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Interview

The Boys
11/12/2000 (Interview with Duncan, Casino, Jack, Matt, John, Vom)
www.theboys.co.uk


Please give a brief history of the band, including current line up.

The Boys were one of several bands to rise from the ashes of the legendary UK punk band London SS. Casino Steel (keyboards/vocals) had been in the influential Hollywood Brats before meeting Matt Dangerfield (guitar/vocals), who had converted his rented basement flat into a home recording studio. They recruited Honest John Plain (guitar/vocals) who had been at art school with Dangerfield. Plain worked in a T-Shirt factory where he met Duncan "Kid" Reid (bass/vocals) and Jack Black (drums) who had been at school together.

After a handful of gigs The Boys signed to NEMS in January 1977 and were at that time the only punk band to have a record deal (The Sex Pistols having just been sacked by EMI). Their first, self-titled album, secured their highest chart position and would have almost certainly climbed much higher had Elvis Presley not died. NEMS were distributed by RCA who switched all their resources into satisfying the huge posthumous demand for Elvis' records.

Having released two albums and three singles with NEMS, they moved to Safari in 1979 where two further albums and five more singles followed before they called it a day in summer of 1981.

Every Christmas they rearranged the "B" and the "Y" and became The Yobs, releasing four singles and in 1980 the classic "Christmas Album" which has just been re-released by Captain Oi! Records (AHOY CD 157).

Although The Boys never achieved the commercial success they deserved, their music has refused to die. German punk band Die Toten Hosen championed their music for more than a decade, covering several songs and introducing new fans to The Boys.

Almost two years ago Japanese band Thee Michelle Gun Elephant had a massive hit with a Boys cover. This prompted the re-release of several Boys albums with encouraging international sales (more than 30,000 albums being sold in Japan alone). A Boys tribute album was also released featuring 13 bands from around the world and a second one is due for release shortly.

On the back of this success The Boys were invited to play some dates in Japan. Four of the original members along with Steve "Vom" Ritchie (replacing Jack Black on drums) played two hugely successful dates on 31 July and 1 August 1999.

Further album releases tempted The Boys to play the Holidays in the Sun Festival in Bilbao on 23 September 2000 with the same line-up as Japan. Original drummer Jack Black made a guest appearance as well as filming the concert. It was the first time in 18 years that the five original band members had been reunited on stage. Having received several tempting offers from around the world more live dates remain a possibility.


Discography.

SINGLES

I Don't Care / Soda Pressing NEMS (NES 102) 1977
First Time / Watcha Gonna Do / Turning Grey NEMS (NES 111) 1977
Brickfield Nights / Teachers Pet NEMS (NES 116) 1978
Kamikaze / Bad Day Safari (SAFE 21) 1979
Terminal Love / I Love Me Safari (SAFE 23) 1980
You Better Move On / Schoolgirls Safari (SAFE 27) 1980
Weekend / Cool Safari (SAFE 31) 1980
Let It Rain / Lucy Safari (SAFE 33) 1981
Sick On You / Soda Pressing Vinyl Japan (PAD 63) 1999

As The Yobs
Run Rudolph Run / The Worm Song NEMS (NES 114) 1977
Silent Night / Stille Nacht YOBS (YOB 79) 1978
Rub A Dum Dum / Another Christmas Safari (YULE 1) 1979
Yobs On 45 / The Ballad Of The Warrington Fresh (FRESH 41) 1981

ALBUMS
The Boys NEMS (NEL 6001) 1977
Alternative Chartbusters NEMS (NEL 6015) 1978
To Hell With The Boys Safari (1-2 Boys) 1979
Boys Only Safari (BOYS 4) 1981
Odds & Sods Toten Kopf (TOT 910) 1990
To Hell With The Boys-The Original Mix Revolution (CS 003) 1990
Live At The Roxy Receiver (RRLP/CD 135) 1990
The Complete Boys Punk Singles Collection Anagram (CD PUNK 85) 1996
Power Cut Anagram(CDMGRAM 119) 1999
The Boys Captain Oi! (AHOY CD 101) 1999
Alternative Chartbusters Captain Oi! (AHOY CD 101) 1999
To Hell With The Boys Captain Oi! (AHOY CD 113) 1999
Boys Only Captain Oi! (AHOY CD 117) 1999
BBC Sessions Vinyl Japan (ASK CD 88) 1999
Sick On You Harry May (MAYO CD 113) 1999
The Very Best Of The Boys Anagram (CD PUNK 112)
Punk Rock Rarities Captain Oi! (AHOY CD 120) 1999
To Original Hell With / Odds N Sods Captain Oi! (AHOY CD 144) 2000

As The Yobs
The Yobs Christmas Album Safari (RUDE 1) 1980
Xmas 11 Receiver (RR CD 153) 1991
Leads 3 Amps. United 0 Revolution (REX CD 12) 1995
The Yobs Christmas Album Captain Oi! (AHOY CD 157) 2000


What is the best gig The Boys have ever done and who else was on the line-up?

