Phil Lewis (La Guns) was the central focal point flanked both sides by blonde bombshells Phil Collen (Def Leppard) and founder member Gerry Laffy. This was the arrowhead that pierced the heart of the NWOBHM. Girl burst on to the scene all glammed up but, it seemed, no where to go. The Baileyís first encounter with Gerry and the boys was way back around 1980. We held a residency at the infamous Retford Porterhouse (The north of Englandís version of the London Marquee) You could still see the snot on the walls from the punk rockers who were there the night before! Back then, Motorhead were the Ace Of Spades, Saxon had their Wheels Of Steel, Iron Maiden released their debut album and Def Leppard roared On Through The Night.. AC/DC were Back In Black with new vocalist Brian Johnson after the death of Bon Scott in February that year. The Monsters Of Rock was unleashed at Donington where Ritchie Blackmoreís Rainbow were still Rising. Against all the odds this band would stand out from the crowd and later go on to produce some really catchy songs and also introduce some really classy musicians including Def Leppardís Phil Collen. We talk to his partner in crime and GIRL founder member Gerry Laffy.
Gerry, letís go back to the beginning, how did you all meet up and decide to put a band together?
I met Phil Lewis through a session my brother did for him. We became mates and started hanging out. That was late 1971. Several months later under a haze of hash in an Amsterdam bar we decided we should put a band together. It had several line up changes and name changes including Girls, Hot Knives, Lovelost but by early 79 we had become...Girl... We intended to mix rock and glam but with our own stamp on it. We wanted to be BIG.
Who came up with the name Girl?
I think Philip Lewis can take the credit for that.
Who decided on all the glam image with all the make up?
We were very into Aerosmith and the Stones, and we kind of dressed that way everyday, trying to be all rock star like, live the life, that seemed fun. Philip bought an old Aston Martin and we swanned around like we WERE rock stars right from the start. By the time we came to release a record we had already had some stick so we pushed the boat out even further, to be different, to stand out from the crowd.
Was everyone in the band comfortable with this image?
Certainly the front line was. It was always the drummers that steered clear of it, especially our first drummer Dave Gaynor. He was a drummer from Dublin, a bit rough and ready; he didnít much care for the image but was well into the music.
Describe the scene at that time what clubs did you hang out in and what bands were you listening to and seeing live?
We were hanging out at all the London clubs like Billyís at Blitz that Steve Strange ran, and Maunkberryís that was more up market. There was a load of other places on different nights, Legends, The Embassy, The Music Machine. We were listening to bands like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy, Queen, New York Dolls. You can see where we were coming from by those choices.
Where did you rehearse and how did the song writing develop?
At first we had a floor of an old warehouse in Old Street. I went past it recently and itís now a very flash NY Loft style complex. Then after that we rented an unused restaurant in Camden Lock. That was where Girl really came together, that was where Phil Collen came to audition with us. The writing was mainly Philip and me especially at first, then soon Phil came in with some stuff he had. Basically the comboís were Laffy/Lewis, Lewis/ Collen Laffy, or the two Philís came up with songs.
Can you remember the first song that came out of those early rehearsals?
The earliest songs were My Number, The Things You Say, Little Miss Anne and a song Phil Collen wrote called Spiders Web, but that was dropped for some reason before the album was recorded. Iíd love to hear that again. I bet Phil has a copy tucked away somewhere?.
How hard was it to get a record contract looking like you did back then?
Philip and I used our posh or manager type phone voices and called a number of labels and blagged our way in there. We did actually do quite a few meetings but always got the elbow when the A & R guys realised we had blagged our way in, we had no real manager, no heat. as we had claimed. It was tough. For a while we had Simon Napier Bell interested in managing us but he also had Japan (and Wham) and ultimately thought they were more his taste
Didnít you do a low budget video to get noticed first?
Yeah we decided to do a cheap video so we could send it to several people at once hoping one of them would take a bite based on the songs, performance and the look. The video was done at a porn studio in Muswell Hill, two or maybe three cameras and we just mimed to our demos then did a live cut between the cameras. I think those first five songs were shot in an afternoon and cost us £100. Money well spent as it did the job.
How did the UK audience react to the band initially?
