In a good patch off interviewing I managed to catch up with Steve Carroll and discuss his days in Mantis and career in general. After the interview had stopped I commented to Steve that there were never any Quotes in the Magazines from him. His reply was that he was first and foremost a musician and since others in the band didn't mind doing interviews he preferred to leave it to them. Steve was clearly uncomfortable about the prospect of being interviewed so I am especially grateful to him for allowing me to cover such a lot with him. Thanks Steve.
As always I am worried about how easy you find this to read. If you have any tips on how to improve it's readability or any other comments please e-mail Me I will try to improve it for future interviews.
JH - Why did you decide to start playing guitar then?
SC - Well really I wanted to be a drummer. But at the time finances and noise were important. I was bought a guitar I think a souvenir from Spain. The strings were about an inch off the fretboard. So I learnt on that and when I did get a quality guitar it was so easy to play it was ridiculous. And then an electric guitar was even better I couldn't believe it. So I learnt on this thing and I have still got it. That's how I started playing.
JH - So why did you want to be a drummer?
SC - I have got the rhythm. I love drums. Dave used to pay me a fiver to pack up his drum kit. But I used to play it. I can't really play them but I have got the rhythm. If I practised I know I could do it. I have never done it and I ended up a guitar player. I don't regret it because I play the guitar not bad.
JH - So what age did you start at?
SC - About 10. 9 or 10. As I say it was a souvenir my uncle gave me. And I used to just strum it. Nothing happened with my left hand. I did start to learn the chords at school. The only thing my school was any good for was music. I am not academically top notch but music you had to get to a certain standard on one instrument before they let you go onto another one. So I started, no bulls**t, on a recorder. Straight up I used to play Sax, Baritone, Euphonium. And I always played guitar. I regret that I stopped playing all these instruments when I left school. i.e. apart from guitar. I don't read music as such. I used to. When I played in school bands and such you learnt them. But I didn't have to in the end you just learnt them and played them off by heart. If someone put a new bit of music in front of me I would not be able to play it. Not on guitar. I could play it by ear. But I got into a band when I was 14. And the only reason I got in was because I had an electric guitar. I couldn't play it but I had an electric guitar and an amplifier so I got in the band. I learnt a few chords. I was told you could make them up yourself! You know the fingerings for your left hand. So I thought that will do me and I did! I did honest! And that is how it started. Mad.
JH - So what was your first band. Was it a schoolboy band?
SC - The first band I was in was called Midus. And the first pub I played in was the White Heart in Willesden. And we used to play for beer. We didn't get no money. The governor used to give us pints. I played in school bands but only for like school concerts. It wasn't like we played Live. Well we played live but it was a bit of a mess. We used to play loud and that was it. But the first band that was a good band. We had a couple of auditions for various record companies abroad. But it never really happened. And then Little Bo Bitch happened and I was only what? 17?
JH - And that will be why you sounded punkish will it?
SC - Well yeah punkish of sorts. The drummer had pink hair but we weren't a punk band we were a good pop band. Yeah, we were a good pop band. I have still got tapes and records. I know a lot of people will say this in hindsight but I think we were before our time. But we were a good pop band. And not like Bay City Rollers and shit like that which was happening at the time. We could play our instruments. It was a good Rock'n'Roll band but we played pop music. It was good times. I was the oldest 19. We spent 6 weeks in Abbey Road.
JH - Yeah? What for the album?
SC - Mad. It was open 24 hours a day. 4 O'clock in the morning and you could wake the chef up "I want a steak"! We played football in studio 1. I think they have changed it all now.
JH - So you must have been with EMI. Oh Harvest.
SC - Yeah EMI. Cobra.
JH - So were you playing pubs at that point?
SC - Pub and clubs and collages.
JH - Did you ever get to places like the Marquee?
SC - Oh yeah we played the Marquee many times
JH - With Little Bo Bitch?
SC - Yeah in Great Wardour Street. Yeah many times. The Reading Festival too. We were the first band on the first day. No sound checks.
JH - So when would that be 1979?
SC - Sorry I can't remember. I was 20 years old.
JH - Well if you answered the Mantis fan club questionnaire right that would make it 1979.
SC - Alright. No, Reading Festival, that was the thing. It was the biggest festival I had ever played. We had done a few open air little gigs. We done one for the disabled in Hyde Park. That was quite a buzz. I can't remember who was headlining but we had quite a time. But at Reading we were the first band on the first day. Just turn up throw your gear on the stage and get on with it.
JH - Was there much crowd there by then?
SC - Yeah there was plenty of people there. We had a good time. Oh I think the Scorpions were headlining. Who else was on? Oh I can't remember. There was a coloured band on. They were West Indians and they liked us for whatever reason. Because we used to do the Greyhound in Fulham (and several others I can't catch) They are probably all shutdown now. And they insisted we do support. These big Rastafarians for whatever reason they liked us little white fellas and the one with pink hair. Because we used to pull a different sort of audience and they loved them. Loved them. I can't think of their name. And they used to get us into gigs we couldn't get into because they used to pull hundreds of people. And if they said right we want them as support. They got them.
JH - So were you doing sort of Reggae stuff to go with them then? Because a lot of Punk was being mixed with Reggae wasn't it.
SC - No. A couple tracks maybe but nothing mad. It's not Asward's no I can't remember who they were.
JH - So you got to do the album. Did that then do Ok?
SC - With Little Bo Bitch? We got a fair amount of play with the first single. But we had a problem with the Americans because they couldn't handle the word "Bitch". So they changed the name of the band to the "Lonely Boys" which I don't think did us any favours. So we had the same record out under two different names. It's not going to happen. I know this now but at the time it was "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" But there was hell of a lot of money put into that. Really loads and loads of money. But the word "Bitch" just wasn't happening at the time.
