Christened as ‘A Long Weekend Of Empty Bottles’, Tyla and his Dogs announced a short run of dates celebrating the 30th anniversary of ‘A Graveyard Of Empty Bottles’ recently. Dates in York and Birmingham to be special shows previewing acoustic and electric shows that will form part of the following two nights of celebration in London.

Classed by some as the best acoustic album ever released (me included), ‘A Graveyard Of Empty Bottles’ is a timeless snapshot of the classic Dogs D’amour line up at their peak. Recorded in December 1988 over a 10 day period, the album captures the essence of a band riding on the tail end of a whirlwind year and the comedown that followed a sold out, end of the year Astoria show.

The 8 song collection of ‘soft songs for hard people’ has recently been re- recorded by the current Dogs D’amour line up, and while I initially gave it a wide birth, I have to say the new version does bring something fresh to a bunch of songs I always felt should not be tampered with. In fact, I liked it enough in the lead up to this gig, that I only went and purchased the vinyl for the collection.

 

Joining the band on this little adventure are London’s finest rock ‘n’ roll reprobates The Dirty Strangers. Still led by loveable rogue Alan Clayton, a man with more Rolling Stones connections than Mick Jagger’s heart surgeon. In fact Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards both played on their debut album back in 1987, they even roped in The Damned’s Brian James and Joe Brown along the way too.

The four-piece band play no-frills, dirty rock ‘n’ roll, just the way it should be played. The singer, dressed in a stripy top and pork pie hat, a telecaster slung over his lanky frame, leads his band through a selection of bar-room boogie rock ‘n’ roll. The raw and unadulterated twelve-bar boogie of ‘Bad Girls’, with its “woo-hoo’s” hollering and some tinkling of the ivories sounds great and the low slung rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Are You Satisfied?’ goes down a charm. The singer and bassist share a mic for vocals on several songs in full Jagger & Richards style. And it doesn’t get more rock ‘n’ roll than ‘Gold Cortina’ does it? Full of cheeky cockney charm and rock ‘n’ roll swagger, The Dirty Strangers were the perfect band to open proceedings tonight. Great stuff indeed.

 

The Fulford Arms is classed as a hometown show for Tyla and The Dogs these days. It’s intimate, it’s packed and it’s hot… very hot. The band is playing two sets tonight, one acoustic and one electric, the anticipation is high and the atmosphere is electric.

“Who gave him a mic?” says Tyla, as drummer Simon starts with the piss-taking before the singer has even picked up his acoustic guitar. The joking continues for most of the night. With the band perched on barstools they launch straight into ‘Comfort Of The Devil’ followed by the fantastic ‘I Think It’s Love Again’. With the full band treatment these versions of ‘Graveyard..’ tracks are heavier and slower, but still contain those great infectious melodies. The latter particularly benefits from the updated treatment, it’s the little nuances in the arrangements, like where the band hold the note in the chorus just that little bit longer. It sounds ace.

This band have been a unit for a good few years now, live and in the studio, and it shows. The camaraderie and ability is second to none. Tyla plays acoustic, to his right guitarist Gaz rips on a telecaster and to his left the ever cool, vampiric Matty James, all dressed in black, doesn’t even break into a sweat on bass. The guys watch their leader for cues, they play off each other to perfection.

I’ve heard a few of these songs live before, but never all of them together, what a treat to behold! ‘Saviour’ is transformed from heartfelt balladry to a more bluesy, rock ‘n’ roll groover with added tinkling of the ivories and ‘Angel’ is still the sing a long hit single that never was.

The version of ‘Bullet Proof Poet’ they pull off tonight is simply stunning. An extended, tripped out version with Gaz ripping a killer solo. A song to get lost in, it’s over in minutes, yet somehow, it feels like we’ve been lost in it for hours.

Tyla takes over on bass duties and Matty brings out the blues harp for a mesmerising, sweat-soaked blues workout. I think it was called ‘Stealin’ From The Devil’? Correct me if I’m wrong.

A couple of killer tunes from last year’s excellent return to form ‘In Vino Veritas’ album (namely ‘I Don’t Love Anyone’ and ‘Bottle Of Red’) round off set one nicely. As Gaz suggests we all go outside to cool down while the guys prepare the stage for round 2.

 

Tyla’s bottle of red is on its last legs already as he straps on that iconic road worn Gretsch and strikes out the opening chords to ‘Billy Two Rivers’, the first of a small greatest hits set. Songs to sing a long to and songs to drink to, songs that soundtrack our youth and transition into adulthood. It’s nice to see some younger dudes and dudettes in attendance, many who weren’t even born when Tyla first hit the stages with these tunes.

Classic follows classic, ‘Last Bandit’ is as amazing as ever, ‘Firework Girl enthralls and induces goosebumps and ‘How Come It Never Rains’ is the ultimate drunk and sweaty sing along it was meant to be.

By the time we get to ‘I Don’t Want You To Go’ Tyla is visibly struggling in the heat, (as we all are) and finishes the last few songs perched on an amp. The red wine has all but gone and he looks ready for a nap. But he ain’t quite done yet. ‘Satellite Kid’ rounds off the hottest, sweatiest gig of the year so far as we all sing a long and smile for the final time this evening.

 

I feel very lucky to have witnessed this band in this venue multiple times. Every gig has been different, from various album celebrations to just good, old fashioned hits shows. Sometimes I’ve been drunk, sometimes I’ve been sober, but every time it has been a blast. Like a fine red wine Tyla’s Dogs D’amour get better each time I see them, I never take it for granted and I will always come back for more. At the end of the day, it’s one of my favourite songwriters singing some of my favourite songs in my local watering hole. It doesn’t get much better than that.

