I will soon be releasing a new track – Psycho Drill – taken from my forthcoming album Contrivances For The Soul on February 15th. This will be a digital-only release through my own J.A.M. UK record label. The album will be released through Plastichead and will be a limited edition vinyl release in a gatefold, numbered sleeve. It will also be available for digital download through the usual channels.
Psycho Drill Features the amazing guitar talents of Mr Leigh Heggarty who most people will know, plays for Ruts DC. He will also be joining Alvin Gibbs from The UK Subs for some live dates this year. My loveable friends Rogue Sector will be doing a remix of this track just as soon as they can make time in the studio… i’m looking forward ti hearing that!
The release date for my album has been pushed back to June due to a massive pressing backlog at Plastichead.
In other news, you may have seen the announcement that Department S guitarist Phil Thompson (now known as Phil Marx) has been offered the guitar slot for The Rezillos. I’m really pleased for Phil, he obviously impressed Fay and Eugene when we did some live dates with them last year. He is a perfect fit for the job and I’m sure he will do really well. The Rezillos are planning to record some new material this year and Phil will undoubtedly be at the heart of the songwriting process.
My book is still going through the laborious editing process. Since my decision to leave Department S in April this year, it has meant the last chapter or two of the book has to be rewritten to cover my reasons for leaving. Things are usually more complicated than they first appear and all will be become clear!
One thing is for sure, I’M NOT RETIRING!! I’ve got plenty to do going forwards and of course, I’m always on the lookout for interesting projects to get involved with.
After some discussions with the Department S management, I have decided to terminate by tenure with them a bit earlier than first expected. My original plan was to make the Department S Rebellion appearance in August my last show. The hometown gig at Harpenden on 5th April will now be my last gig.
The reasons for this are that the band have now found a replacement for me and as they are keen to get on and record a new single it would seem reasonable to hand over the bass playing duties sooner, rather than later.
So, I have only 4 more gigs to play with the band:
Come and join me if you can, be nice to see you before I go! It also mean I will have a bit of spare time through the summer to work on new activities, including studio work. If anyone has tracks that need mixing, give me a shout!
It is with a moist eye that I announce I shall be leaving Department S in 2019.After more than four years and 100 or so gigs, I feel the time is right to move on and consider other projects going forward. The decision is mine alone and one I’ve been wrestling with for some time – I really do love those boys and will greatly miss their humour and professionalism – but artistically, I felt I had done all I could and I need now to face a different challenge.
I’ve had a great time working for this seminal band and I am very proud of the shows we played at and the recordings we made. The marvellous people I’ve met along the way, many of who have become true friends, made the not so glamorous gigs bearable and the bigger shows some of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to play. We’ve had some right laughs, not least of all with my roommate Phil Thompson who has become a great friend and one of the few people I can stand sharing a hotel room with!
I aim to leave the band by the time of Rebellion Festival in August so in the meantime, if you want to come along to any Department S shows to say goodbye and weep uncontrollably on my shoulders, please do. Department S will continue with a new, as yet, undecided bass face and I wish him/her all the best with the band.
I am not retiring from making music; my new album and book will be out next year and I am hoping to have some exciting news to announce regarding a new musical project. Watch this space. I am also hoping to tie up with Martin Atkins on his book tour next year following our successful appearance at the Islington last month. I will of course, still be available to work in my producer role with other band’s music in my newly refurbished studio.
Is Vic There?… I don’t know, but I never found him despite four and a half years of looking.
Keep in touch,and please, do sign up to my mailing list to keep abreast of my endeavours.
The new album has been a couple of years in the making from start to finish and been a bit of a slog but my new album ‘Contrivances for the Soul‘ is now finished. Set for release March 2019 it will be available as a limited edition, heavyweight and coloured vinyl in a lovely gatefold sleeve. Limited to 200 copies, they will be individually numbered and will surely become a rare collector’s item.
It’s a solo album in the truest sense of the word. I sing and play all the instruments apart from a guest guitar slot on one track by Leigh Heggarty from Ruts DC.
Check out this sampler of tracks from the album
I will post updates on the progress of cover design and pressing etc as well as the availability for ordering so keep in touch. Sign up to the Joyless Jones mailing list to receive email updates.