JH - So how did that name come about. Did you join them as an established band?
SC - I joined them. On the sort of pub club circuit I had seen them playing a few times and I heard through the jungle drums that they had a problem with the guitar player. He was leaving so I went for the audition and I got the job. But it was a great band to play in. It really was. As say we used to makes loads of noise. Attract loads of females and get paid for it. I mean what else could you want?! It was a great time and better than being at work.
JH - So the album didn't do that well?
SC - It didn't go mental. The single charted the week it was released. Because we had a lot of airplay on Radio interviews and such . (I have checked my British Hit Singles book and there is nothing listed for Lonely Boys or Little Bo Bitch so I guess it must have been an unofficial chart such as was printed in Sounds magazine) And then it went straight back out the next week. But er there was a lot of confusion at the time with the name of the band and there was no real confidence because nobody really knew. "What are we Little Bo Bitch or Lonely Boys?" "Are we going to America or what are we doing?". At the time I had a terrible car accident. No word of a lie the day before the major UK tour I got involved in a car accident. It smashed my pelvis everything broke everything. They had to get a replacement guitarist in. He had about 2 or 3 days of rehearsals and then they went on tour. I had to sit in hospital for three months. I went on tour but I was on crutches. But it was such a bad thing to happen. And it wasn't my fault I wasn't drunk and I wasn't driving. A bloke jump a light. It's was a f**king nightmare thing to happen. Two days or three days before a major tour. I mean the guitar player done well. When I went to see them for the first time. I was two weeks recuperating. I said "Yeah I am going to see a mate of mine down on the coast" and they let me out of the hospital and I jumped on a train up to Manchester where they were playing and I watched this bloke playing my thing. My part. He was a nice Geezer Clive. A nice guitar player. Man, it was hard, it was very hard. So at the end of the day it didn't happen. The push wasn't there again management and another geezer went on the piss. And it all fell to pieces.
JH - So the band broke up and that's why you left?
SC - It just fell to pieces because the record company ran out of money. They ran out of our money and there was no more forthcoming. And we couldn't work for nothing. So it split up. That happened over night that.
JH - Can you remember what you released?
SC - Your testing me .... singles ... The Lonely Boys "It's Only Love" "Lights Out over London".
JH - "Take it easy" was a single
SC - Yes "Take It easy". There was a live single or EP. I think that went out with "Take It Easy". And just the one album "Little Bo Bitch".
JH - So how did you come to join Mantis then?
SC - Well they were supporting Maiden or it was sort of 50-50 at the time. One night Mantis would headline the next Iron Maiden would headline. And I went to see them a couple of times and again there were problems within the band. And when I heard Rob Angelo got the bullet I went for the audition. But I had seen them two or three times and played a few of the tunes on my own. When I went for the audition and it just so happens that the tunes I had been playing worked out exactly with Tino playing the high notes on the harmonic guitars. The audition went well and I got the job. A great band. A great band because it wasn't into the old bullet belt look. I was into the music but I had never been in a band that played it. And I liked Mantis and there was loads of harmony guitars.
JH - How did you hear of the problems?
SC - The same management company. The same management company that managed Little Bo Bitch managed me on a separate basis and the partners managed Praying Mantis. But this is how the problems started. Well not started. At the end of the day there were two companies. There were four blokes there and me here. We were on different contracts and that is why it all went a bit pear shaped.
JH - So what was the first thing you did with Mantis after the audition? Did you go into the Studio or play live?
SC - No we went gigging.
JH - So did you join on the Maiden tour?
SC - (Long think) The first gig we supported Ozzy Osbourne in Brighton. I only heard about that about 3 O'clock in the afternoon. We shot down there in the motor and we played support to Ozzy Osbourne.
JH - I saw that tour and there was certainly no sign of Mantis at my gig.
SC - I think someone cancelled and they asked us to step in. I thought "Boll**ks, that will do".
JH - There were tours with Triumph, Gamma Ray and Maiden during your period from what I have just been re-reading.
SC - The tours with Maiden I wasn't really involved with. That was just before my time. I did the Triumph and Gamma tours. No we played one show at the Rainbow in Finsbury Park. That was the only show I did with Maiden. That was when Maiden made a Live album.
JH - I have a feeling there was a review of that one. Had they just replaced Di'Anno with Dickinson for that one?
SC - I can't remember. He's a great singer Bruce Dickinson. I heard him warming up one time before he joined Maiden. He was playing in what was the Music Machine in Camden with Samson. They were headlining and I was with Little Bo Bitch on the same bill. And I heard him warming up and I thought it was a tape. I heard him and went "Wow! That geezer can sing!" He's an ugly F**ker but he can sing. He really can. Not many people you come across have a voice like that.
JH - Reading all the clippings by my reckoning the first thing you were on was the "All Day And All Of The Night" Single. So that implies the first studio work you did was for the album?
SC - Yeah we went into Battery Studios. That was in Finchley Green. Yeah that was a big learning experience for me I must admit.
JH - Even though you had done one?
