Heavy Drapes Q&A.
Q 1: What does Heavy Drapes mean and where did it come from, Vivian Westwood is rumoured?
Heavy Drapes: We deliberated over the name for a while. We wanted something unique and something which would give a nod to our influences. The name was taken from a line in the book ‘Only Anarchists Are Pretty’. Heavy drapes was used in the book to describe the interior of Viv Westwood & Malcolm McLaren’s shop SEX on the King’s Road, London. I received a message from Glen Matlock who was intrigued by the name, in his own words; he thought it was a “great name”. He asked the same question as you and was completely blown away when I told him it was taken from the shop he worked in as a teenager. I was never 100% with the name but if it’s good enough for Glen.
Q 2: How have Heavy Drapes come together, have you all played in bands previously or known each other for a while?
Heavy Drapes: 3 of us (me, Rikki Stiv (guitar) & Billy Chaos (drums)) were in a band called Baby’s Got A Gun who were signed to Warner Bros America and split in the 90s. We released a couple of singles and an album; we shared a stage with David Bowie, Damned, Buzzcocks, Sham 69 and numerous others. We played everywhere including the Marquee, London a good few times. We were signed by Robin Godfrey Cass, the guy who signed Madonna and Prince, he thought we were the new Def Leppard, we weren’t. We were a Ramones type punk band who learned to play and ultimately turned into a gleaming L.A.rock machine. We were so high up the scale we were in talks with Roy Thomas Baker (Queen) and Bill Price (Sex Pistols/Guns n Roses) to produce the second album. We were mismanaged on a grand scale, signed for quarter of a million and still skint. We were only kids and everything was completely out of control, including us. We lost our way and fell to pieces. We lived on the edge and I’m delighted we’re still alive. This history makes Heavy Drapes very special to us, coz you’d never have put money on it happening. The 3 of us got back together in late 2007 and roped in Jerry Dangerous on bass. We did a couple of shows under the name the Stivs (after Stiv Bators/Dead Boys). We went on to play shows with New York Dolls, Stone Gods (the Darkness) and Hoodoo Gurus under the name Heavy Drapes and then imploded on our home turf of Leith, Edinburgh in May 2008. We got back together again in 2012 for a charity event however we split 5 minutes before show time; personal issues and not one we want to shout about; let’s just say it was messy. On hindsight, the reason we didn’t keep it together in 2007 was due to a lack of direction which lead to a lack of commitment, mainly by me to be honest. When we met up again in late summer 2015 to discuss the possibility putting a band together, we knew if we were going to move forward with the idea that it had to be direct and there had to be a plan. We were forming a punk rock band, a punk band in the true sense of the word and we know exactly where we’re going with this. There’s no mucking about, our goal was to be the biggest, new punk band in Scotland by the end of 2016; we actually nailed that goal in the first few months of getting together in August 2015. We were asked to play Blank Generation and Rebellion festivals when we only had one gig under our belt. We received our first write up in Louder Than War magazine when we were two months old, it was claiming we were the New Wave of Punk; from there it’s escalated and turned into a white knuckle ride.
Q 3: Who writes your songs, and what is the process you use?
Heavy Drapes: It takes time to write proper tunes, I don’t get the bands that can knock out an album in no time at all. It’s not a case of, here’s another stereotypical punk song, 1234 crash bang wallop, fuck the system. Rikki Stiv will come up with an idea, a riff, verse and chorus. The band will then jam; I’ll record the ideas and work on lyrics and vocal melodies. I may have ideas shoving around which give me a starting point, it could be a song title or it could be a line for a verse or chorus which leads to a theme for the lyric. Once I have basic ideas together from my end, I present them to the band and we jam the ideas, knock the song into shape, work on the arrangement and then slot it into the set and play it live where it will take on a life of its own. The song can mutate into a different beast all together when played live. It can change again when we record it. So, how a band can write an album in a couple of weeks is beyond me but what do I know.