Next year is shaping up to be very busy with one thing or another and there will be a major announcement very soon!!
When I heard Martin Atkins was coming over to the UK from his Chicago home I was more than pleased. He was coming to present his ‘5 years in and out of PiL’ talk as part of his workshopping ideas for the forthcoming book he is planning. I made my way by train to Manchester to stay the night before he gave his talk at the wonderful Principal building in the town centre. Martin brought his son Ian over with him as his assistant and the three of us met in the hotel bar for a chat.
It’s always good fun meeting up with Martin, we spend most of our time trawling through the memory banks dredging up tales of early Brian Brain and PiL shows. He was suffering from chronic jet lag and was about to retire to bed when I told him it was only half-past eight and suggested it was far too early to go to bed. It was only a succession of double whisky and coke that kept us going till much later. I wish we had recorded the conversation because it was very funny.
His talk was at a ridiculously early 10 am the next day but luckily the venue was only a short walk from the hotel. It was an anecdote-filled hour-long talk with much humour and honesty and it gave Martin the opportunity to put a different side to events from that early eighties period of PiL history. Jeanette Lee was there which was rather nice to see, our paths never crossed when I was with PiL as she had elected to stay in England after John Lydon filmed the Cop Killer movie. She suggested we should all wear ‘I survived PiL’ badges. My eldest son came along too so it was a nice meet up for all of us.
The next day Martin was due to talk at the Islington in London. This time there was even more fun to be had. A drumkit had been arranged and I took my bass rig along to set up on the small Islington stage. The audience was all seated and this time Martin talked for over two and a half hours with some great musical interludes from the pair of us.
It was great to be playing on stage with Martin again after such a long time (35 years) the old magic was still there as we whistled through excerpts of Careering, Religion, Attack, Theme, Public Image and Poptones. We even managed a bit of Solitaire from the Commercial Zone album that we had written together back in 82 (that I was never credited for). I slipped in a bit of a Brian Brain bassline too, in the background while Martin was talking about the infamous 2nd USA tour where he ended up getting a good kicking by GG Allin.
When Martin finally publishes his book he is planning a return to the UK so I’m hoping we can meet up again and with a bit of planning, jam along to some more PiL stuff. The crowd seemed to enjoy it anyway. A fantastic weekend all round and if you get a chance to hear Martin’s talk on 5 years of PiL bullshit, please go, you won’t regret it. (especially if I’m there playing).
In other news… My solo album is finally finished and off to the mastering engineer Pete Maher for mastering. It’s to be called…
“Contrivances For the Soul”
It’s the final bit of the process that a lot of people don’t realise is so important. Not only will Pete prepare all the audio files for the manufacture of CD’s and vinyl, but he will also give the sound an extra polish with various studio trickery to make the songs sound like they fit together and are at equal loudness and tonality. Pete masters songs for just about everyone these days including U2 and you can hear songs he has worked on all over the radio, day in day out. Top top geezer. Release date is set for March 15th 2019 on Westworld.
If anyone would like access to the files for review purposes, let me know.
The book is trundling on, I have severe writers cramp, so much to say, so little time; I have had 4 advance edit copies printed to send to my trustworthy editors to rip apart and reconstruct. I’m hoping they will be kind to me. It will ruin me if one typo slips through the net, I hate that. So I’m hoping that any errors are caught soon and it all makes sense. It’s around 85,000 words so there’s a lot of checking to be done. I’m hoping to have the edit and re-write completed by end of the year, that’s this year, 2018.
My new solo album Contrivances For The Soul is almost complete, just one last guitar solo to go on and I’m happy to say that Leigh Heggarty from Ruts DC is coming over to my studio next week to record it for me. He will be the only other musician on the album, apart from one female spoken sample, everything else is me. Then it will go off for mastering by the bloody marvellous Pete Maher who masters tracks for U2 amongst others, you here his work every day on that there wireless thing.
The release date for the album is set for release via Westworld on March 15th 2019. A gatefold heavy duty, numbered, coloured vinyl it will soon come around, and I may try to tie in the book and album launch at the same time if I can get organised, makes sense.
