Hugh Gulland chats with the Solo Chollo, Kid Congo Powers.

Kid, you’ve had a long evolution from being the ‘singer’s guitarist’ to a frontman in your own right, was Fur Bible the start of this?
“It’s very long-winded, yeah, (Fur Bible) was supposed to be Tex Perkins, but yeah, he got refused a visa. Then we did actually get together, but it was the wrong element at the time, you know, we were both going somewhere else, although we remain friends to today and admirers of each other. But that was just an ill-fated pact. It was a good idea that was ill-fated for whatever possible reasons, so that left us with a recording session with no singer! Someone pushed me to the front, and I reluctantly did that… actually it’s funny ‘cause the Fur Bible was the one big shame of my life, of all the records I’ve made! For years, 15 years, I was ashamed of that record, I never really liked the project really, but suddenly about six years ago people started going, “I just found that Fur Bible record, it’s amazing, I love this record“, and I’m like, ‘Ugh, don’t tell me about it’, people showing up with it to sign, I was like ‘Oh, get this thing away from me’. And then I just decided I should just listen to it… why is everyone into it now, because everyone hated it when it came out! So I played it, and I thought ‘Oh, that’s… quite good!’ It’s produced by Jim Thirlwell and it’s a good slice of hard gothic rock… so I put it on this compilation album I made a few years ago, called Solo Chollo, which was solo collaborations I’ve done, and then I decided it wasn’t so bad. But I hung my head in shame for many years… I never wanted to do it again after that, and then I just got caught up with doing the Gun Club again, and then I joined Nick Cave’s band and that kind of cut my solo project time down.”

It must have been quite a hectic time, you being in the Gun Club and then multi-banding with the Bad Seeds also…

“A lot of airplanes! We (Bad Seeds) recorded in Brazil, they were still living in London and Berlin, but that was a lot of plane rides, getting off one and getting on into another, into one studio and out the other, but I loved that, I was thriving, I was thriving off living in Berlin at the time and Jeffrey (Lee Pierce) was living in London, and that’s when we got the others, Romi (Mori) and Nick (Sanderson), and so it worked out, I wasn’t so far away, they came to Berlin and we recorded Mother Juno, at Hansa. That whole period was busy!”

Were Gun Club and the Bad Seeds very different working environments?
“Yeah, very, the Gun Club was a rock’n’roll band and very guitar based, and pretty traditional chord structures, interesting stuff, but, whereas the Bad Seeds was more vocal led and more piano, and a lot more experimental stuff was going on, but that was a really amazing learning curve for me there ‘cause I went in just being this guy from the Cramps and the Gun Club, playing pretty basic twelve bar blues rock, to this new idea, so it was really good for me and I think it worked out good for the Gun Club in the end, they were different things and I look at that period of my life as where I kind of grew up and I became more serious about stuff. I just learned a lot and I think that was the launching pad for more solo stuff, it gave me the confidence for that, to be thrown into this strange environment.”

And presumably there was a lot of hard living… you seem to be healthy and happy these days though?
“A lot of drugs, a lot of alcohol… I mean I got out of it early enough, before I turned to stone! I mean, a lot of my friends are healthy and happy, but some are not, and some are not alive… but, yeah, it was hard living, it was just the way it was, the eighties underground rock was like that, and that was the time before, I never knew what rehab was then! It wasn’t like now, everyone knows what it means, then, you didn’t realise, and also everyone was going for broke, there was no limits… a lot of that was about exploration, in the end you’ll find a lot of it was about dealing with whatever demons one has, but it was also about looking to go somewhere, even if that was a pretty dark place! It was extreme research if you like! And it was pretty widespread in underground rock communities, it was the times, it was in the fashion industry at the time, like heroin was everywhere. And ultimately it took its toll, some worse off than others, and musically, once you’re, heroin really just turns you to stone, you have no feeling anymore. And luckily people like me, and people like Nick and whoever, have survival instinct enough, and love for their music and work enough, that the idea to get out came.”

Do you remember a point at which you had to say ‘ok, time to back off now’ as far as the drugs went?

“Yeah, I was living in Berlin, and it was actually just over the death of a friend, who I didn’t know that well, someone in my circle of people, and I just kind of saw the way people were reacting, and being very unfeeling about it, ‘Oh, she was just weak, she wasn’t REALLY a junkie’, and I somehow saw that and was like, you know what, this is not me. And I thought, I’m in this amazing situation, I’m in Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, I’m in the Gun Club, and why do I not care about any of this? So, that kind of stuff, it’s just an ennui of sorts, if you get a minute to see it, you stand outside yourself and see it… so, luckily, here we are… (points to pic on the press biog) here I am in a Mariachi suit!”

In common with certain contemporaries such as Blixa Bargelt or Rowland S Howard, your playing comes from a very left field direction, not the conventional guitar-player route…
“Oh yeah, well thank you for putting me in that category! But I think I agree, we all came from a time where we were all untrained, and we all had made it up, and our approach was based on feeling and ideas about sound, it’s expressive more than it is technical. Rowland had a lot of technique to work with, but really a lust and a need to create our own sound. For me, and I know making music for Rowland and Blixa, is about creating language and it’s very much about creating your own language, and that was a goal of a lot of the early punk scene, and that’s something that I still strive for, being able to say things the way I say things… make music that’s unique to that. And luckily, cultivated that over the years , and I have a band that, like now my band (The Pink Monkey Birds) is younger than I am by 10 or 20 years, but they’re very clued in to where I’m coming from, and they’re coming from the same kind of idea, it took a long time to find people like that and I wanted to have younger people in my band because they have fresh ideas too. I can get mired down in all my old ideas, and that can be good for some things or that can be bad, but my band is very important now, and they’re very involved in shaping the way the music happens.”

’Gorilla Rose’ by Kid Congo And The Pink Monkey Birds is out now on In The Red records.


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Ahead of their London O2 Academy Islington show on Saturday (1st October), Vive Le Rock catches up with ’80s post-punk goth rockers BALAAM AND THE ANGEL.

So what has Balaam And The Angel been up to since I saw you at the Marquee all those years ago ?
"Wow…….If I remember correctly the last time we were at The Marquee Club was Feb 1991 (20 years ago). By that stage it was in Charing Cross Road having moved from the Wardour Street location (which we also played in our even earlier days). We used to love playing the Marquee – great atmosphere – we played there several times and at one point we played, and sold out, three consecutive nights at the Charing Cross Road site. Since then ? Well the easiest way to describe what has been going on is to say that all three of us have been busy developing a successful life outside of the music industry. You see by ‘91 we were beginning to become disillusioned with the “business” side of making music – what had initially been fun and exciting had become a chore and we decided to take a break to allow us to concentrate on some other things and maybe rediscover some of the magic that had inspired us in our early days. We hadn’t intended to stay away forever, and certainly not for as long as we have, but you know how it is you blink and suddenly 5, 10, 20 years have gone by. We have played some gigs in the period since the last full tour but we have been very selective about this – the great thing about the situation that we are in at the moment is that we do not have the pressure of having to play to support a music career so we can choose things that we think are interesting or exciting (like the Dudley Castle show we did in 2000 and more recently the special guest support slot with The Mission in 2008)."

What can we expect from the O2 Academy Islington show ?
"I would like to think that one of the things that we did particularly well was to play live. We certainly did a lot of it and we did put a great deal of effort into every detail of our performances. The Islington show will be no different – in fact because it is a special one off and because we are so keen to create a stir we will be really pushing the boat out. Musically we will be playing numbers from pretty much every part of our career. There will be all the usual favourites alongside some songs that we have never ever played live. Also with the help of some of our long time musical colleagues we will be performing some songs with their full instrumentation in a way that we have never been able to do before. Visuals wise we have enlisted the help of an up and coming Dalston based visual artist who has developed some interesting footage for the evening so all in all it should be a truly memorable evening."


