Damian sits down with Brummie punks and finds out why anything is better than Cilla Black and  they’ll never play their home city’s Town Hall (amongst other things)

What inspired you to be a musician?

Darren: The intro to ‘Love Song’ by The Damned

Dave: Seeing Alice Cooper’s performance of School’s out on Top of The Pops – then I guess, in 1976, buying wholesale into the notion that all you needed to do was pick up some drum sticks in order to run with what the Pistols had started. The irony being of course, that they turned out to be one of the tightest hard rock machines of all time…

Alan: I remember hearing ‘Step inside Love’ by Cilla Black on the radio and thinking Christ, there has to be something better than this…

Why record live and raw?

Darren: We all like records that just sound like a band playing in a room – The first Damned or Saints or Motorhead albums are all like that…

What influences your guitar style?

Alan: Lots of disjointed stuff – my biggest early influence was Magazine’s John McGeoch. I guess my love for the Telecaster started with Francis Rossi and then Hugh Cornwell…

Does playing with other people influence your sound? 

Darren: No, not really…

Dave: it probably works the other way round – people hear what Birchy can do, and then ask him to help them out.

How do you manage your time?

Dave: I teach art, and that feeds into all the band’s artwork, and Alan is a printer – so that’s cool to have too! I guess both of us battle a little with keeping it all together – but it makes us a pretty strong self contained unit.

Darren: I do this full time, so it’s easier to manage commitments to The Black Bombers and to The Godfathers. Playing with Walter Lure tends to be more a matter of a few dates once in a year…

Who are your early 70’s rock influences?

Dave: The original Alice Cooper Group as I’ve said, The Stones, The New York Dolls and Iggy & The Stooges – all kind of obvious I guess – but undeniable too. For Alan and I it’s also Mott The Hoople –  although I love what Alan dismisses as the ‘glam’ CBS years and he’s more of an Island era guy.

Who have you played with that has influenced you most?

Darren: Brian James is obviously a huge influence… and  Mark Barrows – an early guitarist in the line-ups that morphed into The Black Bombers –  Mark introduced me to lots of incredible stuff that I’d not heard before – The Pink Fairies, Captain Beefheart…

Dave: Its another back to front answer I guess – but having played  a memorial show for my friend Nikki Sudden in a four piece band with Mick Taylor on guitar, that was such a thrill  – to be up there with someone from something that has been such a huge influence on me, and most everyone I’ve ever played with, through the past forty or so years…

Band or artist who has impressed you recently?

Alan: Have you heard White Denim’s new album? – some of it sounds like Steely Dan..

Darren: Doctor John’s album with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys is great…

Dave: I’m hanging a lot of hope on The Fat White Family, they’re the real deal musically and politically and great onstage. Their last album would have been hugely improved if it’d contained the two fantastic singles that preceded it though… Table Scraps are a killer stooge-punk, noise/grunge band from Birmingham that just happen to feature my daughter on drums – everyone should check out their ‘More Time for Strangers’ LP.

Best venue played and where would you love to play?

Dave: The 100 club was great – great sound and they haven’t dicked around with the history of the place at all. You can still stand on a stage that is very recognisably the one that hosted the ’76 punk festival.

Maybe The Black Bomber’s spiritual home is The Waggon and Horses in Digbeth though…

Darren: I’ve played C.B.G.Bs, but, in truth, The Continental, where we also played, was the cooler New York rock n roll venue at that time…

Alan: Best? maybe Rock City in Nottingham.

Dave: I once played a former war-time bunker in Chemnitz, East Germany – The Bunkr Club – a concrete box underground where the DJ played literally nothing but Ramones all night. That was wild…

Its funny, although I played The Marquee and Eric’s and Rebecca’s as a kid, all I really wanted to do was play Max’s or C.B.G.B’s – I was just so into American punk – I wasn’t even aware of the fact that most weeks I was playing upstairs at The Crown on Hill Street in Birmingham, and that that was where Black Sabbath had started only a few years before. So in terms of heritage and legend, the grass really wasn’t any greener… I can see that now.

Where we’d like to play? My first gigs as a kid were all at Birmingham Town Hall so I’ve always had an inkling to play there – but the sound was actually dire in there for loud rock n roll – the boom of the kit ricocheting back down from the balcony on echo-delay – sometimes it was a  challenge to recognise the song before the last chorus kicked in. Didn’t seem to matter though, the racket just soundtracked the whirl of excitement in your head that you were actually standing, shouting and bopping in the same room as Mick Ronson or Ian Hunter. These days I guess some jobsworth would insist that you D.I .everything and then turn down some more.

Its never going to happen….