interview



Thanks to Stephen Egan for unearthing this classic article from Juke magazine. It dates back to mid 1977!


Oh to be a street punk, now that winter's here...

"We were walking down the street one night - we'd just been to the pub and had three beers each - and I quite innocently barked at a passing bus. The cops threw us all in the can for being drunk and disorderly, but not one of us was drunk!"

The man responsible for the above quote is none other than Gary "Angry" Anderson, lead singer of Sydney rockers Rose Tattoo. He was explaining just how tough it is out there in the real world - especially when you've got tattoos up and down your arms and short spiky hair that's dyed a mid-shade of red - or in Angry's case no hair at all!

Rose Tattoo, as you can see from the pic, ain't no ordinary rock band. Just take a close look. See any satin pants or jackets? Any cute pretty-boy faces and gleaming million dollar smiles? Not likely. Nor do they fall into the other extreme category of punk rockers. "The punk thing has nothing to do with the band" says guitarist Peter Wells (formerly of Sydney band Buffalo). "We're a rock and roll band...drunk rock if you like...street rock," says Angry.

Since completion of the current lineup about six months ago Rose Tattoo have been working exclusively around Sydney, in clubs and a few pub venues that exist. Reaction to their stage appearances has been good. Reaction to their personal appearances hasn't been so great. Like the incident outside the pub mentioned earlier.

Or like the time the guys were rehearsing at their home in Sydney and two cops burst in with drawn guns and threatened to blow their heads off if they moved. "No bullshit." says guitarist Wells. "It was just like a TV show - one cop said 'don't move or I'll waste you'. They were really freaked because they hadn't expected to find guys like us. And it wasn't until they'd figured that we were skinheads from Melbourne and that we played in a rock and roll band that they calmed down a bit - they decided we had a reason to look the way we do. You see people can accept you if you're eccentric but harmless, but if they're not sure of what you are then they're frightened and react back against you."

Another incident involved a booking the band received for a pub in Newcastle. "It was all confirmed and everything - and then the manager saw a photo of us and he rang and cancelled the gig straight away, without even listening to the band." Had that particular hotel manager taken the trouble to find out what Rose Tattoo are all about he'd have discovered a bunch of guys that play straight out, uncomplicated rock and roll - the sort ideally suited to pub audiences. It's uncomplicated...simple and good for dancing to.

"The best rock and roll is always the simplest to listen to," says Angry, a man who might be small in stature but has an incredibly gutsy voice. " I don't care what anyone says because I've been doing it for a long time, but simple rock and roll is harder to play WELL than big heaps of complicated shit that I've heard," he says.

So what is Rose Tattoo out to achieve? "Money!!" screams Angry, and then he bursts into laughter. "Just to play all the time..." says Wells. "On the music side we just want to play rock and roll 'cos we don't think its being done right...I don't think it is anyway," says Angry after controlling his mirth. "No, in Australia it's not. Not many people can play it properly," Wells continues.

"We didn't contrive this band or this music," says Angry. "Yeah, it took a while to get it together because it had to be a natural thing," says Wells. "We didn't want people coming along and dressing up - like some guys that came along to audition for the band we're gonna go out and get tattoos and get their ears pierced and all that bullshit. We didn't want that. The guys had to be the way they were."

So Rose Tattoo ended up with Wells and Michael Cocks on guitars, Ian Ryland on bass, Dallas Royal on drums, and Angry on throat. And now after six months together, they have been signed to the new local label Force Records, which will be distributed by WEA. Rose Tattoo recently finished recording their debut single "Rosetta" backed with "Bad Boy For Love".

Says Peter Wells "Our biggest barrier is to overcome people's misconceptions of what we are. Once we get over that I reckon we'll be right."


Originally published in Juke Magazine, mid - 1977
Transcription Copyright (c) 2004 by Peter Gormley




1997-2007 by Peter Gormley

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