AN INTERVIEW WITH DARRELL BATH: “BUILD UP THE INTEREST, KEEP IT GOING, AND WAIT TILL IT’S GOOD”

Estándar

This is the story of a South London boy who was born in Croydon…Hold on. Cut to Brighton, 2018. It’s a beautiful sunny June afternoon and I’m sitting at a pub called The Windmill waiting for Darrell Bath, whom I arranged to interview. “He better show up on time”, I say to myself. After all it was a long way from faraway Buenos Aires to the south of England. Add to that, only 4 hours ago I’d jumped on a train from London (Hemel Hempstead  actually, where I was staying), changed it at Clapham Junction, then changed again at Hove, and finally set foot at the Brighton station only 2 hours before I’d meet him. But time was running short. I still had to find the hotel where I had a room booked for the night, which takes you longer than supposed when you go just the opposite way and, errr, it’s not there. To make things worse, it’s called The Brighton Hotel, which means pretty most all of them are. But there should be only one under that very name, or so I thought, and about 20 blocks after I finally reach my second Brighton destination. An hour to interview time now, but somehow time has run faster, and I still have to find the place where we’ll meet which, even when it’s supposed to be not that far from where I am, but nobody seems to know it. And yes, before you wonder, I’m asking the locals. And yes, before you wonder again, I don’t have a cell phone with me and everybody seems to be pretty clueless but the middle-aged lady who directs me to the next street with a pub with The Windmill sign making eyes at me. The wait is finally over, although nothing would have stopped me from meeting one of my music heroes ever -and believe me, I have quite a few- whom I discovered back in 1993, by the time he joined my beloved Dogs D’Amour to record what was should be considered the band’s last great album. 5.30, isn’t it time now? That’s exactly when Darrell enters the scene, two minutes before we order the first round of pints. And there’s many more to come all though the hour and a half or so the interview will run for, as there’s lots to talk about. His last solo album “Roll Up”, released 3 years ago, must be one of the finest albums ever recorded by anybody, you just can’t deny it, but there’s about 32 years prior to that also left to discussion. From 1986 onwards, when he joined Charlie Harper’s UK Subs for the first of many stays, his brief passage through the previously mentioned Dogs, his days with Ian Hunter or The Vibrators or Nikki Sudden and, of course, the amazing and swaggering Crybabys. The story of a South London boy who was born in Croydon, went from playing side drum at school to discover the more rockin’ sounds of the Stones and the Faces and the blues and the glam and the punk guys. ‘Cause if every picture tells a story, here’s Darrell to tell you a few. And yes, please, we’ll have another pint, thank you.

I first heard about you when you joined the Dogs D’Amour for the “More Unchartered Heights of Disgrace” album in 1993. But 7 years before that, you joined the UK Subs, who you did three albums with, and it always seemed to me that somehow you completely changed the sound of the band.
Yeah, “Japan Today”, and two more albums. Yeah, more rock and roll, blues and R&B. Our common ground was garage rock’n’roll blues. Charlie (Harper) is a great harmonica player and he’s into all that.

R-1414372-1459183820-8616.jpegSo would you really say it was you who affected the sound of the band?
Oh yeah. We didn´t really play any of my compositions live, maybe one or two, like “Thunderbird Wine” or “Street Legal”, they were the only new songs we used to play live, the rest were from the previous albums.

More punk style…
Yeah, Ramones-y, or even a bit of hardcore style. I could adapt to that, that was no problem. I wouldn’t say it changed too much, but yeah. I love all good punk albums.

Right after that you joined the Dogs, or was there something in between? The Crybabys? If so, was it your first major personal band?
Yeah, the Crybabys. My first personal original band, yeah, with John (Plain) and Robbie (Rushton)

crybabys

Darrell with the Crybabys (second from left)

How did that ever happen?
Quite easy. I was working with Arturo (Bassick) from The Lurkers. We did one tour supporting Die Toten Hosen, who were very big Lurkers and (The) Boys fans. That went really well, so it came the chance to tour with them a second time, and Arturo rang John Plain. Two guitars, and one bass player singing, so during that tour we thought “let’s do our own thing in the style of the Faces or Mott the Hoople!” And that’s what we did. And John’s great, ‘cause he encouraged me to write my own songs, which wouldn’t have been right for UK Subs or some of the other bands I was with around that time.

And you also did a lot of writing together.
Yeah yeah, lots of them. But The Boys were still popular.

And then you recorded four albums with  the Crybabys.
Yeah. “Where Have All the Good Girls Gone”, “Rock On Sessions”, “Daily Misery” and “What Kind of Rock’n’Roll?”, which was a compilation of our first album, once again, “Where Have…” and what was we thought was gonna be our second album, but it really wasn’t.

R-5878473-1405202965-5076.jpegAny particular favourite of yours?
Yeah, I Like “Rock On Sessions”. It’s a shame it’s such a rare album.

I agree, it’s really impossible to find. Actually somebody copied it for me on a blank CD a long time ago, because I couldn’t find it on eBay, or anywhere.
Yes, it’s impossible to get it anywhere. Only a few copies were done. It was recorded in France, and then they pressed it up. Some 200 copies got sent to New York, and suddenly a phone call comes, “oh the warehouse has burnt down”… And it was like, “oh please!”…

And the album was never re-issued.
No. It was recorded in ’94, and it was eventually released in 2000. And the sound is pretty good, it’s a good performance. I love the band on that. That’s when we had Danny Garcia in the band, the man who made the Johnny Thunders film, he’s the bass player. He sings one song too.

Right, and you had Les Riggs on drums instead of Robbie Rushton.
Robbie is in the first two albums. And it’s Von in “Daily Misery”, who’s now in Die Toten Hosen and, yes, that’s Les Riggs from Cheap and Nasty on “Rock On Sessions”

But the band didn’t do much touring at the time.
We did a bit, mainly in England and France.

13227550_1153636888004162_8955119519994873060_oSorry, it’s just that I couldn’t find much information about the Crybabys…
Yeah, I know, very “cult” (laughs)

OK and then you joined the Dogs D’Amour. How did that happen?
How did that happen? Well we knew each other a bit, but I think that was because they had one more deal, one more record to make with China Records, and the old guitarist Jo (Dog) stayed in America, and they needed a guy in England. And, you know, my flat mate was a music promoter called Fish, and he was gonna book two nights at the Astoria, in Christmas ’92. I just thought I’d meet them for one or two gigs. Cool. But there was an album to do as well.

And for me, that album, “More Unchartered…” somehow marked the end of the good days of the Dogs D’Amour. I mean, I’m not saying that caused the end of the band, but they wouldn’t be that good anymore.
Probably not. But we also did Tyla’s first solo album (“The Life & Times of a Ballad Monger”) which is a good album as well, nice sound on it.

darrell-bath

Darrell during the Dogs D’Amour days, 1993.

And then you toured a bit with the Dogs at the time.
Oh yeah. All over England, and Spain. We were very popular in Spain. Only in those two countries. They were great fun gigs. Just good fun, while it lasted. Nice audiences, especially in the shows in Spain. And it was crazy. They would come to the gigs with 20 bottles of wine with “the Dogs D’Amour” painted on the label.