 

Author: Ben Hughes

Photos courtesy of Neil Vary Gig Photography

 

 

While someone’s first thought might be that this is simply going to be Tyla playing guitar and harp singing the songs from last year’s brilliant album, you would be incorrect. ‘In Vino Veritas’ has been my most played album since last year when I first heard it. Those versions have really dug their claws into me and taken hold of my soul in the same way that the classics by the band and Tyla have. This is a total band effort though that is really quite magical. If we think back over time to the likes of ‘Billy Two Rivers,’ ‘Satellite Kid,’ ‘As I See the Poppies Falls,’ etc., the Dogs have never been ones to shy away from playing acoustic songs and giving them some kick when needed. This collection of Dogs are simply on a roll with this being the next perfect feather in their cap.

In terms of the songs, everything follows the same running order from last year’s full blown electric album. Many of you reading this will have heard ‘111’ acoustically in the past on the ‘Bloody Hell-Fire’ album and others spots, but this album is significantly different. This one feels a little grittier with the great piano in the background giving it a bit more color. The chorus is still huge and sets the stage for an album that really comes alive in the darkness of night. ‘Black Confetti’ begins with piano and the opening lines before the rest of the band join. The opening lines certainly paint a picture with the song feeling like it could have been lifted from ‘A Graveyard of Empty Bottles.’ The backing vocals are exquisite, and this is simply a great Dogs song. Next up, we have ‘Bloodline’ which took the longest for me to warm up to on the electric version of the album. It gets some swing here, and the added organ is an awesome touch. The chorus seems to carry more weight here for me. The piano that gets added with the organ in the second verse jumps out of the speakers. This song really shines more in this format for my tastes.

Dogs classic in waiting ‘Bottle of Red’ has already proved to be a live favorite. If you have been collecting the b-sides, you will already have an acoustic version, but that version is really not a full band version like we have here. This one still bounces like the electric version with the whole band rocking. This feels a bit like ‘She Thinks Too Much of Me’ with some similar country sounding guitar licks. With everyone singing the chorus, this is the sound of a band lost in a glorious moment. I was really curious how ‘Chicago Typewriter’ might be presented as it is another of the hardest hitting from the electric album. We have no sirens welcoming this version. Lyrically, this is the simplest the Dogs have ever been with the vocals really being more of an additional instrument. This version also kicks butt with Tyla in prime form. The haunting group vocals add to the ambiance of the song with the song gaining in intensity as it grows. The celebratory, jubilance of ‘Empire’ is slowed down here, with the electric guitar riffs sizzling on the acoustic frame. This one never fails to put a smile on my face with Tyla again laying down an awesome lead vocal while the band adds in a lot of ‘Woah’s’ in the back of the mix. It provides a great close to the first half of the album.

Kicking off Side 2, ‘Everything to Me’ feels like it has more teeth here than on the electric version, even though it remains a midtempo jewel. The ‘sha la la’s’ again providing an extra element to the song with the chorus being another one that compels a singalong. It also hits on an element the Dogs have had since I first heard them over three decades ago. The lyrics hit the heart and soul. They are real and feel tangible. The first song I got to hear from this album was ‘Fuck Off Devil,’ and it showcased how different some of these songs would ultimately feel. This is an acoustic blues assault that adds tempo and attitude to the original. This feels like walking in on a jam session where the spirits are in full effect. As much as I enjoy the electric version, this acoustic version could have just as easily fit on that album as the slow blues break it gave the electric version, it flips the switch here and gives the acoustic version a blast. Another Dogs classic in waiting ‘I Don’t Love Anyone’ follows and showcases that a happy Tyla can write one heck of a love song. This also showcases that I really cannot say which version of the album is “better” because, at the end of the day, these are 12 awesome songs that are done two different ways by a band that is swimming in a pool of perfect chemistry.

Approaching the last three songs remains bittersweet because it means the album is ending, one of my favorites from the electric version ‘In Vino Veritas’ remains a magical piece of music. This version reminds me more of something that could have been on ‘The Life and Times of a Ballad Monger.’ I love how the instruments get added into the mix as it goes with the horns coming to life. The guitar picking here pops as well. The bluesy ‘Monster’ opens feeling more like a blues standard from the likes of Wille Dixon. The harmonica and piano filling out the song and working perfectly with the groove. ‘Movie Star’ concludes the album with an upbeat acoustic rocker that serves as a great closer. The closing lines here connect in a similar way to those last lines on ‘She Put It In Here Arm’ did.

Our Dogs on this album remain the same that they have for the last several years which has only made their output more awesome in my opinion. We have:

Tyla: Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica

Gaz: Guitar, Slide, Backing Vocals

Matty: Bass, Harmonica, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Simon: Drums

Scotty: Piano, Keys,Organ

In addition, Phil Cassidy plays Mandolin, and Ian Douglas handles the Saxophone.

This album was announced around the time the electric album launched, and the wait was well worth it. ‘In Vino Veritas’ has constantly found itself as my go to album for the past 9 or 10 months, and I have a strong suspicion this one will be the exact same way. You can pair it with the new ‘A Graveyard of Empty Bottles’ for an acoustic double album blowout or mix and match it with the original album. At the end of the day, the Dogs catalog has continued to grow with this album being another awesome addition to the discography. I think it is a must own for Dogs fans and anyone else who enjoys great songs with an acoustic frame but venom in the blood.

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Gerald Stansbury

 

 

Thanks for checking out my little corner of the Internet again. There really are no rules or expectations of what I am going to do here. Immediately after completing my first one though, this piece started writing itself in my head. It’s also shifted back and forth a bit during that time. The Wildhearts recently released their latest studio album ‘Renaissance Men,’ and it is quite simply a monster of an album. It is a serious album of the year contender with its 10 mostly compact songs reminding us of those albums of yesterday that did not waste time and placed an emphasis on all killer, no filler. That album served as the inspiration for the topic here- the stigma of mental illness.

