In October 2010 The Damned, The Boys and 999 were booked to play at Zakk in Dusseldorf, Germany. The Damned had to pull out due to an injury to Dave Vanian’s back. But the posters all showed them as playing. There are 3 left in the world of which Duncan Reid is kindly auctioning off to raise funds to help small music venues survive these hard times https://saveourvenues.co.uk/watch/#/
With a brand new box set ready for release we thought we’d catch up with Boys legend Matt Dangerfield and ask him about his time on Safari Records as we look back on the time the Boys went down to a four-piece and all things Safari. I also ask what’s next for one of the finest bands ever to come out of the United Kingdom.
How was it revisiting the Safari catalogue of releases? Did it bring back fond memories?
Yes it did. Best of all was listening to the “Hell” tracks because this is the first time that it’s sounded good on CD. CDs didn’t exist when the album was released, and later when the first CD version came out it sounded like over-compressed shit. All subsequent CD releases of “Hell” were copied from that CD so I feel sorry for anyone who bought any CD copies of “Hell” prior to this release.
Were there any songs from the ‘To Hell’ record that you have since revisited during remastering changed how you feel about them? I’ll admit I’ve not played the records for a while and when the news came through about the box set I have since given them a good listening to and there are parts of songs that jumped out at me that I feel I previously missed or had forgotten. Was this the same for you?
Very much so. For the reason I just mentioned, I couldn’t bring myself to listen to “Hell” on CD since the last century! So listening to it now for me is almost like hearing it for the first time and it all sounds fantastic from start to finish! We still usually include four of the songs in our live set: “Can’t Hurt a Memory”, “Terminal Love”, “See Ya Later” – and we use “Sabre Dance” as our intro music.
I loved reading your notes along with the specific song playing and was surprised to see you wrote lyrics on the way to the studio, and I chuckled at the thought of it happening due to studio time and schedules, etc did you not ever get worried you wouldn’t come up with anything? Out of this process what would you say were your best lyrics?
Well, that was mainly in the early days when we weren’t given much studio time and I was working on two or three songs at a time. But generally speaking, I’ve always responded well to deadlines and would often leave things until they really need to be done and then work like Hell. There’s nothing like a deadline to focus the mind.
Your notes for ‘Waiting For The Lady’ and the Beatles reference I hadn’t really put it together previously but ‘Independent Girl’ has a real Lennon feel to it. Some of the harmonies throughout ‘To Hell’ have a certain Lennon and McCartney feel is that fair? They were obviously an influence but more so that album (Not that The Beatles would have sounded like you guys they weren’t that good) 😉
Flattery will get you nowhere, but thanks anyway! The backing vocals on “Waiting for The Lady” in particular, were Beatles inspired. But we were inspired by lots of bands and all the music that we grew up within the 60s which was a great era for musical creativity and innovation.
Who Owns The ‘Junk’ tapes now? How complete was the ‘Junk’ album? How does the process go with masters? If you didn’t own them the label did but they didn’t own the songs did they? If they weren’t finished, Could you have gone away – changed a lyric here or a title there and released it anyway? How involved were you with the day to day business of the band and management and label?
The ‘Junk’ tapes are just the rough monitor mixes on cassette from Rockfield Studios that I took away with me to work on ideas, lyrics etc. with the intention that we would come back and complete the album there. But after NEMS didn’t pay the studio and Rockfield wouldn’t release the two-inch tapes, we finally lost our patience with NEMS and went on strike for a few months until they eventually let us go. Our manager, Ken Mewis, generally dealt with the label, promotion and tour bookings, but we took care of the creative and recording side of things.
How do you look back on the time spent On Safari!?
We had a great relationship with Safari, which was basically John Craig and Tony Edwards. Two great guys who did all the right things for us in terms of albums, tours etc and generally looked after us and gave us the freedom to be creative. What more can you ask for as a band?
I always loved the cover of ‘Boys Only’ whose idea was that?
The designer was John Gordon (I fished out the original vinyl copy to get that detail) who was responsible for the concept. All I remember that it was our longest and most tiring photo session ever and took a whole day to get all the necessary pics.
Going out as a four-piece was it ever not going to happen? Did you think around that time that the band was done? What about the recording process, how different was it?
It was different without Cas but we took it in our stride, I knew that the band wasn’t finished and it didn’t feel that much different playing live. Recording was as easy going as ever and John and myself were writing enough songs but we did have to work harder on the backing vocals and harmonies without Cas being there.
Would you say that John recording with Pete Stride made him a more confident writer and bandmember? He brings quite a bit to the table for Boys only and sings on quite a few. How did you decide who sang what? are there versions recorded say of ‘Monotony’ with you delivering a vocal and Duncan or was that never done? because you say he (Duncan) sang it live.