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Hitting the UK with the GUANTANAMO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, Big Cheese caught up with punk rock legend Jello Biafra to talk mayoral bids and playing Israel…

Is it true you’re thinking about running for mayor of San Francisco again?
“No, I’d make a better mayor than the last few we’ve had, but then again so would a cockroach.”

Do you think that the current political climate could see a return to good, angry punk rock rather than what is deemed ‘pop punk’ these days?

“The very lightweight nature of the shit side of pop punk is enough reason right there. There’s nothing like taking the rock out of punk is there? Granted, a lot of the bands who initially got big doing that got there because they had talent and some good songs but every time I hear another kissy ass copycat of that stuff it sounds more like the Eagles with loud guitars than anything that means punk to me, and any girly lyrics, out of my stereo it goes. Life is too short to listen to bad music.”

What do you think about Obama and the state of America today?

“Worst fears are coming true. I said as he got in is it’s another Bill Clinton, who also used the word ‘hope’ to market himself. So all the people who did have hope and registered and voted for the first time, if they didn’t see some results may have never participated or voted again. Local elections are what really matter.  They decide where a lot of that tax money actually gets spent. We could build some housing for poor people or build a golf course. It matters in schools because, at least in America, the fundamentalist Christian right is relentless at trying to inject their points of view into the regular school curriculum and having evolution kicked out of science books. The problem being that most school text books in the country are published in Texas where they are very strong so if they get censored in Texas they get censored for the whole country.”

You’ve collaborated with a lot of musicians over the years. Is there anyone else you would like to work with?

“Eugene from Gogol Bordello was proposing a project with him, me and Max Cavalera all at once but I have no idea how that would work, when we would do it, or any of the three of us will have the time.  So I don’t know how much more of that I’m going to able to do because the priority now that I finally have a band again has to be the Guantanamo School Of Medicine.  It’s an outlet for all those piled songs I’ve had in my closet that I’ve never been able to dust off, get recorded and play.  If there are any collaborations it may be in another art field. I’m starting to get a few feelers big and small for film and the last couple never quite happened so maybe I shouldn’t talk about it.”

How did it go in Israel? Did you play a show in the end?
“I pulled the plug. It just got too heavy for a lot of bad reasons. I finally felt that I led my band too far into uncharted waters and was a bad leader in that regard.  I may be used to taking all kinds of heat and sticking my neck out but not everybody else in the band was used to this experience. I just couldn’t drag them any further and decided to just use my plane ticket and just go to Israel and check out the situation.”

Guantamo School Of Medicine tour the UK in August.

5 Birmingham O2 Academy
6 London O2 Academy
7 Rebellion Festival, Blackpool
9 Glasgow O2 Academy
10 Galway Roisin Dubh
11 Dublin Button Factory
12 Cork Cyprus Avenue


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We talked to punk legend and UK SUBS frontman Charlie Harper about the band’s upcoming performance at the Vive Le Rock sponsored Endorse It In Dorset Festival in August.

Here’s what he had to say.

You’re playing with the Rezillos, New Model Army and more on a farm for Endorse It In Dorset Festival. Got anything special planned?
“Well as we’re playing on a farm, we’ll be playing ‘Down On The Farm’ of course. It’s a good festival. They wanted us to do it last year but we couldn’t so we’re really happy to head down this year.”

Will you be playing a different set down in Dorset?
“We are planning on making it more of a festival set. We’re working right now on a rain song incase it rains. We can welcome the rain, we’re not frightened of rain. Here we are, dancing in the mud kind of thing. It’s going to be quite a goody, it’s coming along. Then we have

You’re playing with The Wurzels too?
[sings] “I’ve got a brand new combine harvester…”

For more info and tickets for the festival, head to


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Mad Sin (photo by Alex Selle)

24th Satanic Stomp
Halle 101 Speyer Germany
23/24th April 2011

The Satanic Stomp is thee Psychobilly festival in the world and goes from strength to strength as does the genre. The 16 bands over the two days not only highlighted the longevity of the double bass bothering mutant offspring of rockabilly but also its diversity. The glorious weather made for some unseasonal sunbathing along with the barbaric drinking out in the car park before the masses converged in the main hall to form a sea of raging quiffs dotted with a few slap-heads that betrayed a few decades of hairspray abuse. Highlights early on included The Guitar Slingers which featured duelling guitars showcasing some rockabilly shredding and The Highliners who managed to get a crowd, who’s idea of dancing is a light-hearted but violent bashing each other senseless in a wrecking pit that would have any ‘mosher’ running for cover, taking part in a massive conga. The Long Tall Texans’ set of classics kept the smiles going, apart from maybe the owners of the two double basses that Mark Carew managed to slap to near death in the process. Mad Sin, now a German mainstream album chart act, brought the brutal back with colossal collection of their back-catalogue. Guana Batz are always a worthy headliner all sprawling tattoo and Klub Foot classics. Day two and The Astro Zombies went orbital at an early hour though probably didn’t prepare the crowd for the horror of The Coffin Nails who started their set with YMCA, yes that one, and saw head nail Humungous sporting a pair of arseless leather chaps, of course everyone loved it. Stories of Demented Are Go’s demise were once again premature, Sparky and his sultans of sickness out to prove that they are still the business and that the new-look line-up are as good as ever. Batmobile headlined and proved that they are top of the food chain despite their gigs being rarer and rarer these days. After a blistering set of zebra-printed double bass pummelling classics guitar toting singer Jeroen Haamers surprised and delighted the crowd with an impassioned solo rendition of Johnny Cash’s version of the NIN classic Hurt to bring another memorable Stomp to an unexpected but totally fitting end.
Simon Nott

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CHRIS WRIGHT combines tattooing, punk rock and art like no other.

When he’s not inking skin at his tattoo studio Viking Tattoo, Chris Wright is more often than not hard at work creating designs for bands such as Crashed Out and the UK Subs. We caught up with the man himself to find out more…

What first got you interested in art and the different mediums it can be applied to?
“I have always been into drawing, even before I tattooed, but once I got my first tattoo that’s all I wanted to work in. Now though I’m interested in learning different types of art. My first love will always be tattooing but with doing it everyday for over eighteen years now it’s good to learn different mediums.”

What are the differences between working on skin and album artwork?
“The obvious really! Humans move, sweat, talk, cry, faint and smell! Paper, canvas and board always stays nice and still and never talk shite or asks dumb questions for hours on end (laughs)!”

How did the artwork for Crashed Out come about? Which piece of band artwork are you most proud of?
“I have done some of the artwork and Lee (founding member of Crashed Out  guitarist, tattooist at Viking and my brother) also did some stuff. We have both designed all the band’s T-shirts and album covers, flyers and posters. Lee designed the Tyne bridge star and scrolls logo that was used on the ‘One And only’ best of album and I came up with the band logo that was used on that album which is what we still use to this day.
We have done loads of stuff over the years but I am proud of the new logo I  came up with even though I designed it by basically fucking about on Photoshop. I have done artwork for bands albums such as Discipline, Argy Bargy and UK Subs. Mine and Lee’s line drawings were used on the latest UK Subs’ album. We are both honoured by this as the UK Subs are one of our favourite bands and Charlie is an absolute lord.”

What do you tend to listen to to inspire you to get creative?
“We listen to loads of stuff in the studio every day. Ten hours a day we have music playing so we have a lot of different types of music. It depends on my mood really. I can switch from listening to Exploited to Pink Floyd and back no problem. But I gotta say it’s mainly punk rock, reggae, ska or rock ‘n’ roll playing in the studio. By the end of the day it usually gets a bit mellow and Floyd, Roger Waters or Robert Miles get thrown on. Even our old pal Ludwig Van gets a listen at Viking!”

For more information visit


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One-off 20" x 24" full colour gloss print of ADAM ANT by Vive Le Rock magazine photographer Ester Segarra.

