The Big Beat In The Heart Of The Vinyl Jungle

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Jules: You haven’t seen them yet, have you?

No, but I heard that it was great.

I saw Deniz this morning. I had tickets for the second night, but I didn’t go because I was so hungover. I don’t drink much anymore because I’m too busy – a little bit here and there. But I got plastered. I must have been, but I didn’t feel it. But I had this shocking hangover the next day and I couldn’t operate very well. I took a lot of Advil.

So I couldn’t go to the gig, and I said to Deniz, so how was the gig last night? And he said “tons better than the first night”. And the first night was in the top five or 10 gigs I’d ever seen them do. The great thing is – what band has ever maintained the same sort of intensity for that period of time?

It was just amazing to me how well they fired together. And Ron was just driving the thing. It was like he had the whole thing in his hands and was driving the thing, like the engine driver in the back. He’s not always done that. He’s always been Ron – a very good drummer. He’s always absolutely crucial, but this was like, he was in control. It was amazing.

Yeah, that’s what Russell Hopkinson was saying, that he was right on it.

Well, he was. That’s right, it’s really true. He was as powerful as I’ve ever seen him get, for sure. And how old is he now? He must be 53 or 54 or something?

Yeah, and those songs take some work to play, too.

As a drummer you would know, yeah?

Well, these days I mostly just play along to records at home, but I play a fair amount of Radio Birdman, and if you want to play it well, you’ve got to work at it.

(Jules serves tea and lunch and the conversation revolves around what goes into that for a while).

I want to get the history of Phantom and how you got involved in rock and roll in the first place. So I thought that going back to the beginning – I remember you told me that one of the first singles you liked was that “Snoopy’s Christmas” single by the Royal Guardsmen. . .

(nearly chokes on his sandwich laughing) Ah, that’s right, you sent me that CD! So you REALLY want to go back to the beginning – to stuff that no one has ever heard before! I dunno, I was a bit of a rebel as a kid. I had Christian parents and we always had to go church. I hated it. You always had to wear neat clothes and long socks and bloody shorts and that kind of shit, and I just hated it completely. I hated all that stuff with a passion. And the one escape for me when I was at home was listening to the radio. My Dad used to make radios in his spare time.

(At this point there’s a huge crash of thunder from outside…)

Woah! That’s big thunder! Will that come out?

I’m not sure. We don’t get much of this stuff in San Diego. Thunder’s really rare for us.

That’s a big one! It was pretty quick after the lightning. That’s probably about two miles away. Um, so yeah, so my dad built a radio for my brother and me, and we used to sit there and listen to the radio in the 60s. And I used to have this little book and I’d write down every song that I liked, and I’d grade it. I’d jot down the artist and the title. If I wrote it down at all, it meant I liked it. If I put one line under the artist, it meant I liked it a fair bit. And then there was a line under the artist and a line under the song, and then if there was three lines under each it meant it was the greatest thing I’d ever heard. I’ve still got the book here somewhere. If you want some fun I’ll give you a look at it.

(continues overleaf)

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