999 played and sold out Friars
Aylesbury in March 1979 with hundreds turned away. Nick also played
Friars in 1973 as part of cult heroes Kilburn and The High Roads with
the immortal Ian Dury. Here, Nick tells us about his local connections
to Aylesbury and his complete abhorrence of some of the culture that
seemed to follow some new wave gigs in the early days. And he's very
much looking forward to playing Friars again.
We spoke to Nick in
October 2010 on the eve of their long awaited Friars return.
Friars Aylesbury Website:
Nick, welcome to the Friars Aylesbury website - we are all looking
forward to Friday - I think it is going to be a good one!
Yes, we're all looking
forward to it - we've played there before, along time ago in what they
call the punk era and it was great show. I'm sure I read on the Friars
website I played outside because the place had sold out.
Yes, that's right, I was going to ask you
about that! That gig in March 1979, there was over 200 people who
couldn't get in.
Let's hope it's the same
on Friday! Some good things have happened to me playing outside of
venues. There was this venue in Dusseldorf, Germany, where these kids
couldn't get in as they were took young for the licencing laws there. I
took my amp and played some songs outside. Anyway, years later, one of
these kids ended up being a singer called Campino and he ended up being
in one of the biggest bands in Germany, Die Toten Hosen. He said he was
one of the young kids outside that day and asked if we would play on
their Learning English record with people like The Damned and Johnny
Thunders. So Guy (Days) and I played on it and it went gold. And I got to play
with Johnny Thunders one last time singing Born To Lose. It was a good
thing, taking the old guitar and amp outside.
Nick at Friars Aylesbury 3rd March 1979 -
Picture - Chris Gibbons
It very much paid off! Tell us about your
early visits to Friars as I know you were local.
Kilburn and the High Roads
used to visit the club a lot and one of the bands we saw was a fantastic
gig by Roxy Music in 1972. The whole band (the Kilburns) used to live at
the vicarage in Wingrave. Ian Dury will lived with us at the time as
well obviously - that's all in the film. And Friars was an important
place to go. After seeing Roxy Music, we all decided to get our hair cut
short! (laughs). I was speaking to David Stopps and he was telling me
that one week was David Bowie, the next Roxy Music and the next Lou
That really happened!
When you think how
important that gig was and it's so great to be coming back to Friars
with Eddie and the Hot Rods and the Buzzcocks. It's a great bill and I
hope it does well.
Yes, it is.
I heard from David that
there's people coming from America for this gig.
That doesn't surprise me as The Pretty
Things gig last year which was the first Friars gig in 25 years had
people coming from all over.
The Pretty Things were a
big influence on me and their song 'Don't Bring Me Down' - quite a wild sound.
I didn't know too much about the Pretty
Things before the gig, but they blew me away. Going back to you being a
Friars member and seeing the likes of Roxy Music......and then Kilburn
and The High Roads played Friars twice in 1973, what do you remember of
those gigs? The first one was supporting Commander Cody.
Oh that's right! Yeah,
Bill Cody! That's right. That was fantastic. We got some great support
slots like The Who's Quadrophenia tour, that was unbelievable. We went
from being paid £13 a night a Kensington to playing The Free Trade Hall
in Manchester and a decent support slot.
Funny you should mention that because your
second support slot in 1973 was the Christmas party supporting String
Driven Thing and there's a newspaper cutting on that website page about
you having just come off a US tour with The Who.....
That never actually
happened. We were going on the tour and the management at the time
couldn't set it up. I tried to set up but couldn't do it in time. We got
on well with them - we didn't do any thrashing of halls! We shared an
art school background and they could see that we were starting like they
did so they had empathy. But the management wasn't very good and it all
fell apart and Lynyrd Skynyrd got the tour instead.
I found a really good
picture last week of Ian Dury and me before our first gig at Canterbury
College of Art.
There's pictures of you in 999 on the
Friars website as well from that 1979 gig!
You'll have a photographer on Friday won't you! Friars, to me, is one of
the most important gigs in England along with the Electric Circus in
Manchester and CBGB's as well. When you think what the club did
musically....It's great that Friars is having these events again.
And your memories of 999 at Friars
Aylesbury and that ime?
It was great - the
Southall crew came up from London for example and they were all really
good gigs, but everything was happening so fast. It was such a fantastic
time. We went round the world.
This is astonishing......if we look back
to March 1979....three sold out consecutive gigs. The bands? 999, Eddie
and The Hot Rods and Buzzcocks.
That is unbelievable! Has
anyone spotted that before? It's
great we're still doing it.
