Unpublished interview with Record Collector Magazine from December 2007
 
 
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What was your experience with music before The Sid Presley Experience?

PC: I was a fan definitely, I`ve been in love with music since I was born, but prior to starting The Sid Presley Experience I was a music journalist actually. Used to work for Record Mirror and Zig Zag magazine.

CC: The first time we played on the telly (The Tube, Ch4) as the Sid Presley Experience was a real high though, we were so nervous we did the song in half the time that it should`ve been played in and we ended up walking around on stage at the end for thirty seconds!

KD: When people say, `a record changed my life` right? I swear to God "Hup 2,3,4" (The Sid Presley Experience`s debut single) changed my life. I was into the Medway scene, bands like The Milkshakes and Feelgood, but I was never cool enough to be involved. Then I read a review of The Sid Presleys saying they were like The Milkshakes, (which I never understood afterwards) and so I got the record. When I heard that riff come in and I was like, `Fuck me! - thats what I wanna do. Sod The Milkshakes, thats the band I wanna be in.` I was a fan, I was a massive Sid Presley fan.

What was the first thing in music that hit you?

PC: I`d have to say The Beatles, I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, all those fantastic groups, but I`d have to say them because they weren`t just a group, they were like part of your family, and thats why I`ve always regarded John Lennon as my big brother, sort of thing. You start from The Beatles and you can go anywhere from there really, following music or styles of music or what have you. We grew up, me and Chris (Coyne) in a very large Irish family, there was ten kids and we listened to their music and it started from that.

KD: I listened to punk, cause my brother had loads of records; The Damned`s first album, The Jam, Ultravox, The Radio Stars great things like that, but where I was bought up in the Isle of Sheppey there wasn`t that segregation that punk was meant to have bought. I mean I also loved The Stones, Wilko Johnson and then into John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson. I was embarrassed to say it at the time of The Godfathers but I love Quo, I mean one of the first things I learnt to play was the Caroline riff by Status Quo. The first major gig I saw was Quo at Wembley Arena. When I was a kid though, we`d listen to Quo followed by Never Mind The Bollocks, it was all just loud guitars to us. It was all rock`n`roll.

What made you go from writing about it to singing?

PC: I started writing for the music press in 1979. So before that I was a fan, I used to go and see bands like Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, The Pistols, though you could never see them cause they were always not playing. We liked punk rock music a lot - the attitude of punk rock and then when I started writing for the papers, it was a bit of a boring time in music. It was the early 80s and I thought the music was crap. So the idea from my angle was `sod this, I`ll stop writing and do this myself with me brother. I`m sure I can do better than that.

Do you play any musical instruments?

PC: No, not at all, no, no.

Wasn`t it hard to write songs without that ability?

PC: Not really, because you`re always blessed in the band by people who can write tunes. I did come up with tunes despite not mastering any musical instruments but in fact it made me concentrate more on the words anyway. I thought that was good. Its what you do with the words - you can go anywhwere with a tune, but its what you put on top that makes it memorable. I think Godfathers songs still sound fresh nearly 22 years later.

The simplicity of them has left them timeless, like a lot of 60s tunes?

PC: Yeah, we always came up with quality songs, I mean we weren`t a political band, but we did do all the harsh realities of life; songs like "This Damn Nation" or " Birth School Work Death". There was something nasty and evil in the air and it was our duty to get it down, in an exiting way.

There was a lot of anger coming across with the band...


PC: There was a lot to react against in that decade. "I Want Everything" was about the rampant greed culture at the time that still operates now. It was also about our ambition, because we were very ambitious as a group from the start. I mean we played three gigs in the UK and then went to the States for about four or six concerts as soon as the band was formed, just to introduce the band, we put out singles, toured Europe, came back home, back out to the States, more singles and hey presto it was a living, breathing definition of a rock`n`roll band. That line up of The Godfathers was pure.

The Americans took to the band straight away...

