There are some people who are musicians and some people who are music lovers. Needless to say, there are musicians who are music lovers as well. But what is there to point out regarding what part of your life music is taking. Music is like a drug. Once you taste it, it’s hard to leave it.
Dave Alucard is one such man where music plays a vital role in his life. He is a musician, a music lover, a pogo-master, and a diehard punk rocker with a great sense of humor. As the man states in his owns words: “They will never take me alive”.
- Vernon Joynson quotes in his book, “Up Yours – A Guide to UK Punk, New Wave and Early Post Punk”, the following: “Dave Alucard – bass, Mick Taylor – vocs, guitar, Phil Trotsky – drums. An obscure revival combo whose EP was issued in a photocopied picture sleeve. Alucard and Taylor wrote East Coast Kids, a sixties influenced disc, which can also be heard on 100% British Mod – Captain Mod MODSKA dcd 8 1998.” The name of this band was Exit/The What and this EP was released in 1979? You’re flirting with music for 30 years now. What’s the story with Exit/The What?
A….”Show me a boy who never wanted to be a rock star and I’ll show you a liar.” Ray Connolly . The inspiration came from the Punk Rock explosion, the ripples reached the suburbs and the no hope coastal towns, and we were the kids that were not allowed in the music room at school, we started from scratch and for the most laughed all the way. We got the name EXIT, taking the letters from the words sEX pIsTols plus it was on the door of the way out of Tescos, a shop near the bus stop we used to meet up at. Six of us started the group, this became four then three (with a line up change) It took a long year to obtain equipment and to learn to play and write songs, we watched every live band we could asking questions all the time. Natural born performers like Mick Taylor and erh……….me elevated the band into a good live combo. Those early gigs were full of humour and menace – it was a chance to change your name, personality and socks, it took a long time and the addition of Neil Burniston to learn how to record our music and to use the studio, another art. To take the band to the next level it was decide to put a record out, we looked for deals and had to become a serious propersion ( oops …….I sound like the chairman of EMI sorry ) . Just as we went to press the tracks another band by the name of Exit started to appear the gig listings. Mick Taylor spoke to them with out any luck, so a name change was needed. To this day I do not know where the name The What came from, we had, like the Sex Pistols used aliases The Christmas Trees and The Dors to name two, but The What ? This put us in a ludicrous scenario and a lesson on how not to do things. We were still appearing on stage as Exit but at the same time promoting our East Coast Kids e.p under the name the What. Our fan base grow the record via Dead Good Records and Small Wonder sold even getting into the indie charts in Norway! We spilt in disarray, then surprise –surprise reformed in December 1981 becoming a more poppier outfit. As Exit we released two more singles “Planetoid Passion/Social Graces” “The Bite of Winter/No Respect” on the Red Beret Music label distributed by Pinnacle and the Cartel. Exit came to end in 1986 but the tracks on the records we made have taking on their own livies.
- Punk rock is still highly respected nowadays, but if a 15 year old kid would ask you how the atmosphere was back in those late 70’s days, what would you say? Did it sell out?
A…In those early days there was always a hint of menace in the air, especially at gigs .The old guard were not ready to give up their dance halls and music venues. Questions were asked about Punk Rock in the houses of parliament , the Sex Pistols were public enemy number one and any kid with a short dodgy hair cut and a ripped up jacket was fair game .To look different was to stand out, O.A.Ps would not sit near you on the bus. I was asked to move on by a policeman , I protested by explaining that I was a Punk Rocker and not a dosser (a tramp) .By late 79 things began to get watered down , the D.I.Y ethos became new business opportunities , the minority of the dog head people became the majority in the mosh pits up and down the land .Did it sell out, life is a compromise, it adapted.
- Exit were also invited to record a session for BBC Radio Humberside. What happened? Did you ever release this session or is it in some desk drawer waiting for the light of day?
A….. The band got a lot of publicity over a riot at one of our gigs. We got mentioned in the Northern editions of the Red Tops as well as being on the radio news . Exit were also summoned to appear at the Lincoln Crown Court, one of the highest in the land. This, then ongoing momentum gave rise to Radio Humberside’s Paull Hunsley Electric Wireless Show getting in touch with the band to arrange an interview .An on air invite from the shows presenter, Tim Jibson lead the band being offered a recording session with the B.B.C. This was our first experience in a recording studio and it showed from the results . We recorded the session , three songs on a Saturday afternoon as a sports programme was being broadcast live on the air in the background you could hear Phil Trotsky’s drums coming over. Years later when talking to the producer of the session he admitted that it was his first as well. The master tape is held by the band and it his been remastered by Neil Burniston.
