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thanks to Henrik for the interview. Anyone wishing a copy of the fanzine "Neat Damned Noise," contact henrik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BJ: When the Damned went first to the States we did like a
residency at CB's for like about three or four nights, and the Dead Boys,
this band from Cleveland, they were playing with us. And we got on like a
house on fire with this lot, and Stiv [Bators] in particular and I we just
kind of clicked. We were kind of like brothers, you know. We kind of came
from the same background, were into the same kind of music. Obviously he
knew more about the American garage kind of scene. So Stiv phoned me right
around after the... Well, Iggy got in touch with me and wanted me to play
with him on an American tour, so I did that and I saw Stiv in New York when
I was over there, and we kind of like renewed our friendship. And I went to
see the Dead Boys play at Hurrahs or the Mud Club or wherever they were
playing, one of the New York gigs at the time, and yeah, we kind of cemented
our relationship. So when I finished up with Iggy, I got a call from Stiv
saying he had some solo gigs that he was doing and he wondered if I wanted
to come over and play guitar, around the East Coast like New York and
Detroit and stuff like that. So I went over, it was around Christmas Time,
New Years, I think New Years Eve was actually in Detroit, something like
that. And we kind of cemented our thing even more so then, and it was like
right, we gotta work together. So I went back to England and I said to
Miles, "Look, this guy Stiv he is great, I mean, we've gotta do something.
He's the singer for me, and I know he's really up for it", and all this sort
NDN: He was doing the Wanderers at the time wasn't he?
BJ: That's right. This guy, I think his name was Tony Gordon, was managing
Sham 69, and out of the ashes of Sham you had Sham basically without Jimmy
Pursey, the singer. Stiv had met up with Sham when they were over in LA
doing some kind of radio stuff, and he'd kind of like shown them around and
stuff like that and gotten really friendly with the guys outta Sham. So Tony
Gordon got in touch with him [Stiv] and said, "Look, the guys from Sham
wants to do an album with you", and they called it the Wanderers, the band
to go with it, and that was really the ticket to get Stiv over to London, so
we could work. So they'd be rehearsing for this thing and getting it
together, while me and Stiv in private would be working on stuff which was
to become Lords stuff. In the end we got Dave [Tregunna] out of there as
well and took him with us into The Lords.
NDN: Anyway, the Lords became pretty big and I remember seeing you and Stiv
doing an interview on MTV in the US when the "Method To Our Madness" album
came out. Could the Lords have been even bigger do you think?
BJ: We did what we did at the time. I mean what else can you do. I mean no
regrets. You can't sort of regret like, "Oh, I wish we'd done that" or "Oh,
I wish we'd had him in the band", you know what I mean? You just do what you
do at the time, and the Lords... We had one problem with the Lords and that
was the fact that Miles [Copeland] wanted a wild and crazy band, right, but
he didn't want all the problems that came with a wild and crazy band, and he
started listening to the promoters and they'd say, "On the record there is
keyboards and they just played my club and there was not a keyboard
player!", and things like that, right. And it was like, well, "You gotta get
a fuckin' keyboard player in there!". And I was like, "Why?". And he goes,
"Because all the clubs will expect one, 'cos it's on the record!". So what
could have been a really good situation got kind of like cold feet all over
it, you know.
NDN: Is the Lords song "Portobello" about the time you lived in Portobello?
BJ: Yeah, sure.
NDN: Did you write the lyrics to it?
BJ: No Stiv did. He had been living there for a while and he got caught up
in the flavour, because it's a real... I mean there's no place like it,
really. Some people say it's like the Village, but I don't think so. I think
Portobello's got more character than the Village in New York has actually.
NDN: Yeah, I always visit Portobello when I go to England.
BJ: Yeah, if I was living in London, I really could not live anywhere but
around Portobello Road. That's the only place. It's like a village [meaning
a town or city] in London, you know.
NDN: Then the last release you put out was with a different line-up and it
was on a small French label. Did Miles drop you?
BJ: We fell out with Miles. We'd had enough of Miles and Miles had had
enough of us. But at the same time the band was kind of like falling apart.
