You were born in Norway in the February 1952.
Yeah in Trondheim.
As a teenager what were your major musical influences?
The Stones. Absolutely and totally the Stones.
Any others?
No just the Stones.
What inspired you to become a musician?
Basically because I was a rebel and nothing appealed to me, nothing at all. I was a little too young for Jerry Lee and Chuck Berry and all that and at the beginning of the 60ís there wasnít anything. So when the Stones came along it was perfect, absolutely perfect.
You were the vocalist in a band in 1965 which included Bjorn Nessjoe on bass?
Yes that was the first band I was in and I was about 12 years old I suppose. It was while we were at school and we did cover versions of the Stones and all that.
Were you writing songs at that time?
No not really but it was around that time when I first started writing songs.
You then joined a band called Jane in 1966 which had Geir Waade on drums?
Yeah we were playing Cream and that sort of stuff at that time. I was still at school so it wasnít that serious.
You were then in Tom And The Wild Set between1967 and 1969?
Yeah we were starting to get more serious by then and we were playing gigs. That band was quite good, we were doing James Brown and that sort of stuff. Tom was the singer and he was sort of a James Brown kind of singer. We won some local competitions and we were playing loads of gigs at the time.
Were you playing any of your own material?
No it was very much Stax type of stuff.
After that you moved to London and changed your name to Casino Steel?
Yes I think it was 1 January 1971 when I moved to London. I changed my name after I met Andrew Matheson because everyone changed their names at that time; even the English changed their names! I mean obviously I couldnít be called Stein Groven in that type of band so I had to find a good name.
So how did you come up with Casino Steel?
We drove past a Casino on Edgware Road and I thought that sounds good. My first name is Stein (pronounced "stine") and the Scottish they pronounce it "steen", itís a Scottish name. So I thought thatís a great name Stein ("steen") Casino. And Andrew said "no it should be Casino Steel" and so that was that.
Then with Andrew Matheson and Lou Sparks you formed The Queen in 1971?
Yes thatís right and we used to play the Cafť Des Artistes in Fulham Road; we were the regular band on there and then "the" band Queen appeared. I canít remember what they were originally called but theyíd changed their name to Queen. We had a gig at the Marquee under the name of The Queen and Freddie Mercury came up to me and he hit me. He said that we would have to change our name and I said, "Fuck you" but then they had a hit so we had to change our name. They were also regulars at the Cafť Des Artistes but they were doing cover versions at the time, "Route 66" and all that sort of stuff.
So how did the Hollywood Brats come about, was it simply a change of name?
Yeah basically it was. We played that gig at the Marquee and then Laurie O'Leary who ran the Speakeasy club saw us and he wanted us to play the Speakeasy club and we became a regular band there. Ken Mewis saw us as well, with Laurie OíLeary I think and he used to be Andrew Loog Oldhamís right hand or was it his left hand! But they liked us, Ken became our manager and we became the regular host band at the Speakeasy. We also got a deal with NEMS.
The Hollywood Brats signed a deal with NEMS?
Yes and we recorded an album and everyone hated it of course so we never got to sign the deal. We thought we were the greatest band in the world and I still do think that the Hollywood Brats were a great band. Unfortunately the only person who really liked us was Keith Moon. He used to be at the Speakeasy all the time and he really loved the Brats but everyone else hated us because we were so outrageous. Because we couldnít get a deal in England I went back to Norway with the masters and managed to negotiate a deal with Mercury Records. They released our album "Grown Up Wrong" in 1975 I think, after weíd split up.
We went to Montreal to try to get something going over there because we couldnít get anything going in England. Unfortunately we couldnít get out of Montreal because it was the Olympics and they hated us there as well of course. At the time they were always speaking French; they hated anything that was English or American. They were all clean and the town was all clean because of the Olympics and so we just got stoned. I hated every second in Montreal so I eventually went back to London.
The Brats were similar to the New York Dolls. Did they influence you or were you totally separate?
We were actually totally separate from the Dolls and weíd never even heard of them. But then Laurie OíLeary became their English manager so he asked the Dolls to come over and thatís the first time we met them. We heard their first album and obviously we thought it was crap because we thought we were so much better. Unfortunately nobody knew who the hell we were except for the regular crowd at the Speakeasy.
Were you disappointed that "Grown Up Wrong" was only released in Scandinavia?
Yeah because we recorded it in 1972/73 and we were gonna take over the world so we were obviously very disappointed. We had split up by the time the album was finally released.
What were your favourite tracks from the album?
Anything from that album, I think itís brilliant. "Sick On You" of course is a classic. Not many people know itís a classic but I do!
Iím sure they do.
When did you record the "Whatever Happened to the Hollywood Brats" album and "Rough Mixes" EP?
The EP was recorded around the same time as our first album. I think the second Brats album was recorded in 1979 or something. That second album was a mistake. It should have been an outrageous disgusting album but it wasnít because by then we were trying to do something clever which we should never have tried. I didnít like the album, it was a mistake.
Would you like to see it released on CD?
Some of the tracks but not as a complete album because itís not representative of what the Brats really were.
You made a video for "Little Olí Wine Drinker Me"?
We did the video at the same time as I made a couple of videos with Gary Holton. I think it was at Dingwalls or the pub next door. Gary and I were called Lip Service at the time. It was before we became Holton/Steel and before we had released anything. I think one of the videos Gary and I did was "Goodnight Irene". I canít remember what else we did.
How did the Brats finish?
Well I went back to London and Andrew became a professional footballer in Canada. Lou Sparks, the drummer became a biker and Brady well heís still doing something today.
How did you meet Matt Dangerfield?
Andrew came to visit me in London and Malcolm McLaren called us up because he had flopped in the States with the Dolls when they tried to do that Communist thing. He said he had a new project and he wanted to see if we were interested in it. So we had a meeting with him and he told us about this new project called the Sex Pistols and Andrew stood up and said, "Fuck you this is the most ridiculous thing Iíve ever heard" and left the room so I had to leave as well.
So we hung around my flat in Paddington and Geir Waade, Tony James and Mick Jones came round because they were fans of the Hollywood Brats; Mick and Tony had a copy of the "Grown Up Wrong" album. They more or less introduced me to Matt up in Warrington Crescent because he had a rehearsal room and studio. He asked if we wanted to be involved in a project called London SS which stood for London Social Security. We went up to have the rehearsal and Andrew thought it was disgusting because Mick Jones couldnít play so he left the building. I got to know those people and quite enjoyed it and then John came along. Geir was still there and we formed the Boys.
When did you start writing with Matt?
That came naturally because I used to write with Andrew so I was always used to writing with someone else. Andrew was into the Kinks and I was into the Stones so that worked perfectly. Matt was into the Beatles and so we worked very well together. It suited me fine and Matt as well so it was very natural.
How did your writing partnership work?
Well Matt wrote the majority of the lyrics because I couldnít write English lyrics very well.
What songs did you play with London SS?
We played Stones covers and Pleasant Valley Sunday by the Monkees and that Cilla Black song.
"Youíre My World"?
Yes thatís right. Of course they were our versions.
Have you got any London SS demos?
No Matt and Barry Jones I think will have them. Iím not sure what happened to them. Iíve not heard them for many years.
How did The Boys become a band?
