I've had the chance to talk to the Baileys Brothers and I gotta tell you they turned out to be just what I expected: two of the most entertaining, original characters of rock n' roll! The whole interview was a blast! We seriously had to consider what to include in the final version of it because we found the common language of music, surfaced way too many issues to include in one interview and the whole thing became an unlimited discussion of friends instead of a "classic" interview. Anyway, here it is: the Baileys Saga for you!
Bandi: You've been long years on the other side of the music business. What made you decide to release your own music instead of promoting somebody else's? When did that happen?
Baileys: Well we still are and have never stopped promoting other people's music. We just didn't like the way rock was being projected and also became disillusioned after many rock magazines just started slating quality bands that were major in the 80's. We saw the scene changing well ahead of the pack and decided to get off the rock n' roll express at the platform we chose and not have our destination determined for us. We were still on the radio, packing the venues out and writing for Metal Hammer.
Bandi: How did you get in touch with Frontiers and why did you decide to release the album through the label?
Baileys: To be honest we were offered the Deal by Mark Ashton (Now & Then) who knew all about the Bailey Brothers plus Mick had built up a good rapport with him and most of the labels. We are all disappointed in the time it's taken to finally get to this stage but pleased that Baileys Comet and the Judgement Day album as arrived at last. We have been very impressed with the way Frontiers have pushed the album in Europe so far and are very optimistic for the future.
Bandi: Did you have any other offers?
Baileys: Yes we were offered several recording contracts and were so close to a major deal but it's better to be on a specialist rock label for your first album.
Bandi: Do you think a relatively "small" label like that can back you up with big enough promotion?
Dez: The honest answer would have to be not as much as major labels. There are so many horror stories where bands have been signed to major labels and left on the shelf with no product out or not even promoted at all. If a small label is working hard to promote you and you do your bit you can get some good results. The majors can take out full-page ads in the magazines, advertise your album on Radio and TV so therefore can break you a lot quicker. That's the fundamental difference as I see it.
Bandi: What sales figures are you expecting by the way?
Baileys: It depends on whether MTV and VH 1 get behind Baileys Comet. The show we did on MTV was the no 1 rated show for two seasons so we need to let everyone in Europe know about Baileys Comet. I was expecting my mum to get the album and everyone else is a bonus. When you write your first album you are in new territory, I knew I could write half decent songs but only a very small amount of people were aloud to hear the stuff. We wanted the surprise element, which seems to have worked. Every sale is really appreciated and we just hope we get the publicity we deserve after doing so much for other bands and rock in general.
Bandi: What is Mick's role in the band? "Effects and backing vocals" ... sounds like the family connection only. (I know I'm pain in the ass).
Dez: With out Mick there would be no Bailey Brothers, no band and no album. Mick has always been the driving force behind the Baileys well-oiled rock n' roll machine. We don't consider who does more of what on a project as long as we are happy with the end results. The deal was offered to the Bailey Brothers on the back of my song writing and the reputation Mick and me had worked hard to establish over the years. The label left it up to us to put a band around the Baileys and trusted in me to deliver the songs and form a band we were happy to go with. His role has been to keep the relationship with Mark Ashton and Bruce Mee (Now & Then Records) on track even when our relationship with certain band members went off the rails. He's given me a straight opinion and input on the songs, done some vocals and helped give us all inspiration and encouragement. I noticed in your review of our album Judgement Day that one of your favorite tracks was Celtic Warriorwasn't going to finish it but Mick heard me writing it; he loved it and persuaded me to record it. He has a great ear for good music and can hold down a vocal. We have been up on stage singing with the likes of Brian May (Buxton Opera House, England) so doing vocals isn't a problem. Mick loves Pink Floyd and all those weird and wonderful effects and so helped me collate loads of stuff for the album. I knew the title (effect samples) would confuse many but there's more to making a record than plugging a guitar in. His role is to be Mick Bailey and Baileys Comet is our band.
Bandi: Yeah, you seem to know my favorite tracks quite well. Now how about yours? Do you have any? Why?
Dez: Not so much a favorite but there are some that are more special for personal reasons. "Wild One" I did for Phil Lynott, his family and especially his mum Philomena, plus the Thin Lizzy fans.
Bandi: Okay, now back to the beginning: when hearing the word "DJ" and average rock fan - including me too - gets Goosebumps associating the job with greasy disco, pop, mainstream creatures with Vaseline in their hair force-feeding you with crappy music? How come you still went down this road and became a well-known rock DJs. Why did you decide to do so?