Dave got offered a job in a band called the Cherry Bombz, which was Andy
McCoy's new band after he split with Hanoi [Rocks]. And him and Dave were
kind of hanging out and they offered him a job, and at the time the Lords
weren't doing... We tried various things, we tried to please people and
still carried on being ourselves at the same time, so of course we upset
people as well. So a little bit of the spirit went then I think. We got Grant Fleming in who was a very good friend of ours, and we
continued playing. Then we got another guitar player in for a little while,
Alastair [Simmons], but that didn't work out so he went again. We made the
same mistake... Well, I made the same mistake thinking, "Get another guitar
player in", as I did with the Damned actually, and that was a right
re-creation of history, that one! But that didn't work out, though we did
some good gigs. We did a French tour with Killing Joke which was fantastic,
it was really good, and on some gigs the two guitars really worked. I wish
I'd had some tapes from then, because...
NDN: This was towards the very end?
BJ: This is towards the end, yeah, and then at the end Nicky [Turner] wanted
to leave. We did an American tour and he was sort of kind up with Stiv's
irrational sort of unexpected behaviour, and so he split, and then really
the band fell to pieces and broke down completely.
NDN: Well, you wanted also to get rid of Stiv at one point didn't you?
BJ: No, no, no, no, no. Never, absolutely never. No, me and him started the
NDN: Why was it then at was it the last gig where Stiv was wearing a t-shirt
with an ad from the paper in which you were looking for a new singer?
BJ: Yeah, well what happened there was that Stiv was very ill, and we wanted
to... We had all these debts amounted from the tax man and all this other
stuff, right, and somebody offered us a tour of Europe and we figured right
if we could do this tour, we could clear these fucking debts, you know. But
Stiv was in absolutely no condition to do anything at all.
NDN: Was he on drugs at the time?
BJ: Well, it was a lot of things, a lot of things. He was with some... He
was with the wrong lady. And all kinds of things. He wasn't being... He's
the kind of guy that needs looking after, you know. And I don't think... And
he was being led up the wrong path. And then because of that it was really
hard to get through to him, 'cos he was listening too much to his
girlfriend. So we decided, just for the fuckin' fun of it, just for the fuck
of it, just to see what happened, we first of all phoned up this guy called
Jim [Jones], who was singing in a band called Thee Hypnotics. And he had a
fair enough voice and a good attitude and he was the kind of guy... and he
was mates with Stiv as well, he knew Stiv, and we phoned up his manager at
the time and said, "Do you think Jim might be interested in sort of stepping
in for Stiv, just for a quick European tour? We'll explain what's going on
as we do the tour, invite journalists and all that stuff, what's happening,
you know our regular singer's sick, so not to let down people we'll do the
gigs, and also we can pay off our fucking tax bill and other debts that we
had". And so we did this one... We tried it with him, but he wasn't
available, he was about ready to go on tour. So me and Dave got to talking
and we said, "Ok", 'cos Dave was back in the band at this point, 'cos we had
reformed with a guy called Danny [Fury] on drums and Dave had come back in.
And we said, "Why don't we audition and just see what happens?". So we did
this audition and it was a joke, I mean the people that came down, there was
no way that any of them could be in Stiv's boots for two seconds, you know
what I mean, let alone fuckin'... So we just like sort of threw the idea out
the window, but we didn't bother to mention it to Bators. We didn't say
anything to him 'cos we thought there was not point, because like at the
time we were not all getting on very well and that's just gotta make things
even worse, right. So we just like left it out, but one of his good-natured
mates decided to tell him all about it, and of course Stiv got really wound
up about it. He didn't say nothing to us. We were at a rehearsal and he
didn't say a fuckin' dickie bird, nothing, and it was quite open. It was in
the open, you know what I mean, we weren't making a big secret out of it. We
were just... it was an experiment, that's all. So anyway Stiv came on stage
wearing this t-shirt for the encore at this gig, the last Lords gig we did.
