Mike Provis was kind enough to dig this gem out from the archives, an interview
with Rose Tattoo from 1977! It comes from the now defunct punk magazine "Spurt!".
The interview appears to have taken place right after Ian Rilen's departure, as
the "Bad Boy For Love" single had just been released, and the Tatts are listed as
a four piece. Geordie Leach joined soon after, and the rest is history...enjoy!
Angry Anderson - Vocals
Mick Cocks - Bass
Peter Wells - Guitar
Dallas Royal - Drums
Interviewer - David
The band's first single 'Bad Boy For Love' has just been released. We pick up the
SPURT - It's just a one record deal then?
ANGRY - Yeah, if it goes we will do some more of course, but if it doesn't they
will dump us.
MICK - We haven't had to hock our asses for anything, know what I mean? But we've got
access if we need it.
SPURT - Have you been approached to do any deals where if you play along, like change
ANGRY - In the early days they did.
MICK - Record companies, big companies especially, try and dominate and control what
you're trying to do...a band becomes just a part of the company.
ANGRY - when we first started we had a few offers where we were promised the world if
we would do this or that. But they we're treating us like a circus.
SPURT - What did they say you had to do before they'd get behind you?
ANGRY - Become a Pop Property more or less.
PETER - Yeah, there's an old thing on a Frank Zappa album where a disc jockey says
'If you clean up your image I'll make you as big as the Turtles' (much laughter)
ANGRY - I remember one rave went like - 'keep the mean image' - as if they thought thats
what it was!
SPURT - But you do look mean.
ANGRY - Look, our image is because we collectively got together in the one band. We
tried to explain that to people in the earlier days, but you run out of wind after
a while. People think its a really contrived thing, In a way it is, but the basic
elements, the fundamental things were there in the first place. Its just that we were
all in different bands. A few people chuckled when we got together, they said, 'You're
fucking kidding! What a pack of desperates!
SPURT - How long have you been together?
MICK - About 12 months, New Years Eve was our first gig at Chequers.
MICK - The first 3 months Angry and me were in Sydney we spent one day a week in the
ANGRY - Just for a harmless little gesture! (raucous laughter)
MICK - Its the old thing, cops are establishment and they're into really knowing where
you're at. I mean if you look like a surfie they know where you're at, know what I
mean, they look at Angry and us and they're not sure where we fit. Angry to them is a
typical crim-looking guy. Like straight out of television. The sort of cat Kojak would
lock up. That old cliche thing.
SPURT - Do you find yourself being included in this 'Punk' thing?
ANGRY - Yeah...
DALLAS - It's really weird. To me a punk is some cunt that walks around the street
punching somebody - y'know? Spits on the fuckin' ground and that sort of thing. I
dunno. All I do is get up and play my drums. Have a bit of a smile with everybody.
PETER - We just play rock and roll. The connotations of the word 'punk' I don't like. It
means a whole lot of things to a whole lot of different people. But if you're going to
play rock and roll you've got to be a punk really.
ANGRY - Thats the important thing I reckon. People should realise that the basis of
any of these revolutions is Rock and Roll. Every time things go into a slump there's
always some guy...someone with NUTS...who starts playing Rock and Roll again. It blew
up in the 50's then the media levelled it out. Squashed it. But they can't beat it.
Even the media can't beat it, but they've got ways of manipulating it. They made it
really middle of the road in the early 60's. Then the Beatles and the Stones came along
and just blew everybody. That was a 'New Wave'.
PETER - But the media is a means to get to people. You've got to go via something whether
its 'Countdown' or a hotel or a council hall. You've still got to cope with the control
of some sort of bureaucracy.
MICK - But its like your ideals, the things you believe in, everywhere you go there's
someone wants to kick them. Like Countdown rang up and said 'Listen, if anybody turns up
with chains in their nose or safety pins in their ears, you can't do the show.
SPURT - They really said that?
MICK - Yeah. They've even got it written on the walls.