So you were doing both the Crybabys and the Dogs’ thing at the same time?
Yeah. In fact all band played on the original version of “All the Way to Hell and Back”, on the demo version. But I’ve lost it.

maxresdefaultWhy did the Crybabys stop? Honest John told me last year that he was looking forward to doing at least one more album with the band. In fact you both did a few acoustic shows together.
Well, we didn’t stop, but that would be great. Yeah, we did a little tour in Italy. And we did one more single on an Italian label. That was “Scars” backed with “Tell Me”, the Stones’ song, which was a double A side.

What about Ian Hunter? You worked with him for 6 years. I read somewhere that “you came to be the perfect replacement when writing songs after the death of Mick Ronson”. How much did you write together?
Yeah, we did some writing. He’s a great guy, he encourages you. He looks for the best things in people, and brings them out. I wouldn’t say I’m near Mick Ronson, no. It was more like we were more like a strict rock band in the spirit of Mott the Hoople, rather than a big rock band like Foreigner or Queen.

Did you do a lot of touring together?
We recorded in America, but we didn’t play over there. “Dirty Laundry” was recorded in Abbey Road, and then we did some overdubs in Trondheim, Norway. The second one was done in Vermont, up there in the hills, and then again the overdubs were finished in Trondheim. The whole scene was really “Lilyhammer”. Have you seen the film?

No, I guess I haven’t .
Oh man, you gotta see it…That would remind you of how it was like!

512gM0RqyhL._SX355_All the members of the Crybabys play in “Dirty Laundry”, so in a way it’s like an extra Crybabys album, as a matter of fact it sounds like that.
Oh yeah it does, it´s a classic album. And I love it.

Come 1995, that’s when you worked along Spike of the Quireboys on the “Take Out Some Insurance” album.
Yes we did, me and Spike, but that was unofficial, it was never been properly released. It was only available on cassette, and sold at gigs. That was it. Good album, uh?

Very good album, all blues standards…
Lots of blues, only one or two originals, one or two ‘70s John Mayall songs, a couple of classics, a Mississippi John Hurt one, a Muddy Waters song, you know, just the best we could do.

R-9333444-1478773101-2006.jpegDid you jam at the studio?
No, we were given a task by a publisher. He said “would you do this? Here’s a few ideas”. We did it in a great studio in Chiswick, a lovely studio called Chiswick Reach, all old valuable equipment, some of the original Joe Meek, it was his old equipment, so it was really old stuff.

Well, it sounds like old stuff…
Yeah, it sounds authentic. “Spoonful”… Jimmy Reed´s “Take Out Some Insurance”…

And it’s all timeless. I never pay attention to years, or when albums were released, only for biographical details….And by the way what made you become a musician? Were you a baby at the time? You were born in Croydon, right?
Yeah. It was like a magnet, you know. I loved the radio. My grandmother played the accordion, my grandparents played the piano…things like that.

Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Yeah, a sister, she’s younger than me, and she plays great tenor horn. She’s pretty accomplished as well, she’s a teacher. There was always music around. I could play violin and the guitar. I learnt all the chords, you know, just all the classic things.

But you played guitar since the get-go. Was it your first instrument?
Naaah, early teens, since 13. Before that was the drums, a side drum, I was in a marching band.

That’s how most people start, with the knife and the fork banging pots and things at home.
Yeah, that’s right, that’s how you learnt it! I was fascinated! And all my friends in school, we were all in the same marching band. We’d all practice at the church hall. We loved it, man. And we were really scruffy, really scruffy guys, with the long hair and the bit, you know.
IMG_0605
Do you still remember which was the first album you bought?
I think it was “Rock Around the Clock”, or something like that.

I’d like to know about your collaborations with Honest John in his solo albums.
Oh yeah, the “Honest John Plain and Friends” album. Again, that’s basically a Crybabys album, ‘cause that one has Von and Ronnie on it, both Crybabys’ drummers, and it was recorded in Blaneau Festiniog , that’s in Clywd, Wales.

Oh that was a bit hard to understand, being it Welsh…
Yes, that’s Welsh. My grandmother speaks Welsh, she was used to,  and my mother probably knows a bit of it.  They’re both Welsh. And the language gives them an identity. I’d forgotten how good that album actually is! We’d been there for a couple of weeks, and John had his brand new envelope for 50 pound notes and he would take it into the pub every day. And eventually the locals would be very suspicious (laughs)  I remember this guy at the pub saying to John, “coming out from bloody London with your brand new 50 pound notes, I know what you’re doing, you’re laundering money!” Anyway, great album! Another rare one, there’s not so many of them around. Another “cult” classic. I’m very proud of that album, ‘cause the guitar sound on it is great. My work is done on a ’66 Gibson Firebird on there.

You should do a box-set including the Spike blues album, all those lost songs and gems.
John has the most stuff, has a lot of concerts. He has one particular wild concert from us in a mountain district in Switzerland, me, Robbie and John, when we were just The Gringo Starrs, before the Crybabys. Before we had the name The Crybabys, we were The Gringo Starrs.

Any explanation behind the Amigos or Gringos thing?
Well you know, we like cowboys. We love all that Texas cowboys thing, Spanish, Italian…Mandolins, we love all that.

When I interviewed Honest John last year in Buenos Aires, he told me he wanted to do another Crybabys album. He gave me his word. Now it’s your time you gave me yours.
It’d be wonderful! I’ve got the songs. The glass is quite full, my “song glass” is getting full, you know. I’m not the biggest writer in the world, but we could be ready for an album, easily.

Where did you get your slide guitar style from? Any heroes?
Yeah, Ronnie Wood, but somebody told me “tune your guitar to an open E”, and use a glass bottle”, and I didn’t have a glass bottle, but I had a marker pen, a glass marker pen. So I got a marker pen, took the ink out, took the label off, and it fitted on my finger. Waaawwlll, simple as that.

Oh yes, but in your recording with the Crybabys, that was  a real bottleneck, not the pen.
Not that one, no, I lost the pen. But I liked it when I you just can to use a little bit of brass or something. I have a slide from Ronnie Wood, a brass one, from Ronnie. From ’91, when I met him in Hackney. My friend Ronny Rocka was working as his assistant.

Everybody loves Ronnie, but most of the people were always mostly after Keith Richards.
Course I do! Everybody loves him. He’s the king of the gypsies, he’s a gypsy prince.

Do you think his hair is black after all these years? Some people say he dyes it…
No, his hair is strong. Some people never lose their hair, his is just black.

And you’ve always been this big Faces fan, by the way.
Yeah, big Ronnie Lane fan. Big Steve Marriott fan too.

You also worked with René Berg.
Oh man, I nearly got killed once with René Berg!  He was a very hard drug addict, but a great guy. I was seeing him maybe once a week or something, playing music. We were music friends really, not so much to do with the drugs, but he was playing hard in that world. And one day we were around his house, and two guys turned up. A white guy, and a black guy from South Africa. And we sat there talking.

ddbbbThey sure weren’t delivering pizza or anything…
Yes, it was drugs stuff. One of the guys pulls out the biggest gun I’d ever seen, it was a brand new solid Magnum, of the hi-tech variety. I actually wasn’t scared, for some reason. You know, I don’t like confrontation, but that was a scene. He was a great guy, and one of the last things he said to me was “I’m sorry”. Because he went down. Everything about hard drugs is hard. But we did lots of gigs together around London, and I also sang backup vocals.