Yes, John had become more confident and also had become a better singer. As regards who sang what, I usually only sang the songs that I’d written or written with Cas, and Duncan usually sang John’s and a few Steel/Dangerfield songs that we thought would suit his voice. I think “Monotony” was only ever likely to be sung by John on record.
You got to record in some iconic studios such as Rockfield, Pye and Olympic were you aware of your surroundings at the time? Was there a favourite? or a particular song you look back on that you really nailed because of where you were. Rockfield had the toilet at the end of the hallway with a mic in the hall did you ever apply such techniques?
Yes, I was definitely chuffed to be using the same studios where some of my favourite tracks had been made. Rockfield/Dave Edmonds/Sabre Dance; Pye/The Kinks etc; Olympic/lots of Stones stuff etc. Rockfield was probably my favourite for its vibe because you also lived there and could totally concentrate on the recording. “Brickfield Nights” was definitely ‘nailed’ there.
When the band gets back to playing live is there a chance some of the more obscure tracks might creep into the set? You mention songs like ‘Little White Lifeline’ and its solo would sound great live.
We sometimes slip in a lesser known track. We do “Lifeline” at acoustic gigs sometimes but without the solo, because even straight after recording that solo, I was never able to play it again.
When you have writing credits say like on ‘Schoolgirls’ Cas yourself and John how do you decide who gets on the credits?
It’s usually decided on the spot – if anyone added anything of substance to the song they’d get credit.
Changing up songs like ‘Kamakaze’ in the style of VU for ‘Jap Junk’ whose idea was that and was this done on any other songs because it’s quite a departure the saxophone is great on the single mix
The minimalist drums were my idea of a tribute to the Velvets, who first opened my eyed to punk, and I think we’d always had it in mind to get a sax on the song.
How many more tapes might there be with the likes of ‘Cry Tomorrow’ on them? Fantastic stuff, maybe another acoustic album is on the cards with some of the rare tunes mixed with the more popular ones you did on the acoustic album. a live acoustic album recorded at Rebellion because a couple of acoustic sets were fantastic from the pubs almost acoustic stage and then the opera house were real highlights?
Well those tapes turned up out of the blue, so who knows what else might turn up. We may consider another acoustic album – it’s a lot easier to make than a full studio album, as is a live album.
The band always did great covers are there any you think would have really suited you guys? Any you worked on that never got recorded? The other side of it is other people covering The Boys. Who have you particularly admired any jump out as doing a great job or really getting what the song was about? Michael Monroe did jimmy Brown and it must always be great when Die Toten Hosen release a covers album and include a Boys Song.
I love Michael’s version of “Jimmy Brown”. I also like the Hosen’s versions of “First Time” and “Brickfield Nights”, and Nicky Sudden’s cover of “Independent Girl”.
The live album sounds fantastic, I’ve always liked the BBC sessions, from some of my favourite bands possibly, because the BBC always had great engineers and their sound recording was top notch and the live ones always sounded so good what are your thoughts on the live album?
Yes, it’s true those Beeb producers and sound engineers were very good and worked very quickly, which really suited us as we generally record fast. I remember that the BBC sound people always seemed to have beards, maybe it was a job requirement.
You illude to it not being your usual audience. The applause sounds great even after the ‘worm song’ their faces must have been a picture.
They were very polite.
I’ve mentioned it to Steve but it would be great to have these ‘Safari’ recordings as a vinyl set I wouldn’t need my glasses then for the booklet which is great to read your memories of each song. Did you ever keep diaries or is it just a sharp knack for remembering. What next for the Boys? Is there anything left in the archive or what about new material. ‘Punk Rock Menopause’ was such a great album is there going to be a follow-up?
We’d love to get them out on vinyl and a lot of our fans would love it so who knows?
“Anyone buying the Box Set directly from The Boys this month (September 2020) will be given a PDF document of Matt Dangerfield’s full Safari notes along with an unreleased 1979 demo of “New Guitar In Town”. For more information email The Boys at email@example.com“
Special thanks to Steve Metcalfe for always having The Boys corner and doing a sterling job keeping their flame alive and making running features on them such a pleasure.
Always an absolute pleasure to get an earful off The Boys and this much-anticipated box set has come at just the right time in what has been or rather what is a bonkers year.
In a nutshell (or should that be clamshell), what we have here is Safari Records five-disc set of Boys material beginning with the fantastic ‘To Hell With The Boys’ followed by ‘Boys Only’ then the ones that will have fanboys salivating. One CD of Rarities (Granted many of which have already seen the light of day, here and there, like when Captain Oi! released the ‘To Hell’ they included five bonus cuts which are all present in one form or another.
