Heavy Pettin' were almost the next big thing and one of the best Hardrock bands to ever come out of Scotland, UK, during the 80's. They hit instant success with their debut album "Lettin' Loose (1983)" and continued to release marvelous music with "Rock Ain't Dead" in 1985. You can finally find them on CD, reissued through Majestic Rock, and here's a short interview with guitarist PUNKY MENDOZA.

RockUnited/Urban: Do tell us a little bit of what you've been up to since Heavy Pettin'. I hope you've continued to play music at some level?

Punky: It was hard to adjust to a normal way of life after living a number of years in a dream. Being a resilient character, however, I managed to get around that by gradually acclimatizing myself to living like an odd ball. I continued to work in music in various disguises until I got fed up with the whole idea of working with idiots. I turned my back on music and lived without it for over three years. I then went slightly mad and became a virtual recluse. I found fiction was far more interesting than ordinary life and what was going on around me. I found myself in a second hand bookstore reading Elias Cannettiís The Conscience of Words and Earwitness, and decided to stay indoors for a while and think things over. I emerged more confused by life than I had ever been. Thatís when I realised I was normal like everybody else and therefore decided to become a model citizen and get a proper job. Teaching was an option. Thatís where Iím at right now. As for music? Iím working on some sounds that I hope will be ready for January 2005. If interested in testing these tunes for me then email a request at punkymendoza@aol.com. Your comments/criticisms are more than welcome.

RU - Are you still proud of your hard rocking days in the 80's? or have you turned your back to it like so many others?

Punky - I still reflect on those days with Pettin sometimes for the sheer hell of it and sometimes for the sheer fun of it. I havenít turned my back on the memories and donít see why I should. I have other memories I reflect upon as part and parcel of the way of things. The Pettin memories make up part of my mental storage box.

RU - Let's go back in time for a while. What was it like growing up in Glasgow during the 70's. I guess you had to listen to Nazareth if you came from Scotland?

Punky - Glasgow in the 1970s was all about learning through meeting people, going to gigs (Nazareth included), running around wild, listening to KISS, getting drunk and learning to play guitar, and meeting lovely creatures that produce little people from their insides. Most of my learning about music came from three distinct places during the 70s: The Glasgow Apollo (an amazing place to experience live music at the time), Listen Records, and my mates Mick and Stu (incidentally, I played in a band with these guys Ė we almost started World War III in Scotland with our band the Criminal Minds). Had it not been for these three elements Iíd have struggled with learning about music and the music business. Glasgow itself was made up of many crazy people who lived in dreary rundown council estates. I was born in the backroom of a tenement house on one of those estates in a place called Castlemilk. I remember Castlemilk as a place of violence and early deaths. I also remember it as a place of adventure.

RU - Were you also a member of the Weeper? Or did you play guitar with any other bands in Glasgow prior to Heavy Pettin'.

Punky - When I joined Pettin the band was actually called Weeper. But it was only used as a transitional band name. I only played in one band before Pettin. It was basically a bedroom headache called Zero Trap. Incidentally, if you have heard of the band The Almighty, the original guitarist, Tantrum, was the bass player in Zero Trap. We played mostly cover versions. The only opportunity to play a couple of songs before an audience was at a Weeper gig. A friend of mine who played guitar for Weeper at the time got us to play a couple of songs to give us a taste of what it was like playing before punters. The pub was a famous gig in Glasgow called the Burns Howff. Anyway, when we went on stage (Gary Moat played drums for us), I was so nervous that I played with my back to the audience. What a loony. We played a GIRL song titled My Number.

RU - And then you continued in the grand Scottish tradition of using a "religious" connection as your band name (Nazareth). Do you remember where Heavy Pettin' came from. I mean, who's idea was it and did you have any other suggestion(s)

Punky - I remember we had a band meeting at Gordonís house about the name. As I said, when I joined as the last member of Pettin, we knew the name Weeper was not good. So we all went away from the meeting with the intention of coming up with a name for the band. I threw in my worth but nothing really that good. In fact, I think most of my suggestions came from KISS songs. I remember when we were discussing possible names HAMIE was searching through Gordonís album collection and came across UFOís album No Heavy Petting. And that was how it came about. We had to live with it for a few days and it wasnít until we attended a gig at Kelvingrove Park sitting beneath the sun drinking cool beers, that we finally decided Heavy Pettin was the name of the band. I remember specifically adding that the technical phonetic detail of leaving out the Ďgí was a mustÖ and without the apostrophe. Even back then I was interested in the sounds of daftness.