Q 4: Can you explain a little about each of the tracks lyrics on the EP, they are all strong tracks with a different feel to them? Because there is that diversity I think everyone would choose differing favourites on the EP when listened to, mine being “Hanging Like a Suicide”.
Heavy Drapes: When we got together seriously at the end of 2015, the people interested in the band wanted to hear and buy some music, so we remastered these 4 songs which were demos and released them on our own label suck-revolution records. The tracks were recorded in two different sessions for the grand total of £200. Hanging Like A Suicide – I can’t remember what inspired that; deaths probably, dunno? Musically inspired by Sex Pistols/Professionals/Hot Rods by the sounds of it. Should I Suck or Should I Blow – About government control and rape of the people’s assets through war and greed. Into the Blue – About coming out the other side of a deep depression and the sense of elation that can bring. I Wanna Be Maladjusted – Was inspired by Arthur Kane of New York Dolls. I’m still amazed how he managed to do the London show when the Dolls reformed and then died right after. The lyric is based around the idea of no matter where your life takes you, if rock n roll is in your blood then it’s always gonna be there with you. It’s a nod to our influences and our statement on the back of Sex Pistols/New York and Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers/London Boys.
Q 5: The EP is excellent, power, passion and melody, is this the intended sound you want the band to be recognised by, to me it has elements of early UK punk tracks that’s not common today, as most new bands have an American element to them. Would you agree?
Heavy Drapes: I do agree and I’m glad you picked up on that. We have absolutely no desire to sound like any current punk bands, especially not the American ones. We’re influenced by the energy of Never Mind the Bollocks and Damned Damned Damned. We’re not influenced by any punk bands that came after the original bands. And we’re definitely not a rehash of what’s gone before; we have other influences outside the punk genre. All that American punk-pop shite is exactly that, shite. No time for them, a waste of space, the lot of them.
Q 6: What are you working on right now, and any info on new releases, Is there an album ready or being worked on at the moment?
Heavy Drapes: We’re currently recording our album in Glasgow with Mark Freegard who has worked with the Clash and Manic Street Preachers. We’ll have recorded half the album by the end of March but we’re still writing, so it’s ongoing. What I can say is that it’s sounding thunderous. Mark likes to attack the sessions and go for ‘one take’ recordings which is pressure but the reward for nailing it quickly is a positive one, you capture the live energy, it’s a natural, honest process. There’s no room for waxing lyrical or incorporating sweeping orchestra pieces. We’re going for a traditional 12 track 1970s style album and approaching it with a vinyl record in mind, a side 1 and a side 2. We’re recording tracks to be released as part of a pledge to raise cash to finance the completion of our debut album. The tunes will be cover versions we’ve played live over the past year. It’ll have a UK side and a USA side. It’ll be limited to the pledge only at this time and will be available on our own suck-revolution records. We also have a new Mark Freegard produced track called Nightrippin’ which will be released on the Tarbeach Records NYC compilation album in April, the same label who licensed our EP in the states.
We’re hoping our debut album will be released around Sep/Oct with another EP prior.
Q 7: There has only been a few Scottish punk bands that were any good over the years, do you rate any of them or any songs that make a mark on you from any Scottish bands . I saw The Valves perform “For Adolfs Only” recently in Edinburgh, still a great track?
Heavy Drapes: I don’t have any favourite Scottish punk bands. I do have favourite 45s though, Charles, Sweet Suburbia, Into the Valley, the Saints are Coming by the Skids of course, and all of the Rezillos 45s. I do like the early Simple Minds stuff like Chelsea Girl, Life in a Day and the absolute stomper of a track Love Song, but not sure they sit easily in amongst all of this punk talk. I do remember listening to Street Sounds on Radio Clyde on a Wednesday evening where I would hear local punk bands; I remember hearing The Freeze – Paranoia (Grangemouth I think?) on that show and buying it the following Saturday from Listen Records in Glasgow.
Q 8: What do you like to do outside of music, or does the band consume your free time?
