A transcript of my interview with Glenn Matlock, Chris Spedding and Steven Parsons of King Mob.
The usual rules apply – if you want to use this, then please ask me first, and cite me correctly. Cheers!
There’s a lot of waiting around
Glen – you know radio four, that poncy news program, they said ‘now we’re going over to floella poncenby-smythe who’s with charlie watts from the rolling stones, today celebrating thirty years playing in the rolling stones, and she said ‘charlie, you’ve been playing live for thirty years, and he said ‘you’ve got it wrong there love …’ and she said ‘what do you mean, surely you formed in such and such a date and now it’s such and such a date’, and he said I might have been in the band for thirty years, but it’s not thirty years’ playing, its five years playing and twenty-five years hanging about’
S – and that is what the big actors get paid for, they sit there, I’ve been on set, they sit there, and wait and wait, we’re going to be on in ten minutes, fifteen, when they get out there when the light’s right when this is ready they have to deliver they can’t fuck up they’ve only got that small part … the ones that earn the big money they’re pretty good … I worked with Christopher lee once and I was amazed they kept him waiting but he must have had his performance in his head all the tim bcause the minute the camera was on, bang!
P – how similar is that to playing?
Paul – that’s showbusiness all over, isn’t it? Nobody cares about the crap, the public just want to see the fun
G – talking to nick lowe once and he was supposed to be doing a tour, and he said ‘ I like playing on-stage for the hour, it’s the 23 hours you spend getting there that’s the problem at our age’
Paul – or when you have to do a soundcheck in the afternoon and hang about for three hours after that
g – breaks your day up, doesn’t it? Breaks up your hanging around …
S- I haven’t done it for 13 years, do you soundcheck?
Paul – with Bryan Ferry, yes … it’s not really a soundcheck it’s a rehearsal because he’ll come in with new numbers or ideas
G it’s all right if you’re doing that but if your just doing a level check … and the roadies don’t like you soundchecking because it spoils their fun. And if you have a good soundcheck it don’t make for a good sound onstage … sod’s law, isn’t it? Have a bad soundcheck it;s gonna be a good ‘un
Paul – with bryan ferry we’ll spend two hours learning a new number, and at the end of the two hours he’ll say ‘we won’t do that one now’
p – surprising/disappointing people?
S – the most disappointing for me was stevie winwood. I had admire sw like you couldn’t believe it, since I was a kid, since keep on running and then 74 we did that tour with them, he was listless, bored, he was rude to audiences,
g – it was traffic, wasn’t it?
s- just like he was going through the absolute motions, why am I playing to these people, you know what, i’ve never been able to listen t sw since. That’s really disappointing … i’ll still play keep on running
paul – I don’t like traffic as much as I liked the spencer davis group, after the sd thing all the energy went, traffic was boring
g – to me it’s more than the music, it’s the show, it’s the personality of the people traffic was all good musicianship and nothing …
s – it ties in with an old bass player we had, which is child stars. Sw was a child star, at 17 he had the world at his feet, he was a good looking guy … he could have girls, he had musical respect, and we played with andy fraser it was exactly the same, andy was a star at 15, playing with john mayall, by the time we were working with him at 21/22
g – he’d done it all.
g – I think we should do it chronologically, really … [laughs]
p – oh, well me, er … I was a bit of a skiffler, then it was elvis,
g – who was the skifflers in your day? Lonnie?
P lonnie donegan
G – who else, though, that;s the only one i’ve ever known.
P – he was the only one who was any good, really.
G what about your tommy steeles?
P- I know you like tommy steele, you see glenn likes tommy steele. He was always a bit of a joke to me,
g – he was the first person to bring ??? to england
p – I know
s – because he was in the merchant navy, he went to america, heard them pop records, and came back with them.