 

Completing the first half of the album, ‘Diagnosis’ finds the band making a powerful statement that cannot be heard enough. The album has been on constant rotation, and that song kept nudging me to emphasize it for anyone that carries a mental health diagnosis with them. Coincidentally, I also saw a study by Record Union which indicated 73% of independent musicians suffered from some form of mental illness (https://www.the73percent.com/). I do not believe this is by any means a new phenomenon, but there has thankfully been much more awareness raised now. Unfortunately, there continues to be a stigma attached to mental illness that needs to be destroyed. People are NEVER a diagnosis. I do not care if it is a physical health condition or a medical health condition. Labels have genuine consequences.

 

‘You are not your diagnosís
You’re not that prescription in your hand
You are not your diagnosís
Simplified for them to understand’

(Ginger Wildheart, The Wildhearts, ‘Diagnosis’ from their latest album ‘Renaissance Men’)

 

I have worked in behavioral health for many years and have seen remarkable changes taking place within the field which are innovative and produce remarkable results. I remember the first time the clinic I where I worked brought a Peer Support Specialist (PSS) on board. We only had one, and there was some definite ignorance among the clinical team as for the first few days there was an unsaid belief that the PSS probably should not work with someone in crisis because it could cause the PSS to also go into crisis. I am very happy to report this belief was eradicated within about a week because we experienced the power of peer support. Clinically, we had failed to connect with the person, but this approach was remarkably powerful. In the not too distant past, I introduced a Peer Support Specialist to an inpatient psychiatric unit where the concept was entirely new.

 

“The stigma I experienced working in that facility has permeated through my recovery story. Before I reached wellness, people were telling me that my reality wasn’t true. Throughout my journey, having friends and loved one’s back away. Now in my profession as a Peer Specialist, being denied opportunities to help someone because it would “trigger a crisis” in myself according to their opinion. I am not my diagnosis. I am not my past. I am a person. My name is Jessi.”  Jessi Davis, MHPS RSPS Transition Age Youth Coordinator Via Hope

 

I have been fortunate that I worked in a system that celebrated strengths and meeting people where they are. It inspired a passion for me in my career to always try to do everything I can to make this world a better place. Some days are more successful than others. I have heard and seen horrific stories. I have heard and seen beautiful acts of love, empathy, support, resilience, and recovery.

 

I know that I never liked the task in school when I was asked to identify 3 strengths or things I liked about myself. I think it has become much easier with time, but I honestly do not know if it is because of the experiences I collected on my way to adulthood or some other reason. Parts of my adolescence were awful, and it didn’t change until I was well into my 20’s. I also know though I was extremely lucky and fortunate in many ways, especially in that I found coping mechanisms that worked for me. Music spoke to me and was my escape from the challenges I experienced. I also began writing in a journal, and, while they were initially song lyrics, my limitations in musical talent (having none) meant that these would become essentially poetry, even if that wasn’t what I wanted to call it due to preconceived stereotypes about my role in this world as a man and how we are trained to guard our feelings. My darkness I felt when I was younger had outlets-  healthy outlets.

 

Along the way in my career, I was presented with an exciting opportunity. Despite having no behavioral health diagnosis, I had the opportunity to attend a two week Peer Support Training class as part of my orientation for a job. Part of the training is the Peer Support Specialist being able to share their story in a way that inspires hope and resiliency. It was scheduled for about the middle of the training, and I felt uncomfortable with the idea of being in the class that day. I felt like I was an outsider and was betraying my classmates trust in some way. On the second or third day, I said something to one of my classmates during a break. This came out later that day in class, and our instructor told me he was sure I would have a story to share. Sure enough, I was annoyed that we only had 10 minutes to share as I felt it was not nearly enough time. While I have never experienced some of the things my classmates had, I had experienced similar emotions, similar moments in my life, and was moved by the stories I heard. Those two weeks have been extremely inspirational in my career. I have worked with others who have also received that training, and the power and energy these individuals radiate with afterward are contagious.

 

Turning this back to the song ‘Diagnosis’ and what inspired this, people are never just one thing. If you take 60 seconds and write down everything you are, I am sure you will have quite a list. It might start with father, son, husband, supervisor and then it gets really interesting as we drill down even deeper into what makes us who we are. To label someone as a disease takes away everything else they are. I have been fortunate to work with a CEO who frequently serves to remind others of this and has inspired significant changes in organizations across multiple States on this side of the pond with his approach. He also plays to people’s strengths and understands that you meet the person where they are in their reality, which can be quite challenging for some staff. Whatever the person is experiencing is what is real to them, if that is not validated, what reason does the person have to trust you?

 

If you watch the evening news, scroll Facebook or Twitter, pick up a newspaper after a horrific event, you will be hit hard with the power of stigma as people are quickly labeled or assumed to be (fill in the derogatory word that comes to your mind). What word was it for you? How did that become your conditioned response? Statistics over the years have demonstrated that individuals diagnosed with a serious mental illness are more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator.

 

“Using longitudinal data of more than two million individuals and multiple independent variables, the Danish study found that individuals with mental illness are at 2.5 times higher risk of being subjected to any crime compared to the general population, and at even higher risk of being subjected to violent crimes.” Jeffrey Swanson PhD (https://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/fixing-the-system/features-and-news/4007-research-weekly-violence-victimization-and-serious-mental-illness-)

 

While I am not writing this to dig out all of those reasons why that might happen, I believe addressing the stigma of mental illness can help serve as a catalyst for change. If people felt like they could discuss what they were feeling and experiencing without the negative responses and shame, I believe it would begin to make differences, even if the ripple of change is small. Several of them become larger and a wave can form with enough of them. It starts with each of us though. We interact with people on a constant basis in our lives. We do not know what most of them are experiencing or have gone through in the moments before we see them, earlier that day, earlier in their lives. We often get one snapshot of that person. In my worst moments, I would not want someone to take that as being all I am.

