1. Introduce yourself, tell us about your musical history and how you arrived at the Propane 4 junction?
This particular Propane powered train set off listening to the likes of Bowie, The Beach Boys, a dose of Desmond Dekker and a touch of glam rock in the early 70's. All good stuff but I remember bunking off school in South London one day, must have been very late '76, to a mates house who'd acquired an import of the Ramones first album. And bugger me sideways that changed a few things! Suffice to say it made me want to pick up a guitar, learn a chord or three (maximum) and get playing. Hindsight is great and looking back I was in a band called SE19 (which was the postcode our school was in) and we were crap, and in a bad way. We even had Captain Sensible rock up at a gig in Croydon once but we were too dire to get anywhere. Real life took over and for the next God knows how long I'd strum a guitar when I got the chance until a chance meeting led to forming Rocket Dog, which became Dog Rocket which then became dog shit and passed away painlessly. However the itch was still there and Propane 4 was born/ engineered....
The style is what it is. There is no aim as such. Over the years I've heard so much good noise from so many sources. It just embeds itself in there and finds a way out in the songs and if there's a style, that's it. If there is an aim it's to do what we do well. Success for me is playing a gig in front of a crowd of about 3 people who you've never met before, and one of 'me’ comes up to you afterwards genuinely touched by what you've just done. Priceless. None of which I suppose is a recipe for rising out of said crammed musical mass but it'll do for me. Anything else would be cool but it ain't in the master plan!
3. Old school noise vs new school noise - there are obvious distinctions and restraining boundaries that cause the scene to be divided - which style do you prefer and what are your thoughts on the fractured scene?
I don't think we're a big enough part of any scene to notice or be bothered by distinctions etc. The view seems to be that Propane 4 are old school and I'm comfortable with that. If Atomic or Jimbob came up with something 'new school' and it worked then I'd be game for giving it a go. Fractured scenes..distinctions....nah that's not for me.
Propane 4 is a top place to be. It's about unpretentious enjoyment, hard work and commitment where necessary. I guess the music scene in its widest sense is fucking dire. I mean the manufactured 'bands', manufactured hits and manufactured soap opera media shenanigans. I'm afraid it's a symptom of a brain dead society liking stuff that's broken down into bitesize, unchallenging chunks and spoon fed to people who can't be bothered anymore to make up their own minds what's good and what's not. However in adversity come many small triumphs and meeting honest bands, honest punters, honest promoters is summat money can't buy and the corporations can never take away. Which is a positive if ever there was one!
Funnily enough I'm 99% sure that Mr and Mrs Propane Senior used to take me and my chemically troubled siblings to Splidge for our summer jollies. And a cracking place it was too! I believe that unlike more conventional holiday destinations, the insertion of asteroid like formations into the gentleman's member was considered perfectly normal in much the same way that a turn on the dodgems and a stick of candy floss wouldn't raise an eyebrow in Margate. And of course the consumption of fish and chips is seen as downright offensive to many Splidgonians - who I understand pay annual homage to a piece of battered haddock-, so soup dragon with french fries (we liked to think we were a posh family) was a must 'chez' Propane.
Adopted hometown Doncaster is getting to be almost....... well exciting really. Like so many other places the scene just about ran out of steam. But there's a do it yourself feel about the place now. Good people are just ignoring the 'bullshit jockey' promoters and venues and making their own thing happen. Das Abys and the Shambollix are local bands and all round good eggs and activists. A tad further afield you've got our man Andrew Morton harvesting a fine crop on stony soil in Rotherham and we recently played the Polish Club in Barnsley. I'm not too sure who's behind it but it's a great place to play and watch music and they're getting some cracking bands down there. System of Hate, Brainbomb, Septic Psychos, Bones Park Rider, Bruce Tality......there's too many to mention and apologies to any I've missed out cos there really are a lot of good bands out there.
