has brought his distinctive 'screaming'
to a generation of punk, blues and rock fans.
wild Irish electric gypsy
plays it the way he feels it, and tells it like
last 18 months have been very busy for GMT - what
with the release of Bitter & Twisted in late 2006,
then a run of shows which included the prestigious
Hard Rock Hell festival (more about that later!),
Guitarfest, and the Rock And Blues Custom Show. The
catalyst for all this was Clive Aid, the charity gig
for Iron Maiden's former drummer Clive Burr. As an
introduction for GRTRoll readers who haven't yet heard
the story, tell us how G, M and T got together to
John McCoy and I had been talking about getting together
for a play for many years, phoning each other at Christmas
or New Year, "Happy Christmas man, we really
should get together and do something this year etc
etc", probably followed by each of us hanging
up and saying to the respective missus "that
lazy old git will never get off his useless ass"
or something similar. John and I have always had a
close relationship, though it's been an up and down
one too. We met in 1975 I think, and we played together
in a three-piece called Scrapyard, which was my band
and with McCoy in it was a sort of prototype GMT,
and within a year of John joining he had managed to
get me sacked in a committee decision with Roger the
drummer, because I would not agree to the band name
changing to The John McCoy Band! He claims he doesn't
remember that but I still do!
They replaced me with Paul Samson, and that was the
beginning of the Samson band: I was slightly pissed
off, understandably, at being sacked from my own band!
So our relationship has always been interesting, but
we've always stayed close in our heads and hearts.
Whenever we play together we are part of the same
brain - the coincidences and accidents in jams are
pretty special. We both play bum notes at the same
time! It's sounds intentional!
So anyway, the Christmas/New Year ritual had been
going forever, and then one year Paul Samson died
of cancer: for both of us that really hit home. It
was devastating. So following that we did get together
and have a blow or two with Mick Underwood from Gillan
on drums. That was a lot of fun, but it felt like
more of the same rather than a bit of strange.
Shortly after that I had a band called Antiproduct
recording at my studios, Barnroom in Kent, and they
were using Robin on a session basis; he just blew
me away - he was doing really exciting takes and clowning
around bouncing his sticks off the wall and not missing
a beat, just totally wild. I thought we've just got
to have a blow with this guy (no pun intended), so
I called McCoy and talked him into it, and we did
have a blow and the rest, as they say, is history.
been said that 'Robin Guy is Keith Moon without the
drugs'. You and John had worked together with great
chemistry in Gillan but how did things develop when
Robin came into the equation?
I don't think either of us would have quite described
Gillan as a band with great chemistry - it was great
and different, perhaps it had great chemistry, but if
it was, it really wasn't musical chemistry - more personal
I guess. We did exactly the same thing every night with
exactly the same announcements to the word. In that
sense it was slightly more cabaret than chemistry and
essentially boring to be playing in. Ian was never one
for taking chances musically - he did that in other
areas. Having said that, it was a huge learning experience
for me. I was chosen for the image and the poses but
I was playing with players who were much more experienced
and really much much better than I was. I had to work
hard to catch up and in that situation I always felt
a bit insecure.
In terms of GMT, Robin really was a total catalyst
- it was like dropping an alka seltzer into a glass
of swamp water and turning it into champagne. It's
quite abrasive at times, but we usually agree about
stuff in the end: Robin is hugely tolerant of the
worst demos ever of songs, which is fantastic because
that's what I do best... the worst out-of-tune line
or two with an acoustic guitar. I'm after him getting
the feel without a plan, and he is astoundingly good
at getting that. I don't want to draw any picture,
just give a hint, whether it's mainly John's idea
or mine, and see what Mr. Guy comes up with. It's
usually just what I couldn't have imagined, tribal,
better than perfect for us. Not always though - sometimes
it's horrible - but John and I both felt that removing
chance from the equation results in a dead 80s sounding
record, which both of us have done, and neither of
us like much.
Often Sir Robin says "I can't play to that pile
of shit", so we either beat him to death, or
get totally wrecked until he gets his mind right and
sees things our way! He has been right once or twice
I think, much as I hate to admit it! I think Robin's
great strength in GMT other than being a catalyst
is that he is a stylist, he has an individual way
of playing, as Keith Moon had. He always approaches
stuff like Robin Guy, not like a session man, and
his approach because of its tribal/punky/hardcore
and ethnic aspects is perfect for us, it really broadens
the spectrum as well as kicking us old farts along.
But to me rock'n'roll really IS drums: everything
else can be shit, but the drums have to work. You
don't need good guitar, you don't even really need
a tune, but you do need good drums. He's an absolutely
amazing showman too. Spectacular!
high-octane punky'n'punchy Tormé sound hasn't
lost an inch over the years. What/Who are your influences
- and why?