Heavy Drapes: We have a 2 year plan for the band and we’ve put everything else aside to concentrate on that. We all have other personal stuff going on but the band is the major time consumer at the moment. If I wasn’t in the band, I’d probably enjoy just chilling coz as it is, I don’t have time to draw breath. No idea what the rest of the boys get up to, nonsense most likely.
Q 9: What got you involved in this in the first place with Punk, what/who inspired you? And who inspires you today?
Heavy Drapes: As a kid, I was inspired the first time I heard the Slade 45 – Take Me Bak ‘ome, the Glitter Band 45 Rock n Roll, the first time I saw Brian Connelly from Sweet on TOTP miming to Blockbuster, T-Rex doing 20th Century Boy, Queen doing Killer Queen. Who wouldn’t want to be in a band after that Glam fest? It wasn’t until I got my hands on a copy of the first Damned album that I realised what I had really been waiting to hear. Everything about that album grabbed me. A real game changer. When Bollocks arrived, I couldn’t believe they topped the Damned album, at least for me they did. My top two albums ever. So, glam rock got me interested and punk rock gave me the tools to make it happen. Lots of things inspire me today but if we’re sticking to music related stuff then I have to shout out Charlie Harper. I saw him recently with UK Subs at the Great British Alternative Festival and he nailed it. Over one hour onstage and he spat the words out like machine gun bullets. To be doing what he’s done for so long and still approach it with a fresh outlook is inspiring to me. I’d also shout out Jimmy Pursey; I was never a big Sham 69 fan but the band is on fire at the moment and possibly the most primitive sounding band I have ever heard. Pursey is a dynamic frontman, he looks the biz and commands the stage; the audience eat from his hand. It’s great entertainment.
Duncan Reid (ex the Boys), his band are phenomenal and definitely one to see live if you need guidance on how to put on a performance. He’s also a top bloke and has one on one relationships with his crowd, that’s inspiring. He’s also into Heavy Drapes and played us on Soho Radio recently. The guy was on the badge I used to wear to school, you couldn’t make it up. Jim Reilly from XSLF. He’s a diamond geezer and gives me loads of encouragement, and makes me laugh. His positive approach to me and the band fires me up. That’s inspiring and keeps me moving forward. He’s so humble he won’t know that he’s making a difference. I find Glen Matlock inspiring. The quiet Pistol with buckets of talent. I find him inspiring because he has time for me and my band when he must have better things to be doing. I think he’s a wonderful human being.
Q 10: What new music do you like, punk and non punk and is any of it worth recommending. I seem to be searching for that feeling I got from hearing New Rose for the first time. Is there one song that you would say is the sound you’re searching for when listening to new music?
Heavy Drapes: Nothing will touch that first time feeling for you, or me. I probably compare everything I hear to my fave albums, Never Mind the Bollocks, Damned Damned Damned, Raw Power, Ramones, but nothing comes close but that’s not the same for everyone. We get a lot of feedback from our support; I had a guy recently say that our track Into the Blue was the best rock song since Colombia by Oasis, so maybe the feeling can be recreated but it’d take a lot to match the New Rose first time. The one song that has the sound I would use as the benchmark is Sex Pistols – Problems. This is the track Guns n Roses used as the template for their Appetite for Destruction album, they even used Chris Thomas who produced Never Mind the Bollocks to help capture the sound; they did a grand job to be fair., even in cowboy boots.
Q 11: The Pistols, The Clash, The Damned and The Ramones are all remembered for making a mark in different ways musically, how would you like Heavy Drapes to make a mark?
Heavy Drapes: Musically, in the same way to be honest. To deliver a dynamite debut album that will be played in years to come. It’s been said our album is the most anticipated debut punk album in decades; we’ve a lot to live up to. It needs to be an album of great songs, we’re very aware of that. We’re also aware of what the album should feel like, the same as the Ramones and Sex Pistols, straight down the line, no bullshit rock n roll.
Q 12: Headlining your own Scottish festival which 5 bands support you and why, would it be a Scottish venue?