And now the Vibrators. You didn’t only record with them, but also toured a lot.
Yeah, I met them through Charlie Harper. When I was in the UK Subs, we did long tours with the Vibrators.

What about Nikki Sudden, who you toured with and recorded with too? Too sad he’s gone now.
It was never more surprise than to me.  I was very surprised, I wasn’t expecting that. Circumstances, you know. Nikki, oh mate, he was a lovely lovely lovely guy. He loved the Crybabys, he loved Honest John, he loved Casino Steel. In the Vibrators there’s four or five people. One guy drives the van and plays the drums. Another guy writes all the songs and plays a bit of guitar. Another guy also plays the guitar, and he does a lot of party. Another guy books the studios and engineers the albums. But Nikki did all of those jobs. And the party. So that may have something to do with it. It was an honour to be in such an elaborate project like “Treasure Island”. I knew Nikki from a friend of mine called Desperate Dave. He was a guy we all knew from going to gigs like Johnny Thunders, Hanoi Rocks and that sort of bands. Again, I was lucky to be involved in a few sessions for “Treasure Island”. He had at least two albums full of material, stuff we did in Berlin for “The Truth Doesn’t Matter”, which also became “Playing with Fire”, so there were two albums worth of material done in sessions in Berlin which often lasted from 10 in the morning to 2 in the next day. We got 6-day studio time, and that was the beginning of “The Truth Doesn’t Matter”. And lot of work involved in “Playing with Fire” as well. The great thing about the “The Truth Doesn´t Matter” sessions is we always stopped in the morning, picked up a case of nicely affordable red wine, and I´d be in charge of knocking out the glühwein on the stove. We got the glühwein going, you know, since it was the middle of winter.

sameTime to talk about your solo records. Would you consider Sabre Jet’s “Same Old Brand New” your first one?
“Same Old Brand New” was the first one. It was a solo album but, when it came down to it, a guy said to me “ok I’ll call it after a group”, but it was basically all my stuff. With Richard Newman, son of Tony Newman, Paul Kirkham on bass…Engineered and produced by Andy Scott from The Sweet. And I loved The Sweet, ‘cause my first love in music was glam rock, from ’72, ’73, ’74 and ’75, ‘round that area, the glam rock days.

Would you then consider “Love and Hurt” your first 51699eDTg9L._SX425_
proper solo album?
Yeah, I guess, I’d say that would be my first actually. It was recorded with the great Dave Goodman, who was the Sex Pistols producer, amongst many other things. Bands like Eater, and many more. And “Love and Hurt” was recorded on 9/11! Yeah. That’s what I remember about it.

And then came a long hiatus till you recorded the “Madame Zodiac EP” in Spain with Los Tupper and also Eddie Edwards from the Inmates, Vibrators, etc. Dave Kusworth did an album with them too…
We were touring Spain with Nikki and Dave. I met those guys and they invited me over to play in their album and eventually I did some of my stuff too.

2015 saw the release of “Roll Up”, which must be one of the finest rock albums ever in history.
I don’t write a lot of songs but I have some in store. I was ready to do them, and I had the money to pay for the studio, ‘cause I´d been working with the Vibrators on the road, and I thought the best thing to do was planning for the future and get some music up there. So I got Robbie Rushton from the Crybabys on the drums and Chris McDougall on the bass, so I just did it with my closest friends.

6_PANEL_DIGI_1_TRAY_RIGHT_DBXXX3XXIt’s one of those albums I just cannot stop playing, it already became a favourite of mine. “It’s in the Music” is one of the most beautiful songs ever. And by the way what’s the history behind “Rat Palace”?
Oh, that´s from when I was living in Hackney. There was an anarchist cafe, and I went up there one day, and I was reading some books about anarchy. So “Rat Palace” is basically inspired by an anarchist book that I read in a cafe. And I liked it, I just liked it. So it’s kind of abstract but, you know, we all live in a rat palace haha, we go drunk from the chalice, you know.

And what does “goombah” mean, by the way? (from the title of the song “Dancin’ with the Devil’s Goombah”)
I got that from The Sopranos, from the gansters. “Goombah” can be a girl-friend or a boy-friend, but it’s not your wife.

Any new recordings you did after “Roll Up”?
Well, I’ve got a couple of new tracks that I’ll be working on in Spain, and I’m also on the last two or three albums by Los Tupper. Yeah, man.

IMG_5129adj

From L. to R.: Darrell, Robbie Rushton and Chris McDougall

So what’s coming up next now?
Little bits and pieces, I just do bits and pieces. Hopefully when the time is right a new album will take shape. I’m a bit like Ronnie Wood in that way, you know, you don’t do an album in five minutes. Build up the interest, keep it going, keep it interesting and wait till it’s good. And it always takes a few years to people to discover it. It always takes time.

01
Once again, it’s such a fine album, it sounds already classic, beautiful sound all over it, and I’m not playing the fan here…

My favourite track is “Slimline Jim”, hahaha, I love “Slimline”.

And then I cannot get enough of “Dirty Rock Road” too.
Yeah, I love that too.

Anything else you want to talk about?
Not yet. But someday I’d love to go to Argentina, say, with Honest John and Dave Kusworth. “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”, hahaha.

 

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AN INTERVIEW WITH HONEST JOHN PLAIN BEFORE HIS SHOW IN BUENOS AIRES: “MY BEST TIMES WERE WITH THE BOYS”

Estándar

Original article in Spanish published in Revista Madhouse on May 12 2017

Who’s the quirky guy in Texan shirt, a matching bandana and shades sitting at a table in the cafeteria of that hotel in downtown Buenos Aires at 3 pm?, the personnel of the place ask themselves, as they’re about to finish their days’ work. “Is he famous?”, one of them demand to know. “Let’s say he’s quite popular”, I try to explain, “but from a very particular elite”, all this while the man at the table, who’s now sporting a wide smile and a good disposition, is dividing his time between waiting for the next one to interview him, and wondering where is it that he left his room keys, who humbly confesses to have lost a few minutes before (“sorry, I’ll be right back”)

Lunch isn’t served anymore, while there are no drinks available either. Only water and coffee. Which is no problem at all to Honest John Plain, since the booze played hard on him a few years ago, leading him to leave it behind forever and ever after an accident that put his life at risk. Which may not be an easy task for a true Londoner always up for a drink at the pub, but yet Plain looks thankful and happier than ever. After all these years on the road he’s still is the restless rocker who plays all over the world and often keeps recording. And who’s now back in he country (his third visit in about 15 years) to do three shows, and also to remind us that he’ll always be the one he never stopped being.

Do you want to order a drink or something? Or a cup of coffee, maybe?
No, thank you. I haven’t had a beer or spirits for over 2 years now, because of my accident.

An accipunk-683x1024dent? What kind of accident was it?
I was in Norway playing with Casino (Casino Steel, ex-Hollywood Brats and also member of The Boys with Plain) We were in a mansion. I was on the fifth floor and there were marble stairs all the way down. I just got to go to the toilet, because I was drunk, and I fell down the whole of the stairs and smashed my head to pieces.

You fell down marble stairs?
Yeah. I got past the first two, and then fell again. And they found me in the morning. I was unconscious.

