THE CRAZY WORLD OF BRANDY ROW!

Dapper young songsmith about town, BRANDY ROW is back with a brand new single and video, which he’s premiering exclusively with Vive Le Rock!

The moddish, folksy ‘Crazy World’, recorded with his 12-piece band The Coalition of Sound, is the first single to be taken from Brandy’s forthcoming debut album In Reverse, while the accompanying video by Gary Chandler-Honor casts a lysergic eye over otherwise refreshingly normal-looking London cityscapes.

Having spent several years touring with the likes of Adam Ant, Glen Matlock, Earl Slick and Slim Jim Phantom, East Londoner Brandy has spent four years preparing for the release of the album which draws on such increasingly relevant issues as mental health, spirituality, social climate and addiction.

‘Crazy World’ is available now on Spotify and all the usual digital platforms, while In Reverse will follow later in the year.

Brandy Row on Facebook

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THE MASTER OF THE STRATOCASTER!

This Autumn will see the release of a major new anthology from Irish guitar legend RORY GALLAGHER.

Born in County Donegal by raised in Cork, Gallagher was revered as a player by early contemporaries such as Hendrix and Clapton, and was even shortlisted as a Rolling Stone, going on to put his unique and uncompromising stamp on the blues-rock format.

Passing away in 1995 from complications following a liver transplant at the age of just 47, he released eleven studio albums and three live albums during his lifetime, selling 30 million albums worldwide and influencing a raft of musicians such as Brian May, Johnny Marr, Slash, The Edge and many more.

The Best Of Rory Gallagher has been compiled by Rory’s nephew Daniel, the MD of the Rory Gallagher Archive and draws from material right across the guitarist’s career, from the 1969 debut of his early power trio Taste, right up to his final studio album Fresh Evidence in 1990.

Available as 2-CD, 1-CD, digital and double vinyl editions, the 2-CD and vinyl versions will feature as bonus tracks (the latter as a 7″ single) ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis, and ‘Cruise On Out’ from Rory’s 1978 album Photo-Finish. ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ will also be given as an instant download on digital pre-orders.

Set for release on Friday 9 October, The Best Of Rory Gallagher is available to pre-order here.

Check out ‘Shadow Play’ from Photo-Finish live in ’79 at Middlesex Poly for the BBC’s Rock Goes To College

Rory Gallagher on Facebook

Photo © Strange Music Ltd

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ALL THE ACES!

Southcoast sisterhood MAID OF ACE are back with a new video which they’re premiering exclusively with Vive Le Rock!

The irresistibly anthemic ‘Live Fast Or Die’ is the title track from the band’s brand new album, the band’s third following on from 2014’s self-titled debut and 2016’s Maid In England. The video is the work of acclaimed punk filmmaker Mark Richards.

Produced once again by Dan Lucas, the 11-track album includes previous singles ‘The Terror’ and ‘Repent’. The band are looking forward to touring the new album in 2021.

Live Fast Or Die is available to download now from Bandcamp and pre-order on vinyl and CD here. It will be available on all digital platforms here soon.

Read a new interview about the making of the album and what the band’s been up to in the new edition of Vive Le Rock!, available here.

Maid Of Ace on Facebook

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SHAKE APPEAL!

Devon rockers MORIATY are back with a brand new single and video.

‘Shake’ is the first single to be taken from the duo’s new album The Die Is Cast, which is due out in October.

“It’s a riff that popped into my head whilst driving to a rehearsal,” says singer and guitarist Jordan West. “As soon as we set up I played it straight away, and moments later we had a song. It’s one of those songs that – quite fittingly – just fell from the sky.”

Hotly-tipped at the time of their debut album The Devil’s Child back in 2013, Moriaty picked up a huge following for their 21st century punk-blues, with several high profile festival slots and dates with the likes of Muse and Seasick Steve. Along the way they’ve picked up numerous celebrity fans, including Thom Yorke and members of IDLES, who’ve even starred in their videos.

Much delayed by such life-changing events as births, deaths and Covid-19, The Die Is Cast is set for release through Easy Action Records on 23 October.

‘Shake’ is available now on Spotify, Apple and all the usual platforms.

Moriaty on Facebook

Pic by Thom Heywood

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WALTER LURE R.I.P.

As the last Heartbreaker checks out, Vive Le Rock pays tribute to Walter Lure with this archive interview by Mark McStea. Below, Duff McKagan, Billy Duffy, Michael Monroe, Gilby Clarke, Jim Jones and Mick Rossi salute NYC’s finest…

As THE HEARTBREAKERS’ sole studio album ‘LAMF’ celebrates its 40th birthday, Mark Mc Stea tracked down Water Lure, the band’s sole surviving member, to get his take on risks taken and chances lost.

‘LAMF’ sounded simultaneously old and new at the same time. Drawing on all the roots of rock ’n’ roll, it put a streetwise NYC spin on the familiar themes of lust, love and scoring drugs. Where bands like the Pistols, The Clash and others sounded angry, ‘LAMF’ went against the grain; the excitement of great songs played fast and loud, with no other agenda than to have a good time.

The Heartbreakers had the coolest looks and the biggest hooks – truly tapping into the romantic soul of rock ’n’ roll. No need to get hung up on nihilistic dogma, or ‘I’m So bored’/’Destroy’ tropes, the Heartbreakers cut their own groove in an age where predictable non-conformity became the new orthodoxy.

And let’s also just nail this revisionist myth – it was The Heartbreakers on the cover of the album – not ‘Johnny Thunders and’. Even the name – The Heartbreakers – perfectly sums up the entire history of bad boy rock ’n’ roll. You know instantly what you’ll be getting – and not the torpid, tepid Tom Petty misappropriation.

In spite of the general disappointment over the muddiness of the mix when it was released, nothing could blunt the sharpness of the writing and playing. The various subsequent re-released/remastered/repackaged incarnations only reinforced what was always there – killer songs played by a band at the very top of their game. The over-emphasis on its sonic failings can be a little overstated; for those back in ‘77 without mega hi-fi systems, the inherent brightness of their cheap stereos somewhat compensated for the darker sounding mix.

Certainly, the negative take from the reviewers at that time certainly had no influence on sales as far as I can see – I know of no-one who didn’t buy it purely because the sound quality was a bit off. There are a number of websites that explore the various takes and mixes available around the world from when the album was first released, and some of the differences are quite striking. Perhaps the ultimate evaluation of ‘LAMF’ would be to track down the whole lot and run each version of every song back to back.

