interview



Thanks to the help of Trevor Dare, I was able to snag an interview with Rose Tattoo guitarist Rockin' Rob Riley. He was kind enough to answer my questions by snail mail...and what a set of answers it is! Enjoy...



1) What bands were you in before Rose Tattoo?

I started playin' in bands in Melbourne-Victoria when I was 12 years old, 1968! My first professional offering was a band called "Lois Lane", 1974-75. Following this was a fairly well known group called "Redhouse", who came from Geelong-Victoria (Geelong is about 80 kms - 50 miles from Melbourne to the south). They had an album out at the time called 'One More Squeeze', and a single called 'I Like Dancin'.

John Dallimore, the lead guitarist, asked me to join as he loved my guitar work (so he says!). Anyway, we used to play a gig called the Croxton Park Hotel (Rock at the Croc). This is where I was first made aware of 'Rose Tattoo'. They were our opening act on Wednesday nights. I eventually left "Redhouse" and formed my own power trio called "Hurricane".

John Dallimore approached me 12 months later to form a new band to move to Sydney - NSW (New South Wales) to record. This I did!! The band was called "Dallimore". We worked very hard for about 2 1/2 - 3 years. But no recording was released except, a single called 'We Are The Kids'.

Anyway, through these Sydney years I got really friendly with the late great Dallas "Digger" Royal, and the rest of the band, as they had moved up from Melbourne to Sydney as well. Angry and Peter (not so much Peter) used to hassle the fuckin' shit outta me to join the band. The reason given was the fact I had tattoos (tattoos in those days were really rare for muso's to have). I repeatedly told 'em to fuck off 'cause I thought they were shithouse!! But I loved to party with 'em.

2) What Rose Tattoo songs did you play? AC/DC songs? Angels songs?

Mate, I never played any songs from any of those artists as I was busy playin' my own!!!

3) Were you a big fan of Rose Tattoo before becoming a member of the band?

DEFINITELY FUCKIN' NOT MATE!!!

4) Describe the Oz hard rock pub circuit during the late 70's and early 80's. Was it an exciting time to be in a band then?

This was without a doubt the greatest time period for "AUSSIE" music and musicians. Unbounded creativity was the order, we all supported each other in all musical endeavors, we all got on with each other! It was, I feel, NOT a competitive issue. We all loved doin' what we were doin'! I really miss those days!! An excitin' time indeed!!

5) How did you end up becoming a member of 'Rose Tattoo'?

Right, 'ere we go! Rose Tattoo had left "OZ" to go to England. They had been there about nine months with enormous success. Digger had rung a couple of times to hassle me to come over and join the band. I said "Fuck off Dig, you know what I think of the band." He said "Man, you don't know how big the band is over 'ere". Anyway, I flatly denied the invitation, regardless of the fact that the band was havin' trouble with Mick Cox. It was none of my business then and I don't feel at liberty to discuss those problems at that time, because I have no doubt some cunt would get upset.

Anyway, I was playin' a gig at the "Caringbah Inn" one night with my power trio - "THE BEAST" (Mark Evans - AC/DC on bass, John Lalor - Dallimore on drums) when Sam Rigghi, one third of Rose Tattoo's management, turned up. He said, "Rob, the boys want you to go over to London and join 'em". I said, "No fuckin' way mate! I don't like 'em! Not my kinda music mate! Get fucked!". Sam said, "The boys really want you t'do it, and I'm here to make sure you do". I said, "So what are you actually sayin' here Sam, I have no choice?". He said, "That's right Rob!". I said, "What if I refuse?". He said, "I will make sure you never work in this country again!" I said, "You cunt! You'd do that to me?". He said, "Yeah, cause thats what the boys want, they want you in the band". My guys in my band just cracked the shits with me 'cause they were standin' behind Sam and heard the whole thing. Anyway, I went home and discussed the matter with my girlfriend. She said, "Well look at it this way, you've never been overseas, and if it fucks up, you can always come home and put it down to experience".

I left two weeks later for London.

6) Did you ever consider NOT joining the Tatts after the offer was made?

Yes! I think question 5 answers that.

7) What was your first gig as Tatts guitarist? Was it memorable?