Heavy Drapes: It would be in Leith, Edinburgh; our home turf. In a circus tent at Leith Links, with only Scottish bands; Scars (coz they’re great and I never saw them live) The Cheetahs (same as Scars) The Valves (coz I missed their recent Edinburgh gig) The Stilettos (1977/78 East Kilbride band who I saw a few times, male + female vocals, like Rezillos with an edge) Neutral Blue (who I saw covering Garageland in my local community centre in 78. They went on to become Aztec Camera, also from East Kilbride) Free entry, c’mon down.
Q 13: How would you describe punk to someone who has never heard of the word? I feel it is a state of mind nothing to do with dress or even music really, it’s making the choice to go your own direction in life, willing to challenge what’s expected of you in our conventional society.
Heavy Drapes: I have no clue. We use the term ‘punk rock’ to describe our music because the term ‘rock’ conjures up images of traditional rock bands which is absolutely horrific to us. We were also mindful when we put the band together who we wanted to get at quickly; that was punk rockers, and it’s worked. I would probably agree that punk is a state of mind and if you’re in that mind-set when approaching your art, then you’re going to create something with an edge. What I will say is punk rock does not belong to anyone, it certainly doesn’t belong to the original bands, it’s for everyone and anyone; it’s for the outcasts and the outsiders. As much as we all say we hate labels and compartmentalising music, I believe if you’re not direct about what you’re selling then it will confuse people. There’s no point in us saying we’re a rock band who are influenced by punk, it’s more straight to the point to say we’re a punk rock band. I’m aware the original punks set everything up to self-destruct but that didn’t happen and the term lives on. It’s all Caroline Coon’s fault.
Q 14: 40 years of punk. Is this a celebration of a movement that changed the world, or are the exhibitions and publicity just conforming to the very establishment that it initially kicked out against?
Heavy Drapes: I think it’s a hoot and we’ve landed at the perfect time. Punks have been conforming since Sex Pistols signed to EMI, so I wouldn’t dwell on the conforming to the establishment nonsense. If it’s fun then it’s worth doing. If the 40 years of punk helps shine the spotlight on new punk rock music while celebrating past achievements then that can only be a good thing. I don’t care if people think I’m a cliché or that my band is the next U2 or that we’re not really a punk band, it’s me who’s hanging out with the guys and girls who were on my bedroom wall as a kid, it’s me who’s releasing records on a New York label, it’s me who’s playing the best alternative festivals in the UK and it’s me who gets to dress up and have fun like a child. I get to front the best new punk rock band in Britain, that’s gotta be a good thing.
Q 15: How would you describe a Heavy Drapes gig for someone who hasn’t seen you before, what would they be in for.
Heavy Drapes: There have been a few quotes which capture it better than I can; “The energy, power and sheer fire of the best of the class of 77” (Joe Whyte – Louder Than War) “They are the filth and the fury unleashed” (Alex Mainey Main – New Hellfire Club) “Never mind the bollocks, this is the real deal” (Gus Ironside – i94Bar Australia) “Vive Le new brit rock n roll” (Eugene Butcher – Vive Le Rock “They are like the bastard offspring of a Sex Pistols and Oasis love in” (Alex Mainey Main – New Hellfire Club) I would say we’re all inclusive and anyone can be a Drape, come along and join in, it’s a riot.
Q 16: What’s the band up to the rest of the year that we can enjoy.
Heavy Drapes: Loads. It’ll take a lot to top last year for us but maybe some of this will do the trick;
- Out On Those Pills – cover versions
- Our debut album
- Our first Irish dates in June
- Blank Generation festival in North London – where we took the roof off the introducing stage last year and where our main support are
- Nice & Sleazy festival – our first time
- Rebellion festival – where we destroyed it last year on the introducing stage
- Appearance in the new Rebellion movie released this year
- And lots of gigs mainly in England
We’ll decide at the end of 2017 if we’re going to continue, unless we implode prior to that which we are known to do.