But you where there all alone? Nobody there to help you out?
Well, everybody was asleep, because it was during the night. I was with Casino but, when I went to bed, I needed to go to the toilet, and fell.

How come Casino didn’t notice it?
He found me in the morning, eight hours later, and there was blood all over the floor. And they put me in the hospital, and I only had 3% of brain left. And I nearly went, you know.

Did you injure only your head?
Yeah, I smashed it to pieces! (laughs)

Well, good to have you here, good to have you anywhere!
And I went on tour again after coming out of hospital. And then in Germany I went to hospital again for about 2 weeks, got out of that, started a tour again, finished off the tour and then I had another accident. You know, I kept on getting fits, so now they give me medication for it. And so far… (shows he’s still here)

Well, you survived. It could have been much worse.
Yeah I survived! But it was self-inflictive, I felt really bad when I was in hospital, with all these people that were really ill. And they did nothing. I felt bad ‘cause it was self-inflictive, because of being a drunk.

And who took care of you while you were there?
People in the hospital. My ex wife and my son came to see me when I was in London.

Another hospital in London?
I’ve been to hospital in Germany, in Norway…

It was a “hospital tour”, I mean, basically you’ve been touring hospitals…
(laughs) Yes,they had to give me medication while I was touring. So that’s why I stopped the beer and the spirits. I’m a pretty good guy now.

boys_1975

The original line-up of The Boys, from L. to R.: Andrew Matheson, Matt Dangerfield, Casino Steel and Wayne Manor, and Honest John Plain
below. Drummer Geir Waade not in the picture.

Are you living in London now?
Yes, in Belsize Park, Hampstead.

This is not your first time in Buenos Aires, you played here before…

Yeah, I played here with The Boys, but we’re coming back again in November.

That’s great to know! And after what you’ve gone through concerning the accident, it’s all like a miracle.
I love it!

You did four albums with The Boys between 1977 and 1980. And then, 34 years after that, in 2014, you put out a fourth album, “Punk Rock Menopause”. Why is it that the band waited 34 years to do a new album? And, by the way, your last solo album is called “Acoustic Menopause” So is there a menopause in rock’n’roll? I always believed it was made to keep you young…
Well, I didn’t come up with that title. My friend Jean Cataldo thought of it. I have no idea if there’s a menopause in rock’n’roll, I’m sorry. But I think it’s a great name.

Ok, and then why you waited 34 years for the fourth album by The Boys?
Probably Matt Dangerfield, the other guitarist in The Boys, who didn’t want to do it. He wrote most of the songs with Cas, you know. He probably was busy doing other stuff and didn’t want to do it, and I was with the Crybabys. It’s just happened because people asked us to do it, and it was great to do it again. I’m sure we’re gonna do a last one before it’s time to get in the coffin (laughs)

Why not two or three more?boys-punk-rock
Yeah, one more and we stay in.

You did a solo acoustic tour to promote your last album, and you did it all by yourself, as a one man band. Why you chose to do it like that?
Nobody wanted to be with me! (laughs) It was because the guy who was putting the shows on decided it was a good idea to do it that way, and it was fantastic because every show was full. You know, mostly Boys fans. But I did it to be on my own as well.

You always had a good base of fans.
Yeah, all over the place. Europe, the US, Argentina, Italy, China, Japan…

hjplain-menopThe Boys were labeled “the Beatles of Punk”. I know you’ve got a thing for the Beatles, don’t you?
Yeah, of course!

So since you toured solo, which Beatle would you have been? John, Paul…?
Any one of them. I think I’d rather be Ringo ‘cause he’s a funny guy, and I can play drums, you know. But I wouldn’t mind being John. I wouldn’t mind being Paul either, especially for his money, you know.

Are the Beatles your favourite band?
Yeah, I think the Beatles are my favourite band.

Everything you always did was about the ‘60s. So you’re here basically to take us back to that era!
Exactly! I was at the right age to appreciate that music.

So how old are you now, 62?
I’m 65. Yeah I’m and old guy, I’m on a pension now, punk rock pension! (laughs)

That’s a great name for a future album!
That’s what I’m gonna do! It’s my punk rock pension!

You were born in Leeds…
Yeah, and I still support Leeds as well, but they’re not doing very well.

Which reminds me of The Who’s classic “Live at Leeds” album.
Yeah, I was there!

At the very show of the album?
Yeah, I was in art school at the time. That’s how I met Matt Dangerfield of The Boys, I met him at the gig. I’ve known him for a long time.

You did lots of things as a musician. But my favourite one, and this is a personal thing, is what you did with The Crybabys, the EP and the three albums. So are you ever planning to get back together again?
It’s very strange you asked that because not long ago me and Darrell (N.: Bath, also member of The Crybabys) did a show together for the first time. That was in Brighton, ‘cause he lives there now. We just did an acoustic show, and so many people showed up.

Just the two of you, both on acoustic?
Darrell was on electric and I was on acoustic. Now we’re talking about doing another one, ‘cause it went down so well. When we are together, we really are good together. So it’s definitely gonna happen.

crybabys

The Crybabys, long ago and far away

What songs did you do at the show?
We played mostly of what you already know, and also some covers we like, you know. But the day before the show I was with Darrell at his place in Brighton, and we started writing again.

I’d really love another Crybabys album!
We’re gonna do one, that’s for sure. It’s time we did another one.

Plus Darrell doesn’t seem to have a steady band at the moment.
His best time is with the “Babys”, that’s for sure. I think he knows that as well. As far as I know, he’s one of the best guitarists all over the world, you know. And we fit together good.

It always appealed to me that you represented the Beatles bit in the band, while Darrell was always more Stones or Faces-styled. Would you agree with that? And if so, how did it happen?
I would agree with that, completely. I don’t know how that happened, I can’t even remember how I’d met him. I was probably very drunk at the time. But when we started playing together, we realized we had to do it. He’s a good lad.

He’s a very good friend.
Yes, absolutely. Not just the guy who plays guitar, you know, he’s family.

And looks like everybody loves him.
Yes he’s funny. We’re all funny! That’s how we carry on, you know.

I believe you recorded with The Dirty Strangers for their first self-titled album in 1988, but then you weren’t in the album.
Yes, I was in the album but I wasn’t credited, because The Boys started again. And they didn’t like that. So I got the sack, and then somebody replaced me. The album doesn’t say I’m playing on it, but I am. That’s when I met Ronnie Wood (N.: Wood was also in the album)

What’s the story behind that?
I think, that’s why Alan (N.: Clayton, guitar/vocals in The Dirty Strangers) worked for the Stones. I’ve got fond memories of Alan. Good singer, a great band, and he was fun. It’s just the end of it, which was a bit rough. I don’t even know if the band exists.

Oh yes they do! And they have a new album out last year called “Crime and a Woman”
That’s sounds like him! (laughs)

OK so what about meeting Ronnie Wood?
We were in the studio, I forgot what studio it was, a big studio in London, and I couldn’t believe it when Ronnie and his minder showed up, I wasn’t expecting that. And then Alan said to Ronnie “would you like to play in this song?” And Ronnie says “oh let me have a listen”…

Did you meet Keith Richards as well? He was also in the album.
Yes, but that’s when I went to pick up my guitar after I was given the sack, and he was there.

