Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Back To Basics With Alan Burridge!

Becoming a bit of a welcome annual tradition this on your soaraway Blog, it's the email interview with Mr Alan Burridge, author, chief of the Motörheadbangers and all round nice guy. Indeed, regular readers will know that Alan needs little introduction. And I have to say so but the interview is most timely given the recent release of Alan's latest book Bournemouth Rocks!

Alan talks rock'n'roll nostalgia, cricket and telly among other things...
Anyway without further's what unfolded as Alan and I 'chatted' across the expanse that media space called the internet...

Me: Let's start by talking about the subject of the moment your latest book 'Bournemouth Rocks!'; a very interesting idea to capture a snapshot of live music locally to you, it is obvious your love of music was a catalyst, but what motivated you to put things down on paper?

Alan: Quite a few younger local friends have commented over the years about how fortunate I / we as a generation were to have seen Jimi Hendrix, Cream, etc play live in local theatres and ballrooms. So the motivation to write what turned out to be ‘Bournemouth Rocks!’ happened because I wanted to make a written record of the fact that those legendary bands, and a great many other talented local musicians, played the venues around the area in their infancy. For the kind of music the book focuses on, yes, we were a lucky generation to be able to see those bands on their way up the ladder, and later on, Motorhead in their early day, too. But I didn’t want it to become forgotten, and over Xmas 2007 when I was alone for 9 hours a day as my wife, Jane, is a nurse and was working, I just got on with getting it bashed out as a ‘Word’ document. As far as I knew then, when it was finished I would print off a few copies and lodge them as a historic document with our local libraries. It was simply intended as a written record of growing up through this then new ‘Pop Music’ era with our parents being outraged by everything which was going on, and how we had to try and convince them that we had to go and see these groups and buy their records. After two World Wars with the short-back-and-sides haircut for men, Vera Lynn and Glenn Miller music and very strict armed forces discipline instilled by our parents, it wasn’t easy trying to grow your hair long, wear what they regarded as ‘weird’ clothes and stand up to them to enable us to go and see what they regarded as the “5 minute wonder” which they believed this ‘Pop Music’ would be.

Then I looked at my bookshelf and noticed titles about the music scene in other places; one was ‘Hollywood Rocks’ and another, ‘Manchester Beat.’ So I thought “Why not a book about the bands in the Bournemouth area?” So I decided to have a go at getting it published; but the first rock publisher I approached was “tied up until 2010, please re-submit” and another had their managing director pass away and said “we like it, but please try and place it elsewhere as we are not sure if we can keep the company going without him?”

My other recent ‘local interest’ book titled ‘When Upton Had Trains’ had just been accepted by Natula Books, so I sent them the manuscript for ‘Rocks!’ almost apologizing as I thought I was being a bit cheeky as they’d just said “Yes” to the other one, but asked “would you be interested in a book about the local music scene?” They liked it, and their mid-20’s daughters liked it, too, which was a good acid test and proved younger generations were interested in what had gone before on the local scene.

Now it’s out there on the shelves, and it seems to be selling well, and some retail shops who were not buying in due to the recession, looked at it and said they would like to stock copies as they regard it as “unique and original!”

Me: Talking of musical nostalgia what your earliest music memories, influences from others? first record bought?

Alan: Well, I’ve never been one for peer pressure; I am of my own mind and have never jumped on a bandwagon just for the sake of it. I heard records by The Shadows and fell in love with guitar music. I bought their records, of course, and ‘Apache’ and all their other tracks still sound great today! But then I found The Who and liked the music louder, distorted, and with feedback; and then John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and The Yardbirds came along, then The Who and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The difference was that this music was unique and new at that time, nothing to compare it with except for the likes of Mayall and The Yardbirds who were covering quite a lot of the black American blues and rock ‘n’ roll. But those original Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry records were not easy to find in England, they were American imports, expensive, and far beyond what I could afford.

I often say despite the fact that no one will ever surpass Jimi Hendrix, that it can be difficult for younger generations to understand why he, Clapton, Beck and Page literally rocked the scene like they did, but over 40 years of other music has passed between then and now; at the time we had never heard guitars played like that; so they were a massive Wow! factor, more so than they would be today. But it’s great knowing some younger people still listen to and buy their records, and I think they know that the stuff they are listening to now wouldn’t sound as it does had ‘my generation’ of musicians not been so innovative; we broke a lot of rules both musically and socially to get where we are today.