Duncan: The gigs we played at the old Marquee in Wardour Street were always great. The place used to be packed to the rafters and sauna hot. Often there would be a guest on the encores such as Johnny Thunders, who really knew how to look cool, and Marianne Faithfull, who didn't. Most gigs are a blur to me now but two which stick in the memory were Barcelona, where we played in a huge bullring with The Specials on the bill, and Ibiza Town, where we played in the old Castle high on a hill overlooking the sea. This was the last gig before our twenty year break and return in Tokyo last year.

Casino: Paradiso in Amsterdam. The Police were supporting and we blew them off stage.

Jack: It's very difficult to pinpoint a best gig. We definitely did some great gigs on the Jam tour, the Generation X tour and of course our tour with the Ramones. During the Scottish world cup campaign when I was wearing the Scotland football kit we always went on to stage with a football and we played a blinder at the Paradiso where I went in the audience and all sorts of mayhem ensued. Gigs at the Marquee also stood out as did playing at the Castle in Ibiza and on the cliff edge in Sete, France.

Matt: Swansea (University, I think) in 1976 (I think) supporting John Cale on tour. Although we had a policy not to do encores at the time, the audience kept calling for one for so long (about 10 mins) that we were forced to do our first one.

John: For me personally it's Ibiza in the Castle and Ten Pole Tudor were the support band.

Vom: The 3 gigs I did with the Boys have all been my favourites for different reasons. The first because it was my first gig with them and their first for a long time. The reaction from the crowd was incredible even though I was still in the bog when the dramatic intro tape finished and everyone's going "where the fuck's Vom". I hadn't anticipated the Japanese, to the minute, precision timing. Although the playing and tuning was a bit shambolic at times, it suddenly dawned on me that I was playing for "The Boys", one of my all time favourite bands. During "First Time" I must admit, it brought a tear to my eye. Basically a fantastic experience. I loved the next night because it was at the same venue, but the playing was much better and we played a blinding set which sent the crowd berserk for another night. The 3rd gig in Spain was much more relaxed , and the best played so far of the three. It was great seeing Jack getting up to play. My chance to see the original Boys from the side of the stage for the first time. The crowd was again singing along to all the songs and having a great time and what made it for me was seeing some old Boys fans from England in the crowd with big smiles on their faces. Knockout!


Would The Boys allow one of their songs appear in a commercial? If yes, what would you like it to be advertising?

Duncan: It would be great to hear a Boys' song on a TV advert. Iggy's "The Passenger" worked great in this way. It would certainly be an improvement if they used a Boys' track to advertise the latest Westlife album!

Casino: Yes! But no extreme political ads.

Jack: I think "Bad Day" would be great for a beer commercial, "Weekend for an after shave commercial like Lynx or something and "Walk My Dog" would be great for…..well work it out for yourself!

Matt: Yes. "First Time" for a Durex ad.

John: "TCP" and it's obvious what it would be advertising!

Vom: It's difficult for me to comment on this one but I think you have to draw the line somewhere on these matters, as you could end up hating a song you once loved. .

Has any band member played in other bands, if so what?

Duncan: The Boys were my first proper band. After The Boys I had a band called the Hollywood Killers who were massive in Kensington and Chelsea.

Casino: The Hollywood Brats, Gary Holton/Casino Steel, The Yobs, Claudia/Big Hand/Casino, CCCP, Scott&Steel, Dirty Laundry and solo career.

Jack: I played in a band with Duncan at school called Tribute To Lemmings. After that it was straight into The Boys/Yobs. I did an album with the New Guitars and a single with the Rowdies/Cockney N Westerns. I also rehearsed with Hazel O'Connor.

Matt: Speaking entirely for myself, Mirrors (1983-ish), The Management (1986-ish).

John: After The Boys the first band was Dirty Strangers and featured Ron Wood and Keith Richards. Then it was Mannish Boys and we almost got a deal in America with Motown until they found out we were white! Then came the Crybabys with Darrell Bath from Dogs D'Amour and then the Slobs with whom I did one album and they were followed by Ian Hunter's Dirty Laundry. I'm now in a band called Sabre Jet with Darrell Bath and we've got a gig in Chelmsford tomorrow (6 December).

Vom: Oh God, where to start. The first band I was in that really did anything was Doctor and the Medics and after we parted company I played for almost anyone, which was a lot of fun, but wasn't usually for long! These included The Last of the Teenage Idols, Junior Manson Slags, Stiv Bators, The Brotherland, 999, B-Bang Cider, The Armageddon Dildos, Sugar Snatch. I also did an album with Ian Hunter and The Crybaby's (both with Honest) and
am currently playing for Die Toten Hosen. I hope I didn't miss any!


Describe punk/oi at the beginning of the 21st century.