Baileys: Let's get one thing crystal clear from the start. Mick and Dez Bailey have never since day one allowed any pop shit to make contact with our stylus. When every one from school was into dancing around handbags in the youth clubs, we were into the album tracks of bands like the Sweet. If you don't think these guys can rock then check out the live Strung Up album or Sweet Fanny Adams and Desolation Boulevard. Once we heard Deep Purple In Rock, Not Fragile from Bachman Turner Overdrive and Montrose we were hooked. We started playing the music we loved because we couldn't hear it anywhere else but we had to bullshit the pub owners to get those first few gigs. They would ask these well-dressed young men "Do you play middle of the road music?" "Of course" we replied "oh yeah sure plenty of middle of the road stuff". What they didn't expect was these two Randy Californian meets Jimmy Hendrix for lunch with Phil Lynott type dudes wearing headscarves to show up for a gig. We would turn up with a massive rock crowd and you would find us all outside on the pub furniture head banging to the likes of Rush and Ted Nugent. Eventually we would end up playing in the middle of the road (so it wasn't really a lie). I can remember this old dear at a pub in Sheffield called the Captive Queen chuntering "turn it down, Churn it down" (with her false teeth going ten to the dozen) "we can't hear ourselves talk". We unashamedly pinched Ted Nugents line and replied "If It's Too Loud You Are Too Old". The glasses were dancing on the bar and it was no surprise we were not invited back. This went on at every pub we could con into letting us play. We would be on top of the PA speakers going for it; we would have walked through fire for rock we were crazy for it. We eventually ended up at the famous Retford Porterhouse (near Nottingham, England) for a residency that would shape our future and by then we had a record collection to die for. The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal had kicked in and we were working on a regular basis with Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, Motorhead, Sampson etc. We soon got to know all the bands well. We had hundreds of rock fans waiting for us at 8 O clock on a Saturday night to hear all the American music we were pushing such as Kiss, Angel, April Wine, BTO, Ted Nugent, Journey etc. Not only USA bands but the Scorpions and Accept from Germany, to cut to the chase we were playing international rock at a time when all the hippies wanted to hear was Stair Way To Heaven from Zeppelin. By the time the bands hit the stage at the Retford Porterhouse we had an electric atmosphere going and all the bands would love to play there. We would often get up on stage to sing with the bands for the encore (whether they knew about it be forehand or not). Saxon was so impressed with us they asked for us to open up for them at the Leeds Queens Hall and we went from a 1500 capacity to 5000 rock fans and went down a storm. This was the start of a journey and stage show that propelled the Bailey Brothers internationally. We were soon elevated up onto the theatre circuit playing the London Marquee, Birmingham Odeon, Brixton Academy etc and then again up on to the festival circuit and the Donington Monsters Of Rock and Milton Keynes Bowl. Thankfully the Bailey Brothers were a success at all levels.
Bandi: Was this the beginning of a friendship that ended up hiring ex-Saxon musicians for your own band?
Baileys: No, the original Saxon line up, which featured Byford, Dawson, Oliver etc asked for us at Leeds. Nigel has always worked with us and Fasker came in to it later. The only Saxon connection is that Nigel and Fasker once played with them. Nigel has also recently played with Oliver/Dawsons Saxon so we all stay in touch.
Bandi: What was the secret of becoming famous with the DJ thing?
Baileys: To be famous you have to be well known. To do this you must stand out from the rest, have something no one else has got. I guess God gave the Baileys this poodle jacket for a hair style and the whole year round sun tan for something and thankfully we had a look that once seen was recognized. Exploding guitars, coffins and the reputation as the wildest rock DJs on the planet may also have helped spread the word but like we said the music was and still is our motivation. You have to also have some talent if you wish to get past the novelty factor. To be famous has never been an interest of ours. To entertain thousands or even millions was always appealing. Our street credibility was built up on years of touring the UK and hanging out with the fans, the reception we received at the Donington Monsters Of Rock was just them saying thanks guys for being one of us. Our relationship with the rock fans and the bands is often envied and some UK journalists could never work us out. We may have stood out from the crowd but always felt more comfortable as part of it.
Bandi: Something about MTV times: How did you get the show?