Me: The face of music production and sales have changed dramatically in recent years, such as pressures on local independent record stores and the advent of downloads...what are your thoughts on the music industry stance on file sharing and downloads in general?

Alan: This is a leading question, Jimmy, because you’re a Motorheadbanger and have read my Editorials about this particular topic. Eventually, there will be no retail shops whatsoever. We will be sitting in front of PC / laptop screens ordering everything we need, and it will be delivered to the door. We won’t physically ‘go shopping,’ it will be cyber-shopping from the armchair. Well, we’re almost there now, aren’t we, I buy my Levi 501’s from EBay because IF I could buy them locally they’d be far more expensive.

But when I buy an LP or a CD I like being able to hold on to it, look at it, and own it as part of my collection, I don’t regard downloads as ‘collectable.’ They are a tiny spark of information on a hard drive, and to several generations of music collector’s like me, they mean nothing. But to my grandchildren they mean they can buy just the one track they like rather than a whole CD, which may or may not have the remaining tracks to that same standard? So in their eyes, why buy 9 other tracks they’re not sure they will like? But, this puts a huge amount pf pressure on the artistes to make sure ALL of their tracks are good. The thing is, though, when said younger generation goes to see a live concert by these people, they will only know the one or two tracks which have been released as singles. Had they been ‘old fashioned’ and bought the CD they would have more of a chance of knowing all the songs played, and will go away after the gig wanting to download more tracks, or, perish the thought, buy the ‘old fashioned’ CD!

But I am also blameworthy of cyber shopping. I sit at home ordering LP’s, CD’s DVD’s and books from the Net. Ten years ago I would have been out in the car every Saturday going around the local used record shops snapping up a few bargains. Most of those shops have closed down because we now shop on the Internet, recently around here, Jon Kremer’s ‘Bus Stop Discs’ at Westbourne closed; and that was like the Raven’s leaving The Tower in local record buyer’s terms. A shop in Parkstone run by Doug Livermore, called ‘Big Brother’ is still hanging on; as is William’s ‘Snupea’s Records’ in Boscombe. But they’re going down the pan because we buy from Amazon and EBay, and whilst it’s all jolly fine that the Whole World is now our record shop, those within a 10 mile radius are dying off like flies. And this is happening all over the UK and around the world.

The other problem is we are also losing the social aspect of record collecting; the meeting of old and new friends at these emporiums as we browse. That was part of the magic, bumping into a friend on an occasional basis, having a chat, inviting them over for an evening of music, or vice versa. The internet and the download have and are definitely killing off this wonderful social aspect of record collecting, and I don’t think a lot of people have realised this yet? Personally, I meet a great deal of those friends on the live music circuit at gigs, as each go hand-in-hand, but we are losing contact with those friends due to this lack of social activity; and the used record shops have suffered as well and are now becoming extinct.

Me: Changing tack completely, what do you find iconic about Britain?

Alan: Blimey! Where did that one spring from, Jimmy? Iconic? There’s very little Iconic about Britain at the moment. Politics dictates we send our troops to the worldwide trouble spots wherever they happen to be, but they’re fighting a war which has eff all to do with Britain. Again, it’s all down to religion as have been most of if not all of the wars in history. If there is a God, would He tell one religion to kill someone belonging to another religion?

Did you see war veteran Harry Patch died recently aged 111? Wasn’t it great that he insisted on NO armaments at his funeral! It looked strange, all those soldiers honouring him in every possible way but with no rifles present. There really is no need for war, like Harry Patch said: “They could have discussed their differences sitting around a table, it’s just a waste of people’s lives.”

On the other hand, we have still got the freedom in most countries to do as we please, although it is being chipped away in a very Orwellian manner with almost everything from where people can and cannot smoke, being fined for leaving our wheelie bins out too long, and taking our own carrier bags to the supermarket to save the environment. And of course we are ruled by our purse strings, and money doesn’t go as far as it did, and with petrol over the £pound a litre now I doubt it will ever go back? We are forgetful to our own disadvantage. Remember they increased the price of coffee a few years ago, said it was due to “frosts in Brazil!” Well, they haven’t reported frosts in Brazil since, but the price of coffee hasn’t dropped! We are too gullible, and I think that’s part of what caused the Credit Crunch; things going up in price and us not asking why because we pay with plastic and the money doesn’t seem as if it’s real, or indeed ours, until the monthly statement hits the doormat and it’s “Oh Shit!” time.

