SONGS I'D LIKE TO COVER
By Jowe Head
Whatever Happened To... - Buzzcocks
Somewhere In The Country - Gene Pitney
Hello, Hello, I'm Back Again - Gary Glitter
Wichita Linesman - Glen Campbell
John Barleycorn - English Tradtional
Almost Grown - Chuck Berry
(Swell Maps did this 76/77 - Jowe.)
Why did the Swell Maps split up?|
"The Swell Maps 'split up' because we never were a 'proper' band in the first place! We only existed as a group in that, usually, four of us would make live appearances - even that was fluid; it was often necessary to operate as a trio or add a few people I'm hedging aren't I. Basically we got sick to death of each other on our first ever tour - in Italy of all places..."
Are there plans for a reformation?
"Diplomatically speaking - not with the same people or under the same name."
Do you see Nikki, Epic and Phones very often?
"I'm the only one, I think, who still talks to everyone else!"
What about collaborations with them, one-offs like the 'Rain, Rain, Rain' single with Epic?
"I certainly hope this shall continue - I've been planning to collaborate with Phones again for a long time - I still have a few unfinished items featuring the fellow on master tape. In fact, regarding my efforts with Epic, we have an entire LP which is still unreleased, which contains 'Rain, Rain, Rain' and other gems with further contributions by Carmel's vocal chords".
What are you doing now?
"Sitting at a table in Kensington Market with a hangover trying to flog frocks. A fellow has to eat!"
Stephen Pastel says you've done a 'really good' LP on a Portastudio, what are your plans for that?
"Stephen Pastel is daft. I had a 4-track TEAC machine at home and recorded hours of doodlings which are mainly useless apart from about five songs, which I hope shall appear in some form or other. I may record them again in a flash studio if I save me pennies."
Are you pleased with the way punk has turned out or do you see it as having become just another fashion?
"What! Anybody'd think I started it or something. Well, people always waffle on about how great it used to be and how naff it is now. Now, I remember a lot of rubbish back in 77. What we are witnessing now (writes an anthropologist) is the inherent cultural decay of a 'popular' media-based sub-culture (HoHo). It all depends on your expectations really. There was a lot of fun and excitement in the halcyon days of er, punk so... No Regrets! So it's as dull as ditchwater now, so what? Rip it up and start again et cetera. Er isn't that a Buzzcocks song?
Stephen (again) reckons that punk should've gone the way of the TV Personalities and Swell Maps, what do you think about that?
"Swell Maps? Punk? What does that make the Pastels? We never really thought of ourselves as punkers so that automatically gave us a lot of scope. Enough said."
It's almost 6 years since 'Read About Seymour', has it been worth it?
"Listen! It's 7 years since we recorded 'Seymour'. I still really love that disc. Worth it? Worth what? I'm in music because I rather enjoy doing it and you sometimes meet brilliant people who are into the same things in life. I tend to lose money making music at the moment but what the hell, eh?"
Rough Trade have started to delete their back catalogue, making every Swell Map single and the single with Epic unavailable, making them just numbers in a book and memories in a record collection, how do you feel about that?
"What that means is that they are simply not going to repress discs that aren't selling anymore. Doesn't mean they are being withdrawn. Most of the single sides are on 'Collision Time' anyway. It's up to them."
As music these days either has to be played at 100 mph or by boys with pretty faces and their hair 'just so', I think it's reasonable to say that your type of music will not get into the charts, so why do you do it?
"Because I know better! Actually I'm as ugly as sin and I'm too lazy to practice scales on the guitar. My singing is improving though! I'm looking for a suitable drummer at present".
Do you ever wish the Maps had become famous like the Clash?
"The Clash... never heard of them."
What sort of stuff do you listen to at home?
"At the present, er, Pastels, Bo Diddley, Buzzcocks, Elmore James, Hank Williams, TV Personalities, Ramones, Barry White, Jowe Head, Gene Pitney, Imagination, Sun Ra, Tamla Motown. Nothing particular."
You crop up on the Pastels cassette playing live with them, as well as having done gigs with them. Seeing as they live in Glasgow and you live in London, how come?
"I'm a fan... Stephen is tops!"
What about plans for the future?
"To own a bath and meet Charles Hawtrey"
Since I typed all of the above out, I met Jowe at the second Patrick Fitzgerald gig. We had quite a long chat about things in general, like what we thought of Patrick and a whole load of really trivial stuff, but don't take every thing that Jowe has said above as gospel!! I think it's just that he's changed his mind about some of his answers. Still like they say Don't believe all you read. It's unhealthy any way. I daresay that they'll be more on Jowe in some future issue of Groovy. After all, how can you fault someone who likes... yes you've guessed it... Strawberry Switchblade!!
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|Note - this interview predates Jowe joining the Television Personalities.
Thanks to Paul Groovy for the use of the material.
Many thanks to Chris Davidson for the loan of this fanzine.