The funny thing was... actually around that time, on a tour previously from
that, my wife had just had Charlie my son, and I said, "Look get a
guy, get someone to replace me so that I can be at home, just for the tour"
[this never became reality]. And so when all this came up with this other
tour to get rid of the tax debt, Stiv actually suggested it himself. He
said, "Why don't you get someone else in, we were gonna do the same thing
with you Brian?".
NDN: So Stiv just just put on the t-shirt for the encore, huh?
BJ: Yeah, he stuck it on for the encore and went around proudly, showing to
everybody and we thought, "Well yeah, we hadn't really had a chance to
explain that one. but it ain't no big deal Stiv". It was very, very sad you
know. It was a sad way for the Lords to go out, but at the same time it was
kind of pretty apt, 'cos we always had sort of an air of controversy about
us, about the band and that was a quite sort of... You know we wouldn't even
have been able to think up something like that. It wouldn't have entered our
heads to do something like that as a scam, you know what I mean. And the
fact that it was for real... It was just like kind of just so weird!
NDN: I've also seen a really weird clip from a film with the Lords playing a
song Stiv is also playing a guitar.
BJ: Yeah, that was in the film "Tapeheads".
NDN: Was that right at the very end of the Lords?
BJ: No, not right at the very end. That was when we had Alistair [Simmons]
in the band on second guitar. What happened was that we'd been touring the
States and we bumped into an old friend of ours, Nigel [Harrison], he used
to play bass in Blondie years ago. He was working for this film company
sorting out the music to go with this movie, this Tapeheads movie. And in
fact he was thinking about having this English band record this song that
was written by this band called the... I think they were called the Zero
Zeros. I think they were a New York band. They had purple hair and blue hair
and stuff like that. And I think he [Nigel Harrison] was talking to Alistair
[Simmons] about it originally, and he kind of fancied having an English band
record this thing and play this band in this movie, the Tapeheads movie. And
Alistair said, "Well, talk to Stiv and Brian about it and see if they fancy
it". And they just called for like a four-piece band, so what it was... Stiv
was living in LA at the time anyway and the rest of us were in London and we
flew over and played this band called the Blender Children.
NDN: Yeah, and the song was called Mx7x right?
BJ: Yeah. I haven't heard it since who knows when. So we did this thing on
this elaborate stage set and all these chicks jumping into a big blender and
all this stuff. And Alistair gets almost burned alive and Stiv crashes into
the drums. It was just really good fun. And we actually recorded it, which
was a bit of a... like they filmed it at the old Charlie Chaplin lot in
Hollywood. It was really neat.
NDN: Sounds like loads of fun. Was Nicky [Turner] on drums?
BJ: Yeah, Nick was on drums and Alistair played the bass player and I
guitar. We just sort of hung about and messed around for a few days in this
studio. Also the funny thing was that the two stars in it, there was Tim
Robbins and John Cusack and they must have been just starting out. It must
have been one of their first movies, for both of them, you know.
NDN: Yeah, and they're huge now.
BJ: And they've gone huge, yeah!
NDN: Is it true that the Lords in the beginning rehearsed with Steve Nicols
[Eddie And The Hot Rods] on drums?
BJ: Well, what we did was we went for a few combinations. When Stiv and I
started forming the Lords, we were looking for bass and drum set up. First
of all we started playing with Tony James and Terry Chimes and we
rehearsed a few times with that set up, just kind of messing about, feeling
it out. And then we tried another set up with Steve Nicols from the Hot Rods
[drums] and Glen Matlock, the old Pistol, down on bass. And you know, same
thing, we tried it. They just didn't seem to gel. I mean the personalities
weren't gelling, musically it sounded alright, but it's like personality
wise it just wasn't kind of fitting. So it was like me and Stiv and "the
other two" all the time, and it was like that until Dave [Tregunna] came in
and then we got Nicky [Turner], you know.
NDN: You played with Glen Matlock again when you played with Iggy Pop. You
must be the only guy who has played both with Stiv and Iggy. Stiv has often
been compared to Iggy. Having played with both, how do you see them?