These discs have been lovingly remastered by Matt and James Bragg and are a cornucopia of loud guitars and cheeky chaps doing what they do best… play exceptional Rock and Roll. The five discs are all accompanied by a really smart booklet with excellent notes from Matt Dangerfield which gives you a feel for where the band was at the time and corresponding pictures that help paint what the band were up to at the time.
From Cas’ swirling keyboards that sit on top of the mix of ‘Rue Morgue’ these songs could have been mastered underwater and they’d still sound sharp as a tack. The fact that a lot of these songs still sit prominently in the live set would show how highly the band still regards the ‘To Hell’ album. Tunes such as ‘Terminal Love’, ‘You Can’t Hurt A Memory’ & ‘See You Later’ shows how versatile and creative the band was.
Man, they don’t make Rock and Roll bands like this anymore The Boys had everything, more than the one songwriter, a pair of great guitar players who had their own styles and a whole extra dynamic with more than one vocalist helps with some fantastic backing vocals. They were never afraid to put a rocker like ‘See You Later’ next to such a mellow laid back and sweet song as ‘You Can’t Hurt A Memory’ with one of Matt’s finest vocal deliveries hitting the spot perfectly, a fantastic arrangement and getting John Mayall to hoot along on this was inspired and all for the price of a bottle of Vodka! Brilliant. I love ‘Kamikaze’ for those honkin’ Sax breaks and I didn’t realise it was Johns first foray into lead vocals.
To be fair having this all pulled together in one place long after most of this is hard to get hold of unless you have deep pockets is an achievement in itself and the booklet with all the fantastic memorabilia is a great addition and well worth checking out even for the casual its the perfect gateway into the band and their music.
The BBC live album is a corker but then if you’ve ever seen the band live you’ll know they don’t do bad shows and this foray into the BBC and the heart of the establishment, mixes up their output thus far with old and new songs and spot-on delivery.
As the blurb says 71 tracks in all, 22 rare and previously unreleased songs, the X Rated Yobs Crimbo album just in time to play around the table as your nan tucks into her Christmas dinner round your house. Of course, I highly recommend you buy this box set, its a keeper and for those who are looking to tie up loose ends, this is perfect maybe 2020 hasn’t been a total bust after all its not every year you get a Boys box set. Buy it!
“Anyone buying the Box Set directly from The Boys this month (September 2020) will be given a PDF document of Matt Dangerfield’s full Safari notes along with an unreleased 1979 demo of “New Guitar In Town”. For more information email The Boys at firstname.lastname@example.org“
Captain Oi will release a 5 CD Clamshell “The Boys on Safari” Box Set on 25 September 2020. It will comprise:
71 track 5 CD clamshell box set covering legendary Punk band The Boys’ period with Safari Records between 1979-81.
• Disc 1 is the band’s third studio album “To Hell With The Boys” which reached No.4 in the Independent Chart in early 1980 and features the Indie Chart hit singles ‘Kamikaze’ (No.9) and ‘Terminal Love’ (No.32).
• The second disc is 1981’s “Boys Only” album which features the singles ‘You’d Better Move On’ and ‘Weekend’.
• Disc 3 is a 22 track “Rarities” round-up containing eight previously unreleased studio demos alongside non LP B-sides and rare mixes.
• The fourth disc is the X rated “Christmas Album” issued under the name The Yobs, which now has three added bonus tracks. Long out of print on vinyl or CD and currently an expensive collector’s item.
• The final disc is an “In Concert” recording for the BBC in 1980.
• The 28 page booklet contains detailed track notes by original vocalist Matt Dangerfield and lots of clippings, memorabilia and pictures of all the relevant record sleeves.
• Matt has also supervised the mastering of all the tracks.
· The band are still going to this day, 44 years on! And they will be playing again… just as soon as pandemic conditions allow!
Both “To Hell With The Boys” and “Boys Only” have been remastered directly from the original Safari master tapes so sound far superior to any previous CD releases of the albums.
