**** UPDATES, 8/09/20: NOW POSTED: My review of HEART FULL OF SOUL, the first bio of the late Yardbirds lead singer, Keith Relf (1943-1976), and email chat with the author, David French -- have a raveup on us, so to speak. ALSO: My review of The Stooges: Live At Goose Lake: August 8th, 1970.
PLUS: I separated the title track of I WATCH THE BIRDS (2019) from "Summer Is Here," so they're now posted separately in Featured Songs, just because...I wanted to celebrate the onset of summer, what else? That's reason enough, I think.
MOVED: My epic three-part chat with Curt Weiss about his Jerry Nolan biography (STRANDED IN THE JUNGLE) is now in Author Interviews. AND: "We Are The Clash: Reviews & Updates 5/07/19)" is now filed under Clash Book Dispatches. (No medal for you if you didn't make the connection. :-)
ALSO: My writeup on my cover version of "Police" (The Proles, 1979) is now included in the description box (Featured Songs). AND: My version of The Animals' 1965 classic, "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place," now over on Featured Songs, which I've also combined some tracks to free up some space.
COMING SOON: DESPERATE TIMES #2, chronicling the rise and fall of Safari Sam's, the legendary Huntington Beach night spot -- an oral history, and hard-boiled narrative of its brief, but highly-charged two year-run (1984-86).
PLUS: A 1:50 (in other words, nearly two hour) audio clip from Philadelphia, PA (7/10/18), where Mark Andersen and I appeared at Brickbat Books for our book, WE ARE THE CLASH: REAGAN, THATCHER & THE LAST STAND OF A BAND THAT MATTERED...plus, our pre-event interview with Joseph Gervasi, for Loud Fast Philly...over on the Spoken Word Tracks page. Our 60-minute clip from Politics & Prose (Washington, DC, 7/06/18) is there, too.
DELETED (FOR NOW): HAPPY TRAILS (LITTLE BUDGIE IS 47)...because I only have so much space. It'll return at some point, I'm sure. :-)
Comment capability's back for now, but stay on topic. If not...I'm taking the toys away again! :-) In the meantime: stay cool. ****
Not running across this tidbit before, I naturally had to email the man himself, and here's part I of David's punk rockin' adventures with Beat of the Beast. That should whet your appetites for Part II, where David covers that night in all its myth-bustin', punk-rockin', pulse-poundin' detail. David isn't playing music these days, but remains active as an artist: see www.artificialdesigns.co.uk for the lowdown. He's also got limited edition prints available here: www.hipposcreenprinters. If you simply want to say hello, cruise over to his Facebook page, and send a message accordingly to: facebook.com/davidappsphotography.
Chairmanralph.com is proud to present these excerpts from David's book, "A Drum Beat Behind," which (to my knowledge) haven't seen the light of day before. Without further ado, we open with our email Q&A exchanges, and proceed to the excerpts...note to those sitting in the publishers' chairs: wake up, and give this guy a break! Enough said.
CHAIRMAN RALPH (CR): OK, as you say on your my space: Beat Of The Beast helped kick-start the punk scene in Brentwood, such as it was. What kind of neighborhood was it, exactly, and what kind of scene sprang up in its wake?
DAVID APPS (DA): To start with I didn’t write the MySpace information, The Beat of the Beast's guitarist, Joe, did. What he was saying is that we all came together in a crowd, drunk, played and eventually took over a bar/venue called the Castle and made the town we lived in, like no other. To a lot of people it’s legendary and it was The Beat of the Beast and myself who made it what it was, fucking mental!
Originally, I came from Hammersmith, West London. Coincidentally, the same part of London that Wally Nightingale lived, but this is not where our paths crossed. I moved out of London around 1964/65 to Thames Estuary, Essex, and the dead end streets of a place called Corringham. I was a hyper child, unable to sit still and by the early '70s I’d been labeled as a special child, special meaning I was fucking stupid. I was taken out of my school and put into what was known then as a remedial school, a school for kids with learning difficulties. I was picked on for being dumb, but that didn’t last long because as soon as anyone took the piss out of me, I started to lash and started fighting back. I felt that I was useless and this is why I found music and the dream of being in a band. Music was my only escape.