In 1995 you guested in Ian Hunter’s album “Dirty Laundry”, along with Darrell, Casino Steel, Glen Matlock, etc. Any memories of the recording of the album? Wasn’t it done at Abbey Road studios?
Oh, I like Ian! I watched football with him, and he was in his underpants, and without his shades on!

Ian Hunter without the shades? No way!
Yes, you shouldn’t look at that (laughs) No shades, and no trousers! God bless him, don’t get me wrong. That shows how much we got on, ‘cause he would never take his shades off for anybody. That was in Norway. No one believed me, but that was true!

What about the recording of “Dirty Laundry”?
It was fantastic going to Abbey Road, for a start. And you know Von, who plays drums in Die Toten Hosen, he was on the album as well. I had a bicycle with a basket, and me and Von would go show at Abbey Road on it! (laughs) Everybody else was arriving in limousines.

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True Honest-y (pic by Marcelo Sonaglioni)

Not even two bikes, but the two of you in one bike, plus it’s a girl’s bike! Now that’s real rock’n’roll!
Yeah! (laughs) I think so.

What about your nickname? Other than you, the only other “Honest” I knew was, once again, Ronnie Wood, who they’d refer to as “Honest Ron Wood” in the ‘70s.
Because the Boys were gonna go on tour, and for some strange reason, I went to NEMS Records to pick up the cash for the tour, you know, to pay for everything, but I put the money on a horse!

Oh you were gambling. You bet on a horse!
Yeah yeah, a lot of money, for the whole tour. And the horse came second! I lost everything, so the manager at the time sent me back to get some more cash, and that’s why they call me “Honest”, ‘cause I’m not! (laughs)

What do you remember from the London punk scene in the ‘70s? Were there any rivalries between bands?
No, no rivalries, as far as I’m concerned. They might have had some but I didn’t. I remember the first day of Punk. The Boys were the first punk band to sign. And Mick Jones of The Clash used to rehearse at Matt Dangerfield’s place in Maida Vale, and I just remember the first day I opened the door there and Mick Jones had very long hair at the time, and then suddenly it went to a crooked cut, with strange clothes on. And I went “fuck it, what’s happening, mate?” And he goes “it’s Punk, innit?”

So that was the way you were introduced to Punk.
That’s how I was introduced to, ‘cause I’d never considered The Boys punk anyway. You know, we got that reputation but that’s how I found out what Punk was about.

Then why they’d consider you a punk band anyway? I mean, you were just a band who was very much into the ‘60s pop and rock music, and that’s it.
Yeah, I have no idea. But that’s how wee got to support the Ramones, because we were supposed to be punk. I’m not saying we were supposed to be punk, we played what we played.

And it was the same in New York at the time. It didn’t have a name. They called it “New York Rock” or whatever, and all of a sudden they started calling it “Punk Rock” and everybody was a punk.
Yeah, and that’s why I didn’t get involved with it.

In fact, I think that Punk never existed, you know what I mean.
Of course. You know, Johnny Rotten owns five fuckin’ hotels in New York. What’s punk about that?

You used to play drums in Generation X at the very beginning of the band.
Yes, they were rehearsing where I lived with Matt Dangerfield, and they didn’t have a drummer at the time. And Billy Idol was playing drums, but when I started to play, he started to sing. And I said “you know, Billy, you should be the fuckin’ vocalist”, ‘cause they were looking for a vocalist. I said “you sing great, so why don’t you sing?” And he went “let me think of that” And next thing I knew, he was up there.

You helped everybody!
It’s all down to me mate! (laughs) Why punk is so famous, it’s down to me!

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London SS, with Mick Jones (third from L.) with long hair and dark glasses

You’ve been in many bands throughout your career, staring with The Boys and the Crybabys, but also London SS, The Lurkers, the Mannish Boys, or Pete Stride. Which one gave you the best times, and which one gave you the worst ones, if any?
None of them gave me a worst time, that’s a fact, but the best time was with The Boys. Because when we are on the road, we have a laugh. I love Casino, I love Matt, I love Jack, and I love Duncan. We were a family, you know.

Why they disbanded in 1982?
I have no idea, I really can’t tell you. It wasn’t anything to do with me, you know. Today, I still don’t know why it disbanded. I know that Matt and Duncan fell out, but I still don’t know why.

5 years ago you recorded another of the “And Friends” albums with guests like Darrell, Die Toten Hosen, Glen Matlock, Martin Chambers and Sami Yaffa and Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks. How did you assemble the project and what happened to it, as I believe only the ‘Never Listen To Rumours’ video saw the light.
The album is finished now but for some reason the guy who was paid all this money to put it out  is not putting it out.  That would be my latest solo album.

It’s a bit confusing sometimes because there’s the ‘Honest John Plain and Friends’ album, the ‘Honest John Plain y Amigos’ one, then another one called ‘Honest John Plain and The Amigos’, and then the one you just mentioned, which wasn’t released yet.
Yes, and I don’t understand why the new one hasn’t been put out, as it’s fantastic, you know.

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On the “Never Listen to Rumours” video

So how did you assemble the project?
I didn’t!

Oh you never do anything!
No, I never do anything. The guy that has put the money for it got in touch with everybody, and they all wanted to do it. If you see the ‘Never Listen To Rumours’ video, everybody there is on the album.

So once again, after you did the ‘Honest John Plain y Amigos’ album in Argentina in 2003, you released another one by Honest John Plain and The Amigos named “One More and We’re Staying” So you have a lot of “amigos” all over the world.
Yeah, I owe money to so many people, you know (laughs)

And you still have them around, because they’re going after the money…
Oh yeah, of course!

You were here in Buenos Aires 2003 to produce Katarro Vandalico’s album “Llegando al Límite”, and then came back again The Boys. Could you ever imagine in the ‘70s or ‘80s going to South America to play or to produce an album?
Of course not! It’s always been a shock how much I travelled, but it’s always because of The Boys.

hjplain-feat-2 (1)So what are your future plans now? Are you going back to London?
I’ve got to go back to London, but them I’m going to Norway again, as it’s the first Boys gig in a long time, a big festival in Oslo this month.

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Honest John meets his interviewer (pic by Marcelo Sonaglioni)

Very much looking forward to The Boys’ comeback and, needless to say, it’s been great talking to you John.
Oh my pleasure too! And thanks for the questions, you’re definitely qualified!

 

CON HONEST JOHN PLAIN ANTES DE SU SHOW EN BUENOS AIRES: “MIS MEJORES MOMENTOS FUERON CON THE BOYS”

Estándar

¿Quién es ese señor de aspecto estrafalario, camisa tejana, bandana al tono y lentes negros que está sentado a una de las mesas de la cafetería de ese hotel céntrico de Buenos Aires a las 3 de la tarde?, se preguntan los miembros del personal del lugar, mientras terminan de hacer la limpieza del turno que acaba de finalizar. “¿Es famoso?”, insisten. “Digamos que es bastante conocido”, intento explicarles, “pero dentro de una elite muy particular”, termino apuntándoles, mientras el personaje en cuestión, de ancha sonrisa y benemérita disposición, divide su tiempo entre esperar al próximo periodista que lo va a entrevistar y preguntarse dónde dejó las llaves de la habitación en su versión tarjeta magnética, que humildemente confiesa haber perdido hace instantes (“disculpame, ya regreso”.