The first show we did was a sell out show at Camdenís Music Machine (now KoKoís). It was to coincide with the release of My Number, our debut single for Jet Records. It went down really well, especially with The Melody Maker and Sounds who raved about it. A really good start actually. The next gigs were opening for UFO in Europe. They went really well too but we got a load more stick when we did the UK part of the tour - a much tougher crowd to please, us Brits. They tend to go more for the headliners and get irritated with most support acts. In Europe they go for the whole RockíNíRoll experience. They just judge the bands on their performance and also they hadnít seen any press on us so had no preconceptions.
How did you find the whole recording experience of your 1980 debut album Sheer Greed?
By late 1979 we had about half the album done with Chris Tsangerides recording at Morgan Studios in Willesden. We were all really happy about the way it was going. Then we did the afore mentioned UFO dates and after that went back in to finish the album in early 1980. We wanted to finish the record with Chris but our label had been approached by Nick Tauber he suggested we do a Kiss song ĎDo You Love Meí as he thought it would get us a US hit, so we went with him. We finished the album with him, recording at The Marquee Studios and Olympic but in hindsight we should have stuck to our guns with Tsangerides.
They say any publicity is good publicity so having Babe delicious Britt Ekland knocking off Girl vocalist Phil Lewis must have helped?
Lewis was a bit of a babe magnet ever since I had met him (and still is). He dated Ballerinas, a Baroness, film starlets and heiresses and so it was no great surprise when he was hit on by the freshly single Britt Ekland one night at Maunkberryís. For a while at least they were very much in love but the press stuff about them did overshadow the music. It put a lot of people off, made them jealous and envious. Not a great way to endear yourself to a rock audience really.
Brit Ekland had just been out with Rod Stewart; in fact many said she changed him into a softy hence the Night On The Town album with him wearing a straw hat. Did she have any influence on Phil and the band?
She did have an influence on Philip at least; she was very loving to him and wanted him to look cool. She has great style Brit; she helped turn Rod from a rock n roller into a sophisticate who collected Lalique and Art Nouveau. It was inevitable she would preen Philip too but it was always for the better, she was never tacky.
Hollywood Tease is always a fan favourite. How did this song rear its sleazy head?
It was written by the two Philís. It may have even been one of the songs Phil came in to the band with, maybe even from his Dumb Blondes days? It is still the fans and probably my favourite. Although I do hold a soft spot for My Number too.
You struggled for gigs in the early days was it much easier once you had an album and some press behind you to find venues willing to book the band?
We didn't really try to do gigs in the earliest days, we thought it was a waste of time slogging up and down the M1, paying our dues...fuck that shit. We wanted a deal and to play a Wham Bam sell out show to showcase our first record. Itís what we did really. After the first album came out we had ITB as our bookers, getting gigs here and abroad seemed no real problem. But touring is expensive and we only really wanted to tour where the money spent would have the best effect, so support tours seemed the best way to get noticed until we got our name out there a bit so for the large part thatís what we did.
Did having promo videos for Hollywood Tease and Do You Love Me help secure more work?
After we signed to Jet they sent us back to the same studio to shoot another few songs and re-do Hollywood Tease mainly for Japanese TV, and yes they used it for promo internationally. It was a big help and it certainly got us very noticed in Japan. Our first tour there was 2,000+ seaters with a No1 import album and a gold album.
Which song is your favourite on the Sheer Greed debut and why?
I love The Things You Say; I think Phil's solo in that is still amazing. It is a simple song but had such a wide berth to showcase Phil as a player. There was only Eddie Van Halen and Al Di Meola that played like that. There are several 2-3 minute pop type songs that I like, Lovely Lorraine, Little Miss Anne types. Looking back I donít much care for the would be reggae stuff and even at the time it was always a little uncomfortable and I donít think we played it that well. I like the quirky stuff like Strawberries, My Number and Whatís Up. Maybe we should have explored that quirky rock style more?
Were you supporting any major acts at the time?
We did a ton of support stuff. UFO (for 3 tours). Pat Travers, ZZ Top, Ted Nugent, Kiss, Ozzy Osborne. We liked support slots, call me a snob but I liked playing theatres and arenas more than clubs where you stick to the carpet and the dressing room doubles as a toilet. That said, your own gigs are always partisan, they paid just to see you so supports were always harder work but that pressure is good for a growing new band. We did play a load of club dates in the UK in 1980-1982 and theatres in the Far East, so we had the best of both worlds. (pictured left: Richie Blackmore's surprise guest appearance at a Girl gig)
Did you manage to get out of the UK to promote your debut, say Japan?