Full Track Listings:
DISC ONE – TO HELL WITH THE BOYS
1. SABRE DANCE (Trad Arr The Boys)
2. RUE MORGUE (Dangerfield)
3. TERMINAL LOVE (Plain)
4. SEE YA LATER (Steel/Dangerfield)
5. YOU CAN’T HURT A MEMORY (Steel/Dangerfield)
6. KAMIKAZE (Plain)
7. LONELY COWBOY (Dangerfield)
8. WAITING FOR THE LADY (Penfold/Reid)
9. BAD DAY (Steel/Dangerfield)
10. INDEPENDENT GIRL (Steel/Dangerfield)
DISC TWO – BOYS ONLY
1. WEEKEND (Dangerfield)
2. WRONG ARM OF THE LAW (Dangerfield)
3. POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL (Plain/Black)
4. MONOTONY (Plain)
5. NOTHING VENTURED (Dangerfield)
6. WONDERFUL WORLD (Campbell/Adler/Albert)
7. SCRUBBER (Plain)
8. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED (Black)
9. GABRIELLE (Dangerfield)
10. MISS YOU (Plain)
11. LITTLE WHITE LIFELINE (Dangerfield)
12. LET IT RAIN (Steel/Dangerfield)
DISC THREE – RARITIES
1. SCHOOLGIRLS (Steel/Dangerfield/Plain)
2. JAP JUNK [1979 Demo] (Plain)
3. SEE YOU LATER [1978 Demo] (Steel/Dangerfield)
4. CRY TOMORROW [1979 Demo] (Plain)
5. LOVE IN PAIN [1979 Demo] (Steel/Dangerfield)
6. SCHOOLDAYS [1979 Demo] (Steel/Dangerfield)
7. YOU CAN GIVE IT [1979 Demo] (Walker)
8. TERMINAL LOVE [Original Mix] (Plain)
9. RUE MORGUE [Original Mix] (Dangerfield)
10. KAMIKAZE [Single version] (Plain)
11. TERMINAL LOVE [Single version] (Plain)
12. I LOVE ME [Single version] (Steel/Dangerfield)
13. YOU BETTER MOVE ON (Alexander)
14. WALK MY DOG (Dangerfield)
15. JIMMY BROWN (Steel)
16. LITTLE RUNAROUND [1980 Demo] (Dangerfield)
17. WEEKEND [1980 Demo] (Dangerfield)
18. LET IT RAIN [1980 Demo] (Steel/Dangerfield)
19. NOTHING VENTURED [1980 Demo] (Dangerfield)
20. WRONG ARM OF THE LAW [1980 Demo] (Dangerfield)
21. COOL (Dangerfield)
22. LUCY (Steel/Dangerfield)
DISC FOUR – THE YOBS CHRISTMAS ALBUM
1. RUB A DUM DUM (Davis)
2. THE BALLAD OF THE WARRINGTON (Dangerfield/Plain)
3. ANOTHER CHRISTMAS (Dangerfield)
4. DOGGY (Merrill)
5. JINGLE BELLS (Trad Arr The Yobs)
6. AULD LANG SYNE (Trad Arr The Yobs)
7. SILENT NIGHT (Trad Arr The Yobs)
8. SILVER BELLS (Livingston/Evans)
9. C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S (Trad Arr The Yobs)
10. GLORIA (Trad Arr The Yobs)
11. TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS (Trad Arr The Yobs)
12. WHITE CHRISTMAS (Berlin)
13. WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS (Trad Arr The Yobs)
14. MAY THE GOOD LORD BLESS & KEEP YOU (Wilson)
BONUS TRACKS :
15. RUB A DUM DUM [Single version] (Davis)
16. ANOTHER CHRISTMAS [Single version] (Dangerfield)
To celebrate the 6th anniversary of The Boys critically acclaimed album “Punk Rock Menopause” as well as the album track “I’m A Believer” passing a quarter of a million plays on Spotify, Action Records will release a Special Limited Edition yellow & black marbled vinyl copy on 20 June 2020. The release is strictly limited to 100 individually numbered copies. This Limited Edition will also come with a free mp3 download of the whole album.
Action Records will also release “Punk Rock Menopause” on regular black vinyl, the original black vinyl release having been unavailable for four years.
On its release “Punk Rock Menopause” became The Boys first new studio album for 33 years and featured original founder members and creative core of Matt Dangerfield, Casino Steel and Honest John Plain. The album is packed with 13 iconic songs bearing the band’s classic trademark blistering guitars, hard-edged melodies, killer hooks and layered harmonies.
“If you love music, give this album a home. This Menopause is red hot!” – Rice Cooker
“Matt Dangerfield, Casino Steel, and Honest John Plain, the writing nucleus of arguably the greatest punk-pop-power-pop band of all time, are back!” – Audio Ammunition
“Comeback Album of the Year!” – Soundtrack 4 Life
“Album title of the year” – Classic Rock
“Ringing guitars, booming drums & bass, punk swagger and grit, mixed with pure pop melodies, vocal harmonies and most importantly great songs – A scorcher!” – Nippertown
“Power chord riffs, harmonies and titanic choruses were always this outfit’s stock in trade and they’re not about to skimp on them now” – Vive Le Rock
“It’s absolutely great, everything you’d expect from The Boys” – Bucket List
“With the opening chords of ‘1976’ you recognise that distinctive guitar sound and when the vocals start, it takes you right back to the glory days of 1978. One catchy song after another, full of simple effective melodies, lovely harmony vocals, great chugging guitar and winning vocals” – Punky Gibbon
“The Boys are indeed back in town, and it sounds better than ever” – New Noise Magazine
Albert wrote the following. but I’d like to say ignore his last sentence if you can, please do make a donation no matter how small, every penny counts as they say but obviously if you don’t have the spare dosh then do take up his free offer.