While still at school in my early teens, by chance in December 1976 I sat and watched the Thames television program with Bill Grundy as he interviewed a then-unknown band called the Sex Pistols, and the rest is history. By November 1978, I moved to another Essex town called Brentwood. Here I met two older punks and from here on the timeline of punks started to grow. I worked my way up the punk rock ladder amongst our scene, and made it to the top. Brentwood today is a wealthy commuter town, just a half hour train journey out of London, but in the late '70s and through to the very early '90s it was full of interesting, odd, arty, violent and fucked up individuals who all came together and had a lot of fucking fun.
By the time I’d reached 35, I was still academically crap so I set out to turn my life around and decided to write a book on my upside down life. At the same time I was teaching myself to read and write and at nearly 47, it’s almost completed and I’ve achieved what I set out to do. Below is an excerpt from Chapter Six of my book, A DRUM BEAT BEHIND, written by Mark Oliff, who managed The Beat of the Beast.
FAME? A CLASSIC ROCK 'N' ROLL DEATH AWAITS!
By Mark Oliff
I first remember seeing David in the summer of 1979. He was hard to miss as he walked along the street wearing creepers, a kilt, Seditionaries cheesecloth, leather jacket, white face and black spiked hair. This was at the tail end of the '70s and punk ruled the world, well, our world at least. I was a Stranglers fan and for David it was the Sex Pistols. I remember drinking in The Castle and seeing him with his friends, all of them looking good. Coloured hair, makeup, safety-pinned shirts and lots of girls! The first time I spoke to him was after Adam and the Ants in December 1980, after that we used to meet up at gigs, train stations, parties, clubs and the Castle.
It all seems a bit hazy now but somewhere between 1980 and 1990 there were innumerable times when I would have not been in the least bit surprised if I were to hear that David was dead. In fact, I was mentally prepared for the time. (If in reality I would have been is another matter). I had a scenario worked out in my head. I am in The Castle, someone comes in and says to me “David’s dead”... “Oh, really, what a surprise... do you want a drink?” I reply. If that sounds callous it’s not meant to be, you see we all knew what he was capable of.
During this time David was about as extreme as one person could be: drink, drugs, self abuse, fights, cuts, scars, broken bones, broken drum kits, smashed windows and many dentist appointments. Finding out that David had, “Got into a fight last night, was in hospital, had 10 stitches somewhere on his body or had shagged a horse” was a common occurrence.
All throughout the '80s David was a bundle of pent-up frustration, unable to express himself verbally, short temper, short attention span and very impatient. Here are some examples: “This won’t work.” SMASH! “I’m bored”(jumps backwards through closed pub window). “Don’t touch my hair/hat” (someone does). PUNCH ! “I don’t want to rehearse anymore” (breaks drumsticks in half and proceeds to stab them through the skins). A comment from a gang of Mods/Casuals/Teddy Boys/Skinheads along the lines of “Wanker, punk's shit” would have David wading into the lot on his own. He usually got hurt but not always. Whatever the outcome his pride was intact and point made. He would always stand his ground and stand up for his beliefs and friends 100%. These were violent times if you were a punk rocker. Looking different usually meant taking a beating, getting chased all over town and not being allowed into pubs. This is why we all hung out in (at the time) a notorious biker’s pub. They didn’t mind us and we didn’t bother them, in fact, we crossed cultures, as punks liked Motorhead and bikers the Ramones. We also swapped our drugs, poppers and speed, for blues and acid. It’s not like today when you can pretty much get a job in a bank with pink hair and a pierced nose.
David is a walking contradiction. Larger than life, almost like a cartoon. In The Beat of the Beast when he smashed his drums up it was never in some rock ‘n’ roll imitation of Keith Moon or Rat Scabies; it was out of pure frustration. You see David has that unidentifiable “something” about him (it’s probably honesty). He also has a big grin, a big heart and is one of the funniest people I know. We all wanted to make it in a band and the fact that it didn’t happen for David probably saved his life.
YOU'VE HEARD THE NAME...
CR: What (if any) aims did you have -- to be just a good neighborhood/local band, or did you have something more ambitious in mind? Who were your main musical influences?
DA: As a band the four individuals all wanted the same thing, to take over the world. We had fuck all, so we wanted music to be our living. But what we achieved on our amazing six-year journey was to course total chaos, without ever compromising once. I/we hated what punk had become, the postcard, red Mohican, Exploited shit. We believed in change and moving on, still with our punk beliefs and attitude, because to us what was what punk was about. By 1982 punk had lost its way and had been taken over by the people who just two or three years earlier had been giving the early punks a beating for the way we looked. Football, racism and narrow-minded punx with an x destroyed the very thing that they thought they were part of.
