure its a demo but who gives a fuck eh? I like it – I like it a lot and it might be the heartwarming sound of three mates kicking out the jams and being their own biggest fans its a beautiful thing. ‘Moosehead’ is like old school speedrock just like Zeke and before you can blink its gone but fear not because they save the best til last and ‘Pure Hell’ is unleashed.  Great stuff look forward to hearing what’s coming next. Bandcamp

 

How about a video to break things up a little?   Well, you’re getting it anyway.  here goes…Radar State with ‘Strays’ from their soon to be released long player coming out in January 2019

 

The Blankz – (Its A) Breakdown (Slope Records) Power Poppin’ punk rockin’ this is a great tune from Arizonians its got a huge new wave synth right through its DNA its gonna’ make you pogo pogo from start to finish with its simple lyrics especially on the B Side ‘You’re Not My Friend Anymore’ its happy go lucky but I’ll be friends with The Blankz if they’re asking they play music I love and do it oh so well and a band that will certainly be on the RPM radar from now on. Simpe no fuss punk rock new wave – love it! Bandcamp

 

 

 

Baby Blue / Triple Junk  – ‘Rock N Roll Or What?’ I always love it when a record crops up and I don’t know why or how it got to circle my orbit and stick around but I am grateful it has and this certainly fits that category. Hailing from Tokyo Baby Blue deliver power pop goodness in the shape of two tracks with the first being a straight-ahead rocker in the shape of ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Your Sorry’ with a great hook on the chorus whilst the second offering is a more laid back ‘I Can’t Let You Go’ a classic slower number that’ll let you wave your lighters in the air whilst slow dancing.  flip it over and Triple Junk turn up the amps with the perfect accompaniment.  Playing classic power pop and playing it really well. ‘Tax’ being the pick of the two it reminds me of The Breakdowns and Classic Cheap trick now there’s big shoes to fill. Bandcamp

 

Well, that’s your starting eleven for the festive campaign. Some to get excited over and some to hunt down but hopefully, I’ve made it easier for you to find your new favourite band so click on the links and check em out see you all in 2019 keep it RPM for all your 45’s.

 

 

Another week rolls by and we head towards Christmas but there are no mince pies or sherry being overindulged round here when there are records to review and Shows to see and last week was no exception as RPM brought you a diverse bunch on the live front as well as on the death decks.

 

Sadly the last seven days saw another rock n roller pass on to the next life and we said goodbye to Peter Blast.  I had the pleasure of reviewing several of his albums and spoke to him in the last twelve months.  On behalf of everyone here at RPM I’d like to offer our condolences to his family and friends and raise a glass to his memory.

 

We also brought you an interview with Phil Privilege from the  awesome kings of power punk n pop Cyanide Pills with an amazing trail of singles and albums as part of their repertoire Phil told us they were on the way to deliver the next long player as well as answer a few of our questions about the band, Catch up with it here

 

We also had some pretty diverse live reviews from the likes of hard rockin’ Junkyard Cowboy Junkies and a doubleheader from He Who Cannot Be Named and the Awesome Hip Priests. But our bread and butter has to be our album reviews and with Black Friday RSD releases in thin supply some of our favourite labels did manage to put out some quality must have records in the shape of MC5. UK Subs ‘Sub Mission’ got its first pressing on record  and we again scoured the four corners of the globe to bring you the likes of Civic from Australia, X Darlings from Switzerland, Paris’ Youth Avoiders and Californias Smash Fashion to name a few.

As for the coming week, we continue with Bens California Dreaming road trip where he visits some pretty amazing places as he skips across the USA. we also caught a few amazing live shows and bring you some fantastic records by some well-known people as well as some of the finest new performers current kicking up a storm on record players and concert halls around the planet. Remember to stick with RPM for all your alternative news and reviews. As Lux used to say “Stay Sick” www.rpmonline.co.uk its a rock n roll revolution!

