Spike, Lead Vocalist of The Quireboys
Interviewed by Glenn Milligan and Alexandros Kotziamanis
Venue: Dressing Room, Sheffield Corporation
Date: 19th September, 2003
Glenn: Hi Spike, I last saw you on the 'Monsters of Rock Tour' last year?
Spike: Oh right. It was super.
Glenn: How was that?
Spike: It was great man. I had a good time. Alice (Cooper) was a gentleman. He's lovely.
Glenn: Like yourself.
Spike: We had a good time. It was nice to be asked and nice to do it.
Glenn: Initially, what made you decide to come back with that soul project a few years ago?
Spike: Well what happened was, I was playing in America and doing like this thing with a couple of geezers and it was just good fun and my mate had a studio and I went in and did a couple or like ten songs. It was so much of a great deal - it was just good fun. It was nice to put on the suits and be like James Brown for half an hour.
Glenn: Yeah it was weird when you played 'The Other Side' in Sheffield after those Glam bands and it was like 'Spike's in a suit' (in surprise).
Spike: Yeah. Yeah. It was great. I loved it. It was really good fun. There was a lot of talent there. Was that here?
Glenn: No that was when The Corporation was on Bank Street. I remember later when Tyla and you got on the same seat for a song.
Spike: Yeah Tyla. He called me recently and he said, 'hang on a second' and I heard the roar of a crowd. I said, 'What the f*ck you doing?' and he said, 'I'm on stage in Russia'.
'It's incidentally cold as well'. It was like 'Say hello to Spike from The Quireboys' and there's this 'Waaaah' (from the audience).
Glenn: What made you decide to bring out the 'Monsters of Rock' DVD and CD?
Spike: Well we got a recording of that, that was filmed at The Marquee and that was gonna come out at Christmas with some extra film from this tour - I don't know if that's still coming out - we'll wait and see because this is the new line-up now as well. This is the proper steady line-up instead of what was before. We're starting, were back in the studio next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to do some new stuff for the new album.
Glenn: Is it the good old 'Quireboys' retro style, yeah?
Spike: Of course (he says jokingly). It's the only way he can play (looks at guitarist), he only knows three chords!!
Glenn: Everything's in the same key?
Spike: Yeah 'G'. Well it's really annoying because I can only sing in 'A'.
Glenn: Yeah, you've always had that high whispering (I do impression of Spike's sound).
Spike: Yeah. Luckily I've been singing OK - the first few shows I was feeling a bit rough - I haven't been feeling too good but once you start getting into having to do like 3, 4 or 5 in a row, it suddenly gets better and you have a few days off and you so I have started to get back into the swing of it, you know?
Alex: Yeah, and you are very unique with your vocal style.
Spike: The thing is, what happened when we started 'The Quireboys' I was originally gonna be playing the guitar.
Alex: Oh right.
Spike: I never expected to become the singer and I ended up being the singer and I'd never sang before. I was the only one who would do it and one day I just went 'Waaah' and that's it. And they said, 'Oh, alright' and then after years of practice.
Glenn: Have you ever suffered problems with your vocal chords?
Spike: Well a few years ago, about '99, I went to see this Doctor on Harley Street and said they were fine so far - like a fine bottle of wine. It's getting better with age.
Glenn: I wasn't gonna ask you this but I might as well, you released the song 'Sex Party' - what's the story behind that?
Spike: That was originally called 'Gun Party' and then were all standing there one night and we thought, 'Sex Party' would be better for this thing' but that's why it never made any sense what-so-ever. It's fun. Anybody would prefer a 'Sex Party' than a 'Gun Party'.
Alex: Exactly, yeah.
Glenn: Yeah. What's the relevance behind the time of '7 O'clock'?
Spike: Well when we first recorded it, there was no chorus to it - we never got the chorus until we went to Los Angeles. It could have been 9 O'clock - at the time it could have been falling asleep..
Alex: until 7 O'clock in the morning (laughing) - but that wouldn't have been very rock 'n' roll.
Spike: But that's when it would start.
