This interview was due to appear in a new paper zine in French that won’t unfortunately see the light of day. It would have been a good opportunity to introduce Rob to French readers. Anyway, the last couple of years have been quite hectic for Rob so you’ll be able to read about it as well as the various bands he’s been playing with, Trashpit zine/records and a lot more…
So, what or who first got you into music? Any memories about your first records or first shows you saw?
Wow…. it seems a long time ago now!! I’ve always been a big fan of pop music… I got into that way before Hard Rock came along so I guess that’s where my love of big choruses came from. I’m not gonna try and sound cool by listing bands that are left field or say that this cult band or that retro band changed my life cause I grew up in the 80s and when I was a teenager for me it was all chart music.
But, there was some cool stuff around then – bands like Duran Duran and Nick Kershaw where everywhere and you could never escape the likes of U2 and more mainstream stuff like Madonna (who I was a huge fan of), Michael Jackson and A-Ha. Towards the end of the decade things began to become a little more manufactured and to be honest I still bought into that stuff for a while as a kid… the choruses and hooks were still there!
I’ve always been a big movie fan too so I always bought soundtracks back in the day and you would find a lot of solid hard rock tracks on them so maybe that was where my love for big radio friendly Hard Rock began? I think around the late 80’s when I heard the stuff Def Leppard and Bon Jovi were putting out that was when things started to change. It may sound weird but back then to me it was the heaviest thing I’d heard but so melodic too. I had absolutely no idea what the lyrics where but it sounded really good!!
My friends at school began listening to a lot of Metal and Hard Rock so eventually it was inevitable I was gonna jump on board and check it out. There was a huge cross section of stuff out there and everyone seemed to know about all different bands regardless of what genre they fell into.
Thrash Metal was really coming into its own but I never really got hooked on it. I did become a massive Iron Maiden fan though like most British Metalheads did and they were the first concert I got to see. It was part of their ‘First Ten Years’ Tour back in September 1990 and it was awesome and inspiring to be down at the front watching.
A friend at school was a huge Poison fan and thanks to him he brought to my attention the whole Glam Scene. Other then Bon Jovi and Def Leppard I didn’t really have a clue but he opened up doors to so many bands that, whilst some people consider them cheesy or throwaway, they really did have a huge impact on my life and what I’d go onto do.
I first got in touch with you through your fanzine TrashPit. Can you tell us a bit about it? TrashPit is now a webzine, will it ever get back to paper?
TrashPit began in the summer of 2003. A few years previously I’d done a Fanzine for local unsigned bands so I knew a little about how to put something together. The basis for TrashPit was just me becoming frustrated with not being able to find new interviews about what my favourite bands from back in the day where currently up to so I decided to produce a magazine and do it myself!
At the time there also seemed to be a new buzz going around with some really cool bands breaking through. There was The Darkness who seemed to capture people’s imagination and brought some focus back to Hard Rock but there were also acts like Robin Black and even Bowling For Soup who both gave nods to old school Hard Rock but injected it with a great modern day feel. That was what I wanted in a magazine… to cover the older bands that I loved who I felt were still relevent but to also showcase new bands too.
Unfortunately, after ten issues it became a little too expensive and to be honest time consuming to produce. I’d become more and more busy with performing to keep the strict work ethic I needed to keep the magazine running. I still continue with interviews and reviews on the website http://www.trashpit.co.uk but less regularly. Hopefully I would love to see the magazine return so watch this space!
TrashPit then turned into a label, how did that happen? Tell us a bit about it and your releases.
TrashPit Records was orginally just a vehicle to release the first album by my band Teenage Casket Company. We wanted to release the album properly and professionally so it just kinda made sense to use the TrashPit brand
Since then the label has released the second TCC CD, the debut Patchwork Grace single, a Compilation CD which I’m very proud of and last year we put out the latest CD by New York band The Erotics.
The newest release was a Limited Edition Black Mollys CD which we put out to coincide with the band’s summer UK Tour which came together really well. The response to every release has been great, I’m totally behind each CD and hope that some point people will be willing to take a chance on an unknown band and buy their CD simply because of it being on the TrashPit label because they know it will be good!