The current run of Department S dates with the Rezillos has sadly come to an end. What a blast it was, such fun. Sad to see that Jim Brady has left guitar duties, he is such an immense presence on stage and off I don’t quite know how they will manage to replace him, but I have a good suggestion. Both bands got on really well, so look out for some more Rezillos/Department S news for
That’s all for now, keep warm, stay safe and keep in touch
Department S played the W festival in Belgium last weekend, and what a hoot it was. It probably ranks as one of the most pleasurable gigs I’ve ever played; the hospitality was first class and the technical crew (who were all volunteers) were absolutely ‘on it’ in every respect.
We travelled over on the Eurotunnel train on the Friday so we’d be fresh and ready for the gig on Saturday afternoon so I booked a hotel for Eddie, Phil and myself in the lovely old town of Mons, about 45 minutes drive from the venue. I gave the nearby city of Lille a wide birth as it’s usually just full of Brit tourists which is never fun.
We arrived in good time, just early enough to saunter into the town for a beer or two. We hit on a bar on the town square and settled in to enjoy the ambience, talk shit and watch the world go by. The choice of beer was a bit confusing, they all seemed to be really strong, we couldn’t find one that was any less than around 8% but we thought that as we we’re essentially drinking halves, it didn’t matter.
We had a lovely chat, then moved on to another bar for some food, all the while, having more beer. I’m not sure how many we had, but by around 11 we were feeling tired and sloshed so decided to go back to the hotel which was when I found out that my legs weren’t working properly.
Walking back to the hotel with Ed navigating there is always a chance you could get lost, despite him using his phone to navigate, and this was no exception. We wandered around for ages in what seemed like an ever increasing circle with legs that weren’t working. Phil and I were in hysterics, absolutely pissing ourselves. At one point I was laughing so much, I couldn’t stand upright and had to hang on to Phil’s arm for support. Shortly after that, I thought it would be a good idea to rugby tackle Phil through a hedge into a garden. We ended up in a heap and I think we narrowly missed falling in some dog shit.
Despite being a bit sloshed, I took over the navigating with the help of Google maps and had us back at the hotel within 5 minutes. By this time we were hungry so decided to order pizza and more beer at the hotel, not a wise move.
I woke up in the morning with all the room lights on and my shoes off, so I had at least achieved something before I fell asleep! I threw up the remnants of last night’s pizza and went back to bed. Breakfast was hard work, I forced down a bit of egg, well, we had paid for it so I had to have something, then spent all morning nursing a hangover from hell. Thankfully Phil was driving.
We arrived at the venue for the festival nice and early. There was a dressing room reserved for us (Paul Young had three of them) and it was next to Katrina’s as in Katrina and the waves. The hospitality was laid on, some really top notch food, a nice outdoor lounge area and a free bar. Of course, as a professional, I didn’t drink before the show, but it was comforting to know it was there, not that I really fancied any more Belgian beer to be honest.
The show was great, we pulled in a good crowd into the tent and we gave it a blast, all too short for my liking. Afterwards, we chatted to some fans and retired back to the VIP area. I was too pooped to stay for the rest of the night so we hung around for a bit and decided to have a drink at our hotel in Kortrijk which by all accounts was very nice. Our drummer had been there for a couple of days and reported back it had a nice bar, swimming pool etc.
The only problem was, when we went to check in, they had no knowledge of our booking (through the promoter) a few frantic phone calls later and it turns out, we were at the wrong hotel. For some reason we were booked into a hostel elsewhere.. a fucking hostel? as it happens it was ok and we all had our own room. It was late, I was tired, I didn’t care.
An easy trip back the next morning and that was that. A lot of effort to play one show but it was worth it. If you get a chance to do the W Fest next year, give it a go.
See you at the Byline festival this Saturday fuckers!
We had just moved out of our house to a comfortable 3-bed flat in St Albans while building work was being carried out. It’s amazing how quickly your home becomes nothing but a pile of bricks once you move all your stuff out. Everything was organised at the new place; possessions unpacked and found a place for, furniture arranged (several times), TV connected etc. A good friend had come to stay for the weekend en route back to Canada following a 5 year stint in Berlin and the weather was hotter than hot.
