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Friars Interviews

Barrie Masters
Eddie and the Hot Rods

friars appearances 07/07/76  02/10/76  23/10/76  18/03/78  17/03/79

Eddie and the Hot Rods, Friars 1976. Photo Geoff Tyrell

Well deserved Friars Heroes Eddie and The Hot Rods are still rocking in 2009 and making new records. Frontman Barrie Masters spoke to us in August 2009.

Barrie, thanks for talking to the Friars Aylesbury website. You're gigging at the moment and just about to head to Wakefield. How did the Wigan gig go last night?

It was very good. It was a well run club and a good crowd.

You first came to the attention of the discerning Friars Aylesbury audience early in 1976 supporting Jack The Lad.

That's right, that was a long long time ago!

Then in October 1976, it was your first headlining appearance and then again you played the 1976 Christmas party. All sold out...what do you remember of those gigs?

They were very good ones. We got to know a lot of people around the Aylesbury area. Dave Stopps was such a wonderful guy. You wanted to work with him because his organisational skills were so great. There were people who would forget things, but he took care of every little detail. With Friars, it was a perfect hall to play in - the acoustics were great and you were well looked after. When you saw Friars on your tour list, you always looked forward to that one. Really fond memories.

Many artists are very praising of Aylesbury! The Jack The Lad gig got you noticed and after the 1976 headlining gigs, you came back in 1978, one of the fastest selling gigs in Friars history. Between the 1976 gigs and coming back in 1978, you had really hit it big...that must have been an interesting time?

It was great! Everything picked up and kicked off big time for a band. We were young and it was very fast. We were constantly knocked off of our feet and there wasn't much time to relax. But when we did get some time off, I would go to gigs...a bit like a busman's holiday! One of my favourite gigs of all time was the Iggy Pop and David Bowie gig at Friars in March 1977. One of the best gigs I ever saw.

I imagine that was quite special.

The Maxwell Hall was a great place to see a band. It wasn't too far away and you knew the sound would be good so that was why I went to that gig.

As opposed to having seen them at Hammersmith Odeon or wherever...

Yes.

That's cool! The Clash turned up at Friars on more than occasion to see bands as a punter too.

That 1978 gig looked at in a 2009 context...you were headlining, but Radio Stars and Squeeze on as well! And then in 1979, The Members supported you as they were on the up.

It's a small world...we're playing with the guitarist from the Members tonight!

Sadly you didn't play Friars after 1979 and then you went on a long hiatus...from 1981 onwards.

We had a few changes and things didn't work out right.

What did you do in the intervening period?

I worked and helped out The Inmates for a while and did a couple of albums and tours with them. I did some of my own thing for a bit of fun as well. The band (Eddie) had an aura about it and it took a lot time to get that back. I've worked with some amazing musicians but if it isn't right it doesn't work. About ten or twelve years ago, it finally started working again as we had the right people in.

The band chemistry and camaraderie has to be right rather than having musicians who are just there..

That's right. You have to have competent musicians but there has to be that telepathy...

I mean that in the sense of a band spirit rather than just having hired musicians behind you..

Yes, I worked with some fabulous musicians but the chemistry wasn't right.

I've heard this before in the sense that if the chemistry and the creative spark goes..

Yes, I was reading only yesterday an article about U2. They are still together as they know what the other is going to do. You can't replace any one of them.

Something has worked right for them for 30 years!

Exactly!

At one point before your hiatus you shortened the band name to The Rods. Why?

It was a chant at gigs. It went from Hot Rods to The Rods. People thought we were a completely different band. We changed the logo as well. Whether it was the right thing to do is open to debate.

It's not uncommon. Maybe if you are moving forward perhaps with a different style of music, then the change of name may signify a shedding of the skin....

It could be good, it could be bad.

How long were you The Rods for, wasn't that long was it?

A couple of singles I think.

This is bizarre - even one of the Friars news-sheets made a reference to this and asking to bring back Eddie!