My first gig was at the "Marquis Club" in Soho-London. Memorable it most certainly was!! I think I had 2, maybe 4 days to rehearse songs I had never heard before. I was FUCKIN' SHITTIN'! The Marquis is, or was probably one of the most famous of all gigs in this known dimension. Mate, I had a shit in the same shithouse as Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townsend. "Fuckin' unbelievable", but true!! Yes!!

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

I think because of the way the band (1)looked (2)the songs (3)acted (4)sounded. We looked like hell, but a nicer bunch a'guys you'll never meet!!

9) Did you do much songwriting before joining the Tatts?

I have always written and performed my own songs. Always!!

10) What was it like songwriting with Angry and Pete and Digger and Geordie?

SLOW! FAST! TEDIOUS! FUN! I enjoyed it all. Moments, that is.

11) How would you describe your relationships with Angry Anderson during your tenure as a member of Rose Tattoo.

Okay at the start, but fucked at the end. But Angry IS Angry.

12) What was you most memorable gig as a member of Rose Tattoo.

THE MARQUIS CLUB!

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

I don't know. We did a lot of giggin'. Hard question, too many brain cells dead.

14) 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).

Again, I don't really know. I'd presume the times - that we all lived in.

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

The first album I think is the most definitive Rose Tattoo, the third 'cause I played and wrote all four singles. (I love it! Yessir! Fuggin' Bewdy!). Favorite songs - Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw, Nice Boys, One Of The Boys, Revenge, Rock 'n' Roll Is King; Fuck, there's a few rippas on Assault & Battery too. Matter of fact it was all great!!

16) Can you share any memorable "stories from the road" during your Tatts years?

I'd fuggin' love to! Absolutely love to! But some cunt would get pissed off if I told what I know. Safe t'say, we had a fuggin' ball mate. I'll tell y'all about it one day. Maybe we should all write a book!!

17) Why did you and Pete and Digger leave the Tatts after 'Scarred For Life'?

T'was in America the shit hit the fan. We shouldn't have been there in the first place, in my opinion. But management and record company thought different. I bitched and screamed about it, but got told "Get Fucked! Shuddup!! What the fuck do you know. You're the new boy!!". Pete felt the whole thing had been sold out, and was very disillusioned with management and record company. Rose Tattoo was Peter's concept!! To my knowledge anyway. I roomed with Peter through America and we discussed many things. We became very close friends in those days. When Pete said he was leavin' the band, I said "Well if the man who created the concept is leavin', I'm out to!". Digger said, "Well if you cunts are leavin', I'm leavin' to. That was it!!

18) After leaving the Tatts you spent some time in 'The Party Boys'. How did you end up joining them? Was it an enjoyable time?

Paul Christie, bass player for 'Mondo Rock', invited me to join when Harvey James (Sherbert) couldn't do the tour. I ended up in the band for two and a bit years. Yes, I really enjoyed 'The Party Boys'. It was a very fine band. LOVED IT!! Great money too.

19) What did you do after 'The Party Boys' and before the Angry tour in 1990?

Jim Barnes found me in Perth and asked me if I'd like to play for him. I did ten months with Jim on his 'Workin' Class Man" tour. That was fantastic!! He, Jim, was incredibly generous and giving. A truly excellent performer, singer, and human being. It was my pleasure to work with him!!

20) How did you end up in Angry Anderson's touring band?

I hadn't spoken to Angry for probably ten years, when Robbie Williams - another third of the Tatts management - rang. He said, "Angry wants to talk t'you". I said, "Why?". He said, "I'll let him tell you". Angry came to Adelaide - SA (where I live!!). We met and he said, "Let's bury the hatchet", I said "Sweet". The Angry Anderson Band was a fuckin' excellent band!! Fan-fuckin-tastic!! Tim Powles - drums, Jim Hilbun - bass, sensational rhythm section!! I loved it. We toured and I don't really know what happened after that. There was talk of a new Tatts, but, ah well.

21) From what I've heard, you guys were a tough act to follow. Do any specific gigs stand out in your mind from that tour?

Yes, I imagine we were a tough act to follow. The band was enormously powerful, gutsy. A pity the world did not see and hear it!!