...NOW MEET THE BAND!
The writing below is taken from Chapter Six, A DRUM BEAT BEHIND, the introduction to the members of The Beat of the Beast.
Vince was on vocals, a fun loving quiet individual, bordering on shy until he’d sunk a few drinks and let his inhibitions go. He then became a female letch, only with great charm. He always looked good, he was handsome, intelligent and a level-headed, likeable man aged 22. He spoke out if need be and over the coming years proved to be an excellent songwriter, frontman and friend. He worked in London's West End for PRS, the Performing Rights Society. His job was sorting out the royalty payments for songs played on television and radio. He was in the music business, bang smack in the heart of London. Because of this I really thought we had that foot in the door, “it's not what you know but who you know” type of thing. How naive I must’ve been? I had a lot to learn.
Jim Guttersnipe, or Big Jim as he was known, was the bass player. A six foot two, massive Herman Munster-built giant aged only 15 years old. Big Jim was a gentle giant (that’s how the police described him after releasing him from a night in the cells.) He’d been arrested in a street fight after battering two grown men who’d started on him. He was an inquisitive, fun-loving, boisterous, clumsy, funny and loveable character. He became my constant companion and guardian angel. Hearing his deep booming chuckle of a laugh always brought a smile to my face and at times we were inseparable. When pushed to the limit, Big Jim could quite easily explode and when he did, it was time to run for cover.
Joe Guttersnipe, or Big Joe as he was known, was the guitarist. A six-foot, massive honey monster-built giant aged 17. As brothers, Big Jim and Joe had the same characters, but Big Joe was even more boisterous.
He once said to me: “When I was at school I thought my name was Get Off!” Joe just wouldn’t leave you alone. He was constantly mucking fuddling his words or as he called it, talking in his joined up speaking. He was extremely funny; fun-loving when happy, but when down, Big Joe became unpredictable, a time bomb just waiting to explode. And when he did, as with Big Jim it was again time to run for cover. As time passed it became apparent that Big Jim and Joe were targets in this world of small town gigs we were about to embark on. The majority of the time it was a gang of lads fighting a solitary giant, but Big Jim and Joe never backed down.
Myself, if I’ve been doing a good job of writing this book you will already know all about. I’m the drummer, aged 19, and less than three months away from leaving my teens forever.
As for our musical influences, we were all into the early punk scene and mostly the British side of punk. We all liked the Clash, Sex Pistols, Ramones and the New York Dolls. Vince was heavily into early Adam & the Ants, Big Jim liked Motorhead, Big Joe Chelsea and Roxy Music and for myself, it was Johnny Thunders. We took all our influences and mashed them all together, musically and visually. It’s funny, because with the benefit of hindsight, I really don’t know how we got away with it. It was English eccentricity at its fucking best!
YOU'VE SEEN THE GIGS...
CR: Besides the one-off with Wally, what were some of your more memorable gigs that Beat of the Beast played?
DA: There are loads of memorable gigs, but these are mostly for the trouble. For a time we had a large loyal following and playing in front of fans that were going mad was so much better than playing in front of just the four members of the support band and a man with his dog! But it was a gig in France that stands out the most, for me!
...WHAT HAPPENS BEHIND THE SCENES, EXACTLY?
Edited excerpt from Chapter Six: A DRUM BEAT BEHIND.
On the 19th of February, 1986, I fractured my wrist in a fight and the following day – without any sleep, at seven a.m. – 10 of us headed off to France. To start with the French customs became suspicious and pulled us all in for questioning. They along with the French gendarmes (police) escorted Big Jim and Joe away and 10 minutes later they both walked back to us laughing.
“We've just been strip-searched,” Big Jim started to explain while Big Joe talked over him and said. “They looked up Jim's bum but when they saw my soiled underpants they decided to let me go.”
One by one we were all taken off and received the same treatment, even the two girls were inspected up close. This was odd as no one ever got stopped leaving England while traveling into Europe; it was always when coming back into the UK that suspicious-looking characters were stopped. It was fucking ridiculous, who in their right mind would risk taking something out of England when you can pretty much get whatever you like once you are in Europe?
