Get ready for a second helping of the London
By Naughty Mickie
Photos courtesy of Quireboys.com
When the London Quireboys burst back onto the scene with a new release, ``This is Rock `n' Roll'' (Sanctuary Records), and tour that finally made it to the States, I hoped for an interview. Sometimes you get more than you wish for-- I snagged some time with lead vocalist Spike and, during the course of our conversation, connected with part of my past.
My mother is a Brit and was a Rocker in London (think the Who's ``Quadrophenia''), going to all the clubs and hanging out with many musicians. And although the Quireboys are of a different generation, it was interesting to hear a little bit about the band side of things and learn that things haven't changed all that much.
The London Quireboys made their mark in music history in the late '80s, yet kept mainly in the eye of Europe and England. After a six year hiatus, they have come back to successfully reclaim their old stomping grounds and make another stab at the American scene.
Their current lineup is Spike, Nigel Mogg, bass, Guy Griffin, guitar, Luke Bossendorfer, guitar, and Martin Henderson, drums and percussion. The group spouts out standard rock-- no trendy stuff; no flavor-of-the-week junk -- just timeless music with their own signature stamped on.
Guitarist Guy Bailey, who is no longer with the band, and Spike started the group.
``I moved from Newcastle to London,'' Spike tells me. ``I was just a kid, I was 17, and I met Guy Bailey in a bar. I was working on a building site, I was a bricklayer. I met him, this was when I was 18, and I actually lived with him for about a year. I slept on his floor for like a year. We never talked about music or anything and we both discovered- he didn't know I could play the guitar and I didn't know that he could play the guitar and then somebody brought a guitar over one night and we both started playing Chuck Berry and stuff. He didn't know that I loved Chuck Berry and I didn't know that he loved Chuck Berry and it was a weird thing. We wrote four songs together and it took off from there. It took four to five years before we got a deal. We packed in our jobs and put a band together, the Quireboys, and just played. We put our hearts and souls into it.''
``Did you work to support yourselves while starting out?'' I ask.
``In England, you have this wonderful this called `the dole' and everybody packed in their jobs and we weren't getting any money for the gigs, so we just lived hand and mouth,'' says Spike. ``We'd be upstairs going, `Has anybody got any money we can spare tonight?' We just played and played and played and we got a following. We were headlining the Dominion Theater in London and we didn't even have a record deal. If that had happened these days, you'd be snapped up straight away. I mean, when it did happen, we got a big deal and it was good, but it was all hard work to that point.
``We've been on tour since June (2001) in Europe and everybody has been
welcoming us with open arms and saying, `Thank god, there's some proper rock and
roll again,''' Spike goes on, changing the subject. ``It's been grand. From
Italy to Germany to Switzerland to everywhere we've played, it's been
They haven't been in America since the '90s, until this past year.
``Did you grow up in a musical family?'' I query.
``No, not at all,'' replies Spike. ``What happened to me was funny because when I was 11, we had guitar classes in school, and when I was 11, I picked it up really quickly and then me dad seen that in me and he got me private lessons. So I was classically trained on the guitar from the age of 11 until I was 14. My family was brilliant, they've always been 100 percent behind me. It ended up really great because they ended up coming on tour with me everywhere. So it was brilliant. It wasn't like, `You're packing in your job to go up do this music thing,' it was `Go for it.'''
Spike left school at 16.
``I didn't want to play in a band. When you're 16, you just want to leave home and move to a different city,'' explains Spike. ``I hated school. I was the only kid with long hair. I used to fight with all the skinheads.
``When I was in school, I was the only guy into the Rolling Stones and Priest and things like that. I got it from my sister, she was a Priest fan and Rolling Stones and I picked it all up. There's always one that one kid who screws with traditions.'' Spike laughs.
I ask him about his work history.
``When I was 17 and 18, I built some gyms as army barracks in Buckingham Palace in London,'' says Spike. ``I did that for two years and then I was in the band. That was my first ever job and I haven't worked since, just played in the band. It was my first and last band.
``What I was going to be was a footballer, but I broke me arm. It was a really bad break so I couldn't play for six months. And then I just lost it and couldn't. And then I discovered drinking and women and it ruined me life,'' he laughs.
I prod him for his hobbies.
``Hobbies,'' Spike muses. ``You know what, all the time, I'm so busy. I'm in the
studio, I'm doing solo records and stuff, so I don't really have time for
anything. Even though the Quireboys hadn't played for six years. I was doing my
solo and tours and playing in Europe. There doesn't seem to be enough hours in
My thought was that Spike must spend a lot of time writing material, but I was to learn otherwise.
``What I do, is when I've got something to do, I don't sit around and write all the time. What I do is I wait, like when you've got to go into the studio with a song, I sit down, usually the night before,'' Spike chuckles. ``I'm terrible like that. It's almost a last minute thing. I don't know how I got away with this for so long. I just write it and go in the studio and do it.''
Spike wrote 30 songs for the Quireboys' latest album and is already working with them on the next record. Their tour has just finished this past October.
``What do you think about the music scene, in England or the States?'' I wonder.
``America is incredible,'' says Spike. ``If you watch MTV, there only seems to be 15 bands in the world. There's nothing out there. In America it's typical rock/metal. What happened is that all the guys from the '80s just cut their hair off and decided to go with the flow.''
I comment on all the old bands coming back.
``It's funny, but we lumped in with all that,'' Spike tells me. ``We played with at the shows and stuff, but we weren't really in that hair metal thing. I wouldn't know a Dokken song if it hit me in the head."
``In England, America always dominates,'' Spike continues. ``On the rock scene, it's all American bands and no English come and tour really. But they've got big bands in England that are not in the United States, like the Stereophonics, but that's not really heavy rock. It's just a weird time. I supposed it's always been the same really. This rock/metal, there's one band that makes it and then there's tons of them come along. We've always stuck to what we know. We can't really do any stuff, we just stick with three chords- three chords and bad wine.''
Spike knows that I work for both a newspaper and a Web site, so I ask him what he thinks of the Internet.
``I'm completely computer illiterate. I thought our album was still coming out in vinyl,'' Spike teases. ``I haven't got a computer, but when I'm in somebody's house, I'm not really, you know. We've got a new site, but I haven't seen it yet.''
I tell him that I have and it's pretty good, I've even seen his photo.
Spike laughs and says, ``I'll check it out.''
The future is clear for Spike, he is working on another solo album, as well as writing some new material for the Quireboys and seeing what shows they can book.
``The first solo album I did was a total like soul album with brass and everything like that,'' says Spike. ``This one, I'm doing sounds a lot like Burning Tree with me singing. It sounds like Hendrix mixed with Freight. It sounds really good. It will just be a small release in Europe.''
I tease him that that's what the Internet is good for-- finding albums not released in America and we have a good laugh.
Spike admits that he would like to see his effort released in England and America. Cargo Records in London released his ``Live in London'' album, which can be found on both sides of the ocean.
To conclude our chat, I ask Spike if there's anything I haven't asked him or if there's something he'd like to tell me.
``I'm going to go to the English pub round the corner after this and have a
pint of cider,'' Spike laughs, sharing a British moment. Then he reminds me that
the Quireboys are really in Hollywood, so it will have to be the Rainbow for
Get a taste of true rock and roll at www.quireboys.com and http://www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.com
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