 

 

 

Over the years I have witnessed dozen and dozens of performances with almost as many lineups but I think its safe to say that the current line up is right up there with the best ever if not the hands-down top of the pile although I appreciate that is open to debate.  Stephen Straughan has been in the band for several years now and to put it one way – is part of the furniture and adds the required bite to proceedings which the current Subs line up deserves. Alvin and Jamie are without a doubt the driving force and an incredible powerhouse rhythm section that is up there with the best anywhere.  As for Charlie.  what can you say about the guy?  An incredibly likable frontman with an insatiable lust for life and one whose talent shows no sign of abating.

Of all the times I’ve seen the band I think this was my first foray into Bristol but I wouldn’t swear by that and with a healthy crowd inside the exchange on a school night the Subs casually saunter onto the stage and proceed to knock out a fantastic set with the required amount of mainstays and some very welcome additions to the ever-evolving set list.  Let’s be fair they have a bazillion songs to choose from yet always seem to throw up a new gem or two every tour. This one is no exception. 

 

They could easily get away with playing for seventy-five minutes and do the best of but they keep writing new material that is as strong if not stronger than their impressive back catalogue.  Tonight begins with the likes of ‘Fragile’ followed by ‘Quintessentials’ ‘Mouth on A Stick’ then to follow that up with ‘Ladt Esquire’ from the first album was some excellent choices. It then became apparent that this decent-sized audience that some down the front wanted to hold up their blessed camera phones which rightfully got Charlie’s goat a little, to say the least.  Sure take a few pics I do but that takes a few seconds then it’s gone but I’m also baffled as to why somebody would go to see a show and spent the entire evening watching it through a phone screen!  When did that even become a thing? Charlie became more and more perturbed by the actions of a few but he wasn’t the only one.

Anyway, the songs came hard and fast and the heat was raised by the time we hit a purple patch of classic Subs tunes and one to add to the list has to be ‘City Of The Dead’.  Not that the crowd needed warming up but to follow that with ‘I’ve Got A Gun’, ‘Emotional Blackmail’ and ‘Another Cuba’ was exceptional. I’m sure there are many who would say that their favourite album is ‘Endangered Species’ I flip-flop from one week to the next putting this at the top of the pile so it was great to hear ‘Fear Of Girls’ but when they chime up with ‘Bitter & Twisted’ I’m loving ‘Quintessential’ but enough of that their cover version of ‘Here Comes Alex’ sounds as bright as the first time I heard it.

We head into the home straight and from here on in its a sing-along classic fest.  ‘Teenage’, ‘Party In Paris’ they all lead to that classic bass line and ‘Warhead’ signals the crowd participation as some people lose their collective shit.  It is great that these songs we’ve possibly heard too many times still hit the spot and tonight ‘Warhead’ sounds as fresh as it ever has and as relevant as it ever has.  I guess our leaders have learned nothing over the decades.

For an encore tonight we’re treated to the trio of UK Subs classics in the shape of ‘C.I.D’, ‘I Live In A Car’ and to send us into the cold Bristol night its the ‘New York State Police’ and then we’re gone.  Another night in another town with the same familiar songs sounding as fresh as the day they were written watching a band killing it time after time and night after night already I’m checking my diary to see when I can catch them next and Cardiff Tramshed in 2019 it is. Phenomenal band phenomenal back catalogue and still giving, new EP and then there is Alvin’s solo album to look forward to – bring it on – the more the merrier.

Time & Matter

Buy UK Subs Here

Author :Dom Daley

That week went quickly.  No sooner did we bring you the finest alternative album reviews but we also ushered in some welcome reviews from the best live bands breezing through the United Kingdom.

You had Canadian rockers The Dirty Nil turning up their master volume last weekend and we also went loco over power-pop royalty Paul Collins and his new album Out Of My Head.  If those two didn’t tickle your fancy then you should try out some UK hardcore in the shape of Welsh upstarts Social Experiment and their stunning debut ‘Rumours of Our Demise Are Not Greatly Exaggerated’.

We brought you Commies who played with Tommy, Some Italians who just rock like fuck in the shape of some Peawees, German sleazy rock n rollers in the shape of Hell Nation Army. and as the week drew to a close we took on board The Virginmarys new record that is a must hear any day of the week.

We also got to have a chat with Alvin Gibbs and get the low down on his soon to be released debut solo album and the UK Subs bass player also had some amusing tales about his band and what he spends his time doing when not on stage.

