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CHANCING A RIDE ON THE SLIDE WITH GARY LAMMIN (BERMONDSEY JOYRIDERS) INTERVIEW BY LORRAINE

 
The Bermondsey Joyriders, having recently released their self-titled album, are currently back on the road in the States throughout the month of May with their brand of bluesy punk rawk’n’roll. I caught up with ex Cock Sparrer/Little Roosters lead vocalist and guitarist Gary ‘guitar’ Lammin before he joined former Heavy Metal Kids drummer Keith Boyce and bassist Martin Stacey, ex Chelsea, for a live performance at Canning Towns BH2.

GARY: Thank you for taking the time to take an interest in the Bermondsey Joyriders.

LORRAINE: You've a history with the old Bridge House going back to the early days of Cock Sparrer; so how does it feel playing here tonight? Is it a bit like coming home or is it different because it's not the old Bridge House?

GARY: Well, it's a little bit different because it's not exactly the old Bridge House but the sentiment and the psychology behind the Bridge House II is the same as the Bridge House was originally so it's not exactly the same but it's kind of close in parallel and on the level of how the first Bridge House was.

LORRAINE: All three of you were there at the advent of Punk. Can you summarise the impact it had on you at the time, and how that's carried through into the whole of your musical career?

GARY: Actually, I was a little bit disappointed because I'd been doing it since about 1973, and all of a sudden, when I found out there was this geezer called Malcolm McLaren and he had this band called the Sex Pistols, and they were where the rest of the music business were going, they said, “Great, this is what we want”. I felt, “No! No! I've been doing this for much longer. I'm the new voice of revolution, not the Sex Pistols”. So I started to go over to see Malcolm and I got quite friendly with him and I still keep in touch with him. I got friendly with Matlock as well, did a bit of recording with Glen, nothing ever came of it.

Malcolm invited me down to a Sex Pistols audition. I never went because I was in the Cock Sparrer at the time, and I didn't really want to open up the door that maybe I would have been invited to walk through because it would have presented to me a real dilemma.

LORRAINE: You were young then, as well.

GARY: I was young then... To be quite honest, I wish I went to the audition.

LORRAINE: That was what I was going to ask next: do you have any regrets?

GARY: Yes. I really do have regrets about doing that. But I was full of this “I'm in a band” thing, “I must be loyal to this band”, and many other things, but I wish I'd gone to the audition.

LORRAINE: But hindsight is 20/20.  Now you and Martin got together specifically to form the band to tour the USA.

GARY: There's a really interesting story about me and Martin. I didn't know Martin's family, or Martin, when they lived in the East End, on the Isle of Dogs. His family is from the Isle of Dogs, the same as my father's family. His dad worked with my dad in the docks but I never knew Martin or his family and Martin didn't know me, or my family.

Martin's dad was what they call a “lighterman”, someone on the tug which pulls in the ships. My dad started off as a stevedore, unloading the ships, and then became a tally clerk. Martin Stacey's family moved out to the suburb of Hornchurch.

LORRAINE: That was quite posh.

GARY: At first, it was. Now it's got the likes of Terry Hayes out there of the East End Baddos, and it's brought the price of the houses down (Laughs). Martin is a year and a half older than me and so, when I bumped into him at school, in Hornchurch, my family then moved to Hornchurch and I meet up with Martin. But we never knew each other when we lived in London.

We start playing guitar. And one day, my dad says to me, “Are you learning to play guitar at school with a kid called Martin Stacey”, and I went, “Yes.” He went, “Crikey -unbelievable!” He said, “Did you know Martin Stacey before you went to this school in Hornchurch?” I said, “No.” He said, “I've worked with his dad for, like, fifteen or sixteen years in the docks.” So, his dad and my dad were working together in the docks when we were really little, on the Isle of Dogs, didn't know each other, his family moved to Hornchurch, my family moved to Hornchurch, we end up at the same school, so it was something that kept us together for a long time. We've been mates.