Me: I like to think Britain has got a lot going for it, leaving Politics aside of course, I mean despite the scaremongering we still retain very defined features in terms of food, culture, art symbols that everybody can enjoy. I'd like to think that is a mix of nostalgia and thinking of the future? I mean I like Fish & Chips, HP Sauce and Joanna Lumley! What sums up British-ness for you Alan?

Alan: I’ll go along with the fish ‘n’ chips, Jimmy. They always ask if I want salt and vinegar, and even though it messes my blood pressure up I always say “Yes please!” Fish ‘n’ chips just isn’t right without the traditional condiments, and all those twits who don’t have salt any more can take a running jump, IT IS ESSENTIAL on fish ‘n’ chips!

Other than that, British comedy like ‘Open All Hours,’ ‘Porridge,’ ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ etc and the ‘Live At The Apollo’ series on Dave at the moment. My eldest granddaughter’s sit there watching that Hannah Montana show mainly due to peer pressure I think? There’s all this canned laughter in the background, and I ask if they like the programme?

“Yes! It’s really cool granddad!”

“Really? But why aren’t you laughing?”

Because the American sense of humour is different, that’s why.

They amaze me. They came to stay for a couple of days, and I said, “Right, we’re watching ‘The X-Files’ at seven!”

“What’s ‘The X-Files’?” they asked.

“Mulder and Scully!” I say with exasperation. “Everyone knows who Mulder and Scully are!”

They shrug their shoulders. “Never heard of them! Who are they?”

Eldest grandson comes around showing me this gold coloured plastic cross and chain he won at Butlin’s on their annual holiday there. “Oh, you’ll look like Mr T now!” I laughed.

There’s a blank look on his face. “Who’s Mr T, granddad?”
The problem with this younger generation is they spend their TV lives watching dedicated channels; the same kind of programmes ALL the time; and none seem to teach them anything. We had a mix of BBC 1 and 2 and ITV, so we had less of a selection to look at, but watched an across-the-board selection. In the not-too-distant future ‘The Weakest Link,’ ‘Eggheads,’ ‘Millionaire’ and pub quizzes in general will just cease to exist, because these younger generations will have such a narrow intellect that anything resembling ‘General Knowledge’ will no longer exist!

British-ness is also the TV programmes we watch, and there are so many American shows on that our English language is becoming a sort of pigeon-American. Even in a recent episode of ‘Poirot’ which is based in the 1930’s, they made an enormous cock-up. A young woman stood up from the sofa and walked to the window: “I’ll just TAKE a look outside!” she said. Well, the British, especially in the 1930’s would have said “I’ll just HAVE a look outside!” There’s that advert “Do you HAVE an old mobile phone sitting around?” That’s an Americanism again! In English it would be “Have you got…?”

And while we’re there, ‘got’ in America has become ‘gotten,’ and a Lib Dem questionnaire dropped through the letterbox a while back, and within the text it had the word ‘gotten’! I filled it out and sent it back by Free Post as requested, with a note in the ‘Comments’ box saying “How dare you use an Americanism in British political communications; we’re British, or have you forgotten?” Needless to say, they didn’t reply!

We are having our English-ness removed, mainly by this massive diet of American TV shows, and we don’t realize it. It’s not America’s fault, Sky and Virgin buy them and broadcast them. I do my best to speak and write English as I was taught as a youngster, but it’s difficult and it’s easy to slip. And the humour isn’t the same, watch any American sit-com and note how many times you laugh. And I don’t think they find our comedy funny, either, and I remember Lemmy saying when he moved to live in LA he had to adjust his sense of humour, because they didn’t find what he said was funny! I love his sense of humour, it’s very dry, dead-pan and often sarcastic, but he certainly knows his stuff. Saying that, Mulder has also got a dry sense of humour, and I find myself chuckling along to that practically with every episode; but you’ve got to look for it otherwise it passes you by. I love ‘The X-Files,’ thank you America for those, and yes, before anyone points it out, I’ve got the remote and the ‘Off’ button, so I can avoid anything I don’t want to see.

Johnny Rotten’s ‘British-ness’ absolutely shines on that butter advert he does. I watched the ‘Never Mind The Bollocks Classic Albums’ on the Arts channel recently. Johnny is a highly intelligent chap, he really impressed me, he’s not the punk rock dullard some people think he is, he’s an excellent human being and very English!

Me: Another part of our lives is of course Motörhead, and I don't mind calling you Professor of all things Motörhead given your long association with the band and of course keeping the Motörheadbangers rolling after all these years. What is it do you think is the definitive attraction of Motorhead to you even now in the year 2009?