All that was last week when we also announced details of some great tours and shows and new records being released.

 

To prove that we should be the bookmark site for all the best reviews, news and interviews over the coming seven days we’ve got exclusive reviews and interviews that you won’t find anywhere on the internet beginning today when we have Tyla spilling the beans about his new record and over the next seven days. Reviews from Deathtraps, Nicotene Pretty, King Brothers, and Bottle Rockets but we also go balls deep into some fantastic live show reviews from the likes of Glenn Hughes and Jesse Malin to name two so you know where to go and click when you’re skiving in work – Oh and Nev just gave you his tips on the shakers and movers in the 2018 ska/punk scene with a few just about to head out around the UK if you’re quick there might still be tickets left for The Interrupters / Bar Stool Preachers Tour.  So skive a bit more with us and keep up to date with what’s what.  As Lux used to say – Stay Sick! Luv

RPM Online

Turbocharged Rock and Roll writing.

On a typical rainy afternoon in South Wales the phone rings and on the other end of the line is a buoyant and happy Alvin Gibbs – he being the mighty four stringer from the parish of UK Subversives and former bass player in Iggy Pop’s band, Cheap and Nasty as well as one or two other projects we might get to cover.
The reason for the call is Alvin has just completed his debut solo record and if the first two songs are the yardstick of what’s to come then this might just be an amazing time to jump on the Alvin Gibbs Ghost train and pull up a seat and let the man tell you in his own words what he’s been up to and what he’s about to embark on. Alvin…
Let’s get straight into it and begin with an obvious question, why has it taken until now to write and record a solo album Alvin?
Mmmm, yeah you’re right it has taken quite a while to get to this point. For quite a while people have suggested it to me usually because they like the songs I’ve written and sung on the Subs records as well as others, including Charlie I might add he always said: “hey Alvin – you should record a solo album with all these songs you’re writing”. But my attitude for a long time was – oh it smacks of self-indulgence and vanity you know? Besides I’m in the Subs and I’ve got an outlet there for my songs and I sing the odd song so why would I do that.
Then there’s this guy Christos who’s become a very good friend over the years who’s from Poland and does the European tours with us and as I say I’ve known him for a very long time. When we tour over there he says don’t travel with the band I’ll drive you and we can chat about business and such like. Anyway every year he’s like you’ve got to do this solo album Alvin so many people like your songs you’ve just got to do it and so I’ve been thinking about it and – well, maybe it’s doable and maybe this is the right time and for me to not think its a vanity project but something worthwhile. So I spoke to Time & Matter (Rob & Mark) and they said they’d love to do it. They put the money up and I wrote the songs. It’s been a really interesting process. Obviously, it’s something I’ve never done before and I didn’t realise how much work there is involved in all the other side of releasing a record but when it’s all on your own shoulders you know you’re forced to face all of that. But I must say I’m really, really pleased with the results.

I was going to ask if there is possibly a different mindset or approach to making your own album as opposed to one with the Subs. Are you conscious not to over analyze things like the songs….who plays on what and the process of it all?
I think it’s been liberating in a way as I’ve not been worried about writing in a certain way or style. You’re writing for yourself you know so I’m not tailoring it for the UK Subs. It enables me to write songs I wouldn’t bring to the subs so yeah it’s allowed me to have a diverse range which I hope people will like. There’s a dark almost Nick Cave style song and some that would be the opposite side of the spectrum more in a style like the New York Dolls. So yeah it’s been a great process and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a lot of hard work – to be fair just writing twelve songs and giving you that pressure.

Do you write all the time Alvin? Do you sort of stockpile tracks you think might work for this or that project?
There has been a pressure to this but I kind of work better that way I think. Having said that I quite often pick up a guitar and start to play things that have popped into my head……It’s funny how things come to you if you hold a guitar long enough and start playing and you think oh, that sounds good. What I tend to do then is record it onto my phone. So when I started on this project I had a look at what’s on my phone and there were maybe five or six song ideas that were there – maybe a riff or progression of chords. Then there was that pressure of the need to write for the album which I quite enjoyed. There were a couple I had that ended up not being good enough but you know it’s funny there are ones you think won’t be good enough initially but once you start recording them and adding the other instruments they take on a certain form, change shape and sometimes go pow! They come alive and can be the best tracks. It was different but it was all enjoyable.

