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 form.... GMT.
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
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. Or mystery.
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?
Well 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.
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 time.
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
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
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!
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
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 like you
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 old clothes?
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!
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
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
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.
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... Ouch!
3. And then there were all those 80s hair styles...
Let's face it, far too many Spinal Tap moments
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 ass
What are your plans for
2008 and beyond?
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