Glenn: So you have a solo career as well as your stuff with 'The Quireboys', is it a similar sort of style?
Spike: Well actually, my next solo album isn't out 'til next year and everybody that plays in the band now plays on my solo album - it's really a Quireboys album apart from a bit etc and it's so f*cking good.
Glenn: It's like having two Quireboys albums and having two (record) deals as well through it.
Spike: Exactly, yeah. Well I had to do something because I'm swanning around with a microphone.
Glenn: Do you ever see much of the ex-members?
Spike: I ain't seen Guy, I've seen Chris but there was only Chris and Guy really that were well there was 5 of 'em when the 1st album came out but we had loads of different drummers. I think Guy's moving out to Italy with his girlfriend that he met on my solo tour when I did the soul stuff but he thanked me for that. Now he's too busy man - he's doing his thing and we're doing ours.
Glenn: Yeah. I like the idea on the website where you are asking fans what they want you to play.
Spike: Well you know, I've only had a look at that website a couple of times.
Glenn: Yeah - the fan who chooses the best set at that gig gets it played.
Spike: Oh right - is that why we are doing this set? (laughing) I wouldn't even know how to turn a computer on. I just got a mobile.
Glenn: So obviously, you aren't the Webmaster?
Spike: No, it's definitely not me. I haven't got a clue, I haven't got a clue.
Glenn: When you did some gigs with Guns 'n' Roses, how was Axl?
Spike: Great. I mean, all those stories that you hear about Axl - he was always a gentleman to me. He was a lovely bloke he was. He really loved us. We got to do this tour with them. They were all great, you know - there was no problem with them whatsoever. They were nice guys. Slash got up and played with me in LA.
Glenn: Yeah, I met Slash a couple of years ago.
Spike: He's a lovely guy.
Glenn: He is. He's so down to earth.
Glenn: He's like 'How you doing?' and I sat down with him. He had his hair tied back, a Jack Daniels in one hand and a Marlboro in the other.
Spike: Whereas I'd have a pint of cider (laughing)
Glenn: I can't drink that. I collapse on it. It makes me black out.
Spike: Come on, have a drink (he jokes).
Glenn: Yeah - it wouldn't be rock 'n' roll - I'd collapse during your set and miss half of it - not good. What do you think to Crash Kelly who are opening for you on the tour?
Spike: I think they're great. A really good band. I've been getting in with the crowd every night and they've been really good. It's a good night of Rock 'n' Roll. It's good having someone you don't know.
Glenn: I got the impression through talking to Sean earlier that it's been more like a family tour. He said you've got on so well.
Spike: Yeah, it's been great. I mean they've been helping themselves to our booze and everything . And the food. Really.
Glenn: What's been the best gig so far on the tour?
Spike: Well we've just been to Spain which was great and had 10,000 Spanish people going crazy. We did that with Twisted Sister - it was really good. And the Limelight was good in Crewe wasn't it (he says to his guitarist).
Alex: Well that's a good thing for rock 'n' roll isn't it?
Spike: Yeah. I forgot how good that place is and the good thing is, is that are a lot of younger people coming that have never seen the band.
Alex: They are getting sick of this 'Nu-Metal' thing and it's all going out and they getting into the older rock bands.
Spike: Well the thing is when you look at it, especially in America now, you're looking at it and it's getting like what it was in the late 80's like when you had all the hair bands that everybody's done the same video and people get sick, you know? But the thing is, what we do never goes away - that is three chord rock 'n' roll. I think The Darkness have help us a lot.
Glenn: Yeah, I was recently sent the single, 'I believe in a thing called love'
Spike: Yeah, I think if that had come out 15 years ago they wouldn't have stood a chance. I think half of them guys are f*ckin' older than us - so what? I mean when he started in the band (looks at the guitarist again) he was 18 - he had to bring the average age down (laughing).
Glenn: What would you say some of your best stories have been - tour stories?
