Opinionated, certainly. Cocksure, definitely. And as blunt and to-the-point as a barrowload of oxymorons. Not a man to beat about the bush or to hide his light under his surname, GARRY BUSHELL shoots straight from the lip as he tells GET READY TO ROLL! exactly what he thinks is wrong with... well... just about everything really.
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The World According To Garry Bushell is an outspoken (but extremely funny and thought-provoking!) rant against things that people get angry about but dare not put into words for fear of being outed as politically incorrect. Political correctness has never bothered you though, has it! You are the spokesman for the common man. The People's Protester. Or even The People's Patriot, cos like a patriot missile you home straight in on all the evil forces that are trying to asphyxiate the Great out of Great Britain, such as the EU - 'the greatest stitch-up since the Bayeux Tapestry' - and Benny Hill being banished from our TV screens.
So... tell us all about the book... how easy was it to rein yourself in and keep it to just 340 pages? What's been the response from readers so far? Have you sent a copy to Gordon Brown yet? Any feedback from libraries as to whether it's likely to go on their 'banned' list? Is there a Volume 2 in the pipeline?
I could have kept going. These days I'm as angry as a ferret on fire. Every time I watch the news or open a paper something else drives me nuts. Gordon Brown is such an incompetent charlatan. Cameron is so wet, if you blew on him he'd ripple; and the Lib Dims are as meaningless as Fearne Cotton's existence... I've tackled a whole range of irritations in the book – there are more big issues than you'd find a broker flogging under the arches at Charing Cross... everything from immigration and modern art to the laughable limitations of political rock. I've tried to keep it hard-hitting and funny like my newspaper column, but the decay and disintegration of our culture, our country and our freedoms seriously infuriates the hell out of me. Which can't be good for my health. Mercifully I have a platoon of Bushell Babes to fan me and feed me grapes until the rage diminishes.
Are there any MPs you do relate to?
Not really. Most MPs are detestable, although Dan Hannon's demolition of Brown this week was wonderful to behold on YouTube. What a change to see a politician speak plainly and intelligently instead of following the party line like some lobotomised sheep... between fiddling their expenses in their second homes which they generally don't live in. You've probably got the MP for some distant shire claiming your loft as his second house right now. Have you checked?
Does watching TV calm you down?
Are you insane? Of course not! ITV2 gave Paris Hilton a reality show. Why? Who gives a rat's arse about some rich Yank socialite with no brains and no underwear? I turned on ITV the other morning and Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford were banging on and on about getting engaged. They've been together 12 years! They've got a seven-year-old son! Where's the story? Fat man gets engaged – who gives a crap? (Calms down, takes slug of wife-beater, continues) As to whether I'll write a second volume that depends on the sales of the first; and due to a cock-up at the publishers the book came out in January rather than November, thus missing the lucrative Christmas market... ho hum. The reactions to it have been predictable. The Guardian hated it and ran a libellous attack on it. But I've had a lot of positive feedback too, including from Mick Geggus of the Cockney Rejects who loved it. Cheers Mick!
Have your views ever got you in trouble?
I had 48-hour police protection once after death threats from Muslim extremists... and I got beaten up by the neo-Nazi British Movement at an Upstarts gigs in the 100 Club. But on the plus side, I didn't have to listen to Mensi that night. Hey ho. Some people deserve to be offended.
In your column in the Daily Star Sunday you regularly make the point about TV bosses not being in tune with what people want in the way of comedy/variety/entertainment. If you ran your own TV channel what would be on it? And which up'n'coming actors, comedians etc would you feature more of?
Certainly more music. I do an occasional pod-cast on total rock radio, and I'm constantly surprised by the quality of the tracks I get sent by unsigned bands. I'm very keen on Tommy Schitt and the Punishment Fuckers at the moment, although their name may possibly be a barrier to prime time TV exposure. But why can't we have a weekly show devoted to new bands and another one for good old bands? I've had enough of karaoke arseholes. Let's hear from people who write their own songs and don't fit in with Simon Cowell's tyrannical vision of what constitutes mainstream music. Read Cowell's book – he hated most rock, all punk, The Stranglers, even Dylan. Imagine what he'd make of Airborne or the King Blues. Rancid would fry his brains. We've got some terrific song-writers in Britain like Nick Welsh and Chris Pope who are denied air-play... although not on my podcast. I'll play anyone. Even Waysted...