PC: It was great for us cause we were virtually taking coals back to Newcastle. A lot of bands couldn`t get into The States because they weren`t considered "artistically worthwhile"; a lot of rejects trying to tour out there, but couldn`t get out there. But funnily enough customs guys in The States used to love us, we used to turn up and they`d ask me,"excuse me sir, whats the purpose of your visit?" and I`d say I`m in a band and we`re touring...and they say, "and what groups that?" `Oh The Godfathers`, "This Damn Nation?, Birth School Work Death? - great records - welcome to the country!" Honestly, I had that about five or six times in the States alone and various other countries as well.

David Bowie was a fan of the band wasn`t he?

PC: He came to see us twice; once in Switzerland at some festival with his girlfriend at the time, (a ballet dancer). David Bowie was very lovely, he loved the music he wanted to know where Birth School Work Death came from, he was interesting and a nice guy.

CC: And at the gig in Hollywood he had to be carried out of the audience, worse for wear.

Any other famous fans of The Godfathers?

PC: I don`t want to really get into a list, there is really quite a few people. Some people you wouldn`t really imagine...Johnny Depp, I know he loved The Godfathers. He asked Kris when he was out in the states working with Adam Ant, " The Godfathers were a fucking great band, why`d you leave them?"

So how did that pan out when the original line up shattered?

PC: We`ve just set up a website for The Godfathers and we`ve had to construct a time line of dates, concerts and things we did around that period and we didn`t just go out for two weeks to America, we went out for two months or four months at a time and you`ve got to take into account, you`re making records as well, touring the UK, Europe: You`re doing a lot of work when you`re touring Europe, UK and America I suppose. Probably a lot of dates, one on top of another and then something happens like the straw that broke the camels back...

KD: It was delusions of grandeur, (on my part); loads of people coming up to me telling me I was great, record company people, I was 23 at the time, I was fed up. We`d done a lot of touring that year, I felt a bit stifled as a musician and I believed them. I so was nieve, it was just a fucked up mess to be honest - all stupid stuff now when you look back on it. It was the hardest decision I`ve ever made."

How did you feel about it at the time?

PC: Gutted. I don`t wanna talk about negative feelings about the band now were getting back together. We should be talking about how we are now. Its bad blood and water under the bridge and thats the whole point of us doing this thing, that we can reconnect together as individuals, enjoy ourselves and have a laugh about it.

Is this intended to be a long term project, are The Godfathers back permanently?

PC: Well it could turn into a long term project, I`m not saying. If you`d asked me a year ago, would I be singing with the original line up of The Godfathers, I would`ve said, `that is impossible`, but never say never again, but we`re not gonna play every date under sun - definiately not, but for a certain period. I dunno how long its gonna be. It might be three months, six months, a year. We`ll just have to see where this road takes us.

Is there a possibility of recording any new Godfathers material?

CC: You never know...

PC: We`ll have to see, I mean at the moment we`re still learning the songs that we wrote together as a band. Lets master those first before we move onto anything else.

What about a DVD or live album of the reunion gigs?

PC: Well we`ll probably record it, but what happens to that afterwards, again we`ll have to see. Our Hit By Hit albums coming out and thats sounding great, it originally started off as a ten track compilation album, now its a twenty nine track, two cd extravaganza.

Can you tell us something about the new tracks that are on there?

PC: Theres BBC sessions that we recorded at the time - `85, that was definately our first one with Andy Kershaw with some fantastic stuff on that like early versions of This Damn Nation, John Barry, and what have you, and theres another one; Janice Long session thats got I Want Everything. Its before we actually recorded them in the studio. They just sound different. They still sound rocking, still sound great and theres some live tracks on there as well. The live tracks have versions of Anarchy in the UK, Public Enemy No.1 thats not been released by The Godfathers, stuff like that.

CC: For me, the original Hit By Hit is up there with The Stooges first album - it rocks. Its got everything you want from an angsty rock`n`roll band and I love it. I`m so pleased that its coming out again and I`m really proud that I`m on it y`know?