Spike: Well one of the best times I had was playing with The (Rolling) Stones in St. James Park (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne) and they flew us in from New York and everything - that was nice, especially, St. James Park. In fact I've just done my interview for the DVD and it was f*cking great walking around the ground and everything - while they're all f*cking swanning around the pool in LA and I'm in St. James Park - that DVD - that's supposed to be out at Christmas. I'm gonna get back and edit it after the tour. We got filmed at the Bulldog Biker Bash as well as one in County Durham so I think we'll probably use that as well.
Glenn: Do you go down really well with the bikers?
Spike: Yeah. It's the second time we've done the Bulldog Bash then we headlined the Durham one which was great. That was really good fun. Really good. One can't complain.
Glenn: What would you say are gonna be the amazing highlights on your next album that'll stand out?
Spike: Erm, every night in sound-check apart from like tonight we've been working on these songs. Michael Lee's a f*cking good drummer and it's great to have Paul in because Paul I've known him for years and he's a red dogs Geordie and we get on great. He's a brilliant guitarist - it's just a charm for us to work together again. He plays brilliant, working in a band with him tonight sounds much more punchier and he works with some really cool stuff.
Glenn: How did you hook up with Michael?
Spike: I've known Michael for years. Years, years and years and Michael plays on my solo album and then he was in LA and we was out having a drink and he came to a studio and played on Angie's, Nigel's Wife's stuff and we just got chatting about. He bought that f*cking castle up in Scotland and I live up in Northumberland so Michael's doing up his castle and I asked him if he wanted to come down and play on it.
Glenn: Do you think you will always stop in Britain?
Spike: I will do for now yeah. I had 15 years where I lived out in America on and off and I never got anything done man. I was f*cked up and hung over and I'd go down the beach - it was great life but I got a kid now and stuff - I've gotta get things done now, so this is how I'm gonna keep it goin' this time.
Alex: And the thing what you are doing is gonna be in the same vein?
Spike: Yeah. Quireboys music will always be the same, you know what I mean. Here you are, this country, it's everything.
Alex: Do you like going down other musical avenues?
Spike: Well I did when I left The Quireboys, I did 'God's Hotel' - I've done all that stuff but I've always had quality musicians. It's good to deal with that stuff, you now but at the end of the day well I know I did the 'God's Hotel' album - I wrote all the songs basically but it just happened to be different musicians. I mean all the songs on there are three chord songs but the thing is, is that the guitarist who completely different completely changes the whole vibe and it was great having the time just to do that. I think though we've come back to what we love best.
Glenn: If you could see a band reform, who would it be?
Spike: Humble Pie but they can't though can they. I've seen The Faces when they reformed at the Brit Awards - I was there but Rod Stewart's a right tw*t.
Glenn: Well I read somewhere that Rod Stewart had met you and that you were really arrogant towards him.
Spike: Yeah? He had it in for me.
Alex: Some people do - that's the thing.
Spike: I mean when I first met him I was so excited to meet him and it was really weird but I find that with other singers as well.
Alex: Well we interviewed Yngwie Malmsteen and he's one of our heroes.
Spike: I played with him once.
Alex: Yeah? Wow.
Spike: It was when Joe Lynn Turner was in the band.
Alex: The Odyssey Tour.
Spike: At the Manchester Apollo and everything.
Glenn: How did you find him?
Spike: I didn't really speak to him. Joe Lynn Turner was nice but I don't envy ' (Rising) Force. But we were just happy in them days to support anybody.
Alex: Who would you like to collaborate vocally if you had the chance?
Spike: Well I've sang with who I love - a serious singer called 'Terry Reeve' when I was in LA but I used to have a residency at The Coconut Teaser and it'd be like Spike featuring Terry Reeve. I don't know if you've heard Terry Reeve but he is the greatest singer of all time and he is one of my best pals - I love him to death. But he's wrote a song on this album with us on my solo album. I'll get you a copy. Well it was great man, meeting you like.
Glenn: Thanks Spike.
Alex: Yeah, all the best man.
Big thank you's to Darren
and Mark @ TB Records, The Quireboys Tour Manager and of course, Mark
Hobson and Gayner at The Corporation and the Club Security.