August 1996 Matt Dangerfield (M) and Honest John Plain (J) gave their
first Boys interviews for fifteen years. The interviewer was Argentinian
Boys fan Mariano Asch and the venue was the famous Warrington Pub.
John Plain & Matt Dangerfield
you play in any band before The Boys?
M: London SS- I was the guitarist. John, you played briefly!
J: Oh- I played the drums there! YEAH (laughs)
you have any other kind of activities before?
Not me. Well. drinking YEAH (laughs). No, The Boys it was my first band.
kind of music were you listening at the time the group started?
One that was relevant to the band was Velvet Underground. I went round
somebody's house and this girl played me this record- she said it was
really an awful record that she used when she wanted people to leave so
I said "Can I hear it?" and it was the Velvet Underground. I liked it!
There wasn't much to choose from at the time, really, in terms of, y'know.
The NY Dolls and Flamin' Groovies were kind of a minor influence, I wasn't
familiar at all with bands like Stooges or MC5 then.
you listen to The Boys album these days- do you like how they sound?
I'm happy because each album sounds different. I mean, the first album
I always thought it sounded rough but I like it. And I like it more now
than I did then. I think it stands up the time. For the second album more
time and more money were spent. The third album it was the first one with
a proper producer because Matt and Cas were the producers for the first
and the second. The fourth album I reckon is my favourite one, I love
the sound. Listening back I like all the songs.
the 2nd album you recorded a song ("Sway") which sounds a bit weird. Was
it a cover- right?
A Spanish one, isn't it?
M- No, no. It's an American song. No, you're right- IT'S a Spanish or
South American song. I think we heard it by some crappy American balladist
and thought it was funny. It was hard to record actually.
John Plain, Matt Dangerfield & Mariano Asch
heard that after the 2nd album you made a band called The Rowdies?
That was John.
N- It was a guy who had a fanzine and was a big fan and wanted to put
money to record a song. We actually did a version of the song for the
2nd Boys album that never came out "She's No Angel". This guy really
liked the song. He put the money and he sung. It was terribly recorded.
It was like country & western but as being from London it was cockney
& western. It got some good reviews in the papers.
M- It got a very good review in Zig Zag (John laughs). The journalist
who wrote it was the singer! (more Plain laughing)
was happening with The Boys at the time?
It was recorded between albums or in between touring. We were on strike
with our record label. That was it. The band was still gigging but we
refused to do anything because we didn't get paid for.They were retaining
our money. It was very difficult to get our way out of them .It was
run by real Italian gangsters. I think we were the first ever band to
go on strike. Eventually they dropped us and we went on Safari.
did you put part of Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door" in the middle
of "Terminal Love"?
I don't know. Maybe we wanted Bob Dylan to sue us. (laughs) But he never
did. We used bits of Stones and Beatles too but no one ever sued us
J- Maybe they've never heard us (even more laughs)
did the band break up after the 4th album?
Casino had already left before the album and gone to do his stuff in
Norway. I can't remember why we did split. We were kind of stuck maybe
an went our own ways.
did you make after the band's split?
I made a band called The Crybabies. I toured Germany with the band
of Arturo Bassick from The Lurkers and that's how I met the Hosen.
And I'm still doing music y'know. Just done my first solo album.
M- I made two albums with a band called The Mirrors about '83/'85.
Nothing happened there. More collectors items y'know.
happened to the other Boys?
Jack. by the way he telephoned me yesterday.
M- I know. I spoke to him about ten minutes before.
J- Jack, our drummer went off trying to invent children's games like
board games. He got some success, got somebody back him and invent
a game about fishing which took around 3 years from start to finish
it and in the end nothing happened so he turned to the bottle. He's
been drinking and inventing games ever since. I got a phone call from
him yesterday. He's living somewhere up North with his mum, inventing
games and. I got the phone call about 10 o'clock and he was like "Wait
a minute I just have to get another drink" halfway in the conversation.
He insisted on being the drummer on the new Boys album.
this new album will be?
We're recording it in Belgium in January or February (1997) and Campino
is gonna be singing all the songs. He's not so much of a guest, he's
the one who always wanted to do it and he's been the singer on our
latest acoustic stuff. This will be all brand new songs written by
me, Matt and Cas and I suppose Duncan. Campi just wants to be the
singer for it and is putting the whole project together. It was his
idea- he approached us and asked if we were interested. Of course
we were! We'll have a good market in Germany because how much of a
star he is there. And may we will get the recognition The Boys never
really got apart from a few real delicate fans around the world. I
think we never got to our full potential. I've got loads of songs.