P – but he wasn’t as cool as elvis you see – I know he was the first one
s – my mother liked him, little white bull
g – well he wasn’t
p – we’re talking the elvis of the 50s, not the one from las vegas with the white suit – most people from the later generation talk about elvis the mean that guy. The lounge singer. We’re talking about the guy before he went into the army. He was all right for a couple of years after he came out
s – for me it was rhythm and blues and a little bit of beatles because I started covering smokey robinson tunes and all that, and I was a bit ‘where do these songs come from?’ person, and then the rolling stones, most of the rs early stuff was covers, of really great black music, so my biggest influence would be brian jones, because I thought bj was the fucking bees knees, I thought he was king of that band, and the other two, looked like a couple of jumped-up … people …
g – the glimmer twins?
S – ??? and I really also resent the fact that they have spun over the years the lesser and lesser I,importance of bj – ‘cos they stopped making great records not long after brian … bj was for me the epitome of cool, he was on top of it, he knew what he was doing, he was pleasing the little girls, and was playing really hot, sexy music, and had loads of good ideas.
G – but he didn’t write the songs, though, did he? He wasn’t a songwriter or did he get rolled out of it?
S – he was rolled out of it, whatisface, lou golden, people forget that the rs had their first hit record written by the beatles, I wanna be your man,
g – I didn’t forget that [there’s some tension in the air here]
s – bobby womack’s a great case, ‘cos they went to america and murrey k played on last time, which was the velentinos,
p – the last time was ??? from the staple singers,
s – but bobby womack, they were going to put it out as a hit, but the stones heard it and covered it overnight … and did it, but I think … that songwriting was the big key, because lou goldin pushed … bj was the leader of the band, and lou goldin was not that comfortable with it … and so he pushed jagger and richards and there’s the story of him locking them in a ???, took ’em out for the week and said you’re not getting out of here until you’ve got some songs. But bj brought loads, musical colour …
g – me/ I sort of bridge the gap I think because when I was a lad my dad, my dad, my uncle had been a teddy boy, and decided he wasn’t going to be one, and he gave me all his old 78s, so at the age of 5, I was playing the big bopper and little richard and elvis and jerry lee on the radiogram, light blue paper and retire immediately cos you thought it was going to take your head off, this ’78 doing round like that – I was listening to all that kind of stuff
c – did he give you all his suits as well?
G – no, they wouldn’t have fit …
lots of bands with guys who get written out …
g – when I then started ;listening to the radio I I could never understand how you could have pick of the pops on a sunday afternoon, with the top 40 on it, and you couldn’t hear any music on the radio, so how did anybody know what to buy to make it the top 40?
c – radio luxembourg
g – yes, and then all the pirate radio stations and you’ve got the kinks and the who and the yardbirds and the small faces, and that was a really exciting time, coincided with transistor radios coming out and you were out in your dad’s morris minor and you went round the corner and and you had to turn the radio to get better reception.
C – I had the old crystal set with the headphones because I wasn’t allowed to listen to music
g – that was skiffle though
c – well, rock and roll,
tech and music
s – always go hand in hand,
g – these days, if you don’t have a drum machine … so we’ve got some kind of linear thing going on.
C – there’s a fantastic list of bands that have got bigger without the lead singer, pink floyd, genesis, fleetwood mac, steely dan
g – seen that documentary … mick fleetwod saying that peter green insisted that they called themselves fleetwood mac because he said ‘i’ll leave but you will continue without me’, and he was right.
C – the byrds … can’t remember his name … mcguinn got rid of him after the first album,
g – deep purple with tommy bolin
c – there’s a lot of bands that got lot bigger after the singer,
g – the drifters had a lot of singers
when you first connect?
C – we go back to the seventies, when glenn was in the sex pistols,
s – i’d been playing with you 3 or 4 years before that
c – all three of us go back to the seventies … glenn and steve were mid to late
s – we’re early – we had a band together, the sharks, we were stuck between here and nowhere, we didn’t like any of the bands of the day. Our sympathies were more towards what became punk – the sharks …
g – a proto-punk band
c – we weren’t quite there but we were flying in that direction and the stage show was very aggressive … so, I think that’s the connection, it’s gotta have energy, and it’s gotta have vitality, the three guys here were associated with that kind of stuff rather than …
how did r&b turn into the punk scene?
G – I think you’ve got to put it in context with what was going on with all the dinosaur bands your yeses and genesises, Barclay james fucking harvest,
s – jethro tull
g I like their first single,
s – living in the past?