Of all 1977’s major players, only the Ramones – with whom the Heartbreakers had various ties – share that escapist “we’re in this band to have a good time, fuck angst, art and artifice” attitude. The notion that the Heartbreakers were too out of it to deliver needs to be laid to rest. True, they were clearly not choir boys, and prone to all the standard rock ’n’ roll excesses – Johnny Thunders in particular – but a little chaos goes a long way. Thunders always liked to bait audiences, but it was reasonably under control in the Heartbreakers – although in later years some of his rants could be fairly lengthy.

This was always part of Johnny’s make-up – part of his streetwise, wise-guy persona. Former Arrow, Alan Merrill (writer of ‘I Love Rock ’n’ Roll’), remembers a time in a New York guitar shop in 1972 when Merrill’s band mate, Jake Hooker, was playing a Les Paul. Johnny walked up to him and said, “Hey, that sounds pretty good – How long you been playing? Two weeks?”

Whereas Walter Lure similarly over-indulged, he still seemed to be keeping at least one hand on the wheel – rarely missing cues, words or solos. The Heartbreakers were about economy of motion – no wasted effort – songs pared down to the essential. Walter, who shared vocal and guitar duties with Thunders, occupies that role in the Heartbreakers that is sadly becoming all the more common these days, as the grim reaper continues to cut down our heroes – that of the last man standing.

The Heartbreakers are hardly the only thing that Lure’s done in a career that has taken him from punk legend to the world of high finance on Wall Street. He’s had several bands since the days of the Heartbreakers – most notably the Waldos – and continues to tour on a fairly regular basis around the world. The Waldos’ ‘Rent Party’ album is a no-brainer, essential purchase for any Heartbreakers fan – mining that same rich seam of pure rock ’n’ roll gold.

It is inevitable though, that he will forever be questioned about that era. The Heartbreakers arrived in the UK on the day of the Pistols/Grundy shitstorm, and were scheduled to join the Anarchy Tour. The problem was that very few dates escaped the small-minded, small town councillors clutching desperately to their small vestiges of power with their
Victorian sensibilities.

It’s often said that the Heartbreakers brought heroin culture to the UK scene – as well as the notorious Nancy Spungen. Whatever negatives there were, they certainly supplied a sack full of ready-made charisma and credibility via Johnny Thunders’ and Jerry Nolan’s New York Dolls past. Sadly Johnny fully embodied the entire ‘live fast, die young’ credo. He was found dead in New Orleans under suspicious circumstances in 1991 at only 38. Officially overdosed, it was later revealed that he was in the advanced stages of leukaemia, which helps explain how bad he looked near the end. Jerry Nolan didn’t last much longer – dead at 45 in 1992 of a stroke, having been in the advanced stages of meningitis and also suffering from pneumonia. Billy Rath was the last to pass in 2014 at 68, suffering from throat cancer.

‘LAMF’ was the only Heartbreakers studio album, although there have been a few official and semi-official live albums that have appeared over the years – some featuring different line ups.

I know that the band you were in before the Heartbreakers was the Demons; are there any recordings from your time in the band?
Walter Lure: “They made one album after I left them for the Heartbreakers but I didn’t play on it. I only played a few gigs with them in the early days and don’t know if there are any recordings with me on them.” [NB: Their album is worth tracking down even without Walter’s involvement. Any Heartbreakers/Dolls fan would find plenty to like therein]

Who were your initial influences?
“As a guitarist my main influences were the top three or four Brits in this order: Clapton, Page, Beck, early Peter Green – when he was with John Mayall and early Fleetwood Mac – and finally my favourite overall, just for his sound and phrasing was Mick Taylor, which you might recognize in my solo on ‘It’s Not Enough’.”

Were you a fan of the Dolls?
“Yes! Yes! Yes! They changed the whole rock scene and could be considered the progenitors or grandmothers of the whole punk scene. Rock had by that point degenerated to virtuoso musicians indulging in group masturbation – endless solos in endless songs with very little beat to them from groups like Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Flash etc, ad infinitum. The first time I saw the Dolls, they knocked me out because here was a band I could identify with: wild clothes and back to rocking those three minutes or less rock songs – fast and furious. Every young guy like myself could again learn a few guitar chords and start a band and become famous. You didn’t have to be a classically trained pianist anymore. They really gave birth to the whole punk scene in the US and the UK.”

Did much UK glam filter over to the USA in early 1970s?
“Yes, we got plenty of it and I also saw most of it. From the mid-60s to the mid-70s I was an avid concert goer, and the only bands I really liked were the British bands. They dressed better and also played better than the American bands like Grateful Dead and others (I know many people disagree on this, but fuck ‘em). In any case, glam started getting really tired by the time the Dolls came up.”

Isn’t it the case that the Heartbreakers arrived in UK on the night of the Bill Grundy incident?
“Yes, we landed on the same day the Pistols were on the Grundy show. Malcolm McLaren and his assistant, Sophie, picked us up at the airport. We had no idea what had happened, but Malcolm looked like he was losing his mind and was babbling about the fallout from the show. Next day it was on the front page of every paper in London and TV shows were constantly ranting about it. We were all wondering why everyone was making such
a big deal about someone saying ‘fuck’ on national TV, but the British public got really crazy over it. That led to three quarters of the shows being cancelled on the Anarchy tour, but also got us so much publicity that no amount of money could buy.”

What was it like to be dropped into the middle of that storm with gigs being cancelled nearly every night?
“The Anarchy Tour was incredible, with all the media hoopla around constantly. Every day we would get to a new city and sit in the hotel until they told us the gig was cancelled. We would all then go to the hotel bar and proceed to drink all night, until we did it all over again the next morning. When we actually got to play a gig it was great. Best thing was that we became good friends with all the bands, and were immediately accepted into the pantheon of British punk royalty just by being associated with the tour.”

The story is that Nancy Spungen only turned up in the UK because she was asked to bring some guitars over for the band…
“Yes, that was true. Nancy used to hang out at the clubs in NYC and was always looking to make friends with band members – especially us. She was a topless dancer and part-time prostitute during the day so always had available cash. Johnny and Jerry became friends with her right away – she was helping finance their heroin habits. Johnny and Jerry used to routinely pawn their guitars for dope money so Jerry had his in the pawn shop when we went to the UK. He spoke with Nancy by phone from London and convinced her to pay to get the guitar out of pawn, and then bring it to him in London. She did it of course, so one day she shows up at our flat in London where we were living. She came in with the guitar and literally half an hour later Jerry kicked her out of the flat. She then started to hang out in
London and meet all the bands – she must have been whoring as well just to finance herself. She was universally detested by almost everyone that met her – how Sid Vicious got to like her is a question I’ve never figured out. Maybe it was just sheer perversity – he always liked to shock people.”