It's the same story with variety turns. It irritates the hell out of me that someone as talented as Joe Longthorne never gets any telly. This bloke is the spirit of showbusiness decanted into a suit. He is the greatest singing impressionist England has ever produced; he is seriously world class and funny too. Why do we never see him on TV? Or great comics like Mick Miller, Mickey Pugh, Adrian Walsh and Johnnie Casson? Simply because TV execs are governed by this spurious obsession with demographics and these performers are judged to be too old... as if people from 16 - 35 (the key targets for admen) only laugh at performers the same age as themselves.
It wasn't true when I was a kid – I loved Steptoe, Milligan and Python - and it isn't true now. The whole demographic argument is flawed. When 24 started or Harry Hill's TV Burp or The Office they appealed across three generations in my family because they were quality.
If Morecambe and Wise were starting out now, they'd be told: "You're funny, fellas, but can you cook?" Imagine trying to pitch Fools & Horses to the BBC today... three blokes, one a pensioner, living on a council estate... the door wouldn't hit your arse on the way out. But audiences came to that show because it was funny, and that audience included ABC1s under thirty.
Wouldn't you rather see an old comic who could deliver proper belly-laughs than see Horne & Corden (Corn & Boredom) land a series because they're the flavour of the month and die on their arse?
Terry Alderton is a good comic we don't see enough of. Dave Lee lights up a stage with his smile.
TV used to be run by impresarios – now it's run by accountants and tossers with degrees in media studies. The results speak for themselves.
What else would you change?
I'd introduce a nightly late night topical comedy show along the Tonight Show lines. And a later one fronted by Jerry Sadowitz. I'd revive Comedy Playhouse for sitcom writers outside of the TV mafia. And when was the last great home-grown action drama? I'll tell you – Life On Mars which was The Sweeney re-imagined and then they buggered it up with Ashes To Ashes...
This decade has been the new golden age of television drama with terrific shows such as The Sopranos, The Wire, The Shield, Entourage, Boston Legal, Dexter... all of them American. Why don't we do shows this good any more? We used to. British TV produced The Sweeney, Minder, The Avengers, The Prisoner, Law and Order – most of them ITV shows by the way. But now ITV churn out dross like The Palace and wonder why their viewing figures are plummeting like a suicidal banker. We've got the talent in droves; we're just not using it. Tom Hardy is a terrific actor, so is Danny Midwinter. And we've got great writers such as Ronnie Thompson, Colin Butts and John King who should be encouraged to write for TV more.
OK, you have free access to every single TV programme ever made, and you can choose a whole 24 hours of viewing... what's it to be?
Ha! I've just reeled off most of my favourite shows... but I would definitely include classic episodes of Seinfield, Steptoe, the Simpsons, Star Trek TNG, Porridge, Fawlty Towers, the Mighty Boosh, Spike Milligan's Q series, Fools & Horses, Bilko, Python, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Benny Hill, Hancock's Half Hour, Les Dawson, Arthur Haynes, Lost In Space – danger Will Robinson – and a special edition of Top Of The Pops compiled by me and featuring Lizzy, Slade, Sabbath, Desmond Dekker, The Jam, The Ruts, The Damned, Motorhead, Pluto Shervington (cont Sidney Arms).
As well as being an author, journalist and radio & TV personality (cough) you're also very active (cough) as the singer (oops, sorry about this coughing fit) with The Gonads. For GRTRoll readers who've never had the pleasure, give us a taste of The Gonads, and tell us what's shaking in their world right now.
How very dare you! Yes I sing like a ruptured donkey with The Gonads, the second greatest punk band ever to come out of Indus Road in Charlton. We've been going off and on (mostly off) since the mid-70s. We're in to making a racket and having a laugh, so we have flag girls on stage and an 18-stone fat bloke who comes on as Franken-Skin (Eddie eat yer heart out). We aren't easy on the ear. We sound like a fire in a monkey house. I understand our music is played at Dover to repel illegal immigrants.
