great to see a Speedball album out and its a special celebration as its
30 years since 'No Survivors' hit the shelves at Record World etc - How
does it feel to finally see the CD materialise?
Its very strange because I have no recordings from all those years ago,
so I can't wait to hear what's been dug up. I hope Detour have beefed
them up somehow, as recordings from those days do not stand up too well
- also I seem to recall never being able to remember second verses, so
it will be interesting if any second verses exist!
Listening to the music now, what are your thoughts on it?
I haven't heard it! Although I have read the sleeve notes, Roger Allen
sent them to me, which were kindly he was always good with a quill. I
will be buying the CD from Detour online and am only too pleased to be
able to get a copy, so thanks to Roger Allen and Detour for going through
the trouble they have.
Speedball (and Idiot) meant a lot to a lot of people, none more so
than the local fans whom followed the band - I wondered if you had any
favourite gig memories or indeed favourite gigs you played in the area?
I was always very shy and I remember, before playing I would have to run
round the block to calm my nerves, there was one particularly scary run
before we played at Lindisfarne? But Guy, Dave and I just seemed to have
a great time and I didn't stuff up too much. But the concert I remember
most was The Vicars (I think that was the name at the time) and Alf the
singer sang 'River Deep Mountain High'. She certainly found her voice
with that song, it knocked me out.
did the transition to Speedball from Idiot occur - was it a conscious
decision to break from the past, or a slow evolution?
The transition from 4 to 3 piece is explained on the sleeve notes of the
CD and I don't think I should say anything out of respect for Barry and
Blue but Roger Allen covers it. We needed a bass player and the audition
found Guy who was probably too good for us! In true Speedball style I
had to borrow a guitar off of the people who came for the audition! Dave
was very keen to join in with the Mod Revival as we seemed to fit in with
sixties-ish songs as we were, we weren't strict adherers to the cause,
more on the margin than others. We felt it wasn't too phoney a stance,
which is why we had tunics rather than the natty suits. Maybe the real
reason for the tunics was we couldn't afford the natty suits anyway so
when we found some cheap tunics, it solved that problem. I had a lovely
yellow one, I seem to remember.
What are your memories of the early Idiot days, and indeed the early
punk scene in Southend - were there any particular inspirational gigs
/ events you witnessed and are there any particular names / faces that
stand out in your memory from the era?
I saw 'The Damned' at the Queens Hotel which was an early punk gig in
Southend and seeing groups who had songs you could play along with easily
had an appeal, I used to like the bands like Penetration, 999, The Ruts,
The Jam, Radiators from Space any that had a couple of good catchy songs
and would go to see them in London, (now I can see them on YouTube - marvellous).
The first people I met in Southend who also liked 'new wave' were Dave
and Paul from Idiot who were still at school at the time, I was 2 years
older working in London and they said they had a band and needed a guitarist
I said I had one (I did actually have one at that point) and as I had
a pair of trousers with a zip in I was in. I remember The Kennedy brothers
Dean and Warren of Deano's Marvels and I was always impressed with them
as they had expensive professional instruments and equipment, well rehearsed,
and a great van, which was the height of success in those days. I was
surprised they didn't take off as they were great live. I seem to remember
playing bass for them for a short period when they weren't as good. I
believe Dean and Warren have had successful careers in the music industry.
Dee told me once that he played on your track 'Ging Gang Gooley' on the
Southend Rock album - do you remember this?
Of course, I'd forgotten that - John Dee of The Machines - we thought
he was the fastest drummer in the world. He did Ging Gang Gooley as Dave
had gone walkabout to Deano's Marvels at the time, so John drummed for
us. He was a decent bloke but Dave came back for some reason I can't remember.
I can't remember arguing with Dave but he seemed to get annoyed with me
a lot. We also had a drummer at the end called Jed from Acton when we
were playing the last Trafalgar residencies in Shepherds Bush.
Do you ever hear from Barry Godwin or Paul 'Blue' Dunn?
Barry, Paul and I all worked at Rank Video in Soho in the early eighties
for a few years but we drifted apart after I left. I did see them both
around 1991 in London and although I did get Barry Godwin's email a few
years ago he didn't reply, so I've left him alone. He works in the USA
for Disney and is quite the corporate executive I am lead to believe.
He still has my Dan Armstrong double sliding pickup guitar! Paul is a
Special Effects Director and has done various feature films - but I haven't
heard from him since 1991 when he was doing animatronics on Spitting Image
(he was always a smart and very capable guy).
the odd dark night, do you ever think back to the infamous Queens Road
Hee hee hee I shouldn't laugh really should I. It certainly was a wild
and raucous place, the like I have never seen again. I have had a look
on Google Earth and glad to see it looks very respectable these days still
standing, but back then, sheeeeeesh. I am sure anyone who ever went to
a party there, never got into the 'buy to let' game. Guy recommended a
film to watch that he reckons must have been based on the place. When
I dare to remember Queens Road, it makes me laugh and shake my head at
the same time. It was next to a pub so that was fantastic for us, but
not for the pub as they used to complain about the noise next door!!!
Must have been the first time in history a pub complained about its noisy
neighbours. Just along the road was a chip shop that sold chips and gravy,
so the basic vital signs of life could be maintained easily. The original
lease (yes there was a real lease at the beginning) had 4 signatures from
memory Charlie, Norman (never knew his surname), Dave Dyke and myself.