We decided to go to the closest pub for dinner. The King William IV, located at a major road junction a short walk away, a pub I had never been in before. It is one of those large soulless pubs that has little atmosphere and a bar menu that shouts very loud and bold but punches well below its weight. I said to my friend ‘Be aware, that in the UK in pubs such as this, the menu sounds a hell of a lot better than it tastes and I would advise you order something that doesn’t sound too ambitious’.
I should have heeded my own words but I honestly thought the fish pie would be a safe bet and I also thought it would act as a marker as to how good or bad the food was at this particular pub. A fish pie is something I would often order as a pub lunch. I knew my fish pie. They ordered veggie burgers.
Of course, it met expectations, it was shit. Tasteless and unrecognisable lumps of sea fare heated to surface-of-the-sun temperature served in a not-quite-right cheese sauce. Against better judgement I still ate it, I was starving, the sun was shining and I didn’t want to make a fuss in front of our house guest.
If it had ended there I wouldn’t have minded. I was only living near this pub for a few months so I didn’t really care how good or bad the food was but all evening my stomach rumbled and rattled away, churning as if the fish were still in the stormy seas and I felt as sick as a pig. I have a fairly robust constitution in that respect, It takes a lot to make me empty my stomach contents and in fact, I hadn’t been sick in years. I was convinced that the pie would end up affecting the other end of my digestion system and so I waited for the inevitable.
By next morning I still hadn’t rid myself of the offending surf items, from either end and this felt a little odd. I was still getting really bad stomach cramps and the pain had moved down to my lower abdomen. I still felt as sick as a pig. I struggled through the day taking various home remedy medications, Rennie and the like. Later I was perplexed when I had a normal dump, the expected blowback never occurred and I went to bed rumbling and a rolling, feeling quite uncomfortable.
The next day, we said goodbye to our guest, who by this time was sick of hearing me bang on about the bloody fish pie and then I had to take my partner to hospital to have her planned double foot surgery. I had two weeks clear in the diary afterwards to look after her as obviously she wouldn’t be able to walk much. The tide had gone out on my fish pie problem but the pain remained lingering in my lower abdomen with a general feeling of nausea. Something wasn’t right.
The girlfriend’s surgery was only for the day, so in the evening I got her settled with all she needed, walked the dog and tried some more medication to rid me of the sickness. The next morning, partner was in a lot of pain, I was still moaning about fish pie, I was going to have to see the doctor so I made an appointment for the following day, 4 days after the King William IV visit.
The GP laughed as I explained about the fish pie incident and said it was probably coincidence so she asked me to pop up on the table and have a lie down. A couple of painful prods later she declared that it was probably appendicitis, less common in a man of my age and I should get myself up the hospital if I felt ok to drive. See ya.
At Luton and Dunstable hospital they admitted me straight away, while I got on the phone and tried to arrange someone to look after my partner and take the dog off our hands. You find out your true friends at a time like this and ours rallied round to help out and to bring me an overnight bag. I still thought it was the fish pie.
Blood tests were inconclusive so I was booked in for a CT scan the next day. I spent a lovely night not sleeping, listening to the other patients snoring and farting, lights going on and off, beeping of various machines. Such fun. I didn’t have a chance to sample the hospital food as I was certainly in the nil by mouth category but I couldn’t help noticing the first item on their menu was fish pie!
CT scan confirmed acute appendicitis, that was it, off to surgery for removal. It turned out, my appendix had withered away somewhat but was still inflamed. It was also stuck to my colon. The operation wasn’t quite as straightforward as it should have been and I had a drain fitted in my stomach. I was full of holes.
The operation was a success, thankfully, my GP knew what she was doing and the hospital machinery went into action swiftly. I must say, the treatment I got from the NHS was first class, the nurses and medical team excellent and even though I tried to enter into discussion about the ongoing politics not one of them would say a bad word about their employers. I was one of 5 appendectomies that day, one of which was a 4 hr operation on a burst appendix. Scary stuff.
