Wednesday 19 June 2024

Rock and Roll Stories #12 - I love Rock and Roll! Stick another dime in the Jukebox Baby!

 Why do I still do it? Let me tell you a story. When mym mum was pregnant with me, back in 1962, she was really unwell. She spent virtually the whole pregnancy in hospital, resting. She was terrified that she'd lose me. As she already had five kids, perhaps that wouldn't have been much of a disaster and after a few months, she'd have forgotton the baby that never was. An elderly nurse, who was also a nun, told her, when she was having a teary moment, not to worry. She said she could foretell the future and that the baby would be born, I would be strong and healthy and when I grew up, I would become Roger Tichborne, the Archbishop of Cantebury. That was why my mum named me Roger. 

Why do I mention this? Well because I suspect that I am about as likely to ever become the Archbishop of Cantebury as I am to appear on Top of The Pops, with a no 1 hit! So why do I do it? What is the point playing in a band that does not sell millions of records, have bevvy's of luscious groupies and go on world tours with The Rolling Stones as the support act? If you want to know the truth, for me, none of that was ever part of the deal. When Pete Conway and I wrote "The False Dots manifesto", before we recruited any other members, we said that the first principle was "No compromise on the music". We vowed that we'd never change a lyric or not play a song because 'the powers that be' objected. The second principle was that we wouldn't 'sell out and appear on Top of The Pops! This will seem bonkers to anyone too young to have lived through punk, but it was a sign of autheticity that bands 'didn't do Top of The Pops'. Except they all did, or at least all the ones people remember do (when I talk about people, I don't mean people like me who used to follow anarchist bands like Crass and The Poison Girls, who were never asked, but you know what I mean). Times have moved on. I'd loved to have played TOTP in hindsight, although not when Jimmy Savile was hosting! Not so much because it would have sold us lots of records, but it would have been a real crack. Sadly, TOTP is no longer with us. I think of all of the acts of cutural vandalism that the BBC have undertaken in the last 20 or 30 years, this is the worst. BRING IT BACK, even if they won't play The False Dots.

In the 45 years since the band started, I've mellowed. We did a gig on Sunday and my Sister Caroline, who has seen every incarnation of The False Dots, going back to our first gig was there. She said that in her opinion, the current line up and gigs we are doing are the best ever. I was quite surprised, but she gave several reasons. We can all play better, we've got a bigger selection of songs to choose from and for her, the fact that all our kids come along and have a boogie is a massive factor. The thing is that they enjoy the music and 'get it'. Of course, they are a home crowd, but what is great is that we seem to connect with all manner of people who turn up. There are quite a few bands doing Ska tributes etc, who are great, but we are one of the few mashing up Ian Dury/Madness and Ska themes and producing orginal music. As there is no one really like us around, it is a fresh sound. What is great is that in our recent run of gigs at The Dublin Castle. we've met some amazing young bands and become friends with them. Last Sunday, a young band from Ireland called WineMom were on the bill. I thought they were amazing. After our show, we had a good chat and they told is they loved our set. They were playing the final night of their mini tour last night. We went down to give some support. They were playing at The Social in Little Portland Street. We turned up and were amazed. The place was sold out and there was a mass of people outside. 

When we went in, we bumped into the band who were really delighted to see us. We had a nice chat, the went down and watched the support band. They too were on tour. They were called Radio Free Alice and were over from Australia. They were really good. They had strong Bunnymen and Artcic Monkey vibes. Clare loved them. Clare had been reticent about a late night on a Tuesday, but I bought her a ticket and she didn't regret it! Winemom came on and were amazing. Singer Rosanne's vocals remind me of Gloria Gaynor at times (I'd love to produce a song for them one day). She is an amazing front woman. If I was her manager, I'd get her to put the guitar down as she I felt she really came alive without the constraint of playing. Her playing is fine, but I do think Matthew on guitar can more than carry it. I wouldn't abandon it completely but I'd deffo do that for the second half of the show when it is cooking. As a guitarist/vocalist, I know that playing does constrain you. We don't have another guitarist, so I have no choice! None of this is a criticism, they were wonderful.

For me, there is nothing better than discovering new bands to get into. I am as much of a music fan as I am an artist. Often it is the little things. Going into a pub and someone puts something great on the jukebox is always a great buzz. A few of years ago, I met a mate at the Artillery Arms near the Barbican for lunch. I arrived ten minutes early, before the pub was open. The barman saw me and let me in. He was playing What we did on our holidays by Fairport Convention. It made my day. We had a chat about the band and he even gave me a free pint! That pretty much sums up how I feel about music. I mentioned this in a blog back in 2016

Ticket from our 2010 show 

As my sister noted, music brings us together. It gets us out and makes friends for us. For my band, our next gig is on Saturday supporting punk icons, the Bollock Brothers. We last supported them in Camden Town at The Purple Turtle in 2010. It was a great gig. The brothers are lead by the legend that is Jock McDonald, one of the key figures in the early punk movement. Jock is always great value for money, looking for schemes to cash in on the latest scandal. When Mchael Fagin broke into Buckingham Palace and found himself in the Queen's bedroom, Jock recruited him to record a version of the Sex Pistols "God Save The Queen"When Nick Leeson crashed Barings bank, he was recruited by The Brothers to sing "My Way".  The Pistols cover was released on Charly Records, and Saturdays gig is a celebration of 50 years of Charly records. It should be a brilliant night. 

You can book tickets BY CLICKING HERE 

In many ways, Jock encapsulates the true spirit of Rock and Roll. A tradition that the likes of Wine Mom and Radio Free Alice are continuing. Why do I still do it? The answer is simple, to quote Joan Jett -  I love rock and roll, stick another dime in the jukebox baby!


BTW we will be appearing as a three piece on Saturday as Tom is unable to make it. He will return for The East Barnet Festival. As such, we will be playing a few of our older songs, which Tom doesn't feature on. Here's Sci Fi Girls from last year


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