Looking on You Tube, theres quite a few videos of The Godfathers and even The Sid Presley Experience. Would you consider putting a compilation DVD of those out for the fans?

PC: Yeah, again thats down to licencing. But one thing we do have to concentrate on doing is this live thing right first and maybe afterwards everything will fall into place, but theres enough work to be done with what we`re doing at the moment.
What label is the deluxe edition of Hit By Hit coming out on at the end of February?

PC: Corporate Image, our own label. We`ve always had our own label, apart from when we signed to Epic/Sony, we`ve always had our own label.

Any news on the venue for the much anticipated February 14th "St.Valentines Day Massacre" reunion gig?

PC: Its definatly at The Forum, one of our old stomping grounds.

What about high points of the original band, when it struck you that things were really taking off?

PC: All the time to be honest with you. We were a very ambitious group right from the start. We wanted to go to America - we did that, get our own record label, get a fantastic producer like Vic Maile. The whole idea for The Godfathers was to keep the freak flag flying for rock`n`roll. And I think we did that quite successfully really when there was nothing else out there of any real substance. Birth School Work Death has gotta be a bit of a high point, cause that took off instantly all over the world and its turned into a little franchise of its own really. Birth School Work Death; loads of people use that title in one way or another and theres quite a few cover versions of that song too. I dunno, its amazing to me how things do last like. I was always proud of that line up of the band, virtually untouchable I think, and especially those records we made together, all of them.

CC: Highlights? Walking down Wardour Street (in London) to play The Marquee and they`re queuing all around the block, which is great ...and they weren`t queuing for pizza! It was just such a buzz, you went out and it was just more, more, more. It was a lovely feeling all that positive energy.

KD: For me it was playing the Town and Country on February 14th 1988. That was brilliant, because I was worried if we could fill it and then we sold it out. It was just a fantastic evening, a fantastic gig and thats when I felt, `we`ve really done something here, y`know?`

How did you get hold of legendary producer Vic Maile?

PC: We got our record collection out one night and went through them and started noticing this name coming up time and again, in particular on Motorhead`s Ace of Spades record. Dirty Love was the B-side - a fantastic, clear, powerful rocking sound like, y`know? He`d done The Screaming Blue Messiahs, Dr.Feelgood - excellent, Hawkwind`s Silver Machine - we`ll have some of that! We got in touch with Vic ourselves and started working with him right from the word go on our first record.

Did he live up to expectations?

CC: Lovely man, fantastic man.

PC: We met him in a cafe and he was totally different to what we`d thought he`d look like.

CC: I was expecting some sort of six foot five, greasy biker type, but he looked more like E.T. with his big eyes looking up at you and he had such a lovely way telling us great stories from his past; its that old cliche, but he was the sixth member of the band. He helped us with the harmonies that we were using at the time, but in a gentle way, suggesting we tried different ways. It was fantastic working with him, it was like having your mentor in with you.

PC: He was a lovely geezer and he certainly knew his rock`n`roll. He`d learnt it from people like Joe Meek, Shel Talmy in the first place, from the masters really. He`d learnt about compression from Joe Meek, y`know; how to squash a record and make it sound fat and loud and clear, and he used all those attributes when he was working with us. It was a good partnership, a great partnership, he was a genius producer, I think.

Later in The Godfathers your sound started to touch on other styles of music and bands like The Kinks, The Who - classic sixties stuff...

PC: I think our music, we just played what we liked and rock`n`roll music as far as I`m concerned is all encompassing. I brought up on that type of music, all kinds of stuff; psychodelic. One of the first types of music that stuck in my head was psychodelic music for the colours - Strawberry Fields, Blackberry Way, y`know, whatever, Apples and Oranges? but it all stuck in my head and it filters through to what you`re doing, its got to if you`ve got any brains.

