Andy, How and when did you enter in music at all?
I first picked up a guitar in 1963 when I was 13. Quite a few of us at school had a lesson at school about playing and it became enjoyable thing to do.
What were your influences when you were young?
Blues, Jazz, and pop music. The first discovery was the 12-bar nature of so many songs.
Which shows were best what you saw when you were young?
The Who, Spencer Davis with Stevie Winwood, The Hollies, The Creation, John Mayall with Peter Green live shows.
When and how did you decided to begin to play guitar? Do you know to play some other instruments? I know you can play guitar and bass guitar?
I played with groups of school friends and neighbourhood friends, and we gigged only once in my schooldays. I got an infected finger about the time I learned to drive at 17, so that put the guitar playing on hold. Also Jimi Hendrix had exploded onto our tv screens which suddenly raised the bar beyond what seemed to be achievable.
What is for you counter culture? You were one of best friends of Mick Farren, Mick wrote some songs for Warsaw Pakt. He was anarchist. But before Warsaw Pakt was band The Rockets. What was your part in UK counter culture bands, your beginnings? Did you know guys from The Deviants and Pink Fairies in late 60's? What all this era meant for you today?
I moved into the Ladbroke Grove area in 1970 and met quite a few of the neighbourhood characters, Lemmy used to visit, Steve Took too. I met other members of Hawkwind like Dikmik, Nick Turner and Allen Powell.
Through John Manly, who was later the rhythm guitarist in Warsaw Pakt, I had moved into a house in Lancaster Road with Kevin Sparrow. Later on Paul Rudolph from the Pink Fairies moved in with John and we all seemed to be a kind of alternative community. We took a lot of LSD for example, ate brown rice briefly, and I guess I was a hippie for quite a while. I certainly believed in the alternative society. We went to a lot of music festivals around the country and saw a lot of gigs in London.
I eventually went back to playing the guitar, and started making cassette demos. I had a 6 string guitar and used it with an Octavider pedal for the bass parts and a Stylophone for keys. I used a rehearsal space under the corner shop in Wornington Road W10, and I started to take it further. Upon meeting Twink at a local party I joined his band ‘Glider’. I can’t say that Glider really worked out very well, but we did gigged, and more importantly I got into Island Studios at Basing Street for my first studio visit, recording five songs there.
How band The Rockets started? And how later Warsaw Pakt get connected with Mick Farren?
Around late ’75 I answered an ad in Melody Maker for guitarist in an R&B group called ’The Rockets’ and we played in London and round the home counties for a year or so. We also had a two week residency at the PN club in Munich, Germany. The Rockets were started by Dave Rochelle the drummer, who lived near the Kensington pub in Shepherds Bush in the same house as ‘Zen’ the guitarist from the Count Bishops. Jimmy Coull was the singer, and Oz Osbourne played bass. He changed his name to Val Haller and worked with Wayne County later on as the punk scene emerged.
So I started to go to the Kensington and saw Dr. Feelgood a lot there, who were by far the best band on the R&B circuit. Mick Farren lived nearby in Ladbroke Grove started to give me lyrics. Meanwhile the Rockets struggled on without a regular drummer as Dave left to join a ‘Beatle’ type band ‘The Pleasers’. Dave’s friend, Frank Day had written nearly all the lyrics for the original Rockets songs, and given them to me to write the music, so this formed the basis for the Warsaw Pakt’s set. We dropped all the standards from the ‘60s that the Rockets had played, and worked on a set that became the Warsaw Pakt’s ’Needletime’ LP. That included three of Mick’s songs.
I bought new single from The Rockets. Its great. I hope other 4 songs will be released too? I did wrote to Munster Records and they say they working on Warsaw Pakt single, any news?
Thanks for that, Munster did a good job on those two tracks. I’m glad to hear they are working on a single. That’s the first I’ve heard of it. Just for the record, the unreleased Rockets songs are ‘Speeding’, later recorded by Warsaw Pakt, ‘Baby Let Me Take You Home’, ‘A Shot Of R&B’ and ‘Walking The Dog’.