No but we did so much press, we were bombarded with photo shoots and interview requests, especially in Japan. Monthly we vied with the band Japan, Queen and Bay City Rollers for the covers and main features in Music Life, Rock Show and Ongaku Senka the 3 biggest rock magsí there. We toured in December of 1980 and it was a blast. We did Hong Kong on the way and got mobbed at the airport; it was wild for us and a new experience.
Letís move onto your second Girl album Wasted Youth and I must admit Iím not convinced we have heard it so was it as good as Sheer Greed in your opinion?
We started with good intentions but soon into the recording we had troubles with our label again. We had taken on the worst managers we could find for some insane reason, both real 60s throwbacks who convinced us that we should piss off Don Arden and they would get us a better deal (mainly as they werenít in for any of the meagre advance from Jet). It was a disaster and they are prime targets for the "Who fucked up Girl" question? Anyhow eventually we finished a pretty good album. Then to our horror we had heard that Nigel Thomas (the would be co-producer) had taken the album to Stockholm and remixed the whole thing in a weekend and handed it over to Jet. Thus the shit recording that is still around today. Decent songs (some of them) but totally crap production. Good old Nigel, he threw away months of work and a large part of our potential as a band.
Had the band progressed musically as songwriters and musicians?
Actually because of the drugs and the constant war with the label and managers I think we had deteriorated as a band. Strangely though there is a third album which consists of several masters and a dozen or so demos that I think pisses over the second album. This third album was finally released as Killing Time. in 1999. There is a Girl Anthology... a 37 track double CD that Sanctuary Records has out called My Number. That is chronological and shows the heartbeat of the bands progression and its hick ups.
There was a line up change -you brought in Pete Barnacle on drums. How did you find working with Pete?
Pete was the drummer for Broken Home, a band with a singer called Dicken who supported us on a UK tour. We got on well with Pete and at the end of the tour we asked him to join us as our days with Dave Gaynor (or was it Bryson) had come to an end. Pete is still a good mate; he lived in my house in 1992 and 1993 while we did the Sheer Greed project together. I got an email from Philip Lewis yesterday saying the LA Guns are playing in Tokyo in Feb 2007 and that Peteís band are the support act. He said you, Si & Phil should pop over and we could do it properly....well Tokyo isnít exactly Birmingham so the jury is still out on that one. I saw Pete in Osaka in 2000 when I last played there with John Taylor and heís happy there with his wife and daughter.
Did you also use some of Bryson Graham's drumming on the Wasted Youth album?
Yeah, Bryson played on all of it I think although Pete is credited as drummer. I think it was because he was a band member by then and it seemed dumb to not credit him. Bryson didnít care; heíd been paid for it and didnít want to be in the band anymore anyhow.
How was the camaraderie with in the band at this time were you all getting along?
We all got along really well. I sometime found the dynamics difficult with Lewis after Phil joined. Philip and I had been inseparable for 2 years and Phil had the wow factor with his playing that occasionally led to insecurities on my behalf, but I loved Phil too and he always gave me credit for my input so it was dumb of me really. As a rule we always got on fine but if there was ruck it was sure to be between Lewis & me.
Can you tell us what you felt like when Def Leppard asked Phil Collen to join because that seemed to coincide with the end of that phase of Girl?
In the summer of 1982 I had already taken up the offer to manage Russell Mulcahy and try and get him his first feature. Phil had been offered the gig with Iron Maiden to replace Dennis Stratton (who co-incidentally ended up marrying my ex girlfriend The Baroness Fiona de Fex Janier). Philip & I begged him not to, not for our sake but for his. He agreed with us but within a month or two the Leppard guys (who were pals of ours, well Steve in particular) turned up at a gig we did at Londonís Zig Zag Club. We were buzzing about, Phil you KNOW why theyíre here? You got to do it if they ask you....they did, within a day or so he went to meet Mutt at the studio in Willesden (where we had recorded the Sheer Greed album) banged down a few first take solos and as they say...The rest is history ...
Did you not feel a tad jealous that he was on his way to international stardom with out his partner in crime for so many years?