Mmmm. Simple fact is that when I write a song it's got to get under my skin. Love, girls, cars budgerigars, surfing,...I've not got a lot to say on those subjects although Tough Shit is a stab at self pitying bleeding heart emotion I suppose. Nah it's got to be about something that matters or else I just can't do it. Same with delivering the songs on stage. It's got to be something that I want people to hear even if/ especially if they don't want to. I just happen to be someone who screams with rage at the TV when I see the kind of world we're creating. What's worse than crass, soul-less shopping malls and deserted high streets and a nation that's been conditioned to see success in excess? I hate coming across like a Jehovah's Witness or something, but political slant it is and if it's a hindrance then hindered I shall continue to be!
We have our own private golf course here at Propane Manor to which I'm deeply attached. It's a little known (and completely made up) fact that under local course rules the wearing of plus 4's is banned and all players are obliged to wear Propane 4's instead, a far more suitable substitute. Which, incidentally, are also ideally suited for the collection of Hindu's and other assorted deities of all shapes and sizes. We're an inclusive bunch on Planet Propane.
Well I don't 100% agree that there shouldn't be a degree of self gain. But where I think we would agree is that the self gain has to be in the satisfaction, pleasure, triumph in adversity and sense of achievement in making something good happen against the odds. There's just enough doers and passionate people to keep things bubbling along in the background. It would be good to think there could be a mass awakening of the general populace. Turn off the cathode ray tube social engineering mind fuck and actually start thinking about things for themselves again. But it ain't gonna happen anytime soon so I guess it's just all the good people being there for each other. Keeping it real and spreading the word. You've got to ask yourself if it's worth it. This Propanista says yes.
Surprisingly and boringly level headed. Personally I look forward to each and every gig. I look forward to playing, meeting some half decent people and getting a few things off my chest. I also enjoy the company of Atomic, Jimbob and Drive By. But I'm not one to get over exited and then manically down about stuff. Sometimes during the set the emotions kick in, anger, adrenaline, a buzz cos it’s all coming together but generally I'm a bit of a cool cucumber I suppose. Passionate yes but chilled with it. As for the unit.... Jimbob on drums is living his rock n roll dream, he's a coiled spring of propane percussive energy and man, those drums shit themselves when they see him coming! Atomic on lead guitar is totally together and organised and if we need guiding and shepherding he is our sheepdog. Our new bassist Drive-By is a bundle of misguided energy. We're a close enough unit and comfortable enough in our own skins not to have to be in each other pockets before we gig. We're all pretty cool with how things are but I think we'd all kill (metaphorically speaking of course) for the band and that's how I like it.
Without doubt the easiest question thus far. Subbuteo is one of those rites of passage that people of a certain generation have been indelibly marked by. I am proud to have spent so much of my formative years working out just how the hell you were supposed to play that game properly. Nothing really seemed to work and then the dog would come in and eat half the players and Jane, Zayne and Blayne (my siblings) would stand on most of the survivors. Crippled plastic players would then play out their pathetic careers being flicked to oblivion by uncoordinated and unwashed fingers. Tragic and a perfect metaphor for a Propane 4 gig.
Although in an ironic twist the best Propane 4 gig so far was actually in a pair of Brian Blessed's underpants that we found in a duck pond.
Without doubt the hardest question thus far. Sometimes at low key gigs in the arse end of nowhere an unlikely looking bunch jump on the stage and just blow me away....songs, delivery, passion...everything and I wonder how the hell they're not playing to packed houses and mass adulation. I feel quiet humbled by the talented people out there and don't know why anyone should be particularly intrigued by Propane 4. But then maybe, just maybe, enough people that have seen us think the same things about us. We're an honest bunch of toilers fighting the odds with so many comrades in arms and that'll do for me. And when the winds of wank take charge they can just blow me away to a better place.
It's actually an unfounded rumour that the guvnor, Andrew Morton, keeps alligators in his armpit. Rotherham, which is home to Mr Morton, has its very own form of rhyming slang and when one is referred to as keeping 'alligators in ones armpit', one is actually thought to use an' escalator to cross ones carpet'. Peer into Andrews residence using high powered night vision binoculars (as we do regularly) and you're sure to witness said gentlemen use this facility to traverse his living room. Hopefully that's cleared up any potential confusion.