I am a lot in music like Mick, against artificial human cults like nations and religion who made all wars in human history. Like Nietzsche 'Antichrist' from Ecce homo? :) I think music became art not only fun from 60's. Do you think that music industry destroyed music in that format? No more free festivals like in 60's. But nobody stopping people to take guitar and play for free, like free festivals with Fairies and Hawkwind? What went wrong?
Everything has a place in time. In any particular time there is opportunity for a style of music to become popular. Catching the wave seems to be largely a matter of luck and timing. Warsaw Pakt surfed a particular wave with punk rock, and in retrospect I wish I had kept that band together.There is a valid argument that the music biz exploited musicians to the hilt. That’s what they do, but it can’t be done without the consent of the musicians. The great thing about ’76/’77 is that the industry chased the ‘artists’ and briefly the boot was on the other foot. After bombarding us for several years with increasingly grandiose and pompous progressive music, they were briefly undermined by a re-interpretation of basic Rock n’ Roll.
Is it true that Stewart Copeland drummer of The Police was going to play drums in your band The Rockets in 70's?
Stewart did shows with The Rockets including a storming Nashville gig where we replaced the Damned after an incident at the 100 Club. This was at short notice at the height of the London punk scene. He wanted me to play with his band the Police, but I wanted him to join the Rockets.
Many people don't know that you were maybe first band, Warsaw Pakt, who recorded and pressed record in 1977 and put it in stores in 24 hours?! You sold 5000 copies but repress was refused, why?
‘Island Records’ didn’t really embrace punk rock.
Warsaw Pakt album 'Needle Time', it was recorded in two or three takes? Three songs wrote Mick Farren?
That’s right. We played three full sets, and up in the Trident cutting room where it was recorded to disc, the gear was fragile. The needles cost 5 grand each. I think we used cuts 5 and 6, A and B sides as they gradually got bolder with the sound travelling to the cutting head. There were three Mick Farren lyrics on the album, one of which, ‘Fast Eddie’ was the first original lyric he gave me to write a tune for.
Were you playing with some famous musicians what we don't know about in 60's and 70's?
How did you end up with Brian James from The Damned?
I was working on Mick Farren’s record ‘Vampires Sole My Lunch Money’ with Allen Powell and Larry Wallis. Allen had just joined ‘Tanz der Youth’ and asked me to play bass with them so we worked as a bass and drums team.
Band Tanz Der Youth sounded really good. Why break up? You had problems with crowd?
It was Brian’s band. I played the gigs and recorded with them, and it is true that we were disliked on the Black Sabbath tour. On other gigs I think we did pretty well. One of the areas of friction was that Allen and I wanted the song ‘Delay’, which we’d just written, to be the ‘B’ side of the single. It was, but that can be a problem in such a scenario. I never found out why it stopped. I always thought that Brian or the management pulled the plug in the end for reasons of their own. You’d have to ask them.
Later you hook up with Paul Rudolph and Mick Farren, Larry Wallis to make EP „Screwed up“. Mick said in one interview that relations between members were not that well. Year after that Rudolph was not on great album „Vampires Stole My lunch Money“. Why?
When we were making the E.P., Tanz der Youth were rehearsing for shows, so I was trying to grab half an hour’s sleep between sessions. That’s the first I’ve heard about any friction and it does sound like one of Mick’s observations.
„Vampires Stole My Lunch Money“ is a masterpiece. Sonja Kristina, Larry Wallis, Allen Powell, Wilko Johnson, Mick Farren, you.. guy from The Vibrators too. Can you remember what was atmosphere in studio and I know you wrote some songs on it, almost half album? „Fast Eddie“ song was on it from Warsaw Pakt LP.
We had some pre-production meetings at The Church in South London that Larry was living in, and exchanged ideas of how we wanted to do the songs. Larry was producing it and I wrote three songs for it, so he played bass on those and I played bass on the other eight numbers, seven of which were Larry’s. The lyrics were all Mick’s except for the Zappa track ‘Trouble Coming Every Day’. Fast Eddie was one of the titles. Alcohol played a large part too, being the subject of many songs on the LP.
In contrast when we made the EP, Paul came on his racing bike and had a flask of an energy drink like Gatorade.