999......nearly 34 years since the band
Yes, we have a following
and the young kids who like it plus other people who like the music. We
go all around the world and play and we can go to Brazil, Argentina and
in a couple of weeks, we do a 16 date tour of Germany. And we've had
offers to do the Rebellion festival in Blackpool again. The last time,
it was great to see the New York Dolls again. It goes on like that, it's
great fun! (laughs)
Actually when I come back
to Friars on Friday, do you think I should bring my small amp and play
For old times sake, that would make a
great photo opportunity!
In terms of the classic new wave period
1977-1981, you had a tremendous following and still have, many
singles...you left your mark on the scene didn't you?
And got banned by the BBC
- they banned Homicide because of the title. How ridiculous was that
when that word was always mentioned of Kojak? How could this hurt any
body? They were so terrified - but the establishment and the
violence, they thought it was downright evil.
The BBC at that time didn't exactly have
their finger on the pulse did they?
No they didn't. We played
Homicide on a John Peel session and someone said rather than saying "I
believe in Homicide", could you say "I believe in Homicide" with a
different nuance. When we came to do it, I did the first one! It made no
The BBC at that time were so touchy about
It was in the papers that
everybody was terrified. Here's an example - we played at the LaFayette
in Wolverhampton. There were stories about punks being beaten up and
there was the story about Johnny Rotten having been beaten up. We went
on stage and this guy reminded me that we did two songs and then the
audience rushed the stage to try to beat us up because that was what
they had read in the papers [they should do]. So they came down to have
a barney but fortunately that all blew over rather quickly and people
came to listen to the music and it survived and lived on and all that
stupid behaviour has gone. People still like the music and like 999's
music which gets used everywhere. If you've got Grand Theft Auto
(console game), Homicide is on that and that still gets played round the
world. Times have changed.
The tabloids had a lot to answer for,
effectively playing the new wave movement as some kind of revolution and
suggesting that people had to behave in a certain way - i.e badly.
It was ridiculous. We
ended up in The Sun's front page in a story about slam dancing. We
didn't start slam dancing. It was a fairly innocuous thing where people
jumped around and often bumped into each other, like a moshpit. A
reporter from the Los Angeles Times saw this and said some kid got his
lip cut and three weeks later, somebody attacked someone in the street
at a concert and it was all "it's a disgrace" etc from the papers. So
The Sun took us for an interview and asked us to do some slam dancing.
We said, no we want to talk about our music, it's just kids having a
good time jumping around. We found out, as this was the time of the
bread strike, that the editor sent a reporter and photographer out to
report on queues outside bakeries. There weren't queues so the reporter
paid people £5 to queue outside a bakery so they had a story and a
picture! They (The Sun) thought we were going to be like Sid Vicious or
something and be sick on the pavement and slam into people and beat
Being nice guys, you disappointed them!
I wrote a letter to the LA
Times pointing out that we were totally anti-violence and that they had
misrepresented us. It was energetic music - kids want to get up and
express themselves like at a football match.
That reporting, as you mention, was very
poor judgment of the newspapers - this was the kind of thing that Sham
69 and The Clash were experiencing as well...
Everybody was getting it -
and the Nazi and Fascist connotations - we sidelined all of that. It was
dubious for some people at the time. We played some of the first Rock
Against Racism gigs. Do you remember all that? We were against
Yes I do remember it and not all with
affection. I won't mention the band
concerned, but I walked out of a gig as their audience was full of
seig-heiling skinheads and I wanted no association with that at all as
it was repulsive. I do remember that era with the Rock Against Racism,
and Rock Against Thatcher badges and it being a big thing at the time
but for the right reasons.
Yes, definitely for the
right reasons. Radio One did a feature a while ago and they played
Homicide (!) which we got banned from doing on Top of The Pops. I don't
care, I've had a great time doing 999.
Without giving too much away, we can
expect 999 classics like Homicide and Emergency on Friday and maybe some
of your newer stuff?
Yes - a couple of
songs from the new album "Death In Soho" We'll do stuff like Give Me The
World and a song which is against knife crime called The Last Breath
which is a great song written by the drummer Pablo LaBritain who started
in The Clash and went to school with Joe Strummer. Not a lot of people
I was Keith Lucas in
Kilburn and The High Roads but I changed my name to Nick Cash, simply
because I didn't want people to come down who knew me from Kilburn and
The High Roads - I wanted to start afresh so people didn't know the
name. It worked and we took off on our own.
I can understand that as it would kill off
people's expectations of you possibly being like your former band.
Possibly the right thing to do.
We'll see you on Friday night!
It will be the three
original members on Friday - Arturo Bassick isn't in the band anymore
and I will be playing bass. We didn't want to cancel the gig.
We're very pleased you haven't!
Thanks so much Nick - we are looking
forward so much to seeing you on Friday.
This interview and its
content are © 2010 Mike O'Connor/www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk and may not
be used in whole or in part without permission.