Can you tell us about Teenage Casket Company? It seems like things for you as a musician really started with this band. What’s the situation for the band now?
I’d been playing in my band DIP (www.oyah.co.uk) since 2000 and things have always been great but I really needed an outlet to do something of more of a straight ahead Hard Rock band.
One night whilst in Nottingham Rock City I got talking to Rob Wylde who I knew played in a band called China Doll and we just hit it off talking about how cool it would be to put together a band that had the appeal and vibe of all our favourite late 80s bands but with a similar modern slant to the likes of the Goo Goo Dolls, Marvelous 3 and American Hi Fi.
He sent me a demo tape with some rough tunes which were really strong and things just went from there. Rob bought in Jamie on guitar and I knew our drummer Spike from a previous band together and it all came together really quickly. Our debut album was released within a year and was voted ‘Independent Album of the Year’ by Powerplay Magazine and from there we just built things up…. constantly touring and recording all off our own backs.
After probably four years though we began to become a little disheartened and felt like what we describe as ‘hitting the glass ceiling’ and not being able to break the band any bigger without a decent financial input which we simply didn’t have. So, it was decided at the end of 2007 to take a break and give everyone some space before we imploded! Right now though, after two years the band is back together… no grand expectations, no false promises, just going out playing and having a good time. If something happens it happens!
You guys went to the US for the Metal Sludge tour. How did that happen? How was this experience?
That was back in the summer of 2006 and it was a blast. We’ve had a great relationship with the band The Erotics from Albany, New York who I met through TrashPit actually and we’d done a few international gig swaps which had gone great. Basically, they’d come over and tour with us and we’d organise everything and they’d do the same for us in the US.
It worked out really well and had a great DIY ethic to it. Anyway, during a UK run with The Erotics we did show in Nottingham and also on the bill were Vains of Jenna from Sweden who were getting something of a buzz about them after playing in LA and being managed by Stevie Rachelle from Tuff. The gig went great and I think Stevie saw that ourselves and The Erotics had a string of dates booked on the East Coast a few months later.
Being the shrewd business man he is I guess he figured it’d be a great way to get the Vains guys out on the road so we agreed to go out under the Sludge banner and make it a neat little package tour. The two weeks over there were awesome and we all had a great time. The shows were cool and we made a lot of new friends. I can’t begin to tell you how awesome it was to playing in New York and have the guys from Danger Danger and the likes of Acey Slade see the show and hang out. Good times indeed.
How did you get the opportunity to join BulletBoys?… and how was touring in the US and Europe with them? Any anecdotes you’d like to share with us?
I’d been in touch with their Booking Agent in the US. I’d noticed that a lot of 80’s Hard Rock bands were coming in from the USA on package tours and it’d basically be the original singer and the same backing band for maybe three acts.
I guess it saves money but not really what the fans wanna see. Now, not that anyone would be interested in seeing me play, but I just offered my services as a bass player should they need one. I never heard back for maybe three months until an email came through asking if I’d like to play for The BulletBoys on a UK / European tour with Enuff Z’Nuff and Faster Pussycat! Simple as that… they’d never heard me play, didn’t really know me but away I went
First gig, no rehearsal, five minute soundcheck and in! Since then I’ve completed two other tours with the band both in Europe and the US and even got to play with them in LA when Slaughter brought us up onstage at The Key Club to do ‘Smooth Up In Ya’.
Dude, you tell me that was gonna happen to the eighteen year old version of me and I would never have believed you! Going out on those tours is a great experience. You meet so many cool people and see new places. Everyone from those bands is such a character, there’s always some kind of drama but everyone is really frickin cool!
You’ve also played in various bands these last couple of years, bands like DIP, Drugleader Cheerleader, The Black Mollys, Richard Bacchus & The Luckiest Girls or Feetgazer. Can you tell us a bit about each of these bands and how you got involved with them?
It’s been a busy couple of years for sure! I guess it’s hard to find a bass player these days. DIP who I mentioned earlier are a band I’ve been with for almost ten years! I joined them to fill in till they found someone permanent and have been there ever since! I always describe the sound as Bowling For Soup jamming on old Van Halen, AC/DC and the occasional Faith No More song! They are probably three of the most talented musicians I’ve ever met and amongst my best friends in the world.
