Interview with Spike (The Quireboys)

Your new album Beautiful Curse has recently been released. Are you pleased with the reaction you have so far?

The reviews so far have been really good and we’ve been very pleased with that. They say people aren’t buying CD’s anymore but we seem to be doing pretty well at the moment. It’s all been good.

When did you start working on the album?

We finished the album just before we went to Ibiza in May. We literally went into the studio and finished it in two weeks. What we usually do is rehearse the songs for a week after they’ve been written then we go into the studio and knock them out. We don’t spend time messing around and re-recording stuff, we like to keep it spontaneous.

Your last studio album Homewreckers and Heartbreakers came out 5 years ago. What has happened since then that has influenced your writing for this album?

We did the Half Penny Dancer album which was an acoustic album since then but the truth is we’ve just been so busy and we just didn’t get enough time off to start working on an album until recently. It was just one of those things, time just flies.

Chris Tsangradies produced the album. Now there’s a producer who has a great track record with Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Killing Joke, Japan and Depeche Mode amongst many others. What was it that made you want to work with Chris?

Chris was fantastic. He’s worked with so many great artists and we felt he could really bring something to our record. The studio that he had in London was the one that The Faces and The Stones had recorded in. All the equipment was the old valve stuff and all that vintage stuff helps a band like ours. The mike that I was using was Rod Stewart’s old mike. Everybody says I sound like him so I may as well sing through his mike.

Earlier this year you toured with Saxon. You are very different musically from them. How did you feel those shows went?

A lot of people were asking us why we were touring with Saxon because we’re very different musically. They are a Heavy Metal band and we’re much more of a Rock ‘n’Roll band. We’re a working band and we love to play live and that tour was great. We got on really well with those guys and we went down a storm with Saxon’s fans. I think quite a lot of people who came to see Saxon have never seen us so it was good to play for them and win some new fans.

You got to play a show with the Rolling Stones at St. James’ Park on their Steel Wheels tour. How did you get on that show?

We were on tour in America and my Dad, God bless him as he’s no longer with us, said that The Stones had announced a show at St James’ Park. At that time we were managed by Sharon Osbourne and I said to her that if she could get us the gig with The Stones then that would be my dream come true. She has a lot of connections and she got in touch with them. Mick Jagger’s not stupid and we were pretty big at that time. They were fantastic to us. They flew us in from New York to do the show and we flew back after the show to finish our tour.

Did you get to hang out with the band at all?

We hung out most of the day with The Stones and they were really cool guys. It was like a dream come true for me to play with The Stones at St. James’ Park. I actually went down extra early so I could go onto the pitch with a football. I spent the whole day there then went and had a drink with The Stones. Mick Jagger actually introduced us to the whole band and I remember him saying “This is Ronnie Wood….he wants to be in the Quireboys” Ronnie then joked on saying “Why are you singing with The Quireboys, why don’t you sing for us?” It was great. It was one of those days that you’ll never forget. We were filmed that day too. I have no idea what happened to that film. Talking of Ronnie Wood though he is on my new solo album that’s coming out soon.

As a Geordie lad playing at St. James’ Park must have been a thrill for you?

It was amazing and to be playing with The Stones too was incredible. What I also really enjoyed was that I said that they would have to give us Newcastle United’s dressing room and I was straight in and put my stuff on the Number 9 peg.

Talking of touring, you have a UK tour lined up in a couple of weeks. Are you looking forward to getting back on the road?

We have played a couple of shows recently, in fact we were at Carlisle just the other day so we haven’t been off the road too long but we can’t wait to get out and do a full tour.

How many of your new songs will you be playing on the tour?

We’ll be putting a lot of new songs into the set for sure and we’ll be changing the set around a bit to keep it fresh. We’ll rehearse most of the songs from the new album and each night we’ll chop and change what goes into the set. We also tend to play different songs in different places. We’ve got Pip and Mick back in the band, the two brothers and they’re the best rhythm section around. With them back we’re not restricted to what we can do, we can do anything so it’s really cool.

Did you have a hand in choosing the support act Bonafide?

We go back a long way with them and we’ve known the guys for years. We played a lot with them in Sweden. It’s good to have your friends on tour as there’s nee hassle then. They’re a great band too.

When you first started in the music business did your parents support you or did they try to persuade you to get a “proper” job?