G – yeah …
s – 5/4
g – exactly … and it was just a load of bollocks … r&b was based on your 3-minute single, short, sweet, succinct … and to the point.
S – people had got … I spent two years, well, not quite, with ginger baker, a great R&B rock drummer and he got sucked into it with the baker ????, they were doing silly structures, I don’t know what they thought about things. It didn’t make any sense to me. Because my viewpoint had always been the same – if you’re gonna do a rock show, tear the fucking place up. It’s jerry lewis or it’s nothing … I don’t understand, what is the point in just presenting your music I never really got that, in my opinion you’re there to destroy the house, there isn’t any other purpose
c – rock music had got into a pretty sorry state in the 70s, and everybody was looking round for what the new thing was, and when the sex pistols came along, all those people that were writing, they didn’t see it. For ages they didn’t see it, and when they did finally see it, a lot of those writers retired and new people came along
g – I remember one bloke, used to write … alan jones? … he wrote this whole thing about keeping your hair long, having your hair cut and it’s not anglo saxon … we always had long hair,
c – people used to come up to me when my name was associated with the sex pistols, journalists would come up to me and say you’ve got to watch it because you have a reputation in his business, associating yourself with the sex pistols, and I said that’s interesting, when did you hear them, they’d say I haven’t heard them but they’re rubbish aren’t they? And that’s when I decide i’d better go into the studio and do those demos because people just need to hear this,
g – that was before that, yeah … you always had short hair …
s – he had long hair when he was with the sharks
g – when I knew you you had a 60s style
c – but that was 72 onwards
individual stuff – why did you get together?
S – my fault
c – his fault. Well, we’ve known each other a long time, and steve was … doing your tv …
s – I dropped out, around 80/81, things got a little sticky and I wasn’t going and i’d lost enthusiasm, so i’d moved sideways, and I wanted to do applied music and spent thirty years doing instrumental music for pictures, films and tv, commercials and stuff, and when that came to an end and id sort of burnt out, I was honestly just casting around … what am I going to do, I did a bit of film making, shot some people’s videos, there are a lot of things I can do, but it’s a matter of what do I really want to do. I started djing, started playing clubs in dalston, shoreditch to young people and i’m playing them the music I like, ike and tina turner, led zeppelin, lee dorsey? Anything that I fancy, and they’re all going crazy, i’m on the stoop one night, 12-6, the act’s on [19.35], and halfway through, I might as well actually do it … from that I said let’s talk bout doing something back to basics. Kick ass rock n roll, chris went for it and that
c – you’d found 16 by that time, hadn’t you
s – no, maybe found him about three weeks afterwards. After we’d been turned down by jimmy page.
Lots of page, arrangement wise …
s – compositionally this stuff is adventurous, like led zeppelin compositionally structurally it’s quite brilliant, but it’s played like let’s just go and burn the fucking place down … and if you listen to the great singles it doesn’t mean that you can’t have great chords, counter-melodies, but you get on and play it like a bastard, you know … so I think jp is a really great example of that, the music has really got something going on with it, but it’s played …
C – if people want to see us
s – we have a gig booked for november, and maybe put another couple around it, and I suspect that we’ll be looking to come back I feb/march. And then hit the festival circuit next summer – a lot of that depends on how people receive this album, and how the gigs go. When we do them do we prove the point that we’re a really ??? live act,
c in fact, studio work is much less waiting around, and timewasting because you’ve pretty much get your instrument in your hand and are playing all the time, trying things out which is why we’re big in the studio, but you’ve got to be out there playing to people as well, but if I had to choose between a tour and an album, i’d do an album – after all that waiting around on the road, unless you’ve got a mobile studio, you’ve got nothing to show for it.
G – you can go shopping, though …
four days …
s – it’s always been my attitude to record really fast
c – it’s the one thing that people are not doing now, which we know how to do.
s- people are amazed, to me it’s not that amazing, it’s not like I everything went really really well, let’s take three months to do the next album, we’ll record the next album exactly the same.