- I have that Exit vid here, “Chinese Eyes”, which sounds less aggressive than your E.P. I have to admit that it was rare for a band to have a video clip back then. How come?
A….The original band re-formed in December 1981 then went through some drastic personality changes. Mick Taylor the bands charismatic front man and songwriter was no longer on the scene, his positive influence remains to this day . The song writing changed along with the attitude, we had a deal with Pinnacle Records who wanted some visual material to work with so to practice the band filmed four videos . We wanted to look good in the new cold light of the video age
“Chinese Eyes” was recorded at Fairview a 24 track studio and was engineered by Roy Neave who later went on to work with The Housemartins and Andrew Eldritch of The Sisters of Mercy. Andrew’s camper van was there when we were recording but we did not see him despite banging on the door !
- There are some great new English punk rock bands around nowadays. I like the Strawberry Blondes and I know you like the Sex Pistols Experience. What’s going on? Do you think the ground is politically fertile again for a punk rock outbreak just like in ‘76-‘77?
A…The do-it-yourself aspect of the punk revolution has come into a new fruition with the advent of the home computer, You Tube and social networking sites like My Space. Bands now more than ever do not need big record companies to back and promote them. They can, in theory keep hold of their musical rights and more of an income to a point plus hard work! There are people out there like Johnny and Jacqui of Devilish Presley, Paul and Beki of Vice Squad, the mighty John Robb of Gold Blade, Pete Eddie Knox of The Vibrators plus Mickie of the Strawberry Blondes who put every thing into their music as they have nothing else. There must be a backlash against the non talent talent shows.
Live music is getting squeezed out, cut off times in the pubs and clubs are getting earlier as the venues turn into hardcore club mix no brain dance disco megger gut thumping dross. I do like all sorts of music even a bit of techno- techno – techno but not at the expense of live music. Just when did the new wave become old school?
I know attendances are down are the price of guitar strings are up, the economic climate is brewing up a musical revolution……………….the return of skiffle ! No grab your guitar grab your amp vote for Joanna Lumley or Jez and start playing for the rise up !
- There is a link to The Damned’s “Captain Sensible”. Could you please share the story with us?
A…Both Mick Taylor and I adore The Damned and it was by chance that our roadie Dave Robbins was hanging out at the Cleethorpes Winter Gardens looking for free lance work by offering his muscle to The Damned .They were booked by the Students Union for one of their balls, so to speak ! The band turned up but no gear, they only had Captain’s guitar and Algy’s bass .Quick thinking” Robbins “got hold of Phil Trotsky (Exit’s drummer) who stuck a deal with both The Damned and the Students Union .Exit’s P.A. and gear along with the official supports bands equipment (I think their name was Basaxe ) was to be used with Exit gaining a slot on the bill. I didn’t know any of this and when I arrived at the Winter Gardens, I remember saying to my girlfriend “see that bass amp I have one just like it – and those drums look like Phil’s” – of cause they were ours .The Damned were as charming as ever taking time to talk to us, Mick turned up to the gig wearing his Red Beret, after a long chat with Captain, who was wearing a flat cap they exchanged headgear to the great delight of the onlookers. Also one of the members of Basaxe was wearing a fluffy outfit; Captain took a note of where he had got it from. The next time Mick saw his hat was when it turned up Top of The Pops with Captain wearing it along with a fluffy outfit. Mick went on to name his publishing company Red Beret Music after the event. Just for the record The Damned got £400 (free drinks and a snowball or two) Exit got £15, a musical lesson plus a bloody good night out!
- I know you take long drives to see your favourite bands almost every weekend. Can you pick your three all-time favourite gigs that you ever attended?