This is a one-off print from Vive Le Rock magazine’s photo exhibition held in London in April. Print comes in a cardboard tube so won’t be damaged in post. A rare chance to have an incredible one-off print of this classic rock ‘n’ roll icon featured on the cover of Vive Le Rock magazine.
All prints will be mailed out First Class Recorded. For overseas orders please email with regards to postage charges.

CLICK HERE for more details and to bid on this item (pictured below) on eBay.

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We have a ‘Rock In Peace’ feature on the Dead Boys’ much missed frontman Stiv Bators in the current issue of Vive Le Rock. VLR scribe Hugh Gulland recently did an exclusive web interview with Dead Boys’ legendary guitarist Cheetah Chrome too…

Sylvain Sylvain and Cheetah Chrome, two founding fathers of punk rock, have formed Batusis. The project marks the first-ever collaboration of two longtime friends, both of whom happen to have profoundly influenced the direction of punk rock and its aftermath: Cheetah Chrome, hard-charging guitarist of Cleveland icons Rocket From The Tombs and Dead Boys and celebrated solo rocker, and Sylvain Sylvain, wildly charismatic New York Dolls axeman and adventurous solo artist.

You and Syl have presumably known each other since back in the day, what prompted the pair of you to finally work together on Batusis?
"It was suggested to us by Syl’s manager Bill Moriarty and Frank Mauceri from Smog Veil Records. They knew we were friends, and saw we had some time on our hands, so why not do a project together? It really is long overdue, and the results have been amazing; working in the studio and doing shows with Syl and the guys is the best."

Is the project on an ‘all-new’ basis or will you be digging up a few nuggets from your respective back catalogues at shows?
"I think we’d get lynched if we didn’t do at least a couple of the old songs; we do put our own spin on each others’ hits."

The name references the Adam West ‘bat-dance’ and there’s a biker-flick theme on the EP – there appears to be a strong B-movie trash sort of aesthetic at work – does this indicate a common cultural thread you and Syl share?
"Yeah, but only one of many. We never sat down and planned to be a 60’s themed band; I think you’ll see a lot more diversity as we progress. We’ve both been rock and roll sponges for a number of years, we’ve absorbed a lot of styles."

Are you going to follow the EP with a full album?

"That is the plan, we’ll probably record sometime in late summer."

You were originally in Rocket From The Tombs, who seem to represent two divergent strands of US punk, ie one part of the band goes off to form Pere Ubu who tend to be perceived as part of the ‘arty’ or experimental punk set along with Patti, Television etc, while the Dead Boys tend to be pegged as the more straightforward rock’n’roll types more in line with the Heartbreakers etc etc. Was there a tension within RFTT along these lines? Did audiences know what to make of Rocket when you first formed? How did the reunion tours go?
"Actually, I’m still a member of Rocket – we just put out our first new single in 35 years a couple of weeks ago! The tension was definitely there in the beginning, which was one thing that made the music so dark; we weren’t comfortable, we were very edgy around one another. At first that carried over into the reunions, but things have mellowed considerably in the past few years. We can still explode on short notice though, trust me! As for the audience back then, you never saw so many jaws on the floor; we scared people."

The Dead Boys, as happened with many of your contemporaries, seemed to hit a wall as far as what was going to be commercial outside of the confines of the NY scene, ie ‘New Wave’ was going to be palatable to a mass audience whereas Bowery Punk was not – do you think it could have panned out differently career-wise, say if the label or record producers had handled it differently?
"I think the label definitely had their heads up their asses when it came to the Dead Boys, and Punk in general. They saw every one of our strengths as a weakness. They were using 1950’s thinking to sell something new and untried, which has lasted far longer than they ever anticipated. And far longer than most of their labels and careers, I might add…"

A flick through Legs and Gillian’s Please Kill Me would indicate that historically, you seem to have been pretty deep in some of the darker corners of the punk scene – hanging out with Sid and Nancy etc etc. Given the level of casualties that have added up over the years, for yourself to still be healthy and creating music, I’m imagining you’d have had to take a conscious step back from that level of craziness? What has been your coping mechanism?
"Well, in 1995 some very good friends, Hilly Kristal and Genya Ravan, talked me into going into rehab, which nobody had been able to do . I got off of hard drugs, but still drank and smoked for the next 12 years. In 2007, after my mother’s death, I had a relapse, which luckily lasted only a couple of months. I gave up everything then. Since then, my family and music are my coping mechanism, though I find that without the drink and drugs I really don’t need one. That was the cause of most of the stress in my life!"

What’s going to happen with the tour, are you going to reschedule the dates?
"Oh yeah, we will definitely reschedule some UK shows, even if I have to swim!"

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Marky began his career playing drums in 1971 for hard rock outfit Dust. Marky recorded two albums with the band, before getting into the NYC punk scene. In late 1972, following the death of New York Dolls original drummer Billy Murcia, Marky auditioned as a replacement and was the only seriously considered alternative to the eventual chosen candidate, Jerry Nolan. In the mid-70s he played with Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys. Wayne County would go on to become rock’s first transsexual singer. In the late 1970s, he joined Richard Hell & The Voidoids. He played on the Voidoid’s first album, Blank Generation.

When Tommy Ramone quit the Ramones in 1978, Marc Bell was asked to be Tommy’s replacement, and was renamed Marky Ramone.

Marky was with the Ramones for the next five years. He was asked to leave the band in 1983 to conquer his periodic drinking. He returned in 1987 and played with the band up until their retirement in 1996.

In 1993, Marky appeared with the Ramones in the episode "Rosebud" of The Simpsons.

In 1996, Marky joined Dee Dee Ramone and his wife Barbara Zampini, to play with The Ramainz, performing Ramones songs for fun.

In 2000, Marky joined Joey Ramone, lead vocalist of the Ramones, to record Joey’s only solo album, entitled Don’t Worry About Me.

In October 2001, Marky appeared on MTV accepting a lifetime achievement award presented by Bono of U2 to the Ramones. Marky Ramone’s hand prints are on the Hollywood Rock Walk. In March 2002, Marky was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, at New York’s Waldorf Astoria as a member of the Ramones.

He recorded some albums with his solo bands Marky Ramone & the Intruders and Marky Ramone & the Speedkings, as well as many 7" releases. Marky Ramone & the Speedkings toured the world from 2002 to 2003.

In September 2004, Marky served as Executive Producer and released a Ramones DVD entitled Ramones: Raw on Image Entertainment, which featured footage of the band while on tour all over the world along with other various rare, vintage footage. Much of the candid footage is courtesy of Marky Ramone’s personal video library. The DVD was finished just in time to include commentary from Johnny Ramone, who died from prostate cancer on September 15, 2004. The commentary also includes Marky Ramone. Ramones: Raw is the only certified Gold selling Ramones DVD and one of only two US gold selling releases in the Ramones entire catalog. The other being the
greatest hits double LP Ramonesmania released in 1988. Ramones: Raw is also the highest charting release in the Ramones history.

In January 2005, Marky went to tour with Russian band Tarakany!. The tour was called Ramones Night Tour 2005: Marky Ramone & Tarakany!.

Marky signed on for another year as the D.J. on his own show the Punk Rock Blitzkrieg.

On SiriusX.M. On April 22, 2008, Marky Ramone appeared on a new CD in Canada playing drums with the Canadian punk band called Teenage Head. The CD is called Teenage Head with Marky Ramone and it was released in the USA on June 10, 2008. It was recorded in 2003 on two separate visits by Marky to Canada.

Marky has a DVD coming out next year called The Job That Ate My Brain – the Marky Ramone Story.

He teamed up with Tommy Hilfiger’s, Hilfger Denim, in 2009 to launch his own clothing line consisting of leather jackets, jeans and t-shirts. He
also has his own line of pasta sauce, "Marky Ramone’s Brooklyn’s Own Pasta Sauce."