LORRAINE: It's not that you went away and came back together.

GARY: Well, no, we did have a parting of the ways. We did get on each other's tits a little bit at some point in time and we didn't see each other for maybe about four or five years. Martin has always been into putting events on; he's not into just the ordinary gig where you get a few bands in. He always is looking for an event. Martin was one of the first people to book Spandau Ballet. That band, at the time, were saying, “We won't play ordinary gigs; it's got to be a very special event, something unusual, an event not just a gig”. And Martin had the idea of booking HMS Belfast on the Thames, and said, “I've got a gig for you!” And Spandau Ballet said, “Oh, what's that then?” So Martin said, “We'll book you onto HMS Belfast”, and they went, “Yes, great, let's do that!” So that's what he did. Martin then went on to be the sound and lighting engineer and advisor for Primal Scream. When he booked Spandau Ballet that was around the time just after he left Chelsea; he was in Chelsea in a punk band. He was the first guitarist in [the band?] after Billy Idol, and Tony James had left. And, though not credited by Gene October or Chelsea for writing ‘Right to Work’ and ‘High Rise Living’, he is the actual writer.

LORRAINE: You're both the main songwriters with the Joyriders?

GARY: Always the main songwriters. LORRAINE: Do you collaborate?

GARY: It's mainly me but there are some collaborations and joint song writing. Usually, we get back together when we're out on tour. It's very difficult to say that you've written a song jointly.  There are some people who believe that, if a band rehearses for a day on a song, then there should be a co-writer. But no, because you might work for a day on a song that was a Rolling Stones song, but you can't see them phoning up Keith Richards and Mick Jagger saying, “We're doing a version of your song, therefore it's a co-write”! If you think that, then let me tell you that you're going to get the answer of “No”! You have to work on songs to make them work, but that doesn't mean to say that you've written a song by trying to make it work. So, yes, we do occasionally write together, but that would be more on the road, when we've landed in hotel rooms.

LORRAINE: You got the band together originally to tour the United States?

GARY: That's right. What happened was I played a gig, an end of tour party for the road crew of the Rolling Stones. And that was something that, obviously, I really wanted to do, and I was playing that solo. I was doing my slide guitar, a Cockney John Lee Hooker type of thing, quite raunchy. I'd put a live microphone on the stage, and was playing solo, so I'd stomp with my boots on the stage with a live mic just on the stage with a bit of reverb on it. Quite ambient and quite live.

None of the Stones were actually at the party, because there was a party for the Stones going on at Ronnie Wood's house; but all the road crew were there, all the lighting engineers, all the make-up girls, and Pierre de Beaufort came down. Now, Pierre is Keith Richard's personal guitar technician, and he's also the Rolling Stones' pre-production man. They don't do anything in the studio without Pierre being there. And he's one of the few people that have actually been co-written into Stones song-writing. So Pierre de Beaufort comes up to me at the gig, and he goes, “You've got to go to America with that. They would go nuts for that in America. And I said, “Coming from someone who is close to the actual source of what I consider to be the essence of rock'n'roll, I'll take you up on that. Can you help me?”  So he said, “Can you afford a ticket to the east coast?” I went, “Yes”. He went, “Come over to my studio in Massachusetts, and we'll see if we can get you a few gigs, and we'll take it from there. So I did! The thing was, he gave me his home number, he gave me his mobile, and he gave me the office number of Rolling Stones Records in New York. And I sat and just looked at those numbers for about a week, thinking, “Wow! What a mind-blast, having those numbers!” And the guy who booked me in for the gig at the Stones' end-of-tour party, the road crew party, he phoned me up, and he said, “I've just been talking to Pierre!” This about a week or ten days later, and I said, “Yes, I've got on really well with him”, and he said, “Yes, he gave you his telephone number didn't he? What did he give you? His home number?” I went, “Yes.” and he went, “And his mobile?” I went, “Yes”. “And the Rolling Stones number in New York?” I went, “Yes”. And he said, “You haven't phoned him up yet; I just spoke to him. It was over a week ago.” And I said, “Well, I didn't know whether he really meant it or not.” He went, “Don't be a prat! People like that don't give their numbers if they don't mean it. You want to get on to that straight away before the situation changes.”