We hung around Mattís place and drank at The Warrington in Warrington Crescent. John came along and we all liked him. Matt knew John from Leeds anyway so it was easy. John knew Jack and Jack knew Duncan and that was it basically. Everyone else from London SS were also forming bands like the Damned, the Clash and Generation X.
Who thought of the name?
John as far as I remember or possibly Geir.
Where did you play?
The Hope and Anchor, Nags Head and other pubs.
What were the Boys like live at that time?
We were a beat band but we were very aggressive and very fast. Obviously in some sort of way we were very influenced by the Hollywood Brats so we were a cleaner version of the Brats I suppose. I enjoyed it because of the tempo and the action all the time and also being a part of the whole environment with the Clash, the Damned and all the other bands. We were a contingent totally different from the South London contingent like Siouxie and the Banshees, Sex Pistols and those people. In a funny sort of way we were all hoping we would make it so it was good fun.
You mentioned that the Boys were influenced by the Brats?
I think the Brats influenced them all. I know the Clash and Generation X were because it was the only album they liked to play. The Brats and the Dolls, there was nothing else at that time.
How long was it before record companies started paying attention?
Quite quickly actually. I think we were the very first band to get a deal. We could also have been the first punk band to have released anything but we werenít because NEMS didnít believe that this sort of thing was gonna be big at all. When the Damned released "New Rose" things started to happen. The Clash got a deal and we still hadnít released our album. It was finished and ready to release but nothing happened. They finally released it after everyone else. We came into the charts at Number 50 and then Elvis died and we were fucked.
Why did you sign to NEMS?
They were the only record company who wanted to sign anything at the time of that type of stuff, I mean the Clash couldnít get a deal and the Damned couldnít get a deal. No punk band could but we got a deal long before them. Then the following started to come along and it started to grow in popularity and the others got signed but we had already signed a deal with NEMS so it was a big mistake. It was also a question of having some money because they offered us £12 a week or something, which we thought was a fortune and they gave us a place to stay. Ken Mewis had a lot to do with it because he was our manager.
How quickly did you realise youíd made a mistake?
We never did at the time as we were just enjoying ourselves. It was only a few years later we realised, they were the Mafia! We were treated alright by these Italians who came along and said "Hey Boys come and have a drink on us" and we thought it was knockout that theyíd buy us pints. They were absolutely crap.
How quickly did the bandís relationship with NEMS deteriorate?
We couldnít really blame NEMS for Elvis dying. Of course it was their fault they didnít release the album earlier but we thought weíd give them another chance so I think we re-signed with them for the second album "Alternative Chartbusters" and they did one release gig and that was it. But in a funny sort of way we were a little bit cleverer than the others because we won an advertising campaign that year. It was brilliant all the "50 million fans canít be wrong" and all that as well as the tour dates with Rome Coliseum and Tokyo and all that sort of stuff which was great; it was really funny. Some of the disc jockeys on the radio were picking up on it and we were getting some reasonable airplay and we couldnít understand why it didnít sell or the shops didnít have the albums in stock. We didnít know the business so we didnít know it was NEMS fault. We then started to realise that there was something drastically wrong and we found out that the only reason theyíd signed the Boys in the first place was because they could use us as a tax deduction. They werenít interested in us at all because they had Black Sabbath and some other artists they were interested in as well as the back catalogue from Immediate.
How did "I Donít Care" become chosen as the first single?
I donít really know. I think that it was one of the first songs we wrote and it was an easy song to record. We recorded it in some terrible studio in Regent Street and it was done in a day including the mix and everything. We thought it was great to have a single out and it had to be something that we could do quickly.
Were you pleased with the finished recording?
Yeah I think so.
"Soda Pressing" is an awesome B-side. Did the band regard it as a strong song in 1977?
No I donít think we realised at the time what a good song it was.
Around that time The Boys appeared on stage at the Marquee with Marianne Faithful?
She owes me five quid! She couldnít afford to get the taxi down to the Marquee so I had to pay it. She was really down and out and nothing was happening with her career and she was also on NEMS. Ken suggested that we ask her up on stage to make her a little more trendy and hip and give her something to do. And we thought yeah sure I didnít mind Mick Jaggerís old girlfriend up on stage with me. I thought it was knockout.
What did you play with her?
She did Chuck Berryís "Memphis Tennessee". We got slaughtered in the music press for having her on stage with us but we didnít care. At that time all the bands were into hating everything that had anything to do with established musicians. Personally I was never into that.
To promote "I Donít Care" you went on a national tour supporting John Cale?
Iíd never heard of John Cale, I didnít know anything about Velvet Underground because I was never into American music at all and we were laughing at him calling him an old legend but we liked him, he was great. I loved the tour; I enjoyed it very much. I was surprised how well we went down, we got a great response everywhere we played and we did some big places most of which were sold out. The atmosphere at the shows was great. His fans came along and they were curious about us, they were open to new things because of the type of musician he was and he liked us too. We became good friends with him and we had some great sessions in the bars!
In May 1977 you went into the studio and recorded your first album in two days?
I think the album was recorded at the Olympic studios although I canít remember too much about it. I think that the Who were in the studio next door and they were in the small studio whilst we were in the big one!
According to Jack you were paid £2 for recording the album?
As much as that? We werenít that pleased with it and neither were NEMS. They had asked Pete Gage to produce it and he came and saw us at the Marquee. He seemed alright but he wasnít into our type of music at all so he was wrong for the album but it turned out okay in the end.
If the Pete Gage mix could be found now would you be favour of it being released?
I didnít realise his mixes werenít released.
The released version was Mattís remix with the vocals mixed lower.
Oh yeah thatís right, it was something Matt and I were really into at the time because the Stones obviously used to do that. We were into that style in the Brats as well. At the time it sounded right being mixed in that way.
With hindsight could the album have been better with a different mix?
Yeah but then again Iím not sure that it should have been better because it feels good now that the mix wasnít better. It was right for the time that the mix should be raw.
What did you think of the finished product?
I didnít like the cover. I liked the picture on the cover but I felt that it should have been a large one instead of all the smaller ones. It would have been more eye catching.
Whose idea was the cover?
Matt and Kenís.
You re-recorded "Tumble With Me" and "Sick On You", minus a verse, for the Boys first album?
I only realised later that we had missed out a verse on "Sick On You".
So the missing out of a verse wasnít deliberate then?
No although we never wanted any song to be longer than 3 minutes 20 seconds. That was it. We changed a few formulas because Andrew Loog Oldham had told me in 1971 that if you hadnít got a hook line in 20 seconds no one would bother to listen. So we changed things a little bit; we made sure we didnít have long intros and we also made sure that the chorus came very early in the song. We also believed that songs should be short.
Of those two songs which versions do you prefer?
Oh no doubt about it the Brats versions are better. I think that the Brats "Sick On You" is a classic, I really do. Itís brilliant.
Were you surprised that "First Time" didnít chart?
Oh yes.
As I recall the Ramones had a top thirty with "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" around that time
Did it get that high?
I think it got to Number 21 or 22.
The Ramones blew my brains out the first time I saw them. I thought they were absolutely brilliant. I also thought the Heartbreakers were great too.
Why did you edit "First Time"?
NI canít remember. I always liked Johnís songwriting. His simplicity is very good. The first time I heard it I thought it was great and I didnít mind if they chopped it down, it was a great song.
Other than "First Time" and "Whatcha Gonna Do" Matt and yourself dominated the early days as songwriters.