Marky continues to carry the torch for the Ramones as he tours the world with his band  Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, which plays a 32-song set of the Ramones with former Misfits frontman and lead singer Michale Graves. Marky Ramone will perform a set of Ramones songs with New Found Glory at 2011’s The Bamboozle Festival.

On December 6, 2010, Marky joined Anthony Bourdain on the "No Reservations Holiday Special." The two gather around a table at Lola in Cleveland, OH and discuss what they want from Santa Claus ("to take the Millennium Falcon for a spin!").

Marky also won the lifetime achievement award from the Grammy’s for 2011.

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Last month we asked you:


Here are the results:


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Now vote for who you are most looking forward to seeing at Rebellion Festival 2011! (see the sidebar on the left of this page)

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Made famous by their still-going-strong cover of ‘I Want Candy’, the ‘80s new wave band BOW WOW WOW has seen members come and go, and most recently influenced Sofia Coppola’s 2006 feature film ‘Marie Antoinette’. So let’s see how the band went from remaking pop culture to influencing it with some Bow Wow Wow facts…

– Bow Wow Wow was a New Wave band formed in 1980 and managed by former Sex Pistols manager, Malcolm McLaren.

– Group members included Annabella Lwin (vocals), Leigh Gorman (bass), Matthew Ashman (guitar) and Dave Barbarossa (drums).

– McLaren persuaded Ashman, Gorman and Barbarossa to leave Adam Ant of Adam & The Ants to form a new band.

– Manager McLaren came up with the name “Bow Wow Wow” as a tribute to Nipper the Dog, HMV Ltd.’s mascot. (HMV is a subsidiary label of Bow Wow Wow’s then label, EMI).

– Lead singer Annabella Lwin was discovered at the age of 14 while she was working at her local dry cleaning shop. She was singing along to a Stevie Wonder song on the radio.

– In 1982 Lwin’s mother alleged exploitation of a minor for immoral purposes and instigated a Scotland Yard investigation.

– As a result, the band was only allowed to leave England after McLaren promised not to promote Lwin as a "sex kitten."

– The band scored two UK Top 10 hits with “Go Wild in the Country” and “I Want Candy” (a cover of the 1965 Srangeloves hit) before disbanding in 1983.

– In 1983, Lwin quit the group for a solo career and the remaining band members renamed themselves the Chiefs of Relief.

– A second singer by the name of Lieutenant Lush performed with the band soon before it broke up. While Lush never recorded with Bow Wow Wow, he found stardom under the name Boy George.

– Bow Wow Wow has been accused of plagiarising melodies from Zulu jive and pop songs.

-Bow Wow Wow’s recording of "I Want Candy" continues to appear in film soundtracks and media and advertising events such as the 2005 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

– The band’s most notorious recording was "Sexy Eiffel Towers," an ode to masturbation.

– The group released three full-length albums before going their separate ways in 1983.

– In 1995, guitarist Ashman died at age 35 from complications caused by diabetes.

– Since his time in Bow Wow Wow, Barbarossa has worked on other musical projects such as Beats International, Live with Adam Ant in 1995, Republica, dance band Chicane, the London-based ‘Faith’ music collective and Amber Gate.

– Barbarossa also wrote a novel entitled “We Were Looking Up."

– Gorman continued to perform and has had success as a record producer and composer for films and advertising.

– Bow Wow Wow resurfaced in 1998 with Wild in the U.S.A., which featured remixes and concert performances from the reunion tour. Lwin and Gorman headed the comeback while Dave Calhoun (guitar) and Eshan Khadaroo (drums) replaced Ashman and Barbarossa.

– Bow Wow Wow’s song “A Thousand Tears” made it into the 1999 film Desperate but Not Serious starring Christine Taylor and Claudia Schiffer.

– Bow Wow Wow has many famous admirers including Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who included the line, "Swimming in the sound of Bow Wow Wow" in the song “Suck My Kiss.”

– On September 20, 2003 Bow Wow Wow, reformed again, performed as part of KROQ’s 25th Anniversary celebration. This time with Los Angeles guitarist Phil Gough and No Doubt drummer Adrian Young (who grew up idolizing the Bow Wow Wows).

– The new band then maintained a touring schedule through to 2006.

– In September 2005, Philadelphia, PA native Devin Beaman was brought in as the new drummer.

– In June 2006, Bow Wow Wow recorded a cover of The Smiths’ song "I Started Something" for a proposed Smiths tribute record. The full-length recording, the first new recording released under the name Bow Wow Wow in over 20 years, was made available on iTunes on January 1, 2007.

– Bow Wow Wow played their most recent show on November 2, 2006 at the Maritime Hotel’s Hiro Lounge in New York City to promote the inclusion of their music on the soundtrack of the Sofia Coppola film Marie Antoinette.

– According to Bow Wow Wow’s manager in 2006, "They actually based Marie Antoinette, from a styling point of view, on Annabella Lwin.”

– Bow Wow Wow has been on indefinite hiatus since 2006 but played London Scala in November 2010 for the Matthew Ashman tribute show.

Victoria Rubino

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With punk legend Poly Styrene having tragically passed away recently, Vive Le Rock takes a look back at a classic VLR interview with the former X-Ray Spex frontwoman. Pick up the
new issue of Vive Le Rock for more on her incredible life and career. RIP Poly Styrene.

Art-I-Ficial intelligence: a word with Poly Styrene

A truly original voice in UK punk, X-Ray Spex vocalist Poly Styrene (née Mari Elliott) remains a model of do-it-yourself individuality. Against the stark 1977 backdrop of black leather and dole queue psychosis, the ‘Spex were a vivid burst of colour, a riot of sax-led punk rock fronted by this charismatic south Londoner, clad in bizarre mix-and-match pop art clobber and belting out her funny, often satirical lyrics. X-Ray Spex’ initial run was brief; after five singles and one album, 1978’s Germ Free Adolescents, the band folded. While Poly’s relationship with the music business has been on-off since, September 2008 saw a reconstituted Spex take the stage at Camden’s Roundhouse, a momentous event documented for posterity on a joint CD and DVD ‘Live At The Roundhouse London 2008’ (Year Zero). VLP hooked up with Poly for a few words on Spex matters past and present…

What do you think made the time right to get X-Ray Spex back together in 2008?

Well it was the 30th anniversary of Germ Free Adolescents. So that was really why, ‘cause it came out in ‘78 I think. It was just something I felt like trying. It was myself and Paul Dean who are the original members and then we got some of our friends. Sid Truelove played drums, who plays in Rubella Ballet. Flash on saxophone who has played with the Slits, Essential Logic and Rip Rig and Panic. And Saxby, we call him Great Saxby just for a joke, who played in Arnold before.

Rubella Ballet I seem to recall shared a bit of the Spex aesthetic, they were quite colorful…

Yeah, they were sort of X-Ray Spex day-glo fans, but they’re old friends of mine, I’ve known them for years now!

The Spex sound is slightly harder to pin down than some other punk groups, what had your teenage musical diet been?

Everything, from Marc Bolan to Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, that’s what I grew up with and I suppose what everybody else heard on the radio. And obviously Motown as well. Yeah, a mixture, that’s originally what I listened to. Even things like Tubular Bells! It hasn’t really influenced X Ray Spex particularly, but I suppose female icons would have been people like Janis Joplin, maybe Grace Slick, but I also really love people like Aretha and Diana Ross as well. I just like music, I’m not into tribaling into particular genre of music that goes with a particular sort of group of people, I just like music, even some classical.

There’s this great story that you and your friends gatecrashed Queen’s rehearsals in Kensington?