So I considered what my mate had told me, the guy who got me in there, and I phoned up the next day and, sure enough, Pierre says, “I was wondering when you were going to call. Do you want to come out here?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “What's the date when you want to come?” I said, “What’s convenient for you?” He said, “Listen, I've got the time off now. This is why I'm telling you to come now.” So I went out there, did some recording, did a few gigs, Pierre had helped out with a few gigs on the east coast, did a little bit of cable TV, and it went pretty well, and then I got an email. “Gary, we thought it was great, what you were doing. You need a band. Come back and do it on the west coast, and we've got to do it with a band.”

LORRAINE: Was your fusion of punk and the blues a deliberate thing for the American audience?

GARY: No, I was in England, and people were going, “Blues fused with punk? No, I don't get that.”

LORRAINE: How was it received over there? Did they 'get' it?

GARY: The Americans 'get' things in a different way compared to the English. In England, what people don't understand about punk is that the original essence of punk is that you do what you think you want to do, and you do it with conviction and you do it with attitude. That is punk. But, unfortunately in this country, we've got a lot of people who stand around, the “Punk Police” I call them, the “Punk Traffic Wardens”, going “You can't do that! You can't put slide guitar with punk! No, no, that's certainly not punk.” With is complete and utter cobblers because, to me, slide guitar and blues is one of the foundation stones of punk. You will never find a more oppressed music than American black blues. From that came rock'n'roll. And from that came the Rolling Stones. And from that (and I don't care what anybody says) came punk rock music, from the Stones, the Faces and the Who and Bowie. All those things were branches of punk rock. Ok, fair enough, the Stones started to smell a bit too much like Calvin Klein rather than brimstone and treacle, and all that kind of stuff, and The Who started to get a bit soppy. But the original idea behind The Who, behind The Stones, behind The Kinks, behind the Small Faces, to me they were all originally street-orientated rock'n'roll bands, and they are based on the blues, or blues-based rock'n'roll to be more correct. So I don't see anything wrong with the situation. I'm just looking at a UK Subs' poster up there, and doesn't Charlie Harper have a song called, Another Kind of Rock … or 'blues' or something like that?

LORRAINE: I'm going to come on to the spontaneity which defines the Bermondsey Joyriders : As I understand it, you never get together to rehearse, and you work on a song separately, then do it at a sound-check and, if it works, it goes in the set. Now that sounds terrifying to me.

GARY: But that's punk rock. It's meant to sound terrifying.

LORRAINE: So you must have a fair amount of belief in each other to do that as a band?

GARY: But that's shit. You've just put another mental picture in my mind. Quadrophenia: the guys on the balcony? And the love scene in the Palais? He stands there, he jumps in, and his mates catch him. That's punk rock. They might have very clean neat suits with tie-pins through their ties and cuff-links, but that's punk rock. That spontaneous total belief in what you're doing at that point in time. That's what the Bermondsey Joyriders do. Some people, I believe, have got it totally wrong. They think that you have a spiky haircut, you wear a t-shirt with a swear-word on it, you wear a pair of big boots, you walk around swaggering your shoulders, and that's punk rock. I don't think it is. I think that what punk rock is, is spontaneous and total belief at what you're doing at any point in time.