PETER - Not that we wear chains or safety pins. But the point is that it could just as
easily be tattoos or earrings. Its the same thing, it hasn't changed. Like Harry Vanda
of the Easybeats said, 10 years ago when they were first on T.V. in Australia, he had
to stand in front and pretend to sing the song - because he had the shortest hair. That
was 10 years ago and it hasn't really changed at all.
ANGRY - I reckon they undersell themselves. I think the kids want some really gutsy
PETER - Like all those 12 year old kids at Countdown yesterday. Now a lot of them are a
lot smarter, a lot more mature than people give them credit for.
ANGRY - I reckon all they need is someone to just pull the fuckin' safety valve out and
they'll explode. Thats why we keep losing gigs in Melbourne, because the sharps come.
They're a new generation of sharps, they're not as violently motivated, they're certainly
not passive either. But they probably see themselves as being 'new wave'.
SPURT - Have they got their own groups?
ANGRY - The only band they adhere to is Tattoo.
PETER - Its like a uniform thing you know. The same sort of attitude applies for whether
they look like sharpies or rockers or whatever.
ANGRY - Exactly. People see more than 2 or 3 kids looking similar, together in a group,
and they start to worry - because its unity! Thats one of the raves that Lobby laid on
me when we did a couple of shows together at Festival Hall. They never got media coverage.
No one would advertise the gigs because people really freaked out about seeing a couple of
thousand kids all looking the same. Its really STRENGTH.
SPURT - And what part of the Rock and Roll tradition do you consider yourselves?
PETER - You're just the sum total of what you've heard all through your life.
ANGRY - Yeah, we're just perpetuating something that...
MICK - He reads dictionaries before an interview.
ANGRY - One of the things you've got to do is to keep rock and roll alive. Its like a
really idealistic thing. If you play Rock and Roll, and you're really sincere, part of
your motivation is to make sure it survives. Its been said every couple of years since
I was a kid - 'Oh, rock and roll's finished, its dead, its fucked - y'know? But
every now and again it rears its ugly head.
SPURT - Does the band attract many groupies?
ANGRY - No...I don't.
MICK - Well, they're not into us because we're not a 'pretty boy' band. I mean if
somebody wants to come backstage for a fuck, thats cool, if we're in the mood. But
its not a matter of come backstage and look pretty and smile. We're not into that
sort of shit!
SPURT - What did you all do during the 'acid era'?
PETER - Dropped acid...and played in pop bands. But like I was always the odd one out.
Seperate hotel rooms where nobody could get to me. Angry was like that, we were always
playing with hippies all the time.
SPURT - What made you shave your head?
ANGRY - I always wanted to shave my head, but a couple of years ago I met up with a
couple of guys that I'd known when I was a sharp. They were skinheads - with the boots
and braces and everything. We all got pissed one nite and they just shaved my head. It
just blew everyone out, and I thought 'Fuck thats great, y'know?, I just dug it so much.
Then I realised the incredible value of being that far away from everybody else! And I
loved it, because I love attention! I always wanted to shave it again but around that
time I met a babe and sort of...
PETER - Look out!! Here it is...fuckin' hearts and flowers...
ANGRY - No. She just couldn't handle it y'know. So I said 'O.K. I won't. But I always
wanted to, so as soon as she left I did it.
SPURT - Rock and Roll's really part of your life isn't it. You seem to live the whole
ANGRY - It's the only thing I've ever known
PETER - I mean you've gotta do it full-time, otherwise its bullshit.
DALLAS - A couple of years ago I was in a band, it was a good band musically, but then
it just faded away into oblivion! All the hard work just went down the drain. I said
'Fuck this - I'll go and get a job. So I went and did that for 6 months. I just
started going down the pub with all the boys after work and that. And I nearly ended
up in Royal Park, I tell you.
ANGRY - Each time you do it, I always say to myself that I'll never do it again. I swore
a couple of years ago that I'd never go thru shit again for any band...because its too
heartbreaking. Then as soon as I got the opportunity to join Tattoo I grabbed it.
Then we came up here and 4 of us lived in a room, and it was the same trip. I'm a great
believer in the Cosmos...and what you're meant to do regardless of how you might feel
about it at the moment, you've got to do it.
Originally published in Spurt! Magazine No. 2, 1977
Transcription 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.