Oh yeah absolutely. At that time we were thinking of John as a sort of George Harrison figure in that heíd get to do the odd song on an album.
What about Duncan?
Well as a songwriter he was learning and he was getting quite good. I donít know why we didnít record more of his songs although he didnít write too many. I canít remember how many of Duncanís songs we rehearsed but I canít really remember turning any down.
On the "Boys Only" sessions the Boys recorded a Duncan Reid song called "Coming To Take Me Away" and also a song he wrote with Matt called "Talk To Me". But of course you werenít involved with "Boys Only".
What were your favourite tracks from the Boys first album?
There were some very good songs on the album and itís very difficult to pick a favourite. I like "First Time" of course and "Cop Cars". Not many people liked "Cop Cars" but it was one of my favourites. In Japan last year it went down really well with the fans. I like "Box Number" too.
In your opinion what impact did Elvisí death have on the Boys chances of success?
I really believe his death had a big impact. If he hadnít have died we would have charted higher than we did because we were selling quite well. As far as I remember NEMS were distributed by RCA and they stopped pressing all other records apart from Elvis. I remember that Dave Edmonds was in the same position as us and he was as pissed off as we were. It was a few months before they started re-pressing other records and by that time it was too late. I am sure that we would have made a much greater impact if Elvis hadnít have died at that time so I blame the bastard!
Around that time you went to the BBC to record your first John Peel session?
It was a very good session. John Peel was a great guy; he was such a pleasant person. We had a great time in the studio and we thought that those versions were better than the album versions. We recorded it one afternoon and we were very pleased with it.
The vocals were mixed higher than on the album?
Yeah, well we had nothing to do with it because they had their own technicians.
"Rock Relic" didnít appear on the album?
Well we came up with the line "Not ready not ready, too young to go steady" which fit to "Rock Relic" so we used that instead.
Who came up with the idea of recording a Christmas single as the Yobs?
I think it was an idea that Andrew Matheson and I had. We wanted to record "Run Rudolph Run" and of course Andrew sang the vocals. I donít know why it was called the Yobs; it could have been Andrewís idea. Because of Mattís studio and Ken Mewis the others became involved.
What can you remember about the "Worm Song"?
We werenít recording any stuff and we needed a song for the b-side and it was easy and it was funny. And of course that became a classic and people sing that now. They donít know itís the Yobs or the Boys, they just sing it because itís become a famous song and itís extremely funny.
So why didnít you release it as the Boys?
Because it wasnít the Boys, it was Andrew. He was very involved with that recording and we wanted to keep it separate from the Boys. We just wanted to do a Christmas single.
You then went to Rockfield to record "Alternative Chartbusters"?
I canít remember whether it was our first or second time in Rockfield when Black Sabbath were there. Rockfield was a place weíd heard about through Dave Edmonds and Ken booked it for us and NEMS paid for it. We had a great time and very much enjoyed recording there. They treated us really well when we werenít used to anything. We were having great meals, getting drunk and having loads of fun so we enjoyed it very much.
The Boys had a reputation for being heavy drinkers and knowing how to enjoy themselves. Can you remember any amusing incidents?
Well I canít recall too much because I was always too drunk!
What more than Jack and John?
Oh yes definitely. I really do think so. They were more slobs than I was because I was never into beer drinking! They were into beer drinking and had all these pints all the time whereas I was more into enjoying my whisky so I suppose I was a little better behaved than they were.
I think the production of "Alternative Chartbusters" was primarily Matt?
Well it was Mattís project and mine I suppose.
How do you feel the album turned out?
I thought it was a very good album and I liked it very much. Also we had fun doing the harmonies, which became a trademark for the Boys and it worked really well. Matt and I had great fun with it creating Beatles-ish type of harmonies.
Your high harmonies are very much a trademark of the Boys sound?
Yes exactly and when I listen to it today it cannot be anyone else but the Boys. We had our own sound in the same sort of way that the Hollies did. It was great for us to discover that and it was very special in that type of way.
Did you never fancy having a go at lead vocals?
No but that was basically because of my English.
What are your favourite tracks?
"Brickfield Nights" and I also liked "Classified Susie". In a strange sort of way I liked "Sway" as well because that was fun and we really made a great video for it.
Tell us about the video you made for "Sway"?
I played trumpet and I had this greased back Elvis hairstyle. It was recorded at the same time as "Brickfield Nights". I wish the original video could be found somewhere. It was recorded by ITN and they usually store these things so it must be somewhere. They werenít really videos though because there werenít any videos at that time. The first real videos I made were the ones I did with Gary Holton.
Can you recall who made it?
No I canít but the company was ITN and it was down in Soho.
How did you feel when both "Brickfield Nights" and "Alternative Chartbusters" failed to chart?
I was very very disappointed because I thought that album was really good. The songs were good and "Brickfield Nights" was a sure fire hit.
After "Alternative Chartbusters" what did you do to get released from NEMS?
We were really really pissed off and we went on strike. I was totally disillusioned and I went back to Norway on holidays or whatever and this friend of mine Bjorn Nessjoe had opened his own studio. He told me that heíd be interested in producing the Boys next album so we went over there and recorded "To Hell With The Boys". It was strange because we came over to Norway and all the musicians were very good. Punk was starting to break but we had got to the point where we were trying to be good as well so we got impressed with all these fantastic musicians. So thatís how the "Original Mix" came about. It didnít suit the English market but it obviously suited the European market so it became two different things. On the "Original Mix" you can hear that itís totally different. Iím not sure which is the better mix but obviously the English version was better at the time for the English market.
I think that one of the reasons we didnít get totally pissed off was that we were quite successful on the continent. We were playing big places in Holland and France and we were the first punk band to play in France. When we played in Paris the posters all over just said "Punk Rock" and in little letters underneath it said "The Boys". The people just turned up to see punk for the first time in their lives. We also played The Paradiso in Amsterdam and we got a great response over there. We then became very popular on the continent which eased up the disappointment of us not making it in England.
You were involved in some ads slagging off NEMS?
Yeah we liked the advertising campaigns because we were more or less the brains behind it. Ken was brilliant of course and we were very disillusioned at the time because all our friends were making it really big.
Tell me about the legendary third album "Junk"?
I canít remember much about it. What tracks did we record?
"Jap Junk", an earlier version of "See You Later" and the one you probably remember "Almost Persuaded".
"Almost Persuaded" was recorded with the Boys as a joke but I ended up recording it properly later with Gary Holton. It was really strange the country thing because I was into Gram Parsons. I was being a drunk with my neighbour and we went to see Tony Bennett and Dean Martin and everything and I was really into it, totally. Johnny Thunders came around because he loved it too. It was a strange period with regards to music for us especially because I was totally confused. I remember I went to the Royal Albert Hall with Lemmy and Sid Vicious to see Abba and we loved it. We thought it was fantastic. It was knockout.
Iím not sure if John and Jack meant it seriously but they said that they were into Jim Reeves, although I was never really into that sort of country. I thought that "Almost Persuaded" was such a great song and I was also getting really hooked on being in bars and I understood it. I was having problems with my girlfriend, I was down and drunk and everything so I understood the lyrics in country music and I started to pick up on it and I didnít find it pathetic as everyone else did.
How do you think it sounds today?
