interview



Thanks to the help of John Moon, I was fortunate to have an e-mail interview with Rose Tattoo bass player Geordie Leach. I e-mailed the questions to John, who in turn posed them to Geordie. Here's the result...enjoy!



1) How did the band get signed to Alberts?

The band was managed by a guy called Mick Christian who negotiated a deal for one single with Alberts. Of course that single was Bad Boy! With the success of that song, Alberts quickly snapped them up the band to record an album etc.

2) What was the initial public reaction to Rose Tattoo when you first played out?

Musicians hated the band! Thought they were rubbish. The public didnt like the band either as they were considered too loud and aggressive. Mind you, at the beginning, the band was pretty untogether playing wise, and they hadn't really become a cohesive playing unit.

3) Why did Ian Rilen leave and who approached you to join the Tatts?

Rilen left because he has that "alternative" type of attitude whereby commercial success is considered to be uncool! Which is why X has never made it from a record selling point of view, but is sort of legendary in the "underground" music scene. Geordie Leach was actually the front of house mixer for Tattoo from their inception, and as soon as it was made known that Rilen was leaving, then Geordie approached the band to join.

4) How long did it take for you and Digger Royal to mesh as a rhythm section?

About a week!

5) Why, do you think, the Tatts were considered "rock 'n' roll outlaws"?

Because they didn't care what the music industry/public thought about them. They played what they wanted, how they wanted, when they wanted.

6) Did the police ever have to intervene at a Tatts gig for any reason?

Yes, a couple of times. The most famous being in Perth Western Australia, when Angry ended up being locked up for a couple of days and was charged with enciting a riot. Apparently it was the second last night of their '83 Perth tour, and Angry had one or 5 bourbon's too many. He told the assembled crowd that all the "bouncers" (security) were off duty police and the venue's beer was more watered down than nun's piss! Well....after that the crowd went apeshit! Angry ended up climbing on top of a car outside the venue yelling out to people to calm down, but the police arrested him saying that he was egging the crowd on. It seemed from that moment on, whenever the band hit Perth, the police were always waiting for them, and would just continually harass and try and pin any problems that happened on the band as being the absolute cause.

The other notable run in with the law was at Wollongong near Sydney. A bunch of Angry's friends were at the front of the stage just getting off on the band's music, when they were attacked by some local thugs. One of the perpetrators had his skull split open when Angry wielded a microphone stand over his head while trying to protect one of his friends. Angry was charged by the police and went to court.

7) Is it true that a requirement of being in the band was to have a "Rose Tattoo" tattoo, and a ring tattooed on one finger? If so, why?

At the beginning, the rose tattoo was a requirement, but the ring on the finger was never mandatory. Geordie and Mick never had rings tattoo'ed.

8) Whose idea was it to play in prisons...how do those gigs compare to regular pub gigs?

George Freeman, one of the "Mr. Big's" of organised crime in Sydney, called the booking agency that looked after the band, and "requested" that he'd like Rose Tattoo to "consider" playing for the prisoner's at Long Bay Jail.

9) Was there a favorite venue to play, and why?

"The Bondi Lifesaver" in Sydney, otherwise known as "The Swap" as in The Bondi Wifeswapper! It was the scungiest, grottiest venue in Sydney, but the most famous gig in Australia. Everybody who was anybody has played at "The Swap". It was the place to go to after a gig or a night off on the road. Groupies were always there in abundance.

10) In your opinion, what factors made Australia such a hotbed of hard rock in the late 70's (Tatts, AC/DC and Angels come to mind).

Australian bands were influenced by a mixture of English/European and American Bands. Those influences, mixed in with Australian culture and attitude's, probably enabled aussie bands to play with a hardness and aggression that was symbolic of the country. With the opening up of pub's, catering for rock bands, aussie bands were able to perform almost every night of the week. Having to appease a pubfull of drunks also meant that playing "soft" rock would inevitably see the band in question boo'ed off stage. This caused aussie groups to become road hardened in a very very short time. This usually became evident when oz bands opened shows for touring overseas bands. Most of the time, the imported model just didn't cut it live. At the opposite end of the scale, Australia didn't really have the producers to bring out on record the richness of oz music, whereas the overseas bands always sounded hot on record.

11) Do you have a favorite Tatts song? Favorite album?

Released: Branded
Unreleased: Strange Appreciation
Album: the first album

12) There was a long time between the first and second albums (3 years), did you spend that time constantly touring?

Yes.

13) Did you play any cover songs live?

You Really Got Me was recorded by the band. It was about to be released by Albert's, but a week before the scheduled date, Van Halen's version was released.....for obvious reasons the Tatt's version never saw the light of day.

Born To Be Wild, Street Fighting Man, It's All Over Now.

14) Are there any recorded Rose Tattoo songs that remain unreleased?

Yes, probably at least 60 songs.

15) How was Rob Riley chosen as Mick Cocks replacement?

He was the only guitarist in the country that fitted the image, and he was also a big fan of the band.

16) I read once about the potential release of a Rose Tattoo live album recorded in England, "Live At Reading". Does such a recording exist and will it ever be released?

It does exist, but will probably never see the light of day. No one knows who has the rights to it. According to Geordie, the band's performance at that gig was hot! And the recording reinforced his opinion of that gig when he heard it back.

17) Are there any uncredited appearances on Rose Tattoo albums (maybe by AC/DC or Angels members)?

On We Can't Be Beaten, the backing vocals were augmented with Harry Vanda and George Young and also The Choirboys.

18) What were Vanda & Young like to work with?

Fantastic! They knew what they wanted...and they got it!

19) Why did Peter Wells & Rob Riley & Digger Royal leave in 1983..were there disagreements among band members?

Yes, it had to do with the direction the band was heading. One group wanted to go one way, and the other group another direction.

20) Do you agree that after Wells Riley and Digger left, the "real" Rose Tattoo ceased to exist?

Absolutely!

21) What's the first word that comes to mind when you think of the late, great, Dallas 'Digger" Royal?

Scotch!

22) Do you wish the Tatts had commercial success in America?

Yes.

23) How did the 1993 reunion tour come about?

Guns & Roses were touring Australia, and they requested that Rose Tattoo be the opening act, especially as G&R had recorded one of their songs.

24) Was the 1993 tour a good experience?

Yes it was a lot of fun!

25) What are the chances for another Tatts reunion and possibly a new album?

No chance whatsoever. Everyone else has their own thing to do.

26) Do you know anything about Mick Cocks latest musical project?

He is playing in a band with Pete Wells in Sydney.

27) What are you doing with yourself now?

Playing in a blues band called The Giants, and running my own recording studio.


Copyright (c) 1997 by Peter Gormley




1997-2007 by Peter Gormley

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