LORRAINE: And fuck everybody, basically

GARY: Fuck what anybody else thinks if you're not doing anybody any harm would be punk rock. I mean, I would say you could say that some of those guys who race those 500cc motor-cycles, they're doing punk rock. They're doing something they totally believe in and not really worrying about the consequences. They're doing what they love, passionately so. And a lot of the bands (and I'm not going to mention any names) but I think to myself, “Crikey, this is stuff that punk rock was meant to dismantle in a rather aggressive way and, look! It's actually come back and manifested itself, it's re-presented itself, it's got all the clothes and the trappings of punk rock but it's exactly the thing that punk rock tried to wipe out. And you see these bands at punk rock festivals! Some of them are headlining! And it's horrible! I find that more depressing than not having a job!

LORRAINE: In keeping with the band's name, there's an element of risk in achieving the spontaneity that's part of the Joyriders' character. Is that gambling, that playing it close-to-the-edge, part of what spurs you on creatively?

GARY: Yes. And that's the other thing as well. That creativity should remain creative and should not spill over. The name of the Bermondsey Joyriders I thought was just the name of the band. When I saw it as graffiti on a wall near Tower Bridge or Tower Hill round about 1985 or something like that - to see the Bermondsey Joyriders on a wall, I thought, “Wow, what an excellent name for a rock'n'roll band!” It was brazen, it was cheeky, we all know what a joyrider is, and I'm not advocating that that's a thing to pursue, stealing cars; and when I found out that it wasn't a band, and that the Bermondsey Joyriders was vigilante gang that was taking and stealing Aston Martins and Porches and BMWs and Bentleys from the Docklands Development Area, and I'm not condoning it, and it said to me, “Listen, if you want to move into our area with cars that are worth more than our houses, and buy places where our dads used to work to feed our families which are now yuppie conversion flats, listen, you come down here at a cost, because we're being carved-up by the developers and we can't stop it, but we're going to make some kind of statement.”

And I think, in my heart (I'm not saying I believe this in my head) I can see how an eighteen-year-old vigilante gang might be feeling.

LORRAINE: And there is that youthful aspect there as well,

GARY: And there is that youthful aspect. I've just been to see the new Wilko Johnson film called City Confidential and there's this great bit in it where they've got this political discussion and what happens, I've noticed, at a lot of political discussions is even people who are arguing and offering up the other point of view, they seem to be very well-chose, safe, liberal - you’ve got the liberal left and the liberal right, and you've got this rather gentle tennis match with opposing view, and they never pick out any of the radicals in the audience. And Wilko Johnson at about the age of fifteen or sixteen gets up in this political discussion in City Confidential, and at that time he hasn't got the mad quiff going on, he's got the long hair down to his shoulders and the denim jacket, and he's like a punk rock hippie. And this right load of old cobblers is going on and being spoken about, and what the discussion is about is whether they are or whether they are not going to build three more oil refineries on Canvey Island. Now Canvey Island is already bunged-out with oil refineries and God knows what, so where they're going to put them -  but they're thinking of putting another three on Canvey Island, and there's this very polite tennis-match of a discussion going on. “We could do this” - “oh not, possibly not”. But Wilko Johnson just goes, “Hold on a minute, just let me get this straight, it sounds like to me just because we're all uneducated and working-class you can just bump it here. 'Cos that's what's going to happen because after this debate has finished there will be another three oil refineries. Why don't you go and build them down in Maida Vale or something like that?”

And I thought, what a very excellent piece of old footage to have in a rock'n'roll film. And that was very sincere and very spontaneous, and Wilko Johnson, he wasn't doing that to create any kind of a name for himself, it was just what he was thinking and what he felt as a young man of about sixteen. And he came out and said it. And that was good, and that is punk rock.

LORRAINE: With the spontaneity, and with the slide guitar, isn't that different every time? You're not just going out and playing the same chords? Isn't it to do with the mood of the moment?

GARY: Yes, exactly, that's a pretty good analysis you made of it. The thing about slide guitar is that you can only use the frets as appropriate markers. If you're fretting the string with a finger at the fret, that's very accurate. With a slide, you're only using the frets as appropriate markers, so you've got to hit the notes and they will always be slightly different. In fact, it's a bit like an Indian sitar. Whereas in ordinary Western music, you're sharp or you're flat by semitones, but because you're not using a fret, you've got at least another ten little segments that the note can shift by, within that sphere. So that always makes me very edgy on stage, hoping that I might hit the right note, because there's always an element that I won't. And I don't, a lot of the time, and I look at Martin, and Martin looks at me, and he winces!