Oh very funny but it was genuine. When I was with the Hollywood Brats we did "Crying Time" when we played the Marquee. The crowd couldnít believe it, we were playing all these really rough rock songs and we started doing "Crying Time" because Andrew and I liked it. Nobody else knew what the hell we were doing.
You then recorded "Silent Night"?
I thought it was great fun. I was pissed off when they re-recorded those songs for the Yobs album. I played on all the singles but not on the album and they went and re-recorded them!
You then signed for Safari?
I canít remember who introduced us to John Craig. I think he liked us and he wanted to do something with our type of band and that was great as far as we were concerned. We desperately wanted to get away from NEMS.
You then released "To Hell With The Boys" and Bjorn Nessjoe didnít like Duncanís vocals?
I was used to Mattís vocals and I donít know whether this is fair or not but he has always reminded me very much as a John Lennon-ish type of singer. Personally I felt that a John Lennon-ish voice suited the songs but that was as a songwriter not as a listener because I had no opinion on what the public would think. The intention of the songs suited Mattís vocals better so I didnít mind at all, I agreed that Matt should sing all the songs. Duncan was very inexperienced as a singer at the time but looking back at it I donít mind whether Duncan or Matt sings them. I think itís a question of charm and Duncanís vocals have their own charm and they appeal to some people and Mattís vocals appeal to others. Listening to it now I donít really mind, I think they both sound good.
Which mix do you actually prefer?
I prefer the English mix as a historical piece of music but I prefer the Norwegian mix as far as standing the test of time. I can easily listen to the Norwegian mix today and think it sounds very good whereas the English mix sounds very 1970ís.
What are your favourite songs on the album?
Oh I like "Independent Girl" and "You Canít Hurt a Memory"
You appeared live at the Safari Christmas Party in 1979 as both the Boys and the Yobs?
Oh yeah that was total chaos but great fun. A real historical gig with the stage being invaded as we were playing the Yobs set. It was knockout.
I believe that Safari filmed the gig?
Yes I believe so but Iíve never seen it.
What did you think of your Old Grey Whistle Test performance in January 1980?
Was it that late? I thought it was in the 1970ís.
15 January 1980.
NI remember Frank Zappa and Cozy Powell being on the same show. I think it went really well and Iím sure we went back to Cozy Powellís place to watch the programme after we recorded it. We were really pleased because the songs and the mix were very good. The thing that impressed me most was Frank Zappa and his bodyguard with the burning cigarette behind his ear. Frank Zappa came up and shook Johnís hand and said what a great song "Terminal Love" was and John was really knocked out.
Normally Duncan was the frontman but on that show you introduced "See You later"?
Did I. I canít recall that.
What were your thoughts when you were invited to join the Ramones tour?
Fantastic, especially for me because they were breaking with "Baby I Love You" at the time. It was actually recorded by session musicians you know, another Phil Spector session. Anyway they didnít know how to play it and obviously I urged them to play it because it was in the charts. They needed an organ on it so they asked me to play the organ and I also sang harmonies at the same time. I even introduced them to an A minor! They were totally knocked out because they thought I was such a great musician. We became great friends especially Joey, Johnny and myself. The other Boys got pissed off because I got to travel with them in their tour bus. At the time we had a roadie called Mark.
Mark Mason?
Yeah and at the end of the tour we had an offer to go on with the Ramones and Mark pulled out and I really didnít know what to do. I was really down and out and drunk at the time. Me and Johnny had a talk about it and he said I could come to the Bronx and change my name to Casino Ramone and join the band if it worked out. I remember being sat in the Warrington pub and Mark said that he wasnít going to go. So I thought that I couldnít go on my own and just sit there in New York because the Ramones were strange at the time; they werenít socialising even with each other. They were all with their girlfriends and whilst it was great fun on stage it was no fun off stage because they didnít do anything.
A very different band to the Boys offstage then?
Oh very much so. Iíd met Gary Holton who was in the Heavy Metal Kids and they were the regular house band at the Speakeasy. Laurie OíLeary wanted to be manager for one band only and so he chose the Metal Kids rather than the Brats. That was the first time I met Gary. He then started to go to the Warrington pub and Geir Waade introduced us. I called up Bjorn and Gary was a drunk who was totally disillusioned. I mean the Heavy Metal Kids were great live but they didnít do anything so he was disillusioned and I said "letís go to Norway and record an album, relax have a good time and get out of this circus". He agreed and we both went.
Before you left the Boys you recorded the BBC In Concert which was released by Vinyl Japan last year?
Yes I enjoyed that, the atmosphere was good and the songs were good. I also think that more or less at that time I was determined I was going to leave the Boys.
Why did you want to leave the Boys?
Gary and I had recorded an album in Norway although we didnít get a deal until March 1981 but we recorded it in 1979 and we thought it was a great album. And then suddenly we got a deal with Polygram and the album went straight in the charts at Number 1 and went Platinum within a few weeks so we were becoming extremely big and I thought lets cash in on this.
At that time did you feel that the Boys werenít going to make it?
Yeah I think so.
You did one last single with the Boys which was "Youíd Better Move On"?
Everyone knew that it was going to be my last single.
You also recorded "Jimmy Brown" as a potential single?
Around that time?
Yes.
Which Boys album is it on?
The Boys didnít release it. It first appeared on "Odds & Sods" in 1990.
Itís not on a Boys album! I didnít know that. I thought "Jimmy Brown" was a great song. Thatís disgusting, I canít believe it. Pojat took it to Number 1 in Finland you know and of course I re-recorded it with Gary Holton.
Whilst you were with the Boys Matt and yourself decided to write something for the Eurovision Song Contest?
We thought why not weíd nothing else to do. At the time disco was big so we thought letís just do a disco song. I vaguely remember the song.
Can you remember who performed it?
No I donít remember but we have a demo of it, we did it with the Boys. Iím fairly sure I have that on a cassette.
After you left the Boys continued as a four-piece. How did you feel about that?
Fine, no problems. I went to the studio while they were recording "Boys Only" and I quite liked the album. I donít think it deserves all the slagging it got. The recording of "Wonderful World" is terrible but some of the songs like "Little White Lifeline" are great. I also really liked "Let It Rain".
Didnít you co-write that with Matt?
Yes.
They also recorded "The Yobs Christmas Album" without you. How did you feel about that?
Oh crap. I liked the album but I hated not being on it. I like the Yobs very much, I think they are knockout.
Youíve touched on your partnership with Gary Holton with whom you made it big?
My biggest popularity is without any doubt when I was with Gary Holton because we were very very big. We were Number 1 in the charts all the time and our records sold incredibly well and the fans loved us. We were male chauvinist pigs!
I never met Gary but he comes over as a likeable rogue; someone who wanted to have a laugh and a good time?
Yes he was good company but I had some great times with the Boys too.
You recorded four albums as Holton/Steel?
I thought our first album was great but then I thought the same for the first Brats and the first Boys albums.
You then released an album in 1985, which was just released under Holtonís name?
That was released after his death. The reason it was called Gary Holton was because it was only released in England and I wasnít known in England and so Holton/Steel wasnít big in England. I was pissed off with that but the record company said that Gary Holton was the star so it would be released in his name.
You made a few videos with Holton/Steel?
Yes we made about twenty videos. Iíve got over an hour of videos of Holton/Steel.
Any chance of them receiving a commercial release?