G – there’s a financial consideration, it’s a different world…
s but even if the money was there, i’d still want to do this – i’ve been the other way,
g we’ve all learnt the lesson that the bigger the stdio the less royalties you get.
C – also the money’s more in the live show. In the old days the record company would send you out to promote the album and it would cost you, the income source came from the record. Now it’s the other way around, the income source comes from the live shows. But you have to have a cd for people to take home
s – we like billy, in the 80s, billy played keyboards and stuff,
g – he nearly produced the sex pistols as well
s – he’s a good lad, billie nelson.
Process of recording?
C – rehearsed the songs so we knew the songs, there wasn’t any time wasted learning the songs when there was studio time going,
s – and the arrangements created after the rehearsals, before …
c – so we didn’t lose the spontaneity.
S – glen put some fantastic arrangement ideas on the music, so why not utilise that?
G – I think also because nobody had worked together in this configuration before, you don’t necessarily know how your relationship’s going to work, s you don’t want t be too little hitlerish or too tame so you save up you best ideas and put them in the pot
s – that’s right, you don’t … everyone I this band’s capable of leading the band,
c although we’ve known each other we haven’t really worked extensively together, even though i’ve been on tours with him … it was interesting to see people’s strengths coming out.
G and me and martin kinda clicked as well, i’ve known m for years but we’ve never played together
s – you suggested him
g- yeah –
s miloko, and it’s got quite a famous room called the pool room, which is really big, stone floor, loads of surfaces, you’re all in one room together, we didn’t worry about leakage … I wish it was like that in the old days. My experience of multitrack recording was incredibly disappointing, I was with the sharks I 73, andy johns was the engineer, exile on mainstreet, I’ve never seen such a farrago in my life, you could not make music.. how the bands worked in the early 70s, they couldn’t master the 24 track they were always plugging this in … this has gone two hours or the bloody drum sound, it was nonsense. I look idealistically at the previous set-up I look at ray charles, finishing a live play in a club at 11 o’clock and going straight down to the studio cutting what I say, that’s more what I wanted to put into as the producer as the recorder of the king mob album, I wanted to go back that way, the 70s were laborious. Technology was king, an they couldn’t master it, leads were always braking, studio were breaking, I used to sit there just ‘can we just make a fucking record please’ … if elvis presley can cut heartbreak hotel like that, what’s the problem … set up the mikes, play the shit, it’ll sound great. If the people are good if the songs are good
few peopl can ply now?
S – not so much that, but some people are over-trained
c – some can play far too well.
G – I think what you get now on a record – I mean anybody can play an a chord or a d chord, once you get to a reasonable standard, but there are so many drop-ins for each chord perfectly that you lose the personality of the player. It’s the way someone plays something a little bit sloppily that makes it sound like them.
[29:29] order no. 600020685.
c – i wish i had drum boxes and stuff when I was learning, would probably have saved a bit of time, learning how to play in time
g – my son’s been doing that and I don’t know what I think, from what i’ve ended up doing … you have to be able to sing about something, you have to have something to say, and you have to have lived a bit … anyone can learn guitar enough to be in a band properly, in their bedroom … you come from a different school of playing
ch – you don’t have to be that good to play on a hit record, you don’t have to be that brilliant, a virtuoso, it might get in your way
s – if you’re a virtuoso, but a lot of the guitar work you’ve done o other people’s records to me ties in with people like the guitar player who used to be with ?dunmore? Whitfield, dennis coffee, you’v got all of that stuff, hubert sumlin, little beaver, all these kind of people
g – little beaver, is that a girl?