Baileys: Metal Hammer wanted to sponsor a new rock show on MTV and needed some presenters. We had already done some TV shows for SKY and had been involved with UK terrestrial TV stations. We went down for a screen test and this American dude pretended to be Dave Lee Roth and we had to interview him on the spot plus do some links etc. We passed the audition and got the gig. We had a bit part at first but we were asked to take over the show and immediately changed the format. We knew most of the bands so the interviews were relaxed and a lot of fun. We chased the record companies for the videos we needed and the up shot of it all is that we had the number one rated show on the network. No budget, yet we had the viewing figures. We were by now writers, presenters and co-producers and that rock show is something the Bailey Brothers and MTV can be very proud of. The highlight was being filmed on stage at the Donington Monsters Of Rock in front of 110.000 rock fans, all chanting our catchphrase "Rock Not Pop". This was our second year at the event so we had accomplished much more than we could ever have imagined.
Bandi: This Diamond Dave pretending thing sounds funny! Tell us more about it!
Baileys: You wouldn't think it was funny if your arse flaps were going that fast that you were giving your self-a round of applause (nervous). I think it was John Kline who was the American trying to put us in an interview situation? He wanted to see how we would handle it if things didn't go to plan. He asked, "who we would love to interview on TV"? We said "Dave Lee Roth" he said "that's me let's go for it"
Bandi: Was the disappearance of classic rock from the media the only reason of quitting it or were there any others?
Baileys: There are other reasons but how can you present a show if you don't believe in the music you are promoting? It would be selling the fans short. We could have gone on for a bit longer but the wind had changed direction. We found out that there were other pirates waiting to board our ship, daggers at the ready, so we set sail in the opposite direction but hoped that we would always be welcomed if and when we returned.
Bandi: Can you honestly believe you had the chance to do so? I mean people (well, at least we people attached to the biz) keep talking about the comeback of classic melodic rock and heavy metal and I tend to admit there are hopeful sings... but still... do you think the circle will complete itself and you (or anybody else) had the chance to make a full-blown rock show on a major music media in the upcoming years?
Baileys: We would not have returned to TV before Baileys Comet, you have to move forwards not backwards. We had a No1 rated show and the scene changed, all we would be doing is going over old ground. We have some cool ideas TV wise but we are in no hurry. I think we would all love to see a revival but don't you think we are all dreaming a little?
Bandi: Yep, I do think so too. But it is to admit that 2000 was probably the best year in a decade for AOR / melodic rock as far as the quality of new bands, releases, and the supporting work of melodic rock record labels go.
Baileys: Good call, there was a definite feel good factor as if the whole scene was saying thank f*** the 90s are over. The only positive thing to emerge from the black hole of that period is the return of the "all for one and one for all" spirit. Even Def Leppard are not selling in the millions anymore although the last album has just about hit a million sales according to Joe. We really have to stick together now.
Bandi: Can we hear more about these plans or is the whole thing still a secret?
Baileys: Somehow we knew you would ask us that. This is about kicking back and about joining forces. You make your self look a complete knob head if it doesn't come off so it's better to announce what's happening and not what might happen so stay tuned. You will be one of the first to know if it comes off.
Bandi: If you knew that you shouldn't have mentioned it! Remember we are carved from the same wood… a bit too much maybe! lol
Baileys: Rock has some amazing characters and we could be here all day telling you about them but Brian Robertson (Thin Lizzy) is a bit of a party animal. We were staying at the same hotel and were drinking at the bar with Robbo all night till the early hours of the morning. It was very loud and the hotel manager had had enough of hearing and serving two brothers from Sheffield, one Scotsman and one American. So he shut the bar, Robbo (Brian Robertson) said "come with me, lads, I've a secret stash, the bar closes when I say it does" (in his broad Scotch accent). He pulled these bottles of Pil's lager from behind some plants by the hotel entrance door, sneaked them under his coat and we went up to his room. The bottles were already open and as Robbo was drinking from one of the bottles out popped this slimy slug. "You wee little F****** beasty " he was yelling at the top of his voice and just pulled the slug from the bottle and continued to drink from it. By this time we were really upsetting the others who were obviously trying to get some shuteye. He was later drinking from another bottle when out popped another slug so off he went again with "another wee little beasty". By this time the hotel manager is banging on the door wanting to kick us out. We put the slug in the bath and let him come in. By the time we had finished complaining about the hygiene and insects in the hotel room they were apologizing to us.
Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons were hilarious when we were filming them for our TV show. They were pretending to be the Beatles and talking in a Liverpool accent.
Bandi: Anyone who turned out to be just the opposite?
Baileys: Yeah but I'm not going to even mention his name apart from saying he is the keyboard player in Bon Jovi. We had just done Donington MOR with Bon Jovi etc and they were standing with us back stage watching their massive firework display light up the sky. My girlfriend's brother Jerome was 14 at the time and a massive fan with all their records. He asked this keyboard player for his autograph and he just looked down on him like he was a piece of shit and ignored him. I felt gutted for the kid. I would have given anything to drop him one on the chin and say "Take a better look at the rockets now, arsehole" Thankfully Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) was there and he signed it no problem as did Paul Stanley (Kiss). I don't know who he thought he was but he went down hill faster than a runaway train in my estimation. In the Jovi defense: we had a good time with Tico and Richie from the band on a night out with Lita Ford.
Bandi: Can you make use of your old Metal Hammer and MTV contacts when promoting your own album?
Baileys: Well let's put it this way, we helped launch Metal Hammer and no one has done more to promote it than the Baileys. We had a top show and promoted MTV so it would be nice to think they would be up for giving us a push. To be honest looking back it's amazing how well we did and although you spend all your life promoting rock you can't take it for granted that everyone will be as willing to help bands as we are.
Bandi: Especially taking a look at the music Metal Hammer and some of the big magazines are promoting in the last some years. I keep saying the FrontPage always looks like some Madam Tussaud advertisement, horror movie creatures, made up to have white face, bloody eyes, and scars on their face, dressed in barbed wire. Where's the room for poodle hair there? :-) Nevermind, it's just me ranting, friendships with the old guys should take you far anyway but I can't help asking it: did they (Metal Hammer and MTV) show any signs of backing Baileys Comet up? Or is it just relatively small magazines like AOR-Europe and the alikes that are standing up for the band?
Baileys: A promo video for "One Love One Life" has gone to MTV so we hope they get behind it. We haven't spoken to Metal Hammer but we will. We would like to think we could count on the support of a magazine we helped to launch and then wrote for but let's wait and see. It has been amazing that the best support is coming from people whom we haven't met before like your selves, interested in the history and the future. We have opened up the gateway that will lead to new and exciting journeys and once again we hope to make many more friends on our travels. The interest and support from around the world is appreciated and we thank everyone for it.
Bandi: Hmmm. I named "One Love One Life" as my personal favorite, the most AOR-ish track of the album in my review however when we were talking about it my impression was that you aren't that big fan of that track. You didn't list it among your favorite tracks of the album either. So shooting a video for it is a compromise from your side? I mean having the most melodic, "hit" song with lots of hooks pushed first…
Dez: I will say this for you mate, you go over everything with a fine tooth comb especially your hair (ha ha). "One Love One Life" is one of my favorite tracks but I didn't want to explain about every song. It shows what Alex can do vocally and also shows I can write good melodic AOR. Like you said it's the most commercial track. With a singer like Alex I wouldn't rule out this approach on the next album but it will be more guitar based than keyboards. We also shot a video for "Emerald Isle" but we still have it to edit. I think this may be a cool opportunity to explain what the Baileys are in to musically because every one else has just slotted us in to the Thin Lizzy mould. I did the Celtic thing for Phil but also because for some reason it came natural. It's obvious our other influences are going to be in the 80s vibe but there's lots more to Judgement Day than just good Celtic themes. We dig many bands but the Damn Yankees (Ted Nugent, Jack Blades etc) are one of the coolest bands you could ever wish to see and we would love to emulate them if we could.
"Operation Mindcrime "(Queensryche) is one of the Baileys all time favourite classic albums as is the Black album from Metallica. Mr Big [pictured right with BB], I dig their stuff and of course all the 80s guitar heroes including Yngwie and Satriani. As for AOR, there are some class bands but to be honest I find too many keyboards and mid tempo stuff a bit of a turn off. I'm all for a great ballad but an album full of them, no thanks.
Bandi: Yep, you named some classics. But are there any new artists you like and keep listening to?
Baileys: There are a few piss artists I've listened to this week and yes, I've been one of them. I haven't had much time just lately but the new Aerosmith album (Just Push Play) is well up the "piss the neighbors off with the noise" league table. They are such a cool band and I don't give a toss how old they are. Steve Tyler and Joe Perry will kick anybody's butt. There's some cool new bands but if you mention a few people will say why didn't you mention our band etc.
