France has never been the best place for glam rock’n’roll but there were a few jewel bands in the past. Some of you might think of The FRENCHIES in the 70s or bands like TEARS and TEASIN’ BABES in the early 90s but the best French glam band in the mid-80s was undoubtedly BAD LOSERS. Twisted Soul Records has just reissued the band’s album enriched with some great bonus material and a 4 song vinyl EP for Record Store Day on June 12th. Guitarist Mister T.Jones answered our questions…
Can you tell us a bit about the history of BAD LOSERS?
As far as I’m concerned, the story started in 1983 when I joined the band in Paris. BAD LOSERS was originally a garage rock punk band from Toulon (Var) that had explored most of their local scene.
Did you have a precise idea of how you wanted to sound and look from the start ?
It was clear to me as a guitar player that I wanted to play in the spirit of the bands that had influenced me such as The ROLLING STONES , T.REX,the NEW YORK DOLLS and all the band we used to listen to like The GUN CLUB or The ONLY ONES. Since BAD LOSERS wanted to head in that direction, we quickly got along well. The way we looked developped as years went by just like our haircuts! (Laughs)
You recorded the album in London in 1985. How did that happen? How were the recording sessions ? Any anecdotes ?
We recorded the LP in August 1985, we had just signed a record deal with Parisian record label GMG. We wanted to record it with Peter Perett (The ONLY ONES) who had worked with bands we used to like such as WASTED YOUTH (with some future members of FLESH FOR LULU) but the record label decided to send us to Dave Goodman who was the live sound engineer of The SEX PISTOLS and who recorded their songs before “Nevermind The Bollocks”.
Dave was great to us as a producer, always listening to what we had to say, from our arrangement ideas to the production ones. We wanted to have female backing vocals and sitar on one of the songs (“Evil Sacrifices”) and he played it himself. He even went and record traffic jams on Oxford Street (that can be heard as the intro of “On Main Street“.) We recorded 8 songs in 5 days (mix included.) The mastering was made at world famous Abbey Road Studios.
There was The DOGS D’AMOUR and HANOÏ ROCKS among others at that time in London. Did you ever think of relocating there just like HANOÏ did?
We met The DOGS D’AMOUR in Paris before the became a well-known band, we felt really close to the way they played rock’n’roll live as well as the way they looked, the glam image we also had here in France. We wanted to move to London but a few things hold us back in France. On the other hand we really thought of being the French glam band in London.
In late 1986 they sent us Ian Grant who played with GUNSLINGERS. We were HANOÏ ROCKS fans because they were one of the rare European bands playing so tight and so loud at that time, their Marquee show is just timelessly killer!
Were you feeling close to any other French bands?
We were friends with WILD CHILD and a few other bands we happened to play with like The JET BOYS but honestly we were the only band with such a glam image playing NEW YORK DOLLS kind of rock’n’roll in those days. Most French bands at that time were part of the “alternative punk” scene/movement.
Johnny Thunders and Stiv Bators were also in Paris in those days. We can hear Stiv sing “Honky Tonk Women” with you on the CD. Did you happen to share a stage more than once?
Unfortunately not! It was the only good occasion to share a stage together. I think I saw Johnny Thunders at least 10 times when he was in Paris whether it was for solo gigs or with Henri Paul Cosa Nostra or The HEARTBREAKERS. As far as Stiv is concerned, it was a great surprise to play with him! We were invited to play as Johnny Thunders’ backing band at the New Moon in Paris and once we got in, the promoter told us that Stiv Bators would also be there!
During the first part of the night Johnny was playing with only BAD LOSERS’ rhythm section and his friend Henri Paul Tortosa while I had prepared cover song list that we used with Stiv for the second part of the night.
It was memorable and so unique to hear Stiv sing a ROLLING STONES song and even a HEARTBREAKERS song we knew by heart. You can listen to the “Honky Tonk Women” cover with Stiv on vocals on the “Southern Style” CD.
There was several line-up changes in the band. Wasn’t it too difficult to find people who could fit considering your style?