SC - I had played a lot and recorded a lot but this guy was like so precise about tuning and vocals. At the end of the day I think we came out with, I reckon, a great album. But the problem is that to reproduce it live we were Boll**ked. I mean I spent hours trying to sing Cheated. I mean I got it right once but it took me hours to get all the little bits sung. And then to do it live you are f**ked. I haven't got a bottle of Brandy, a jar of honey and a doctor in Harley Street there. I had to go and get my throat sorted. I was f**ked I couldn't even talk. So we have recorded it and come out with a great track but we couldn't play it Live. We could do it instrumentally but we can't do it vocally. And that was a big, big problem. In rehearsals I couldn't sing it. Because I knew if I sung it 3 times I would be fucked for a week. The other solution was to change the key but we had harmony guitars involved. Leave it out! That was not bad management but bad production. They were pushing things out of us that we couldn't do. You know you slow the tape down just a little bit and then speed it up so I am dead in tune. I can't f**king hit that high note. I can't. And if you slow the tape down too much I sound like Mickey Mouse. He got the best out of us but we couldn't reproduce it not without a backing band or a choir. I mean how many guitars do you think there are on Cheated? Well, twenty comes to mind. Maybe 16.
JH - So how many mixing channels would it have been then?
SC - 24. But we used to bounce down. We would bounce down four guitars onto one track. He was a good producer but he set us a task that was very hard in the real world. Do you know what I mean?
JH - Dave said the guy was really hot and he would stop him because a lug on his drum kit was loose. He would even know which one.
SC - The man had an ear I have never known. But the thing is with the technology we have got today all that boll**ks about me drinking a bottle of Brandy and eating a jar of honey he could have just gone bink on a computer and I am in tune now. I still can't do it every time but as far as I am concerned that is how easy it is now. I am not saying we did it properly but you know I have recorded stuff live and when it is live it is live. No overdubs it is just live. Get on with it. When you are trying to do it 100 times and getting it right just once that is bad news. Where as now it is just move a switch. I have been out of the frame a while. I just plug my guitar in, play a bit and sing a bit. All the computer stuff ...
JH - It's certainly easier now.
SC - I don't know about easier
JH - Well a different technique.
SC - You have still got to be able to play the guitar though.
JH - Can you remember anything about the recordings? For instance how were the vocalists decided for each song?
SC - What tracks are you talking about?
JH - Well you sing Cheated and Running For Tomorrow. How did you come to do those vocals? Because in the early days it seems Tino was doing all the vocals and then on that album he is sharing them out with you and Chris.
SC - These were new songs. I didn't write the lyrics to Cheated but me and Tino we wrote the music together. And we sort of had a melody but no Lyrics. I think his bird wrote them. (He is probably thinking of Panic In The Streets) But the melody was there we just needed the words. And I could sing it and Tino couldn't. Well the thing is it was a new song and a new member of the band and I wanted to sing it and he had no objections so there was no grief. And it was the same with Running For Tomorrow. There was a little riff (He sings it) and I could sing it and play it at the same time so I got to sing it.
JH - And do you know how Chris got to sing his songs?
SC - I think he insisted myself.
JH - I haven't noticed if the ones written by him were sung by him.
SC - I think so.
JH - I notice you had done Cheated but Beads Of Ebony was sung by Chris but the Music and Lyrics were Tino.
SC - Well they are brothers!
JH - You don't think it was Tino thinking Chris could sing it better or anything like that?
SC - I don't think so because the two of them they are very, very close and I mean apart form the occasional little wind up or bust up, them boys they look after each other. What ever is best for the band that is what would happen. I am not saying it went all nice and peaceful though. There was the occasional smack in the mouth but they are brothers and the worked it out and at the end of the day it was whatever was best for the band.
JH - So do you know how you came to do All Day And All Of The Night?
SC - That was down to the record company influence. We needed a hit single and I am afraid they didn't have confidence in our tracks so they wanted us to do a cover. I hate that song. I absolutely hate it. I hate playing it and I am just glad I didn't have to sing it. I just don't like it.
JH - That's interesting. When I first heard it I didn't even know it was a cover.
SC - I could have played that when I was about five or whatever. We or they could have picked a better song. I mean we recorded "I Surrender" and we got boll**ked on that because of Rainbow. We were recording it, Rainbow were recording it and Hot Chocolate were recording it all at the same time. All we had a verbal telephone go ahead from Chappell or whoever. And who do you think won in the end? Rainbow and they got to Number 1. So then we released Cheated.
JH - Do you think you ever completed the I Surrender recording or do you think it got scraped half way through?
SC - There is a mix of it somewhere. It was a great recording a great song. That is another one that Boll**ked me. I sang that one. It was very hard. The tape I had was a demo of Graham Bonnet singing it.
JH - So it was already it their hands then?
SC- Indeed. I didn't know it was him singing it until later on. He's got a great voice
JH - But it was Joe Lynn Turner that sang it.
SC - Yeah in the end. So that all went by the by. So that is why we recorded All Day And All Of The Night.
JH - So how many of the songs had you been playing live before you went into the studio?
SC - All of them.
JH - Well Dave thought you had written Cheated while he was away. Between him laying down the drums and him coming back after two weeks of recording.
SC - I don't know Dave had problems. He went to have an appendicitis or something. And we did a session with Cozy Powell just doing demos for the next album. But Cheated? Mmm all I remember of that. And we are talking a long time ago. We wrote that in Hyde Park. We went up there on the piss. We took our guitars and just wrote it. Sitting on the grass trying to look at birds. The lyrics came later but I don't remember Dave coming back later unless that was the time he was ill.
JH - Can you remember much about touring?
SC - Yeah great fun. They were all a bit health conscious football and swimming and S**t like that whereas I used to go drinking and play snooker.
JH - The album has got lots of Ecological themes. Does that tie up with what they were like then?
SC - Chris was very into all that. Because he used to write a lot of the lyrics. And I must admit I can remember the most intricate guitar parts without a problem but Lyrics. I will remember them but I don't know what they mean. I have never been into lyrics. I have written them when I have been pissed and in the morning you know it is a load of rubbish and throw it in the bin. I can remember music no problem but lyrics (are tough). I'm a guitar player. I would be most happy if I didn't have a microphone. Just played guitar. Honestly I would. When I was in Nervous Germans that was me. Little Bo Bitch was a youngsters thing but Nervous Germans for a guitar player. They just let me loose.
