The BIG Über Rock Interview: Matt Dangerfield (The Boys) Print E-mail
Written by Dom Daley   
Sunday, 03 December 2017 04:20

With Christmas fast approaching – and, more importantly, January and The Boys playing the iconic 100 Club again – Über Rock thought it was time to catch up with Matt Dangerfield and find out the latest gossip from the Boys camp… and boy did he have some interesting stuff to let us in on.  Pull up a chair pour yourself a drink and read all about it.  Ladies and Gents Matt from The Boys...

 

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Forty years where did it go? Do you ever sit down and listen to that debut album like us fans?  If you do what are your enduring memories of it coming out?  It must be satisfying to think that it's stood the test of time and is relevant and the songs still sound fresh and that people want to hear them.

 

I think in the years since its release the only time I listened to the first album in its entirety was when I was re-mastering it. I have to say I was amazed how good the songs sounded and how well we performed them. It’s so brash and energetic and it sounds like it was recorded yesterday.

 

Considering so long has passed since and the world has changed massively,  people still always hark back to when things were supposedly better.  If the band were to re-record that album is there anything you'd change lyrically, arrangments songs you'd have left off added?How do you see that debut album now 40 years later?  The reissues were superb packages and time and love was put into them: what are your reflections? 

 

The world is always changing superficial ways but some basic things never change. Looking at the themes and issues covered in the songs, those are pretty much the same things young people are concerned with today – and the basic guitar/drum sound never goes out of date.

 

What with Jack’s health problems and Duncan leaving, has the band had a  new lease of energy over the last few years? did you think 'Punk Rock  Menopause' would have turned out as well as it did? Where do you think that album stands in the history of The Boys recording wise?  What were the main differences in the approach to recording a new record? say the main differences between the debut album and PRM? With technology being what it is and the advances, is the temptation to take forever something you think about?  You used some of the country’s finest studios, where there was a pressure to get things done in a certain time: looking back was that a hindrance or a motivator. How disciplined was the band when it came to studio time?

 

We have indeed enjoyed a big burst of energy in recent years, highlights of which must include ‘Punk Rock Menopause’ and recording a live album in China. I was reluctant to record a new Boys album unless I thought it would be as good as, if not better than, our previous albums. But after myself, Cas and John got together and knocked around a few new song ideas, I knew straight away that it was going to work in the same way us three could always instinctively create music together. And I do think “PRM” is up there with our best stuff.

 

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I don’t think there was any difference to our approach to recording. Of course, everything is digital now but the process of creating music is still pretty much the same. OK, you can have limitless overdub tracks but that won’t necessarily make the song better and could even kill it with over-production. We were always fast workers in the studio and that hasn’t changed. And I like working to a deadline because it eliminates any faffing around and risk of disappearing up your own backside.

 

When you last played Rebellion, you did the acoustic set before you played the main stage, but it was without John: was it ever not going to happen, with him being such an integral part of the band? It seemed to add some magic to the set when you guys were 'winging it' letting the music and the songs do the  talking (sorry John)…

 

Yes, the acoustic set was great fun and we were winging it a bit, as it was our first gig with Chips on guitar and only the second time we’d played an acoustic set – the last time was at the Ramones Museum in Berlin, and there we only played about four or five numbers.

 

As it happens it was still a fantastic set and (maybe) due to John not being there, and the curse of The Boys striking, you guys found something special for that set? It's always brilliant to hear how you guys interpret the songs in a very different style and being one man down. ‘Power Cut’ is a great album and shows how good those songs are: how enjoyable is it playing an acoustic set compared to one with electric guitars?  

 

It’s a bit tricky because you have to play your instrument in a different way but once you settle into it, it’s pretty much the same. These days I’m more comfortable playing electric though.

 

With regards to Rebellion, later on the main stage you had Chips play with the band: was that a strange gig to play without John there? Did you have to alter the set much if at all? I take it you didn't have time for rehearsals, did you?

 

It wasn’t so strange, as we’d already played with Chips and saw that he knew all the songs – probably better than we did. We didn’t have to change the set too much. Probably one or two songs were replaced, but not much. The acoustic gig was our rehearsal!

 

As I mentioned earlier 'Punk Rock Menopause' - with some distance now from when the album came out and hearing a few songs in the set it sounds like they've always been in there which I think is a testament to how bloody good a record it was/is: how long were the songs written before you guys felt you had enough to go into the studio and record them?  Were there any left over that we'll hear in the future?  