S – no, he played on all those early wright records, great guitar player, rock the boat, that’s got little beaver on it … steve cropper, peopl who came in to cook something really good, these people didn’t need to learn on courses on a screen this kind of nonsense – I think screens are a big problem, generally … there are too many screens in life, I spent 30 years as a film composer, looking at screens all day and then when the computers came in round about 84/85 so i’m looking at that and I went right through that whole thing and by the time I got to the end of it, film composing, I would hardly look at the screen, and I would hardly look at the computer. Or encourage anybody else to do it. Don’t look at the things; listen. Because that’s how you find out
g – when blah recording first came out and you got all your stuff and the danger you fall into is that you have all these fantastic sounds in a box, and you have something going, and you think you’ve got something, because it sounds good, but you haven’t necessarily got something at all – you’ve got to take something to it, otherwise its the medium is the message
s – absolutely, and that for me is the ??? of it, if I listen to modern music, just to me, it just appears in some digital world but doesn’t actually connect that much which is why people don’t go so ass-crazy for it any more. They just don’t, because it isn’t doing it
you’re not trying ..
s – speed will do that, the pace that you’re doing it at, these guys, it’s very interesting for me to work with this band situation again. Because before that I was working with an orchestra an ensemble, electronic stuff, and it occurred to me while we were doing this how much these people’s hands know … not their heads, how much their actual hands know and then I started thinking of my own crude guitar playing, and how sometimes my hands surprise me, your hands know a lot [33.37] if you think intellectually about music with screens and what goes where, your hands aren’t working.
G – I find it hard to tell because of what I said, everybody tidying everything up all the time. Losing their personality. You don’t know who’s a good player and who ain’t, cos you don’t know how long they spent in the studio making it perfect I do go to gigs, the best gig i’v seen in 30 years was when the stooges reformed when james williamson on guitar and they came out and played raw power and they’re all 60 years old and it was fan fucking tastic, i’ve not seen anything as good as that …
and that was the most refreshing thing i’ve seen in 30 years and I was in the sex pistols. I know what i’m talking about — it’s not only about aggression, it’s just about no bullshit it was about we’ve had enough of all this rubbish, and we’re gonna just do our thing and do it so damn well you’d better believe it mate and they did. It was one of the most honest things i’v seen,
s – that’s great, to me that’s just like jerry lee lewis, if he was there, he’d have fitted, people come they hear this that and the other, but now i’m here, the show’s on.
G – and it’s also the thing about we’re in a band and we’ve got to have a hit record and we’ve got to be part of the latest thing and fuck that, by the time you’ve listened to what the latest thing is, written some songs, got a deal and done some recording, you’re too fucking late. And then you’re just the same as everyone else … following on the coat tails of the vanguard – the vanguard never had anything to do with any movement they were just being themselves and then there were the also rans
s – everything glen’s just said, teenagers know it, they’re just waiting for someone to do it … hey don’t wanna be watching it on youtube, as it was and looking t it longingly, they’d rather, i’m sure, see somebody who’s actually doing it in front of them which is kind of the point of the band. We wanted to actually do that, you know. I sense that that’s what they want. That’s what we want, so hopefully we can deliver it.
c – I use the same amp that i’ve used since 1970, deluxe reverb, fender deluxe reverb. The second, actually, the second amp. [s – an ampeg 60] I did have other ones but we used my deluxe to tune up in the dressing room [s- we did, we did that]
s – you had a really good sound on that mpeg 60, on that american tour, leslie west was like … we were playing with mountain, and leslie west had ll these 200 watt marshalls, and
c – 3 200 watt stramps hooked up together. And he was onstage with us … and he actually came up to me and said ‘chris can you turn down, you’re too loud …’
g – remember that gig in the town and country club with robert goulding, you had a little pignose, [c – I borrowed it from him]
s – it wasn’t a pignose, it was an orange … and orange roland, roland cube 20 watt. You blew it and it’s never been right since.
C – i’ve always been a gibson man, and I use a james trussart – the metal bodied in a gibson les paul configuration. I also use a gretsch 6120 but i’ve taken the pickups off and put gibson pickups on so it’s a gibson/gretsch hybrid. PAFs, yes. On the album i’m using the gretsch/gibson, and m using the trussart which has got ??? [39.18] I didn’t use that many f, [s – wah-wah], I got the wah-wah out, yes … I don’t like the stomp boxes cos there’s too much going on with connections and things that can go wrong. So i’ve got this little modeller, which is a line 6 xt live, which has got all the stomp boxes in it, you know you program them nd it’s all on the floor and thre’s no stomp box involved. It’s got a pedal you can switch it on to either volume or wah-wah. So I find that really useful. You can program the fx on a computer, laptop, I do [s – you do?] I do, and I did use my laptop …
g – we’re no luddites ..