What did you think of the UK scene?
“I loved the UK scene even better than the NYC scene once we got there. NYC was basically a few mini scenes within an entire overall scene – there were the basic punks like Ramones, then the beatnik/artsy gang like Patti Smith and Talking Heads, then the leftover metal heads like the Dictators and Shirts, and also the rockers like us and the Dead Boys, and a few others. I didn’t really consider the Heartbreakers a punk band, but really a rock band that took on some of punk’s ideas and themes. But I did love fast, screaming music. However, when we got to London it was all punks. They all had wild coloured hair like in the Dolls era in NYC and they were all young and crazy. Most of them could barely play their instruments, and their sets consisted of all 90mph songs with screaming vocals that nobody could understand. Basically they were a bunch of screaming kids, and all totally hilarious.

“We’d go out every night to a few clubs to see them, and the scenes were totally wild. I remember seeing Eater for the first time, and they played roughly a 15-minute set at the top of their lungs. They could barely play but made up for it with their enthusiasm. They were all on speed and LSD back then. We actually introduced them to heroin, for better or worse. All of the older bands like the Stones and Led Zeppelin were already junkies for years, but the punks hadn’t gotten into it yet. They all supported one another as well. The Clash put us up for a few weeks in their roadie’s parents’ house after the Anarchy Tour was over so we could get past the Christmas holidays, so we could do our showcase show for the record companies.”

Who were your favourite bands from then?
“By far, the Sex Pistols were my favourite from back then, and still are today. They got the best sound at their gigs and on their records. Other faves were Generation X, The Clash – who still sounded rather tinny until they got Topper Headon later on – Siouxsie and the Banshees, who used to tour with us.”

I’m always glad you didn’t change name to ‘The Junkies’, as was often mooted – whose idea was that?
“That idea came from Jerry and Johnny backed him up. I didn’t care one way or the other but saw the wisdom in our manager Leee Childers’ idea that the only way we could get away with that was if we all were not junkies. The record company wouldn’t have accepted it either and they told us so. If we did it and stayed junkies, the cops would have arrested us eventually and deported us, if not put us in jail. Besides, junkies are only attractive to other junkies – kids on speed, pot and LSD do not admire junkies – they just look stupid.”

Who came up with the title ‘LAMF’ for the album?
“The ‘LAMF’ title was suggested by Jerry Nolan. It was common wall graffiti when I was growing up, used by many of the old greaser street gangs of the ‘50s. They would sign their names and always follow with ‘LAMF-DTK’.”

How disappointed were you when you heard the muddy version, as it was originally released?
“We had been hearing it for months. Every time we listened to the record on tape in the studio it sounded fine, but as soon as it got pressed into vinyl, everything came up muddy. We tried God knows how many studios and pressing plants. Nothing worked. Jerry kept blaming the mix, but it was mixed a hundred times as well. In the end, the record company gave us the ultimatum – either release it or find a new label. They needed to have it out for the holiday season. Everyone except Jerry said ‘Okay’. Jerry quit the band at that point and Johnny would also leave to go solo in another six months – one of those crossroads events. When it was released on cassette tape a few years later, and later on CD, the muddiness disappeared – odd.”

What are your favourite songs on the album?
“‘Not Enough’, ‘One Track Mind’, ‘Born To Lose’, ‘Chinese Rocks’, ‘All By Myself’, ‘Get Off…’, ‘Going Steady’, ‘Do You Love Me’.”

Were you still friendly with Johnny at the time of his death?
“Yes, we were always pretty friendly – he’d come onstage during Waldos shows and do a song or two. We weren’t bosom buddies, especially after I’d gotten off drugs in the late ‘80s and John never did. We had done a big reunion show in NYC in the November before he died, but any shows were usually just a way to make money – the Heartbreakers always drew more people than when he played solo, but he had to split the cash with us, so it probably worked out about the same. John was just a completely drug obsessed maniac for the last 10 or 15 years of his life, so there was never any way to really work with him on any projects. Drugs always got in the way.”

What do you think he might have gone on to do if he’d lived – was it likely you would have reformed the Heartbreakers?
“I doubt it would ever have happened. John never really wanted to regroup because he wouldn’t be in control anymore. Jerry didn’t really seem like he wanted to either. As long as John was on drugs, he’d never be able to play with any consistency and he was never able to get off drugs for any length of time. One-off gigs were fine for the cash, but committing to a time consuming project like a band was way out of his abilities at the time. If by some miracle he did get sober then there might have been a chance, but it was highly unlikely.”

What was the writing process for the Heartbreakers – were you bringing separate ideas to rehearsal?
“Mostly it was whoever brought something into rehearsal that we all liked, with some exceptions. Stuff like ‘Can’t Keep My Eyes’ and ‘Take A Chance’ were started by Jerry, who had maybe a chorus and part of a verse, but would then ask me to finish the lyrics and sing it live. John mostly brought his own stuff in, with the exception of ‘London Boys’, where I wrote the music and John wrote the words. My stuff like ‘One Track Mind’, ‘Junkie Business’ and ‘Flight’ were written by me, but I shared credits with Jerry because he let me help write his songs. ‘All By Myself’ was written by Jerry and I in a rehearsal before John arrived. Jerry started playing a drumbeat and I played some chords and Jerry started singing ‘all by myself’ at certain parts of the song. I took it home and finished the lyrics.”

Who conceived the Pistols-baiting ‘London Boys’?
“I first came up with the music as an answer to the Pistols’ ‘New York’. The music was structured to resemble a Pistols type song – they usually had big descending chord runs like in ‘God Save The Queen’, so I just did a chord sequence that ascended up the neck. I was going to write the words as well, but Johnny begged me to let him do them, as he felt that Rotten attacked him personally in the Pistols song ‘New York’. I agreed and thereby
sprung to life the only song that Johnny and I wrote together.”

Were you still rehearsing and working up new material once you arrived in UK?
“Not really. After we got signed and then started to record the first album, we were pretty tied up with that, along with constant touring in the UK. Later on, we would come up with new stuff like ‘Junkie Business’, ‘London Boys’, ‘Dead Or Alive’ etc, but they emerged sporadically.”

What is your take on McLaren – I always think he was the supreme opportunist who would see something unfold and then claim he had planned it.
“Malcolm was definitely a manipulator, but also a visionary that managed to take advantage of certain trends at the right time. He was a disaster for the Dolls, but they might have been past their prime anyway when he got involved with them. The Sex Pistols were probably his biggest coup, but they didn’t last very long – although I’m sure he made a tidy sum managing them. His alliance/marriage to Vivienne Westwood also helped further his cause because they were making all the clothes that the punks were wearing. I found him to be always personable and friendly, but we were never engaged in a real business relationship. Not sure how he did in his later years, but he never came up with anything as big as the Pistols.”