This healthy relationship with the landlord deteriorated as the ink dried
and the regular house warming parties started. The Dentists surgery at
the front of the building was found to have a door that wasn't locked
- what fun the dentists chairs are when you haven't got the dentist present.
As more and more people started to stay there, it got more and more out
of hand and the bizarre behaviour became continual, here's a few from
my memory bank that are recountable on paper - the others need a beer
and a bar to lean on:
· I arrived back one evening and someone was throwing a scooter out of
the back bedroom window onto the garage roof in order to demolish the
garage, I asked why, and was given a look that said 'stupid question'
so I kept quiet and watched as the garage endured a painful death by scooter
(another historic first).
· The Teddy boy gangs knew of the place and would regularly raid - I've
no idea why or how we got tipped off each time but it was a fine word
of mouth network and as effective as mobile phones are now. After a tip
off an army would assemble on the top floor of the car park next to the
flat with empty beer kegs from the pub and wait. It would all end up with
a few shouts and that would be it.
· Coming home to find about 16 people all sleeping in a normally 2 person
bedroom and thinking nothing of it.
· Witnessing a girl getting her long hair trimmed with a set of graders
and ending up bald much to the amusement of the demonic stylist who had
not an ounce of sympathy.
· An internal wall being demolished as a way of fitting more people in,
this was my first exposure to home renovations and unfortunately not my
· The one that gives me a relatively innocent chuckle was a scooter run
to Clacton (I think) and a guy called Sully (always reminded of this when
watching Monsters Inc) who didn't have a helmet to be a passenger, so
he made the trip with a salad bowl on his head.
· The place became even more feral and I moved out when I hadn't a clue
who all these people were that were living there. I don't think we asked
for our deposit back.
Sartre speaks about the notion of a 'Privileged Situation / Perfect Moment'
coalescence - was there any one particular moment either in Idiot or Speedball
where you felt that say at a particular gig or recording everything just
'came together' and it was the exact realisation of your vision of the
No visions, I was just writing and playing some dodgy songs and was always
surprised to get away with it for a while. I didn't have a guitar for
the most part and when I finally got one it was stolen by someone in the
Queens Road squat - I did eventually get a Dan Armstrong which are quite
collectable now but that was later on. So with my performance anxiety,
no instrument, no amplifier and an inability to remember second verses,
I had certainly set myself up for a sterling musical career, what the
hell was I thinking? I had always regarded the other bands as being better,
especially The Leepers who I felt were on the fringe of the Revival as
we were . I still have a Leepers cassette (funny old tape device) and
one of the tracks is 'On My Own' which still gets a listen these days.
Playing to a receptive crowd was a perfect moment and I have never found
an equivalent buzz. However playing to a small crowd that hates you balances
out those memories! A perfect moment would have been sitting watching
any band recording a song that you just knew would be a hit. What Speedball
did was really not good enough and we needed to get to another level and
our failure was mostly due to my laziness.
were 'right there' at the perfect place in time and history in relation
to the '79 Mod Revival - what are your memories of this time and are there
any events that sum it up for you?
Just youthful exuberance with some youths over-exubing. My memory of the
Mod Revival was just kids making their own entertainment, I do not think
I ever watched TV in those days so that was a plus, lots of parties and
rowdiness, how it was done with no money I will never know and some outrageous
behaviour (not by me of course). Probably the same as young people are
doing nowadays and always will.
What caused the band to spilt in the end? After Speedball's demise,
did you write / record with any other artists? I presume it was shortly
after this that you moved to Australia?
The work faded away and the New Romantics and Dance music came along.
I didn't look good in a dress and can't dance. I did join a band with
Guy straight after (Local Operator) but I wasn't a good enough guitarist
really, so I left before they started gigging. I joined an Irish club
band in London at one point playing bass for fun but it turned out to
be anything but fun. I did have a go again in the late eighties but after
playing to an audience of none I took that as a reasonable signal that
I wasn't good enough. Things like food, shelter and work had take priority
anyway. I have lived in Australia for around 15 years, its like living
in a Southend summer all year round but with snakes and sharks instead
of teddy boys (do they still exist?).
Finally, I wondered if you still play / write? If so and you're back
in the UK one day, it'd be cool to hear 'No Survivors' reverberate around
the Southend environs one last time?
In the nineties I started home recording for my own amusement and still
do today, but I have to be honest although I enjoy doing it, I wouldn't
offend anyone's ears with it. There is a box full of embarrassing home
recordings. I intend to come back to the UK for the Olympics (not competing!)
for an extended holiday and will look you up to shout you a curry and
beers as I have appreciated your site over the years here in Brisbane,
it is a good thing to wander through the past sometimes.
Its my '30 year catchup year' as I also got to read Guy Pratts book and
met up with him in July when he was touring with his comedy show in Australia.
I went to a Brisbane music shop where he was doing a personal appearance.
Went to get his book signed and he said 'who's it for?' I said 'Rob Beulo',
as he replied 'I used to play with someone called that...' he looked up
and he couldn't believe his eyes, and it was a lovely moment for me as
we gave each other a big (manly!) hug, he seemed genuinely pleased to
see me. I went to see his show and went for a drink afterwards, and seeing
him doing a show based on what he has been doing for 23 years is a great
way to catch up. I hadn't seen him since 1987.
- Interview by Southend Punk.com, November 2009