 

When I look at the artists whose lyrics have hit me in the heart and soul the hardest, it is the likes of Frank Turner, Ginger Wildheart, Tyla, and others who articulate so clearly many of the thoughts that have passed through my brain over the years. Many of their songs have become personal anthems that inspire me when I need them. They inspire resiliency and let me know my brain is not really that strange in those weak moments. Turner’s ‘Get Better’  Being a powerful anthem for many and a reminder that we can always get better as people as long as we are still breathing.

Thinking about this topic has also given me a reason to really take a look across several parts of my collection with various albums immediately coming to mind that has connections to this blog. If we travel back in time to 1978 when I was just a boy, Alice Cooper unleashed ‘From the Inside’ which was conceptually based around his stay in a psychiatric hospital of the time.

The ballad ‘How You Gonna See Me Now’ has always been one of my favorite Alice ballads, and I have really enjoyed the lyrical depth to it that became apparent as I got older. Titus Andronicus released ‘The Most Lamentable Tragedy’ in 2015 and shared the story of someone dealing with symptoms related to bipolar disorder over the course of a rock-opera with the band releasing one segment of the story as a music video  that portrays someone receiving services in an institution.

Stand Atlantic released a music video for their song ‘Lavender Bones’  in 2018 which show their singer being treated the same as everyone else and being taught to think and act the same way. She breaks free from the authority in the video, and, to me, celebrates the character she is playing by showing all of the different sides to who she is as a person through all of the colors she uses in her painting (my interpretation).

Ginger Wildheart has been very open with the challenges he experiences and their impact on him. Between Twitter, his music, his charitable actions, and even negative incidents, he has let fans have a window into a world that would not have been seen decades earlier before the rise of social media. Ginger Wildheart has albums such as ‘Ghost in the Tanglewood’ and ‘The Pessimist’s Companion’ that really speak to the insecurities and dark emotions that we experience and provide catharsis. He has also addressed these experiences in specific songs over the years as well such as ‘The Order of the Dog’ and personal favorite ‘Drive.’ Ginger was recently on “Rock Talk with Mitch Lafon” with Alan Niven talking about their recent suicide attempts and mental health care. Here is a link to the show:

Wade Bowen is a red dirt singer/ songwriter based here in Texas who has a discography of amazing albums, and he has never backed away from singing about person topics that have affected both him and his family, such as his song about post-partum depression ‘Turn on the Lights.’ He recently released a piece on YouTube that addresses his own recent struggle with a physical illness as well as the suicide of his nephew who was also a member of their team. While Bowen and the team continue to process their grief, it serves as another reminder to eliminate the stigma that keeps this topic from being discussed. Here is a link to ‘Inconsistent Chaos.’

Another band that served me extremely well back in my late teens when I felt mentally exhausted and struggling was Suicidal Tendencies. I felt like Mike Muir was often tapping into my own brain with the likes of ‘You Can’t Bring Me Down,’  ‘Alone,’ ‘Can’t Stop,’ etc. His lyrics served as a kick in the butt while also tapping into human emotions that all of us feel at some point in time. They also helped provide another realization in that we need to like the person we are and be comfortable in our own skin. I feel like that goes back to my earlier example where I would struggle as a teen to identify my own strengths.

As the Wildhearts served as the inspiration behind this blog, it seems fitting to close it with Ginger Wildheart and Ryan Hamilton  ‘Fuck You Brain’

 

 

Author: Gerald Stansbury

 

 