s – the oldest member of the band is the most technologically advanced,
c – [amp and laptop] I do stuff with people that need these fx, these big tours like war of the worlds and bryan ferry, they want a certain sound, the only way for me to get that and do those gigs is to have these things so I can go out and do it,
g – the old amp thing is quite a good maxim for life for me – just cos it’s new don’t mean it’s good,just cos it’s old don’t mean it’s bad … you can pick and choose … i’ve got a fender precision that I always use, i’ve got several, but I always use the lightest one. It’s black. It’s got a tortoiseshell guard on it and just use any amp that’s around. What did we use, a portable in the studio, if we’re gigging i’ve got a really nice fender bassman which I bought for 99 pound in a sale 25 years ago, and it’s still going strong. It’s great, and the best thing about it is that when you’ve finished touring, you can take the tolex cover off it, and all the speakers and put your dirty washing in it. It’s good, so you’ve got more room in your suitcase.
S – I play a white stratocaster, store bought, actually it was at someone’s place and they didn’t like it much and I offered them a couple of hundred quid for it cos I liked it, and that’s what I play. On the album I played direct, put bits of sound on afterwards, I think. Maybe we did put me through an amp. Would have been a fender reverb … i’m not bothered.
C – people have forgotten how to get a sound out of a guitar because the sound comes from the stomp box, take that away …
s – like Carlos santana … now they have the carlos santana sound, he actually uses it, which is kind of ironic, you spend all that time developing a beautiful tone, and now cs uses the one they programmed in, and actually, i’v got to say, it doesn’t sound as good. He was better when…he was himself.
s [retro futurism] i’ll go with that, I know bill well enough as well and have some of the same interests, and know exactly what he means, and yes, I think that’s absolutely true. You go a long way back but you know that you’re doing it from the front. In through the out door. In other words if we … we haven’t done a cover … but if we did one, it wouldn’t sound like it, because we’d be doing it now. We’d be doing it the way we do it.
G – so we could have done living in the past now, then?
S – you did suggest it, you suggested covering … I wanted to cover take five, by dave brubeck, that was the one, but I was totally outvoted [44.07 – cacophony!] and in the 5/4 mode and he said why don’t we do living in the past,
g – there’s words in that you see,
s – hold on, it gets considered for the second album, I haven’t forgotten, and it’s not like ian anderson needs the money, is it? Hasn’t he got a massive fish farm?
G – yes, but might not all those fish have got a horrible fish diseases …
fave album tracks, parts …
c – I like my bits …
s – I like his bits a lot … I like hip hip hip … that one, long train thing,
c – I like the opening track
s – the opening track is lover of high renown,
c – I didn’t want that to be the opening track [c-you didn’t?] but I guess everybody else was right
s – I didn’t get asked to vote.
G – I didn’t get asked to vote
c – I didn’t get that email.
S – the record company and management … all right> I put it the other way, I opened u with american slaves, and chapel of love, I didn’t have any idea of how that would turn out … you know sometimes you kind of know how they’re going to go but everyone does it to look a bit different , but chapel of love I think in my mind was quite different, from how it went once the band put their input in … so I like it like that because it was like where did that come from? We kind of clicked on that one I think … everybody seemed to find a place
s – apart from jimmy page, I would definitely say . No fucking keyboards … i’ve spent my time with keyboards, never want to be near a keyboard again. They’re one of the biggest ruiners of music, I spent years doing it plunk, plunk, plunk, guitar goes now, wah, all over the place,
g – hang on a minute, blah blah fas [47.15]
s hugh mcclagen is the top guy and I saw the small faces in 64 and it was unbelievable and i was a booker t and the mgs fan,
g – we could have booker t sitting in on a number … that’s a hard one …
s – in other words could we have booker t guest on a king mob track … no … not on the keyboards even though he’s fucking marvellous
g – supposing he carried his hammond there by himself …
s – what if dr john’s knocking on the door, going ‘can I just add the last 32 bars’
g all depends who they are, doesn’t it?