My Mom and Dad were actually totally behind me. When The Quireboys first started it took us 5 or 6 years before we even got a record deal. We packed in our jobs and committed ourselves to the band. I’ve been in every service station in this country over the years and travelled every inch of the country in the back of a transit van. We weren’t worried that we had no money then, we just loved the band and the music. My Mom and Dad kept turned up all the time to the gigs and brought food and drinks for us just to keep us going. It was always good to have their help and we’re so grateful for their support over the years. We couldn’t have done it without them. My family was there for us and my Mom still comes to as many gigs as she can.

Are you still living in Newcastle at the moment?

I live in Wolverhampton at the moment. I do spend a lot of time in Northumberland though as that’s where my Mam and sisters live so I’m in Newcastle a hell of a lot when I’m not on tour and I still enjoy having a drink there when I’m up.

Why did you move away from your hometown?

I first moved down to London when I was 16 for work and I stayed at St James’ Army Barracks doing stone cladding and stuff like that. That’s where I first met Guy Bailey as he was living nearby. We worked together for a year and moved into a flat together before we even knew that we could both play the guitar. It all kicked off one day when I plugged in my guitar and he said that he didn’t know that I could play and I said that I didn’t know he could play and we started the band pretty much straight away.

What do you miss most about the region?

It’s the having a laugh. It’s always such great fun up there. I love going out for a pint in Newcastle and seeing my friends and family.

What do you recall about the Rock scene in Newcastle when you were growing up?

I started going to The Mayfair when I was 13. I had long hair and covered my face and walked straight in. I saw so many bands at The Mayfair and The City Hall. We played there a couple of times too and when we hit it big. The place was sold out and there were hundreds of people locked outside. It was incredible. We even wrote a song called “Mayfair” as we loved it that much. It was heart-breaking when they closed it and replaced it with a cinema.

How is your Frankie Miller inspired solo album coming along?

My solo album is going to feature songs by Frankie Miller that no one has heard before. These are songs that Frankie has written and demoed in his home studio but can’t sing anymore due to his brain haemorrhage. Some of them are co-written with Dr. John. These songs would have been lost so I’m so pleased to be able to do this for Frankie. On the album I have a duet with Bonnie Tyler; there’s Simon Kirke and Andy Fraser from Free playing drums and bass together for the first time in almost 40 years. There’s also Ronnie Wood on guitar, Luke Morley from Thunder and some of the guys from The Quireboys. Ian Hunter from Mott The Hoople is on there too. It’s not a tribute album. It’s friends of Frankie’s and friends of mine and it’s all about keeping his music alive. He was such a prolific writer that even Ray Charles, Rod Stewart and Clint Black covered his songs. Thin Lizzy duetted with Frankie on “Still in Love With You” so he’s been a big influence on many people over the years. It’s such an honour to do this album. It’s been a real labour of love for and it’s taken five years to put all this together. I was originally given 400-500 songs. Some of them weren’t finished and I finished off the lyrics to a couple of them. It’s turned out so well, I’m really pleased with it. It’ll be out February or March next year. I’ve also just done a song with the National Scottish rugby team which is coming out soon which is going to be a Frankie Miller song and that was a lot of fun to do.

Will you be touring with it?

I was talking to Andy Fraser the other night about it and we’re going to try to do a few shows.

Next year marks 30 years in the business for the Quireboys. Have you any plans to mark that?

We’re filming a show at the Islington Academy for a DVD and then we’ll film some extras on the tour and we’ll put a boxed set together. We hope to have some special guests at that show too to make it extra special. There’s definitely something special going to happen but I’m not sure yet. Some of our albums are out of print like Homewreckers and Heartbreakers which costs a fortune to get so we’re in the process of putting our old albums out again and will put that out as a package. We’ll probably go into the studio to do another acoustic album. The songs hold up so well because we write them on acoustics and you can always tell a good song if it can hold up on an acoustic. We might also have enough time to do another full album so we’ve got a few ideas to mark our 30th anniversary. I hope we can do something up in Newcastle too and get a few guests up to help us celebrate.

Christmas is around the corner. What are your plans for Christmas this year?

My last show is on the 21st and my son is coming over from Canada and we’ll all be going to my Mam’s and we’ll be having a great family Christmas. We’re then off to America for some shows and we’ll be doing the Rock Cruise again which should be a lot of fun. There’s also talk of us doing an acoustic tour in February in England and a few other places so we’re going to be very busy next year.

The Quireboys UK Tour starts on 6th October in Bristol.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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