Should have been huge! How many times do we hear that said of a band?  We’ve all seen bands we think should have – could have, but there is one in particular band I love who seemed to slip between the cracks and time overtook them and alas that moment was gone.  Darren Birch was a quarter of one of if not the most exciting bands of the UK underground scene who played around the toilet scene in the late ’80s early ’90s – they were Garage punks from Birmingham who, with a pocketful of excellent tunes and a strong image had it all.  In Ant, they had a frontman who had the swagger of a Jagger and the cool spirit of Iggy.  They stormed Londons Marquee Club on numerous occasions and put on a show every time. They were head and shoulders the best band anywhere at the time, yet, they remained unsigned with only a seven inch and twelve-inch singles to their name. It was years later they released a CD that delivered all the tunes they played live and managed to capture that magic onto tape yet their moment had gone and sadly had their frontman.  They lost frontman Ant under tragic circumstances so the chance of a reunion had gone. 
Bass player Birchy has a story to tell and has played with some of the pioneers of the first wave of punk and some – he currently plies his trade in several bands namely the Godfathers and Black Bombers (currently)  if you’re not familiar then you need to change that pronto. But not until you read the words from our little recent chat. Over to you Mr. Birch.
Let’s take it back to the beginning for you.  What made you want to pick up a guitar and why the bass? 
I had my first Bass at fourteen years old. A Jazz copy with an awful high action…The guys I played with in my first band called it the Bow and Arrow.  I loved the Damned as a kid and was inspired by hearing Algy play that intro to ‘Love Song’ and then the sound Paul (Gray) had when he joined the Damned.
Who else was influencing a young kid in Birmingham?
There were others I was drawn to like JJ Burnel and Lemmy they were certainly influences on me at the time. I’d also say around that age I was discovering Bowie and the Spiders era and loved Trevor Bolders playing.  then as I was growing older I was discovering all sorts of players from Dennis Dunaway, Bootsy Collins, Barry Adamson…Even in my Jazzier moments Charles Mingus!!
What about early memories of playing shows?
The earliest shows I was playing was in punk bands.  I’d only been playing about six months and even though the other guys I was playing with were three and four years older than me I guess it was the usual story of ropey PA’s just for vocals in pubs I wasn’t anywhere near old enough to be in – Fun Though.
My first memory of seeing you play was in London with Gunfire Dance.  You were always a band I’d go and see and I found the live shows so exciting? Tell us how the band came into being?
Gunfire Dance was the first 2Proper” band I was in.  Me ‘n Ozzie started the band around 83/84we were influenced by the growing scene of Hanoi, Lords, Thunders…that kind of thing. The line up you all know and love (haha ) with Jeff and Ant (R.I.P)  consolidated around 87/88.
Yeah, We always wanted to be a high energy band… We loved gigs like the Cramps, Lords, Iggy that kind of unpredictability.  I think the band is more appreciated now than back in the late ’80s were certainly more understood…We were never part of that Stones/Face thing that was going on nor were we part of the Glam/Hard Rock scene I think we were out on our own at the time…our influences stretched back to the ’50s, 60’s the whole punk scene maybe bands like Thee Hypnotics were kind of our kindred spirits back then.
What about memories of playing abroad? Did you enjoy touring? 
The tours we did around the UK were always self-financed and self-organised except the tour with Tigertailz (Island paid for that.  We had a publishing deal with them but alas no record deal) we also went out with Bang Tango!!! We certainly had a lot of fun and those Marquee shows were always great (as I recall)
Most people will know of your work with Gunfire Dance.  I remember buying a demo cassette and eventually a 7″ single and 12″ why did it take so long to get a long player out? 
We spoke to loads of managers , labels  etc… But fo rone reason or another it just never happened. We recorded lots of stuff at Island some with Rat (Scabies) and some with Brian (James) but none of it got released until the Evil Boy Records put out ‘Archway Of Thorns’ in 2005.
When we played CBGB with D Generation and The Waldos a guy named Rat Boy (Motorcycle Boy) was playing in Pillbox put us in touch with Jeff Dahl and he released the 7″ on his Ultra Under label in the States then the ‘Killing Time’ 12″ we did that ourselves.  Then we went back to the States for a second time and did New York but the band was falling apart, I guess the combination of doing it without success will do that.
What did you do after the band broke up?
After the band called it a day I didn’t play for a while the “Music Business” had left a bitter taste in my mouth for a while anyway.  I had been DJaying and had a club called ‘Stay Sick’ which lasted a few years – That could get messy.  Then Oz, Ant and myself got together with a friend called Mark Barrows and started Stepping Razors which came about inadvertently by us being asked to tour with Tyla (now that’s another story).  Jeff had left for New York by this time so we got together and it was fun…We were a great band – We cut a demo at the famous Toe-Rag Studio and then got some interest from Island (again) after a great show with Royal Trux but again it fell apart for one reason or another it was around this time I’d also started playing with Alan (Black Bombers) in the Morricone influenced Horse Feathers. Still going to this day we even got as far as recording that album (reviewed Here)
Me and Oz ended up playing with Brian (James) he’d asked us back in the Gunfire Dance days if we’d play in his band doing his solo album (the one on New Rose Records) we would have been The Brian James Gang but Brian suffered the loss of both his parents and then he had the money from Guns N Roses for using his song so he moved to France to raise his Son away from London.  some years later we got a phone call out of the blue it was Brian – he’d moved back to the UK and was now in Brighton and he wanted to do something so we resurrected the Brian James Gang with Jez Miller on guitar and vocals doing some Lords, Early Damned and his solo stuff… my ears still have yet to recover!!
I guess the next time I caught you live was when you were playing with Walter Lure.  Tell us how that all came about?
The Walter thing was when Oz got in touch via myspace we saw he’d been to Europe and released a live CD so we asked if he’d be interested in coming to the UK and we’d put a band together for him.  He said yes and the first show was that 100 Club gig where Walter flew in the day before we had one rehearsal and did the show it was brilliant.  He hadn’t played here for twenty-five years.  I can remember the expectancy and when I see the youtube footage of that gig I feel proud of what we did with one rehearsal!! Ha ha, We ended up doing a few more plus the Rebellion show and supported Jim Jones at their final show at the Forumthen when Walter finally retired from Wall Street we did a full UK tour.
Was there ever a chance to record as The Waldos?
It would have been good to record with Walter but there was never the time……He’s over here soon with Mick Rossi….When we played with Brian the plan was to record an album but it got sidetracked by that Lord’s reformation and never happened…
Onto your recent exploits – Black Bombers and Godfathers.  Firstly tell us how the band came together (Black Bombers)?
It came out of the Blue to be honest. Having not done anything for ages Alan and I got together with a few friends and ended up pulling a few songs together originally it was a four-piece but we struggled to find a direction. Eventually, it went down to a three-piece and when Dave joined on Drums we sort of found our sound.  We wanted to just play Rock and Roll but it had to be adult rock and roll musically and lyrically and try and avoid cliches…cranky…and gnarly – much like us men of a certain age! Haha.
The sound of the recordings is unbelievably good and I always tell people to go listen to the sound of the songs it’s huge. Have you always used the same guitar and amp?  What if any effects do you go through? We did the first 7″ in our rehearsal room, miked everything up and blasted away, even the vocals came straight from the PA ala ‘Funhouse’.  We did it that was not only to keep the cost down but we really liked it.  Recording like they used to back in the day – old bluesmen or something at Chess and that’s pretty much how we’ve done everything since.
In fact ‘Vol 4’ the backing tracks are all first takes we never played a song twice.  We rehearsed them without vocals so we knew them inside out and when it came to recording we just bashed them out. as for gear I have the same Precision that I bought with the Island advance back in Gunfire Dance days and I use no effects at all just crank it up!
You’ve recently found a home with Easy Action who also appreciates and releases some fab music and the packaging is always quality who came up with the artwork and design of the LP?  Dave our drummer is our resident artist, He designs all our covers he does a lot of work for easy action on the Dave Kusworth albums, in fact, he plays on some of them.
 
