SIMON BOWLEY (EDDIE & THE HOT RODS): “When You Have Been On The Road Together For 20 years, It’s Like Losing A Brother”

Eddie and the Hot Rods
Photo: Mick Burgess

After over 40 years on the road it looked like the end for British Rock ‘N Roll favourites, Eddie & the Hot Rods when their founder member and lead vocalist Barrie Masters sadly passed away in 2019. The band who have been by his side for nigh on two decades brushed themselves down and decided to keep their name alive and with a new album Guardians Of The Legacy out a matter of weeks ago, that legacy is in more than safe hands. Mick Burgess called up drummer Simon Bowley to talk about the decision to continue Eddie & the Hot Rods and the making of the album as well as their plans for touring all over the world.

You’re playing a string of headlining shows and festivals across the summer. Are you looking forward to getting out and playing again?

Absolutely, we can’t wait. It’s been too long just sitting around and waiting for things to happen. The main thing was to get the new album recorded and out there but now that’s done, we are looking forward to playing shows again.

On 6th July you come to Newcastle for a show at Trillians. Has Newcastle and the North East been a good stomping ground for you over the years?

Newcastle has always been great for Eddie & the Hot Rods, we’ve never had a bad show up there. We’ve played in different venues many times. We love the North East, it’s been fantastic for us.

You have eight albums worth of material How do you go about picking a setlist for this tour?

Each one of us throws in a list of 20 or so songs and we’ll pick songs from those lists. It’s a nice situation to be in where we can pick and choose. Obviously, we’ll play the classics mainly from the first two albums but we also want to be playing stuff from the new album and from the two albums the we did in the 2000s. We’ll be covering the whole range of songs across our 46 year history from ‘Get Across To You’ from ‘Teenage Depression’ right the way through to the album we released a few weeks ago. This’ll be a classics and a new songs set. We do the old songs to keep the diehards happy while we’re also looking forward saying this is Eddie & the Hot Rods 2023.

You’re joined on the tour by Department S. You’re having something of a double shift at these shows as you play drums for them too?

Yes, that was by design. Two of the lads are from Manchester and they have new material out so it just made sense to have one drum kit up there so it saves a lot of messing about changing kits and it’s a really good bill too so two bands for the price of one. I love playing and love both bands and they are slightly different so it gives the fans a good spectrum of different styles of music.

What happened to Eddie Roxy?

It was all very strange. We had recorded a new album which was done over lockdown so it took a long time and it was all finished and at the mixing stage and out of the blue Ed said he was leaving the band as he didn’t want to spend the next year promoting it and that was that. There’s no hard feelings and he’s doing his own thing now so good luck to him. We decided to carry on as a three-piece with Phil Thompson taking on the lead vocals job.

Original lead singer and founder member in Eddie & the Hot Rods, Barrie Masters sadly passed away in 2019. That must have hit you hard as both a friend and a band mate?

It did hit me really hard and to be honest it took me totally by surprise as I didn’t think it would. We all knew Barrie had been ill for a long time and we’d spoken about it. We thought if Barrie quit due to his health we thought he’d last six months because Barrie was the band and he lived for being in the band. When it actually happened, I was shocked at how much it affected me. When you have been on the road together for 20 years and shared those experiences it really is like losing a brother. It was very hard.

He had been unwell for some time and you were actually going to retire after your last tour. Did you discuss with him about carrying on with the band?

Barrie realised that he wasn’t well enough to do full tours and full shows. Barrie just lived around the corner from me so I was always the main contact with him. I’d spoken to him about the prospect of keeping the band going. Barrie had actually had to step down for the last six shows as he was too ill and Dipster, our bass player, had to step in. We discussed continuing the Hot Rods with Dipster doing 80% of the show and Barrie would come on a do the big numbers. He loved that idea. I’d arranged to meet him but unfortunately he passed away the day before. We never got to arrange it but I do know that he’d be over the moon that the band has carried on.

Dipster was originally the bass player but he’s stepped forward to take on the lead vocals. Barrie’s place was a daunting one for anyone to take. At what point did you realise that Dipster was the man for the job?

