While I’ve been working on a new solo album I’ve dabbled a bit in my more noise-oriented projects. While TAB-D stuff Including a really powerful ‘Russian Spy’ is still available on tab-d.bandcamp.com, there has been renewed interest in FLEA, our industrial grind-punk thing from 30 years ago. We’ve done 2 Flea gigs in the last 2 years but the intention is to step this up a bit in the next year with one or two new songs. It seems there’s a constant streaming demand for this and rightly so!
I’ve also been involved with the Filed Fangs project. A body of work will gradually be unveiled bite by bite with the first track ‘Calcify’ being released on February 28th on German Shepherd Records. You could call this an electro-punk goth stomp.
‘A magnificent offering! The Dusseldorf/Sheffield/NYC laylines circa 1970s lay thick and hard on this master jam which gets captured fast for a mystic Arkestra journey to Mars and back. It’s the future in the past in the future….NOW!’(Ajay Saggar)
So, back in the 60s, a talent scout heard my cat-like wail from a pram and signed me up. Turned out to be a dodgy deal and a contract I couldn’t get out of – even if I could read by then. So 60’s me was stuck in limbo for 50-odd years – the length of the contract – until now! So, do you like that story? This is the real one:
This year I was transferring my Dad’s old 1960s reel-to-reel tapes to digital and came across a recording of baby me singing, and I put it to music. It became a ‘sound-archaeology’ project. I discovered talking letters from when my Dad was in the RAF and stationed abroad. I found World Service news, bits of old Archers, language tapes (Russian and French), birdsong, Pick of the Popsand even an audio recording of Top of the Popson BBC1 TV at Christmas in 1966.
On the same tape, we kiddies are singing carols, apart from me that is. I was only 18 months old and didn’t take to singing carols; I sang my own thing instead. I was possibly singing a song of the day. I say this because the following year I could be heard on another tape singing the Christmas number one – the Beatles’ Hello, Goodbye– but I cannot work out what I could be singing here, possibly Beatles or Seekers, maybe not. If anyone has any idea, please let me know!
So, anyway, I’ve claimed it, looped it and added some music, a steady beat, acoustic guitar, keyboards and some 60s garage-style guitar to make a short song – now complete after 53 years!
I’m playing at Crumpsall Folk Club at the Cleveland pub, Crumpsall, Manchester on July 18th. I’ll be joined by Phil robinson, Mark Greer and Rob Haynes and perhaps one or two others.. It’s a fundraiser for local community charity Rainbow Surprise. Looking forward to it!
To round off a decade of recordings as Boz Hayward or Bozchestra I’m hoping to release a new lot of stuff in the autumn. I’ve had more time to put my head down and write and develop songs in recent months and this will continue well into the summer. This will be the 8th LP and the first since Tennessee Ten in 2017. The new material is the most powerful yet and includes two songs I wrote in the immediate aftermath of David Bowie’s death 3 years ago. I’ve now had a chance to develop them and the results are very pleasing. One of the chord sequences/phrases I put together the day after John Lennon died when I was 15 – so it’s nice that I’ve found it a home for it – with a tribute to another huge influence in modern music. I’d like to think when I was a kid living in Bromley in the early 70s, I bumped into David, or at least saw him down the local record shop, Bromley South station or that we crossed paths somewhere else. This, of course, never happened – but his music is something shared among millions of us who continue to be moved or inspired by it. Likewise with John Lennon and Paul McCartney and most recently missed Scott Walker.
The new album will also feature some story songs. I’ve not really done any stories since ‘Trans-Siberian Railway’. ‘Beyond the Mersey Lights’ and ‘Ruby and Eric Next Door’ (all featured in the first album ‘Featuring Ruby and Eric Next Door’ in 2010). I will continue to write songs that relate to mental health issues and will continue to comment on the current state of things. Also, given recent news items about a so-called ‘new’ phenomenon in music, I can definitely say that an ASMR experience is not guaranteed! (But, who knows?)
When I was a schoolboy punk aged 13 I started writing songs at the beginning of 1979. The 14th song I wrote was Russian Spy – written on January 22nd so it’s now 40 years old. It became instantly popular and has been ever since. Lot’s of people regard it as a hidden or lost gem of the post-punk era. It was recorded a number of times. The 2006 version by There’ll Always Be Diseases I uploaded onto Bandcamp as a single in November 2015 – Can be found here.
Last year (2107) Russian Spy was covered for the first time. Andy Yates recorded a highly amusing electronic-acoustic version – listen here (it’s funny). Then, number of months later, after the Salisbury novichok incident and the exposure of the two male suspects and their subsequent press conference denial Andy added a few words and we performed Russian Spy together at Chorlton Folk Club round the corner from where we live – watch here!
It’s crazy that it’s already 40 years since I wrote those first songs. I just wrote them down in capitals with a felt-tip in a maths exercise book and for some strange reason it started at the back (I often get/do/make things the wrong way round). I couldn’t really play a thing so I made the tunes up in my head, timed them and classified them as F for fast and S for slow. That was about it!
FLEA is the post-punk combo with me and Art Carbuncle. Between 1987 and 1993 we made an industrial techno racket with our drum machine Sissy. It was a bit experimental and fun but we never had anything released until TODAY that is! – thanks to German Shepherd Records. Here’s the GRS press release from Bob Osborne:
When the ecstasy fueled “Idiot Joy Showland” was bubbling up in 1988, down at the Boardwalk a couple of miscreants and a drum machine were creating some edgy art punk which flew in the face of the prevailing trends. Part of the German Shepherd ethos has always been to bring back to the wider world some of those bands that were groundbreaking but didn’t get the kudos they deserved. Flea were such a band and the opportunity to release this music came out of a 25th anniversary reunion gig supporting The Cravats last year, and a memorable appearance at this summers Manchester Meltdown. Flea are back, and it’s about the right time for them..
Delighted to say I’ll be playing Levenshulme Market in the south of Manchester on the afternoon of Saturday September 29th. Come down. It’ll be fun! And, yes, CDs will be on sale.. It’s at the train station car park. There’s ‘shopping, street food, kids fun and live music’ (that’s us!).