The master tape disappeared but Iíve got a VHS tape, which is fairly good quality, so I was thinking about maybe doing it on DVD. They are great videos and they are all funny. We went to the States to do some. Gary and I became massive and we were the first European band on MTV in the States. From 1981 to 1984 it was a complete circus. We were quite old at the time and we had screaming teenagers coming to see us and we were playing these huge places. Gary was also really into drugs so he got completely fucked up.
How did you feel when he died?
It didnít come as a shock but Gary was like a brother, we were very close.
Whilst with Holton/Steel you also released an album on Mercury called "Steelworks"?
Yeah but that was the record company taking advantage of our popularity because they were demos for other people to sing and they werenít intended as anything else other than demos. But they released it as an album.
In 1983 Matt and yourself recorded an album with Christinna X?
X-Tina.
A Swedish porn star?
Yes thatís right and Iíve got it on vinyl!
What can you tell me about that project?
It was all about money. At the time in Sweden and in Norway they had these really big sellers with porn stars singing terrible songs with really dirty lyrics. It sold like Platinum in Scandinavia but it hadnít been done in England so I felt we had to do it for England because it is really funny. I went over to Matt and I presented him with twelve songs with all this Abba type of music; really slick nice tunes. I said to Matt that we needed really dirty lyrics on every song and Matt wrote them. I then went back and recorded it in Norway and then took the finished product back to England and played them to Paul Raymond and all those type of people. They thought it was great and I went to Island Records and they thought it was knockout. They wanted to sign it and give me £70,000 as an advance and I thought great so I booked into the Hilton in Kensington. I went to Island Records to sign the deal and these A & R people were playing it full volume in the office and Chris Blackwell, the head of Island Records was in the office next door. Just as they were about to present the contract to me Chris Blackwell comes in and says "this is crap!" and they told him that it was their new signing and he replies "I donít want that shit on my label!" and that was it. I had to leave the office and nothing happened. I was ten minutes away from having £70,000 in my hands and I went out broke and I still had to pay the Kensington! So that was another total failure.
X-Tina was singing then?
No she wasnít singing at all we had a session singer singing it but she was fronting it because she was gorgeous.
Matt and yourself wrote the album then?
Yeah and it was totally speculative but the songs were really good. The songs were so Abba-ish and very catchy. The harmonies and musicians were great. Malcolm Forrester from Panache Music released it on vinyl. It became a sort of minor hit in pubs. It was disgusting.
You then formed Claudia, Big Hand & Casino.
Gary Holton and myself went to Florida to record some videos and Big Hand was in Florida at the same time. Heís a very famous Scandinavian country singer and with us being into Gram Parsons and all that we started jamming together and singing songs like "Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down" and all that sort of stuff. We really enjoyed it. I also got to the point where I threw all my rock albums out of my house because I never wanted to play rock ever again. I was totally hooked on George Jones and Waylon Jennings and Big Hand was playing that sort of thing. He became some sort of guru who was introducing us to all these great country songs weíd never heard of. In our own pathetic way being drunks and being bar flies we understood everything and we thought it was knockout. Then Big Hand suggested that we do something together and I agreed on the condition that he could find a gorgeous girl with a great voice so we could be a trio. About a year later he called me up and he said heíd found this country singer who was gorgeous and sings great.
Claudia Scott?
Yeah. So we did an album and it became a big hit and we won a Norwegian Grammy. We did three albums and they all sold really well. After about three or four years Iíd had enough, not because of the music but more because of the audience as I had nothing in common with them. I really couldnít stand it anymore because I couldnít relate to my own audience. At the time I was about thirty years of age and couldnít sit and play for these sixty year olds in all these decent places so I decided I had to get back to rock and roll.
You then formed CCCP and released one album of oldies?
I think itís a terrible album. Gary Holton, Ellen Folley, Carlene Carter and myself were going to form a quartet. Gary and I were going to make a comeback but instead of doing the same thing we thought that we ought to team up with a couple of good looking blondes! It would make it sexier. Unfortunately Gary died and I didnít know what to do. So I phoned Carlene Carter and I also called Matt to see if he knew of anyone. I think Matt introduced me to John Payne who I thought was a good singer. The plans for the project had come so far that we had to record something but we couldnít do any original material because the four of us had never all been together and so we didnít have anything. Ellen Folley then dropped out so Claudia, who I knew, replaced her and because we had nothing to record we had to play cover versions. There were good musicians on the album and it was well recorded but it turned out to be an uninteresting album as far as Iím concerned.
You remained with Claudia Scott under the guise of Scott and Steel for one album in 1988?
It was a good album, I liked that one. I couldnít say I liked all the tracks but most of them were good. I was happy with it and it did quite well, I think it went Silver or something. I was having a relationship with Claudia at the time as well so it was a good time for me. We then broke up and went our own separate ways.
You then brought out the "Casino Steel" album in 1990?
Yeah I went to LA to record that with Sammy Yaffa and Ian McLagan.
From the Small Faces?
Yeah. I was happy with the album but the fans werenít because it was too noisy. There was full action from the first track and it became too much and the mix of the album is awful because I had to mix it myself. My hearing is destroyed in some sort of way so I put too much treble on, certainly more than the listener likes because I canít hear it. I thought it sounded really great and I still do but everyone I speak to says that thereís far too much treble and itís painful to listen to. Some of the songs are very good but unfortunately the recording isnít.
You then teamed up with Mick Ronson for "Casino Steel And The Bandits".
I did a TV show in Stockholm with Ian Hunter. Mick was playing with Ian at the time and I briefly spoke to him. He then came to Norway to produce a band called Secret Garden or something like that and so I called him up and suggested we record something together. Mick was an extremely nice guy as well as being a superstar and he came and stayed at my place. He was such a gentleman it blew me out completely. We went into the studio and did some fantastic things and he straightaway understood exactly what I was talking about. We got on really well and so I enjoyed recording the album a great deal. We were due to go out on the road and the whole tour was booked. The week before we were due to go he called me up and told me he had cancer. So we obviously cancelled the tour.
You re-recorded three Boys songs for the album?
I always thought "Heroine" was a great song and no one had taken any notice of that song. I really donít know why because I think itís one of the best songs Iíve ever written. As well as Mick we had this other knockout guitar player called Marius Muller. After we recorded the album I was going to pay him for the session and they both didnít want paying because theyíd enjoyed it so much and they were so privileged to have played on that track. I was totally knocked out by that and I love that recording of "Heroine".
The Boys "Live At The Roxy" was released in 1990?
Yeah Iíve only played it once.
Was it primarily John and yourself who put that out?
No I had nothing to do with it; I didnít even play on it. Rudi, the sax player was on it.
Was it from the 1979 French tour?
Yes it was but I didnít go on that tour.
Why not?
I donít know, maybe I was recording with Gary in Trondheim and thatís why I didnít go. I think itís disgusting calling it "Live At The Roxy" and being such a crap album apparently recorded on an ordinary cassette recorder. I thought it was a cheek. I only played it the once and I was so disgusted with it I never played it again.
The Yobs came together again to record "Xmas 2". Why werenít you involved?
Better ask Matt. I think it was a question of costs; the cost of my flight ticket and a few nights in a hotel! They probably thought they could do it easily themselves in a couple of days.
Shortly after the album was released you appeared live with the Yobs supporting Die Toten Hosen?