He’s always had that frontman persona. When he first joined the band I had to take him to one side and tell him that Barrie was the frontman and he was the bass player. He loved going up to the front, getting into people’s faces. As the years progressed me and Dipster had a side project called Headline Maniac and it was then I realised that he could really sing. When this all happened and Barrie wasn’t able to perform for the last six shows of the tour that was when we asked Dipster if he fancied it. He said it was one thing standing behind a bass singing a few numbers but it was another thing actually taking Barrie’s place. Good on him, he stood up and he did the job and people love him.

Mic Stoner from The Chords UK joined as bass player. Is he someone you’ve known for some time?

I was doing a tour with Department S and Chords UK and on that tour I got to know Mic and we got chatting. He said he’d been an Eddie and the Hot fan since he was a kid. That was such good timing as we needed a bass player so I mentioned it to him and he said straight away that he’d do it.

Earlier this year you released Guardians Of The Legacy, your first album in years. Have you been pleased with the reaction so far?

Yes, it’s been fantastic. It’s our first new material in 16 years and even if Barrie had been singing there’d still have been that little bit of apprehension there but there was even more so because Barrie wasn’t there so we were wondering how people would take it and whether they’d even care but it’s been absolutely fantastic. The reaction has been mind-blowing and made the whole thing worthwhile.

What was the plan at the start? Were you looking to take all of the classic elements of Eddie & the Hot Rods and bring it bang up to date?

We wanted to keep it true to what people would expect but still move it forward so people didn’t think that we just tried to recreate ‘Life On The Line’. We wanted to move forward but still wanted to think it had that Eddie & the Hot Rods Rock ‘n’ Roll feel to it which I think we achieved pretty well.

When did you start working on the new music?

We began talking about it midway during the lockdown when Mic said that he had this song that he’d demoed years ago and it was called ‘Guardians of the Legacy’. He said he could rework it and it’d be a great start to a new album. He sent it over and we all knocked it about a bit and once we’d done that it gave everyone inspiration to work on new songs.

It’s quite a bold step giving the new boy the opening song and title track of the album?

Absolutely. Mic has also written another six songs on the album that are all really good tracks so we can’t complain.

Your Uncle, Steve Nicol, was the original drummer in the band, so there’s a family connection there. Did you see him perform in Eddie & the Hot Rods back in the day?

Yes I did indeed. I can just about remember going to watch them at the Rainbow Theatre in 1976 with my Mum and Dad and Steve’s Mum and Dad. I saw them on a few occasions growing up. That was my earliest memories of seeing them and I remember thinking how much I’d love to do that.

Is that who taught you to play the drums?

Not knowingly but probably, yes. He didn’t sit me down and teach me anything but right from an early age I’d I put ‘Teenage Depression’ on and I’d pick up some old drumsticks and bash along on cushions or whatever and play along to the songs so in effect he did teach me.

Did you get your introduction to Barrie through your Uncle?

We were a very close family and Barrie was always round Steve’s house so I knew Barrie from being 5 or 6 years old. As a teenager I still went to watch them when the band had got back together.

How did you end up joining the band?

The guitarist in a band that I was in was doing some demos for the ‘Gasoline Days’ album in 1996. One day he said that Eddie & the Hot Rods were playing at the Royal Standard but Steve couldn’t play and asked if I wanted to play and that’s when I linked back up with Barrie and Paul Gray, the original bassist, who is now in The Damned. I went along and got up with them and bashed through the songs and that’s where it all started. I stood in for one gig and never left.

Did Steve remain part of the band after that?

A year after I joined in 1996, Steve sold up and moved to Gran Canaria but he came back to England later and by that time we were really busy and were touring all over the place. If there was ever a time I couldn’t do it, Steve would sit in and play a few shows. It’s always stayed a close nit thing. He’s always stayed in touch and been involved with the band in one way or another, which is really good.

What have you got lined up over the coming months?

We have a few UK shows and a few festivals in Spain and Belgium coming up. We’re also looking at some shows in Brazil and the US and possibly Japan and Australia as well. The interest in the new album has blown the doors wide open and it’s all going to take off and off we go again. We already recorded five songs and there’s a couple of Headline Maniac songs we’ve re-written so we are well on the way to recording new stuff for out next album so it’s all looking good for us at the moment.

Interview and Live Photos By Mick Burgess

Eddie & the Hot Rods UK and European Tour starts at Trillians in Newcastle on 6th July.

Guardians Of The Legacy is out now.

For more on Eddie & the Hot Rods visit


  • 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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