A….There has been so many, just under are Sex Pistols at Manchester, Devilish Presley at Halifax The Vibrators at Hull but I am going for – The Clash at London Victoria Park David Bowie at Earls Court London and The Damned at Nottingham
- You once told me that you were about to follow The Damned as their roadie. (Their keyboard player, Oxymoron, who’s with them the last years, is great, huh?) I didn’t know they named a train after Captain Sensible…
A….Through a friend of my brother, I got a job working for J.C.Entertainments , they provided entertainment to various pubs and clubs in the area. I became a D.J. and after a time I got to book the bands for the pub that I worked at The P and M ( Marc Bolan once had a pint there- J.C was a mate of Bolans and John Peel). Booking bands was easy as they came to me for gigs plus I was told not to book my own band…. too often! A few years latter I helped to promote a couple of gigs by a band called The Doctor Space Toad Experience. This band contain the then ex Damned guitarist Captain Sensible and strange keyboard player called Monty Moron (now Monty Oxymoron). Then Captain started touring with his own band, with a friend of mine as their road manager, again I helped to promote a gig of there’s at the Cleethorpes Winter Gardens. Behind the scenes Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible reunited as The Damned, with Rat Scabies no longer involved. Gary Dreadful (drummer) and Monty (keyboards) both from Captain’s band also joined up to be “Damned”. I was asked by the road manager if I wanted to play bass for them; a number of instruments were brought round to my house to practice with. I soon realised that I had the bottle to do it but not the musical skill to learn the set in less than a month, I did suggest that Dave Vanian’ s then girlfriend and now wife Patricia Morrison could fill the spot. She did join and a new golden area of the band began! ——-
Never mind Knighthoods and Lordships, though I think both Charlie Harper (U.K.Subs) and Knox (the Vibrators) deserve one each, to have a railway engine named after you must be a top honour ! As far as I know there are three class 47 diesel engines now named there is ,John Peel, Joe Strummer and number (47810) Captain Sensible. I would love it if a Stanier black 5 would be named Dave Alucard ha!
- About a month before the band split you managed to have the Eastcoast Kids E.P. in the Norwegian indie import top twenty. Why did you split? Did you ever wonder what would have happen if you hadn’t split?
A..Our record company Dead Good Records told us that they had selled enough copies of The East Coast Kids ep to gain entry in the Norwegian indie import chart (no.16).We thought we could hitch a lift on a trawler and pop across the North Sea to Norway and do a couple of gigs. By 1979 the band had been going for 2 ½ years with a number of line up changes, it had become a strain, the degree of success was as not much as we wanted, the New Wave was becoming a mill pound we split. Mick Taylor had a number of musical projects that he persuade before joining me in a band called The Funeral Service – after a while the interest in Exit increased and we reformed – the name The What was put on the back burner. We had seen our musical heroes reform so we knew it was a legitimate path to take – any way who else would put up with us?
- What did you guys do later?
A…After Exit, Neil and I formed a band called the Merger. We released a couple of singles that got limited airplay. We also got involved in another couple of bands ,Doctor Ekleberg’s Eyes and Parody .Due to ill health I gave up being in bands just keeping my ego happy with cameo appearances. I did for a short time manage a girl singer Carlie Brown. I got the gigs acted as M.D and producer in the recording studio plus got her into stage school. I felt a little like a puppet master but that to a point is management. Neil still makes music, but locks himself away in his own studio for months on end. He has been a great help in remastering all the old tracks putting them on to new formats. Cheers Neil ! Now for Mick Taylor, he was behind one of the areas all time best live bands The Legendary 96 Tears .After a name change and move to London, he certainly gave the door of opportunity a good knocking. The band was called A Better Mousetrap; they released a number of records, played live on the radio and were booked to appear on the channel 4 TV’s The Tube just as it was axed- how close was that! Mick also made a couple of cd’s under the name Cleethorpes Promenade which generated great interest.
- Ok, I know you joined the Lurkers on stage for a few tunes a couple of years ago, and you also made a guest appearance with Complete Control for a Clash cover. It looks like you’re having fun with music, but some people take it too seriously and they end up broken-hearted when they fail to achieve their “goal” (fame, money … whatever). What do you think? How should we take music?
A…..There were a couple of points in time when something big nearly happened to us – we came close and achieved a lot for a bunch of oiks from the sticks. The art is selling it, be it music, art, books or electrical products. You do not start a band to be the manager or a back stabber. When we first started the question we got asked all the time was when are you going to be on Top of The Pops, now it is why wasn’t you on Top of The Pops. I have sat in record companies MDs offices and hared the prise and marketing strategies. Serious, it would have been nice to find out if we could have cut the mustard, we had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs, tongue in cheek stuff as well as taking the………
There are a lot of people that are full of themselves and do take it all far too serious. Living with a disappointment ,arh a British thing , I think. No you have to enjoy music – in all forms ,the sound track to life !