What have the ex-members of the line up being doing since The Godfathers?

CC: I`ve been working on my own stuff cause if you`ve got your own vision on things it gets a bit washed out if you have to go through five other filters first, it keeps it purer. It doesn`t sound like anything I`ve done before though and I`m building up a catalogue of songs now for a solo release.

PC: I know Mike has been working with The Bikini Beach Band, producing them and he`s got his own thing on the go, musically. George is playing out in Italy on some TV show or something, he was a session drummer for a bit, George.

KD: I worked with The Damned,Johnny Thunders, Dee Dee Ramone, Adam Ant, Del Amitri and now tour as a solo blues guitarist.
There was quite a big following for The Godfathers in Europe wasn`t there?

PC: Spain, Germany yeah all over Europe, Scandinavia was fantastic. Again, we got over there straight away with our records and then kept going back; it kept getting bigger and better. It was great.

The Godfathers sound was very English and raw, but yet it seemed to translate better in foriegn countries...

PC: People all over the world like quality rock`n`roll and our lyrics and our music were very universal. Birth School Work Death, is pretty much the same anywhere around the planet. Ambition is... feelings like I Want Everything, She Gives Me Love - they`re all universal.

Rolf Harris` "Sunarise" (covered on Hit By Hit)?

CC: A fantastic song! We were never a trendy band, it always came from the heart with us. We first tried it when were up in Stockport at a radio session for the BBC and Vic Maile says the last band he remembers doing Sunarise was Alice Cooper, but then again who can imagine Alice Cooper doing it with his baby burning, gouging and whatever? I remember when were recording it at the time, the whole thing about South Africa was very much the issue at the time, aparthied and everything else. I was sitting out in the kitchen having a smoke and a cup of tea and that Desmond Tutu speach comes on the radio as we`re listening back to it and it goes (sound of tribal drum beat), and thats it - what a perfect ending. I think it gave it a different interpretation to the song.

What did S.T.B. (on Birth School Work Death) stand for?

PC: I`m not gonna tell you. You`ll have to make your own title up from that one. We know what it was called, but we never tell anybody.

I hear that you had to use Ebay to get a copy of Hit By Hit when you started this project.

PC: We haven`t got the masters for Hit By Hit. The deluxe edition sounds just like the original. We`re never gonna remix it anyway because that`d be a disservice to Vic Maile`s work and what we created in the first place anyway. If it ain`t broke, don`t fix it!

Is there any other material in The Godfathers vaults?


PC: Yeah, when we were going through the live stuff, there were tracks from later albums and beyond. We did a version of Walking Talking Johnny Cash Blues, demoed it in Nashville on a day off from touring. We`d had it for a few months and on our one day off work we elected to go into Johnny Cash`s own studio in Nashville to record it. So we`ve got a very, very early demo of that with a pedal steel guitar being played by our bus driver. So yeah, there is stuff out there, alternate versions and bits and bobs, but again they`re in Sony`s vaults and they might very well want to put out a twenty-first anniversary version of Birth School Work Death... I dunno, we`ll have to see what Sony say about that.

What does 2008 hold for The Godfathers?

PC: The whole thing about doing these dates is to make everything we do special. We`re not gonna be there all the time. So if we`re available and if people want to get the serious rock`n`roll action of the original Godfathers come and see us now, cause we ain`t gonna keep coming back, and back, and back. This is it. Period. How ever long it lasts, the work we do live this year will be special. We`ve been offered tons of dates since we announced we`re coming back, but were only doing a few.

Any festival dates in this country?

PC: I`d like to think so, I hope so. Again we`ll have to see...

I know the Americans would like to see you...

PC: America was always the biggest record market in the world for The Godfathers, far out stripping anywhere else. This Damn Nation was a big college radio hit and everything followed on from there really. So its very possible that we`ll be getting out to the States, but again, we`ll have to see about that after St.Valentine`s Day. I`d like to think its fairly certain though, yeah.