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GAYE BLACK: MUCH MORE THAN A ONE CHORD WONDER – INTERVIEW BY JEFFREY MUNDAY

Gaye Advert/Black was the super cool leather clad bassist with 70's punk band ‘The Adverts’. Gaye was always a face on the early London punk scene and can still be seen out and about with partner Tim or as he is known TV Smith. While Tim can still be seen playing live shows, Gaye has hung up her bass and has now been working on projects like ‘Beyond Punk’. Here we discuss her early life and her current projects.

JEFF: Where were you born and grew up?

GAYE: Born in Plymouth, Devon. I was adopted at four and a half weeks and brought up in Bideford, Devon.

JEFF: Are your family musical or involved in the arts?

GAYE: No, my Father was a journalist, and my Mother was a housewife.

JEFF:  What music did you listen to pre teens/teens?

GAYE: I started with the Beatles when I was very young, and the Stones, Who, Kinks etc, then Black Sabbath and Led Zepplin, then when I got to about 13 I got into Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart and stuff like David Peel and the Lower East Side, then got a bit varied – a bit of Bowie, Cockney Rebel, Bob Marley, Herbie Hancock, Alice Cooper, Velvet Underground, then discovered New York Dolls, Iggy, MC5, and onto punk. There was a lot more, but that’s a very condensed version of my musical journey up to the age of 19

JEFF: When did you first hear about the Sex pistols and the emerging punk scene in London etc?

GAYE: When I was still a Devon Iggy worshipper, shortly before moving to London in 1976.

JEFF: How did you first meet Tim/TV smith and then the rest of the Adverts?

GAYE: I met Tim when we were both 18 at art school in Torquay. When we moved to London and started getting a band together, we got Howard from an advert in the music press, and Laurie turned up at the place we rehearsed one day.

JEFF: After a lot of negative press by the tabloids a lot of venues/promoters were scared of booking punk bands! How did you meet Andy Czezowski + get the chance to play the Roxy club + appear on the live album? Also was this an important time/place for the emerging scene?

GAYE: We started going to the Roxy as soon as it opened to see bands, got to know Andrew and Susan, and were invited to play there, and we were asked to be on the live album. In retrospect, it was an incredibly important place and time for the emerging scene.

JEFF: Having great songs like ‘Gary Gilmores Eyes’ you were soon appearing on shows like TOTPS and OGWT . Most of us grew up seeing our fave bands on these shows, especially in the Glam era. Were the shows good fun to appear on?

GAYE: TOTP was more faked up than you would realize from watching the shows, it was interesting to see how it worked after watching it for so many years in the hope that there’d be at least one decent band on each week. It was fun in parts, luckily there were other bands on that we liked when we were on it. The week we were on OGWT it was broadcast from the Pebble Mill studio in Birmingham, so we didn’t get to see the usual studio, but it was good to meet up with Anne Nightingale, a lovely person.

JEFF: You also toured with Iggy pop!  I know you were a massive fan. How did you get on with Mr Ostenberg?

GAYE: He was fun, very impulsive and generous. He’d watch our set from the side of the stage, then we’d do the same when he was on. I’d get invited over to their hotel after gigs and hang out with them.

JEFF: A lot of music may have dated from that period but The Adverts are still highly regarded by punks/ex punks. My favourite period is ‘Crossing the Red Sea’. What are your favourite songs from your back catalogue?

GAYE: Hard to choose, maybe One Chord Wonders and Great British Mistake

 

JEFF: I was listening to a show you played at the Roundhouse with Sham '69 that sounded pretty scary! What were the worst gigs you played with The Adverts?

GAYE: That one was pretty bad, we’d been in a car crash the night before, so were a bit dazed, and there were a lot of aggressive skinheads there for Sham. On The Damned tour Lincoln was pretty scary, a load of locals who were anti-punk were trying to break the doors down, and smashed all the windows of our van.

JEFF: Sadly the Adverts split in 1979 what was the reason behind the split?

GAYE: Howard had disappeared and Rod had been sacked so there were only two permanent members left and things just kind of wound down.

JEFF: What have you been up to since? I've heard you curated an exhibition called Beyond Punk. What did that entail?

GAYE: In 2010 Signal Gallery had asked me to curate a show and because I knew a few people in punk bands that were also artists, I thought it would be interesting to make a whole show of it.  I researched people, got them involved, chose artwork, got sponsorship, organized delivery, and planned what went where and so on.  Then I curated the follow up, Punk and Beyond, in 2011. Signal had moved to a space three times the size of their previous gallery, so this show was three times bigger than the first, with twenty nine participants. I’m pleased that they were both so successful. 

JEFF: Where can we see your art in 2012 and are you curating anymore exhibitions soon?

GAYE: I’ve already been in one show this year, and I’ll have some work in a show called ‘Black’ at Cultivate Vyner Street in Bethnal Green, which opens on 2nd February. I’m not planning on curating anything big at the moment, I’m having a rest and getting on with creating things again!  I’ll be in the Rebellion art show again in August, and I will be making some special pieces for it.

JEFF: Some of your friends from the punk days are involved in ‘Beyond Punk’. Was it fun catching up with them again?

GAYE: Yes it was, some I hadn’t seen for years, some I’d never met before, but everyone was really nice - same with everyone in the recent show.

JEFF: What current bands/music are you listening to?

GAYE: Very extreme stuff that no one else would like, and will never be mainstream, with the odd element of humour.

JEFF: What do you think of a lot of the old punk bands reforming and will we see you on stage playing the bass again? 

GAYE: It seems to go down better the more time elapses, and there’s quite a market for it - and no!

Interview by Jeffrey Munday
Photos supplied by Gaye Black  [Artwork by Gaye Black - 'Bondage' / Evil Squirrel]