You've had a settled line up for some time. And you're still gigging and enjoying it...many bands who played Friars around your time and are still gigging today because they simply enjoy it so much...this has been pretty much your life?

More or less, in the leaner times, I've had to do other work, but yes we do enjoy it. We still look forward to the gigs. It's always been exciting. Just as last night's gig was and we're looking forward to tonight's gig. It is fun and hopefully always will be. When that stops, it will be time to stop.

Do you find as Eddie and The Hot Rods in 2009, fan base wise, have you retained a lot of your original following and are you picking up fans on the way? I'm mindful of the fact you still make new records.

What amazes me, back in the early Friars days, when we had a punk following and now we have two or three generations of fans. It's all friendly and no trouble. There are some guys who have followed us all the time and there are some who come up to us in the last three years having only seen us for the first time wondering why they never saw us before! Then they start coming to the gigs. OK, it took them a long time to catch on, but now they are regulars. You get to know people as well who you see every so often. We talk to our fans after the shows too.

That works well as it gives me an idea of the setlist!

OK, dull unoriginal question alert. You've a wide body of material from over the last 30 years in terms of all the albums you have made and you want to be playing your new stuff. Presumably you haven't got tired of playing Do Anything You Wanna Do every night? I do mean that in the nicest way!

No, not at all! Some of the songs over time have changed slightly. We do an eclectic set and try to cover most albums even if we only do one song off of a particular album. We get very few complaints. We do quite well. I've spoken to many bands on the road (like us) and they say that they can't play any new stuff as people don't want to know. We have the exact opposite as we have four or five new songs in the set which have become the favourites now. The biggest cheers are for them. We've been lucky enough to be able to change the set and move on. I don't know why other bands have this problem because we don't.

It goes to show that people take you for the music you are making and people don't see you as a retro act, because you're not, with making all the new records and that's the stuff you're playing. You've made a very good point in that some bands are forced to play sets entrenched in the past.

If you have a band that has to do that, they will get bored of it. We have a set we can pick and choose. Every night is fresh and new as as we swap things round and add things as we go. You won't see two gigs the same on our tours!

Good point - I've seen bands that have a 'tour set list' and there is no deviation for the whole tour whether it's the first or 100th gig. It's nice to mix it up.

We will, if someone shouts something out, throw something in during the middle of the set. They appreciate that because we did it because they shouted for it.

That speaks volumes for you as a band that you can adapt like that.

Back to the late 1970s, I don't know whether you saw yourselves as part of this, but there was a big Essex scene...you, Dr Feelgood, The Kursaal Flyers. What else was coming out of Essex?

Ooohhh!

Steve Hooker?

There was Depeche Mode on the next Essex wave and Alison Moyet. Mungo Jerry! They were Westcliff based. Fleetwood Mac (laughs). Peter Green still drinks in the same pub in Southend he drank in during the sixties.

You surprised me when you mentioned Fleetwood Mac, as an entirely different image of Malibu and big houses on the sea in America came to mind! Aylesbury also tried to build up its scene with Marillion and others.

Yes, and that is down to the venues and the people around Aylesbury. They loved their music there. Just like Liverpool in the sixties. People always seemed to have heard of Aylesbury and were willing to travel there.

We've also unearthed some photographs of you at Friars from 1976! There's a great picture backstage of you with Pete Frame and Kris Needs!

I remember them! I'm going to have to have a look at these!

I last saw you on TV for a documentary on Anglia doing something about Essex?

That was a piece about a band called Cougar.

And of course, you came back to Aylesbury last year headlining the Hobble on the Cobbles. Great that you came back and maintained the Aylesbury link!

I have fond memories of Aylesbury and always will do.

Barrie, thanks for your time.

Eddie and the Hot Rods official site

This interview and its content are 2009 Mike O'Connor/www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk and may not be used in whole or in part without permission.

 
 

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