A esa hora de la tarde ya no sirven almuerzo, ni tampoco hay tragos disponibles. Sólo agua y café. Lo cual a Honest John Plain no le resulta inconveniente alguno desde que hace apenas unos años el alcohol le jugó una mala pasada, obligándolo a dejarlo para siempre tras originarle un accidente que lo tuvo más del lado de allá, que del de aquí. La situación no debe ser nada fácil para un auténtico londinense que pasó buena parte de su vida ahogándose en los pubs, pero Plain destila el ácido sentido del humor tan propio de su país de origen: está agradecido, a pesar de todo, y se lo ve más feliz que nunca. Después de todos estos años en la ruta sigue siendo aquel músico incansable que toca por todas partes del mundo y continúa grabando nuevos discos de forma inoxidable. Y que, claro, ahora está de vuelta en el país -su tercera visita en algo más de 15 años- para realizar tres shows y recordarnos que siempre, pero siempre, será el que nunca dejó de ser.

punk-683x1024¿Te gustaría beber algo? ¿O preferís un café?
No, gracias. No tomo ni cerveza ni ningún tipo de aperitivo desde hace más de dos años Eso es por el accidente que tuve.

¿Accidente? ¿Qué tipo de accidente?
Estaba en Noruega tocando con Casino (N.: Casino Steel, el ex Hollywood Brats y legendario camarada de Plain en The Boys). Estábamos en una mansión. Yo estaba en un quinto piso, y las escaleras eran de mármol. Tuve que ir al baño, porque estaba borracho, y caí por las escaleras y me rompí la cabeza en pedazos.

¡¿Te caíste rodando varios pisos por la escalera?!
Sí. Caí dos pisos y después seguí cayendo. Y me encontraron a la mañana. Estaba inconsciente.

¿Pero cómo? ¿Estabas solo? ¿No había nadie que pudiera ayudarte?
Bueno, todo el mundo estaba durmiendo, porque ocurrió de noche… Yo estaba con Casino, pero a la hora de ir a la cama, yo estaba con una chica y necesité ir al baño, y me caí.

¿Cómo puede ser que Casino no se diera cuenta?
Me encontró a la mañana, ocho horas después, y había sangre por todas partes. Y me llevaron al hospital, me quedaba el 3% de cerebro. Y casi que me voy, viste…

Te hiciste pedazos la cabeza.
Sí, ¡me la destrocé! (Risas)

En fin, ¡qué bueno que estés aquí después de todo eso! Quiero decir, ¡qué bueno que estés, donde fuera!
Una vez que salí del hospital, volví a salir de gira. Y después en Alemania me llevaron otra vez al hospital, por dos semanas. Salí, comencé otro tour, lo terminé, y después tuve otro accidente. Me siguen tratando, sabés, y me dan medicación por todo lo que ocurrió. Y por ahora… (hace el gesto de que aún está vivo)

Bueno, sobreviviste. Podría haber resultado mucho peor.
Sí, ¡sobreviví! Pero fue autoinfligido. Me sentí realmente mal mientras estuve en el hospital, con toda esa gente que estaba tan enferma. Y no hacían nada. Me sentí mal porque fue autoinfligido, por haber estado borracho.

¿Y quién te cuidó durante la internación?
La gente del hospital. Mi ex esposa y mi hijo venían a visitarme, cuando estaba en Londres.

¿Otro hospital en Londres?
Sí. Estuve en uno en Noruega, otro en Alemania…

Entonces básicamente hiciste una gira por los hospitales.
(Risas) Sí, y me tuvieron que medicar mientras hacía mi propio tour. Es por eso que paré con la cerveza y las bebidas alcohólicas. Ahora soy un chico bueno.

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The Boys allá por 1975, con su formación original: de izq. a der., Andrew Matheson, Matt Dangerfield, Casino Steel y Wayne Manor. Honest John Plain es el que está sentado. Falta el batero Geir Waade.

MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE HE’S A LONDONER
¿Seguís viviendo en Londres?
Sí, en Belsize Park, en el área de Hampstead.

Esta no es tu primera vez en Buenos Aires, ya tocaste aquí.
Así es, ya vine con The Boys. Y vamos a volver en noviembre.

¡Gran noticia!
Después de lo del accidente, debés considerarlo un milagro…
¡Me encanta!

Entre 1977 y 1980 hiciste cuatro álbumes con The Boys y luego editaron otro disco, “Punk Rock Menopause” (“La Menopausia del Punk Rock”), apenas 34 años más tarde… ¿Cómo es que una banda espera tanto para lanzar un nuevo disco? Y, ya que estamos, tu ultimo álbum solista se titula “Acoustic Menopause” (“Menopausia Acústica”) ¿Creés que el rock’n’roll puede sufrir de menopausia? Siempre pensé que fue inventado para mantenerse joven.
Bueno, el título no se me ocurrió a mí. Mi amigo Jean Cataldo fue quien lo pensó. Perdón, no tengo idea si existe la menopausia en el rock’n’roll. Pero creo que es un gran nombre.
boys-punk-rock

OK, ¿pero entonces cómo es que tuvieron que esperar 34 años para hacer un nuevo álbum?
Probablemente fue por Matt Dangerfield, el otro guitarrista de The Boys, que no quería hacerlo. Él escribió la mayor parte de las canciones con Cas. Tal vez sea que estaba dedicándose a otras cosas y no quería hacerlo. Y yo, mientras tanto, estaba con los Crybabys. Se dio porque la gente nos pidió hacerlo y fue genial poder hacerlo de vuelta. Estoy seguro de que vamos a hacer un último disco antes que llegue el momento de meternos en el ataúd (Risas)

¿Por qué uno, y no dos o tres más?
Sí, uno más y ya está.
hjplain-menop
Hiciste una gira solista en formato acústico para promocionar “Acoustic Menopause”, pero la realizaste completamente solo, como si fuera una banda de un único miembro. ¿Por qué elegiste hacerlo así?
¡Nadie quería estar conmigo! (Risas) Fue porque el tipo que estaba organizando los shows decidió que hacerlo de esa manera iba a resultar una buena idea, y fue fantástico, porque en cada uno de los shows estuvo lleno de gente. Ya sabés, mayormente fans de The Boys. Pero también lo hice de esa forma para poder hacerlo por mi cuenta.

Siempre tuviste una base de fans.
Sí, por todas partes. Europa, Estados Unidos, Argentina, Italia, China, Japón…

JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE, RINGO Y OTRA VEZ JOHN
Los Boys fueron etiquetados en su momento como “los Beatles del Punk”. Sé que siempre tuviste algo fuerte con los Beatles, ¿no?
¡Sí, por supuesto!

Y entonces, en ese tour en solitario, ¿cuál de los cuatro hubieras sido? John, Paul…
Cualquiera de ellos. Creo que preferiría ser Ringo, porque es un tipo divertido, y también porque puedo tocar la batería, sabés. Pero no me molestaría ser John. Ni tampoco Paul, especialmente por el dinero que tiene.

¿Los considerarías tu banda favorita?
Sí, pienso que los Beatles son mi grupo preferido.