BJ: Yeah, [Stiv was called] "Son of Iggy". Comparing them is really really
difficult. I mean Iggy did it first, you know so that's the thing. Iggy did
it first. Stiv was obviously a huge fan of Iggy, but at the same time he
developed his own thing from that initial kind of thing, that initial kind
of role model if you like. So he became his own version... But it's like an
actor seeing like [Marlon] Brando, right, and then goes away and then next
thing you know, ten years later, you got someone called, I don't know, say
Robert De Niro. I mean who's better, do you know what I mean?
NDN: Yeah, you can't do that.
BJ: It's an impossible question. They're both great in their own ways. I
found when I was working with Iggy... Iggy had been around and had his lots
of ups and downs, more so than I had. And I found him very kind of
calculating. A very calculating guy. So with Stiv there was a kind of
calculation going on, but it was done in more like a Three Stooges. Ha, that
was a bit of a pun on the whole thing, huh?
BJ: But then you know what I mean, it was more kind of like just for the fun
of it. Just to say, "Fuck ya, fuck ya", basically.
NDN: At the beginning of the Lords, you played also with Rat on drums as the
Dead Damned Sham band.
BJ: Oh yeah, we just did a one-off. At the Clarendon Hotel in London. That's
right, the Dead Damned Sham band. I can't remember what we played at all. I
think we must have played a couple of Damned, a couple of Dead Boys and a
couple of Sham songs, I don't know [laughs].
NDN: Was the Lords name originally gonna be the Lords Of Discipline?
BJ: No, the Lords bit of our name came from that. We were trying to think of
a name. What was going on was that Miles [Copeland] was also managing Sting
and Sting was starting doing movies around the time. And one of the movies
that was presented to Sting to be in was this film, "The Lords Of
Discipline", which is something about a military school or something like
that. So Miles said, "Oh, great name for the band, boys! Lords Of
Discipline, that's good", you know. And we kind of thought, "Well, not
really, especially if there's gonna be a film coming out with that name
also". We didn't want to be related to this film. No way. But we kind of
liked the Lords bit, or the sort of royal bit, that kind of intonation sort
of thing. And "New Church" had been talked about, the whole religion thing,
so we kind of just put it together, really. We weren't
quite sure in the beginning because we thought that maybe it was too long a
NDN: Yeah, it's a long name, but that's why the nickname soon became the
BJ: Sure, sure. That's exactly what happened.
NDN: The song "The Lords Prayer". Did TV Smith write that especially for
BJ: That's right. He just came to us and said, "I've got a song for you
blokes". 'Cos he's an old friend of mine. Tim and Gaye [Advert] I've known
for years. Actually I haven't seen them for quite a while now. But at that
point I was still seeing them on a fairly regular basis.
NDN: Did you know that TV Smith himself recorded this song later with his
BJ: No, I didn't know that.
NDN: Anyway, on his own version, TV changed the lyrics back to what they
were originally. Apparently you changed his lyrics, is that right?
BJ: I don't know. Stiv might have done that. I can't remember exactly. I'm
sure that Stiv at some point before we recorded it put his head together
with Tim's, and they went through a few things, I'm sure, because obviously
he [Stiv] has to feel comfortable singing it.
NDN: Also as the Lords you covered Madonna's "Like A Virgin". Who's idea was
BJ: That was Miles' idea. It got nothing to do with us at all. We saw him in
the office one day and he said, "I got this great idea. I want you and Stiv
to come in. I got these guys who got a little studio in Meadow Vale or
somewhere like that in London. And I'd like you to come in and do a cover of
the Madonna song "Like A Virgin". And I said, "Yeah yeah yeah, sure Miles".
And what do I know - like about ten o'clock that night a taxi arrives to
pick me up to take me to this fucking studio. I mean, I'm relaxing and when
I'm relaxing I've had a few drinks and I've been sort of enjoying myself,
you know what I mean, and so I get there and I'm sort of like my head is all
over the place and it's like, "Right, here's the backing track, now put some
guitar on it". And it's like, "Oh, for fuck's sake". I mean that was kind
of... that was getting towards really the final straw with Miles, you know
what I mean? It was like, "Come on, man!".