S – on the other hand, I really like the wiry sound, I like wires, and skins, and breathing voices, you know. If you go back to primitive music people would strip the guts across something and go boing, right? Or they’d take the skull of their enemy and play a rhythm on it, and while that was going on other people would be like shouting and singing, so that’s fine … there was no keyboard. The primal thing
g when was the first keyboard then?
C – the organ. The greeks,
s – bellows …
c – somebody else would be …
g – that indian thing,
c – pipes on the top of it …
s I like inna gadda davida, that’s nice.
G – johnny rotten’s favourite track …
s – it’s a good track. Keep me hanging on by the velotones, I don’t know. There’s something I think right from the start about this I just and wires and skins and breathing voices,
S let’s twist again.
G – any particular reason, can you do the twist?
S – yes. I won several twist competitions 1963, 64
c – you wanted to do rock with a caveman, didn’t you?
G – I like that song
s – lionel bart, isn’t it?
C – he (Pratt) was on a couple of tracks,
s – did you know we had a proto-rhythm section beforwe had this current rhythm section?
S – there are two tracks on the album, king mob itself and celine, we tried out with andy newmark and guy pratt, top-line musicians, I don’t think either of them really ‘got it’, what we wanted to do … andy sort of liked it, didn’t he, and he said i’ll do the album with you but I don’t want to do any touring, i’m too old for this rock and roll crap, and guy who might have done it but he was away, [c-he had commitments] and when glen and martin came In for me the while thing clicked because it got more of a band theme and I always felt andy – he’s a wonderful drummer – he’s the second best drummer i’ve ever played with, after ginger baker who I consider to be in a different league to just about anybody, but actually i’m much happier with martin, martin’s got brains, it’s like he’s arranging it while he’s playing. He’s figuring out ideas and he plays what I call really good beat group fills, that just … we think of ourself as a beat group …
c – that’s what e were all called in the early 60s, it’s why the beatles called themselves the beatles, because they were a beat group.
Did ch play on the pistols stuff.
G -did you do steve jones’ guitar parts?
Ch – no. I never played with the pistols. I played with glen …
g – we used your amp, though didn’t we?
s – and, i’m going to say this about chris because I know this about chris … in this specific case and generally, and he’s a very generous guy. I know, that he showed – steve’s a great guitar player but he was at an embryonic stage – i’ve don’t have to listen to pistols stuff to know that chris showed him various chord shapes, voicings,
c – I think steve maybe listened,
s – I was there when you were doing it … I can remember you doing it …
c – I think I showed him a couple of motown things. Which he didn’t use in the pistols!
S – no, but ..
g – there’s a roundabout route to that s well, with chris’ involvement because nick kent actually took a lot of time to give steve lessons, and nick used to like chris’ guitar playing.
S – so, the line was there
c – there was an influence there
s – did e play on it, no he didn’t.
C – didn’t need to. I couldn’t have improved upon that particular style of music – they did it perfectly.
Between now and the gig
s – trying to put another couple of dates around that and some instores,
c – i’m ferrying tomorrow, i’ve got to go to miami tomorrow with bryan.
G – i’ve got my philistines tour in the states and a couple of things going on. People think I do lots of different things but I just play music. I play with a lot of different people, otherwise you’re back to playing on fridays and spending the rest of the week hanging about… it’s the way it turns out, sometimes you’re not doing anything and then something comes up with gigs … but like buses you don’t get nothing then you get three in the same day.
