Born in 1955 in Woolwich, he has become a household name. Love him or hate him he is hard to ignore. Whether satirised, demonised or idolized, he is rarely short of an opinion. From Fleet Street to TV celebrity and everything in between, Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome..... Garry Bushell, Patron Saint of Oi and an' alright geezer!
Garry - Haha. Yeah old Wiki is as reliable as the toilet wall graffiti at a liars’ convention. I’m not homophobic, honest. I could reel off a long list of talented gay stars from Frankie Howerd to Simon Amstell who I’ve praised to high heaven (the top floor in the nightclub?). But people believe what they want to believe. As usual if you step out of line with PC opinion, as I seek to do as often as possible, you get demonised.
Pink Tent started when we were 14/15. It started as a kind of comedy zine; we all wrote sketches, and jokes and put it together. Just for a laugh. Pink Tent the group was born out of that, we wrote our own songs, mostly 12bar blues, although I remember writing at least one drippy ballad. We were extremely leftwing and influenced strongly by Python, Spike Milligan, John Lennon, Trotsky etc. Pink Tent, the first song I wrote, is an adolescent love-song to the female sexual organs – something which at the time we had no practical knowledge of. When punk happened Pink Tent became the Gonads, but in that first incarnation we never played outside of our area, just gigs at parties, one pub (The Lads Of The Village in Charlton) and the alleged “acoustic tour of curry houses” which involved us getting chased out of an Indian restaurant down Lee way by a chef brandishing a meat cleaver. They didn’t mind us busking for bhajis in
Garry - Yeah I worked in the press office and the photo library up at FB HQ in Lambeth. The pictures were particularly gruesome. My Dad and his mates had to deal with death on a regular basis so they developed a very black sense of humour which rubbed off on me.
I also worked briefly at Shell as a messenger, pushing a trolley. I worked with an old docker who been crushed between two ships and wore a permanent neck brace. Don’t remember much about these years though.
Garry - I’ve seen that clip! Was that a beard or a hedge? What was I thinking? My voice was so high on that it sounded like Roussos was sitting on my actual gonads. Never mind punk imploding, I think my privates had exploded.
Yeah I reformed the band as a wind-up. I used to drop the name in conversation to catch out bullshitters. People who claimed to have seen them were instantly revealed as liars. But I was still writing songs and when I got chummy with Steve Kent from the Business we decided to reinvent the band as a studio only enterprises, which resulted in Tuckers Ruckers on Carry On Oi – clearly a piss-take of the football-anthem obsession of the time. Incredibly (to me), that song inspired The Press to form in
1979 was a tremendous year. I’d started on Sounds in 78 and the NME had already said punk was dead. But I was going out every night seeing bands like the Ruts, the Skids and the
The odd thing for me is seeing the Street Dogs’ album and seeing them sitting around in flat caps, wearing combat jackets and drinking stout. That could have been us in the White Lion in 1980. But it’s
The Gonads gig all the time now. Just for a laugh. No illusions, no ambitions, just for the crack.
Garry - Chat forum names…I wonder how many of them have actually read anything I’ve written recently, or ever. Clary’s gag didn’t offend me, but the context for it was wrong. This was a live ITV show at a time when comedians were bound by strict rules. Stan Boardman was banned from ITV for his much funnier Fokka Wolfe gag; the Grumbleweeds were axed permanently for a throwaway remark made in private. Why should there be one law for hip, middle class comedians and another for popular working class ones?
Political correctness is a way of controlling free speech and free thought, of curtailing open debate and ultimately criminalising views that don’t conform to the liberal consensus. The only thing I’m bigoted against is morons who try and stifle argument and impose their views by calling other people names. Question the EU and you’re a xenophobe, question immigration, you’re a racist etc etc
Garry - I think I was far too nice to Jo Brand, the odd thing is people in television tend to have ginormous egos. So they remember the put-downs far more than I do. You often hear nitwits banging on about things being “offensive”. Well, I think certain people deserve to be offended, especially people in power who are cocking things up.