JH - Did you do much writing?
SC - Only music. No Lyrics and I think might have written one set of lyrics that lasted with a band called B-Complex. I think was has between Little Bo Bitch and Praying Mantis. They were just some fellas I started rehearsing with. They wanted a stand in guitar player. I did a few gigs. But no only music. Not lyrics.
JH - Did you like writing?
SC - I love it. I get a tune or a riff. I must have about a hundred. It will come into a song one day but it is not easy. You have got to be playing with another musician. For me anyway. I mean I can write loads of stuff but I will think "The chorus is a bit s**t". If you are playing with another person you get a good bounce of each other. That's how me and Tino wrote Cheated. I came up with a riff. You just had to play the same chord all the way down the fretboard. Easy peasy. And it was just that he caught and he came up with a little riff to guide it into the chorus. I had the chorus but I didn't know how to get into it. That is why two musicians work well. When you hear it though, just yourself on a little cassette and an acoustic guitar and then you hear it at 500 million watts with great in tune harmony guitars and f**k me that's my solo it's a buzz. I don't give a s**t if no one else likes it. I like it.
JH - Well I think that is the way most musicians write. They do if for themselves and then if others like it too that is great.
SC - Yeah it is such a buzz. Live work I just love it. It doesn't matter where. It can be the dog and duck in Peckham, Wembley Arena, Hammersmith Odeon or Japan as soon as I get on that stage I am a different person. It ain't Blues (?) or Thrash. It ain't Michael Jackson. I play guitar and people are f**king enjoying it.
JH - So you don't know much about what the lyrics are about?
SC - No. There are words in some songs I don't even know what they mean!
JH - So you then had this interview with Robbi Millar of sounds in a sauna or baths and Rob Halfin was taking pictures!
SC - Oh the Sanctuary. That was a laugh wasn't it!
JH - So what is the real story behind the front cover of Sounds then. Were you really annoyed by it?
SC - I was. I was going to go down and punch his lights out.
JH - Really? So it is a good job I have it censored on my pages then!
SC - I don't mind the picture but the way it was set up was a bad, bad move. But at the end of the day there were only 52 front pages a year and I was on one f**king one of them. So boll**ks to you.
JH - Yeah not many get chance to be on there do they.
SC - That's it, I could have been standing on my head with a finger up my arse if I get on the front page. No I was very annoyed at first. You see the interview inside was really slagging the band off.
JH - Well I didn't notice that particularly.
SC - Well it was St Valentines day and all this boll**ks and the front page didn't do us any favours. But the whole thing was a bit set up and we went a long with it. I don't regret it. It's no big deal. I bet Tino wishes it was him! I got a funny sort of apology out of the people. They were basically saying "Out of 52 weeks of the year do you want to be on it or not?" I wasn't really that bothered. Well I was the first morning when it arrived. My dad was a printer in Fleet Street and he took it to work and put it up on the notice board at work. "That's my Son!" And that's when your like your feet are on the ground. It's no big deal. It's not like I was shagging someone.
JH - There were lots of little shots inside too.
SC - Ha, ha, ha. Yes in the swimming pool etc. I was on the sun bed and when that went off the alarm went off the door came open and there was a click and that was it. And the next thing I knew it was on the front page of Sounds. At least the interview was in the paper.
JH - One of the singles contained 30 Pieces Of Silver and that is a rewrite of an old track called Rock'n'Roll Fever. Do you know that?
SC - Rock'n'Roll Fever was before my time.
JH - But you can remember it?
SC - Not the tune. I saw a sheet of lyrics and chords but we never even rehearsed it. When I first joined the band it was on a set sheet but it was crossed out and we never. I know the song. I heard it a couple of times but we never rehearsed it. It was one of those ones that Tino and Chris decided "We are not playing that no more".
I had previously given Steve a live recording of the band from around 1981.
JH - Did you ever play that disc I gave you?
SC - Yeah many times! Ah there are tracks on there that I hadn't heard. Well I haven't played for so long because there are tracks on there. Well they did get to the demo or master stage but they weren't released.
JH - The Story.
SC - Ah for me, I wrote, well I was the instigator of the music on that. And the other one Battle Royal I think Chris wrote that but that is one of the best guitar solos I played in my life. It gives me like Goosebumps and there is only Jeff Beck that does that for me.
JH - Yeah who are your influences?
SC - Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Brian May. Whoever I could copy or learn. I used to do Rod Stewart the solo on Maggie May. And I could play that when I got my first Electric guitar. But Brain May, Peter Frampton. Not really Jimi Hendrix. I couldn't play what he could and I am not really that style anymore. Richie Blackmore. He is the Top man. Made In Japan that album. I can play all of that. I can't do what Ian Gillan does! But the guitar playing on that. Jeff Beck is my all time favourite. That man makes it sing. He makes it do things that .. I don't think he uses a hell of a lot of footwork. I am not into that either. I like the Chorus pedal because you can't do that on your own. And the Echo pedal. But the other stuff I ain't really that bothered with. Just turn it up a bit!