LORRAINE: A lot is left to fate. GARY: It is.

LORRAINE: Would you describe yourself as a spiritual person?

GARY: Yes. A friend of mind his just committed suicide and I was talking to his brother. The brother had phoned me up and left a message telling me what had happened. After a couple of hours, I could get it together in my head what I was going to say to him. Because what had happened was this: I got a message left on my voice-mail from them to say that his brother had committed suicide on Sunday. And on that Sunday, I was thinking about his brother who had decided to end it quite a lot. I was doing a gig with a friend of mine down the Portobello Road, and for some reason, his brother kept on entering my mind whilst I was on stage. And this has happened to me in the past when people have passed over to the other side. In the morning, I got a phone call from another friend who said, “Do you know any good drummers for a particular project?” I said, “Yes, there is one guy and, funnily enough, I've just been thinking about him just recently, just yesterday. I was thinking about having him as maybe a stand-by drummer. But, yes, I'll be talking to his brother in a few days. And then his brother, Barry Mizen who used to play in a band with me called the Little Roosters, it was his brother Nick - then Barry phoned me to say, “Gary, please phone me. Nick has decided to finish it all. He's committed suicide”. And my hair stood up on my head and it took me about two hours to make the call. What I said to Barry was this. “Barry, there's nothing I can say, or nothing anyone can say, that can possibly help you at this time except maybe this. I just told you about being on stage and thinking about his brother on two or three occasions. You see, when I'm on stage, I normally don't think about anything other than the music that's going on. But on three occasions while I was on stage on Sunday in the Portobello Road, Barry's brother Nick came into my mind. I told him, “Call it hippie cobblers, if you like, but I do actually believe - and this has happened to me on two or three others occasions, people pass to the other side: and within a couple of days, I've got a phone call to say that's occurred. I told Barry this, and he said, “No it's not hippie cobblers. I know what you're saying and I thank you dearly for saying that.” His ex-wife has phoned me to say that she had a very intense dream about him on Sunday night as well.

So, to answer your question, “Am I a spiritual person?” yes I am. I can't accept at all that this is just co-incidental. To me, this is the actual manifestation of something else.

LORRAINE: Yes, that goes with the whole chance thing, and there being a risk. You're someone who lives to push boundaries, and test what's there, but has anything backfired?

GARY: Oh yes, it always backfires on me, all the time. The thing about being successful, Lorraine, is this: all great inventors, when you see what they've invented and you go away and think, “What a great invention”, you haven't seen the other 250,000 things that have gone totally wrong. The tragedy that they've had to go through, the risks and the sacrifices that they've had to go through. And the public goes, on the one hand, a great guy for coming up with that invention, but ordinary people in the street, the people who lead that nine-to-five, they don't understand that there's a lot of personal - I think it's very rare for someone to just say, “Click! Bingo! I got that in one.” I think there's many, many failures, many many cockups, many embarrassing situations before you actually get to where it is you're trying to get to.

LORRAINE: You're someone who's very engaged with life; you're not going to sit self-indulgent and isolated.

GARY: I try not to be. You know, sometimes, it's inevitable that you can get a little bit down, and a little bit isolated but experience will teach you to snap out of that and get back onto the situation.

LORRAINE: Who inspires you at the moment in any way, not just musically?