After driving for around an hour the temperature had fallen and it had started to bloody snow. We pulled over and opened the back door to find Big Jim, Joe and the roadie sat in the pitch black huddled together for warmth. Even Big Joe's sacred bottle of Coca Cola was frozen solid. After building their bedding up over then we went to pull off the curb to rejoin the road and hit a metal signpost. This was like a great big tin opener and it ripped a hole in the side of the van. We called it a small hole when talking to Big Jim and Joe, trying to make things sound better than they really were.
“At least you have some light coming in now,” I said, and then shut up before one of them hit me. It was big enough to get your arm through and once we finally got going again the snow came in and settled on all our equipment.
Once we arrived at our hotel Big Jim and little me fell out and had a fight at the top of the staircase. To start with Big Jim bunched me straight in the face. This was a good hit as he’d got me straight in my black eye. All 15 stone of my good friend, the jolly giant Jim, knocked me backwards and all that was holding me upright was my bad hand grasping hold of the banister rail. As I pulled myself upright we started to fight and I was told after that while I was going for it we’d came close to going over, if not through, the banisters. We soon made up and went to do our live radio interview.
We all sat in the studio with the French DJ in front of us playing one of our songs. He then explained we were from England, just outside of London, and that the gig was going out live on air. I sat looking around and left Big Joe and Vince to do all the talking. After one or two hard to understand questions the DJ then said...
“Do you have a message for the French listeners?” Vince, using his great British sense of humor, replied and said:
”Yes, stop blowing up Greenpeace boats.” All of a sudden there was silence and then someone entered the soundproofed room and talked in raised whispers as another one of our songs came on. On June the 10th, 1985, the French had blown up a Greenpeace boat, the Rainbow Warrior, while in French waters. This was fucking great! Vince had hit a nerve, but that was the end and the interview was cut short. The promoters later told us that strait after the comment the radio station put out an apology, and that probably saved us from being eaten alive by the anti-Greenpeace French.
At our soundcheck I managed to fall off the back of the stage and landed two meters below. I thought I’d broken my fucking back and I couldn’t move. As luck had it I wasn’t crippled, but I’d landed on my coccyx and if you’ve ever hurt your coccyx before then you might feel for me a bit here. The coccyx, or tailbone as it’s known, is the triangular bony thing found at the bottom of the vertebral column, just at the top of your bum crack. And not only was I in complete fucking agony when I did eventually get up again, I could only walk if I was bent over like an old man, I was fucked! But I still played.
We all had our own copy of the setlist but Big Jim had lost his so he was using Big Joe’s, which turned out to be different from Vince’s and mine. Big Jim had started playing one song along with Big Joe while Vince and me were playing another. We all started looking at each other but carried on regardless. I was looking over at the roadie who was standing picking his nose unaware of the chaos that was happening onstage. The nose picking along with our fuckup had started to make me laugh, so I just continued and made it up as we went along. No one even bloody noticed. The venue was packed and we’d had a fucking great audience reaction all the way through our set. We played two encores and finally left the stage at around twenty past two in the morning.
The following day with hangovers from Hell we were taken out for breakfast/lunch by the promoters. I couldn’t lie down, sit up or walk with out being uncomfortable and in fucking pain. I only had my bloody creepers with me so this made walking on the snow and ice almost impossible. Everyone was in shops looking about when all of a sudden a French skinhead came around a corner and bunched me straight in the face, I slipped on the ice, hit my head on the ground and was knocked out cold. At the same time, with his skinhead uniformed steel toe-capped boot, he kicked me straight in the fucking coccyx. As I came around I remember seeing Big Joe spraying the skinhead in the face with a can of CS gas. The French skinhead’s English wasn’t that good and while he was holding his eyes, he just kept saying, “Thank you, thank, you.”
After everything that had happened on the way home we ended up in the middle of the English Channel in an appalling storm. Everyone threw up and I had it all down my last clean-ish T-shirt. The storm was relentless and everyone was so relieved when we finally arrived at the cost of England. We were then told that due to the extreme weather conditions only cars were allowed off the boat while HGV lorries and vans would had to stay on because it was too dangerous for them to leave the boat. The captain then announced that he was going to be turning around and heading back to France. I couldn’t fucking believe what I was hearing, England was next to me outside the fucking porthole. The boat normally carried so many thousands of people and it was empty apart from over wait lorry drivers and our selves. Once the ghost ship left port we had a drink at the bar and made conversation with the bewildered lorry drivers telling them our story, this one that you’re reading now.