C – little of what we do is planned it just happens …
g – but also …
s – I’M slightly different because don’t do this, i’m not on that circuit, I think that knowing you two guys that is what happens, it’s a phone call …
g two things it involves and A it’s work, and there’s something quite healthy about that playing and it’s not always millions of pounds and sometimes …. it helps you arrive at where you are as a musician by playing with different people who are of a certain standard you know I say to my son you’re always better off playing with someone better than you than being the best guy in the band, and everybody struggling to keep up, because thy drag you down, so if you’re constantly pushing yourself to play with people who areetter than you it rubs off,
s – there isn’t so much opportunity, in 196, when I was 15, I was earning twice the national wage. Because I was playing 4or 5 nights a week. Youth clubs, dance halls, ball rooms, just abut everywhere had live bands so I think you could do an apprenticeship, its very hard now … I know a lot if young bands and they’ve got to pay to play,
g – there’s that
s – we used o get money. Working mens’ clubs, this is going back, we used to get 25 quid, I mean that’s the equivalent of 4 o 500 quid just local lads, you know. With what that money was worth, we’d come out with 3 or 4 pounds each after a gig. A lot of money. I think that’s just a general point, on a larger scale, the systematic decimation of apprenticeships, has been the ruination of this country, because that is actually how you learn. You sat there, a grumpy man did his job you’d then tentatively reach for something and he’d go don’t do that because this’ll happen, that’ll happen, this’ll happen, don’t do it. You learnt. Systems,which s what everything’s based on now, don’t work. All systems teach people is how to work with systems. The systems themselves are mostly flawed as is the financial system which is why we’re all in the shit – if you make systems king, you’re fucked. If you make people, and what they know, what their hands know, what you actually know, not what’s in a magazine or something but what you actually know, you stick with that you won’t go far wrong.
Ch – can I get a plug in for my album …
s – does the world need a kick-ass rock and roll band, yes it does.
his King Mob name dates back to the Gordon Riots in June 1780. This was a week of rioting throughout London that a sketchy history book would describe as being fomented by anti-Catholic feeling. Whilst this is true as far as it goes it’s a bit simplistic. Yes, property belonging to Catholics was burnt down, but only rich Catholics not the ordinary citizens. In fact the riots can be viewed as an aborted “English Revolution” shortly before the French managed a rather better job of theirs. In London law courts were torched and prisons were opened (most of the prisoners freed were being held for non-payment of debts) before being burned. Painted on the wall of Newgate prison was the proclamation that the inmates had been freed by the authority of “His Majesty, King Mob”. The riot was eventually put down by the army who killed about 300 in doing so. Another 30 (or 60) people were executed later for their part in it.
The Situationists (L’Internationale Situationiste, to be more correct) were formed from various groups from various bits of Europe in 1957 and petered out around 1970. They weren’t exclusively French but probably the most influential members were, and the one thing they tend to get associated with (if anything) is the May ’68 riots in Paris. To be simplistic (which I’m going to have to be) they were a continuation of the tradition of Dadaism and Surrealism but sticking more to the political side rather than doing some nice paintings that would end up in bourgeois art galleries.
In 1966 a British group called Heatwave were incorporated (or whatever) into the SI. The members of Heatwave however weren’t overly keen on some of the more theoretical aspects of the SI but they did approve of the New York group Black Mask (later the wonderfully named Up Against The Wall Motherfuckers). This basically led to a split (of which the SI were quite keen on at this point) and in December 67 they were expelled. They then changed their name to King Mob. (See, got there in the end).
King Mob styled themselves as “a street gang with an analysis” and were supposed to “laud and practice active nihilism” and celebrated any delinquent and anti-social activity.
During Christmas ’68 a King Mob contingent visited Selfridges (large London department store) and, with one of them dressed as Santa Claus, proceeded to give free gifts to children. The store called the police, Santa was arrested and the kids were made to give their presents back.
For the next year’s Notting Hill carnival they entered a float representing “Miss Notting Hill 69” featuring a girl with a giant syringe in her arm. They were also responsible for various attacks on art galleries and Wimpy bars.
And like the Situationists they were a dab hand at graffiti and sloganeering: Two of my faves being the William Blake quote “The Road of Excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom” and the mis-quote “The Road of Excess leads to the Palace of Willesden” (though the latter won’t travel well). And of course there was the ubiquitous “King Mob” graffiti itself (incidentally there’s a photo of a very young Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious next to one of these from 68). I’m not sure how long King Mob actually lasted as a group but I don’t think it was long. They were later described by two of their instigators as having “an hysterical over emphasis of violence, whether Futurist or contemporary hooligan outbursts…”
© Pete Langman 2011