- You know the game…”You are alone on an island and you have a record player and only 5 records with you”. Which ones would you pick?
A…Neat Neat Neat. The Damned .Pretty Vacant. The Sex Pistols. I love to Boogie T.Rex. Fortune. Cleethorpes Promenade. Things we said today. The Beatles .Just under the five….. Jeepster. T.Rex Whips and furs. The Vibrators. Rebel Rebel. The Strawberry Blondes. Hung Down. Devilish Presley. Heroes. David Bowie.
- When I say “Cleethorpes Winter Gardens” what memories come to mind?
A….The Cleethorpes Winter Gardens meant so much too so many people. It was all things to all people, Tea Dancers, Line Dancers, Northern Soulies and of cause Punk Rockers. It hosted trade shows, Christmas dinners and auctions to name a few. I was going to have my ashes scattered near the place but it’s not to be as it was demolished in 2007. It was a fine Art Deco style sea front building that loomed out of the gloom of a dark damp Cleethorpes day, we have five a week! A more enlightened council could have done a refurbishment like the East Yorkshire Council did on the Spar at Bridlington. What memories…………here are a few – I got my first bass guitar less backstage at the Gardens, Kid Read of The Boys showed me a few things on his Fender Mustang bass and when I got enough money together I got a Mustang bass. There was an after show party when an old upright piano was rolled out a Captain Sensible of The Damned entertained with a knees up round the old-Joanna – also when he was playing with Dead Men Walking I remember him diving into the crowed and hitting me full in the face with his bass! When Sham 69 played the Gardens the P.A. packed in and Jimmy Pursey dragged the Winter Gardens manager up on stage – Jimmy also told us to keep our tickets as Sham 69 will be back…………………we are still waiting ! The last ever gig featured the Buzzcocks, I got the honour of introducing them on stage , they made the last night very special , playing at Gaz Ladds request “Times up”.
- How did you meet Nancy Spungen?
A…….By the time Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers came to the Cleethorpes Winter Gardens for the second time ( 6-10-1977) I and a couple of friends had perfected the art of ligging and smuggerling ourselves backstage and upstairs to the dressing rooms. On this occasion we went to dressing room number one and was greeted by the sight of a man having a shave, This man said ” Hi ” in an American drawl ” I’m Jerry- how you doing” I and my friends introduced ourselves just as the rest of the band and a tartie looking blonde girl plus the man himself Johnny Thunders fell into the dressing room giggling away .For a good half an hour we spoke swoped stories ,then Johnny said that he could do with a drink. I showed Johnny, Jerry and Jerry’s blonde tartie looking girlfriend down to the bar even joining the three of them for a drink. I was introduced for the first time to vodka, their preferred tipple. After a few drinks they made their way back upstairs to the dressing room——show time. I made my way to the front of the stage
The band wearing black leather trousers with mohair jumpers entered the stage to the sound of marching jackboots from. the Nurenberg Rally . Their arrogant stances made them seem more macho than the British groups that had previously played at the Winter Gardens. The set played with such ease and style mainly came from the L.P. they were promoting at the time L.A.M.F. All through the set sat at the back of the stage behind her boyfriend drummer was the tartie looking blonde girl. The postscript to the story.
The vast amount of vodka consumed was a poor substitute for the methadone that they were on as a heroine addicts.
Jerry’s blonde tartie looking girlfriend would gain worldwide notoriety in the music world as her name was Nancy Spungen.
- What’s next for the Pogo-master?
A…. Well, ill health has curtailed a lot of my music making (thank God for that……who said that?) I get a thrill of joining various bands on stage for a song or two , I would love to take to the stage with The Vibrators or Vice Squad ,even better it would be great to co write a song with either Johnny Navarro from Devilish Presley or the near legendary Mickie Stabbs of The Strawberry Blondes. The head of the Exit fan club (Kirk Arnold) is organising an exhibition of pictures and art work for a show at the Grimsby Institute, with Mick Taylor expressing a wish to come up from his London home to view. I still enjoy going to gigs looking for the slight surreal things that happen, I have strange mood swings so watching bands and meeting the acts ( yes I get a little star struck – ha ! ) keeps me centred – gosh I now sound like an old hippy not a PUNK ROCKER.
Thank you Dave for taking the time to answer to our questions.
Hope to see you in one of the forthcoming punk rock gigs somewhere in England.
To any of you out there who would like to listen to the Exit sound, you can find it here.