I showed Steve his 1981 Fan Club questionnaire responses
FULL NAME: Stephen G. Carroll
DATE OF BIRTH: 20/3/59
PLACE OF BIRTH: London
ATTENDED: John Kelly Boys High School
AGE OF LEAVING: 16 & a bit
PREVIOUS OCCUPATIONS: Car Mechanic & few part time jobs AGE STARTED PLAYING PRESENT INSTRUMENT: 13/14
OTHER INSTRUMENTS PLAYED: Tenor Sax (a bit rusty now)
WHY PICKED PRESENT INSTRUMENT: Could not afford a drum kit
OTHER GROUPS PLAYED WITH: Little Bo Bitch (EMI)
MAIN MUSICAL INFLUENCES: --------
OTHER KINDS OF MUSIC LISTEN TO: Third World, Joan Armatrading, Police
FAVOURITE BANDS: Queen, Jeff Beck, Rainbow
FAV. SINGER (MALE): Paul Rogers, Graham Bonnet
FAV. SINGER (FEMALE): Barbara Streisand, Elkie Brooks
FAVOURITE FILM STARS: Clint Eastwood, Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Raquel Welch, Bo Derek, Goldie Hawn, Farrah Fawcit Majors, Wonderwoman. St Trinians etc. etc.
FAV. FILM (IF ANY): ---
FAV. AUTHORS OR BOOKS: Mary Renault
FAV. COLOUR: Pound Note Green
FAV. FOOD & DRINK: Any seafood - Remy Martin
FAV. CLOTHES: Anything comfortable
WHERE WOULD YOU LOVE TO SPEND YOUR HOLIDAYS: World Cruise
SC - I am going to have to change that 20 March 1959! Yeah that's music er really. Third World. I have got a thing about Black Music. I really do like it. If it's not er I don't handle all this Buster Ryon's (Sorry haven't a clue who he said) boll**ks. But erm Third World was one of my favourite bands because their musicians they could swing. Again their lyrics I don't give a monkeys about.
JH - They weren't the band you were trying to remember earlier?
SC - No. It's not Aswad. No all I remember is they were 6' 4" Rastafarians. But Third World their lyrics again. All this Slavery days. I couldn't give a monkeys about that but the musicians in that band could swing. I know when the musicians can swing. I know when the drummer when he speeds up a bit he is getting a bit excited. That's cool I can handle that. When he slows down he's a w**ker. I can't be doing with it. Yeah there Third World. Joan Armarading. Mmm that was only really because of the guitar influence. And the Acoustic guitar. I mean I played a 12 string. I got a pick with a little bit of Blue Tack in it either side so that it is three picks. So when I am hitting the guitar down I am hitting it with two. When I am hitting upwards I am hitting it with two. So it's not 12 it's 24. (Sorry I don't follow this) Joan Armour Plating that had the sound for me. I love the guitar on that. Police that was a 3 piece band, mate. Drum's Bass Guitars and vocals. Top geezer's. I am not all that wild about Stings voice no more because he has gone a bit strange. But at the time "Message In A Bottle", "Roxanne" "So Lonely". This is the S**t I was playing. A great Rock'n'Roll band whatever they want to call themselves, Punky spiky hair, there still a Rock'n'Roll band. Stewart Copeland what a f**king drummer. When that man f**king plays there is no machine that can do that not without it sounding like. Not when Stewart Copeland is kicking ah. As I say I would have loved to have been a drummer. Who did I go and see? I can't remember the band but Simon Phillips was on drums. That geezer is outrageous he really is. Giving it large. One hand filling. (Makes the sound). I think he was playing with Jeff Beck and it was Hammersmith Odeon. Yeah Simon Phillips, that's a drummer! Now between him and Jeff Beck I was going to throw my guitar in the bin! Paul Rodgers, Graham Bonnet that's about right
JH - Oh you are on Graham Bonnet?
SC - Yeah Graham Bonnet I think he has got such a good voice.
JH - All of you quoted Rainbow but most of you were Dio era only.
SC - I tell you what there must be a mistake here. Favourite female vocalist Barbara Striesand!
JH - That's just what Dave said about his!
SC - Definitely not. I don't know where that came from at all. At the moment my favourite female singer would be the girl out of Fugees (????) I think she has got a top voice. And if I came down to it Sheryl Crow. She is like a female Eric Clapton. She has a nice guitar player in the background. Mmm very strange s**t here. Favourite Film Stars (Laughs) your having a laugh! What is this?
JH - Again Dave's reaction.
SC - Oh that's totally boll**ks that is. Favourite colour pound note green. Ha, ha, ha. I think it's Orange 50's now. I don't drink Brandy anymore. I don't drink any spirits any more.
JH - After the album came out you then decided to get Tom Jackson in on vocals. Had you been listening to the press and everybody about needing a lead singer or was it an internal decision in the band?
SC - It was er in the band. And it pissed me off no end because after about a fortnight singing and getting "Yeap, yeap, yeap. Yes it is happening." We went back to London with the mixes and I am told no we need a lead singer. It really f**ked me off it really did. I had sort of tired to take control while we were in Germany because nobody knew the f**k what they were doing. We spent ten days and we didn't get a backing track down. "I don't want to sing that" so I said I would sing whatever was happening. And everyone said "Yeah it's great, it's great" and we went back to London and everyone said it was S**t but not in so many words. Well the fact we have got to audition for a singer means it's shit doesn't it? But no body actually said it. So we started auditioning and Tom Jackson came into the frame.
JH - Is he German? (I was clarifying something from the Dennis Stratton Interview. Dennis was trying to remember a German bloke and then said Tom Jackson)
SC - No he is Scottish. We done a tour or we started a tour with Tom Jackson in the band. We started up in Scotland and started working our way downwards or whatever. It was a bit of a disaster.
JH - Yeah the press didn't like him.