We wasn’t really gategrashing, it’s just that Brian May was my schoolteacher, my maths teacher. And we just happened to be in Biba’s, he used to rehearse in the top, in the roof gardens. And our teacher used to come out and see us there because we’d skipped games or something, he’d say ‘Girls, what are you doing here???’ He was still on duty! I did run into him years later outside the Krishna temple, and I sort of bumped into him, he was there parked with his son, he asked me ‘Are you married?’, ‘cause I used to ask him that in school. ‘Sir, are you married? Sir, if you’re married, why doesn’t your wife iron your shirts?’ I used to have a little thing going with him about that, in class, it was just a joke. You know, I was a bit naughty. I was in a special maths group, underachievers, I wasn’t good at maths, he was one of the supply teachers, ‘specially for us difficult ones. He was a student teacher, we knew there was a difference, he used to come in with long hair and holes in his shoes, and we used to tease him a bit. He was very good actually, very good teacher, he used to say ‘Do you want to learn maths or not??’

Before you even got X-Ray Spex together, you’d made a solo single?

I did, I did this sort of reggae thing with GT Moore and the Reggae Guitars, it was just this jokey thing really, I wasn’t expecting much to come of it. I was singing it to my manager for a joke and he arranged to record it, he obviously thought it had some potential, but I didn’t really, it was something that happened, and next thing I knew it was on a label and out! I used to write lots of songs and demo them, and that one was released, my other demoes didn’t get released. It was just experimental songwriting really.

Shortly after that you had your Sex Pistols moment in Hastings…

Yeah, well it wasn’t just the Sex Pistols, I did see the Pistols on Hastings Pier when I was 18, but they weren’t like the ‘Sex Pistols’, they didn’t have that album that everyone knows them for, they were doing quite a few covers. It was very early, they weren’t famous or anything, there was only about 3 people, perhaps 4 or 5 girls, language students, from Scandinavia that were in the audience. But it struck me, they didn’t have a big following, they didn’t have a record company behind them, they weren’t famous, but they were about my age group and it just made me think if these people – I didn’t know they’d go on to become really famous – if these people can just do their own thing, even if they’re doing covers, I could have a band as well. Before that I’d only seen big bands – Led Zeppelin, the Who, Frank Zappa, I hadn’t seen anybody… they looked a bit different as well, they had a different image. They had shorter hair! Shorter hair and straight leg trousers, I remember that much. I remember thinking this is a departure from the long hair, sort of aristo-rock style flamboyant thing. It wasn’t the music or that they had Anarchy In The UK or God Save The Queen, they didn’t have those songs. In fact I think they were even doing some cover versions of the Stones as far as I can remember. It was very early days for them. But because it was new and there wasn’t many people there, it made me think, well they’re still out there doing it, they’re young and they’re doing it, I could do that as well rather than making demos for record companies. I could do a live thing.

How did you go about finding like-minded people for the band?

I put an advert in NME and Melody Maker with my manager for ‘Young punks who want to stick it together’ and lots of people came for that, believe it or not. Even though it was very early days and punk wasn’t really a big thing.

Did you have saxophone in mind when you started out?

No, I didn’t, I was just, when Lora (Logic, sax) came along I just thought ‘This is great’!

She must have been very young then…

About sixteen. She was still in school. We didn’t do that many dates, mainly at the Roxy and I think we did a few at the Man In The Moon with Lora. And then she went back to school… it was that and I think she wanted to do her own thing, Essential Logic. Because I was the main songwriter in X-Ray Spex, and she wanted to write songs and sing. I mean even now, recently, I’ve seen Lora and she said she’s not playing saxophone any more because it’s too heavy around her neck. And if she does do anything again she’s going to be doing Essential Logic with singing. She always really wanted to be a songwriter and it wasn’t very punky exactly what she was writing. So she might bring a song to X-Ray Spex rehearsal, she brought one called Petrol Pump Blues and I thought, this isn’t really what we’re doing. So I think she got a bit frustrated as well like that.

Didn’t she do a guest spot on a Stranglers album, Black And White?

She did, yeah… she did play on Conscious Consumer as well…

Oh yeah, there’s the nineties X-Ray Spex album too…

There was, she played on that, but I don’t know, it all went a bit skew-whiff around that time. I got knocked over by a fire engine and then they tried to reform X-Ray Spex, with a girl called Poly Filla! It didn’t really work out, so it all got left for a long time. And then I met a promoter at a Goldblade gig and he wanted to put on an X-Ray Spex show, and I thought, I’ll try it. So I did it and it was really a one-off, I wasn’t really planning to do a lot. I thought I’d do it and just see what the reception’s like! It was actually quite good!

So you enjoyed doing the show?

I found it very stressful, but it was a great turnout of people and a really great audience. I was a bit surprised because there were all these young girls that turned up that knew all the songs that were singing along. But before that I did the Love Music Hate Racism in spring in Victoria Park last year, that was about 70,000 people, I did Oh Bondage Up Yours there with Drew McConnell from Babyshambles, and Flash who plays with X Ray Spex and everybody, all these people knew the song, I was really surprised then, I thought oh everyone’ll know who Babyshambles is, they won’t know my song, I felt really nervous about going on, but to my surprise there were all these kids in the front singing Oh Bondage Up Yours! So if you haven’t done it for a long time you don’t know, you kind of get a surprise, ‘cause I haven’t been very public or very active, that all these people know all my songs. On top of that at the Roundhouse the girls even knew the songs from Conscious Consumer that I sang, so it must’ve been just going out there and records just have a momentum of their own.

There’s a sort of duel nature to X-Ray Spex songs, on one hand they’re very poppy and fun, but there’s this dark underside, like the character in Identity self-harming…

Yeah, well unfortunately I was around, I was young and impressionable at the time, and I witnessed things like that while I was at the Roxy, it was Tracey I think that used to work in Seditionaries, she was in the ladies’ at the Roxy and I saw that and just wrote about it. I didn’t think, oh this it too dark, I just literally wrote about what I was seeing that year really, and that’s how that one came about. So I know there is a dark element to it, and I feel a bit weird, when I had to revisit it, to do the show last year, listening to it all again, I did actually change some of the words, not on Identity, because I’ve seen that in hospitals, lots of young girls doing that, it’s not very nice, but you see these young girls, you see the razor marks up their arms. I don’t like to promote things like that particularly, but that one came out like that because I’d seen that and wrote about it. But on I Live Off You, I changed the words where it says ‘The pimp beats the whore, she just screams out for more and more’, I changed it, ‘She just screams out no more no more’. So I tried to change them a bit because I just thought God, these are a bit dark!

There’s also that line in Plastic Bag, ‘I dreamed that I was Hitler’!

Yeah, but that was just a silly one, anybody can have a silly dream! I left that one in, it was just meant to be dreaming you’re a bit of a power maniac, a megalomaniac, and Hitler sums that feeling up, of megalomania,
But obviously in a very negative way. But I’m obviously not anti semitic anything, otherwise I wouldn’t have done the Anti Nazi League Rally.

Yeah, ‘cause at that time the far right was more high-profile than it ever was in this country, you had this backdrop of the National Front at their height…

Well the BNP’s becoming quite big where I am at the moment (south coast). My mother lives here as well, in a sort of retired block, and I know one of her friends is going to vote BNP, said he’s always voted Labour, but now he’s voting BNP and he goes, ‘It’s alright the ones that were born here, they’re ok! It’s the new ones from Iraq and Afghanistan’. They’re all on their high horse about this because there’s a few Iraqis here, but the way I look at it, if we weren’t there having a war, they wouldn’t be here. I couldn’t vote BNP, and I don’t believe it is ‘alright if they were born here’, I believe they want everybody to go back, even mixed race people. They wonder which half they want to send back!