How did you end up working on Wall Street?
“I was strung out and in need of cash in the early ‘80s so my father, who was a retired retail banker, knew a friend who was involved in a computer firm that handled certain stock transactions for major banks. It concerned companies that were merged or taken over, where people who owned stock in those companies had to send them in to the bank that was the transfer agent for the stock, so it could be exchanged for either new stock or cash.
We basically just added up a bunch of stock certificates and calculated what each shareholder was due. In banking lingo it’s called ‘corporate actions’ or ‘reorganization’.

“As I got into it, I found myself getting interested in the whole concept of how money, banking and stock investments worked. I never knew anything about money other than that I never had enough and always wanted more. So I started looking into the whole financial system and how it worked. I finally jumped to a brokerage firm in 1986 and learned a lot more. Finally getting off drugs in 1988, by 1993 I was in charge of a whole trade settlement operation and 125 people. After various mergers and financial crises I ended my career at an asset management firm and retired in 2015. I was also at Lehman Brothers when they exploded in 2008, heralding the start of the financial crisis.”

Did the Wall Street crowd know about your rock’n’roll roots?
“Yes, all of the people at my Wall Street jobs knew about my rock roots and many of them would come to those late Heartbreakers reunions, and also Waldos shows. I remember one girl who worked for me was at a show one night, and she remarked to a friend while I was onstage – ‘that’s my boss up there onstage, go figure’. It was quite a schizophrenic existence – one side of my closet had my work suits and ties and the other had all these ripped up punk clothes. Funny to think of it.”

Would you have ever considered becoming a full time Ramone – given your appearances on a few tracks? Maybe Wally Ramone?
“That wasn’t in the cards. When I was playing on their albums I was still a junkie and they never wanted anything to do with drugs with the exception of Dee Dee, who they couldn’t control. Nevertheless he was kicked out in later years. Also, the personnel dynamic within the band was incredibly infantile and fanatically controlled by Johnny, the control freak. I got along with all of them on different levels, but they never would have admitted me as an equal member even if I was not a druggie. All the drummers and later bass players were on a salaried basis only and they never granted them any royalty rights, no matter how much they contributed to the songs. They loved my guitar playing but didn’t want another full member. Wally Ramone – it sounded like a great idea, but they didn’t want it and I was too out of it.”

Does it feel strange or poignant to be the last man standing from the Heartbreakers?
“Not really strange or poignant, but more of a ‘thank God I survived’ feeling. I guess I’m a bit proud of myself that I lasted so long, but I was never sure if that was because of my inner strength and ability to get out of the drug culture, or just the fickle finger of fate. Johnny couldn’t survive without drugs; indeed they actually defined him, in his own mind anyway. Jerry had been out of street drugs for years but also had been on methadone since late 1976, and I think that finally ate away at his body. Billy had also gotten off drugs from what I’d been told but he had already ruined himself – he had lost a leg in a car crash, had Hep C and also AIDS for the last ten to fifteen years of his life. When I saw him in London, the year before he died, he already looked like a corpse – no teeth and almost delirious in his
limited conversation. So I guess it was up to me to stay alive and tell the stories, for better or worse.”

What is coming up for you musically?
“At the moment I’m in the middle of making a new Waldos album – the basic tracks are done and we’re doing the overdubs and guest spots in the next few weeks. There might be a West
Coast tour for me in August – details to be settled soon – and also a possible trip to Germany in September. Usually when I go on tour, I just bring myself and get a local back-up band to play with me. It’s too expensive to bring my NYC band on tour with me unless the cities offer a lot more cash. Sort of my Chuck Berry routine.”

The highlights of your career so far?
“Obviously, being over in the UK with the Heartbreakers in the middle of all the punk madness was the best thing that ever happened to me. I felt that I was at the centre/top of the world back then and will carry the memories forever. The NYC scene was great too, but the UK was more fun for me. Also, the fact that I’m still playing gigs, and able to draw people from their teens to their seventies to my shows, gives me some satisfaction that what we did/are doing does actually matter. It’s been 40 years since the Anarchy tour and I’m still in the business. It lasted longer than my Wall Street career but was not quite as lucrative, unfortunately.”

Any low points?
“I guess the bad parts were when Johnny went solo and the band was officially over in 1978, in spite of the fact that we did periodic reunions up until John died in 1991. Being a drug addict after it all was over was not very pleasant, either. I didn’t get out of that mess until early 1988. Ten years wasted on that stuff. There was a point in the mid ‘90s that I really felt depressed and wanted to stop playing for good. My Waldos drummer, Charlie Sox, died in 1992 or 1993, and the bass player Tony Coiro died in late 1995, and finally my younger brother passed away in 1997. I sort of felt responsible for all of them, except Tony who died of liver cancer and left two kids in grammar school.”

Any scores you’d like to settle?
“None really. I have no enemies from that era to my knowledge and no real major regrets. I had that time in the sun and was grateful for it. I still say to this day that if we had made it bigger back then, I would have been dead by now like the others. More fame and cash would have prolonged the drug-addled lifestyle and I’m sure I would have succumbed much earlier. The fact that I had to go out and get a regular job back in the ‘80s really got me out of the drug culture.”

Duff McKagan
“The Heartbreakers’ ‘LAMF’ sort of changed everything for me. Johnny Thunders’ guitar style and chops on this record were really all of the guitar lessons I ever took. Jerry Nolan’s drumming set the tempo for the life in music I was just then embarking on – and let us be honest here; at my young age of 15, this album cover was all I really needed to convince me that these guys were the coolest motherfuckers standing. Their style still influences me and many others to this day (the GN’R cowboy boot usage and slum-land chic, in my case at least, comes from this cover). ‘Pirate Love’, ‘Born To Lose’, and ‘One Track Mind’ are all true rock‘n’roll classics.

“I finally got to see a semblance of the band play live in my hometown of Seattle sometime in late 1980 or early ‘81. I followed them down to Portland with a couple of friends the next day, and found myself hanging out with Thunders later after the show, and even got a chance to jam with him. I got the whole picture (even at my young age) – he got high right after the show and didn’t want to get back in the van just yet. He rather chose to hang at the show after everyone – except us – had left because he wanted to enjoy that high. I will never lose that memory. To me, however, it was playing with a legend in league with Chuck Berry – drugs or not.”

Billy Duffy
“I loved the Heartbreakers from the get go. As soon as I had seen the Pistols in ‘76 I was right into the punk scene and naturally became aware of the influence of New York on the UK bands. I loved the New York Dolls music, if not so much the make-up, and when I saw Johnny and the band I embraced them as my own personal slice of New York rock ’n’ roll.