I’m at home recovering now, back to looking after my partner after her foot surgery, not that I’m much use. We are shuffling round the flat like a couple of old age pensioners but can manage quite well. I do the walking, she does the lifting. Our friends have been immense and our dog returns this evening to keep us company.
I know it was a coincidence, but I can’t help thinking all along, if only I hadn’t gone for that fucking fish pie…….
“It’s evenings like this that make it all worthwhile..”
The Centurion Club Somersham was the scene of a very unusual Department S gig at the weekend. We were asked to play in support of a charity event run by none other than Dave Greenfield and Baz Warne from The Stranglers. They have been holding this event for a number of years following the untimely death of local friend Rob Ashurst.
We arrived early in the afternoon heat, far too early for the soundcheck, so we grabbed a beer and a sarnie and settled down to watch the World Cup France v Argentina game.
Eventually, a PA of sorts turned up, as did a drum kit and various other bits and bobs of equipment that were needed and we set up. No sound check though, we had to pop down the road to Dave Greenfield’s house where his lovely wife Pam had prepared quiche and salad for us all, washed down with some nice cold prosecco. I spent some time admiring one of Dave’s Gold discs on his lounge wall, presented many moons ago for 400,000 sales in the UK for one of the Stranglers albums. Do you remember when there was a time when bands had decent record sales? What lovely warm and welcoming people, the Greenfield’s really are top notch. It was also our drummer’s wife Ruth’s birthday and some friends had baked a special Department S cake, very tasty it was too!
The venue was unbelievably hot but luckily, there was no stage lighting which was a blessing to be honest. Lighting was provided by a few fluorescent panels in the ceiling. We managed to find two spotlights but they were above the dartboards, and the idea of trying to point them at the stage wasn’t worth exploring. When The Stranglers All Stars took to the stage, the sell out crowd flooded in from the evening sunshine and were treated to a delightful delivery of Stranglers favourites and the crowd sang along with gusto (whoever he is).
There was a special guest for their final number “Heroes”, none other than our very own Department S guitarist, Phil Thompson. Baz had asked us earlier if he could come and join us on stage during our set to play Is Vic There? to which Phil cheekily replied, “Yeah, if I can join you to play “No More Heroes” Baz agreed and thus, Phil leapt up and played a blinding second guitar, duelling the solo with Baz with great aplomb. Phil has been playing this song for years in his punk covers band The Sugar Bullets so it was an easy job for him and he was made up that he had played Heroes with his heroes. A career high for sure.
Their set came to an abrupt end when, and I have never seen this before in 40 years, some idiot tried to deliver 6 pints of beer on a tray to the stage. I watched this chump fight his way through the crowd and try to put the tray on top of Phil’s effects pedal board. Of course, it was blindingly obvious what was going to happen and sure enough, the six pints fell off the tray and flood the pedals as well as the mains supply and blew a main fuse. All the electrics cut out and that was that.
It took a while for the stage to be mopped and the effects pedals to be emptied of beer and wiped down. The delay pedal was fucked, thanks for that, but time was passing and we were now late to start our set. It was pure chaos, but I loved it, it’s what makes a gig more interesting when these odd events occur, such fun.
We delivered our set to an enthusiastic crowd, Baz and Dave joined us for a noisy and sweaty rendition of Vic, Phil conducting them both for the breaks and endings. All done under the strangely flat florescent lights. What a night.The only downside was getting home, the A1M was shut and a stupid detour took us on a bonkers route back to where we started. After about 45 minutes driving we were 2 miles further from home than when we started. Throw in 2 stops for Eddie to have a piss and further closures on the M1 meant I didn’t get home till nearly 3am. That stock n roll life for you.
“The last time I heard PiL play live, I was playing with them…”
It was April 1983, it was my last PiL gig at Toad’s Place, New Haven. Shortly after that I handed in my 2 hr notice, got on a plane and came back home. I never spoke to John Lydon again.
So it was with some reticent interest then that I agreed to go to the 100 Club Wednesday night with my old mate Guy Jardine from Rebel In Print to see PiL play the the Fred Perry Subculture event. Pre-drinks at the Blue Posts then off to the 100 Club. It was a strange crowd, a lot of younger people than I expected who were obviously there by winning free tickets or connected with Fred Perry in some other way. The rest of the crowd was made up of old lags and punk die hards like me.