The Drugdealer Cheerleader gig was a similar thing… their bassist left and I offered to help till they sorted a new guy. Awesome dudes and we have a lot in common. I think DDCL walk kinda hand in hand with TCC to be honest. We’ve done a lot of the same circuit and shared similar experiences so I always enjoying touring with them when I’m needed.
I met Randi Scott when he was out playing drums for Enuff Z’Nuff on my first BulletBoys tour. We hit it off cool and stayed in touch so when he was coming to the UK with The Black Mollys he asked if I’d like to do the gig. The Black Mollys stuff is exactly what I’m into music wise – great Power Pop stuff in the vein of Everclear, Lit, Goo Goo Dolls and early Butch Walker type stuff – really high energy. Tory from The Black Mollys went on to join Enuff Z’Nuff and earlier this year The BulletBoys! It’s one big incestual pot we move in!
The Richard Bacchus gig was one which Jamie from Teenage Casket Company hooked up. Richard is one of the original members of D-Generation who Jamie loves and they’d been in contact about possibly have him come over to the UK. Jamie put the band together and out we went for a couple of weeks. It was a hard tour with a lot of drama but fun all the same. Be nice to hook up for something like that again sometime in the future.
Feetgazer was the new project from Let Loose singer Richie Wermerling who I’d contacted about his solo material. Let Loose were a pretty successful band in the UK during the mid nineties and whilst being labelled as a boyband by the media they had a really cool power pop vibe to them which I liked. The Feetgazer band lasted throughout the summer of 2007 and since then it’s reunited as Let Loose to a cool response and a great sell out London show this past summer.
Do you still work as a printer? Is it difficult to get all the time you need for touring with these bands?
I still hold down a full time job, just! Luckily they’re really supportive of the whole band thing which is good because the whole touring thing isn’t really financially rewarding and there can be long periods of inactivity. Most of the time it’s not that hard to pull off working and gigging.
I live near Nottingham which means you’re maybe only a couple of hours away from most places in the country which allows you to work then head straight to a show. It just means feeling like crap the next day after returning home at 3 in the morning to get up a couple of hours later! It is nice to cash in the work holidays though and just go out on the road.
Is there any band among them that you consider as a priority?
That’s a tough question and one which could get me in trouble! Thankfully I think, or at least hope, that most of the guys in all the bands understand that I love to be out playing as much as I can so they let me do what I enjoy and grab hold of any opportunity that comes along.
To be honest though there’s not that much of a conflict with scheduling most of the time and it’s possible to juggle things. DIP have always been my foundation, the band I love and who I really began to enjoy playing live with, TCC like you said earlier, perhaps took the whole touring thing to a newer level and allowed me to spread my wings a little more and most recently these past few years The BulletBoys have given me the opportunity to step things up again. Right now, everything seems to work well and will hopefully to continue to do so.
What if you had to start a new project of yours? Any idea of what direction this band would take?
I don’t know. I really wish I could sing better and had the time to try and sit down give it a shot at writing something. I’ve no idea where it’d go… maybe in a rockier Tom Petty vein or something like that? I don’t think I’d be able to pull of the front man role though – way too much responsibilty!
British bands rarely come and play on the European continent compared to American bands. Do you have an explanation for that? It’s weird when you think that conditions (money, food…) are usually better on the continent than in the UK.
Yeah, it’s weird. Everytime I’ve played in Europe it’s been a wonderful experience and have been treated so well. Bands over here in the UK just seem content to do the same circuit of shows to usually very little reward. Maybe they don’t have the work ethic or knowledge to take it overseas?
I don’t know, things a lot of the time are a lot more simpler than people realise if they put in the time and research. I’d love to bring TCC or DIP over to Europe again at some point. TCC have only performd in Italy but it’d be great to play places like France, Sweden and return to Norway where The BulletBoys have always had a great time.