SC - Well he couldn't remember the words. We played a show one night and started this song and when he started singing the verse he was singing the right melody to the wrong words. He was singing the words to another song in the right melody and as we came up to the chorus no f**ker knew what he was going to do next! Is he going to sing the chorus to this one or that one? Who the f**k knows! That was a disaster. But Tom yeah we did a little bit with him and then it all went a bit sour and he had to go. And then Bernie (Shaw) got involved.
JH - Did he get involved straight away?
SC - When we came back from recording the 2nd album.
JH - Oh can we talk about that then first? So Tom Jackson left. Any particular reason?
SC - It just didn't happen.
JH - So you then went out to Germany to record the 2nd album. And this second album in the Mantis fan club newsletters was going to come out "next month" it was so close and what happened? Just nothing happened?
SC - Nothing happened because we got back to London and they didn't want to release it as it was. So we then had to look for a singer and then overdub. And we went to studios all over the place.
JH - So can you remember what you were doing out in Germany?
SC - What we were doing out in Germany was recording from 10 at night until 10 in the morning 7 days a week. And we had to be out dead on ten because there was like an ump par band and there was about 40 of them queuing up to get in and at five past ten we would be over. So they wanted in and we had to clear everything away. It was a hard time. It took us about a fortnight to get into working at night not go swimming and drinking during the day. We had to go to sleep. The backing tracks I thought were excellent. I thought lead vocals were excellent because I was singing them! But when we got back to London nobody was happy with them.
JH - So this is where you were recording "I Need Your Loving", "Battle Royal", "Time Slipping Away", "Give Me A Reason", "The Story" and "Heartache".
SC - Yeap.
JH - It said in the Newsletter you were doing "Captured City" again. Does this sound likely?
SC - We did do Captured City. Yeah in Germany we did do it. We had different guitar solos. I know because there was a set guitar solo that Tino used to play all the time and he could play it note for note every bl**dy night. We went to the studio and there was a solo for me to play and I played a totally different one so of course he did a totally different one as well. He spent hours doing it because he didn't want to do the same one he wanted to do a different one like I had done a different one. It turned out two great solos and I just did it off the cuff.
JH - And he didn't even put that one on Demorabilia which is a shame.
SC - Ah he was playing like a demon. An absolute demon. And the ones he had wiped! "No, I will do it again". And we had tracks and we were saving them and he was saying "No I will do it again" again. And he came up with a brilliant one but some of the ones were threw away were as good as. But he just wasn't happy. And you know Tino if he is not happy just let him do it again. It's no big deal. And when he was happy with its done. Oh he's a demon guitar player.
JH - Actually all these like Battle Royal and Time Slipping Away are with Bernie. He wasn't out there was he?
SC - No. The Backing tracks were recorded out in Germany but any extra vocals were put on in London.
JH - Because it was just the four of you out in Germany wasn't it?
SC - Yeap.
JH - So when you got back you got Bernie in. How did he come about?
SC - Auditioning. We were rehearsing at John Henry's.
JH - So had you auditioned a lot?
SC - Loads.
JH - And what about when you ended up with Tom Jackson?
SC - Well he was on the shortlist.
JH - But you had gone through loads of auditions first?
SC - Untold. Absolutely untold. And as it turns out about 18 months to 2 years later one of the fellas that came for an audition turned out to be the singer of the Nervous Germans the next band I went onto. He didn't get the job with Mantis and as I say about 18 months later I ended up having an audition with a band called Nervous Germans. And I am very good with a face. I knew it was him straight off. It's weird how it comes round. You have got to mix in the right circles though. If you are not in there you can't be part of it.
JH - Can you remember a song called "No Mercy" being recorded?
SC - Yeah, No Mercy that was a song about the boxer. Who wrote that? Nils Lofgren? I think that was a Nils Lofgren song. Yeah another cover. A great song.
JH - Because that was going to come out as a single or something but again that got scrapped.
SC - It didn't cut with the people that were going to push it. Great song though.
JH - In the interview at the Sauna/Baths they were moaning about the fact that that you were labelled NWOBHM. Were you quite uppity about that?
SC - I think that the attitude of the band was that the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal it covered an enormous area and weather we here there or there it didn't really matter. But none of us were into the, no disrespect, the bullet belt and Motorhead T-Shirt. We can do that and I love playing that but I didn't want to do it at the time. And the band I went for the audition with sang and played their instruments without going buzzzzz. And I mean I have got a lot of respect for Philthy Phil. Any one that can play drums like that for an hour and half. He's got some stamina. But it wasn't the sort of stuff I wanted to play and it was what the band I auditioned for was playing. And that suited me. Iron Maiden were there and it was ripe for the taking. I could have taken a job with them. A long time. Because their manager Ron Smallwood was with the same company that managed Little Bo Bitch. But the job came up with Praying Mantis and I really liked the band. And the job came up when they got rid off err I can't remember who it was.
JH - Probably Dennis?
SC - Well it was there and I didn't want it. I liked playing with Praying Mantis. My bank account is missing but at the time that is what I wanted to do. You make you bed and you lay in it. It's as simple as that. That was the band for me at the time. All that shouting and hollering really wasn't me. I can appreciate it but I can't do with all that put your head down and meet you at the end. It has never been me. I can do it but no. If you want to go into a rehearsal studio and knock the s**t out of your ears for a couple of hours it is great fun. But if you want to do it for a living it just wasn't me. I like playing guitar. I like hearing what I am playing and like hearing what I am singing and not just Bllaaahhh. So that is why I didn't do it.
JH - So Bernie came along because of auditions. You were a five piece then?
SC - Yeap.
JH - Did you ever become a six piece?
SC - When Jon Bavin started on keyboards. He was the sound Engineer and he started playing keyboards and then we were a six piece which was a bit strange.
