Sunday, 24 August 2014

Terry and Gerry! The reunion! The tour! It's only been 27 years.....

They're back. Just don't gob on them this time round, if you wouldn't mind.

Skiffle Punk? This one might have passed you by, especially if you're not of a certain age. When word trickled out that a much loved band might just be reforming, there was a muted but marked explosion of joy in certain quarters. 

Who are the band? Terry and Gerry, that's who. The guys who did skiffle punk. Who would show up on gigs with Hank Wangford. Or the Nightingales. The guys who scored Peel sessions, to the joy of many (but remember, Peel fans: we did them first at BRMB, and there's a feature length Terry and Gerry video at the bottom of this post, with lots of BRMB studio and 80s Brum footage). 

Picture the scene; it'll come back to you. You're at a punk gig in the mid 80s; elaborate mohicans, inventive mascara and piercings are in evidence; not that many tatts, though. Heavy heavy reggae bass vibes pump through the sound system, and indeed through your guts. You could cut the air: it's full of exotic smoke, and the odd whiff of stale sweat. And then - these baby faced wholesome guys walk out on stage, in tuxedos and string ties. Stand-up bass, acoustic guitars, washboard. 

You'd expect them to get slaughtered, right? Pah. Not a chance. 

Terry and Gerry's secret weapon is unstoppable, mountain-moving, ferocious, beaming enthusiasm. Breakneck, super-tight song delivery that makes the Ramones look like blissed-out progrockers. 

Terry and Gerry 2014: Su, Terry, Gerry and Mick      Photo Brian Homer
And now they've re-formed. Pretty much all the original players in one place: Terry and Gerry of course, Su Sonic and Destroyer Mick Howson. Probably no hurdy-gurdy in the set, though. 

So why the reunion? Is this for tax reasons?
Terry: Ha! We're trying to raise some VAT to try and help the Tory Government!
Gerry: To pay for our NHS bills!
There's been a spate of 80s bands, mainly pop,who – suddenly – reappear on tour after years away. I guess the royalties must have dried up.
Terry: Ours dried up a long time ago!
So, back in the day, there you were, doing benefits for the miners, doing Peel sessions. You were a very very big name, out of Birmingham, for a brief period. But all that was more than a generation ago. So why the reunion?

Terry: It's ten years since John Peel died. Obviously yourself, Mike (Davies) and John (Slater) did a lot for us locally. But John Peel got us established nationally. He had that connection. There's an October concert commemorating John Peel in Stockton on Tees, with the Nightingales and a lot of other bands of that ilk. Gerry got in touch; we were all still alive and in the same country – and all playing music.
Gerry: But we thought it was pointless getting together for one concert. So I put some feelers out. People, thankfully, weren't as rude as the promoters. We tried to find some of the original promoters – Dave Travis, in Birmingham – so now we've strung together a John Peel commemorative tour. With an EP, with new songs. It's going to be a good thing. 
So we got together to see it it still works. And it was the most amazing, magical, energetic thing that brought back everything that was good about 80s Brum, and Terry and Gerry! 
Terry: It was amazing.
Gerry: After the first rehearsal, I went home feeling 20 years younger. 
When you're doing something special, you never know at the time, do you? Because you're in the middle of it. And you guys did put your finger on something. But you never know if you can recapture those golden days...
Terry: I'm confident about the music. Whether anyone else will enjoy it as much as we do...
What about the audience? When Miles and Erica played the Hare and Hounds, there were chairs at the front for old crocks like me. When Steve Gibbons played, there were chairs all the way back...
Gerry: I don't know... we've got a few younger followers. We do get emails from younger bands who have been influenced by us – The United Stoats of America, who do some of our tracks. McCavity's Cat, a Canterbury rockabilly band. Because I've been playing in the folky world, I've heard lots of our songs as floor spots. Wait a minute? That's my song! 
That must feel great.
Gerry: Oh, it's brilliant! It's really nice. 
Of course, as is the way these days, everyone is in different bands as well – Terry is running Forro Social, and Gerry has the Gerry Colvin Band
Terry: I'm in three bands at the moment. And Mick Howson is in the Destroyers, who are fantastic. 
And here's an exclusive cut, live in the back room, recorded Monday 18th August

So at the gig, are we in for a Brum nostalgiafest? I get the feeling there will be a lot of faces there. 
Gerry: We are not resting on our laurels. There'll be an EP, with five new songs and a Yeah Yeah No song. And vintage T-shirts. But Su will play the same washboard we used twenty seven years ago. 
But it is a different climate for you guys now. That's why I kicked of with that gag about reforming for tax reasons. You won't make a lot of money off the record – although it won't cost as much to record. But you do stand a chance of making more money off the gig and merchandising.
Terry: For us, music was first. We wanted to live from our music. It was lovely to be a musician. 
I'm not for a minute saying that that's why you did it in the first place. But the other side of the coin is, as working musicians, the challenge is how you can make a living from your work. 
Gerry: It is. With records – I still call them records – somebody else is making money out of them. But live performances are different. And we never really managed to get the energy of the live performances on record.
There was a huge political impetus to the scene you were part of. I think it was largely driven by opposition to Margaret Thatcher. 
Terry. Yes. I do wonder what's happened to the kids today. What aren't they more angry?
Some of them are....


Terry and Gerry's facebook page
Terry and Gerry play the Hare and Hounds on Sunday 2 November. Tickets here

See also
The Stuff Of Wonder
Neon Hearts

See more music posts on Radio To Go


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