STEVE VOICE INTERVIEW 2013
What was the first sort of music you got into?
My cousin Bob Voice was in a mod/psych band called Fire. He took me to see them play when I was 11 and from then on I was hooked on that kind of music. Bands like The Creation and the great American garage bands like The Stooges and The Electric Prunes. Also The Who when they where called The High Numbers used to rehearse at the school my uncle worked at as a caretaker, so I used go to watch them. Standing by the door with my mouth and eyes wide open in amazement at the volume and energy. How embarrassing. They were great even then.
How did London form? What were the events leading up the formation?
Well contrary to popular belief, London was never a rock band that jumped on the punk bandwagon. Riff put an ad in a music paper in 1976 and we got together that way. I was the first to join then Jon Moss jumped ship from The Clash (he became good at that) and we auditioned guitarists and found Dave.
What were your early rehearsals/group meetings like, and how did the band sound evolve?
I guess we all listened to The Damned, Pistols and Ramones and we all liked The Who a lot so we kind of developed our sound around that.
Daily rehearsals in a mouldy little room behind a shop in Kilburn. We pulled a set together pretty quickly.
On the site I describe London as a Who/Pistols type sound. Was this the intention, and what do you think of the description?
Yes you got that spot on and a big compliment. Cheers.
Do you have any details of any early songs that may have bitten the dust before the record deal loomed?
We did a couple of Who songs and believe it or not a David Soul song at breakneck speed (as usual) for a laugh but J J Burnel suggested we drop that. Also an instrumental called 'Sex Appeal' that I still have a recording of.
How was it that Simon Napier-Bell became manager, and what was he like as a person and manager?
Simon was looking around for a punk band to manage and sent his scout Danny Morgan to check us out at The Rochester Castle. Danny liked what he saw and they both came to see us the following week at The Roxy. Simon offered us a contract and the rest is a mystery. I mean history. Simon was a very charismatic person and a laugh to be around. He'll be the first to admit that he is a bit of a scammer and always on the lookout for a quick killing. In retrospect not a good choice for us as I don't think he saw much of a future for the band. He was also managing Japan at this time and I think he put a lot more effort into them than us.
Did Jon Moss talk about his stint in The Clash? And what was he like by the way.
Jon didn’t get on with Joe Strummer at all and said that he was a privileged middle class boy pretending to be a hard done by working class punk. He also said that he was treated like a hired hand and never felt part of the band. He was lot of fun to be around. A great natural drummer and was always going to “make it” big no matter what. There was a lot more to Jon than Culture Club.
What were the other band members like?
Dave (real name Colin) and I didn’t always see eye to eye to tell the truth but he's still one of the best guitarists I've ever played with and of course a very clever boy.(now Professor Wight) Riff (real name Miles) is a really interesting person. Fun to be around and very talented in many areas. A great songwriter and a successful playwright. He is one of the best front men I have ever seen, and I still get a real buzz out of playing live with him with London.
How did the MCA deal come about, and what do you think of the label and how it marketed the band?
Simon somehow managed to get several major labels scrambling to sign us. Virgin came to see us at The Nashville but signed the support band XTC instead. We went with MCA who knew Simon well. Again it was a wrong choice for us. As with Simon we where just a short term project and their token punk band I guess. They didn’t have a clue about how to market us and failed to push us when we started to climb the charts.
Did having Stella McCartney declare herself a fan help or not?'
You’ve really done your home work but I think it was Heather. Her thumbs up for London didn’t make much difference. Jon was going out with her and we all got to meet her nice dad.
Can you describe the recording of the first single. 'Summer Of Love' EP and the 'Animal Games' LP. How were they received and what do you think of them now?
The Summer Of Love EP was recording at IBC in Portland place as was the Animal Games LP. It was amazing to be recording in the same room that The Who and The Small Faces had stood ten years before us making their great tracks. The Easybeats also recorded Friday On My Mind there which was a strange coincidence. Our first single Everyone's A Winner was recorded as a demo and remastered at IBC. I still like to listen to them now and then. Preferably at full volume.
To be honest London hardly ever had a positive review. The music press didn’t like the band for some reason and the knives where out for us right from the start. I think that they all swallowed the “band wagon jumping pill” and that was that. Its strange that our new album Reboot has got nothing but great reviews.
How and why did the band split, and what did you do immediately after it, before you formed Original Vampires and Blind Yeo?
After being together for about a year, Jon was offered the drum seat with The Damned. Rat had been kicked out for being a naughty boy and Jon being Jon jumped at the chance. We tried a few other drummers but it never really sounded the same. So we called it a day. Should have kept going a bit longer I know but Riff had been signed as a solo artist with MCA and Dave soon left to join Holly and the Italians. I did a bit of recording with Riff and then drifted off into session work and complete obscurity.
Can you tell me anything more about those bands?
Blind Yeo was very short lived and never gigged, but The Original Vampires was a great three piece band. One single called Harry's House. (as The Vampires) Should have been a smash but flopped like everything else. Boo hoo ! We signed with Derek Nicol who was the late great Alex Harvey's manager.
What was the Roxy and the Vortex like?
The Roxy was a great smelly little place. A bit of an edgy atmosphere with the occasional punch up and good hardcore punk crowds. The Vortex was a bit different.. I remember getting a bad shock from one of the microphones during a sound check and when I complained, the sound engineer said “well don't touch it then * We packed up and left. I did meet Keith Moon down there that night though and he remembered me from when I was a spotty little school boy. He suggested that we smash all the house amplifiers up before leaving.
Who were the most important bands to you at the time, and what were the most important events?
The Pistols, The Stranglers and The Damned where the top bands for me. I really liked Eater and The Slits as well. There where some great gigs that stand out for me like the time I saw The Clash play at a CND rally and when I watched Generation X play to six people at The Hope and Anchor.
What was 'Souxsie Sue' actually about?
It was just a song about a few people I knew at the time. I new a girl called Sue who was, shall we say, a bit lively. Then we bumped into The Banshees at a service station in the early hours after a gig. Souxsie completely blanked us when we told her who we where so we gave her the honour of titling the song in her name. Apparently she wasn’t too pleased.
What was it like touring with the Stranglers?
It was a real baptism of fire. We went from pub gigs to big venues over night. The Stranglers were good to us maybe because they where outsiders like ourselves. The tour was great and opening for them night after night, I guess we where the first punk band a lot of people had seen.There was always the chance of some violence of course with The Stranglers reputation. But no one got hurt badly as far as I know.
I thought London was at its best on the mid-speed numbers. Would you agree?
Yes I agree. We tried to out do The Damned and Ramones for speed for some crazy reason. Silly boys.
Well there it is. You have chosen punks most elusive band. London where never accepted then and still aren’t to this day by other well known punk bands we meet on our travels. Its a sad little tale of wrong decisions and a bit of bad luck but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.