With a new Mini album or is it an EP? just released what next for the band? Yeah we just put out ‘Vol 4’ a 10″ mini album its been having some great reviews and we did a short run of shows to support it with the likes of Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind, The Folk Devils and a few more throughout the year (any promoters get in touch)  Also we’ve started putting some new songs together that will make a new album.
You’re also a member of Godfathers and recently released a live album, the sound of the band is exceptional and the band sounds like its having a ball really attacking the back catalogue. A lot of those old songs sound amazing and really fresh.  Tell us how and why you got involved with Peter and Godfathers?
I’ve been involved about three years now.  I stood in for a few festivals originally then Peter said they were going to record a new album and asked if I’d be involved and it’s as simple as that really. We made ‘A Big Bad Beautiful Noise’ which I think is a really good album and it stands up to any of the early 80’s Godfathers albums.
Before we finish up I wanted to ask why ‘Archway’ has never had a vinyl pressing.  Any chance of one?
 I would like to do a vinyl version of Archway of thorns…..Maybe get a band page up first see if there is enough interest…
Songs like ‘Blue’ sound timeless, how did the songwriting work in the band? The songs would come together in rehearsals really…’Blue’ for instance was just written around the bass line and some chords I threw together…Jeff put his thing over the top and Ant wrote the lyrics…We were all quite individual musicians and everyone played their part.
Is there anything still on the cutting room floor or did ‘Archway Of Thorns’ have the lot? 
There are some songs that we never recorded…..A few on YouTube clips…I have some live tapes from the Marquee with songs on that we never did in a studio…
Good Quality?
Not Bad.  The tapes I have were recorded by our driver on a minidisc player…There are a couple from Edward’s in Brum too.
You ought to celebrate the band and release the album on vinyl.
Jeff is coming over and doing a couple of Electrajet gigs in November…Oz is gonna play drums. ..Black Bombers gonna support. …That’s probably as near as you’ll get to a reunion…. Ha…
and that’s where we’ll end for now.  Thanks, Birchy for your time and effort.  I loved gunfire Dance still do and they shouldn’t be forgotten they should be championed as should his contribution to music whether it be through Walter Lure when he tours or as part of The Godfathers or with his own band Black Bombers if you’ve never heard any of them then be prepared for a treat  all mightily fine bands that deserve people time oh and if you would like to see ‘Archway Of Thorns’ on vinyl where it belongs then the campaign starts here.

Further adventures in Rock and Roll featuring Darren Birch can be found below

Horse Feathers Review Here

Black Bombers Review Here

Godfathers Review Here

Gerald Stansbury

Wow… I mean… just wow. This album is a wonderful and tremendous addition to a Dogs D’amour discography that began with ‘The State We’re In’ 35 years ago. There will be those that may refuse to give this a chance, and that is really unfortunate for them. I would consider this the first proper album under the Dogs D’amour name by Tyla, Gary, Matty, and Simon even though they have been recording together for several years now. This album is truly made to feel like a Dogs D’amour album as opposed to a Tyla solo album or the Tyla J Pallas Band. It is not a secret that the last two new studio albums ‘When Bastards Go to Hell’ and ‘Let Sleeping Dogs’ were not everyone’s cup of tea, a bottle of jack…. or maybe I should now say bottle of red. Those albums really reflect a different moment in time where this feels much more like the follow up to ‘Happy Ever After’ in terms of style, sound, and approach. For me, this love affair started back at ‘In the Dynamite Jet Saloon’ which remains my favorite album of all time. The band was refreshing among the wave of hair metal bands that often blended together thanks to the other influences they incorporated such as the Stones, Faces, Hanoi Rocks, etc. Tyla’s lyrics were much more relatable to people like me who would try our best only to find out that sometimes the bad guys win despite our best efforts. Albums such as ‘Errol Flynn’ and ‘More Unchartered Heights of Disgrace’ are part of my DNA at this point. Over the years, Tyla has released a tremendous number of solo albums and projects as well as a couple of albums with Spike from the Quireboys. There has always been a difference between that work and Dogs D’amour albums which is partially where the lines got blurred in my mind on ‘Let Sleeping Dogs’ and ‘When Bastards Go to Hell.’ What we have here though is an album that has its very own identity but captures a true band effort and sounds like a Dogs D’amour album…. A damn awesome one too.

Getting the album started is a stomping version of ‘111,’ which will be familiar from Tyla’s solo work. This version though packs more venom and punch. This is a great opener along the lines of ‘Drunk Like Me’ and ‘What’s Happening Here.’ The guitars burn sharply in the mix with the outside production evident at the outset. The album transitions to the gorgeous ‘Black Confetti.’ The use of the saxophones here is perfectly placed, and the way they arrive after a brief pause at the beginning of the song is sublime. This is not your typical single by any Dogs D’amour incarnation and all the better for it. This is an opportunity for these Dogs to flex some musical chops and create a magical moment. For those of us that pledged, we got to hear just a bit of the up-tempo ‘Bloodline’ that rocks in a similar manner to ‘What You Do’ and ‘Lie in This Land.’ The bass by Matty has some added pop in the mix which really stands out at the beginning of the song. Tyla sounds sensational here. He would never win on any of those reality singing shows, but his vocals have always been more about character, heart, soul, and distilled from the finest blend of rock n roll spirits. I will take that everytime. I really love the guitar solo here by Gary as well.

‘Bottle of Red’ stands out as a future standard in the live show where everyone is singing along at the top of their lungs. Lyrically, I would say that it is like the uplifting cousin of ‘Satellite Kid’ as the music creates much more of a ‘Singin’ vibe from ‘Happy Ever After.’ The band adds some awesome saxophone here which creates some additional depth in the music. A Tyla spoken word ad-lib at the end is another very nice touch. I should mention again here that the mix and production on this album is excellent and truly showcases how great these songs are. Since I am reviewing the vinyl version, the midtempo ‘Everything to Me’ represents the end of Side One. Matty’s bass lines get a chance to stand out here as well as the tasteful guitar lines by Gary and Tyla. With a strong vocal hook carried by Tyla already in the chorus, the band adds some background ‘ooh Sha la la’s’ for good measure. What really stands out is just how happy Tyla sounds as these two songs feel like celebrations. Something I have not mentioned is that this album steers clear of the traditional ballads and acoustic numbers. This is a rock album through and through.