Oh yeah that was great and I loved the Yobs. I was pissed off with the Boys not asking me to do that second Christmas album and I think they sort of offered me a trip to Germany to make up for it.
What did you think of supporting Die Toten Hosen?
It was great but Iíd never heard of Campino or Die Toten Hosen until John told me that they were very big. I actually thought we were going to Germany to play the small clubs to a couple of hundred people and we were playing these enormous places so I was really knocked out with it.
Was that the first time you met Campino?
Yes.
How did you feel about someone who was really big being a massive Boys fan?
I was very flattered and they were great guys. I still speak to them; I spoke to Campi last month.
Matt then gave Campino the "Odds and Sods" tapes?
I liked that album, it was funny and charming and as a historical piece itís good. I quite like the fact that itís been re-released recently. I went to stay at Campiís place and heís got loads of stuff on cassette from those sessions. Heís got stuff that I cannot remember who wrote the songs and I cannot even remember recording some of them.
Is that because the Boys rattled off loads of demos?
Yeah we certainly did.
What are your favourite tracks?
Well I liked "Jimmy Brown", "Walk My Dog" and of course "Garden Gang". Campi has four or five different versions of that, different tunes and everything. It was really amazing for me to sit and listen to them.
"Oh Boy" came next in 1992?
I was offered a deal in Germany for the Ronson/Steel album and we wanted different versions for Germany and Iíd done some new recordings since then which became the "Oh Boy" album. It was compiled specifically with the German market in mind so I went on tour in Germany to promote that album. The guy who owned the company suddenly disappeared mid tour and I never saw him again and so the album never got released.
Didnít it come out on Revolution Records?
No not really. I had to do something because I was sitting there with the finished master tapes so I pressed up 400 copies just to do something. I know that it appeared on Revolution Records but it was never officially released. It was more or less the same album as the Ronson/Steel album except for a few tracks so I couldnít make another release but I had to make a few copies at least.
Iíve got a copy and I think itís a good album. I particularly like "Alison Likes Girls"; itís a great song?
Thatís a different version isnít it?
Yes but itís the only version Iíve got a copy of.
I re-recorded that and "Little Rebel"?
You then produced Andrew Mathesonís album "Night Of The Bastard Moon"?
That was a nightmare because MCA Records were looking over my shoulder all the time and Andrew is such an asshole, but heís a great asshole! Actually I think heís one of the most underrated lyric writers in the world. He is an artist in the right meaning of the word; a complete bastard but I get on really well with him. He gave me all these songs and I didnít know what to do with them because some of them I didnít like but he insisted on having them on the album. He then went too far and I didnít see him for days so I had to do everything myself. He told me to do what I wanted so I did! It didnít sell at all but it got nominated for a Canadian Grammy and I think some of the tracks are great. It only sold 1,000 copies worldwide which is a shame because I actually think itís a very good album but it was a nightmare to make because he left everything to me.
Youíve also produced The Saturday Cowboys and Young Lords?
Yes thatís right. They are up and coming Norwegian bands who are fans of the Boys. They thought it was a privilege to have me in the studio to produce them! I think they both sounded alright and they both sold well and the bands became quite famous in Norway.
Do you see any future for yourself as a producer?
No it bores me like hell and I havenít got the patience.
Tell me about the "Dirty Laundry" project?
Iíve always been a fan of Ian Hunterís and I went to Stockholm when he was doing a tour of Sweden and I asked him if we could record an album together because it was one of my ambitions. He agreed and so I asked Bjorn to produce it and that was that. We went to Abbey Road and I had all these plans for the album. We turned up with all the songs and Ian got a total kick from Darryl and John with whom he became very close to and they more or less took over the whole thing. So it became their songs and their project basically.
You sang "Junkee Love"?
Yeah but that was just to get a track on the album! I was pleased with "My Revolution".
In 1996 you came together with Campino to record an album of new Boys material?
Matt phoned and asked me if Iíd like to record a new Boys album because Campino was going to finance it and I said that Iíd love to. It never happened so Matt called me again and said, "letís do an unplugged". So we recorded it at Joe Meek's studio which is an old fashioned way of recording because it had all the old valves still in place. I thought it was interesting and EastWest Records in Germany, who were a big European record label, released it. They would only release it on the condition that Campino was the singer so I thought well why not but I wasnít that pleased with the finished album. I donít think it was a good album because it was done very quickly and we included all the mistakes because we thought it was funny. I also think that Campiís vocals are wrong for it.
I think most Boys fans would have preferred a Boys album to have the Boys singing on it.
Yeah but it wouldnít have sold and it did actually sell quite well because Campino was the singer and that was also why EastWest wanted to release it.
I believe that around that time there was the possibility of one or two Boys dates?
There still is. Iíd love to record a new Boys album and I think John would. Duncan would probably say yes but Matt doesnít want to. I hope we can persuade him because Iíd really love to do another Boys album and Iíve got some great songs that would suit the Boys perfectly.
Well youíve seen Backstage Pass and the website and youíll know that the fans would love some new Boys material.
Yeah I know but the problem is it costs a lot of money and it would probably cost around £50,000 or so and someone has to put up that money. Iím not going to put up that kind of money and Mark Brennan canít do it. Obviously heíd love to release it as would Action Records in France but youíd need a major label and theyíve never heard of the Boys.
Maybe with the popularity continuing to increase it might happen?
Well youíd need an A&R person who likes the Boys and thatís not easy to find.
How did you feel about Michelle Gun Elephant getting to Number 2 in Japan?
Iíve never heard it and I never knew anything about it. I know because Matt and John told me but Iíve not heard it.
There was a lot of Boys activity in 1999?
Yeah nine albums.
How did you feel about it?
Oh it was great. Japan was a tremendous kick for me because I think we sold something like 30,000 albums in Japan alone and they were mostly vinyl. I didnít think weíd sell 1,000 copies in Japan so to sell 30,000 was fantastic.
Having sold all those albums Vinyl Japan sponsored you to go to Japan and play two dates?
The first gig was crap but the second gig was really good. Unfortunately the first gig was totally sold out and thatís when we were crap. The day after we were great.
What did you think about the Japanese fans reactions to you?
It was great; Iíd never been to Japan so I loved it.
Duncan said that the dates were videod. Do you know whether the video exists?
I hope not because I think they videod the first night. Matt was out of tune all the time and we were breaking strings all night. It was funny as hell with Vom being naked on stage and all those girls signing Vomís naked body.
What do you think of the Boys website?
Well I think the Boys website is great and I really appreciate someone doing what they are doing. Itís not the trendiest website in the world but itís simple and itís good fun. I read the guestbook and itís great to see all those comments from the fans. The discography needs to be updated.
Yes Iíve written up about that several times and so many Boys fans keep writing to me about it being four or five years out of date. Iíve even offered to do it myself but Matthew says he canít update it without Matt Dangerfieldís say so.
I sent Matt my discography a few weeks ago and Matt asked me why Iíd sent it to him and I told him that he should put it on the website alongside Johnís releases and his own and have a complete discography. I donít think he wants to do it but I think he should. For someone to do it they need to be paid as well but I think it would be worth someone following it up.
Iím hoping to have my own website up and running within the next two weeks. I should have pictures and everything on it. Hopefully within six months youíll be able to stream most of the songs. Iím also signing a deal next week with Vitaminic so youíll also be able to download most of my stuff soon.
MP3 files?