In these trying times some people need more help than others and if you can help please do you know it makes sense. Besides look what you get in return, Twenty Four fantastic covers Get on it cool kids and spread the word.
“Long story cut short. About 20 years ago, I started working on a tribute album to the Hollywood Brats and The Boys. If you’re reading this, you already know what these two legendary bands had in common…Casino Steel! And a few amazing songs. And bad luck. They never achieved the success they deserved, but found a place in the heart of any true lover of rock’n’roll music. I contacted some of my favourite bands around the world, who I knew were huge fans of the Brats & the Boys, and they recorded some amazing versions of those classic songs. The tribute album never came out at the time (sorry guys!) and remained shelved for almost 20 years. Fast forward to 2020…the world is in lockdown because of the Corona virus disease. About time to release this goddamn tribute and let people have a good time listening to some great music while in isolation! All the 24 songs were recorded specifically for this project. You might have heard some of them over the years, as a few bands used them as b-sides or included them in other releases. But most of them have remained unreleased until now. So here it is. Better late than never, I guess. The good news is that it’s absolutely FREE. Bandcamp allows 200 free downloads each month, so first come first served.
You also have the option to pay whatever you want”
Right, let’s dig into this bad boy. First up is the magnificent talent of Jeff Dahl and a rocket-fuelled ‘Chez Maximes’. It’s snotty and sets the tone as it blasts off first out the traps, follow that everyone. Blimey, Some bands I’ve obviously heard of and some that are new to me as well as some I’d forgotten about. ‘USI’ complete with Cass like piano plonk courtesy of The Turpentines is a band that clearly got the remit and duly obliged in sending in their dirty punky pop n roll.
Oh man, Beat Angels taking on ‘Terminal Love’ is worth a few quid of anyones money. I loved Beat Angels they like the Boys should have been huge and they clearly get what this cracking Honest John number is all about. I wasn’t going to mention every band but as the songs unfold I’m feeling guilty for not mentioning this one or that one and Sour Jazz knock out a beautiful ‘Zurich 17’ the vocals work really well and the sleazy guitars walking all over the song is blissful. Of course Gyp Casino & the Honest Brats were going to totally get ‘TCP’ that was a given wasn’t it? The Alley Gators show Backyard Babies how the sleazy Rock n Roll should be done with their rip snorting take on ‘I Don’t Care’.
They might not be household names taking on the tunes but boy do they get it whatever it is you know that X Factor that these songs possess from the insane melody of ‘Soda Pressing’ that Hundred Million Martians clearly believed in followed by those Streetwalkin Cheetahs and their ‘Kamikaze’. Thee STP goes full trash on ‘Tumble With Me’. It’s fair to say that nobody tries to be clever and totally recreate one of these classic songs with a nu metal or rap version and some are better than others but the one thing that does shine through is how bloody good the songs are. ‘First Time’ is a perfect slice of chart worthy Rock and Roll and hearing The Bullys romp through ‘No Money’ is a blast.
Highschool Hellcats take ‘Classified Susie’ back to school and rock the fuck out. Bastet turn their amps up for a belter of ‘Brickfield Nights’ is it possible to have too much cowbell? Nah didn’t think so either. I have to admit that Aerobitch turn in the sleaziest cover of the lot with their full throttle ‘Neighbourhood Brat’ and its great to hear Freddy Lynx with a beautiful rendition of ‘Heroine’
I’m glad to see that there aren’t multiple takes of ‘Brickfield’ or ‘Terminal Love’ and bands were brave enough to take on classics like ‘Living In The City’ and its fitting and the perfect sign off for Trash Brats to nail ‘Sick On You’ which is where it signs off. What a blast, one of the best compilations I’ve had the pleasure of and being a massive Boys fan its a big deal to hear so many bands paying tribute to one of the best bands out there. Now all that’s left to say is please give generously (if you can) and enjoy the songs Stay safe kids and turn up that Rock and Roll oh and how about pressing this up on a couple of sweet albums? I’d get one
ALL THE PROCEEDS WILL BE DONATED TO THE ITALIAN RED CROSS. https://www.cri.it/home
Ditches, from outta Stockholm Sweden which is already a good start seeing as the country has always thrown up great garage punk rock n roll bands from the Nomads to Hellacopters to the Hives and many many more well, Ditches picked up the baton and seem to be running away with it. If you were to cut em through the middle they’d have a core of Buzzcocks melodies with some bubblegum holding it together via some pretty nifty power-pop whilst heading through the backstreets after dark wearing skinny jeans and sneakers they only stop to smoke a cigarette and pogo before they get back to it.