The Gonads combine elements of punk, Ska and Cockney culture, we are constantly seeking new groupies, and we play anywhere. We did the Punk & Disorderly festival in Berlin last month which was a hoot. There must have been 3,000 in when we played and they seemed to love it... We've got Sweden coming up in May and possibly the States in July.
It's not always great, though. We were on a reggae bill a couple of weeks ago; it was the first time we'd played to an audience that was 98% Rastafarian and we went down like the Belgrano. But hey ho, it's horses for courses. No point trying to sell someone hats if they wanna buy shoes...
We've got a new album out called Live Free, Die Free which is 18-tracks on vinyl, sixteen on CD... blah, blah, plug plug... brilliant... artistically valid... blah... and we're recording a credit crunch single next month called Fat Cat Splat.
Many GRTRoll readers will remember you fondly from your days with Sounds - where you produced some of the finest and funniest rock journalism of its time. I know people who can quote your reviews word for word even now, almost thirty years after they were written! As part of the Sounds gig you were (un)lucky enough to tour with Ozzy and UFO - and it was you who discovered Twisted Sister and got them a UK record deal! That must have been quite a wild old time... how did you manage to keep to the disciplines required by a weekly magazine, such as deadlines and wordcounts etc, and still come up with brilliant wordage week after week?
Sulphate. Which of course I don't touch any more. I'm joking. Have you got any? Seriously, it was invigorating. It was so much fun all the time. The highlights had to be every UFO trip, the Specials in New York, Maiden on the road, ZZ Top in Vegas, Hanoi Rocks in India, Motorhead in Berlin... Lemmy saying "this is something you haven't heard for 35 years – Bomber!" Why did I ever quit Sounds?
The biography page on your website gives us an insight into your countless accomplishments, including being dubbed both "the Godfather of Oi" and "the Bernard Manning of Pop" (the latter by Boy George who probably had a bit of a thing for Bernard Manning - or even Bernard Matthews). What are the most memorable achievements from your career so far?
Surviving life on the road with Ozzy I reckon. It really was as wild as you'd imagine. Waking up in a Fort Lauderdale hotel to find your hotel room is apparently under attack from mortar bombs - which turned out to be Oz "letting his hair down" with the stage pyrotechnics... but I reckon I'll save all those stories for another book some time. I was quite proud of documenting 2-Tone, writing Maiden's book Running Free and compiling the Oi albums. I'm proud of my family of course, and of my novel The Face – even though it got me the sack.
....And some of your biggest bloopers?
My biggest error was employing Piers Morgan. Yes folks, I'm to blame. My second biggest error was not sleeping with (name of Page Three girl deleted for legal reasons) when she wanted me to. Third? Stopping managing the Cockney Rejects. Fourth? Not forming a Streetpunk label back in 1981 when I could and should have done - but then I've never been a businessman.
You had a knack for spotting new bands back on Sounds, are there any unsigned acts that have caught your eye recently?
God, loads. The great thing about MySpace is that you find great new bands all the time. I just heard the debut album from Dub City Rockers which is terrific. I like Buster Shuffle, Spinerette, Krakatoa, Maninblack, Exile Parade, Wonk Unit... loads of terrific foreign bands like Stomper 98... I can't believe Skaville UK are unsigned. I also rate a lot of Yank bands who haven't made much impact over here yet, such as the Bouncing Souls, Tiger Army and the Gaslight Anthem.
What else is happening on Planet Bushell at the moment?
I've just written a new short story for a US publisher called Comet Press. They took my first horror story last year and published it in an anthology called Deadlines. I'm working on my first graphic novel, too. I'm also about to start recording Bushell On The Box as a web-cast, along with interviews with prime rock and punk bands. Plenty going on all the time. Have a look at garry-bushell.co.uk for details if you're interested. I'm also on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, although it has to be said Twitter isn't half as much fun as naked Twister.
Who are your top five heroes, living or dead?
Only five? That seems a bit tight. Definitely Max Miller. George Orwell. Kipling. Peter Aloysius Way of UFO. And Nelson. But bubbling under would be Milligan, Ian Dury, Gus Elen, Paddy Mayne, and Alfred The Great.
Where would you like to be and what would you like to be doing in five years time?
Alive, breathing... and writing books, in between Gonads gigs and servicing Alesha Dixon's carnal needs.
© Get Ready To Roll - 30th March 2009