“I didn’t really consider the Heartbreakers a punk band, but really a rock band that took on some of punk’s ideas and themes. But I did love fast, screaming music. When we got to London it was all punks.

“To my everlasting regret, I sadly missed them playing at a local Manchester pub called the Oaks, but I did manage to see them at Manchester University in 1977 when they were supported by Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the Models. As a Thunders obsessive and budding guitarist, I lusted after his ‘TV’ yellow double cut away Les Paul Junior and was horrified when I saw Marco Pirroni of the Models (later of Adam & The Ants) playing it as the first band on.

“Later that night, in the lobby of the building, I saw Johnny Thunders on a pay phone and – very unlike me – I approached him. He smiled, held up a hand like ‘I’m on the phone here’, reached into the small pocket of his Levi’s 501 jeans (not widely available in the UK at that time and certainly not in Manchester), and graciously offered me a gold Herco Flex 50 guitar pick, which I grabbed and ran.

“My last stop on my Thunders/Heartbreakers odyssey was in New York in the late ‘80s. The Cult had gotten big over there and we all went out for a drink and found Johnny was playing a show at the Cat Club, so we caught his set (by then not in the best shape, sadly, so it was patchy at best), and then after the show we jumped up using his band’s equipment for a drunken ‘Cult’ jam. I never met Johnny or the band guys apart from that one time at Manchester University but that 30 seconds changed my life – ‘LAMF’.”

Michael Monroe
“The Heartbreakers’ ‘LAMF’ album is very significant to me and to Hanoi Rocks. It is one of the greatest rock albums of all time, plus the name Hanoi Rocks stems from the name of the song ‘Chinese Rocks’. I’ve even recorded a version of ‘I Wanna Be Loved’ on my album ‘Demolition 23’. Johnny Thunders was one of the most important people in rock and was also a very dear friend of mine. I guested on his solo album ‘Que Sera Sera’, and collaborated with him on many occasions. I’ve also had the great honour of jamming with Walter Lure live and guesting on his Waldos album. The Heartbreakers’ ‘LAMF’ album is essential listening to anyone who’s into real authentic rock ’n’ roll with the right kind of attitude.”

Gilby Clarke
“The Dolls and Johnny were influences on Guns N’Roses – that was a common thread in the band. Duff had ‘LAMF’ painted on his bass cabinet from the early GN’R days and he kept that cabinet through the ‘…Illusion’ tour. We recorded a Thunders song for ‘The Spaghetti Incident’ as well as ‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory’.”

Jim Jones
“The Heartbreakers were a complete band – a perfect unit, and a chemistry that wouldn’t be the same without all the members. The early formation with Richard Hell was a great idea on paper, but could never achieve the toughness and sleaze of the final line-up on ‘LAMF’. It was a huge part of my formative musical education – a masterclass in how to sound raw and dirty and dangerous but with class and swing – all the things that were (and still are) sadly lacking in so many of its contemporaries. ‘LAMF’ is actual rock ’n’ roll – so much other stuff is just rock.”

Mick Rossi
“Upon meeting Johnny Thunders, what struck me first was his immediate kindness. He took me under his wing a little. My band, Slaughter and the Dogs, were touring with the Heartbreakers, and I remember at that time I wasn’t able to afford a good amp, but Johnny had no problem sharing his amp with me, which I always thought was so gracious of him. There are many wonderful things to be said about Johnny Thunders – the obvious is that he had a unique sound and a very individualistic authentic sense of style, and he played with an amazing amount of conviction and passion. However, Johnny T was way more than that. He was a true, trail blazing, musical maverick.”

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RODENT WARRIORS!

THE MIDDLENIGHT MEN have just unveiled a video for their second single.

‘Rat Star’ follows on from the London powerpoppers’ effervescent debut ‘BA Baby’ which came out in June and was premiered by Vive Le Rock!

The brainchild of Role Models and YoYos guitarist Nick Hughes, with help from Status Quo’s Leon Cave, producer Andy Brook and others, The Middle Night Men are gearing up for the release of their debut album ISSUE 1 due early next year.

“‘Rat Star’ is the song everyone needs right now,” says Hughes. “A fan couldn’t have put it better when they said ‘This is brilliant, just what we all need right now – no nonsense, unapologetic rock’n’roll FUN! Love it, more sparklers all round!’ And that’s everything it was intended to be. Unapologetic fun, a method of escapism of everything 2020.”

‘Rat Star’ is available digitally here.

The Middlenight Men on Faceebook

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PAULINE MURRAY UNVEILS SOLO VIDEO!

PAULINE MURRAY has revealed a video for her new solo single.

The presence of an acoustic guitar in the video belies the upbeat synth-pop of ‘Shadow In My Mind’, the second single to be taken from the PENETRATION and INVISIBLE GIRLS frontwoman’s third solo album Elemental.

“Shadow In My Mind’ has only ever been performed as part of my acoustic set,” explains Pauline. “The song is about the dialogue we constantly have with ourselves both positive and negative and how we can be our own best friend or our own worst enemy.”

The video was filmed at Polestar Studios, the recording and rehearsal space established by Pauline in 1990, based in Byker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

“I am rocking my new suit, which was bought just before lockdown, for the first time,” she adds. “It’s not the most groundbreaking video but was fun to do on a sweltering hot day (last Saturday). The song was originally performed acoustically so it’s nice to get back to that.”

The track features ROXY MUSIC legend Paul Thompson on drums, plus the Invisible Girls’ Steve Hopkins on keys and Penetration bassist Robert Blamire, who also produced the record.

Pauline will be performing tracks from Elemental, as well as revisiting material from the Invisible Girls era when she supports PSYCHEDELIC FURS on tour next spring. Dates are…

April 28 – Nottingham Rock City
April 29 – Bristol Academy
May 1 – Liverpool Academy
May 2 – Glasgow Barrowland
May 3 – Manchester Academy 2
May 5 – Cambridge Junction

Buy ‘Shadow In My Mind’ here.

Elemental is out through Polestar Records on 25 September. It’s available to pre-order here.

Pauline Murray on Facebook

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CRASS REMIX PROJECT: STAGE 3

CRASS’ Feeding Of The Five Thousand Remix Project reaches its third stage with the 12″ Normal Never Was 3.

The release features a new remix of the Crass classic ‘Banned From The Roxy’ by Grammy-nominated DJ and producer Steve Aoki, and a new version of the controversial spoken-word piece ‘Asylum’ by Japanese outsider musician Mikado Koko, which is being premiered exclusively by Vive Le Rock!