The melodies come thick and fast with an emphasis on the fast. Opener ‘Out Of This’ sets the pace and the tone and that Shelley melody blueprint is evident on ‘Get Away’. For a debut LP, they are right on the money with leather jackets with the collar turned up these snotty oiks have to know that they can pen some top brain candy that gets in and settles for a while making you feel great inside with that power pop punk rock glow of satisfaction.
The production is bright without glossing over the rough edges, ‘Stitch Me Up’ being a great example. Cool chorus and a real sugar rush of a tune. With eleven songs sticking to the formula its a great debut and with all the promise of another top turn hailing from Sweden in 2020 is exactly what we need another generation of punks coming through re-energising a scene and really appreciating what it takes to write great music. Its like hearing stuff like the Undertones again but from a different time totally – I bet these songs are great live n loud in some sweaty dive bar where you can really lock into the rapid beat and chiming guitars. they seem to know exactly what they’re good at and stick to it well. not a bad track amongst the eleven on offer. Let’s hear it for Ditches more peaks than troughs.
As this line up was months in advance of the show I know several were disappointed to see White Trash fall off the bill but they were replaced with the maverick that is Bruno & the Outrageous Methods Of Presentation (to give him his full title) this local lad is pushing the boundaries of punk / art/ audio interference call it what you like its often in incoherent racket but to be fair its engaging and as Bruno marches out into the audience and barks the lyrics into the faces of the unsuspecting audience its engaging and you can’t ignore him and what it is he does. As for the names of the songs I couldn’t telly you and half the time I doubt Bruno could either. Enjoyable? Of course it was he was only on stage (in the loosest terms) for a short period and in that time he sounded like a youthful Jilted John (same barber) , Early Stooges and bands like ex ray Spex gone loco jamming on Suicide as a band with no synths in sight just a fistful of 70s garage riffs. Basic and primal you should all go see Bruno.
Next up and it was the turn of the highly rated much anticipated Yorkshire men that are Cyanide Pills. First up I’d like to declare my admiration for this band by stating on the record that they’ve never ever written a bad song but they have written some of the brightest bestust power pop punk rock tunes and some of the finest lyrics ever in punk rock not just recently but ever! there I’ve said it. With the results leaving the four of us Welsh tourists venturing across the Severn with our tits on the deck after the last evenings political catastrophic shit shower we decided only rock and Roll could save us and there was nowhere I’d rather be than in the Louisiana tonight turning my frown upside down and trying to stay positive with some of the fiest bands the UK has to offer.
Right, Cyanide Pills entertain me, pretty please. As if I needed to ask. Right from the top they proceeded to knock out top tune after top tune and then for good measure they dispatch another. With songs pulled from all their albums, its without pause mind, and tonight they were on fire. What you get is some absolutely on point punk rock n roll with some of the best power pop melodies and harmonies ever written. Its power pop with snot , full of clever and intelligent social observational lyrics that are nothing short of genius, I kid you not. With stand in bassist BB Quattro fitting right in they kicked off with ‘Wrong’ and never looked back. You know the drill its one bosh two bosh three bosh and so on. Theres no time for chatter its on with the relentless entertainment. ‘up Against The Wall’ seems apt for last nights Election victors. Anyway mustn’t dwell it ‘Mail Order Brides’.
If I had to pick a favourite album I couldn’t but I can pick my favourite tunes and one of them is ‘Dance With You’ and ‘Sliced And Diced’ opens with the epic ‘I Don’t Remember’ and when they chimed up with that this was turning out to be the ultimate post election tonic. They were thundering through the set plucking tunes for all three albums unable to stand still to enable us to snap many decent pics but fuck it ‘Alone tonight’ tips the hat to the Ramones (of course it does). A lot of bands like to meander their way to the high point of the set before attempting to go out in flames but Cyanide Pills just start high and aim higher coz simply they have the tunes to do it but by the time ‘Can’t Get It up’ rips through the speakers you wonder how they can top it and then ‘Johnny Thunders Lived In Leeds’ struts in like a punk rock peacock (no Leeds pun left unturned) I was going to avoid punctuation and gaps between the words and just blast through (much like the band), I do wonder how they manage to grab a breath between songs and what would happen if they broke a string? it would be carnage. Did they play ‘Apathy’? of course they did. ‘Still Bored’, ‘Government’ then ‘Suicide Bomber’ and we’re done. Fan-fuckin-tastic! just what the doctor ordered yet again a suitably smashing set from the best punk rock n rollers anywhere great tunes, great lyrics and great entertainment – follow that!