I asked Matt and Cas if they had any new songs.
M- We said we'll start writing the week before going to the studio.
said an acoustic album is just finished. Which songs were included?
Well, they are not particularly the best songs but the ones that were
best on acoustic. Obviously there's "First Time", "Brickfield Nights"
and "Independent Girl". It sounds great. I think a good song stands
up well on an acoustic and we proved that.
you been offered record deals for it?
So far the main interest has been from Virgin, I think the last
count was like six German companies wanting to put it out.
who's gonna win?
The one who comes with more money! (laughs)
how did you feel playing with Toten Hosen at Blackpool the other
I think it was a bit sad. Because first it was very very organised.
I don't know. I saw those bands that played there in the early days
playing at The Roxy and it wasn't as violent as it was and I don't
mean violent in a bad way but because it was a violent music and
a violent time then and this was like you could walk through without
any fear whatsoever and that was not punk for me then. It was very
well organised, everything was expensive.
beer was specially expensive!
Yeah, very expensive but that's the good of being backstage, it's
free! (laughs) I mean. there wasn't enough fights, there wasn't
enough riots to make it a punk festival if you know what I mean.
When a band was over they all walked out so nicely and in the outside
of the place there was old people or yuppies all mixed with the
punks. I don't know.
M- I'm sure there weren't many original punks.
J- The new punks. I feel very old when I look at them. I'd rather
say no more about that (laughs)
M- I got several phone calls to get The Boys reformed for it.
J- Lots of money. I was interested but Matt wasn't.
M- As he said, it was sad. And I knew it would be. I got a message
saying "We're giving you so much money" and I didn't return the
phone call. Then another message with more money which I didn't
return either. If they were getting to a certain money then I was
doing it but they never offered that.
J- hat's basically the story of The Boys really. Wanting too much
money and never got it. I was talking to TV Smith who did a set
of all acoustic Adverts because he didn't want to reform them either.
Everybody was so sick of the lousy sound and he went on and did
the acoustic and there was a lot of people who loved it. He came
up to me and said "You had to do it, John" because I explained him
the other Boys didn't wanna do it basically. He said "You should
have done the acoustic set". And when he told me he got nearly a
thousand pounds for 45 minutes on the acoustic I really wish I had
them! Good day thou, good laugh, good drinking. apart from the German
punks peeing in plastic glasses and throwing them at the Hosens
because there's a lot of Germans who don't like The Hosen's because
they are rich and famous. We wouldn't do it for Blackpool but we
would do it for Argentina if you could sort us something.
did you meet The Hosen's in the first place?
I met them because Arthur from The Lurkers had a band that toured
supporting the Hosen and they keep asking if he could get any
member of The Boys to come along to meet him. So I went and played
guitar for Arthur's band and then they asked me to record "New
Guitar In Town"and "First Time" with them which was great because
it really did well in Germany. And then for the "Learning English"
they asked me and Matt to do "Brickfield Nights" and I played
a lot more guitar and Matt also did more backing vocals apart
from "Brickfield Nights". But the main thing we did was when they
did their greatest hits in English, Me and Matt translated it.
We actually just wrote English because sometimes their lyrics
didn't make any sense in English. And we're really close mates
now with Campino. We never really stopped working since then.
did you make such a band as The Yobs?
Well, for the first single we just wanted a Christmas record.
in the beginning you had only plans just for doing that first single.
That's right. The second single "Silent Night" was at the time The
Boys were on strike so we decided to bootleg ourselves. I had a friend
who was a bootlegger and because we weren't getting any money from
our label we decided to bootleg ourselves. The Yobs were really The
Boys just spelled backwards. We always did quite well as The Yobs.
The first Yobs album was done very quick, one day in the studio, half
day to mix it and up to pub. That was it. We made more money from
that album than The Boys because it was our own label.
J- The main idea was to be filthy punks singing Christmas songs. The
majority of the songs are traditional carols with the lyrics being
disgusting. There's quite a few originals songs like "Ballad Of The
Warrington" which is about this pub here. I loved it doing The Yobs.
As Casino says The Yobs are the best rock'n'roll band in the world
and I agree. There's more fun doing The Yobs than The Boys.
you make any gigging as The Yobs?
We went to Germany YEAH. We did like 4 gigs on our own as The Yobs
and then we returned and play a massive Xmas gig the Hosen usually
do in Dusseldorf. We were all dressed with Xmas suits because no one's
ever known who The Yobs are and that was the good point: being really
bad and no one knows who you are.