I’m not very observant of atmosphere’s in the studio. I can say that I simply focus on playing. I thought everyone put their hearts into it. It felt good when we got ’The Take’.
Mick released single „Broken Statue / Its all in Picture“ and you were on it, you know similarity 'Its all in picture' with 'Speeding' from Warsaw Pakt?
Exactly. I had the ’Speeding’ guitar parts from The Rockets and Warsaw Pakt, and in moments fitted the ‘Picture’ lyric to them. It was a real last minute thing. We were driving to a recording session in South London, and I was working with Larry and Alan on our individual songs. That day I was told it was my turn. I had just received the ‘It’s All In The Picture’ lyric from Mick, so we bashed it out there and then with my vocal. That was replaced with Mick’s vocal at a later session. I think this was the second single from the’Vampires’ band.
Some song what you recorded ended up in Robert Palmer pocket? In time when Larry recorded some stuff for Status Quo?
Yes. These were recorded at ‘Naughty Fido’ studio, where we also recorded ‘All in the Picture’. Alan’s song was ‘Jealous’ for Robert Palmer which Robert recorded. Larry recorded ‘Rockin Back Again’ for Status Quo. When they never used it Mick offered that the guitar part was too complicated for them. Mick was good like that. I listened to it yesterday and it would have suited them pretty well.
You did make some recordings with guys from Hawkwind? Simon House and Simon King? I hope this will be released some day. Is this sounding like Hawkwind?
Thank you. These recordings were unlike Hawkwind, whose sound I’ve always admired. Both this band, ‘Turbo’ and ‘Famous Scientists’ were early ’80’s stabs at glory. Turbo, with both Simons, were very Foreigner oriented material/sound wise. Famous Scientists would have a blast of violins from Simon House in the solo sections. I have a bunch of tapes of these sessions.
Did you know Lemmy? And maybe Robert Calvert? Michael Moorcock? Because you were in that circle of people The Deviants / Pink Fairies / Hawkwind / Motorhead. If you did what can you say about them? Did you played with them?
I knew Lemmy in 1970 and met up with him in LA from time to time. He was a generous friend. He lent me his home practice amp for a few months when I arrived there.
In 1987 was first real reunion of Pink Fairies for album 'Kill Em And Eat Em'. There were all members on it except Paul Rudolph, you took his place in a way. Why Paul was not on it? Its always Paul, is it? Haha.. How many songs you wrote for this album?
You can’t replace Paul in the Fairies. He’s a visionary player who takes you into another dimension. The band that became the ’87 Fairies had already been playing since ’83. Larry changed the name of the band frequently. What I heard was that Paul was unavailable. I wrote four songs on the album. Two with Mick, one with Larry, and all of ‘Undercover of Confusion’ which Twink sang, rather well I thought.
I have single Lunar Malice. Its really good. How did you come up with that? Mick said that you were in some period that you changed band names all the time?
Mick came up with the name. We had a previous line up with the 20 Flight Rockers out in LA which gigged, but we changed to Lunar Malice with the new line up. That was Jack Lancaster and Spike Baron, and later Philthy ‘Animal’ Taylor.
You had band with Philthy (Phil Animal Taylor – Motorhead). „Fairyhead“? How many songs did you recorded and how this collaboration started after all?
My wife Helga bumped into Philthy when she was out in LA and we were all signed to Motorhead’s management publishing, We were already friends. This was when we were first there in ’92. I’d just learned about digital recording and when we discussed it, it turned out that Philthy wanted get into it, and we would get the equipment for him. We recorded and released several tracks for various cds including a track on each of my solo albums, more than half of ‘Deviants have left the Planet’ , plus a few tracks on ‘Burried Treasure’ among others.
Under name The Deviants you released albums „IXVI“ and „Dr. Crow“. Somehow people didn't recognised this as „The Deviants“ from late 60's. For me Mick is Deviants like Lemmy Motorhead, but people don't see it like that. I saw even on wikipedia that these albums are considered like 'Mick Farren and Friends'. Why? Lemmy changed until 1984 twice complete line up, it was still Motorhead. But when Mick do that, its not The Deviants. Why?