Bandi: Okay, so much about "new" artists! lol
Baileys: I haven't had time to check out your looks on your site yet but you better be a handsome dude? Stick your mug shot at the top of this interview and let's all check out the AOR-Europe rock sex god! [AOR-E Team: and of course, as requested, we will put a pic of The Bandicoot here...doing his Joey moves...see right]
Bandi: hahaha, yep, the AOR-Europe sex god indeed! The anti-Bandi people keep saying Joey Tempest wanna-be… but that's another story.
Dez:You are far too cool looking to be a journo you should be a rock star. (AOR-E Team: For heavens' sake, don't encourage him, he is a nuisance as is...:)]
Baileys: Well we all want to hear the story, let's have your head on the chopping block for a change. So don't tell us you are in a Europe cover band? How can a song that was so awesome (Final Countdown) when you first heard it piss you off so much that you never want to hear it again? (There we go again pinching the microphone)
Bandi: You seem to know more about me than I expected! Weird cuz I didn't remember getting interviewed on MTV. :-)
Baileys: We know all about Ace Frehley's Comet. We wanted to retain the established name of Bailey but let everyone know at the restaurant that there was a lot of new tasty dishes on the menu. It would be easier to have gone out as the Bailey Brothers but it would confuse the fans if they hadn't yet heard about the band and album. Baileys Comet is also an Irish drink but a huge Guinness (Irish beer) descending on the earth may not have the same impact although it always goes down well!
Bandi: I was quite surprised by the album cover of the debut. Not that it were bad but it was just the typical PC designed Frontiers-Now&Then artwork. I was expecting some more individuality. Didn't you have any impact on it?
Dez: In other words is it my fault?
Bandi: The music you play, promote, are attached to is at its best when performed live. How are tour plans at the moment? I assume Frontiers-N&T is not able to finance an independent tour. So is there any chance to make us of your old friendships to some of the leading artists of the melodic rock world and get an opening slot on their European (or world) tour for them? I'm thinking of Def Leppard or Kiss or any other band that still sells out stadiums. Or is it all in the hands of their managers?
Baileys: I wouldn't assume that because a label is small it couldn't finance a support tour. Put it this way if we said Kiss want Baileys Comet to open up for them our label would find the funds. You have to want to be up there with the giants of rock if the opportunities come along. I'm sure that Gene Simmons would love us to open up for Kiss but to get to him you have to go through management and probably some secretary going WHO? That will be a job for the Management Company. The Scorpions are another band we would really love to go on the road with and will certainly be a yardstick for this band in terms of great live performances. Def Leppard are another as we know the guys as we do Steve Harris and the Maiden guys. There are many bands that we have given our support to so hopefully it's now pay back time.
Bandi: By the way: are you managing yourselves or are you attached to a promoting office? Which parts of the promotion is Frontiers taking care of?
Baileys: A management company ripped us off some years ago, which left a big sign on the office door asking can we trust anybody again? We are now talking to several management companies with a view to them coordinating the whole international interest. There's so much going for us that it is becoming too much and I want to concentrate on the playing and creativity side of things.
Bandi: What is your priority? To break into the States (that would mean the opportunity of selling big and becoming the flag-ship of the rock revival) or trying to establish a solid fan base in Britain first, then maybe in Europe afterwards?
Baileys: The main priority was always to be big in the pants. Once you have that reputation you can always pull the girls so it doesn't matter if you are a rock star. It's a weird situation because we are well known as the Bailey Brothers so a bit of a push through the European media to let them know Baileys Comet is our rock 'n ' roll flag ship would be a big help. It wouldn't surprise us if we do better in Europe than the UK. It all depends on how much the rock fans want to see the Baileys back in the big picture. We will always give a 100% but it's no good staying at home talking about a come back, we all have to make it happen. We have guys in Canada and LA in the States wanting to give us a push which is cool and we are the type of guys who will just get our arses over there and Spank the Yanks! (All done in the best possible taste)
Bandi: Finally I got to ask this: You've changed your occupation several times (DJ-ing, being a journalist, being TV people, etc.). I know all of these were related to music; still I can't help to ask how long the Baileys Comet project is planned to last. Any plans, goals you set for yourselves according the project?
Baileys: If it lasts until the end of this interview we will have done well (ha ha).
By Endre "Bandi" Hübner,
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