Alan: Professor Burridge? Right! Well, it’s been 30 years this November since I went on The Bomber Tour to gather stuff for the first fanzine, which was published in January 1980, so I suppose a title of some kind is befitting? Perhaps tenacious would be more accurate than Professor? When I commit myself to something I won’t let it go easily, and as it was and is for the band I won’t let them down by not doing what I promised to do in the flyer, which is in its way The Fan Club Constitution. I don’t like being let down and disappointed, the band don’t let us down or disappoint on album or playing live, and I won’t let the band or anyone else down or disappoint them as a fan club, either.

Motorhead’s definitive attraction has always been in the first instance great music on LP, CD and DVD, and in the live arena that it is LOUD and creates the essential adrenaline rush which tells us that yes, despite everything thrown at us we are still alive. Then it’s the Lemmy attitude; where would we be without him? Quite rightly he is a Living Legend, an Icon, and thoroughly deserves those titles after the quagmire he had to struggle through to get the band going; so he’s reaping those rewards, of again, being tenacious.

Motorhead are as important today as they ever were and are selling out venues around the world, not bad for 34 years is it! It amazes me when AC/DC and Metallica do likewise on the arena circuit, and I can’t for the life of me see the difference between those two and Motorhead, other than higher record sales and loads more fans. They are very much three-of-a-kind, and I can never see where the AC/DC and Metallica fans end and the point where Motorhead fans begin? Most fans I meet love all 3, so it’s a big ? mark. They’re all going to send us home deaf, so that’s all that matters.

Me: Rumour has it that Mikkey Dee might be taking part in the Swedish version of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here next month, have you ever watched the British programme? And would you ever see yourself roughing it in the jungle and taking part in bug eating rituals?

Alan: It’s not a rumour, it’s true. It’s the first time a Swedish version of it has happened, so it should be good publicity for Mikkey and Motorhead.

Yes, I watched a few of the early ‘I’m A Celeb’ shows, but for me it’s like Big Brother, why do I want to spend my life watching other people spending their lives in a jungle or on a film set which looks like a home? I’ve got better things to do. A friend of mine on the agency work circuit watches Big Brother in the hope of seeing some chick on there show her tits. No, sorry, the years left in my life are worth far more than that. If I want to see some young chick’s tits I’ll go to a strip or lap dance club, not sit there watching the TV until some tart who’s trying to make a career out of being on a TV show flops her Charlie’s out. Thank goodness they’re stopping Big Brother, let’s hope they stop all reality shows; it’s crap TV as far as I’m concerned.

If pushed hard enough I’d give the jungle a go, and if it meant my fellow contestants eating or not then I’d give the bugs a go, too. I’d prefer laying in the bugs rather than eating them, there’s that other show where they had to eat worms, sheep’s eyes, offal and all sorts of crap, and it became so silly they gave them some really awful shit to eat just to make the show different. Reality TV! Jordan and Peter probably regret doing it now, eh? Well, they probably wish they’d been on there separately rather than together, but that’s Fate and Destiny!

Me: Any goodies coming up soon via Motorheadbangers?

Alan: Yes. Mick Stevenson has just sent the designs for the next MHB’s T-shirt and both back and front designs are fabulous! Watch out for the offer in the December issue of the fanzine, and remember, you must be a paid-up MHB to be eligible to order one!

Me: All the talk today is about The Ashes, are you a cricket fan?

Alan: Not really. I was a good bowler at school, though. There was a cocky lad named John Kersley who used to go on our Cross Country runs. One day he made me look a right knob. Someone always had a packet of fags for Cross Country, we used to amble around with a catapult trying to get a pheasant or a rabbit as well, it was never serious, just so much better than football because you had the girls there. It was far better hanging around with the girls than running around a football pitch with boys, or so I thought, and still do. But Kersley had a fag and asked (thicko me) if I’d seen smoke come out of someone’s ears? (Duh!) I hadn’t. He took a drag and stood right in front of me, pointing at his ears, then stubbed the fag end out on my thigh! Bastard! Realising how dim I’d been but never being one to hold a grudge, I called him a c**t, spat on the burn and then forgot about it.

But the following early Summer we were playing inter-house cricket. Dilly Simms was batsman and Kersley was wicket keeper. I bowled, Dilly missed, and Kersley didn’t catch the ball and it was traveling at ‘the stooping wicket keeper’ high and split his top lip open like a ripe tomato. Kersley approached me afterwards and shook my hand, saying “We’re even now after the fag end trick!” But it wasn’t bowled out of revenge, he missed the point, because if Dilly had hit it, Fate and Destiny would have changed.

