Hi Sean, thanks for
talking to the Friars Aylesbury website. You
are one a select number of artists to have played Friars with at least
three different acts. You first played with Help Yourself back in the
very early days of Phase Two – 1971/1972. You probably won’t remember
the specific gigs,
but what was that period like for working bands, what aspirations did
to be a rock n' roll star and have my work recognised and loved - who
didn't. Money wasn't a factor and never has been.
We know that Ducks Deluxe formed from the ashes of Help Yourself, why
did Help Yourself end or at least you leaving them?
the band out through a tough period but once Malcolm Morley was back at
the helm it was time to move on. They helped me find myself and I struck
out on my own. Help Yourself.
great name for a band is Ducks Deluxe –
I think that there was a
crossover period when you were both working….did anyone ever confuse you
for BeBop Deluxe? You must be
the only two bands with a ‘Deluxe’
Especially a promoter in the US who booked us on a 36-date tour in
More seriously, how
did you see the Ducks progressing –
I don’t know if the term was coined them, but you were bracketed in
the‘pub rock’ genre with the likes of the Brinsleys and Dr Feelgood and
Kilburn and the High Roads and many others, most of whom played Friars.
Did you see these guys as competitors, peers, contemporaries, rivals?
were completely different bands. The Feelgoods were the closest
musically and the Brinsleys were our best mates. I only saw the Kilburns
once and never met Ian Dury in my life. We were reasonably confident of
our own abilities, such as they were.
There were some
great bands of that scene but little commercial recognition – was
there a great push to be recognised commercially, which the Feelgoods
did achieve or was it about the live gigs and the rejuvenated scene you
had helped create?
pissed off that RCA didn't get us to the US. That was stupid in the
extreme. They also shot themselves in the foot running out of records
after Coast To Coast spent a week on Capitol radio as People's Choice.
Bowie had the whole machine focused on him and that is where the RCA UK
resources were targeted. We never had a chance really. We were a
trophy band to them. We were a highly successful live act and that
mattered a lot to us.
Also, it must have been difficult
bottling the live feel into a studio disciplined record?
Read my book!
It must have
been disappointing calling it quits in 1975 after the record company
lost faith despite air play –
I know people who did see Ducks Deluxe at Friars and enthuse about those
was. I thought if we had got to the States we could have gone on
forever. When Garvey, McMaster and Tim buggered off and Billy Rankin
and Brinsley joined we could have taken on the World. It was the best
line up of them all. We just ran out of enthusiasm.
After this, two
of the band went on to play Friars again as The Motors who did
reasonably well, but you came back to Friars first in 1977 as the Tyla
Gang. I think there was the Help Yourself connection again with Ken
Whaley (who in turn I think played Friars with Man). That Tyla Gang gig
was supporting Mink de Ville, one of the most talked about gigs at
Friars ever –
what was this time like?
joined the TG in 1978. I don't remember the gig!
When the band disbanded in 1978 after the record company went belly up,
had you lost the impetus to carry on as a band?
really. Ken joined Man and Mike was disillusioned. We made some demos
with Mike Kellie and Bob Daisley and got a deal offer from WEA but the
Only Ones and rainbow came along and we were just a duo. Bruce wanted
to get back to Canada and that was that.
You then started your solo career, having
a big hit in Germany in 1980. That must have been different! You were
never likely to go all David Hasselhoff on us
though were you!!? You enjoyed successful records until 1985 in Europe?
Those solo albums were meant to be commercial - I had a family to feed.
Your first solo album, after the record company folded, was funded by
The Who? How did that come about?
You stayed out of the music scene for quite a while? What did you do?
You reformed the
Ducks for the 35th anniversary
in 2008 – good fun after all
You still play
gigs in 2010 but as you said to me recently, largely abroad and
especially Sweden due to the way the music business seems to work.
That’s not a glowing ensorsement for the UK live scene these days is it?
me crazy but it's all about money. We need to heavily tax tribute and
covers bands and those who book and employ them. If all you can see is
original music, it will return. It's logical.
You’ve got a new
album in 2010 featuring some old stuff that has been found and remixed
and new material –
was this fun to do?
this year's DD and TG comps were fun to do. Finding rough mixes of the
'lost' 3rd TG album was a dream come true. It'll be out in October
upwards for the Ducks, how do you see the future now, the Ducks for
the foreseeable future and
some UK dates?
London twice a year on a door deal. No one else will book us. Sweden is
our base now and probably will be for the foreseeable future. From a
personal point of view, I will shortly move there as I am starting
another new project with Billy Bremner called the Trouble Boys. Ducks
Tyla Gang will continue and I keep the solo gigs going too. You have to
constantly re-invent yourself in this day and age.
Great that you are out of retirement and thanks for talking to the
Friars Aylesbury website.
This interview and its content are © 2010 Mike
O'Connor/www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk and may not be used in whole or in
part without permission.