Flipping the record over, the uniquely titled ‘Chicago Typewriter’ begins with gunshots and sirens. Musically, this is a hard blues number driven incredibly well by Simon (drums) and Matty (bass) so that Gary and Tyla can add some great bluesy riffs to the mix which are complemented by a simple and highly addictive vocal hook. In some ways, this song recalls the best of where Tyla had gone on ‘Let Sleeping Dogs’ or ‘When Bastards Go to Hell’ but with a much more listener-friendly production style and mix. It provides a great rocking start to the second half of the record. The single in waiting ‘I Don’t Love Anyone’ follows with its tasteful piano and saxophone sounding amazing in the mix. This song should come with a warning label or two as I can’t help but find myself smiling when it plays and singing along. The loving message shows that even though good guys don’t win all the time; they can win from time to time so let’s take a few minutes to celebrate finding the love of our lives while we can. Up next is the title track ‘In Vino Veritas’ where the band brings in some more tasteful saxophone as Tyla tells us a tale as only he can. This is one song where I do wonder if these gentlemen revisiting Tyla’s ‘Nocturnal Nomad’ album recently added some new ingredients that had never really been on a Dogs’ record in the past. Lyrically, this song feels more like the characters and stories from that album as opposed to the characters we met in ‘Hurricane’ or ‘Baby Glass.’

As we approach the end of the vinyl version, ‘Monster’ slithers and struts out on a biting sustained blues riff. Over the course of these songs, the band really explores multiple musical avenues and back alleys with ‘Monster’ creating an awesome groove with added harmonica and organ. I love the guitar riffs and licks throughout this one with it becoming more and more of a favorite with multiple listens with a wonderful howl added at the end for good measure. ‘Movie Star’ serves as an epic finale that brings everything together over the course of its nearly 5 minutes. There are multiple vocal hooks that can kill at a long distance, great guitar work, rocking piano, and a great beat. The extended musical outro is not to be missed as the song eventually slows down for one last vocal before we hear the arm raise and the vinyl come to a stop.

Some people may approach this album with reservations, but I would urge you to check them at the door. This album exceeds every expectation I had and makes me hope that we don’t have to wait too long before we get a follow up from these guys based on how awesome this is. Tyla’s Dogs D’amour acknowledge the long history of the Dogs in many ways but more importantly, add to the band’s magical history with an album that can stand proudly with every record from their past. With two additional songs ‘Empire’ and ‘Fuck Off Devil’ added to the CD and download versions of the album, there really is no reason to not check out this album. Quite simply, this is a magical record.

‘In Vino Veritas’ is unleashed November 16th

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Interview here

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.

Gerald Stansbury.

November sees the release of the awesome new album by Tyla’S Dogs D’amour ‘In Vino Veritas’ which finds the band using Pledge Music platform for the first time. For those familiar with Tyla though, he has been utilizing a similar since the mid 90’s when the brilliant solo album ‘Nocturnal Nomad’ first appeared. These Dogs D’amour include Tyla(vocals/ guitar), Gary Pennick (guitar), Matty James (bass), and Simon Hanson (drums) who have taken elements from the band’s releases over the past 35 years and added some new ingredients into the mix. It has proven to be an album that has me completely reassessing my favorite albums of 2018 as the 10 song version has been on repeat since first getting a chance to hear it. Tyla was kind enough to spend some time answering questions for us here at RPM Online.

Thank you Tyla for taking some time to speak to us here at RPM Online. I would say you have a lot happening right now but honestly, I don’t know if I could recall a time when there was not a lot happening with you.

Let’s start with the brilliant brand new album ‘In Vino Veritas’ which comes out in November via Pledge Music. What can you tell us about this album?

Well, I think that’s for the listener to decide, isn’t it? All I can say is  I had penciled out a few ideas ‘ere n there and so we went into the studio for a few days and laid down the bedrock…that’s when ideas transpose into either nowt or wondrous spirits that will last forever. We then built upon that over a period of weeks adding bits ‘ere and bits there and Bob’s yer Uncle, Fanny’s yer Aunt. Plus we only gave the Vinyl version out to reviewers so there are 2 more songs on the CD edition, not forgettin’ the limited edition double CD version with a whole CD of covers that inspired me from childhood.

You have essentially been making albums in a very similar fashion to Pledge Music since the 90’s starting with ‘Nocturnal Nomad.’ How has the process been with them making this one?

Yep, I’ve been releasing music on my own label ‘King Outlaw’ for almost 20 years now.  Pledge has given us the chance to reach more people which it has indeed done, some new and some old fans who had just lost touch, so not only are they Pledging but now they have discovered my Art Tavern and so are catching up. I wish I’d have done it ages ago, which I nearly did with Spike about a decade ago. I’m sure we shall do another one in the future. The only problem I have is keeping to deadlines and even when I manage it, some gremlins get in the works..but people are getting used to me so while on one hand people think I’ve got minions working away like Amazon others know it’s mainly just me and things take time…especially having to sign and number by Sharpie pen over  1600 CDs last week and about 400 Vinyl next week…me and my big ideas eh? I even did auditions for people to do my signature but no one passed the test…mad that eh? I even considered getting a stamp made..…I must say though I’m glad my name isn’t Baron Von Dribbling Mountbatten the Third eh?

‘Black Confetti’ was an amazing song when I first heard the stripped-down acoustic version on ‘Balancing the Ships of Honour.’ I love how the saxophone enters the song after that brief pause at the beginning. How did this new band version come together?

I actually wrote it on electric guitar and drum machine and sent it to Si, who put ‘real’ drums on it, then we lost the take somewhere in cyber world. I knew it was a good un, and sure enough, I was right.

I love that you guys have also released a four-song EP with the classic unreleased b-sides to make this feel much more like an event and a record release from the past. How did it come to be?

We recorded over 17 songs in the studio, so it was simply a matter of waste not want not. There’ll be another EP to follow after the album as well.