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

I loved the "Digger". He was a kind gentleman!! A truly beautiful human being that the world needs more of. Very funny bloke!! Fuckin laugh!? We used to get on the piss (alcohol) and have a ball! I miss him very much. LOVE YA DIG!

23) What's the real story as to why you were not part of the Tatts reunion tour a few years back?

OKAY!! This really, really fucks me off!! Just after the 'Angry' band finished, or whenever the fuck, I can't quite remember, but I fuckin' know, Angry and I talked a lot about reformin' the original Tatts. (The one with me in it, that toured America). We talked for months and months. I spoke with Pete and Gordo on the phone, planted the seed. Anyway, I stipulated I didn't want to be involved with the old management. I said we could do it ourselves for a while, find someone to book the tour, (I mean how fuckin' hard could it be to book Rose Tattoo f'christs sakes) and pick up some management further down the road. At this time I had been invited to go to Germany to some gigs. The promoter over there asked if I could get the Tatts back together for a tour. This was another reason to tour the band. Europe had not seen the 'Scarred For Life' album.

Anyway, Pete had management, Angry had management, and all this disagreeing started. Bullshit flyin' all over the shop. Then the old management got involved. We were goin to tour with three guitarists (Mick Cox, Pete Wells, Rob Riley). BUT, because Mick is mates with Sam Rigghi, for the reason that I will get to, Angry told me that Sam wouldn't book the band if I was in it. That's what was said over the phone. Sam is probably the most powerful booker in Australia. Over the years, I have been in great disagreement with these powerful people over the way the music industry is. RULE NO. 1: Don't fuck with the PowerMoney types otherwise they'll fuck y'big time. I did, so they did! At this point, refer to question five (5) for some reason.

Of course, all this will be denied by anybody whose name will be mentioned, (but I remember Michael Browning - AC/DC management being involved here as well), but really, there was so much shit and lies, absolute bullshit spread about yours truly that finally, I became discredited, accused of all sorts and sundries. Kinda strange when all I wanted to do was get the band together. Anyway, they've all got what they wanted from me. I'm sad about the fact I didn't do that tour.

24) If offered a slot, would you take part in another Tatts reunion? Any chance of that happening? Any chance of a new album if a reunion occurred?

Yes! I most certainly would. I'd fuckin' love it!! But I don't know if it will. It would be a real pity if the world couldn't have the band. So far as an album is concerned, that was the plan at the time. It should be so. I hope so.

25) What are you doing with yourself now?

Not much mate!! I still play. albeit rarely. Still writing. I don't know what else to do.

26) Can we look forward to any upcoming hard rock releases featuring Rob Riley?

YES!! I fuckin' 'ope so mate!!

27) What other records do you appear on besides 'Scarred For Life' and the Party Boys stuff?

Early Matt Finish, Ted Mulry solo, various unsigned artists releases. The big record companies won't sign you if you don't look like whoever these days, and I think there must be an age limit. (Cunts).

28) What is your equipment setup?

Marshall, Fender Twin, Roland, Cube60.
Pedals - Boss - Master Switch, Digital Dimension, Digital Delay, Cry Baby wah wah Piddle (Pedal).

29) What is the state of the "hard rock scene" in Australia?

FUCKED - NON EXISTENT!! Its fuckin' awful what has happened to this country. There is so much talent here and yet the people in power, that control, book, manage, etc. appear to have no foresight. Everyone seems preoccupied with the making of huge amounts of money. Lets get on the bandwagon and clean up. Sad mate!! We should nurture creativity, not garbage!! Not everyone can make beautiful music. And just because you're drop dead gorgeous doesn't mean you have any talent. FUCK, what's goin' on round 'ere.

30) Any final comments?

Rose Tattoo (that period) was the finest and greatest point in my musical career. I loved playin' in the band. Thanks for interest and the creation of the web page. Rose Tattoo loves ya for it!! WHO KNOWS WHAT THE FUTURE COULD HOLD FOR SOME FAT OLD MEN.


Copyright (c) 1998 by Peter Gormley




1997-2007 by Peter Gormley

"REMEDY - The Rose Tattoo Home Page" and its contents may not be reproduced, uploaded, posted, transmitted or distributed in any form, or by any means, without prior written consent of Peter Gormley.