Another troubling part of the backdrop in punk days seemed to be this flirtation with negativity within the movement, as with Sid Vicious…

Yeah, well that mainly came over from America, when like the New York Dolls and those bands… Johnny Thunders, I think that was the influence, that was the heroin that came in with the American bands, so Sid got involved with Nancy, and she was a dealer I think. So I think that and being young and impressionable, but also I believe his mother was an addict. So poor kid didn’t really stand much of a chance…

So what was your relationship like with the US punks, ‘cause you namecheck Richard Hell in a song…

Oh yeah, I just liked the name, I just thought it was funny, but I did meet him in America, you know, I thought they were all nice, they were nice to me… but I wasn’t really on that whole heroin vibe, that was more Chrissie and Debbie, more caught up in that, but they all detoxed, all clean now… I think Tessa got a bit involved with heroin, but she’s cleaned up through Tai Chi. A lot of people got through it if they didn’t die, Sid was one of the unfortunate ones. But luckily I never got into it. I saw very early on when I was a young teenager, I had a boyfriend, he was sixteen, that died of heroin, I don’t even think he knew what he was doing. I witnessed that at a very young age so I was very careful about drugs during X Ray Spex. I don’t think drugs are glamorous. Not really. I think there was a flirtation with it, just like with cocaine it’s sort of a rich person’s drug and therefore it’s ‘glamorous’, and heroin had a glamorous thing to it in the punk days, from America, because those bands were quite glamorous, but when you think about it, I just think it victimizes people, it makes artists made more vulnerable to be able to be worked without proper payment, just for their drugs. When you hear about it in modeling, it all goes hand in hand with a negative outcome I think.

So you managed to sidestep that with Spex…

Oh yeah, we were pretty clean, I think our boys might have drunk a little bit but that’s about it really.

To what extent were X-Ray Spex lambasting arficiality, were you to some extent celebrating it?

I know people always say I was always really anti-it, but I don’t think I was, I was just sort of writing about it because it was around. I did think it was a bit tacky… but it wasn’t that I’m totally anti-capitalist, I’m not a capitalist really but I’m not against everything material that makes money, because that’s the nature of the world, the way it goes around unfortunately, that’s the way it’s been set up. So really I was more just painting a picture with the words about it. You know when I say in Art-I-Ficial ‘When I put on my makeup, the pretty little mask not me, that’s the way a girl should be in a consumer society’. Well that is just the way it is, it’s just stating a fact. It’s not really saying it’s bad, I’m not saying isn’t that terrible. That’s the way I saw it, I saw that we live in a consumer society and… I don’t know, it all rhymed!

That reminds me of a quote of Strummer’s, that 100 years of political thinkers hadn’t come up with the answers so how four guys from London with guitars could…

Ha ha! Well I mean, I think it’s bad, I don’t believe in the trickle down effect and the whole laissez-faire every man for himself. I don’t really believe in that, but I do believe in socialism really, social democracy. But at the same time I’m not like, you mustn’t buy a lipstick. I am careful, I don’t buy meat, because I think that’s really cruel and unnecessary and I’ve survived without that, so I’m vegetarian in that way, but I wouldn’t say I was an anarchist. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I believe in ‘Anarchy’. I’m not really talking about people that are politically anarchists, I’m talking about social mayhem where everything’s anarchic!

The album’s title track is a curious song, this very hypnotic, almost psychedelic-sounding guitar figure…

Well I was just very influenced by reggae at the time and I wanted that reverby dubby thing happening. We had a pedal and I said to Jak (Airport, original Spex guitarist), you know, put the reverb on it and slow it down so we get delayed echo on the guitar and we get that kind of hypnotic sound. I know it’s not obviously reggae but that was just our attempt at doing something that had a reggae influence

I’d supposed it to be influenced by psychedelia rather than reggae!

I suppose it does come across a bit like that, in our naivity we thought we were doing modern reggae… not really modern reggae, but you know what I mean, we were only young and we were just experimenting with that delayed reverb thing… it’s slow, it was easy to dance to, in those days when you were into reggae you did skanking, that slow dancing, and I could do that to that, so that was one of the reasons I liked that track.

By 1978 you’d come from small clubs to the Hammersmith Palais, and getting the cover of Smash Hits – were you comfortable with stardom?

Not really, I remember seeing Smash Hits and complaining to my manager, he said he thought that’ I’d have liked it and I said ‘Noooo, it’s not cool anymore, it’s not underground! It’s gone pop! Totally!’ but in hindsight it wasn’t a bad thing it was popular, that was good really, but at the time I was a bit sort of ‘that’s not cool and punk, being on the cover of Smash Hits!’ I didn’t really read it I just remember seeing it in the newsagents and going ‘that’s not what I wanted!’

And there was an Arena documentary about you around that time?

Yeah, there was, I’ve seen that, my daughter saw it the other day, ‘cause she’s writing an X-Ray Spex musical, or she’s trying to do a rock opera! So she looked at the documentary and she thought it was good, but when I saw it I thought I was quite depressed…

Do you remember being depressed at that point?

Yeah, I probably was, I did later get diagnosed with bipolar, so I was probably on a low phase rather than a manic high phase!

At that time that would have been a bit of an inexact science, people didn’t really understand much about the illness…

Yeah, I was totally misdiagnosed in the beginning with schizophrenia, because I said I saw that UFO…if you hallucinate or hear voices, they diagnose you as having schizophrenia. I remember being given huge amounts of Largactil

That’s heavy, isn’t it, like prison medication?

Yeah, it’s like a cosh… a chemical cosh, and I was on that during the Arena documentary, so I think that’s why I was a bit, you know…

What’s on the market now is presumably far gentler on the system?

Yeah, I do have to take medicine, but it’s not like that now… it took a long time for them to get there! I have to watch what I do, that’s one of the reasons I can’t do too much live work because it’s very charged, and that can create a manic attack, so I have to be careful what I do… I’m better off when I do more chilled out music, when I can, I was doing a dub track yesterday, with Sid actually, I was just messing around doing a dub track. I did a dub track in 2007 against the Iraq war called ’Code Pink’, it’s a woman’s group in America that are anti-war, it’s just a dub track about the war, anti-war, not really horrible, but just talking about weapons of mass destruction, it says, ‘Do you get what we’re talking about guv? How many trustafarians do you know with shares in weapons of mass destruction ?’ it’s quite a funny one, it’s a little bit cheeky. We did send it to Downing Street, I didn’t but my engineer did, I thought thanks a lot, you’ve got me blacklisted now! It’s not a Spex one, I was going to put it out on the DVD but Shirin at Future Noise music who’s putting out the live album and DVD she said make a solo album like it, so that’s what I was doing yesterday. I’m okay with the recording but the live stuff can be a bit…

High pressure?

Yeah, a bit, yeah.

So the band folded in 1979, do you remember how it ended?

I think there was a lot of pressure building up to it. There was the whole thing about the Pistols splitting up, because I think that’s when John was in PIL wasn’t it… but there was also the hatred in the press, about the ‘venom of the youth of today’ and a lot of people began to feel singled out for being a punk… I personally felt that and I don’t know whether that’s why a lot of bands split up… but also it was just like, it was a grass roots movement that came about organically and all of a sudden turned into this big, possibly a money spinner, but also a lot of worry, older people worried about the new generation of people ruining society, what was happening to the youth of today. So there was like a stigma attached to punk rock as well as a commerciality that was crossing over and I know that people were quite frightened of it. I know my manager, his father was the royal sculptor, his studio was at St James’ Palace. And they said that they were worried about the Sex Pistols, Anarchy In the UK and God Save The Queen. They were quietly worried and there was this feeling you’d been doing something that was anti-establishment and wrong, and you’d get into trouble for it…

So people had been demonized for what had started out as a fun thing…

Yeah, just a bit of youthful satire really…

It can’t have been comfortable, for instance being John Lydon, he was publicly attacked twice within a very short space of time…

Yeah, I remember even my manager got attacked, we were walking in Fulham and he got attacked by sort of a football hooligan type, and if you dressed like a punk… that was why they started calling themselves scum punks, and then they became travelers, because they really dropped out of society in the end because they were made to feel they were bad…

So at the time you felt you needed to back off from the situation…

Yeah at the time I did, I started feeling I was scared to say who I was. That might have come about because I used to spend a bit of time at Gunter’s Grove, not that much, but occasionally I used to drop in there and see John and he always had the curtains drawn and was always a bit paranoid. So I think that maybe I picked up on that as well and got a bit paranoid about the whole thing. Not only that, ending up in the Maudsley after seeing a UFO and being put on Largactil I just kind of did back off ‘cause I felt, I was a bit paranoid at the time, I thought the establishment was against me and that’s why they’ve given me this chemical cosh!