I don’t think anyone ever upset me, but the Mail really pissed me off when it told lies about me and Alan Lewis back in 1981 and probably set the whole “right-wing bigot” thing in motion
Garry - Ask him. Get Barack on the phone right now. I don’t know. I’d like to think I was a loyal friend. But I don’t want to blow my own trumpet.
Garry - Well, I’ve never been a racist in my life. Am I right-wing? I don’t think so. Right and Left are fairly meaningless terms when the elite share the same views on every major issue. For years I said I was a disillusioned socialist. Now I’d describe myself as a patriotic anarchist. I’m for the people. The Labour Party has created the confusion over national identity with devolution, open-door immigration policies and multiculturalism.
I think our rulers, and the liberal middle classes, are infected with a disdain for everything English that runs as deep as one of our many derelict coal mines. George Orwell saw it back in the 1930s when he wrote that “
I love writing. If I could make a living from writing books alone I’d do that, but I still enjoy the pressure of a weekly column and the pressure of keeping it punchy and funny. The band I do as relaxation; some people play golf, I Gonad. To be honest, I prefer writing songs to performing them, but we do have a laugh when we go out live.
I’ve got no illusions about the other stuff. I know I’m not a great radio broadcaster, I know I’m not an orator. I stood in the General Election simply to try and make a point about how badly the English have done out of devolution. I have no desire to spend the next five years wrapped around the weasels of
Biggest influences over the years are a mixed bag: definitely Python and Milligan, Joe Strummer, Weller, George Orwell, Galton & Simpson, Smoky Robinson, Mod, Skinhead, Arthur Daley…
Lorraine - Returning to music, I have been asked if you can help clear up the mystery of how the name 'OI' came into being. One version is that it was first used by a female journalist at Sounds, then as 'OYE. ?
Garry - Oi as a descriptive term originated in the 1930s. A lot of
Lorraine - As an original veteran of the scene, how do you view the current reignited interest in old school punk, along with new emerging talent such as 'Guns On The Roof'? Truly the future of punk?
Garry - Today’s punk is a different animal. I don’t think it is seen as particularly threatening or radical any more. But there are a lot of great young bands about who are clearly influenced by our generation of bands. Guns On The Roof are good; I like the Vigilantes, Krakatoa,
Garry - Ta
We’ll be bringing out a Greatest Hits package next year.
PS We’re not playing at the launch party – Buster Shuffle are, but I will be playing the entire new album there
Garry - Beer changes with the seasons; I’m on
I like a Bhar Chicken – chicken with minced lamb – cooked
Lorraine - Finally, for no other reason than my interest in strong, outspoken characters, all sexual innuendo aside, what do you think would happen if you were locked up with Peter Tatchel and Ann Widdecombe for 24 hours?
Garry - What kind of final question is that? Why can’t I be stuck in a lift with Beki Bondage and Brody Dalle? Me, Peter, and Ann…just as well there’d be no chance of any off-spring. You wouldn’t want the pick of that litter. I have met them both. I think we’d have a good ding-dong, a fair and frank exchange of views; but no exchange of telephone numbers. Can’t we swap Tatchell for Simon Amstel and Widdy for Sarah Palin?
Lorraine - I am afraid not Garry, it's the sadistic streak in me! Thank you once again for taking the time out for Mudkiss and I will leave the last words in your hands, literally! Garry Bushell, over to you to promote, demote, antagonize, simplify, idolize, rant insanely, wax lyrical, just splatter Mudkiss with a veritable cornucopia of words of your choosing........
Garry - Can't we talk more about your sadistic streak and my masochistic one? I'm obviously a masochist, I've watched EastEnders for 23 years, OK, I guess not.
Well, The World According To Garry Bushell is out now, so instead of people judging me by what they think I believe in, they can actually find out what I really believe in, which conveniently boils down to Live Free, Die Free - the title of the new Gonads album.
We enjoy a healthy degree of freedom, democracy and individual liberties in this
country. Don't stand by and watch it all get flushed down the toilet of history.
Take responsibility for your own lives. Question authority, beat back the state,
bugger the bureaucrats. Free yourself from this, individuals rule.
Check out more about Garry on the links below:
and band site www.the-gonads.co.uk
Interview by Lorraine - 11/11/08