Yeah.
Youíve been a member of Backstage Pass since the start and are the only Boy who is a member. What do you think of it?
Oh itís great fun; I really enjoy reading all the emails. Iím really into the internet because itís my work and so Iím on the internet eight hours a day.
Youíve also made a couple of comments and said that you think that Boys fans are the best in the world?
Yeah but I have to be a little careful because my email fills up very quickly so I can suddenly find that Iím receiving sixty emails a day from people who have found out my email address.
Well you put it on the guestbook, thatís how they find out!
Yeah I know.
There appears to be a growing interest in the music of The Boys, particularly from young bands who werenít there first time around. How do you feel about it?
Great and I really wish that Oasis would record a Boys song.
Wouldnít that be great?
I think their style would be ideally suited to one of our songs.
They are big fans of Paul Weller; itís a pity he doesnít introduce them to the Boys.
And I got beaten up by Paul Weller the first time I met him!
Tell me about it?
I canít remember where it was but I think I smashed one of the Jamís microphones or something and he hit me and weíve been great friends since.
I remember Paul Weller saying in about 1981 that the Boys were his favourite band and he had a Boys sticker on his guitar for many years.
And we had the Jam written on one of our albums.
"To Hell With The Boys".
Thatís right.
What did you think of "Satisfaction Guaranteed"?
Iíve only got the Action album and not the Vinyl Japan one released last year. Iíve only actually heard it once because itís on vinyl and I havenít got a record player.
Being on Backstage Pass you are obviously aware that there is a Hollywood Brats/Boys tribute album coming out in November?
Itís such a great honour, it really is fantastic. Iíve also been told that Guns And Roses have recorded "Brickfield Nights".
Really?
Well thatís what Iíve been told.
You touched earlier on your own website. Itís been advertising for many months that it will be up and running shortly?
It costs a lot of money and the people that do it are very slow too. Itís nearly finished now but Iím not in any hurry. Iím waiting for Broadband where people can download songs with good sound quality. The internet is fine but Iím waiting until you can use your mobile as a walkman to listen to anything you want anytime anywhere.
What about selling your CDís through the website?
Yeah absolutely although I donít think people will bother, why should they?
A lot of your albums are impossible to get hold of and Iím sure there are lots of people out there who would like to buy them.
But they could listen to it whenever they want without owning the album. I donít know if you know anything about Bluetooth.
No I donít.
Well it will be very common in a year or two where you have a mobile or whatever with ear plugs, it could be a pen or something and you just use it as a remote control and you could have it on your stereo equipment or whatever. You donít need to own anything.
You sent out an email a few weeks ago about Wapbeats. Is it your company?
Iím a partner so I have shares in it. Itís the future because in a couple of years youíll be able to use it to watch anything. If you want to watch the Boys "Brickfield Nights" video youíll just press a button on your mobile telephone and you can watch it here and now on your TV.
What other plans have you for your website? You mentioned that you would have your lyrics on.
Well Matt said he was going to do that.
That would be for the Boys, Iím talking about lyrics for your other stuff.
Itíll come but it takes time.
A lot of fans have been asking what has happened to new album which was due for release October 1999?
A few years ago Lycos had this thing where you could get a free home page and I put a page on there just to test out how it looked because Iíd never done it before. The problem is once youíve done it you canít change it so itís there forever saying that Iíve got a new album out last October.
The album has more or less been finished but Iíd like to record two new songs to replace two songs, which I donít think are very good. So Iíll hopefully be going into the studio to do those extra tracks in the next couple of weeks. Iím hoping to get it released in November but it all depends on the record company having a slot for it. But it should be out shortly after the New Year at the very latest.
Is the single still planned as the Steel/Matheson composition "Real Rain"?
Maybe.
Mick Ronson is supposed to be on the album so that must mean that there is some old material on it?
Yes there are some old recordings but Iíve re-mixed some of them. Iíve done "Brickfield Nights" and "Heroine" again.
You also mentioned some time ago on the Boys guestbook that you were looking to put together a live internet Yobs date at Christmas?
That was because someone really wanted us to do it and Iíve had many great offers to do a Yobs live date. I donít know why Matt doesnít want to do it, I really donít know. Thereís such a demand for it even from people who havenít bought the album. The fans love the Yobs. I have offers at home, from Sweden, Italy and even the States to play some Yobs dates. I suggested last year that we should play New York, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Tokyo, Stockholm and Oslo as a Christmas tour. Everyone thought it was great but Matt wasnít enthusiastic about it and I donít know why. We could easily do it.
You also mentioned that you were looking to put together a "Worst of The Yobs" album?
Yeah, I think Mark was going to do that but heís now doing the first Yobs album on Captain Oi! Unfortunately he didnít get the rights from Receiver for the Yobs second album but I think heís still working on that so it may happen next year.
How do you feel about the first album coming out on CD?
Itís really good but I would have loved Captain Oi! To have released a "Worst of The Yobs" album because thereís some classic songs on the second Yobs album. We could also record at least three or four new Yobs songs for the album.
I think the difficulty with the second album is that itís still available on Receiver Records. The first album has been deleted for many years and has only been released once on CD and I donít think Great Expectations did a particularly good job.
Itís also not the original songs.
What do you mean?
On the first Yobs album itís cover versions, which gives us a lot of problems with the publishers because you canít do that but we did anyway! So itís a bit touchy legally because you are not allowed to change the lyrics unless you have the permission of the songwriters.
Well hopefully Mark will be getting it out and Captain Oi!
So there is still a possibility of the Yobs playing a few dates, maybe even with the Boys supporting them?
Oh Yes Iím all for it, itís Matt that needs to be persuaded.
Ken Mewis thought of you as the second Rolling Stones. You have been called "The Beatles of Punk". What do you think?
I donít know. I liked Ken; he was very good for the Boys in his own sort of way but not as a manager, not as a planner and not as an organiser but his ideas were great. The Boys werenít good musicians but we had a great atmosphere. Obviously we were influenced by the Beatles and the Stones, certainly more than the other bands. I was a fanatic Stones fan and Matt was very much a fanatic Beatles fan. Most of the other punk bands hated the Beatles and the Stones whereas we loved them.
I used to be a big Beatles fan and the Boys really remind me of the Beatles not just with their music but also the fact that each member of the Boys was equally important to the music and image of the band.
That was also intentional. All the time we were thinking like that and we were sort of wearing uniforms. We were only allowed to wear black and red on stage. You could wear whatever you wanted as long as it was black and red. We always tried to keep a unified image which we were comfortable with and it made us a close knit unit. We became very very close and we were great friends and I think that shows in our music.
In your opinion why didnít the Boys make it big?
I know itís a terrible thing to say but it was because of NEMS and Elvis dying, those two things finished us. If we had signed to any other record company in the world we could have made it but NEMS only used us as a tax deduction.
John told me about the time you were hung out of the NEMS office window after he and Jack had wrecked the toilets?
Yeah and it also happened to Brady, he also went up and wrecked their offices. NEMS were having their Christmas party in the Penthouse Club in London. Andrew, Brady and myself went along. There was also Yes and Rick Wakeman and loads of people were there and Ken says to us "You have to make a scandal here". There was this long table packed with all kinds of stuff and Brady through me on this table so I smashed everything and he started to tear down the phone boxes from the wall. Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson came over to start a fight and Andrew and I got thrown out.
