Hi John, and welcome to the Heavy
line-up! So, how did it all start? You knew Gary
Holton back in the '70s, yes?
right! I first met Gary around 1977/78. A group
of us were all friends, including Donna, who was
Gary's girlfriend, and we all used to hang around
together in Maida Vale. We used to meet up at
The Alfred, The Warrington, The Shirland Arms,
The Windsor Castle - all the old haunts. We'd
go and watch The Clash and loads of other punk
bands when punk was just starting out. Gary and
I both worked on the film Quadrophenia in 1979,
and I went to Heavy Metal Kids gigs around the
London area whenever I could - including one at
the Music Machine in Camden, where I watched Gary
climb up the red velvet stage curtain! Gary and
I shared some really wild nights in Portobello
Road and at his place in Maida Vale, on Sutherland
Avenue. There was one time after Sid Vicious and
Nancy had been having a row, and I sat talking
to her. Sid thought I'd been chatting her up and
came after me to give me a lashing with his studded
belt. But he ended up going after the wrong man...
My one and only Sex Pistols story and I missed
all the action!
did you make contact again with Ronnie and Keith
and how did this lead to joining the Heavy Metal
Kids in 2010?
Robin Greatrex, who'd worked with HMK, knew they
were looking for a frontman and he suggested me,
and also Tony McHale from the BBC put my name
We all met up at Cosmo's place. They gave me three
songs to learn, and luckily they seemed to like
what I did! Then we tried the songs out live,
a pub in Brentford, and it all went really well.
So we put together a set of about ten songs, and
everything just seemed to fall into place. We've
been in the recording studio and have got two
tracks down so far - Uncontrollable
and Shake That Thing. We did
a video shoot the other day, and also a photo
shoot [for Classic Rock magazine with Ross Halfin],
and we're ready to go!
like you're enjoying it so far!
Yes, we've been having a great time! And we're
back in the studio soon, to work on the rest of
the tracks. Being with the Kids is a lot of fun,
and I'm really looking forward to what we can
do with it, where we can take it.
feedback from the other bandmembers that the energy
with you in the band seems very similar to when
Gary was in the line-up?
Yes! Actually the director of Quadrophenia commented
that Gary and I are quite similar. We'd both be
about the same age now, and coincidentally, he
was also up for the part of Nasty Nick back in
1985. But of course by that time Gary was having
a lot of drug problems, and tragically he died
in the October of that year.
was an institution as Wayne Norris on Auf Wiedersehen
Pet, and was much loved by HMK fans for his stage
presence and crazy escapades. What reaction do
you hope/expect to get from the old-school HMK
Well, I hope they accept that I'm not Gary, and
also that I'm not trying to be the same as Gary
- but I think they'll feel that the spirit of
the old HMK is still there. From the way it's
been going so far, I'm sure it'll come across
that we're having a lot
of fun onstage, and that it's done with respect
about from fans who are too young to remember
Gary as HMK's frontman but who'll recognise you
straight away as the bad boy from EastEnders?
Yes, I think we'll get some interest from that.
For instance, with Uncontrollable I don't play
it as Nasty Nick, but there are a lot of elements
of the 'bad boy' in there. [At
this point, John played me the track, and he's
right, it could have been written for Nasty Nick.
It's also a song that you could easily imagine
you hit the road you'll obviously be playing a
lot of songs from the early albums. Which are
your favourite HMK songs? (Probably not 'The Cops
Are Coming', if we're just going by the titles!)
Yeh! She's No Angel was always
a favourite of mine, but when we've rehearsed
it we've done it heavier. All the HMK songs from
that time were great. And Uncontrollable
is gonna be wild! With Cosmo, Ronno and Keith,
and the very talented Justin McConville on guitar
and keyboards, there's a good solid rock feel
to the songs.
course you're hugely well known on TV due to Nasty
Nick Cotton's shenanigans on Eastenders (hard
to believe that your first appearance as Nick
Cotton was 25 years ago!) but fewer people will
know that you're also a prolific film and stage
performer. What have been the highlights of your
career so far?
chosen to play George Harrison in The Birth Of
The Beatles was a very early highlight for me,
as was getting a part in Quadrophenia. I recently
played the role of Billy Flynn in the West End
production of Chicago, which I loved doing - and
of course Nick Cotton has had some great storylines!
I don't dwell on the low points - we all have
low points and you just have to put them behind
you and move on.
being identified with such a strongly-written
character as Nick Cotton a blessing or a curse?
Do people get arsey with you when you're trying
to have a quiet walk round the supermarket buying
shepherd's pie and beer? Do they treat you as
a villain who wants to poison old ladies?
Amazingly not! You'd think they would, but people
are really very nice to me - they ask for autographs
and seem happy to be speaking to someone who smiles
back at them, haha. I suppose there are places
where people might be aggressive towards me, but
I try not to go to those kinda places!
the wisest advice you've ever been given, who
gave it to you, and how has it affected the way
you live and work?
This would have to be the advice that came from
the great Ron Moody, who played Fagin in Oliver.
Gary had played the Artful Dodger, and as a young
actor I'd played the part of Noah Claypole and
later on when I was older I'd played Bill Sykes.
Ron Moody's advice to me was 'believe in what
you do, believe you can do it, love what you're
doing and go all out for it'.
Much as we'd all like HMK
to be a full time job for a few years to come,
I'm guessing that you plan to work the band duties
around the acting. Any roles coming up?
A gangster film is on the cards, which I'll know
more about soon, and I'm doing pantomime again
this year. As for a return to EastEnders, well...
Nick's not dead... so you never know, there's
always a chance that he'll turn up again!
career ambitions - for instance, do you want to
play James Bond? Dr. Who? Have your own cookery
I'd love to tour the world with the HMK, hopefully
tour America. I really think we could - it's going
to be a very strong album, and the potential's
there to tour it here and in America. I don't
think there's much chance of me doing a cookery
programme though, haha.
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