I try to do it 100%. Not sure that I ever got much
above 51%, but the last few gigs have been pretty
good. My influences are very wide. I like a lot of
weird stuff, from a lot of Irish stuff to The Incredible
String Band and Sufi Qawala to John Coltrane, but
really in rock I like the people who tore up the rule
book... such as Hendrix, the Stones, Elvis, Sex Pistols,
Bob Dylan. They were all so revolutionary and obnoxious
in their time that they were pretty much regarded
as 'noise', 'talentless', 'how can you listen to that
shit?'. I like that, it's a whole new world every
I really don't like stuff that's more perfect or better
than another thing of the same type - it just bores
me. I'd always choose raw flawed passions over polish
anytime. I'll leave perfection to the anal police.
Back to the Hard Rock Hell festival now.... tell us
about the Dee Snider segment of your set - how it
came about, and what it felt like to be up there onstage
with him after all this time.
Well when I found out Twisted Sister and GMT were
playing on the same bill I contacted Dee, and he really
wanted to do it. We both did - Desperado was our baby.
It then turned out that we were on at crazy o'clock
and it really wasn't going to happen, because neither
of us was going to be awake, and one of us, namely
me, was going to be onstage!
But thankfully they moved us to about 3pm in the day
- thanks to Eric Cook at Demolition Records - so I
contacted Dee again and he said "yeah great!".
We didn't know whether it would in fact happen until
the day, really until after it had happened, actually!
contacted Dee in the morning, and he managed to make
it down just before we went onstage, but hey, he's
Dee Snider, he had about a million interviews that
day, so he had to go off and we didn't 100% know it
was on until he came back, around two-thirds of the
way through our set, during Longer Than Tomorrow!
We saw him at the side of the stage so from then on
everything got shortened, drum solo, guitar solos
etc, to give us enough time at the end!
We had asked Raven who were on after us, and they
were cool about us over-running a few minutes (great
guys, great band!). It happened, it was meant to happen.
Fantastic for me - Dee's like a thermonuclear device!
Any plans for more of the same?
I think we would both love to do it again, I know
I definitely would, a few more songs next time would
be good too! But you know it may never happen, it's
taken 18 years for it to happen once, there's time
and obligations and geography to take into account
- it was really a huge stroke of luck that it happened
at all this time, amazing that we were on the same
festival on the same day. If it's another 18 years
it might not be quite as dynamic! But I really do
hope we get to do it again, it was killer. Who knows?
an oldschool rocknroller, what changes have you seen
for bands and their music as a result of t'internet?
And what are the benefits and/or the drawbacks of
being accessible to the world and his dog?
Big question! We're all selling feckall records, and
still everybody knows the songs! Fantastic! What can
you do, it's like that Chinese curse - we really live
in interesting times! The bad part is that you don't
get paid from selling records, but honestly the record
companies f**ked all that up by not addressing the
problem and letting Apple create something that was
blindingly obvious to all except the luddite self-important
morons in the major labels who were sitting on their
expense-account sandcastles, dozing as the tide came
in. They really don't deserve much. You f**k up, you
die, welcome to the jungle.
But the hugely plus side is that you instantly have
access to fans, they can hear your tracks, they can
see your videos, they can communicate with you. You
really don't need Radio 1, MTV, Kerrang, anyone -
you can build your own community. It takes time, but
it's yours, and it works: that's a huge positive,
it's really changed everything, and it's worldwide.
I don't see long term that you can have a music industry
had in the past. No loss as far as I'm concerned.
I also don't really see how the media, radio and tv
and the mags are going to get around it long-term
either. Interesting times. But on the whole, I think
it's good. 'Hasta la victoria sempre' as Che Guevara
said. Of course actually I've no interest in it really,
to me it's all bollox... I'm more interested in the
next GMT album...
new album we're working hard on, it's mostly done
and we have some real killer tracks recorded: it'll
be great to have a large choice of new material to
play live next year. Hopefully we'll be able to chop
and change the set from night to night, which will
be much more fun for us too. It will be out in the
first half of next year, and we hope to have one or
two tasters out beforehand for download, like we did
with Cannonball before the Bitter & Twisted album.
there any truth in the rumour that you wear Pete Way's
Busted! Well I went into a backstage room at a gig
and there was a huge pile of rioja bottles in there,
BUT THEY WERE ALL SODDING EMPTY! Shit, so I see this
shirt on the ground, and hey, swag, man, I'll have
that bastid! Sorry Pete me old mate! I didn't realise
it was yours! You should've left me a bottle of wine
- and then I wouldn't even have noticed the shirt!
What are your favourite songs to perform live - and
Wild West, because it's the only old song I ever wrote
that I still like playing, can't tell you why! Because
it's noisy? Down To Here, because it's more about
me than Rocky Road (from Dublin) ever was. I love
the progression and I live for the jams. Any jams,
anytime. And of course anything new - I loved playing
a new track called Bullet in The Brain at the last
few gigs. No doubt I'll get sick of it next week...
are the proudest moments of your career?