GARY: I've done a bit of acting, and I really love the actor Ben Kingsley. Again, I'm going to say a similar thing to what I've said about some of the so-called punk bands. I don't think there are many actors left in England: but Ben Kingsley certainly is one. Peter Sellers certainly was one, but I'm really not into the 'lad' culture, playing extensions of their own personality type of actors, which incidentally is exactly what I do. That to me is not acting. That's not creating a 'other self'. I remember once Ben Kingsley and the Ghandi film: twenty-five minutes into it I suddenly realised I was watching a film! I thought I was watching a bloody documentary about the geezer, because all of a sudden I went, “Hold on! How come this is in colour?” And my girlfriend went, “What do you mean, 'How come this is in colour'?” “Ah, ok right, sorry! I'm going to make a cup of tea!” “Hold on! Did you think THAT? What a plonker!” I said, “He's a good actor though, isn't he? Who is it?” She went, “It's Ben Kingsley.” And ever since that time, I've been a great fan of Ben Kinsley. Then there's the part of the gangster he played in Sexy Beast. Fabulous. Because one of the other things I really don't find particularly tasteful is the way that ‘gangsterism’ has been glamorised, that it's some kind of career choice, something like that. No! Gangsters are heavy, dangerous people, and Ben Kingsley is one of the few people who's actually shown you, in reality, what that's all about.

So, yes, as far as acting is concerned, I would say that Ben Kingsley is like a Peter Sellers, who can create a different character other than their own personality.

LORRAINE: You've written a script yourself: do you want to give us any insight?

GARY: Yes. I wrote this script based around Major John Howard who took the Pegasus Bridge. I met the guy and it's a very long story. This is one of the situations where I really very nearly came unstuck. I was working on a film set, and the film set dictated that it should be the country mansion of a successful gangster, a very successful gangster. It was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek spoof movie, actually. All the gangsters get into Zen Buddhism, and they realise they've got to find everyone they ever ripped-off to give the money back, otherwise they would never be free. It's written by Andy Hamilton of Hat Trick Productions.

Anyway while I on there, the place we were using as a country mansion was an ex high-brass Military retirement home, so everybody in there had been top-notch geezers in the armed forces in the Second World War. There were all in there, so you had very famous RAF people and Army people - and one of the guys was this geezer called Major John Howard who took the Pegasus Bridge. And I got talking to him, and he was making a series of phone calls and getting nowhere, going through the Yellow Pages, and I said to him, “What's up? You're not getting much luck there.” and he said, “Crikey. I've got to be at a funeral in Southampton.” Where I was at Aubrey House, which is over in Godalming in Surrey, wasn't really too far from Southampton. And I really did stick my nose into something I really shouldn't have done. Now I'm talking about the psychological situation of walking through some doors that you should never walk through. Maybe this is even touching on occult theory now, but it was a world that I should never have entered and I was very lucky to get away with it. The guy who he had to go to was one of the last remaining members of his crew that took the Pegasus Bridge. D-Day couldn't start until the Pegasus Bridge was taken. The Germans knew that. They had it heavily wired-up to blow it if the British copped hold of it. The Germans didn't particularly want to do that because the Germans needed it too. But the Germans were prepared to blow the bridge if the British looked like they were going to get hold of it. So the British had to devise a plan to take this bridge without the Germans knowing that it was actually being taken. And what Major John Howard decided to do was to get the Ministry of Defence to build these massive, over-sized gliders that could actually take armoured cars. So we're talking about a wooden aircraft to take three armoured cars, plus a crew of men, and they laughed at him, pretty much like they laughed at the guy who came up with the idea of the bouncing bomb to do the dams. But these geezers are geniuses and they've got the 'front' to carry it out. And so that was a successful situation, as we know otherwise we wouldn't be sitting here. And the Pegasus Bridge was taken intact and D-Day could begin. Now, I rather foolishly thought to myself I'd like to do this geezer a favour. I'd like to show him that there are some younger people in the world who really do appreciate what he's done for everyone. I've never been really pro-war, but if it goes off you have to back these geezers, and I'm certainly not the sort of bloke who would dress-up as a soldier and pretend to be one.

And so I decided that my way of showing him compassion and love would be to get him down to Southampton to be at one of the last remaining members of his gang that took the Pegasus Bridge.