Casi todo lo que siempre hiciste a lo largo de tu carrera tiene que ver con los 60s. Así que estás aquí para llevarnos de vuelta a esos años.
¡Exactamente! Tenía la edad precisa para apreciar toda esa música.

¿Ahora cuántos años tenés?
Tengo 65. Sí, soy un tipo grande. Y ahora estoy pensionado, ¡una pensión del punk rock! (Risas)

Ese sería un gran título para un futuro álbum…
¡Es lo que voy a hacer! ¡Mi pensión de punk rock!

Naciste en Leeds, ciudad que dio uno de los más clásicos álbumes de rock en vivo, como fue “Live At Leeds” de los Who.
Sí, y además todavía sigo al equipo de fútbol de Leeds, aunque no les está yendo bien. Y respecto al disco, sí, ¡estuve ahí!

¿En el show del día que se grabó el disco?
Sí. En aquel momento estaba en la escuela de arte. Y así fue como conocí a Matt Dangerfield de The Boys. Lo conocí en el show. Hace mucho tiempo que nos conocemos.

DE LOS BOYS A LOS BABYS
Hiciste muchísimas cosas como músico, pero mi parte favorita  -y esto es algo totalmente personal- son tus discos con los Crybabys. El EP, y después los tres álbumes, “Rock On Sessions”, “Daily Misery” y “What Kind Of Rock’n’Roll”. ¿Piensan volver a juntarse alguna vez?
Es muy curioso que me preguntes eso porque no hace tanto Darrell (N.: Bath, guitarrista de los Crybabys) y yo hicimos un show juntos por primera vez. Eso fue en Brighton, porque él ahora vive ahí. Hicimos un show acústico, y vino mucha gente.

Solamente ustedes dos, ambos en guitarra acústica…
No, Darrell en eléctrica, y yo en acústica. Ahora estamos pensando en hacer otro show, porque salió perfecto. Cuando nos juntamos, realmente somos muy buenos. Así que va a suceder, definitivamente.

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The Crybabys, allá lejos y hace tiempo

¿Hicieron sólo canciones del grupo?
Tocamos mayormente lo que te imaginarás, y también algunos covers que nos gustan. Pero el día antes del show estuve con Darrell en su casa de Brighton, y nos pusimos a componer nuevamente.

Realmente me encantaría que salga otro disco de los Crybabys…
Vamos a hacer uno, sin duda. ¡Es hora de que hagamos otro!

Y además ahora Darrell no está en ningún grupo fijo.
Su mejor momento es con los “Babys”, indudablemente. Y creo que él también lo sabe. Hasta donde yo sé, es uno de los mejores guitarristas del mundo. Y encajamos muy bien el uno con el otro.

Siempre tuve la impresión que vos aportabas la parte “Beatle” al sonido de la banda, y que Darrell hacía lo mismo con los Stones, o con los Faces. ¿Estás de acuerdo? Y de ser así, ¿cómo es qué eso sucedió?
Estaría de acuerdo, completamente. No sé cómo sucedió, no puedo siquiera recordar cómo lo conocí… Probablemente estaba muy borracho aquel día. Pero una vez que nos pusimos a tocar juntos, nos dimos cuenta de que teníamos que seguir haciéndolo. Es un buen tipo.

Y un muy buen amigo.
Sí, absolutamente. No es simplemente “el tipo que toca la guitarra”. Es más bien como si fuera de la familia.

Y por lo que sé, todo el mundo lo ama.
Sí, es muy divertido. ¡Todos nosotros lo somos! Y así es como seguimos adelante, sabés.

JOHN ERA UN ROLLING STONE
Tengo entendido que grabaste con los Dirty Strangers en su álbum debut de 1987, pero al final no apareciste en el disco.
Sí, estuve en el álbum, pero no aparecí en los créditos, porque The Boys se habían juntado de vuelta. Y eso no les gustó a los Dirty Strangers. Así que me echaron, y alguien me reemplazó. En los créditos del álbum no aparece que yo haya tocado, pero lo hice. Así fue como conocí a Ronnie Wood (N.: actualmente guitarrista de los Rolling Stones, que está como invitado en el disco)

THE_DIRTY_STRANGERS_THEDIRTYSTRANGERS-89066¿Como se dio esa oportunidad?
Creo que eso fue porque Alan Clayton(N.: voz y guitarrista de los Dirty Strangers) trabajaba para los Stones. Tengo gratos recuerdos de Alan. Buen cantante, y una gran banda. Aparte fue muy divertido. Sólo que el final fue un poco áspero. Ni siquiera sé si la banda existe hoy en día.

¡Sí que existen! De hecho tienen un nuevo disco que se editó el año pasado, “Crime And A Woman”
¡Eso suena como algo de Alan! (Risas)

OK, ¿y entonces que pasó con Ronnie Wood?
Estábamos en el estudio haciendo el álbum. No recuerdo qué estudio era, pero era uno muy grande, en Londres. Y no pude creer cuando Ronnie y su guardaespaldas aparecieron. ¡No me lo esperaba! Y entonces Alan le dijo a Ronnie, “¿te gustaría tocar en esta canción?

¿Y lo conociste a Keith Richards? Porque también participó del disco.
Sí, pero eso fue cuando fui a buscar mi guitarra después que me echaron, y Keith estaba ahí.

En 1995 apareciste como invitado del disco “Dirty Laundry” de Ian Hunter junto a Darrell, Casino Steel, Glen Matlock, y otros. ¿Algún recuerdo de esas sesiones? ¿Fue grabado en Abbey Road, verdad?
Oh, me encanta Ian. Me ponía a ver fútbol en la tele con él, y Ian estaba en calzoncillos, ¡y sin los lentes negros!

¿Ian Hunter sin los lentes negros? ¡Imposible!
Sí, no deberías ver eso… (Risas) ¡Sin lentes, y sin pantalones! Dios lo bendiga, no te confundas. Eso demuestra lo bien que nos llevábamos, porque nunca se saca los lentes ante nadie. Eso fue en Noruega. Nadie me cree, ¡pero es verdad!

Aún no me contestaste sobre las sesiones de grabación de “Dirty Laundry”…
Por empezar, fue fantástico ir a Abbey Road. Y sabés qué, Vom, el baterista de Die Toten Hosen (N.: recientementeentrevistado por MADHOUSE) también estuvo en el disco. Por aquel entonces yo tenía una de esas bicicletas con canasta, ¡y entonces íbamos juntos a Abbey Road en la bici! (risas) Todos los demás llegaban en limusinas.

O sea que ni siquiera iban en dos bicicletas, ¡sino que los dos iban en la misma! Y encima era una bicicleta para chicas. ¡A eso lo llamo rock’n’roll!
¡Sí! (Risas) Creo que es así.

UN PUNK DE LO MÁS HONESTO
¿Cuál es la historia de tu apodo? Fuera de vos, el otro “Honest” que conozco, al menos en el mundo de la música es, de vuelta, Ronnie Wood, a quien solían decirle “Honest Ron Wood” en los 70.
Eso fue porque The Boys estaba por salir de gira, y por alguna extraña razón fui a NEMS Records (N.: el sello para el cual grababa la banda por entonces) a buscar el dinero para el tour, para poder pagar todo lo que había que pagar, ¡pero lo aposté a un caballo!