With a background in theatre, music and dance Koko has spent the past few years as a club music producer, incorporating elements of Japanese traditional music. She now focuses on avant-garde poetry reading related to feminism and gender equality. She released album Ru I U Ta in 2019 and The Japanese Rimbaud in 2020.

The inclusion of ‘Asylum’ on The Feeding Of The Five Thousand originally led pressing plant workers to refuse to handle the album, forcing the track to be removed. The track was re-recorded as ‘Reality Asylum’ and released as a stand-alone single, drawing the attention of the Met Police’s vice squad and threats of prosecution.

Says Crass’ Penny Rimbaud, “Mikado Koko is a ground breaking Japanese artist and musician stretching the boundaries of feminism and the avant-garde, no wonder, then, that she was drawn to remixing ‘Reality Asylum’ and thereby proving the universality of the liberationist cause.”

“I have learned and discovered so many things from Crass,” says Koko. “DIY ethic, anarchism, feminism, graffiti, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Cage, Stockhausen, and more. So I wanted to do a remix showing my respect. As I have been a fan of the iconic vocal of Eve Libertine, I selected ‘Asylum’ and made a poetry/glitch/impro style remix.”

As previously reported, late last year Crass made the original separate track stems of their seminal album The Feeding Of The Five Thousand available as free downloads with the intention that anyone interested could come up with new remixes of the tracks.

The 12″ Normal Never Was 3 will be released in a limited coloure vinyl edition on 21 August by Crass Records via One Little Independent. All proceeds will be donated to the domestic violence charity Refuge.

Pic by Tony Mottram

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SORRY, NOT SORRY!

Swiss alt-rockers THE BEAUTY OF GEMINA have just released their first ever UK single, despite having been around for fifteen years.

‘Apologise’ is the first single to be taken from the trio’s forthcoming new album Skeleton Dreams.

Well established in their homeland, and led by guitarist and singer Micahel Sele, The Beauty Of Gemina have released eight studio albums and two live albums and played in 25 countries around the world.

In the Spring of 2019, Sele unexpectedly had to undergo major heart surgery, which was followed by a lengthy period of recovery resulting in the songs for Skeleton Dreams.

‘Apologise’ is out now through TBOG Music and available on digital platforms including Spotify.

The Beauty Of Gemina on Facebook

Pic by Colin Weber

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MILLIE MANDERS SINGLE AIDS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARITY

Fast-rising ska-punks MILLIE MANDERS AND THE SHUTUP have unveiled a video for their new single.

‘Bitter’ is the third single to be taken from the band’s debut album Telling Truths, Breaking Ties, which is due out in October.

The single throws a spotlight on the realities of domestic violence and the resultant bitterness that can affect the survivors.

To tie in with the release, the band have created a limited edition vest and t-shirt, available from their website, with £5 from each sale going to The Survivors Trust – an umbrella charity for the survivors of rape and sexual abuse.

Set for release on 23 October, Telling Truths, Breaking Ties is available to pre-order here.

Millie Manders & The Shutup on Facebook

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RELY ON REGAL!

Dirty-blues three-wheeler JIMMY REGAL & THE ROYALS gear up for the release of their new album by premiering a new lyric video exclusively with Vive Le Rock!

‘That’s All It Took’ is the first track to be unveiled from Late Night Chicken, the South-East London band’s second album, out through Lunaria Records on 25 September.

“‘That’s All It Took’ is about the vanishing distance between heaven and hell,” say the band. “Breaking up and falling in love are equally destructive, and each can happen within a heartbeat. One second you’re together on the dance floor, next she’s gone. Or just one glance at the right pair of eyes and boom – you’re in a situation. The main riff is a guitar’s interpretation of Ray Charles’ ‘What’d I Say?’. We’re influenced by piano rhythm’n’blues, honking horn sections and the like, as a way of making the guitar and harmonica do things they’re not used to. Reinterpretation is one way of moving forward.”

The enigmatic trio don’t give away much about themselves, except that they recorded the album with producer Simon Trought (Comet Gain, Television Personalities) at Soup Studio, situated in an old lightship at the mouth of the River Lea in East London. “When the tide was down, we played on a slight slope,” recalls guitarist CJ Williams. “Come evening time, the tide pops the boat back up and everything starts rocking.”

Jimmy Regal & The Royals on Facebook

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GIRLS IN SYNTHESIS UNVEIL NEW VIDEO!

London post-punks GIRLS IN SYNTHESIS have unveiled another new video in the run-up to the release of their debut album.

‘They’re Not Listening’, a sharp commentary on government arrogance and inaction, is the third single to be taken from Now Here’s An Echo From Your Future, following on from ‘Pressure’ and ‘The Images Agree’.

The album has been delayed because of Covid-19, but is now set for release on 18 August via Harbinger Sound, the label that brought us Sleaford Mods.

The band still have four gigs lined up in the hope that they’ll be allowed to take place…

Thurs 15 Oct – Birmingham, Hare and Hounds
Fri 16 Oct – Nottingham, Chameleon Arts Cafe
Sat 17 Oct – Manchester, The Talleyrand
Fri 23 Oct – London, Shacklewell Arms

Read the Girls In Synthesis feature in the new edition of Vive Le Rock!

Girls In Synthesis on Facebook

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TERRY EDWARDS AT 60!

In celebration of turning 60, semi-legendary musician TERRY EDWARDS has curated two new archive anthologies.

One of the UK’s most loved, trusted and sought-after multi-instrumentalists, arrangers and producers, Edwards is perhaps best-known as founder of punk-funk pioneers THE HIGSONS and his subsequent membership of GALLON DRUNK, PJ HARVEY’s HOPE SIX DEMOLITION PROJECT and his own bands THE SCAPEGOATS and more recently THE N.J.E.

He’s also loaned his considerable talents to Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Glen Matlock, Madness, Tindersticks, Julian Cope, Robyn Hitchcock, The Blockheads, Siouxsie Sioux, Spiritualized, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey’s Holy Holy and many more besides.

Set for release on Saturday 29 August, Stop Trying To Sell Me Back My Past (vol 1) is a Record Store Day exclusive, delayed by Covid-19 since 18 April. The limited edition double vinyl album comprises his 90s covers EPs, featuring his own interpretations of songs by The Fall, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Cure among others.

This will be followed on Friday 4 September by Very Terry Edwards, a three-CD collection featuring 60 of Edwards’ favourite works and collaborations from the past 40-plus years, including tracks by The Higsons, Gallon Drunk, The Scapegoats, Glen Matlock, Vic Godard, Rhoda Dakar, The Nightingales, Franz Ferdinand, The Blockheads, Snuff and 50 more.