In some ways yes but Phil was a man who held a guitar for 10 hours plus a day, for years he had lived and breathed the guitar. Not me, I wanted to paint, to be a rock star, to travel extensively, to make movies, maybe act too, you know I wanted to do it all for me the music video explosion was becoming way more interesting than Girl. Russell was really the king of MTV videos and as he knew that Lewis and I were by then managing ourselves and pulling off Far East tours etc he asked me to manage him, so really I was more glad for Phil than envious, Iíd had a great new gig fall into my lap after the last Girl tour in Dec 1982 I went to live in Australia for 2 years and helped Russell get and make his first film called ĎRazorbackí. It was stylish horror thriller about the outback. From that we were offered Highlander, which was a $100 million worldwide hit. In 1991 Phil asked me to seriously consider the gig with Def Leppard but I had just signed a 5 year management deal with Russell so that never panned out and I think a better man for the job was found in Vivien Campbell.
Did you sit down with Phil and your brother Simon to discuss a replacement for Phil or did you all decide to call it a day?
No, to be honest we had Bryson back after Pete had moved on and he knew a guy Pete Bonus who was a good laugh and a really good player. He played for Pete Murphy from Bauhaus; they were on hiatus so we just asked Pete to step in to fulfil the contract we had signed to do the final Far East tour. I knew I was leaving the band straight after to move to Australia, so we thought no further than that last Far East tour it was December 19822, we did two shows in Tokyo, 1 each in Nagoya, Osaka, Bangkok, and the last 2 shows we did were in Hong Kong in December 1982.
How disappointed were you at the time seeing the band break up?
Like I said not very, frankly Iíd had enough by then and the MTV and film thing was really happening. I felt bad for Simon though but he soon found a band and lived and worked in New York for a while. They had a deal with Virgin US so he fell on his feet too. There is a scene in the DVD at the end in the interview in HK where individually they ask us whatís next; when they get to Si his response breaks me up to this day. Bless him.
In 1982 you worked as personal manager for film director Russell Mulcahy and formed the company LeBad Films together. You also served as Mulcahy's personal assistant on his first three features: Razorback, Highlander, Arena (An Absurd Notion). You managed Mulcahy through the pinnacle of his career, including ten feature films and dozens of award-winning music videos (including Duran Duran, Billy Joel, Elton John, Queen, Rolling Stones. That was quite a career move and a successful one what made you decide to go down this road?
From my time working at London Weekend TV as a graphic artist I had met a load of people who were working on music videos... one of them was Russell Mulcahy. He was Australian and had made a big name for himself directing videos for new bands like Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Ultravox, The Members, the Vapours, Sex Pistols, and XTC etc. He was Richard Bransonís pet and he was also lucky that a number of these bands took off. He did a woman called Kim Carnes who had an enormous hit with Bette Davis Eyes that launched him big style especially in USA. He also directed Video Killed The Radio Star the video that launched MTV. At that stage the Eltons, The Rods, The Stones, Fleetwood Macs all came out of the woodwork and we were a hot as the new MTV video business got. But he really wanted to make films, so he devised a plan to shoot mini films really to try to blag a big one. He was the first to use a cropped screen, he always shot on film, never video etc it worked as it was the Duran Duran Sri Lanka videos of Hungry Like A Wolf and Save a Prayer that got him his first $5 million budget film.
Do you still have Le Bad Films and do you still work in this field?
No, we disbanded Le Bad in 1992. I set another company Laffy/MichaelsFilmworks in 1994 and we set up and financed a movie ĎVampiresí but it got made by John Carpenters company eventually so I went home to the UK in late 1995 having been stung by Hollywood greed and treachery, itís a merciless place Hollywood. I still managed Russell until July 1997 (thatís a 15 year stint). I had a young child and a new house outside of London, I had jetted between London and LA since I moved back in 1995 and that was OK but my contract was due to expire in July 1997 and Russell had intended to move back to Australia and that was not something I wanted so we both realised it had run its course. As they say nothing lasts forever. Just so happens though 2 weeks before that contract expired I had a phone call that would span one gig over the next 3 years.
What role did you have regarding the making of the videos?
Usually my role was simply to get Russell as much money for a fee and for a budget. But by the nature of these mini films I was often utilised for production roles, I co-produced a few, as band liaison (schmoozing with rock stars. tough job), as an extra, as script writer, costume assistant, whatever was needed. Occasionally the deals would be intricate i.e. the Wild Boys for Duran Duran. Russell owned the film right to the William Burroughs book, so I set up the deal where he got to make a 10 minute stylised version of the film he intended to make so long as the boys were featured in it. The band retained all rights to the song. That became a 12 minute part of the Duran Duran ĎArena - An Absurd Notioní feature film.
