In their own words, The Bermondsey Joyriders are "a loud, fast and furious.. no holds barred ...Rock N Roll power trio" and on the evidence of their debut album (out now on Cherry Red Records) I wouldn't disagree. The name may be new, but the 'Joyriders themselves have been in this game for a while. Gary Lammin (guitar and vocals) was principal songwriter of 'Cock Sparrer' in their rawk n' roll pre-Oi punk era. Bassist Martin Stacey was main songwriter for another well known punk band, 'Chelsea', whilst drummer Keith Boyce pounded the skins for London legends 'The Heavy Metal Kids' (who should need no introduction on this website). In December '09 I received an invitation to see the 'Joyriders play on New Years day and maybe interview the band. Although I was busy elsewhere at the time, the album I received turned out to be full of sleazy bottleneck guitar playing, tons of rock attitude and classic messy punk n' roll chaos. In January 2010 I tracked down frontman Gary Lammin via email for a Q&A:
Bermondsey Joyriders? Wasn't that a gang of yuppie-targeting car thieves in the 1980s?
Yeah that's right...I originally saw the name The Bermondsey Joyriders as graffiti on a wall near Tower Bridge. I thought it was a band name already and a bloody good name at that ! In fact it sounded brazen and it made me chuckle to myself that someone would call a band The Bermondsey Joyriders, it really did have a mischievious sound to it, This was in the early to mid 1980s so there was a lot of development going on in the docks area of East and South London....you know they were closing the docks down and that was splitting the community up and on top of that the docks warehouses were being turned into penthouse residential gaffs for all these toffee nosed posh berks that were moving into the area. Yeah they were called yuppies at the time. Some time after this I was at my aunts house in South London and I picked up a local paper as I was waiting for her to bring me a bacon sandwich and a nice cuppa in from the kitchen and the headlines on the front page read BERMONDSEY JOYRIDERS LAST GANG MEMBERS ARRESTED. It turned out that yeah, these young lads were nicking all the Aston Martins and the Porsches and other top of the range cars of the yuppies that were moving into the area and racing them at speed through the night and then burning them out as a kind of statement. I don't agree with the nicking of motors but I had to chuckle to myself again...especially now that I knew The Bermondsey Joyriders were a gang and I could if I was as brazen as them, the lads nicking the motors in turn nick the name The Bermondsey Joyriders for a Rock n Roll band. So I did !
What mode of transport do The Bermondsey Joyriders tour in?
We got a few motors ourself...we got a range rover and we got an old beaten up Jag. Er...that we bought of course !
UK Subs frontman Charlie Harper maintains that punk music and blues music are more-or-less the same thing ('Another Kind of Blues'). Do you agree?
Blues, original blues as played by the likes of Muddy Water and Howlin Wolf to me is the true punk voice of the black working class American ghetto. It is, if played with passion and respect, the most provocative music you can play. When Johhny Thunders done his thing you can take my word for it that he was turning into the energy of pure punk via black American blues... I try to do the same thing...but as soon as you try too hard its gone...its like a spiritual thing...you have to allow the thing to take you over and not try to take it over...and yeah it can be very scary..that's what Robert Johnson was going on about when he sung about all that going down at midnight to a crossroads.
Bermondsey Joyriders seem confident at taking the DIY route as far as booking shows goes. You recently played a show in London on New Years Day. How did it go?
Look..one of the things about a lot of these so called punk rock bands that are around today is that they are happy to just turn up and get paid for playing the same old set that they have been doing for years, But punk rock to me is about taking a chance...you know do something crazy..see if you can get away with it. The show at The 100 Club was a real gamble and a risk...if you play The 100 Club you need to fill it. The 100 Club is a statement so unless you can back that statement up then you best not make it in the first place...On New Years Day we got 260 people in and that to me was a good turn out for New Years Day. Ok sure, Everyone looked like they had just had their brains vapourised...but the thing was they turned up no matter how out their faces they were. The Bermondsey Joyriders gig at The 100 Club on New Years Day therefore was one of the few true punk gigs for sometime.
What can we expect from a Bermondsey Joyriders live show? I hear there is quite a lot of crowd participation?
Yeah the crowd are the essence, they are what makes it all come together and you ain't going to make anything happen without the crowd...Its a Zen thing...the crowd are a tangible manisfestation of where the band are all at. I cant even be bothered to play my guitar at home on my own but put me in front of some people who I can play for and it does it for me. The Bermondsey Joyriders never rehearse in fact when we played The 100 Club on New Years Day it was the first time Id seen Keith Boyce The Bermondsey Joyriders (Also Heavy Metal Kids) drummer since mid November 2009. Therefore if it all goes wrong then going wrong is as important or unimportant as it all going great....punk rock should be spontaneous and vita.
You have just released the track 'Football' as a single, in tribute to one of your passions, the English national sport! Are you concerned this might cross-over to the lucrative US market, and will you be recording another version with alternative lyrics to include Quarterbacks, touchdowns, and the Oakland Raiders?
Hey now there's an idea...how's your American accent ?
Well, you can Check it out on Movies About Girls podcast #39...
Okay, 'Quickfire Round': Here are ten bands/artists, comment on each in 5 words or less
MC5... The truest punk band EVER
The Kinks...Even better then you think
The Dammed...Punk times 200 per cent
Rory Gallagher...He turned The Stones down !!!!!?
UK Subs..Oi ! Charlie you Rock Star
The NYDs...My reason to play guitar
The Hellocopters...Dont know them enough really
The Faces...Saw them Lewisham Odeon 1972/3 ?
Dogs D'Amour...Got them their first gig
Slade...The English New York Dolls
Dr Feelgood...Honourable Honest and Rocking
The Rolling Stones...Midnight Rambler live version ( Altamont )
Slide guitar is prominent in your sound. What do you use for a slide? For example, Rory Gallagher used an old medicine bottle, other payers opt for steel or brass tubing, or even knives!?
I use a brass one at the moment but I will experiment from time to time...you know over in The USA there's a lot more access to slide guitar stuff...I've also got a ceramic bottle neck slide and I also use an old long whisky glass that someone gave me.
What is next for The Bermondsey Joyriders? And where can the world check you out online?
Ok the Bermondsey Joyriders can be located at our Myspace Page. As regards to what's next..we got something proper bonkers lined up for mid March...but its risky...If we pull it off it will be a talking point for ages but if it goes wrong you will have to come and see me in jail, so I cant really tell you right now but your know soon enough when and where it will happen and if we pull it off it will certainly ruffle a few feathers...Thanks for taking an interest in The Bermondsey Joyriders and God Bless...
Thanks to Gary Lammin for answering the questions, and Alison B (Bubble Gum Slut 'zine/Bermondsey Joyriders PR Manager) for hooking up the interview!
- Alex Eruptor