Do you find that when you’ve written a song you also start to piece together who you’d like to play on the track? I’ve heard some of the songs off the album and you have Brian (James) playing on ‘Clumsy Fingers’ was his name instantly lending itself to that track?
Maybe not when I first wrote it but after I’d recorded it in a basic way and Jamie (Oliver) played drums and I’d laid down a rhythm guitar (which I do for all the songs on the album) and the guide vocal was on there I then began to think “Who would I like to get to play on that” and ‘Clumsy Finger’ was kind of obvious for Brian because instantly it was his sort of thing. Brian loves his rock music and that’s kind of a straight-ahead ballsy rock song and suited his thing down to the ground but there are other songs, for instance – a song called ‘I’m not crying now’ which has a more swing Blues thing about it. And of course, Mick Rossi was the one for the Dolls or Stones rocker. So yeah, maybe not when I initially wrote them but once they were fleshed out and I needed to think about it there were obvious choices that certainly sprang to mind. I produced this with Steve (Godfathers) at his home studio and he’s a great guitar player. I’d ask him to have a go at this one and he was great to have around for that because he’s a great player. There were others I’d have loved to ask to play, but for one reason or another timing or whatever couldn’t get it done. People like Captain Sensible but everyone seems so busy doing other things and it would go on forever if you waited so some were not possible. There has to be a cut off there’s only so much time.

One of my questions was about that and obviously with unavailability was there anyone you have on hold for a follow-up?
Well, yeah let’s see how this does commercially I wouldn’t want to get ahead of myself never say never I obviously want to see how this goes but it’s been great so far. So far so good the reviews of the single have been great and people seem really enthusiastic which is really humbling and we’ve almost sold the entire first press on pre-order which is amazing and encouraging. So if the album does well or as well as some people have said it will, I might well be encouraged to do it all again yeah ha ha! But I’m certainly going to put a band around it.

For live shows….any idea who you’d have in the band?
I’ve kind of got a core of the band along with myself there’s Jamie. Jamie wants to do it. I did say you’re in the Subs, you have your own band you play with other people as well haha but he said he’d find the time and wants to do it. Tony Feedback is a friend of mine and he’s going to do it and I’d like to get some guests like Leigh (The Ruts) who also plays on the album….get him to jump up and play a few songs. James Stevenson (Chelsea, The Alarm, Gene Loves Jezebel) as well as maybe two or three other guests to get up and play which will also make it more of an interesting experience you know….

Does it help to have a good address book then?
Yeah, it does haha. I think it gives it some authenticity as well pulling in people who have their own audience. Maybe people who like them might not gravitate towards it on their own might see that this one is on there so might check it out.

I’m happy to admit that when I first heard the single I was expecting it to be good but I was blown away by how exciting it sounded…you really captured a moment in there its really energetic and vibrant and from the floor toms and bass its really going for it.
Thank you, I really appreciate that but in all honesty, there are better songs on the album in my opinion and I appreciate that you’ve not heard it all yet. We had to decide on a couple of songs for a single and in fact, there were two songs that hadn’t even been recorded when we were met with that deadline. Rob and Mark needed to get moving in order for us to meet our set deadline so we went with those two. I think there are at least four songs on there that could have been singles and there could still be a second single later from this album – I’m glad you get them and like them.
Lee (Ruts) plays some lovely intricate stuff on ‘Ghost Train’ and it really helps. Brian’s bonkers work on the single really helps and gives it some character.

I’m sure as a fan – I can honestly say that people will be blown away when they hear these songs and if this is an indication of the quality then I’m excited. As a fan of your work with Cheap & Nasty, I think there will be fans who aren’t Subs fans who will love this.
In fact, as you mention that era Timo plays on this album as well. I was really pleased I got him to play on this album as well you know, people will maybe be familiar with his work with Johnny Thunders as well. It’s nice that there are elements from throughout my career on this record back through Cheap & Nasty and other influences right the way back. There is some Stonesy stuff on this as well as the Iggy influence – it’s a nice balance. It’s great to hear that you like it – thank you.