You still kept active with your music career with some unusual projects like the London Cowboys. Werenít they a punk band?
Not really punk, more like early Stones, Iggy or New York Dolls. There was Steve Dior and Barry Jones from The Idols, Jerry Nolan from NY Dolls on drums, Glen Matlock on bass and me on guitar along with Barry I worked with the London Cowboys on two occasions. Once in 1985, when Russell was off shooting Highlander in Scotland and New York, I shot up to Leeds where I played most of the solos on a studio album they almost had in the can. We recorded a live album at the Milkweg in Amsterdam and we did various gigs in France, Holland, Germany, Finland and Japan. Spanning about 6 weeks. Perfect timing. Then again in LA in 1989 I did about 6 months with them schlepping around clubs in California trying to get a deal. Second time was nowhere near the fun of the first time. I soon left.
I heard you played guitar on demos of Duran Duran's 1986 Notorious album. That must have been quite a buzz.. How did you get involved?
I knew the guys since 1981 when we met on the set of Planet Earth. John and I in particular became pals, so when Andy left in 1986 he asked me to come into the studio and play on a few demos. He asked me again a few months later but I was back in Sydney so I said I canít unless you are offering me the gig. He wasnít, they wanted to stay a 3 piece which they did. Their producer Nile Rogers played guitar on the album, some stuff Andy had already done was kept and then Warren Cuccurillo blagged his way in there, although they kept him on a wage for ages I hear.
You later went on to play with John Taylor and record with him. Your guitar playing must have hit the right chord with John? (A pun intended)
We hit it off from the start. While Russell was filming Razorback in Australia Duran Duran ended up there trying to finish their tricky third album. Russell, me, John, Andy and Simon hung out a LOT there. In 1997 John called and said I have left Duran Duran, I got a gig to do in Stuttgart headlining a festival in a football stadium, wanna do it with me? I said sure, In reality it was more like a muddy field of pissed German students and they introduced him as JAMES TAYLOR....but the gig was good, we were a 3 piece, he dug it and said ď letís do the Nams Fair in NYC next month, oh and then a gig in LA, oh and the Gap party at the Sundance Film FestivalĒ etc and it just carried on for 3 years of touring and I ended up playing on 10 various CDs with John. He also played on my debut solo album Money & The Magic and later worked with Sheer Greed too. I donít see him now though, we may trade emails every once in a while but since heís been back in Duran I have fallen out of his Rolodex. It happens and I donít lose sleep over it. I wish him well. While I played in his band he and his family took me into their home and life and I am always grateful for that.
How did you find working with John? Did you learn anything different than say working in an out and out rock band?
Yeah he has a very strong and very professional work ethic. It was also the first time I had worked with the mentality that you must have the best gear, the best studio, hotel room, road crew etc that you could afford to be at your best. Johnís idea of slumming it was my idea of pro-muso luxury. Not once in 3 years with him did I ever string a guitar, have to put gear away or get driven in a car without leather seats etc he wouldnít. dream of it, heíd been a huge rock star for 18 years, so although he has no pretensions he was fairly grand (thank God). But the same goes; he had no time for booze or drugs or anything that would fuck with the work. He was fun, he was musically very generous especially to me (in his first call re leaving Duran he said ďHey G how do you fancy being the Ronson to my BowieĒ?....I was like YEAH man I am there) he never told me how to play stuff; we arranged the material together, we collaborated. musically it was great. Living in London being in an LA based band was less great, especially as I had a little boy who burst into tears every time I ordered a cab, him thinking I was going to leave for weeks again, even if I was going to the shop, plus in the end I fucked my back up so I would have had to call it a day soon, but that really coincided with his decision to rejoin Duran Duran in 2001. We did a gig for Juicy Couture in New York in 1999 and they flew in Simon Le Bon to guest with us (the video of The Reflex is on my myspace site http:myspace.com/gerrylaffy. As Juicy is co owned by Johnís wife you donít have to be a genius to realise she was planning a reformation even if he wasnít. Within a year we had split up and he had rejoined Duran Duran. Plus as a band we were called John Taylor Terroristen, and after 911 that just wasnít going to work anymore, especially in USA, it would have been way too insensitive.
We have to mention a band you put together called Sheer Greed. You took the name from the Girl album but the music was totally different. What direction did you want to take Sheer Greed musically?