Duncan Reid & The Big Heads do follow that and with consummate ease. They’re not the competition but equals and whilst Duncan writes fantastic power pop the dynamics and the sound are poles apart but has the same DNA and another thing they share is they all have tunes! Kicking off with ‘Can’t Stop’ off ‘Bombs Away’ Duncan commands his big heads and rises to the occasion and the gauntlet laid down by the opening bands. With a new album in the bag Duncan is buoyed and after a quick romp through ‘Soda Pressing’ its a glimpse into the new album with ‘Welcome To My World’. Now it’s fair to say he’s been at this for a number of years and has seen a thing or two and happened to work with some exceptional songwriters in his time and that time wasn’t wasted as the band take care of the exceptional ‘Lets Skip To The Good Bit’ then its an introduction to some new tunes and one in particular politely entitled ‘Motherfucker’ about a certain Tory politician we are all familiar with that goes down rather well and whets the appetite for the new album.
This line up of Big Heads Duncan has assembled have worked really well together and playing more and more shows is paying dividends and Nicks backing vocals on ‘Rolling On’ sound great much like the chemistry between the band as well. the minutes are flying by and from ‘Bombs Away’ through ‘Kelly’s Gone Insane’ this is proving to be an immense nights entertainment. the room is jumping by the time ‘C’mon Josephine’ pipes up and the final new song ‘Better Get Them In’ is dispatched. With the clock ticking there’s time for a doff of the cap to previous employers as Nick gets the punters involved on the classic ‘Brickfield Nights’ followed by some high praise for the wonderful songwriting of Honest John Plain from his old pal as ‘Terminal Love’ leaves just one song left before we all have to steal away onto the cold Bristolian cobbles and back home. The inimitable Mr Reid leaves us for ‘The Last Time’ tonight (other than to run his merch table) after another faultless performance of great songs that fly’s by The curtain falls on 2019s live gigs for me as I try to take it all in and what a way to end the decade with a punk rock n roll show thats up there with the best of them in fact it is the best of them. Variety, consistency, smiling faces, great tunes what more could you ask for of a gig night? If in 2020 you get the chance to witness Cyanide Pills and / or Duncan Reid & The Big Heads don’t hesitate or procrastinate just buy your bloody ticket it’ll be a memorable nights entertainment that much is a given. Brilliant as expected – always a pleasure and never a chore.
Boy Oh Boy. It’s always nice to have a few words off one of the Boys and with a couple of special shows coming up what better time to catch up with Matt and see what’s happening. Ticket details and links are below the interview for their Lewes and London shows along with the posters with all the details.
Hi Matt. The boys have been announced as headliners at Resolution Festival in the 100 Club this coming January. Having been two years since you headlined there was it an easy choice to say yes to doing it again? It is a great line up as well with Last Great Dreamers and Menace playing as well.
Hi Dom. We’re always happy to play at the 100 Club. It’s almost a New Year tradition for us to play there now. It will also be great to hook up again with special guests Last Great Dreamers who we shared a festival stage with in Norway last year.
It’s already announced as the bands only show in London for 2020 is that an easy decision to make with it being so early on in the year?
Not at all, we’re usually planning gigs a year or so ahead and there are only so many gigs we want to do per year in any particular city or country as we don’t want to overplay anywhere. But we are playing Brighton before the London gig as well as Rebellion in 2020 and there might also be one or two other gigs in the UK later next year.
London is an ever decreasing hotbed of Rock and Roll with venues and gentrification closing down places is it harder to find suitable places these days compared to when the Boys started?
Sadly, I think that’s the truth, which is why I have a soft spot for the 100 club as one of the few surviving venues in London that have been around since the beginning of British rock ’n’ roll. When we started out in 1976, there were probably 100+ small music venues and pubs in London where we could feasibly get gigs as a new band, I doubt there’s more than a handful now.
It seems like a whole new world out there for bands what with the internet being so instant and making the world a smaller place. Bands can record at home from anywhere is it a good or bad thing? there seems to be less chance of there being a community or movement like when you opened up your flat in Maida Vale. Have those kinds of days totally gone do you think?
The music business has always been changing. Other than live performance, income from music evolved from sales of sheet music to vinyl records, cassettes to CDs. and downloads to streaming. And even live performance evolved with the advent of music videos and once again with the arrival of the internet as well as audience smartphone recordings now all available online. The main problem now is that music is so easily available that it’s in danger of being taken for granted and devalued
Did you keep all the tapes from those recordings? Were there any particular people who impressed you who went on to great things in music that you could sense from the time?