You followed Spex with your solo album Translucence, which was a very different direction…

Yeah, a lot of it was just therapeutic, but I suppose that might be reflective of the bipolar where you do something like X-Ray Spex which is quite manic in the high period, without even knowing that you’ve got bipolar and then you do something quiet in the low period and it comes out like Translucence! I did feel I wanted to get away from punk for a while and anything that went with it. I remember being quite scared in the King’s Road when all these punks with Mohawks turned up, hanging out, all drunk and wasted on the Kings Road, I remember thinking ‘This is all my fault, I’ve done this!’

It did all turn a bit self-caricaturing, at that point, like it was becoming a uniform…

It did and you still see a few kids around like it now, really young ones…

So it was a more open field in the early punk days…

It was more like everybody being an individual and doing your own thing, and then it became, as you say, a uniform, not that there’s anything wrong it, I quite like some of that as a look, just on a fashion level with the boots and the hair and everything, I do quite like the look, but at the time it got a bit scary for me, the look, whereas now I’m used to it, when I see it now, it’s just a look… at the time it was like ‘Aaghhh!’ because not many people really dressed like that at the beginning of punk, that all came up later.

So you were in and out with music after that, there was the Gods and Goddesses EP in the late 80s…

Oh yeah, I actually quite like those tracks, there’s only four of them, but that was when I lived in the Krishna temple, I wrote those, hence why it’s called Gods and Goddesses. That song Paramatma Is about the super soul within everyone. It’s spiritual pop really, but it doesn’t come across as spiritual, it comes across quite cool, the music’s not gospel or anything, it’s not sort of hallelujah, it’s more philosophical. It’s trying to write in a simplistic pop way and explain to people, a bit like when Bob Marley wrote Natural Mystics or when the Rastas say I and I, that’s what they’re talking about, the super-soul in the heart of every living entity. It was just very influenced by Krishna philosophy that EP. And I wanted to share that with other people, the Hare Krishna movement is a preaching movement really, it’s about enlightening other people. So naively I thought I could do that through music, but obviously it’s not that easy! It just turns out some of it is just good pop tracks!

Outside of music what keeps you busy these days?

Well there’s all the backup to the music! After the Roundhouse there was a lot of work because I produced the live album and the DVD, so I was doing that all this year really. And then there’s all the backup stuff, it sounds boring, but it’s just trying to get your online royalty statements, all that paperwork that goes with that, you’d be surprised how much paperwork there is, admin! But I’ve been writing and I wrote the new Spex album… but some of it I’m using for my solo album. At the moment I’m just experimenting with dub stuff, to see if we can pull it off as good as Rhythm and Sound – they’re like a dub duo, I think they’re from Germany, but they use Jamaican guys to front it, but it’s all about what effects you’ve got, and Sid’s got a lot of effects, we’re just experimenting up there, round at his house, at some stage I’ll try and record an X-Ray Spex album, that’s if somebody wants to put it out, I could do a few new songs if I do another live show, but I’m not planning a live show in the near future. But I’ve got a few new songs for X-Ray Spex anyway, but it’s just a whole album’s worth, whether somebody really wants to put it out, because if you’ve got no way of getting it to people, it’s a lot of time and energy making an album and then it doesn’t go out… but Future Noise have shown an interest, so did Sony, but they haven’t got back to us! To be honest, you don’t know whether it’s best just to work with an independent anyway, it’s not like we’re selling millions of copies. We’ll just have to wait and see and play it by ear. But for pleasure, what I do mainly is mess about with this dub stuff, it’s very chilled and very relaxing and I quite enjoy doing it. It’s day by day, I also run, so I have to answer those emails every day as well. It’s not too much, but there is something every day and there’s a myspace as well, I’ve just set up an official one. Just in case we do another gig in future we can get to everybody a bulletin.

You’ve sold out a 3,000 seater on the basis of your album of 1978, why do you think Germ Free Adolescents continues to resonate with people?

Something with the title of that album, Germ Free Adolescents, resonates with young people, it’s almost like a rite of passage, to have that album when you’re young, a teenager, because of the name of it. So it’s something to do with that, and I think the older people that came, I think it just takes them back to their youth, it’s that feel good thing, when you hear a piece of music, it resonates, you’ve got all these other associations with it. When you hear it again it takes you back to a period of your life, that probably might have been quite good and makes you feel good. I know people say the lyrics are really ahead of their time and this and that, and there is that to it, but I also believe there’s something, it also has a feel good factor, the feelings that you associated with when you first heard it, it transports you back.

Reminds me of when I was Smash Hits reader! But I played the album again last night and it’s not lost what made it exciting back then…

It was quite modern wasn’t it, the lyrics apply to today…

Well the theme of consumerism is still topical…

I was writing about it before it was really big, so when you look at it now, you go ‘That’s really now’!

Poly Styrene’s final solo album ‘Generation Indigo’ is out now on Future Noise.
Live At The Roundhouse London 2008 is out now through Year Zero

Hugh Gulland

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Bourbon-soaked street fightin’ blues cool from East London.

Opening like a quick draw scene from a Sergio Leone Western, ‘Love Song 666’ slinks its way from the speakers with a satanic and sexy strut as ringmaster Mr Paul-Ronney Angel leads his flock of red ‘n’ black-clad miscreants through a barroom bop with the lyrics “So I fucked your sister/Tried it on with your mother/Kicked the shit out of your brother…”, intoning them with the gravitas of a sin-soaked preacher leering out of his pulpit at his damned congregation of drunks and punks. With a band culled from the darkest dive bars and titty joints this side of a James Ellroy novel (comprised of Nick ‘Nasty’ Marsh on guitar/vocals, Barney Hollington on violin, Dr Loyd Gomez De Ville on trumpet, upright bass player The Reverend Gavin Smith, percussionist extraordinaire Brother Jim Jones, The Late J-Roni-Moe on drums, Joe ‘Mongo’ Whitney on melodica, washboard and percussion and Jary on floor tom, cymbal and sticks), The Urban Voodoo Machine make music to drink, fight and fuck to, harnessing a sound that makes grown men strip and strippers lose their shit as master of the perverse verse Angel harnesses the smoky-shrouded cool of old school Tom Waits to the kind of swing that makes the burlesque dancers of the East End do their thing, dragging one and all into the band’s dark carnival. Having left an indelible mark on Vagueness, Edinburgh Festival and Latitude Festival, if they’re not out on tour, you can find The Urban Voodoo Machine propping up, playing on or underneath the bar at the Gypsy Hotel, an East London club night especially created to showcase their unique skills in getting a crowd good and sweaty. Personally invited by Spider Stacy to support The Pogues last year amd with their bourbon soaked second album ‘In Black ‘N’ Red’ out now, be sure to get their early to see just what all the fuss is about.

‘In Black ‘N’ Red’ is out now on Gypsy Hotel.

The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy And The Lash
Tom Waits – Nighthawks At The Diner
The Clash – London Calling

PAUL-RONNEY ANGEL’S (front centre of pic above) 10 OUTLAW ANTHEMS

1. San Quentin – Johnny Cash (above)
JC wrote this for the inmates of SQ, trying to put himself in their place – he did it well! "Your stone walls turn my blood a little cold"

2. The Guns of Brixton – The Clash
"When they kick at your front door how you gonna come, with your hands on your head or on the trigger of your gun?" Nuff said!

