I’m extremely pleased to be interviewing John Doyle, drummer with one of my all-time favourite bands, Magazine.
As many people know they’ve recently reformed for some gigs in February this year. Doyley began working with Howard Devoto, Barry Adamson, Dave Formula and the late John McGeogh in October 1978, replacing original drummer Martin Jackson.
After they split three years later he joined the Armoury Show and then Pete Shelley’s band. I’m curious to know what he's been up to since those days......
SG- When did you first become interested in music?
JD- I had piano lessons aged six to about eight or nine. My brother was far more
accomplished and I thought I'm never going to be that good and kicked up a storm until I was allowed to stop the lessons. Something I kick myself about constantly now of course. My first interest in music would be buying my first single I guess. ‘Liquidator’ by Harry J and the All Stars, b side was ‘Elizabethan Reggae’. Followed by ‘Rag Mama Rag’ by the Band (I think that was Bob Dylan's backing band), ‘Double Barrel’ by Dave and Ansell Collins, ‘All Right Now’ by Free,‘Family Affair’ Sly and the Family Stone, ‘Tomorrow Night’/’Devils Answer’ Atomic Rooster. Also, ‘In My Own Time’ Family, ‘Who Do You Love’ Juicy Lucy, ‘Tokoloshi Man’ John Kongos, ‘Witch Queen of New Orleans’ Redbone, ‘Groovin' with Mr Bloe’ Mr Bloe. Too many to mention after that but those were the first tracks that "struck a groove". I'm thinking of starting a blog about this, get peoples first record choices just to see. Joined a band at school, still see those chaps after a 25 year gap through Friends Reunited. Got together with blokes at the local and formed a band while at school then got the bug and joined one that played the pub rock circuit in Manchester: Idiot Rouge.
SG- You joined Magazine in late 1978. How did this occur?
JD- It was Idiot Rouge's last gig at the Fresher’s Ball, Manchester Poly’, the main writer was going to Uni’. Afterwards this bloke came up to me and asked if I'd like to audition for a band he was in. Turned out this was Mr McGeoch. I took a sickie from work on Monday, resigned on Wednesday and by Friday was in a Munich TV studio surrounded by screaming teenage girls!! Not sure who they thought we were though.
SG- Which is your favourite of the four LPs?
SG- How did you get together with the Armoury Show?
JD- I'd been doing sessions since Magazine, some with Barry and happened to
bump into McGeoch's missus who put a word in. He actually supported the other
members for a while on an ad hoc basis, until we got a deal.
SG- I saw you drum with Pete Shelley in 1986. Did you know him through
JD- No, that was through the manager of Magazine, Raf who by then was
working with Pete.
SG- Where did your career take you from the mid-late 80’s and beyond?
Have you been part of any other bands or musical projects since?
JD- While with Pete, we (my wife) had a baby. I decided it was best not to be
away on tour so joined two or three groups in those couple of years that were
formative but had promise. All came to nowt and after that long away it
became... John who? By 1990 had another kid, got into the graphics industry as
an Artworker. Had a little help from Malcolm Garrett to get started using a Mac,
got on a course to learn it for 10 weeks. Worked with Peter Saville at
Pentagram on an Electronic Music Compendium, wish I'd taken the job offered
there but didn't. Been made redundant from every job I've had bar two since
then but that's the nature of the business. Started playing again around 2004,
locally, small blues outfits and with my boss at my current job.
SG- In 2005 Magazine were listed as appearing at ATP. Was this a rumour?
JD- It was suggested but with too little time to make it happen properly so it
SG- Dave Formula has mentioned how the recent reunion occurred but not
everyone reading this may be aware. Is it correct that you were contributing
to Dave's new LP?
JD- Individually we've all contributed, real labour of love for Dave, it sounds
fantastic. As a result of that record a promoter asked if Dave would be taking it
out live. The same promoter then decided to ask if there was any chance of
maybe perhaps possibly Magazine....Dave put it forward and the timings were
such that this time it is realistic, we all agreed and it should be a real buzz.
SG- Had you kept in touch with the other band members over the years?
JD- Yeah, not constantly, intermittently
SG- Are you surprised at the response to the reformation i.e.) sell-out shows?
Having seen the band only twice I can’t wait until February.
JD- Utterly amazed, I figured it would go the way of the records, a hard core
would go out and get it on the day of release, this would put the record in the
charts, but that would be it. So for one show to sell out, and more wanted....
SG- Will the set include a mix of material from all the albums?
JD- Naah, we're just gonna do ‘Shot’ 12 times....
SG- I reckon some people would love that. How were Ipso Facto chosen as
JD- I believe there's a link somewhere. Availability helped, and they're really
SG- What do you think of people likening Radiohead to Magazine? Media
JD- The media do like to put labels on things, makes it easier for them to write
about I suppose. We all play drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, so there's bound to
be some similar sounds eventually.
SG- Any plans for further gigs or new music (here’s hoping)?
JD- To quote a quiet man "one step at a time".
Thanks so much John for taking time out to answer my questions. I’m sure
many people are counting the days until February!
Find John and Magazine online:
Photo’s courtesy of Magazine’s MySpace page (thanks to Graeme Oxby)
and John Doyle
Magazine 2008 photographed by Jesse Wild. Copyright wire-sound 2008