He was the original guitarist for Sting’s punk rock constabulary the Police and went on to play with trani rocker Jayne County. As he prepares to return to the UK to support the Police at Hyde Park with his band The Flying Padovanis, HENRY PADOVANI looks back over his rather interesting career.
Why did you decide to leave the Police just as they were breaking it?
"Well, the fact is that we were not breaking it and I didn’t leave just like that. When you have a guy like Sting in the band, even then, you want to have something new and exciting everyday to present him with. And in ’77, the police were not cutting it. We were not getting any gigs, mainly due to the fact that the punks didn’t look at us as one of their bands and would not really come to our shows. They were not interested."
Padovani (far right) in The Police
"Sting couldn’t place any of his songs in the repertoire as Stewart was driving the band and didn’t think people would be interested, fair enough and so after about 6 months together the morale was not the best. When andy came, it didn’t help for the gigs and for the audience, and it also changed the balance in the band, andy pushing Sting to write and bring more material while Stewart and I were trying to keep the band in the punk scene. That is it, really."
"Naturally, we started to argue more and more and the band was on the verge of splitting up. We tried being a four piece, but it didn’t work. The best was for them to continue as a trio, ok, not a trio that would try to break the ‘ punk scene’ but a trio that had a future doing a music that would draw from the punk scene but make it commercial. Thanks to Andy helping Sting bringing his songs to Stewart, that is what happened. But it didn’t happen in England at first, but in America. America was curious about the English punk scene, especially when rumor had it that punk bands couldn’t play. The Police had the idea to go to the US and present themselves as a punk band. A bright idea, especially with their brand new blond hairstyles but also with their great playing abilities. America loved them. Suddenly Americans thought themselves as hip and punks. But that was about a year after I had left the band…"
Their first single ‘Fallout’ was quite abit more punk rock than their later stuff, did you write it? How did it come about?
"When I met stewart, he wanted to form a punk band, having left curved air. We started to look for a bass player. He had about a dozen songs that he had already written and that we used to practise with his brother ian on bass and his girfriend Sonja Kristina on vocals, until sting arrived of course. Fallout was one of them."
And then you joined up with Jane County?
"The first time I had seen wayne county and the electric chairs, it was at Dingwalls and I had loved them. we went on tour together and I immediately got on well with the guitar player, greg van cook, an incredible player, à la jeff beck, yardbirds era. After I had left the police, I went back to Corsica for a short holiday. When I came back, I called greg as a friend to go out to clubs. He told me they were looking for a guitar player. I went to meet the band, we played one afternoon and they asked me to join right there and then."
Padovani in The Electric Chairs
What were the shows at the Roxy like?
"Incredible place where we saw the best punk bands in town, night after night. Packed everytime. People were cool and we knew that place was ours. One has to remember that those punks were building something bigger than them. All for one and one for all."
"Those punks were more like hippies really, and everyone was welcome. I remember the first day I went there, I had just arrived from France in England and sported a beard and long hair. The damned were on, that night. Nobody bothered me. at the contrary. I embraced that scene on the night and the next day, I went to cut my hair and beard. I wanted to be one of them."
Henry with Jayne County and the Electric Chairs
Why reform the Flying Padovanis now?
"Why not? We are the best at what we do. We were great then and I think we are better now. Apart from chris, the drummer, who has kept playing in the meantime, with thunders and joe strummer and glen matlock, paul slack and I have stopped playing for 25 years. But, somehow, we are even better now that we were then. Don’t ask me why or how, it is like that. we have it in our blood. Nobody does the music we do and I think that until we see a band that does it, we shall have to be on stage because the music we play and the way we play is absolutely essential to rock and roll. That is the way it is.we are a real band. much better than the sum of each of us."
Padovani in the reformed Flying Padovanis
You have quite a pedigree in the band-can you tell us about the band members?
"Chris Musto, as I said, played with Johnny Thunders, Joe Strummer and Glen Matlock. Paul Sack was with the UK Subs. But having said all this, their best band is the flying padovanis. They know that! And so do I."
Your sound has been liked to Link Ray and Dick Dale? Would that be right?
"Link Wray I would agree. We love link wray and we do some of his numbers on stage, things like jack the ripper, or ace of spades.. link wray has to be essential to rock music. All the guitar players I have met, have once in their life played rumble.. I believe Bob Dylan used to open his shows with rumble.. link wray is definitely an inspiration. Just cool."
"The other influence would be the ventures. It is Wayne County that gave me a record by the ventures, who got me instantly hooked to instrumental guitar music."
"Dick Dale is now well known because of the Tarantino movies. Thank you Quentin. But, I believe we never were into Dick Dale at all. It was the ventures and Link Wray."
"As of today, we have decided to drop any of the melodic numbers we used to do. It is more basic and hypnotic rock and roll. No effects. Just a guitar plugged into an amp, a bass and a drum kit. That is all."
Henry Padovani today
You are playing with the Police at Hyde Park -its a massive show. Are you looking forward to it?
"Absolutely. We are as a band and I am personally. Sting wanted us on that show and that is great of him. When I joined them at the Stade de France, in front of 160,000 people, I told them: I am going to play as a Flying Padovani. They all laughed. After the show, sting told he totally loved the way I approached the song. That is, I told him, the flying padovani way!"
"I know all the real police fans will be at the front of the stage and I know, because I receive a lot of mails, that they want to see my band. it will also be the very last police show in England. We will be doing our very best that night. We will be very hard to follow…"
How do you get on with Sting and Stuart Copeland these days?
"I get on very well. In fact, after I quit playing in bands, I used to see sting a lot, doing normal things like going to watch football, or tennis, or going to clubs, just hanging out as friends, in paris, in italy or wherever we might be. we probably exchange a mail everyweek."
"When I made a record 2 years ago, and we needed a sort of reggae rock drums for a song, I asked stewart if he wanted to play on it. He said yes and wondered whether I had asked sting, which I hadn’t.. I called sting and he asked me whether I had asked stewart.. i realised they would hardly talk to each other. I told them, hey guys why don’t we settle all this in a studio and I, yes I, henry will be the boss. We did and we recorded a song called welcome home, about environment. God knows if it helped but, 6 months later, the police reformed…"
"When they were to rehearse the show in italy, sting asked me to come down there and stay with them. I did and we had a great time. I knew that they would be doing great. They sounded amazing."
Thanks a lot for your time Henry.
Eugene Big Cheese magazine/Vivelepunk.net
THE FLYING PADOVANIS PLAY:
Fri 6th – 100 Club, supporting Pretty Things
Weds 25th – Eel Pie Club, Cabbage Patch, Twickenham
Thurs 26th – The Amersham, New Cross
Sat 28th – Ace Cafe
Sun 29th – Hyde Park (w/ The Police)
25th – 27th Fuji Festival, Japan