How’s the 40th anniversary tour going at the moment?
People are coming out to see us which is really nice so there’s lots of support. I’m just amazed that we have made it this far to be honest. Twenty years of hard work and lots of touring but I wouldn’t have done it any other way… I love it!
What is the secret to keeping it going for forty years where so many bands don’t go the distance?
Yeah they don’t last long! It’s almost like once the first album is recorded you may as well give up hey! I’ve always thought that the secret to it because we as a band have always had a good time and enjoyed every moment of playing the songs. So then it transfers on to the audience who have stayed loyal to us for this long. For me it is amazing!
Do you think these bands try too hard to be different or continually reinventing themselves?
I don’t know if they try to be different but I think they’re doing what they are told and doing it the way record producers say and the bloody variety show hosts want them to do it. I don’t think they are standing up for themselves at all. I find the whole X-Factor thing horrible for me. It seems to be destroying bands rather than making them.
Is this the sort of thing where you would have told these people to go and get stuffed?
Yeah, we really didn’t like anyone telling us what we should do artistically. We thought that was our job, we’re the artist, we make the music and videos, we make the t-shirt designs, we do all of that. Once record companies or management even try to do that it can get very messy when the artist will stand up for themselves. There is nine of us to argue with…
Was the reunion of previous members back in 2013 a whole heap of fun?
There were two of us that couldn’t make it and I was one of them. I was in Bulgaria at the time and the guitarist was in France. I was stuck in recording and just couldn’t get out. They organised it within a month and that happens!
Are there any plans for new material?
I am still in the process of building a studio at the moment and I hope next year that I will start recording again and putting some tunes together. To think I have done forty years of hard grasp and more hard grasp than any other bands I know. I think I will take it a little bit easier next year and certain won’t tour near as much. I’m certainly going to concentrate everything on my recording and writing.
How do you handle the grind of touring?
Really easy! I know I don’t even look bad! I can’t actually say how many gigs have actually gone on as the list is too many. I enjoy every gig and the challenge when you sing the same songs, you would think it would get you down but the audience with certain songs are just waiting for them. I’m almost waiting for them to come up because I know they will always please. I have great respect in the writing that we have done in our early days. I don’t know if our performance has got better or has matured in its own way but I’m very confident when I get on that stage and that there is an audience to please, that’s my job.
Do you get nostalgic when you look back over forty years?
Nostalgic, yeah, yeah, I still think it is a learning curve and we’re still being taken advantage of but that’s what happens when you’re a band. Still good things will happen and still bad things will happen but for me I love the whole thing of touring and performing. I love the audience reaction and that is what I like more than anything. I’m never going to stop that and I think being the fortieth it has made me look back and think bloody hell! Even last year thinking about it that it can’t be right that it is our fortieth next year but it is and some more. The fact that we have toured more than anyone else than I now of and the size of our band is quite incredible that we have kept it together for this length of time. If there is anything like a pat on the back is needed I think the audience should have that pat on the back because they have always been so loyal to us to a point where I would have thought where I saw other bands that rejected their fans. I always thought that they are your strongest thing and if you can keep them on your side you will carry on. I never did worry about a pension!
Do you think that ska will never die?
Ska will always be alive and the music will continue as long as I am alive and longer. The ska fans are very loyal to it and it still brings in other people that are in to other genres of music but still respect the fact that ska is still very much alive and is a good night out.
Do you think ska has changed much or is the essence still the same?
I still do think that the essence is still the same but I think people try to get clever with it and forget that it is good time music. What I think of seeing years of various styles coming through is that it is very open to be able to go down any road that it wants to take because its adaptability with people seems to be great. If you add a ska track to a rock gig you will still get that great reaction because it is so up tempo.
Is the set list already worked out for the Australian tour or can fans yell out requests?
No, You can’t do that because musicians change so much. Within Bad Manners I have a squad of eight and a crew of thirty musicians surrounding Bad Manners depending on who is available and who is the best is what I try to get. Of course if you book early then you get the best of the musicians but when I say best there is the crazy best then there is a level below that as well. Sometimes you have to go to the lowest levels but it is always a great Bad Manners.
How do you fit everyone on stage?
Always been a problem for us and the stage is never big enough for us but we know the lines we have to play and how good we are at winning the audience over is how I judge the band because if they start to get better the crowd seems to get better and likewise. Song wise on the fortieth tour we have to give it our best party we can give which is what we have always done but done it in different ways. What we know is what wins the audience over and in the hour and a half that we have we know we know we have to take them to the height, bring them down and then kick their arse by the end of it. That is our attitude and the music does intensify, the crowd does intensify and it all clicks.
What are moments over forty years that you think have defined Bad Manners?
Musically, we have had some very talented musicians go through Bad Manners and I think most would agree that being in Bad Manners would help your musicianship because you’re surrounded by other good musicians and everyone expects that you will play the best that you can. For me, many musicians I could state right now but on reflection our first guitarist Louis ‘Alphonso’ Cook was an absolute artist that discovered a new way of exciting the guitar in a Bad Manners way which then became one of our trademarks. The great writing of our brass section has always amazed me and the lines are so catchy it hooks in to people’s brains. Even if they have only heard the song once it is stuck in their head which is great song writing. I could go on for hours on this…