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Honest-idad pura: si no puso todas las cartas sobre la mesa, John puso al menos las manos (Foto: M. Sonaglioni)

¡Todo a un caballo!
Sí, sí, un montón de dinero, era para toda la gira. ¡Y el caballo salió segundo! Perdí todo, y el que era nuestro manager de aquel entonces me envió de vuelta a buscar más dinero… Y es por eso que me llaman “Honest”, ¡porque no lo soy! (Risas)

¿Qué recordás de la escena londinense del punk de los 70? ¿Realmente existía algún tipo de rivalidad entre las bandas?
No, ninguna rivalidad, hasta donde yo sé. Tal vez la tenían entre ellos, pero no en mi caso. Me acuerdo del primer día del punk. The Boys fue la primera banda punk en firmar contrato. Mick Jones, de The Clash, solía ensayar en la casa de Matt Dangerfield, en el barrio de Maida Vale, y recuerdo la primera vez que abrí la puerta y Mick, que por entonces tenía el pelo muy largo, de repente apareció con el cabello todo recortado y con ropa extraña. Y yo le dije “Carajo, ¿qué está pasando, amigo?” Y él me contestó “¡El punk! ¿O no?’”

Y así fue como te presentaron al punk.
Así fue la presentación, porque de hecho nunca había considerado a The Boys una banda punk. Sabés, nos hicieron esa reputación. Pero así fue como me enteré de qué se trataba eso del “Punk”.

¿Entonces cómo es que los consideraban punks? Quiero decir, al fin y al cabo eran una banda que hacía música rock y pop de los 60…
Sí. No tengo la menor idea. Pero de esa manera fuimos soportes de los Ramones, porque se suponía que éramos un grupo punk. No estoy diciendo que se supusiera que fuéramos punks. Tocábamos lo que tocábamos.

En New York sucedía exactamente lo mismo. No tenía un nombre. Lo llamaban “rock de New York”, o como fuera, y de repente le empezaron a decir “punk rock”, ¡y todo el mundo era punk!
Sí, y fue por ese motivo que no me involucré en todo eso.

De hecho, pienso que el punk realmente nunca existió. No sé si logro explicarme…
¡Por supuesto! Quiero decir, Johnny Rotten tiene cinco hoteles en New York. ¿Qué tiene eso de “punk”?

Incluso tocaste batería duante los primeros tiempos de Generation X.
Así es, ensayaban en el lugar en el que vivía con Matt Dangerfield, y en aquel entonces no tenían baterista fijo. Billy Idol la tocaba, a veces. Pero cuando me puse a tocarla yo, él comenzó a cantar. Y yo le dije “sabés, Billy, deberías ser el fuckin’cantante”. Porque estaban buscando un cantante para el grupo. Le dije, “Cantás muy bien, ¿por qué no te pones a cantar?” Y me contestó “Dejá que lo piense”… Y de repente, estaba ahí cantando.

¡Ayudaste a todo el mundo!
¡Yo fui el responsable, mate! El porqué de que el punk sea tan famoso, ¡es todo responsabilidad mía! (Risas)

london-ss

London SS: créase o no, Mick Jones es ese de pelo largo y anteojos negros

JOHN, EL AMIGO DE LOS AMIGOS
Pasaste por muchas bandas a lo largo de tu carrera, principalmente por The Boys y los Crybabys, pero también estuviste en London SS junto a Mick Jones de The Clash y Brian James de The Damned, The Lurkers, The Mannish Boys, o junto a Pete Stride. Y después están todos esos proyectos solistas… ¿Cuál de todas esas bandas te trae los mejores recuerdos, y cuál los peores, de existir alguno?
Ninguna me hizo pasar un mal momento, es un hecho, pero los mejores momentos fueron con The Boys. Porque cuando salimos a la ruta, nos divertimos como nadie. Adoro a Casino, adoro a Matt, adoro a Jack, y adoro a Duncan. Éramos como una familia.

¿Por qué motivo se separaron en 1982?
No tengo la menor idea, realmente no puedo decírtelo. No fue algo que tuviera que ver conmigo, sabés. Aún hoy en día no sé el porqué de la separación. Sé que Matt y Duncan se pelearon, pero todavía lo desconozco.

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Sam Yaffa, Honest John, Michael Monroe: un verdadero tridente ofensivo rockero

Cinco años atrás grabaste otro de tus tantos discos junto a músicos amigos en el que, entre tantos, estuvieron Darrell, Die Toten Hosen, Glen Matlock, Martin Chambers de los Pretenders, y Sami Yaffa y Michael Monroe de Hanoi Rocks. ¿Cómo fue que armaste el proyecto y por qué es que todavía no vio la luz? Lo único que se conoce es el video de la canción “Never Listen To Rumours”…
Sí, el álbum está terminado, pero por alguna razón el tipo que puso todo ese dinero para hacerlo, no lo editó. Ese vendría a ser mi más reciente trabajo solista.

A veces puede resultar un poco confuso, porque está el álbum “Honest John Plain And Friends”, el de “Honest John Plain Y Amigos”, que hiciste en Argentina, otro de “Honest John Plain And The Amigos”, y después el que acabás de mencionar, que sigue inédito.
Sí, y no entiendo cómo es que el nuevo no fue lanzado, porque es fantástico, sabés.

OK, ¿y cómo ensamblaste el proyecto?
¡No fui yo!

¡Vos nunca hacés nada!
No, nunca hago nada (Risas). El tipo que puso la plata para el disco contactó a todos los músicos, y todos quisieron hacerlo. Si ves el video de “Never Listen To Rumours”, todos los que aparecen ahí están en el álbum.

Después que grabasteHonest John Plain Y Amigos” en Argentina en 2003, editaste otro como Honest John Plain And The Amigos titulado “One More And We’re Staying”. ¿Tenés muchos amigos dispersos por el mundo?
Sí, le debo dinero a tanta gente, sabés… (Risas)

Eso explica por qué todavía siguen siéndolo; supongo aún esperan que les pagues algún día.
Oh sí, ¡por supuesto! (Más risas)

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MI BUENOS AIRES QUERIDO
Estuviste aquí en Buenos Aires en 2003 para producir el álbum “Llegando Al Límite”, de Katarro Vandáliko. ¿Te hubieras imaginado alguna vez en los 70 o en los 80 que vendrías a Sudamérica a tocar, o a trabajar con otra banda?
¡Claro que no! Me resulta llamativo todo lo que he viajado, pero es siempre más que nada por The Boys.

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El autor de esta nota junto a Honest John Plain: todo es buena onda, amistad, vitrales y anteojos negros (Foto: M. Sonaglioni

¿Y ahora cuáles son tus próximos pasos tras los shows en Argentina? ¿Regresar a Londres?
Tengo que volver a Londres, sí, pero después regreso a Noruega ya que vamos a hacer un show con The Boys en Oslo el 20 de mayo y luego el 30 de junio vamos a tocar en un gran festival en la ciudad de Austvatn, el primero después de un largo tiempo.

Esperaremos entonces con ansias tu regreso al país con el grupo y, una vez más, me resultó maravilloso haberte conocido y poder charlar.
¡Oh, fue un placer para mí también! Y gracias por las preguntas, me gustó que hayas estado calificado para hacerlas.