Some familiar faces were there; Spizz Energi (of course) with flashing teeth in place and Charlie Harper from the UK subs dropped in with his wife. The Department S merch man Martin Weedon had also managed to blag a ticket. So there was a cosy familiar atmosphere.
There was no support band, PiL were due to kick off at 9pm so there was a bit of hanging about, the band weren’t even in the building. The stage was set with drums to one side, John in the middle in front of the infamous pillar and a barrier of sorts had been erected using flight cases. The low stage had been deemed unsuitable to guarantee John’s safety apparently.
Just after nine, the band swept in down the back stairs, fronted by Rambo and 100 Club security, the crowd parting like the Red Sea as the great punk Lord himself swaggered to the stage. John was bedecked in a Chef’s outfit for the evening. An odd look, but John is never one to stick to convention. I did happen to notice though that he looked as if he’d eaten most of the food, being somewhat bulkier of frame than I remember (aren’t we all).
The sound was good, PiL launched into their opener ‘Warrior’ and the crowd lapped it up. The set was delivered efficiently, some songs sounded great ‘Memories’ and ‘The body’ sounded strong. All the parts were there but to me, something was amiss. Lou Edmonds seemed to be struggling a bit in places, he went through numerous guitar changes but didn’t seem to be on top of it. Perhaps that was just me. Things went downhill further when ‘Death Disco’ was delivered without any of its drama or menace. I guess John has sung it so many times it’s lost a bit of its edge. The rhythm section sounded a bit tame in places, but I mustn’t be too harsh comparing them to Martin Atkins and I who were of course, a formidable force.
John milked the crowd as per usual, even taking time at one point to berate a fan for not listening “Oi you fat cunt, stop talking, there’s a show going on here!” A classic line that prompted zero response from the embarrassed sycophant.
Rambo was prowling stage left, looking for trouble, and finding it from the most innocuous places; a camera too close, a fan leaning too far, you know, really dangerous situations.
The rest of the songs came and went, ‘Flowers of Romance’ with prerecorded drums didn’t really lift off and ‘This Is Not a Love Song’ plodded. Scott Firth adding to the bass parts with frills and trills that were interesting but unnecessary in my view. ‘Rise’ ended the set and was a good one to end on. The band departed. Some of the crowd mustered enough enthusiasm for an encore but mostly people stood around silently. The band remerged and launched into ‘Public Image’ and it sounded truly awful. I have never heard that song played so badly. Even when Keith Levene was at his worst he delivered the guitar parts to that song with much angst and ferocity. Lou Edmonds was well off the pace and I have no idea why because he is such a fine guitarist.
The encore ended with ‘Open Up’ and ‘Shoom’ and as the last lyrical echoes of “Fuck off, fuck off” rang through the crowd, they were off into the 100 club dressing room which is conveniently situated opposite the stage so another forced plough through the crowd led by Rambo took place.
After the show
I wanted to say hello to John, I wanted to close the circle by meeting him for the first time since 1983, just to see if we could be at peace. There was a bit of a wait before I was granted access during which time I grabbed a quick hello with Scott Firth and we briefly swapped bass playing notes about ‘Love Song’ but eventually I was allowed past the Rambo guard and given a very warm welcome by John who was sitting with his wife Nora.
We chatted for 15 minutes or so and John expressed his pleasure at me having taken the time to drop in to say hello, he seemed genuinely pleased I had done so. We quickly touched on how things were back in the 80’s and we both acknowledged where the problem lay back then, agreeing that we always got on well and never had any disagreements. We spoke about Keith, Martin and Maureen Baker. Rambo took A couple of pictures for me for the album before I said my goodbyes and with a sweaty hug from the man took off home.
That’s probably it with PiL for me, I can’t see me going to see them again unless I happen to be on the same bill! But I wouldn’t mind going one more time to see by comparison if this was a one off or what. I hope their new album is a scorcher, it needs to be.
All in all it was a fun night, always is when Spizz is around and I am happy to have finally met John, in peace and with respect.