Quite a few American bands got denied the right to enter the UK these last years, forcing themselves to cancel their tours. I don’t think I’ve ever heard about such stories on the continent, what’s wrong with British custom officers and Americans? These stories sound quite similar to the US/Canada border stories…
I don’t know. That whole thing can be scary. Maybe our customs officers are a lot more strict or the correct paperwork isn’t in place.
I know the US can be really strict as can Canada, even for the American bands going there. Luckily I’ve not had any problems but yeah, it does seem to happen quite a lot.
Your house is burning! Save 5 records and tell us about them, what they mean to you… Oh and you got lucky enough to pick up 2 DVDs and 2 books as well!
Man, that’s tough! I don’t listen to as much stuff as I used to and I’m always in very different moods. I guess at a push I think I’d be okay with these…
Van Halen I Just because it’s Van Halen I
Danger Danger – Cockroach This is were the band really hit on great power pop songwriting and should have been huge if released at the right time. And I get two Discs here for one!
Bowling For Soup – A Hangover You Don’t Deserve Pciking a favourite from these guys is hard but I think I’d go for this one. It’s a great beer drinking barbeque record too!
Tom Petty – Greatest Hits I know picking a Greatest Hits is a bit of a copout but everything is on here which you need.
Poison – Greatest Hits. See above! The band that made me want to be in a band. Motley Who?
DVDs – Wow, that’s tough… it’d have to be Weird Science and maybe the first original Star Wars. I should have a horror movie in there but I think I’d get by on these two!
Books – I don’t read half as much as I should but a couple of my favourites would be Seb Hunter’s ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ and probably Bill Bryson’s ‘Complete Notes’ cause again I get two for one!
I remember I saw quite a few horror movies at your house. What are your favourite ones?
I love Horror Movies. It’s a weird genre cause a lot of times if I go back and watch a film I thought was good I usually find it’s a bit rubbish unless it’s Jason X!
Maybe that’s the whole point – good throwaway stuff! I was a huge Freddy Krueger nut back in school and some of those still stand up pretty good. The remake should be interesting!
I’m very much an old school slasher fan and at the risk of sounding like a wimp find a lot of the modern stuff a little too nasty. I really dug ‘Behind The Mask’ and whilst ‘Hatchet’ didn’t live up to the hype I’d personally set on it I loved the director Adam Green’s whole ethic behind the movie so the sequel I’ll be looking forward to.
Just like most people into rock’n’roll, a big part of your culture comes from America. What are your favourite and least favourite things about the US? Your favourite cities? You have played with both British and American musicians, can you tell a difference in the way British and American people function as musicians?
America is my favourite place in the whole world. I grew up in a culture surrounded by everything American and my Dad has lived over there since I was three so every summer I’d spend six weeks there so it’s somewhat engraved in me.
Yeah, it maybe predictable of me to say it but I love Los Angeles or more specifically Hollywood. Maybe if I lived there I’d have a different view but after visiting it several times but I do enjoy being there even if I’m not doing anything in particular. Generally though just about everywhere I’ve visited has been great.
The BulletBoys tour earlier this year took us to places most certainly off the tourist track and I loved everywhere.
From a musician’s point of view I’ve found a lot of similarities and differences. Whilst doing the TCC / Erotics shows we discovered that it was a very similar scene. I think in your head you expect packed shows every night but when you get there the shows are cool but it’s a similar type of crowd. You have the rock fans who love it then there’s the people who don’t really give a crap too.
American bands very rarely seem to get soundchecks either! You just turn up and play.
What do you like to do when you’re not touring or working? Any interest in sport for instance?
Outside the bands I don’t get to do much else. I do love going to the cinema whenever possible and catching a live band occasionally but this past year or so when not playing I’ve just enjoyed being at home with my girlfriend and dog and catching up on stuff. It’s been kinda cool and a great flipside.
What are your projects now? Any particular thing you’d like to achieve in a near future?
The BulletBoys have a new CD out called ’10 Cent Billionaire’ which although I don’t play on I hope to be involved in more of the touring aspect of the album.
Teenage Casket Company are back out live and we’re just seeing what happens with no great expectations.
DIP still have to finish our new record and hopefully there’ll be more live shows from them.
Generally I just wanna stay busy, have new experiences and continue to meet great people.