Sheer Greed was the bones of Girl but it wasnít rehashing Girl. It was myself, my brother Simon and Pete Barnacle initially. I had the use of Russellís large house in London so I put a studio in it, we all lived together and I financed the album. I got a load of slagging for that band / album; most people just didnít get it. They thought it WAS Sheer Greed.. Talking of puns.. but I got to tell you I put about £40,000 into that project of my own money, you donít do that to milk the fame of Phil Collen.. I could have bought a fucking Aston Martin or a boat and had more fun if I was such a self absorbed wanker as some claimed. Eventually I made that money back, mainly in Japan, but for us all it was a labour of love. The album guests Phil Collen on four solos and Philip Lewis joins us for one of those songs, Everybody Wants that he also co-wrote with me, John Taylor and Tony Fenelle from Ultravox. I played all the guitars (except Philís stuff) then we got Neil Gabbitas in to play live with us. He was great, a lovely guy and a really great player. He has a lot of similarities to Phil Collen, he has all that twiddle diddly stuff down, but he has a sense of style and at that time VERY long hair. He plays on the Sheer Greed Live in London album 1993, check out Burn It Down, Thatís my favourite although it was written after we finished the studio album.
How did you first hook up with Neil Gabbitas and what did he add to the mix apart from having the longest hair in town?
I think he came through a contact of Simonís, although to be honest I canít really remember. I think he would have had a lot more influence on Sheer Greed had we had have done a second album, we had started to write together but never really went very far with it. The next album I wanted to do was another solo album, with more acoustic type stuff as I had discovered open tuning stuff on the acoustic and was nuts about Joni Mitchell at the time. I went into it with the intention of how would say U2 approach Joni Mitchell style songs? I brought Simon in on it to help me out and it became the Lying With Angels album and was credited as Gerry & Simon Laffy. Sheer Greed wasnít very well received so I thought it best to move on; not working with Neil was a casualty of that process.
Well Gerry, you have a very long and credible career but letís get bang up to date with the releases of the Girl DVD and the Live In Tokyo Japan 1980 Bootleg. Why release a bootleg?
Next February (2007) Rock Candy Records are re-releasing the first two Girl albums with loaded 16 page booklets and some bonus demos that Simon and I dug out for them at their request. We realised going through the recordings we had left that most of them had, or were, disintegrating. We found this one recording, a bootleg that a fan had done standing in front of the mixing desk at a Tokyo show with the original line up in 1980. It isnít the best recording but it has the Girl vibe and it was a whole gig of us in our prime in a place where we were hot. There is two other Girl Live recordings out there but both were recordings from the desk, better recordings but no audience and so no atmosphere. I remember Girl gigs as being fun and frantic and this Tokyo recording captured that in a recording of that gig, so we decided to put it out as the Tokyo Bootleg 1980 CD. I had load of video stuff too and we decided that as it is all over Youtube (where there are some 20,000 hits on Do You Love Me alone) and myspace but they are copies of copies and look and sound crap that maybe it was time to put the masters out there. So I digitally mastered the video footage, re-laid the stereo track (where possible) and collated an hour or so of decent quality Girl stuff. It has several of the demo videos that got us the deal, the promo videos for Girl, Sheer Greed and Gerry Laffy and a behind the scenes mini documentary of the last ever Girl interview done at the Hong Kong Hilton hotel.
I suppose with a bootleg at least you get a true historic account of Girl live. Are you happy with the quality of the recordings?
The Bootleg is definitely my favourite Girl Live recording but I do wish it was better recorded but it was recorded on a stereo Walkman circa 1980, what can you do? I am really pleased with the DVD; the stuff is so superior to the youtube etc stuff. You can really be in the moment. There were no home video cameras in those days and the cassette Walkman had only just arrived, certainly no digital or CD media to be had in those days, and we were no mega band that had film crews following us around so this stuff really is the closest you will ever come to discovering or re-discovering Girl. I have been the keeper of most of this stuff over the past 25 years, recordings, videos, press stuff so this is my collection of stuff in its entirety (along with the http://www.myspace.com/girlsheergreedofficial & http://www.myspace.com/gerrylaffy myspace sites)
There's some bonus tracks on the bootleg that were recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. Itís a great venue, how did you acquire the recordings for this album?