 

 

We had no finished songs written when we started recording, just a few song ideas. We decided to work bit by bit in short bursts of two or three songs at a time. We would work out the arrangements and lay down some drum tracks with guide guitar and guide vocals then return two or three weeks later to finish those tracks and start on new tracks. When we had enough songs for an album we stopped. There are one or two tracks that we never finished.

 

The trip to China was well documented and was (thankfully) captured on record, with a bunch of songs from PRM: did you know when you played those shows that it would turn out to be so good? Was it always intended to be recorded and released as a live album? Has there been any other places you’ve played, in recent years, that come close to the China shows?  The 100 Club was pretty cool at the turn of the year for sweaty fun. Again, with Cas and his sling and John not being 100 per cent, did you guys joke about the curse of The Boys striking again? Was this year’s experience the reason you are doing it again next year?  It's nice to see such an iconic venue still around and jammed with people. Is there anywhere you'd like to play with The Boys? What about a return to the Roundhouse? Was touring something you enjoyed/still enjoy?

 

We didn’t intend to record a live album, we were just there to do a 10-date tour. But after the tour was banned by the Chinese Ministry of Culture we decided to make the best of it and do some secret underground gigs for fans. One of those gigs happened to be in a recording studio cum rehearsal complex so we decided to record it. Turned out to be the easiest album we ever made. Yes, the 100 Club was great and they asked us back, so we agreed: it’s one of the few old-school venues still in existence. The Roundhouse is not the same place it used to be: it used to be a grimy dump like all the proper rock places, but now it’s not the same. We all love touring, but these days we’re being more choosy about where we play.

 

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You're already confirmed for next year’s Rebellion festival… will that be just the main stage or will we get another acoustic set? Can you guys get Steve to wrap you up in June so none of you gets injured, please? You're also playing the 100 club again in January: will there be any possible chance of more UK dates? 

 

Just the Rebellion main stage at the present. We will be playing another UK gig the night before the 100 Club gig, at the Talking Heads in Southampton: it will be only the third time The Boys have played a UK club gig outside of London since 1981. We also have our first German gig in three years in April, headlining the Punk & Disorderly Festival in Berlin, as well as a couple of Norwegian dates before Rebellion.

 

You are working on a box set of the Safari years material - care to go into any details about that and what format it might come out on and when can we expect to hear this?  'To Hell With The Boys' and 'Boys Only' had some fantastic songs on them, listening back? For this box set, are there any gems we can expect to creep into the set that isn't already played? Who looks after the masters all this time and how did the recordings compare to the earlier releases in your opinion?  Steve mentioned eight unreleased demos: are these songs we won't have heard before?  The ‘Odds And Sods’ collection was again another fantastic set of songs/covers, etc. and I think its fair to say Boys fans love hearing this kind of hidden treasures: would it be the same for the band? What songs had you forgotten that we will get to hear on this set?

 

The Safari box set will have some bonus tracks the public has never heard before. One batch of acoustic demos from 1979 that someone unearthed in Norway which we don’t even remember doing is particularly good. It’s just me, Cas and John in the Nidaros Studio in Trondheim while we were recording ‘To Hell With The Boys’, including ‘Cry Tomorrow’ and ‘Love In Pain’, songs that we’d completely forgotten about and have never been released in any format. And we've just agreed that our first album will receive a special 40th anniversary coloured/splattered vinyl release which will be out early in the new year - watch this space.

 

When you wrote a song you considered a dead cert for going on an album, what were the discussions like between the band? Did there ever come to a point where any of you demanded a song be included the others didn't want, or didn't it work like that in the Boys?  What about songs you didn't think fitted in with the style of the band: are there any fans would be shocked over?   What about when you hear something the others might be working on or about to release and you think it would work within the band: would that ever get mentioned?

 

Normally we had a voting system to choose the songs to use or not, which generally got rid of anything that didn’t suit the band. 

 

What next for The Boys?  Can I get excited at the prospect of a follow up to ‘Punk Rock Menopause’? If so, care to put a timescale on it? 

 

No plans at the moment but never say never...

 

See you in January at the 100 Club, and at Rebellion: it's  always a pleasure to see the Boys live and never a chore…

 

The Boys play:

 

Friday 5 January – Southampton, Talking Heads

Saturday 6 January – London, 100 Club (Resolution Festival)

 

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