Duncan: Erm??????!!!!!!!!!!! A bit like an elephant. Long memory, hard to describe, but you know one when you see it.

Casino: Surprisingly good, and sometimes exciting.

Jack: Does it still exist?

Matt: It must knocking on 30 years old (quite young really).

John: It's very hard to describe punk in the 21st century because I've not really heard anything that I could describe as punk. Sorry about that.

Vom: I think there's a lot of good stuff about at the moment, especially from Scandinavia like Voice of a Generation, Bombshell Rocks, Samiam to name just a few. From the States there's' Rancid, Supersuckers; from England Janus Stark, Road Rage, Leatherface etc. There's so much new stuff coming out, it's hard to keep up with it. Older bands like the Test Tubes, Cock Sparrer and the Rejects are still fantastic live, as I witnessed in Spain .


What is the favourite song (and what band is it by) of each member of the band ?

Duncan: This morning I heard "Rebel Rebel" by David Bowie on the Radio which became my favourite record of all time for the four minutes it was being played. However, Bowie became such a silly sausage later on that I can't nominate any of his songs as my all time favourite. Has to be "Jeepster" by T Rex, therefore.

Casino: "My Generation" by The Who.

Jack: At the moment my favourite song without a doubt is "From A Distance", but it's got to be performed by Nancy Griffith. I don't know who wrote it but if they could send me a signed copy I'd be really grateful. I also like "Sweet Freedom" by Uriah Heep.

Matt: Wire "I Am The Fly".

John: My favourite song of all time is "Tin Soldier" by the Small Faces.

Vom: I can't answer this one as I've got so many favourite songs. It would be too difficult to pin it down to one. I've been asked this question a thousand times and have never been able to answer it. All I know is that "Complete Control" by the Clash would be in the top 10 as it always gets me going.



Do you still go and see other punk/oi bands when they play in your area? If so, what was the last band you saw and were they any good?

Duncan: Not on a regular basis. I saw Thee Michelle Gun Elephant last year and a lot of the bands at the Holidays in the Sun festival. I have to say I really enjoyed most of the bands I saw which surprised me greatly.

Casino: I've just recently seen both DeeDee's and Marky's new bands, and thought they were decent.

Jack: I haven't been going to gigs for a few years but it was great fun at the Holidays In The Sun Festival. There was a lot of energy on show. Some of the bands were really good and had a fantastic following, some were not so good and a little comical although I don't mean to be a bastard about it. These days I'm too busy walking my dog and drinking! I'm also busy inventing board games which you are all going to hear about very soon!!

Matt: I saw a Spanish Basque band who were on the bill when we played Holidays in the Sun 2000 who went down a treat with the Spanish crowd, and every song had a chorus that appeared to include "Oi, Oi, Oi". Does that count?

John: I haven't seen any punk bands or even heard of any punk bands in my area. If I hear of any punk bands playing near where I live I'd certainly go and see them.

Vom: I always make an effort to go to as many punk/oi gigs as possible in my area. There's a great place called 'AK 47' which is just round the corner from me and they put on punk gigs on a regular basis. The last band I saw there were The Stitches from America and they tore the place apart. Great stuff.


Plans, gigs and releases planned for 2000-2001.

Duncan: Plans: to grow old gracefully, gigs: maybe, releases: Casino from jail after they send him away for tax evasion in Norway (his defence is that he doesn't see why he should bother to pay tax so there may be another Boys hiatus for a short while coming up).

Casino: Gigs with The Gringo Starrs & The Boys. Release of Cd "V.S.O.P." in January.

Jack: Releases: none as such but I've got some good ideas about doing a Boys/Yobs covers album with the guys from The Carpenters Arms who are all buskers. Plans: I'd like to get my own website up and running to promote my games and continue promoting The Boys. Touring: I'll do my best and I'm struggling with my back but I'll go anywhere I'm invited!

Matt: Up in the air. Who knows? Depends on Traffic.

John: We've received lots of offers but nothing's been confirmed at the moment.

Vom: I'm working on some gigs for next year, but can't give anything away yet as nothing's confirmed.


Any final comments?

Duncan: Final Comments! Not for a while yet hopefully.

Casino: Fuck the fucking fuckers, the fucking fuckers are fucking fucked!!

Jack: With my hand on my heart I promise to support my beloved Arsenal for the rest of my life. Having seen tonight's result with Spartak Moscow beating us 4-1 I have to say goodbye to all Boys fans and Backstage Passers, I'll see you in Highbury Heaven….Tada.

Matt: I want my epitaph to be: "On the whole I'd rather be in Pontefract".

John: I'm in Leeds for Christmas so if you'd like to have a beer with me on Boxing Day evening give me a call!

Vom: Looking forward to playing again with The Boys as the last 3 gigs were a lot of fun. Long live Punk/Oi and The Boys. Cheers.



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