In the end, Mick wanted to be a solo star. He kept on suggesting different ways to package us. There were also poetry performances in bookstores in LA. on the spoken word circuit. He loved Rock n’ Roll and he wrote beat poetry. I had a lot of freedom with the music. Most of the time in LA and Japan we were the Deviants.
What can you say about working with Larry Wallis and did you ever played with Twink?
Larry was fantastic company most of the time, but there was a dark side too. Sadly he died last Thursday 19 September after a long illness. He was also a great guitar player, and we were very good friends. He once played bass at a show in one of my bands when someone dropped out. He also visited us when we had first moved to LA, and we played a Pink Fairies gig there.
And for Twink any mutual respect has been on a steep downward curve since.
Your style of playing is remind me to Mick Hutchinson and 'Clark Hutchinson' band sometimes, who were line up of Sam Gopal band where Lemmy was in 1968. You would like to experiment in these days too with people like that or?
Thanks for that. Mick Hutchinson is a fine guitarist. I’ve never quite worked out how he makes his guitar play these sitar sounding licks, but I like it a lot.
When did you met for first time Russell Hunter and Duncan Sanderson?
I saw the Fairies playing under the Westway, the elevated motorway that cuts through Notting Hill at Portobello Road, when I first moved to London. I met the guys in the neighbourhood at that time.
As you were on last real reunion on Pink Fairies album, you did new album under Pink Fairies name ‘Naked Radio’. On this album is Russell Hunter, Duncan Sanderson who were on all The Deviants and Pink Fairies albums. G.Butler, Jaki Windmill were there two. I was really amazed. This album is like earthquake. How did you get idea with guys to record it?
The Band had been playing together again since 2011. Russell had suggested we play as Pink Fairies shortly after Mick collapsed on stage and died in 2013. We gigged around the UK for a couple of years and went into Brighton Electric Studio to record songs for ‘Naked Radio’. After a while we got a record company involved who released it. I could see that the band was likely to come to an end, so I wanted to put a marker down and make a record before that happened.
I must ask. In the almost same time, two years part. Paul Rudolph made new album under Pink Fairies name with ex Hawkwind Alan Davey and ex Motorhead Lucas Fox. Can you imagine Paul on „Naked Radio“, it would be all „What A Bunch Of Sweeties“ crew plus others. Did you ask Paul to join you on „Naked Radio“?
Russell had asked Paul to join the band initially in 2013, but he was unable to get away, living in Canada. So we just went ahead here.
With Jaki its really nice touch and change in Fairies sound. Sometimes album sounds to me like Pink Fairies, The Deviants and Warsaw Pakt in one. What do you think?
Jaki sounds wonderful recorded. I did write the majority of the songs so I guess it’s not that surprising. That’s what I was aiming at. Cheers.
Andy, this is just one small part of your life in this interview which I try to do it short, to storm through your life in 32 questions :). I could go on and on with questions for every part in detail. Two more for the end. Can you tell us some stories what did you do for fun back stage, or out at town with Warsaw Pakt, Mick Farren etc.... ? Any fun situations? Trying to imagine your life with those guys off stage.
It was probably much duller than you imagine. On stage was the place!
I think you should write the book. Somehow I think that you did best stuff for others. Did you ever in younger days (after Warsaw Pakt) considered to make your own band? Its like you are on great albums, most of the people don't know that you wrote many songs on those albums but somehow also nobody knows who is actually big Andy Colquhoun. You are happy with your status?
Well, that’s very kind of you. Certainly The Rockets and Warsaw Pakt were my bands. But I am a collaborative guy. In those bands and Famous Scientists I wrote nearly all the tunes. After that I played with many people and recorded my solo albums. I do have a couple of albums unreleased. One is by a fictional band ‘The Creeps’ which is a bunch of horror/comedy songs written over the years. There are drum parts on there from Russell, George Butler and Philthy. For the past year I’ve been recording an album with Russell Hunter that is almost complete. To my ears it’s sounding fantastic!
Andy, thank you for your time and I wish you well and many more good albums!
Thanks Sasha, it’s been a blast!