So we were there sitting on the pavement outside and the bouncers were telling us that it had been ten years since theyíd thrown anyone out of the place and the last time they threw someone out it had been Keith Richards and Brian Jones. We were totally knocked out and we felt so proud! Ken said that it was great.
With hindsight what would you have done differently?
Started working on the railroads! Weíve always done the wrong thing so what I would have done differently would have been to have done the right thing for once. Iím still doing all the wrong things! Johnís the same, he records some really great albums and they just donít do anything. We just never get the breaks. So much depends on luck; being at the right place at the right time with the right people doing the right thing. Unfortunately weíve never done all those things.
I am a bit luckier than my friends in Norway who are also into the same type of music as I am but most of them cannot record or do things. On the other hand I can do things whenever I want and in some way Iím lucky. Itís great meeting people like you who are interested in our back catalogue and history. I take it as a great privilege and I appreciate it.
Itís a great privilege for me to meet you too!
What are your three favourite Boys songs?
"Brickfield Nights" and "First Time" are the best two. I canít pick a third as thereís so many.
Whatís the best song youíve written.
Itís difficult to say but I do think that "Heroine" is very good.
You are playing in Spain on Saturday with Vom on drums and a guest appearance from Jack?
I feel really great about it. Itís like a party and Iím really looking forward to it. I donít take it seriously. If weíd taken it seriously weíd have been rehearsing for at least a month having lights shows but thatís not what the Boys are these days. Weíve always been a party band and even though we are older we need to try and keep that especially as we havenít recorded any new stuff for many years. Iíd love to record a new Boys album and go on tour to promote it, which would be a completely different thing. But we are just doing this for the fun of it and I hope we can project the same type of feeling to the audience so that they can have some fun too.
Iím really looking forward to seeing Jack again. You know when we started we wouldnít let him use a Hi-hat. Everyone else played with a Hi-hat but we never did. We always kept the beat on the cymbals, which made it different. We also put the cymbals very high so it took Jack a little while to hit them compared to how drummers would normally play the drums. Most drummers play like this (demonstrates classic drumming style) but we wouldnít let Jack play like that because we wanted our band to look cool so he had to play like this (demonstrates). He also had to keep the beat going on the floor tom-tom or whatever and Jack became really great at drumming like that. He also looked great drumming with his arms up high and really beating the drums. In the beginning he was very upset about it because we were telling a drummer how to drum! But by the end of the Boys he became an expert at drumming in that style.
Are you doing a similar set to Japan?
I think itís the same set.
Iím aware that a German promoter is very keen for the Boys to play a few dates in Germany?
That would be great. Iíd play with the Boys or the Yobs anytime and Iíd like to reiterate that Iíd love to record another Boys album, Iíd be there tomorrow.
What type of music do you listen to now?
I tend to listen to the music that suits a particular atmosphere. Iíve got all sorts but things havenít been too good for me recently. The music I listen to has to relate to my own feelings. I donít know if it helps in fact it probably makes it worse. I listen to a lot of Kris Kristofferson and that type of stuff. I also listen to George Jones and Oasis. Itís difficult because Iíve never liked a lot. I only like music by artists I can relate to.
I made a statement which was picked up in the Norwegian press when I was putting a band together. Everyone thought it was absolutely ridiculous so it made a mockery out of my statement but to me it wasnít meant to be funny. I said that I could never have a guitar player in my band with a moustache and to me it makes sense. I know it doesnít make sense to a listener but to me it does because the character has to be right. Brady was sacked from the Hollywood Brats because he was carrying a plastic bag on Oxford Street! You canít do that, not when you were in the Brats for Godís sake.
When I was first introduced to George Jones I saw pictures of him and I thought who is this soppy shit. I then found out about the person, I mean he could eat Sid Vicious for breakfast. Here he is looking like a bank clerk and being totally out of it. Thatís when I got the interest going and started to relate to what he was saying and doing. I suppose thatís why I got into the Stones.
You are chairman of Gram Art?
No I used to be. That was an organisation made for recording artists only. I had been ripped off all my life signing crap deals with crap people who were just cheats. I still donít get any royalty statements from NEMS and I donít seem to receive any royalties for anything Iíve done. So I was headhunted by the artists themselves as an advisor on what not to do because Iíd done so many things wrong. I could at least advise them what they shouldnít do. That was about ten years ago and the more I became involved the more I realised theyíd been ripped off everywhere by everyone.
As a songwriter some wanker owns your songs for seventy years after your death and itís disgusting. I became chairman and itís the only organisation for recording artists in the world with the power to tell the collecting societies how to distribute the money. That was fun but Iím no longer on the board but I learned a lot.
You appeared on Johnís latest album "Rock On Sessions" singing "Vaya Con Dios"?
A fucking cheek that was. It was a demo that we did in the basement of a friend of ours in France for a bit of fun. Itís a demo and I see it appears as an extra track on his album! Itís fine with John because he does things like that all the time. He once sold the Boys equipment because he was broke and Matt didnít speak to him for ages. But thatís John what can you do. He probably didnít have enough money to record the album or he pocketed the money and told the record company he was going to record! Thatís John and we all love him.
What are you doing at the moment?
Iím doing this Wapbeats thing and Iíve got a new band called the Gringo Starrs which has musicians who are famous in their own right but not famous in England. There are eight people including two girl singers. The drummer is from a band called TNT, the bassist and guitar player are from a band called Backstreet Girls, thereís a guitar player from a band called Diving Ducks and a keyboard player from a band called Kids. Itís going really well and we are touring at the moment and drawing good crowds in Norway. We played our first gig in June so we are just warming up. At the moment I donít know what to do with it.
As soon as Iím back from Spain Iíll be carrying on with the Gringo Starrs and everyone is keen to do some dates abroad so weíll probably do that next year. TNT were enormous in Japan and quite big in Germany. Backstreet Girls are quite big in Germany and France so itís possible to do some international gigs. Iím not particularly keen on touring around Norway, thatís boring.
Any chance of some UK dates?
Yeah of course if anyone would like to see us.
Iím sure youíve seen on Backstage Pass some fans have been asking about the possibility of a Casino Steel solo tour?
Yes Iíve seen it but would we pull a crowd. If all the fans were promoters weíd be alright. Thereís this guy on the website, Nick Mess whoís saying he can arrange some Italian dates but I donít know him, can he do it?
Nickís in an Italian band called the Twinkles and they released a single a couple of years ago on Soda Pressing Records. Itís very good and very much Boys influenced. He says heís going to meet you all in Spain.
Yes I saw that. Thereís also a guy in Los Angeles who says heíd love to put the Boys on and thereís another guy in New York who says heíd put up gigs anytime. But I donít know any of them so Iím not sure. Iíve not looked into it yet.
What are your plans for the future?
Find another wife! I donít know Iíll probably just carry on recording but Iíve got great faith in technology and as soon as technology is a household thing thereíll be a great market for back catalogueís. It would be great for my back catalogue so who knows. I also hope someone will record a cover version of a Boys song. Thereís always a possibility of course and maybe that may create some more interest in us, you never know with that sort of thing. Iím quite happy with the work Iím doing at the moment with Wapbeats and Iím happy with my new band and Iíll hopefully have my new album out soon. Iíve stopped having big ambitions because I usually fall flat on my face. Iím quite happy as long as things just carry on.