Let’s move onto the lyrics for the album. I’ve told you before when we’ve met that ‘Neighbourhood Threat’ is exceptional and I really mean it when I say it’s up there with the best books of its kind Like Ian Hunters ‘Rock And Roll Star. The way you write flows, its really engaging and the reader feels like they’re on the road with you. So did you enjoy writing the lyrics for the songs as opposed to writing for a book?
Yes, I like writing. Been doing my memoirs for T&M and I’ve really enjoyed it – I only wished I had more time but I’m so busy with the Subs and now, of course, this solo record. I do enjoy writing lyrics and prose. I like the process I enjoy telling stories and recounting things. For me, I’ve always liked the confessional lyrics. It’s funny now I’m 60 (its hard to believe but it’s true) I’ve noticed that actually on this album there are a fair few songs dealing with the issue of mortality. Obviously, when you reach 60 you kinda go oh hang on a minute haha its like there isn’t a large amount of time with which you have left to do things. That’s another of the reasons to be fair why I’m doing this now is if I don’t get this done now it’s never going to happen. I do like to think about using my time wisely whilst I still can and all that sort of thing. It’s a natural consequence of aging I suppose.

I love listening to lyrics and trying to work out who or what they are about and going back over some of your songs and reading ‘Some Weird Sin’ I had a light bulb moment that Midnight Emperor was about Andy McCoy and the tour of Japan…
Oh yeah, that was awful. The label had these guys to show us around and stuff.
Like ‘Ghost Train’ deals with mortality and what you were saying just now…
Yeah, it’s a dual meaning really mortality and were born – using it as a metaphor, then we’re on this journey where the inevitability is this train has the same final destination for us all. The other side of it is the frightening political situations everywhere at the moment. People like Trump and Putin these guys are leading us all through scary times with the decisions they make and there doesn’t seem like there is anything we can do. We’re on the ghost train just riding along and hoping that things don’t get worse and we don’t end up heading down the same roads as the 1930’s. Democracy can be overtaken by something more sinister and dark – or maybe its just me being paranoid…

You’re definitely not alone in thinking that…
Oh good, I’m glad of that haha! But I do think people should be aware that a government can send people to another country and just kill people for speaking out……scary stuff.

With regards to your writing have you always kept diaries?
Yes, obviously it’s been a very important tool for me. I’ve got quite a good memory as well – it’s funny, sometimes I write something and I cross-reference it with my diary and wonder how I remembered it like that. It’s good to keep and they’ve been really useful. On that Iggy tour, I did a page – page and a half every day. I can fact check my past but at times it’s been really useful. I’m sure if Andy (McCoy) was to write a book about that tour it would be very different from mine…..

His Autobiography was certainly an unusual read haha!
He had a bit of a pop at me but I didn’t make him out to be the devil…it’s sad that guy could have had an amazing career he’s such a talent. He could be up there with the great players but ego and other things sadly got in the way…

So he wasn’t a name you looked up to call to contribute to this album then?
Ha, ha no, no…He’d have demanded an expensive hotel in London, a limo from the hotel to studio, first-class travel he’d then disappear and probably end up not doing anything (Ha ha ha ) and blow the budget haha…..But to answer the question it’s fair to say I wouldn’t work with Andy in any capacity haha I actually did a bit of digging for the updated Iggy book and was putting together what people had been doing since and with Andy it was a couple of singles since Hanoi reformed (
and one LP Greese Helmet) in well over a decade…

He did do Big Brother in Finland I believe…
Oh did he…ha ha ha!

Anyway getting back on track… When you tour the album – you mentioned live dates. Will it be a UK Subs like tour or something more scaled down?
It would probably be two or three dates maybe some festival dates next year maybe Rebellion so that would be good. Some of the people I’d have as guests would probably be there as well with their other bands so that would be something to look at.