JH - How long was that for then do you reckon?
SC - About a week and then that is me and them parted company. No it was when it all happened. We were rehearsing again round John Henry's. We had a meeting again and blah, blah, blah. There were differences between the management and it wasn't going to happen. And at the time the morale of the band was very, very low and it was decided that I can't play with the band because of the contractual blah, blah, blah and it wasn't like I was leaving the Spice girls. We were just splitting end of story.
(I showed him some pictures of the band at the Marquee as a six piece)
JH - I can't work out when there were exactly. You didn't do Reading in 1982 did you?
SC - No we did Reading as a four piece
JH - Yeah that would be 1980.
SC - And a photo of me. Ha, ha, ha. A Washburn (??) a useful guitar. You know when you play a guitar for a long, long time you know what the thing can do. And that .. I had a few problems with the first two numbers. When my guitar was boll**ked in Tokyo I ended up playing a Purple thing I had never seen. Well I had seen it. It was just sat on the rack. Now I have got to play this for the whole night. I don't know what the knobs. It had a whammy bar so I had a go at that. I know what to do with my left hand but my right hand "Mmm I wonder what that does?" It was blinding I tell you. It was such a good guitar.
JH - So what did you think of the tunes you were playing with Mantis. Were you happy with them all? Did you like them all?
SC - 99% Yeah. There were a couple I felt were a bit old a bit stale but I didn't have to say it because as we started putting the set together, I mean as the new songs were coming along the ones that were er natural wastage were the ones I wasn't keen on so I didn't say a dickie bird. It was the decision of the rest of the band "Oh we're not going to do that one anymore." And I was like "Oh, cushty"
JH - So were you like happy with the overall album?
SC - Absolutely.
JH - You didn't have any problems with your guitar sounds or anything like that?
SC - No not at all. Like I say there was a couple of tunes I know they had been playing for years and literally as I joined the band they decided to drop them. Although I had learnt them from a Demo tape. I knew them they decided to drop them and I thought "Yeah, that's a good move" because they were a bit tired and a bit stale and they were just going through the motions which is no good. You have got to like be buzzing. But it was just coincidence that two or three numbers in particular that we rehearsed but didn't play live.
JH - Presumably Praying Mantis was one was it?
SC - No it was older ones than that. Johnny Be Good (Does he mean Johnny Cool?). Like I say I did learn the bl**dy things. We rehearsed them a couple of times but when we put the set together. You know I was a new boy to the band so it was no problem but they said "We not going to do that one. We not going to do that" "Oh I really like that" "Well we are not going to do it but we will do this one". So I went "Oh alright". So it wasn't like don't do that do this. It was the ones they decided to do I reckon was a pucker move.
JH - It always amused me "Praying Mantis" wasn't on the album or in the set. Bands like Angel Witch and Iron Maiden had their theme tune and it was a sort of anthem but it never seemed to happen with Mantis.
SC - Well Mantis seemed to be Captured City as their tune.
JH - And yet that never made an album until the live version in 1995.
SC - We recorded it. It was just never put on.
JH - Their was the Soundhouse one, The BBC one, the Metal For Muthas one and then your one in Germany
SC - Mad. It's politics.
JH - So what have you been doing since you left Mantis? That would be the Nervous Germans would it?
SC - Nervous Germans was a good band.
JH - Did you go straight into them?
SC - Well I spent six months just bouncing about doing sessions. Nothing to brag about just filling in. But again I heard they were looking for a guitar player so I went for an audition. I didn't know what sort of music they were at all. I went round there and I played 2 or 3 numbers and it was like a probation job but within 24 hours I was in Germany. We toured for about 18 months. But we used to support a girl called Eina Data(???) and at the time Ronald Regan was the American President and she was into this anti-nuclear. So we would go on first band and then we would go on as the backing band without our singer. So I used to get paid twice. We did that for about 18 months. We recorded a very good album on Ronderlay(???) records. I don't think it ever got released. I think we were dealing with phonogram at the time. A great album but never came out. And that was when I was let loose as a guitar player. I didn't have to sing. I didn't have to learn no lyrics. Well there was the odd "I love you" or whatever it was in the chorus. But no lead vocals and they just let me loose on the guitar. We did the backing tracks an they said well do something on that. And no matter how mad it was it wasn't mad enough. So it was "Do another one. Do another". We did a bit of ducking and diving with dropping in or whatever. But most of them I done in one off's because they said "Just play" and I knew what the bl**dy chords were. But just do whatever the want. Mad time.
JH - So you say you were glad to not be doing the vocals but you also liked singing Lead on Mantis tracks. So did you change your mind in between?
SC - No I am a good singer. I am also a good guitar player but to try and combine the too I found very hard. You know to be a lead vocalist and frontman and play lead guitar. I mean you got to be playing a lead guitar a lot of time when the geezer is singing and it is hard. I ain't no superman. But at the end of the day I love to play guitar. The Nervous Germans let me loose and I could do whatever I wanted and it was such a good feeling. And I am not talking about like Robert Fripp. These were structured songs. That's the Bass, that's the vocals, these were the drums and these were the keyboards. "Do whatever you want". And it was a good feeling for a guitar player.
JH - So it was a lot of improvisation was it?
SC - Yeah. Well you never play the same every night. It just never happens. That's the buzz. They might say can you do that bit the same as last night. And I would say "No. I don't know what I am going to do". I hadn't the foggiest ha, ha, ha. That was a great time and a great band.
JH - So was it in Germany only? Were they German?
SC - Most of them were German, the singer was Australian. A mixed bunch. There problem there was the singer and me were based in London and the Keyboard player, bass player and drummer were based in Germany. So unless there were certain dates we were doing it wasn't like we would get together for rehearsals. We'd go to Germany do one day of rehearsing then go out on tour. We done Austria, Holland and all over.