Well, I nearly went down in history, and I would have done because, as I went to walk away and said, “I'll see you again tomorrow morning, 8 o'clock”, he stopped me, grabbed me by the arm, saying, “Gary, this is very important, I don't know you, you seem to be a man of your word, you do realise that if you don't turn up tomorrow, I'll have no way of being there, and this is a military funeral and I just have to be there”. I said, “Yes, I'll be here, don't worry, I'll be here.”

And that night, I set three different alarms, which was unnecessary anyway because I couldn't really sleep. But when I woke up in the morning, the beautiful summer's day that it was the day before had now turned into a monsoon storm of Old Testament, Biblical proportions. You couldn't see across the road. I'm not going to tell you any more about it because it is a script based on a true story. But I nearly went down in history. At one point, I actually broke down crying, because I could see the headlines: this bloke saves the world, I can't even drive him down to Southampton, and I could see my name going down as the biggest plonker in history. And that's why I'm talking about sometimes you shouldn't spontaneously go through those doors.

LORRAINE: Did you get him there?

GARY: Of course I did. But the series of events of me trying to get him there because of this rain was unbelievable. And, as I say, I was so freaked-out by it that at one point I was actually parked in a lay-by, couldn't see the hand in front of your face, because the rain was so torrential, and I was just banging my head on the steering-wheel, pleading with tears in my eyes, please somebody help, please, not for me but for this guy.

LORRAINE: Finally, being a football fan yourself Gary, what do you think of the Brit football films such as The Firm and Green Street?

GARY: I'm really surprised about a certain situation. I haven't been in any of these shops for a long time, so maybe the situation has changed... I remember about two or three years ago, I was in a shop called “Sports Pages” up in the Charing Cross Road, and they were football-orientated shops, with the history of every single club, you know if you want to go in and find the story of Leyton Orient. I'm a Millwall fan; people think I'm a West Ham fan because of the Cock Sparrer tradition. The fact is there's probably only one true West Ham fan in Cock Sparrer, and that's Colin the lead singer. Because Steve Bruce the drummer is really a Millwall Fan, Micky Beaufoy is an Arsenal fan. Cockney Rejects: they're really a proper West Ham band. Cock Sparrer: we were told to be just one team. It was me who said we've got to be football terrace lads. And it was Keith Orphan who said to me, “Which team?” And I said, “We'll all be our own teams”. And he said, “No, no, football teams don't associate. We've got to be one team.” And I think Millwall was considered to be not a large enough club at the time, which of course it isn't. You see, a lot of people think I'm a West Ham fan, and I have to live it down quite often. Quite often over Millwall I get the piss taken out of me.

So one of the things I was quite surprised about, and let me say this now, when I wrote Runnin Riot, I wasn't actually trying to promote soccer violence. What I was actually saying was that if you're not careful, this will be the very last point-of-call where frustrated working-class blokes will be able to vent the frustrations that governments year-in year-out thrust upon them. At the end of the day, if you're working-class, you're either factory-fodder, or cannon-fodder, or you become a football-terrace hooligan. And that's what I was saying in Runnin Riot. I wasn't saying, “this is what we should do: let's get on the pitch, let's cause havoc.” I was saying, “this is what's happening”.

One of the things I was very surprised about was regarding the sports pages, which deal with genuine mainstream football culture i.e. you want to know about the chemistry of Leyton Orient, or Manchester City, you can go in there and read several books by several authors which were really well researched: but on the same shelf, side-by-side, were the football hooligan books being sold. And that I found quite astonishing: that football hooliganism seemed to be gaining a kind of credibility and acceptance with the established football situation.

Many thanks to Gary who was unfortunately cut short as the room was needed. BJR's onwards.

Crazy !!

www.myspace.com/thebermondseyjoyridersofficial

Interview by Lorraine 10.03.10
Photos by Gemma aka Librasnake