As an exclusive Vive Le Rock! premiere, Edwards has unearthed a vintage previously unreleased video for his rendition of The Cure’s classic ‘Friday I’m In Love’, which features on both compilations.

“Who doesn’t love this Cure song?” he asks. “The video was shot in The Garage at Highbury Corner… a very long time ago! The eagle-eyed will notice the homage to the Talking Heads’ clip for ‘Once In A Lifetime’, but if anyone can tell me what the bit of plot is with the two Japanese ladies – whom I never met – please enlighten me! Enjoy.”

Released through Sartorial Records via Cargo, Very Terry Edwards is available to pre-order here.

The N.J.E.’s latest single ‘Tizita’ is available here.

Terry Edwards on Facebook

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DEVILISH GOINGS ON!

Retooled post-punks FOLK DEVILS have just unveiled a creepy new video for the lead track from their new EP.

As previously reported, the three-track Forever EP represents the London band’s first new music in more than three decades.

Recorded at London’s legendary Konk studios with Grammy-winning producer Rik Simpson, the EP comprises new songs ‘Forever’ and ‘My Slum Soul’, plus a new version of live favourite ‘Ink Runs Dry’.

Originally existing from 1983 to ’87, the Notting Hill-formed band earned a reputation as an incendiary live act through shows with the likes of The Gun Club, The Fall and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.

The band reconvened in 2016 with founder members Kris Jozajtis and Mark Whiteley joined by Nick Clift and John Hamilton from a 1987 line-up plus new frontman Dave Hodgson in place of the late Ian Lowery.

Released through Optic Nerve on 18 September as a download, CD and limited edition clear red vinyl 10-inch, the Forever EP is available to pre-order here, while the title-track is now up on Spotify.

The Folk Devils on Facebook

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PARANOID AT 50!

BLACK SABBATH’s classic second album Paranoid is being reissued in a new box-set in celebration of its 50th anniversary.

Released in September 1970, a mere seven months after their world-changing eponymous debut, the album was preceded that August by the single of the title-track, a Top 5 international hit and still Sabbath’s biggest hit single.

Produced once again by Rodger Bain, the album features several of the Brum legends’ best-known songs, such as ‘Fairies Wear Boots’, ‘Iron Man’, ‘Electric Funeral’ and ‘War Pigs’, the originally intended title for the album and inspiration for its iconic sleeve design.

The super deluxe 50th Anniversary box-set edition of Paranoid features five vinyl LPs plus a hardback book, poster and replica programme from the 1970 Paranoid Tour.

The five LPs comprise the original album; a rare quadraphonic mix, originally released on vinyl and 8-track cartridge in ’74; and two 1970 live recordings spread across three discs. Recorded in Montreux, Switzerland and Brussels for Belgian TV, they’ve never previously been officially released.

Also available as a 4-CD version, Paranoid: Super Deluxe Edition is set for release on 9 October through BMG. It’s available to pre-order here.

Black Sabbath on Facebook

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BEAST FOOT FORWARD!

Hampshire punks PUSSYCAT AND THE DIRTY JOHNSONS have a brand new video which they’re premiering exclusively with Vive Le Rock!

A sardonic psychotic reaction to the social media age, ‘Knee Jerk’ is the first single to be taken from the Basingstoke trio’s fourth album Beast, their first under a new deal with ace German garage label Hound Gawd!

Says frontwoman Puss Johnson, “I wrote this song a couple of years ago after hearing about that white woman who called the police on a black family minding their own business having a barbeque, and then it grew into a song that was also about reactionary people on social media. Since then the rise of the ‘Karen’ has escalated and people in general seem to have a ridiculous sense of entitlement and violence in the ‘opinions’ they post online.”

One of the hardest working bands on the UK scene, Pussycat and The Dirty Johnsons tour widely and regularly, sharing stages with the likes of Jon Spencer, Thee Oh Sees, The Fuzztones, The Polecats, The Rezillos, Bow Wow Wow, Mad Sin and The Damned along the way. An incendiary set at last year’s Azkena Festival led to an invitation to tour Spain this spring. That obviously had to be cancelled but the band hope to be back on the prowl asap.

Recorded at Bear Bites Horse studio in East London with producer/engineer Wayne Adams, Beast is set for release on 28 August. It’s available to pre-order here.

Pussycat and The Dirty Johnsons

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WHEN PUB ROCK MET PUNK!

The early 70s pub rock explosion arguably helped pave the way for punk, with its small-amp just-get-up-and-do-it attitude. But within a couple of years, pub rock was on the ropes and the new kids had taken over. Check out these ten classic tracks from that brief but fertile period when two cultures clashed….

DR FEELGOOD – DOWN AT THE DOCTORS

THE GORILLAS – SHE’S MY GAL

THE FAVOURITES – FAVOURITE SHOES

ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ATTRACTIONS – WHAT’S SO FUNNY ABOUT PEACE, LOVE & UNDERSTANDING

THE 101ERS – KEYS TO YOUR HEART

KURSAAL FLYERS – TELEVISION GENERATION

IAN DURY – SEX & DRUGS & ROCK & ROLL

EDDIE & THE HOT RODS – TEENAGE DEPRESSION

THE INMATES – DIRTY WATER

THE COUNT BISHOPS – I WANT CANDY

Read our 8-page feature on what happened when pub rock met punk, including the full story of THE COUNT BISHOPS, in the latest edition of Vive Le Rock! out now!

The Inmates guitarist Peter Gunn currently hosts the weekly Gunn’s Grotto radio show on Trash Can Radio.

….and check out the Last Orders – When Pub Rock Met Punk playlist on Spotify!

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FRANK TURNER vs NOFX!

During strange times strange things happen! Who was expecting a joint album from NOFX and FRANK TURNER? Certainly not us! Below, Frank takes us through the tracks on West Coast vs Wessex

SUBSTITUTE

“Substitute was kind of an important song in my catalogue, in the sense that it was one of the first times that I finished a song that really felt like a country song – in the style of George Jones or Merle Haggard. And what I mean by that is something that’s simple, but really self-contained, and lyrically neat, but not in a trite way. It said exactly what I wanted it to say, and I just felt really good about that song as a writer when I finished it.

“It was also the first song that I heard NOFX’s version of, and it was an amazing thing to hear that vocal tone, guitar tone and drum beat – all the characteristic markings of a NOFX song – be applied to one of my songs. It was a really humbling, wonderful and exhilarating moment. And it sounds like it could be a NOFX song, which blows my mind.”