3. Mack the Knife – Louis Armstrong
OK, there is hundreds of versions of this song, but I belive Satchmo’s is the best! "Someones sneaking round the corner, could that someone be Mack the Knife?"

4. Jesse James – The Pogues
No list of outlaw anthems are complete without cowboys and the Pogues, this combines both! "Jesse James we understand, has killed many a man"

5. Devils Right Hand – Steve Earle
Mr Earle was the country outlaw guy of the ‘80s, this song sums him up nicely! "Mama says the pistol is the devil’s right hand"

6. Stagger Lee – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

From the excellent Murder Ballads album, Ol’ Stag is the meanest gunslinging, gambling motherfucker around, "And he will crawl over fifty good pussies just to get to one fat boy’s asshole" – scary!

7. Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer – AC/DC (above)
"You can stick your 9-5 living and your collar and your tie" – Bon Scott is the ultimate Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw!

8. Jumping Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones

Anyone "born in a crossfire hurricane" got to be an outlaw! And then there is Keef of course!

9. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Ennio Morricone
The ultimate western soundtrack – beautiful, scary and dramatic. If you want to hear a more rocking version, check out Los Plantronics.

10. Going Out West – Tom Waits

"My parole officer is gonna be proud of me" – yeah right Tom!

~OK, you asked for 10, but I always go to 11, so here is one I wrote!

11. Orphans Lament – The Urban Voodoo Machine

"Snake-Eye Jack that’s my name, too tough to die and too wild to tame"

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VIVE LE ROCK attended the launch of Adam Ants UK tour press conference today
and it was great! Adam played a 40 minute set that included Ant Music, Stand
and Deliver, Physical plus covers by Iggy Pop and T Rex. He also answered
questions about his album and the tour.You can watch the videos below:


16May 2011

Adam Ant & The Good The Mad And The Lovely Posse
Brighton Concorde 2
New On Sale From: 1 Apr 2011, 09:00
17May 2011
Adam Ant & The Good The Mad And The Lovely Posse
Cambridge Junction
New On Sale From: 1 Apr 2011, 09:00
18May 2011
Adam Ant & The Good The Mad And The Lovely Posse
Wedgewood Rooms
New On Sale From: 1 Apr 2011, 09:00
23May 2011
Adam Ant & The Good The Mad And The Lovely Posse
O2 ABC Glasgow
New On Sale From: 1 Apr 2011, 09:00
24May 2011
Adam Ant & The Good The Mad And The Lovely Posse
O2 Academy Sheffield
New On Sale From: 1 Apr 2011, 09:00
26May 2011
Adam Ant & The Good The Mad And The Lovely Posse
New On Sale From: 1 Apr 2011, 09:00
28May 2011
Adam Ant & The Good The Mad And The Lovely Posse
O2 Academy Liverpool
New On Sale From: 1 Apr 2011, 09:00
29May 2011
Adam Ant & The Good The Mad And The Lovely Posse
O2 Academy Newcastle
New On Sale From: 1 Apr 2011, 09:00
01Jun 2011
Adam Ant & The Good The Mad And The Lovely Posse
O2 Academy Birmingham
New On Sale From: 1 Apr 2011, 09:00
03Jun 2011
Adam Ant & The Good The Mad And The Lovely Posse
New On Sale From: 1 Apr 2011, 09:00
04Jun 2011
Adam Ant & The Good The Mad And The Lovely Posse
New On Sale From: 1 Apr 2011, 09:00

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Last month we asked:


Here are the results:

BLONDIE   48.6% 

DEVO  15.3%
XTC  12.5%

Now vote for what you think is the best Adam Ant album!


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Twenty one years and an admirable back catalogue, Californian quartet The BellRays are back with their new album ‘Black Lightning’ and an ass kicking mix of soul and rock ‘n’ roll. Vive Le Rock caught up with guitarist Bob Vennum to find out more.

It’s been a little while since you put out a record. What’s new in the BellRays camp?
“We basically had a lot of time off last year getting the record finished. We missed a couple of cycle periods in releasing it so it was hard to get a tour booked. The good thing about it was we got to spend enough time on the record to make it sound great and give the songs what they needed. Other than that we’ve just been keeping busy trying to be good people.”

Talk us through the titling and recording of ‘Black Lightning’.

“This record really does mark where the band is in this point in time. It’s the first time that Lisa [Kekaula, vocals] and I sat down to write a record. ‘Close Your Eyes’ is the only song that we’d been out playing for a long time before recording it. This time Lisa and I sat down and actually wrote all the songs on the record with the intention of getting a record out. It’s nice to know that we can operate like that and come up with what I think are some of our best songs.

“We had Matt Radosevich to help produce it, which is a new thing for us as well. In the past we had to do it all ourselves for whatever reasons, but this time we were able to bounce ideas off Matt. Having him in the control room saying, ‘you can do it better’ or ‘try this’ or ‘that’s not really working’ was really helpful. He had some good ideas about the song structures and stuff too. It really freed me up and helped me concentrate on my own performances since I didn’t have to tweak knobs or worry about pushing any buttons. I didn’t have to any of that other stuff that I usually have to. I was able to just hand everything over to Matt, who knows way more about making stuff sound good than I do.

“As far as the title goes, ‘Black Lightning’ just seems to describe our situation when we were putting everything togther. It’s all about power, energy, suddenness and rarity. Lightning doesn’t strike that often and ‘Black Lightning’ strikes even less than that!

It seems that ‘Black Lightning’ sees the BellRays reinvigorated. Songs like ‘Sun Comes Down’ and ‘Everybody Get Up’ have a real punch and power to them for example. Do you think this is the case, listening back to it now?
“I do think that. I was really happy when we were in the song writing process and we were coming up with such good ideas. I would do the demos and think that they sounded great. Then after we recorded everything for real it was amazing to hear how much better they sounded and more alive. I think it had to do with coming out of our shell and working in a completely different way. We really just got out of our own way for the most part and let people do their jobs, as opposed to trying to herd the process ourselves and it freed up so much energy. I feel kind of stupid for having it take this long to get to how most bands usually operate.”

How much of a difference do you feel there is between, say, The Stooges and the Supremes in terms of heart? Just thinking that you combine the two…
“I see us more as including the both of them in what we do, as opposed to combining them. Maybe stylistically they’re near our centre point but I’m way more interested in groups like The Beatles, The Who, Cream and Cheap Trick because of the songs and the song writing and the places they could take you to musically.

“I’ve always wanted to be in a band that had no limits and could do whatever it wanted to musically and not be hemmed in by style. The bands I like could make a set or an album really go somewhere. You could start out here and end up in a different place. The songs could all be different sounding and different styles. The Beatles put ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Helter Skelter’ on the same album! Two completely different types of songs. I’ve also always liked powerful singers. When I met Lisa I was blown away because she sang like all the singers I really listened to (Otis Redding, Etta James, Mavis Staples, Mose Alison etc.). I was always way more interested in the singers than I was the guitar players. When the whole punk thing happened it really just showed how free things could get, that you didn’t necessarily have to do things in a an official way. You could just grab an instrument and make whatever noise you wanted to. It’s all about options with The BellRays. We want to incorporate everything into what we do.

“The other thing is people think that because we play loud and fast that bands like The Temptations,  Martha And The Vandellas, The Supremes and Little Richard didn’t. Everybody remembers the radio hits ‘My Girl’ and ‘Stop In The Name Of Love’ and all that but, if you went to see them in a show, they played loud and they played fast! It was the hardest rocking stuff around.”

What are the BellRays plans for the rest of 2011?
“We’ll be getting ‘Black Lightning’ out there to the people. We plan on being in everyone’s living room this year!

Read the review of The BellRays’ ‘Black Lightning’ in issue 2 of Vive Le Rock, out now. Order your copy HERE.

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