However, that young chap Graeme Swann who gave Australia a good hiding with his bowling last week is a hero, and quite rightly so. It’s great when someone does that, especially if they’re playing for England. The Ozzies were a bit deflated, though; but that’s sport for you!

Me: And finally back to Bournemouth Rocks! What would be your ideal gig line-up regardless of time-period if you could pull a show together what would be your perfect act list?

Alan: In no particular order, and I would find it really difficult to know who to put on first and who have as top of the bill, well, Motorhead, Cream. Jimi Hendrix and (pre-‘Tommy’) The Who. And to anyone else out there, I do regard myself as extremely privileged to have seen all 4 of those bands above live in concert in my lifetime; it was and is an honour, and it makes me glad that I was born in 1951.

Bernie Torme’s band GMT, with Gillan’s John McCoy on bass played locally in July. They were excellent, he’s a superb guitarist and uses some of the Hendrix techniques but he has crafted them to enhance his own playing. I thoroughly enjoyed the gig, but as I said, loud, crunchy, overdriven guitars are my thing; and Bernie put that jet aircraft engine whistling in my ears for a few days in the nicest possible way.

Note: Alan’s books are available from or as a Link through ‘Bournemouth Rocks!’ is £12-95 post free to anywhere in the world and Pay Pal is preferred. The publisher holds a few signed copies, ask when ordering if you would like one. You can also join the Motörheadbangers Fan Club through again using Pay Pal.


Mr H said...

All well and good, but what does he think of American Dogs cover version of 'Bomber', available on their new EP, "This Ain't The Summer Of Love".

War and stuff is all very well, but this is the question that matters!

Löst Jimmy said...

Mr H Interesting cover, I'd featured a live version by American Dog in a previous post a couple of years ago

Alan Burridge said...

Mr H, hello. A cover of any song, Motorhead or otherwise is a good thing, because some people hearing it on an album, or live, may not have heard it before, so it could turn them on to Motorhead or whoever. American Dog have made excellent covers of quite a few Motorhead songs, and 'Bomber' is no exception. They also have the Motorhead attitude and cite them as one of their biggest influences.

The Ayatollah Of RocknRolla said...

That Torme and McCoy on Gillan albums Future Shock and Glory Road is worth listening too

Löst Jimmy said...

Class albums

Incidentally, I remember a really good Gillan live set on the Friday Rock Show (might have been recorded from Reading)

Löst Jimmy said...

Dear Readers I've improved the font and font-size because I was suddenly aware of the poor quality of the read.

Looks better now methinks

Löst Jimmy said...

And, not normally known for commenting on my own blogposts but...I thought it was a very good interview; 3rd interview the Mr Burridge and the previous years' articles can be viewed via the archive on the sidebar look for months
August 2007 for the first Blog interview (in 2 parts).
November 2008
And there is even a review of the Sheep In Wolves Clothing CD by Alan himself to be found in April 2008

The Ayatollah Of RocknRolla said...

Alan you said about watching X Files. I am a X Files fan
do you have a favourite episode?

Löst Jimmy said...

AyatollahI've punted the question over to Alan.

Jolly good

Alan Burridge said...

I've always been a big fan of the X-Files, some of those stories are deeper than they first appear and make me think. They aired the first one again earlier in the year, so I have made sure I watched or recorded them since, as I wanted to say I'd seen every one. Quite a few are favourites, but the one which sticks its head up most is the one where there's a Bank robbery; and Mulder's water bed has developed a leak and his day keeps beginning again and again until the right outcome evolves. An impossible situation, I know, but we would have liked it to happen to us now and again throughout life - "I wish I could have gone back to bed and started the day again." I used it as part of a review I did for Mr Kyps' about a local band who's songs sounded the same; "they were just like Mulder reliving his day all over again" or something along those lines. It annoyed the band somewhat, but thats how the gig struck me and we are permitted to enjoy freedom of speech, aren't we. I wasn't being vindictive, but if their music struck me that way, it must also do the same for others who don't speak up?
I also enjoy Mulder's sense of humour, it's very much like Lemmy's and indeed my own, which is another reason I like it. Sometimes he's so dry you miss the joke if you're not quick.

Löst Jimmy said...

Thanks again Alan for doing the interview and answering readers questions!