There are 4 bonus tracks from Hammersmith Odeon the same year on the Tokyo Bootleg CD because we wanted to use up the remaining good UK tracks we had left. We had four from London and five or six from a Liverpool gig but we could only fit on the London tracks. The band did the recording from the desk.
Did you do anything in the studio on these recordings to improve the sound quality?
I mastered both the Bootleg CD and the tracks on the DVD. No remixing or re-recording was done on any of it. I did relay the digital stereo track on Girl: Hollywood Tease, Do You Love Me, Gerry Laffy: Money & The Magic, Mandy & Sheer Greedís No Way Out.
What memories do you recall on your visits to Japan and particularly this show?
We loved Japan and they seemed to dig us. We were treated like rock stars and paid well for what we loved doing. Def Leppard got a slagging for deserting UK for America but if you are wanted somewhere, appreciated and well remunerated for your craft why the fuck NOT go there. My feeling is if you are only big in Finland move to Helsinki (at least to earn a living). This show was an afternoon show on (I think) the second day of the tour. We did three shows in Tokyo in a mid-sized theatre and as I say this was recorded in the audience in the stalls in front of the desk. I donít remember any particulars about the show do I do remember a girl fan getting her hand caught in the limo window as we drove away. The girl wanted to give Philip (I think) a gift, someone wound down the window, she put her arm in just as the car took off, she was dragged along several yards with her window squashed into the glass, it was really scary. We didnít open the windows in cars there anymore while there were fans about.
You have also released a DVD featuring promo videos, early demo videos and behind the scenes with Girl during their last interview together in Japan. Itís a great visual trip down memory lane but how come you havenít smoothed it out in the editing suite?
On the demo stuff and the Hong Kong stuff the video footage is 25 year old Betacam video tape, if it was film it would still be immaculate but the tape had worn away and disintegrated (something to do with the glue they used back then on tape) I didnít have any reason to pretend it was something more pro than that, we did sharpen the images a bit. The promos are all master tape and crystal clear footage. I guess I could have got the footage from the HK TV show to inter cut it on the documentary bit but I thought why bother. You can hear the interview being done, what was going on around the band was much more interesting than do you have a message for your fanís in KH? or whatís your favourite colour? What I did want to put on there was the Girl performances on Top Of The Pops (with a classic Jimmy Saville intro) and three tracks we did on The Old Grey Whistle Test but the BBC wanted a £1,000 a minute buy out, total £17,000. This DVD will never make that so I had to resist from ploughing a load of money into something that wonít recoup. Like I say itís all over youtube and myspace if you want to see what we are missing.
Its over 25 years since we first saw Girl live and the DVD brought back some great memories. Do you think if Girl had come around later during the 80..s you would have had a bigger impact as fans really got behind Poison, Motley Crue and other glam acts?
Timing is everything. Who knows what may have been, it doesnít much interest me to be honest. I have lived my hey days in music and film and continue to live my life knowing Girl was just one facet to it. It was all great fun and I am obviously proud of our catalogue and legacy otherwise I wouldnít have put this out there. There is definitely a Girl renaissance going on at the moment, I feel it all the time, its great fun. I have a lot of people drop by the myspace sites saying how much Girl influenced them and thatís nice to hear. On reflection it would have been nice that we had one killer song at least that still earned us all an annual Hawaiian vacation say like My Sharona or Smoke on the Water But somehow I canít see Nike or Pepsi using Hollywood Tease,
Are these releases self financed by you and released via distribution companies or have you got record labels involved?
Die Laughing Records is my company. I have had various distribution deals for all my albums but I own all my masters. Yes I do finance all this but I am currently talking to a label about the Girl DVD and the Bootleg CD too. The Girl catalogue was bought by Sanctuary Music, Rock Candy has licensed the first two albums from them. Who knows maybe we can use the BBC stuff too at some stage, but Iím fucked if I going to pay for it. As I said Philip Lewis emailed me this week saying he was playing in Tokyo in Feb 2007, and that Pete Barnacleís band is the support act. He suggested that me, Si & Phil meet up with them and play a club or something, but my guess would be if I said yeah great idea.. I would end up putting it all together you know organising gear, hotels, contracts, flights, schedules uuurgghh no thanks, I think it more likely we will all meet up on stage in the UK My bet is at a London LA Guns show, Si & Phil will be Man-Razing here and it will just happen, or it just wonít.. Where can the fans purchase the DVD and live Bootleg?