NDN: Yeah, he sounds like he's a very spontaneous guy.
BJ: Miles has got a lot of good ideas and he's got a lot of crap ideas, but
unfortunately the people that work around him are basically yes-men, so he
never knows his good ideas from his bad ideas, because nobody has the
bollocks to tell him.
HOW THE LORDS WERE FORMED... Originally The Lords were formed because Brian James wanted to form a band with Stiv for years. Once The Wanderers were over Brian finally teamed up with Stiv and they started playing with Terry Chimes (ex-The Clash) on drums and Tony James (ex-GenX) on bass. In those early days was that Terry and Tony wrote the song "Russian Roulette" which is signed by the two of them only. Once they weren't in the band anymore they allowed the new band to keep playing it. First Tony James left and when looking for a replacement Stiv told Brain about Tregunna. Brian wasn't sure because Dave was coming from Sham 69 and he didn't like it, but finally agreed on trying him. Once they played together they clicked and Brian accepted he had a totally wrong idea about Dave. Terry left soon and they tried Rat Scabies for a one-off gig in London. That was the first concert Stiv and Dave played with Brian and they were billed as "The Dead Damned Sham Band". Later on Rat was out, Steve Nicols (Eddie & The Hot Rods) was another possiblitie but he was busy, so they recruited Nicky Turner. They went to play the first gig with this line-up to France and they hadn't had a name yet. The promoter asked how the band was named and as they had no name and no idea about a definitive name they just told the guy to book them as "The Things". But the promoter didn't understand them and billed the band as "The Thinz" ! The next gig they were "The Lords Of The New Church".
HOW DID THEY GET THE NAME... Miles Copeland wanted to name the band
"The Lords Of Discipline". The band members didn't like the whole name but they did like "The Lords", specially Stiv because he was a big fan of a 60's band called "The Lords" so they had to be The Lords and something else. At that time they were all living around the Notting Hill/ Portobello area in London and in their neighbourhood there was a church that was called "The New Church" and they liked it. So Stiv thought of "The Lords Of The New Church". That's how they got their name.
THE LAST YEARS... Tregunna left after the 3rd album because he was sure Miles Copeland was ripping the Lords off. He told the rest of the band he was quitting if they didn't brake all relationship with Miles. Stiv and Brian weren't that sure so they kept with Copeland so Dave was out. Grant Fleming (who was Dave's roadie during the Sham 69 days) replaced him. On the meantime Brian made again the same mistake of putting a second guitarist in the shape of Alastair Simons. He later on accepted it was mistake as it has also been when Lu Edmonds joined Brian's Damned for their second Lp in 1978). Alastair lasted just a few months. Stiv and Brian finally accepted that Miles Copeland was ripping them off so they sacked him. Grant wanted to leave. Brain & Stiv phoned Tregunna up and told him they just got rid of Miles. So Dave was back.... but Nicky Turner was at the time working for Miles Copeland managemnt agency so he was on the other side. Dave knew this guy Danny Fury who was a big Lords fan and had played as support for them with his band in Switzerland and he suggested to audition him. They tried Danny and they all clicked. Danny was in. That was the last line up of the band.
THE END OF THE LORDS... 1988, Stiv was in Paris with Caroline Ayache and the band weren't very active. Brian got an offer for a European tour so he called Stiv who refused to do it because his back was hurted. Stiv told to Brian that if they really wanted to do it (they needed the money!) they could try another singer for the tour. Brian had said to Stiv in the past once that if for any reason he was unable to do a tour that they really wanted to make they could go with another guitarist for the specific tour. Stiv thought Brian wasn't going to try it, but he was wrong. Brian placed an ad in the "Melody Maker" auditioning singers for The Lords. A friend of Stiv told him about the ad and they had a gig at the Astoria in London. Stiv made himelf a t-shirt with the ad (and NOT three for the other guys!) and came up on stage for the encore with the t-shirt on. He asked Brian "Hey Brian, who is the new singer for The Lords Of The New Church?". Brian said "well, you are Stiv". Stiv answred "No. You're out!"... That was the last Lords gig ever.