WORSE THINGS HAPPEN AT SEA

“This song was written at a moment in time when I was trying very hard to be a folk singer, and the original has no real instrumentation on it – certainly no drums or electric guitars, or anything like that. So it’s really cool to hear it translate so well into a punk rock musical environment. It was a very emotional and angry song when I wrote it back in 2006. But in 2006, I had no idea I’d ever hear Fat Mike sing it.

“Their arrangement of the song is very complex, and there’s a lot of tempo changes, stopping and starting, and a lot of rhythmically complex material. And a lot of people tend to dismiss NOFX – and punk in general – as being musically simplistic, but their version of this song is a pretty good riposte to that.”

THATCHER FUCKED THE KIDS

“Thatcher Fucked the Kids is an interesting one: it’s a song in my catalogue that’s been quite thorny, for me, for a long time. When I wrote the song and first started playing it, it was kind of a big hit in my solo career and it certainly opened a lot of doors for me. But some of those doors opened into rooms that I wasn’t all that interested in going into; there’s a certain type of political music scene, and political music show, that I find really boring.

“At the end of the day, I always wanted to be more Adam Duritz than Billy Bragg – with all the respect in the world to Billy. That was never quite what I was aiming to be. And this song is definitely in that vein. So a shit load of people decided I was going to be the next Billy Bragg, and then they started getting angry with me when I didn’t conform to that expectation, which I found deeply irritating. For that reason, it’s a song that I haven’t played much in recent years.

“When I first heard the NOFX version, I was so stoked. One of the things I’ve always said about the song is that I’d love for someone else to just take it and run with it, and make it their own. I never expected the band to do that would be NOFX, but here we are. I’m surprised they didn’t change it to ‘Reagan fucked the kids,’ which would’ve been the obvious switch to me. But lyrically it’s a pretty straight cover, and I thought that was really cool. It’s a really sunny treatment of the track, too: it’s a really upbeat little ska number, which will be good for the summer when it comes out.”

BALLAD OF ME AND MY FRIENDS

“This is something that I haven’t necessarily spoken about out loud that much in the past, but the lyric ‘And we’re definitely going to hell / But we’ll have all the best stories to tell,” is a tiny bit of a steal from NOFX. There was a track on an EP of theirs [The Longest EP] called I’m Going to Hell for This One, and that’s actually where the idea for that lyric sort of evolved from. And as far as I can remember, that lyric is not actually in that song. I remember listening to it and thinking, ‘That’s a fucking swing and a miss isn’t it?’ And it’s such a great sentiment, I remember saying, ‘Fuck it. If he’s not going to use it, I’m going to use it.’

“Obviously it switched around and became about something else entirely, but there’s definitely a bit of NOFX lineage in there. And in terms of the commonalities between my song writing and Mike’s song writing, I think Ballad of Me and My Friends is the perfect example, in the sense that the chord sequence and the melodic structure of that song is very Fat Mike-esque. So it was interesting to me that they chose that one, because I was like, ‘Well, of course you did.’”

GLORY HALLELUJAH

“The arrangement that NOFX did of this song is the sound of them pushing their own boundaries, which I love. Mike text me when he’d finished it to say, ‘We’ve given it The Beatles treatment.’ I was like, ‘What does that even mean?’ Now, of course, having heard it, I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s what you mean.’ And it’s really cool because apart from the break at the end, it’s not in what you would call the NOFX mould.”

SCAVENGER TYPE

“Broadly speaking, I think people would expect NOFX to take acoustic songs and make them punk, and for me to take punk songs and make them acoustic. But I thought I could subvert that a little bit by me taking one of their only acoustic songs and make it punk in the way that I do punk, which is different to the way that NOFX do punk. So that was kind of fun.”

BOB

“With all the respect in the world to Rancid, they didn’t find that thing that I was looking for with their cover of Bob – in terms of rearranging the song and finding a different angle on it. And it’s always been a country song to me: the first four lines could literally be a Merle Haggard song – and I say that as an enormous Merle Haggard fan. It’s so seventies traditional country, it’s ridiculous, and it seemed to me that it deserved that treatment.”

EAT THE MEEK

“This was the hardest song for us to get right. We went through so many different iterations of it, none of which were really landing, and it was starting to get quite frustrating. The breakthrough was the word Fugazi. I said to Tarrant [Anderson] and Nigel [Powell] – the rhythm section of The Sleeping Souls – ‘What if we play this like Fugazi?’ Then Nige kicked into this fucking amazing beat.

“The Bob arrangement was so easy that it just fell straight in, no problem. Scavenger Type was pretty easy as well. Eat the Meek was a little bit trickier, but once we got that rhythm section pumping it was like, ‘OK. Here we go.’ And we kept the chords going so that Ben [Lloyd] could go to town on his weird guitar work that he excels at. This is my favourite track off our side of this record.”

PERFECT GOVERNMENT

“For this one we said, ‘Let’s just do one that’s in our wheelhouse.’ And we decided to make it sound like the songs of mine that I’m known for. So we went down that road for Perfect Government. And it was a lot of fun, but because of that this was a really easily song to figure out, and it really didn’t take long to throw the arrangement together because everyone just did the kind of shit they usually do.

“But it’s always been one of my favourite NOFX songs, not least because it’s got a degree of anger to it that I love: ‘You point your fucking finger / You racist, you bigot / But that’s not the problem / Now is it?’ As a 15-year-old hearing that for the first time, it grabbed me, because that bite is exactly what I was looking for in punk rock. And I had so much fun singing this one, because I got to record a song that I’ve known like the back of my hand since I was a kid.”

FALLING IN LOVE

“When I sent Mike the mix of this song, he called me back straight away and was like, ‘This is the fucking best song on the split by miles.’ The recording methodology for the rest of the record was we tracked the drums in our rehearsal space, and then we tracked guitars and bass as we were on tour with the Dropkick Murphys in February. But this song is just me – and Tim Brennan from the Dropkicks playing accordion.

“Tracking vocals when you’re on tour is always something that’s a bit weird, because quite often you have tour voice and you’re tired. But I decided to take advantage of that. We had a day off in Germany, and I took my laptop and an acoustic guitar up to my bedroom, and I pretty much just put a blanket over my head and decided to let the tiredness in my voice take centre stage. And I sung it way lower than I usually sing.

“What I also wanted to do, by taking away any element of ‘punk’ from it, was demonstrate what a great fucking song it is, regardless of genre considerations. It’s a beautiful lyric, and a beautiful melody, and I wanted to let that shine by putting as little on it as I could. So it’s just an acoustic guitar, a couple of noise synths, a little accordion from Tim, and my vocals – and that’s it.”

West Coast vs. Wessex is available now through Fat Wreck Records.

Read an exclusive 4-page interview with Frank and Fat Mike from NOFX in the new edition of Vive Le Rock! out now!

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