That must be a great feeling playing Rebellion with the Subs, knowing stuff like this year you were the only band to reach capacity in the Empress and have the situation of ‘one out – one in’ over the whole four days which is some achievement by anyone’s standard.
Yes that’s wonderful, it’s wonderful that people like the band so much, it’s a really productive time for us
As a fan of a certain age, the output from you guys over the last decade has been the best for me you just seem to be getting better and better. From ‘Work In Progress’ to the single and this EP we’ve never had it so good as Subs fans…..
I think part of it was when Charlie was in sole control he just wanted to play and stuff and maybe there wasn’t so much quality control…..things were rushed and when I came back and Jamie and Jet as well, when it became a proper band again, we said we had to do it properly or not at all

Was that around the time just prior to work in progress?
Yeah, yeah, it really gave the band a boost and slowly we built it up again to where we are now. This might well be the best it’s ever been in terms of sales and shows. There were some funny times – looking back to the 90’s I can remember Charlie phoning me up one weekend and he would go “Alvin its Charlie. Got a couple of gigs would you mind filling in on bass” and I’d go yes sure no problem. Then he’d go ones in Newcastle then the next night we’re in Exeter and it wouldn’t make any sense. Then he’d have me at his house at 1 o’clock on the day and I’d get to his flat, he’d let me in and he’d say I’m just on the phone. I could hear him pondering and the phone would go down. Then he’d pick it up again and I’d hear him ask someone hi it’s Charlie you haven’t got a van we could use have you? The day of the show ha, ha and he’s only just thought of booking a van! I seem to remember we ended up catching a train with our instruments and using the support bands amps. Another time that comes to mind was a show in Nottingham where we turned up at the venue and I turned to Charlie and asked him where’s the drummer? And Charlie looks at me and says “I thought I’d forgotten something” he’d only forgotten to sort out a drummer! Then he went on stage and asked if anyone in the audience was a drummer who knows our songs. Ha, ha can you imagine it, ha, ha, it was so embarrassing. Those days thankfully are over.
When Charlie’s in charge these things happen…..Charlie’s been writing his book for about 15 years and a few years ago I went up to him for a joke and said Hey Charlie, how’s yer book going? And his reply was – oh not bad I’m up til I’m eight years old. So fifteen years and he’s only got til eight years old haha! He did ask me to write it with him but we’ve just not got the time.

That’s another thing maybe people don’t know about you, Alvin. Where the hell did you find the time to get your BA Hons in History?
Well yeah, that’s another thing I did that was pretty stupid ha, ha. The short answer is I don’t know where I got the time from. But there you go I did and I got a 2:1 which I’m happy with. I found myself doing it on fire escapes, backstage, vans traveling places. I had to come back to the UK every year for an exam and do you know…..I really, really enjoyed it. It was such a great experience and an immense sense of satisfaction going to the Barbican to collect my scroll. I love history and feel I learned so much doing that…..its one of the best things I’ve done in my life and would recommend it to anybody. It’s something I was enthusiastic about and got into it on a much deeper level. Other things it taught me was with history it’s about analysis and reading between the lines and not take things for granted, critical thinking and such likes Things that have been good for me in general in life.
I think it’s not such a shocking thing it’s all about being creative with history and music things tend to lend themselves it’s not all about clichés. Look at me I live over here in France…I love the culture, the wine is lovely and a lifestyle I couldn’t afford in the UK. It’s totally different to what people perceive. You know I expect they think I should have an anarchy sign painted on the wall and pictures of punks and not art or antiques. I don’t know what people would expect ha, ha. Don’t play to the cliché I say.

It was there I let Mr. Gibbs get about his business. It was a pleasure to talk to someone so articulate and happy with his achievements and excited about what’s on the horizon. Click the links to read Alvin’s memoirs Time & Matter, pick up a copy of his stunning album and if you can still get hold of a copy….I can’t recommend his tour diary from that Instinct tour enough ‘Some Weird Sin’….An incredible book by one of Rock and Roll’s finest – Alvin Gibbs – legend.

Alvin’s solo album will be available via Time & Matter music.  Other retailers will also stock it if not just ask them

Buy UK Subs Here

Alvin’s Memoirs

Pictures courtesy of Time & Matter/Timo Kaltio/Johnny Hayward