‘Bottle of Red’ has a sense of joy that runs through it which kind of reminds me of a happy ‘Satellite Kid.’ What was it like recording that one, as you also have an acoustic version on the EP?

When we started recording it was just me and Si, next day Matty came into the mix and then the following day Gaz landed.

At the very end of ‘Monster,’ there is a howl that brought a smile to my face as it recalls previous albums and songs like ‘Errol Flynn.’ Was that a spontaneous thing in the studio, or did someone suggest it?

Just Spontaneous .. people do suggest things to me… usually ending in …Off.

(laughing at end of the previous answer) This album really delivers the rock without any traditional ballads or acoustic numbers. ‘Movie Star’ makes a great closer with the guitar work and then the final slow down with the piano for the final words. How did you guys decide on the songs that made the album and the running order?

Well, I’d have said ‘I don’t Love anyone’ and  ‘In Vino ‘ were Ballads…maybe even Black Confetti. We all listen to and put ideas forward initially ‘Movie Star’ was going to be the opener and ‘111’ last.

This set of the Dogs has played with you as a solo act, as the Tyla J. Pallas Band, and now Tyla’s Dogs D’Amour. From an outside perspective, it looks like you guys are fully in tune with one another. What has the process been like with Matty, Gary, and Simon in really forming a band?

Simon has been playing drums for or rather with me since 1996. As I said it’s usually him and me go into the studio and knock out about 10-20 songs in a few hours. Then Gaz came along in about 2010, he played in The Dogs tour when Dave T, Timmo and Danny Fury were on board. Matty wrote to me asking if his band could support…I said ok, then me and Gaz did some solo acoustic gigs and that’s where we met Matty this time he was on acoustic. I liked him and we all got on so I’d ask him to support us, then we could never get a bass player and I said you’re always gonna be opening, do you want to play in the band with us?  Simple as that.

Several spots on the album include some amazing saxophone work as I mentioned regarding ‘Black Confetti.’ Who played it on the album? Did you already know all the spots where you wanted it, or did he add any that you had not anticipated?

Yeah, when we did a gig last year in Newcastle we were about to do ‘Drunk Like me’ and I jokingly said ..”is there anyone out there who can play saxophone?”…and this bloke jumps out from the packed crowd with a sax in his case. Once we had worked out what key it was (in as we use weird tunings) we blasted it out. I remembered and Gaz got in touch with him and he came and did the bits… He can make one sax sound like a brass section and his name is Ian Douglas.

I know there are a couple dates on the calendar before the end of the year. What are the long-term touring plans for this album?

Yeah, by the time we had finished the recording and decided on a release date all the venues we wanted to play were booked up. We are gonna do a few here and there next year including two festival headliners. We have some European dates in the pipeline like the usual Spanish tour which is always great fun… and  I’m planning a few Canadian solo acoustic shows. It would also be splendid to get back over to Japan as I’ve not been there since 1995! 

Your artwork has been indelibly connected with your music over the years thanks to all of the album and single artwork we have seen. One of the rare exceptions has been the live CD/ DVD with Tyla’s Dogs D’amour that was recently released. Why did you go with a photograph for that one?

I see lots of great Photos and thought it would be cool for a change.. if I could get a good one of us all playing together that would be a cover too…so all you budding snappers get your wide angles out for the lads!

As a fan over the years, we have seen your artistic talents spread across a variety of mediums from paintings on canvas to guitars and bottles as well as spoken word albums and books. Are there other mediums you want to try?

Yes, I’m planning on moving into a bit of sculpture. I’ve had the clay in the cupboard for a while and I know exactly what I’m gonna sculpt. I’m being tutored by me Missus Lady Jane as she is a ‘proper ‘ artist in her own right and often tells me that I ‘get away with murder’ in my style of drawing. I mean can you imagine if we all had massive hands…haha!! haha!!

At some point in the past, there were rumors that you had thought about doing some sort of country and western album. Is that still something being considered, or has it ever really been considered?

Yes it’s on my to do list, but please let me just get my speed death metal acoustic album out of the way first eh? haha!!

In this day and age of social media, you have largely abstained from it all with only brief dalliances on Facebook or My Space. I remember you once saying that you never wanted to meet Charles Bukowski because of the risks you run meeting people that you have respected or admired for fear of it going wrong. Obviously, we see examples of that happening today on Social Media where fans can stop following an artist over a different opinion. What do you see as the benefits of this digital age?

The digital age has given everyone a chance to have a bash at what they like, be it good or bad. You don’t need to rely on a record deal to make an album anymore … you just need some ‘friends…or fiends’ and yer away. Simon (Hanson) and Ginger Baker did a drum show once and out of all the 100’s of young drummers that were there only two  had ever done real live gigs. This is young drummers who all had millions of hits and followers but had never actually played outside of their bedrooms till this day. How mad is that?

What are 3 things you would tell yourself if you could travel back in time 35 years to the start of the Dogs?

One.  Don’t take that box of 25 Vinyl, the  Finnish ‘State We’re in’version down to the record and tape exchange because I didn’t like the mix or the cover and flog the lot for a fiver. Then to find out they would be worth a grand each less than five years later. haha!! 25 grand haha!!

Two.  In 1991 don’t smash up that 1957 J2OO Gibson acoustic as that is also worth 25K now.

and Three..Don’t put 50K on a horse that missed the photo finish and got involved in an oil painting!

‘See its not the principle its the Money.’ -Tommy Cooper.

You have lived in several countries and traveled all over the world. Are there countries where you would still like to live?

 Yep, and I’m ere..Edinburgh, Scotland.   

Any final words to fans here?

Thanks ever so for supporting me all these years and letting me be able to live this life of Reilly while I scratch my beard and look up to the sky pretending I’m contemplating the meaning of life and composing yet another song in Eb and oh yeah your order is in the post…honest Guv!

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Pictures 3,5,6 courtesy of Neil Vary Gig Photography