I have some early Boys’ recordings that I’d mixed down to cassette but all the original multi-track tapes went missing at some point and I don’t know who took them. If someone had stolen them to sell on or release as a bootleg I think they would have resurfaced by now so either they were stolen to record over or maybe removed by one of the bands who didn’t want their embarrassing early efforts aired. Who knows?
Most of the people that hung out in Warrington Crescent went on to greater things, including non-musicians like Magenta Devine, but one person who did impress me was the new guitarist with Chelsea who had only just started playing. I showed him a few guitar licks and he picked them up so quickly I thought this boy’s going to be a great guitarist. His name was Billy Idol.
A little bird tells me that The Boys in 2019 have also been busy recording is there any details you could reveal about that?
All I can say is that we’ve started recording and it’s sounding good – but at the moment it’s just new tracks with as yet no specific end-use and we’ll work on them and possibly more tracks in the New Year.
Going back to playing the 100 Club. Its such an iconic venue for many reasons its steeped in history and one of the only remaining places still standing. How does it stack up playing the 100 Club in 2018 or 2020 compared to 40 years ago and which of the venues hold the best memories and why? The Roxy, Marquee club when it was on Wardour Street. I guess the Hope And Anchor which is also still standing. Wasn’t that the venue the band made their live debut? What do you remember about that?
Funnily enough, we never played the 100 club back in the day. I think after the first punk festival there when an audience member was hit by a thrown beer glass, they were a bit wary of booking punk bands for a while. Me, and I think Cas and John were in the audience for that gig. I also remember our debut at the Hope and Anchor shortly after, as it was such a relief to get our first gig safely under our belt after all the rehearsing. Mick Jones, Gene October and a lot of other fledgeling punk rockers were at the gig.
The Roxy was special because it was so short-lived. It was open only a couple of months but it that short time it gave punk its own home and helped to turn the UK music biz on its head and give the fledgeling punk bans the upper hand over the record companies, who were suddenly all desperate to sign a punk band. Also, venues, radio stations, recording studios, newspapers and music magazines were all forced to open up their minds to the punk phenomenon.
Re the Marquee, I saw so many great bands play there that it was a privilege for me to use the same stage and tiny dressing room. I’m still angry about the Marquee being lost forever after the developers promised there would still be a live music venue as part of the new development. I went to the opening of that ‘live music venue’ which was actually the basement area of a Conran restaurant. It was packed with tables and chairs for diners and had a tiny cabaret-style stage that you could just about fit a grand piano on. What really annoyed me was the ashtrays (you could smoke in restaurants back then), which were embossed with the names of some of the great bands such as Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones etc that had played the Marquee, implying that this was where they had played.
When I go there (Hope & Anchor that is) I don’t know why but I’m always slightly taken aback how small it is. Again its got a lot of attachment to some bands history like the Stranglers and The Damned playing there. The 100 club seems palatial in comparison.
Are there any plans to play further afield again in 2020? the USA shows went down well and I know bands and fans were thrilled with the experience of hearing you guys play live. What about china is that due for a return visit or are you now banned?
We are in talks about doing another South American tour and also Japan plus a few other things in the pipeline. I’d personally love to visit China again and tour there properly as we intended last time but it would be risky as we don’t know if we are still banned and probably wouldn’t know till we arrived there.
As for the band will John be playing the Resolution show? It would be great to see him up there with you guys.
As you probably know John hasn’t been well for a long time. He is showing signs of improving. It’s a slow process so we don’t know if he’ll be able to be at the show but we do hope so.
I live in Swansea and the local museum recently had an exhibition to celebrate 50 years as a city and 50 years of music in the city and low and behold there is a feature from the 70s of Circles night club down the marina with pictures of yourself from when the Boys played on a Monday night. With a great bill poster advertising the show. Do you have any memories of that show which was bootlegged and the first Bootleg I ever heard of the band. Sounded like an electric night in an infamous local venue. Were they good memories of getting in a van with the band and togging it around the UK in the late ’70s.
With these memories in mind would you ever consider penning an autobiography? The Boys history is an exceptional one and would make for a riveting read.
I’d like to have seen that exhibition. Do you have any photos of that feature? It was indeed great fun touring in the 70s because in many cases we were the first punk band that anyone had seen so it felt like we were trailblazing. As to an autobiography, no plans at present but if I get bored maybe.
The second announcement for Rebellion 2020 this week sees a return for The Boys who will play two sets at Rebellion 2020, one electric and one acoustic. Anyone lucky enough to catch them last time in the Opera house for their acoustic set will testify how brilliant it was and how well their songs were transferred to the acoustic styling.