The live album features the classic Girl line up so in a few words sum up the individual members as people and performers starting with your brother Simon Laffy?
Simon: is the quiet one. A deep thinker, sometime procrastinator. Si is my soul mate, I can always totally rely on him but we are polar opposites and we have a minor rivalry as siblings do, ours is creative, we both like things being done our way. I have done 8 or so albums with Si and would do another one tomorrow if the circumstance was right.
Philip: is a brother too. A classic only child, with a need to be loved and to be the centre of attention, he found the perfect gig for himself. I love him.
Phil: Still a sweetheart, that man has changed only marginally since the first day I met him, and those changes are only for the better i.e. he has been toxin free for 20 odd years, a black belt in several marshal arts, he looks as fit at 50 as at 25, an amazing guy really, so talented, so funny and so humble. I love him too. (And I miss his Mum Connie; she was the Mother figure to Girl back in the day in Walthamstow)
Pete: is a rock solid drummer, funny as well, complicated too as we all are but a great mate.
I guess I should say a few words about Bryson too. Dear Brillo, sadly he committed suicide by jumping in front of a train, thatís not a cry for help, thatís desperately needing to get the fuck out of here. Bryson took the dark ride with us in Girl, through the entire heavy grade A drugs era, he was a young wayward talent that ultimately lost his way. We miss you Bry ( I canít hear the bass drum Tom..) The title song of Lying With Angels is for Bryson, in fact he plays on the track as we used the backing track from Mandy on the Money & The Magic CD and put a drum loop to it.
(Pictured above: The Girl reunion 1999)
What made you decide to release these recordings now?
Mainly the disintegration of the tapes and the imminent Rock Candy releases, it seems the right time. If we didnít do it now I doubt they would still play in a few years or even months.
What will you be doing for Christmas this year?
I'm going to spend Christmas Day at my house with my girlfriend and her son. I will see my kid Conor on Xmas Eve I guess, or Boxing Day. Iíll eat too much, watch a ton of crap TV and play with the kids toys. But I guarantee there will be no hangover on Boxing Day.
What will you be doing musically in 2007?
I have worked on 27 released albums and my accountant says if Iím not careful I will have made more albums than Iíve sold. But with that in mind early in the year I am going to release the Icebox Studio Session, a collection of demos I have made in 2006. There about 20 songs but I will pick a dozen or so. They are songs I like, recorded well enough for me, I play all the instruments and do all the writing and singing, and I know, me, me, and me. But hopefully some people will dig them too.. I have had a few thousand myspace hits on some of the tracks and they have been well received. They are nearly all first take performances and often were written on the spot in the studio. I will never halt my love for music but I am past the days of paying studios a fortune to put down ideas for people to hear. Re: other stuff? I am well open to suggestions and offers too, Iíve had a few crap bands ask me to play with them doing the pub / club circuit but Iím over all that. Iíd love to work with some like-minded London based musicians so any serious thoughts drop me a line. But please no demo tapes looking for a manager. My ex manager Mick Webster who now manages the Kaiser Chief tells me I should get into band management but I told him I opted for route canal work instead!!! Really.
We love the title of your record label, "Die Laughing Records". Is this just for Gerry Laffy recordings or do you put other artiste out on it?
I have released a couple of things for my brother but other than that it has only been my product. I think we are up to double digits on releases now.
We have the original my number single on a clear disc and the Love Is A Game white disc. Are they worth anything?
I have no idea to be honest. I do know that my Japanese stuff often sells on ebay for $40+ which is a joke, it pisses me off actually. Also there is a load of rare record shops that sell the Girl stuff for a small fortune but who wants vinyl anyhow, not me. Personally I would get our new stuff or the Rock Candy CDs, which should be cool or buy the Sanctuary Anthology CDs.
Mick would never sell them they are in the vinyl vaults. It's great to know you have brought Girl material back in the public domain but left it as we all remember them, a great entertaining band with more lip gloss than Dorothy Perkins but great musicianship as you have all proved since those early days. Good luck with the releases thanks for the interview and we leave the final words to you!
To any one of you who still cares about Girl a quarter of a century later. We thank you and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. Please come and visit us at myspace site http://www.myspace.com/girlsheergreedofficial leave us a message and tells your friends about us. God bless you and thanks a lot. It's been a blast.
The Bailey Brothers,
2 January 2007