JH - So you got around then?
SC - Yeah we had a get time. Great band. I only played with great bands.
JH - So what happened after them then?
SC - The Pub.
JH - What you ran one?
SC - 12 Years.
JH - So were you still playing guitar?
SC - I taught for two years and I bought my house down in Essex. I got involved in one of these teacher training courses teaching music. Now I don't read music as such. I just used to tell the kids whatever they wanted to learn "record the music on tape and write the lyrics down. That's your test". They would write out the lyrics and bring a cassette in and I would write all the chords out and then we would do it and we would work out all the finger roots. Their mums and dads were paying something like 50 quid an hour. For that I would be teaching them Wonderwall! I did that for two years. And now I am working in a builders merchants with the odd gig in Japan! Ha, ha, ha. When I get up in a morning who knows what's going to happen? It could be bags of cement it could be Tokyo. I just take it as it comes mate.
JH - So what did you think when Tino first approached you about the Japan date?
SC - The first time I saw him I thought he had too much to drink and was winding me up because I didn't hear anything for about 3 months. He then phoned and left a message and I couldn't believe it. It was a long time between.
JH - Sorry so had you been playing guitar during that period?
SC - Well yeah I would play only for my own benefit or to teach my oldest boy. When we started doing rehearsals it was a funny thing Dave's got different colour hair and Tino's got no hair. But you know we have had lives in between. And it was a weird thing when Dave came in with a couple of fills and we started playing it was as if we had only done it yesterday! It was vroom! I came out of that first rehearsal and my head was about as big as this pub. It was there and I hadn't played... Well a couple of the songs were my favourites and I do play them when I am practicing on my own or whatever. All I heard was (Sings an entry) and we are in. And we were all doing the same s**t as twenty years ago. That was a buzz. I don't know how much practising the other three had been doing but I had been doing a bit. We just tuned up the guitars the first day and then it was 1,2,3,4 and that was it we were off do or die as if 15 or more years hadn't happened. And that is why I knew Japan would go good. I knew it. Every one has been buzzing and itching but it has never happened before. I doubt it will ever happen again. I hope it does.
JH - So you did enjoy Japan. What happened with your guitar?
SC - What on the night in Japan?
JH - Yeah. Apparently Masa Ito was on the radio in Japan saying you had a few problems.
SC - I got on stage and the Les Paul the radio Mic was working but it was so out of tune it was ridiculous. The top E I could just pull out it was so loose. And the intro music had already started. There was no time to tune it because it was ridiculously out of tune so I had to grab another guitar. When I went back to my guitar after the instrumental I plugged in the Les Paul and there was no power. From what I can understand from the technical people someone stuck a screwdriver in the jack. So when I put the plug in there were no contacts. Who knows? When I got the guitar back at the end of the night it was working but during the gig it wasn't working so I used this other thing. It was a blinding guitar.
JH - I saw an clip that was shown on Japanese TV. Tino was running around as usual. Were you enjoying it like that?
SC - That's er Tino jumps all over the place.
JH - Was he like that in the 80's?
SC - Always.
JH - What about you?
SC - No.
JH - You were sort of more ...
SC - I play guitar. All that kneeling on the floor. I am not saying it is not necessary but for me I play guitar for a living. I am a Rock'n'Roll guitar player. All that jumping on the speakers I am not really up for that. I never have been. I don't think I miss anything by not doing it. I do my job. I love playing guitar but I don't have to crawl all over the floor or do summersaults I just play guitar that is it. I will stand in the spotlight and that's about it.
JH - Yeah you looked a bit like that on the video.
SC - I have always been the same.
JH - Interestingly in one of the articles I just read it was saying Tino wasn't pulling posses either.
SC - Very unusual.
JH - So you were defiantly not pulling posses but Tino was in those days?
SC - He loved it. He was the front man. And this is when he was the front man before we had a singer. Tino was in the middle. I was on the left and Chris was on the right. (Looking out from the stage) He was the middle man the top man. It has never been my style at all. If it doesn't come out of the speakers as I want to hear it no matter how many somersaults I do it isn't going to be any better.
JH - Yeah I agree with you but it does make it more interesting to the fans to see Tino and the band having fun.
SC - Everyone's different and has different ways of doing it. We play the music. If you want to see Tino bounce on his head he would probably do it if you pay him enough.
JH - I suspect he would do it anyway!
SC - Now I love to hear the tapes of what we played. I know there is all the jumping about and showmanship but it is the music I want to hear. Not "Are you alright Glasgow" just get on and do it.
JH - Have you heard Metal Crusader 99 yet? I expected to have it by now but it seems to be delayed.
SC - No not a dickie bird.
JH - Do you think anything else is likely to happen?
SC - I hope so. I need to speak to Tino sometime. I guess it depends how the album does out in Japan. If it happens I will be there. I would love it too.
JH - A fan asked me to ask "The Japanese people love NWOBHM and it is very precious to them. How do you feel about NWOBHM and the Japanese people"?
SC - The Japanese people? They are lovely mate. They were so polite which is very unusual when you live in London. The audience talk about well behaved!
JH - Yeah they don't take photographs do they?
SC - Yeah they weren't allowed.
JH - They aren't supposed to here but they do. There they are not allowed to and they don't!
SC - Yeah and they weren't allowed to smoke in the auditorium. We are talking about 3000 plus people and they weren't allowed to smoke.
At this point we kind of drifted off into regular chat and Steve asked me to stop recording. Clearly even after 90 minutes or more he was still very nervous.