It was indeed very difficult to find a guitar player who could match with our tastes and needs.
I found Jean-Paul (N’Diago Pop) who played on the album and who was a 60s/70s ROLLING STONES fan just like me and a really good guitar player when it comes to play Chuck Berry/famous bluesmen kind of guitar chords.
There were various reasons for these line-up changes and usually personal ones. Jean-Paul went and toured in England, Ian who then played with us had the right image for us and so did Phil. The other ones were either shooting stars in BAD LOSERS or just out of control! (Laughs)
A band like HANOÏ ROCKS kinda suffered from being caught in between several music styles, “too glam for punks”, “too punk for hard rockers”, etc. Did you feel the same thing with BAD LOSERS?
Totally! We were a rock’n’roll band before all and in the middle of the 80s, it was all about the “alternative punk scene singing in French (for most of them)” in France.
BAD LOSERS had several sides, a punk rock side but also a lot of 70s influences. Alike the NEW YORK DOLLS or HANOÏ ROCKS, I don’t think we can use the word “hard rock” to describe us even though we could think about it nowadays mainly because of the way we looked.
“Southern Style” will be out on June 12h. This EP was also recorded in London. How come it wasn’t released back in the day?
These 4 original songs were supposed to be included on a second album that was never released.
We shopped for record labels to get a better the deal so that the band could get bigger. Major labels were asking us to sing in French and we refused because our music style was purely Anglo-saxon. Then we had some line-up changes and desires for a different music for some of us. We got tired of it and the band broke up in 1988.
Both CD and vinyl EP are released by Twisted Soul Records. How did that happen?
We’ve had this project for a long time. We had to wait until the birth of the record label and their start as a professional company. We also had to dig for files like this 1985 “Waiting For The Man” (VELVET UNDERGROUND) cover which was a demo with Richard, a great guitarist from Toulon who unfortunately couldn’t stay in the band. Same thing with our MOTT THE HOOPLE cover “One Of The Boys” recorded live at the Gibus Club when we opened for The CHERRY BOMBZ (Nasty Suicide introduced the band onstage with us before we started playing) or the song with Stiv Bators.
How did the band break up? Was it a brutal stop or was it more a long-run thing?
It was more a long-run thing for several various reasons and a desire to do other things. Also because it was a bit hard to see our future as BAD LOSERS at the end of the 80s in France.
Do you think the band would have explored other music territories if you didn’t split? On the EP we can feel a will to try new things and sounds, a bit like The LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH or when The DAMNED released “Phantasmagoria”…
The style of these four unreleased songs is a bit different especially in their arrangements. We wanted to have a brass section and a boogie piano for the pure rock’n’roll “Southern Style”, but also some orchestral arrangements for the ballad “Girl In Uniform.” There’s also “Century Jane”, a 70s rock song and another song that can bring The LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH or The DAMNED (when they experimented with darker influences) to mind indeed.
After the band’s split you went and explored new musical horizons. Can you tell us about it?
At the end of BAD LOSERS I bought a Home Studio which was a very new thing in those days. Bass, drums, everything was in! (Laughs), then I wrote music for advertisements/commercials before forming an electronic music duo that allowed me to travel and play in many different countries. The band (MOOG SPECTRAL) still exists to this day. In the 00s, I got back to my guitar and started a band called The JONES. We played as a backing band for Chris Wilson (FLAMIN’ GROOVIES) or Willie “Loco” Alexander.
I’m also part of an electro-rock project with Holeg Spies, we have some releases out on a British record label and a song remixed by Youth (bassplayer in KILLING JOKE.) I also work on songs at home. They’ll be released this year…
Did you ever think about a BAD LOSERS live reunion?
Honestly it’s almost impossible to get the band back as it used to be in those days full of music, fun and rock’n’roll!!! But this Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BadLosers) as well as the quality of this reissue with 4 unreleased songs, live material, a demo, a poster and beautiful words from Patrick Eudeline almost make me want to play some good old BAD LOSERS rock’n’roll riffs.