The proudest moments of my life are the days my three
kids were born - because that really mattered. But
of my career.... what career? I was just trying to
do what I do and pay the bills, which is where I still
remain. People are always impressed when I tell them
about playing Madison Square Gardens with Mr. Ozzy
- and yes, it was great fun and a great honour to
be there, but I was far more tickled by the elephants
from the Russian circus shitting all over the floor
downstairs. And it was a momentary nice buzz when
the first Gillan album "Mr Universe" charted,
to be replaced by 28 years of very hurtful personal
grief for all of us waiting for a royalty payment.
But it's ok now, the Bank of England own it and we've
all just had our first royalty cheque for a few hundred
quid after 28 years, so according to Classic Rock
Magazine we're all mates again and about to reform.
Two chances mate, in my case. I don't think of what
I did or do as a career, I just love music and it's
great fun to play, and I've been lucky and blessed
enough to do that. My parents just wanted me to be
a doctor or get a job at the bank: now that's a career!
talking of these recent rumours of a Gillan reunion,
is there any way that could possibly happen?
Hell freezes over? Pigs might fly? In perspective:
as I just mentioned, we are finally being paid from
the new Gillan reissues thanks to the crown and the
Bank of England, and no thanks at all to Mr. Gillan.
For the previous 28 years when Ian was in control,
none of us ever received a single penny or any accounts
whatsoever. And this current situation was fought
every inch by Ian kicking and screaming. It's a wonderful
sense of closure of course to be paid whatever small
amount is generated from current sales, and much appreciated
because it helps us all to sleep better no doubt:
but it's not any basis for a reformation, I think.
I still haven't heard the word 'sorry'.
Of course I would love to do one, two, three or four
gigs - I don't like bearing grudges, life's too short.
As Billy Gibbons said "the only time to get it
right is here and now", but I don't think it's
workable on any business level... perhaps if I booked
it and I pay everyone, or John, or Colin (I trust
John and Colin), but not possible with Ian or anyone
else involved with Ian, methinks. Bad track record.
And again life's too short. Sad really. Some other
line-up, maybe? Geoff Barton on lead guitar? Malcolm
Dome on bass? It would get good press......
reviews and articles journalists often refer to the
fact that you are Irish - almost sticking an 'I am
Irish' label on you. In what way are your Gaelic roots
important to you, as a musical influence (Rocky Road!)
and as an identity thing?
anything that makes you different or separates you
from others is something to be paid attention to.
It's a bit like being the punky guitarist playing
in a heavy metal band, as I was with Gillan. I am
Irish, I don't get home often enough. I love the whole
Gaelic culture thing, it's very special and ancient
and a different view on the world: that's definitely
something that's important to me, and something that
I'm probably more conscious of because of living in
the England. But I love England too.
I think in terms of music there is a big history of
Irish instrumental music, like the Scots, demon fiddlers
etc., that isn't in English folk history. It's more
vocal stuff in England, which is fantastic too, but
I grew up looking at Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore
among many other great players. They were almost like
a succession thing from the fiddlers and pipers in
Ireland. Clapton and Beck in England were not really
part of a home-grown tradition. That was different.
You always play that strat (the Ozzy one) - where
does the one that stands idle come from?
Carina Lirola, who I played some guitar for and wrote
with, her producer/manager Andy
Lee made it for me and it's beautiful. He's hugely
talented, a great guy... thank you Andy! You da man!
Tap moments... c'mon, spill the rocknroll beanz on
some of your biggest and best.
1. Doing a personal appearance with Ian Gillan at
the Queens Hall in Dunstable at some HM disco, where
we went onstage as the DJ played a Gillan track and
Ian started MIMING! And what do I do? I start playing
AIR GUITAR ONSTAGE! It never sounded so good... C**ts!
2. Phil Lewis going on at the Marquee or somewhere
with a plastic machine gun with the barrel experiencing
a severe case of brewer's wobble - if not major droop
- during the Tormé epic 'Front Line' : I wanted
him to use a real one but he said it was too heavy...
3. And then there were all those 80s hair styles...
Let's face it, far too many Spinal Tap moments to
You mentioned your studio, Barnroom.
Tell us more about that, and also about your record
label, Retrowrek. How do you balance the studio work
and running the record label with the GMT gigs?
Yes I love recording stuff. I'm into sound. The balance
of fitting it all in is easy, and if I'm not around
other engineers do the studio stuff. The record label
is a pain in the ass though: my missus does a lot
of that - it really enabled us to get the GMT cd out
too, as no one would touch it with a barge pole at
the time, and I'm very glad to say it's gone really
well and is still shifting units. So chaps, YOU WERE
WRONG - WE WERE RIGHT! But the label is a pain the
What are your plans for 2008
To start with, sleeping for a month would be nice.
Then finishing the new GMT album and getting it out,
along with a live DVD and cd too. And of course playing
some more gigs would be nice too...
More GMT links
© Get Ready To Roll - 6th December 2007
Thanks to Redial of the GMT forum for his help with
Thanks also to www.gmtrocks.com, Trudi Knight etc.,
for the photos used on this page