RU - Could that very name have been the main reason to why you never quite made it b-i-g in the states? Or perhaps they simply couldn't understand your accent? ;-)

Punky - No. We actually did better in America than anywhere else. The name was accepted in America without any problems. The record company had better fries to cook than Pettin. That was why we never made it in the States.

RU - "Taggart" was a great copper and tv-show, right? :-)

Punky - Right.

RU - Heavy Pettin's first two albums (Lettin' Loose & Rock Ain't Dead) has been reissued through Majestic Rock earlier. What do you think about the packaging and quality of the reissues? Not too shabby, huh?

Punky - I was pleased with them. Thought they did well to get Dave Ling involved in the sleeve notes. They did fine with the packaging. They are good people at Majestic Rock.

RU - Any chance that "Heart Attack Live" could be released onto DVD? (my tape is getting kinda weary)

Punky - Letís get our heads around this one. You put up the money and Iíll get involved. Weíll release it ourselves and take it from there.

RU - "Lettin' Loose - 1983" was produced by none other than Brian May of Queen. But I believe you were disappointed with the final result of that album (soundwise).

Punky - I wasnít personally disappointed. To be honest it was a sharp learning curve for all of us. I know members of the band were not happy about the sound because of one thing or another. I was happy just to be alive and in the company of Brian May and Mack. I just wanted to get on with things and accept it as it was. Others felt like they were running the show and running for presidency.

RU - What do you mostly remember from the recording session of Lettin' Loose? I guess you were all very excited just to be there in the studio with May?

Punky - I remember Brian May did not play guitar by request or for pleasure. He said his job was to produce the band. I also remember having to ask Roger Taylor to leave the sound room because his presence was putting me off recording a solo. He couldnít understand that I found it difficult to perform before him. Neither could I. But what I remember most about the recording session was Brian May telling me the story of when Queen recorded their first album and the bandís first tour of America and meeting Steven Tyler for the first time and... I was in total silence when Brian let me into his memories and I was in total awe of his sincerity and down-to-earth attitude to life.

RU - I didn't play my "Rock Ain't Dead" album (vinyl) for 10 years until I received the Majestic Rock reissue. I must say that it was w-a-y better than I remember it. I believe I even named it "one of the best melodic hardrock releases to ever come out of UK". What's your opinion about it some 19 years after its release.

Punky - Itís a trigger for some old happenings. My neurons fire in all directions when I hear the album which isn't very often.

RU - How would you describe the chemistry between you and Gordon Bonnar (the other lead guitarist). I know that many twin-guitar acts often end up fighting over a certain riff, solo, or anything basically.

Punky - I always admired Gordon for his ability to organise things and the way he worked really hard to keep the band running. But I donít think we were ever that close. I was always into my own thing and Gordon was busy planning to take over the world I suppose in his own way. Nevertheless, he was a very intelligent and diligent type of person.

RU - What were you & Bonnar aiming for (soundwise) with the guitar work on "Rock Ain't Dead". I must say that it's quite similar to what Def Leppard did at times.

Punky - Gordon, Gary, Hamie, and Brian were very much influenced by Def Leppard. I could take them or leave them. At the time we were making Rock Aint Dead I was listening to The Tubes. I think I gave Pettin a different sound with my influences and I always tried to compliment Gordonís guitar style.

RU - Do you get upset about the Def Leppard comparsion as such?

Punky - I donít get upset at the comparison. There is no doubt at all that most of the band wanted to sound like a Mutt Lange production. In fact, partly due to the influence of Def Leppard, Pettin lost the chance to be managed by Peter Mensch and Cliff Burnstein Ė Leppardís management team at that time.

RU - Do you believe that Hamie's somewhat (now there's an understatement) high-pitched vocals,could scare away potential buyers back then???

Punky - Without a doubt.

RU - He did sound an awful lot like Biff Byford (Saxon) on helium at times? Or perhaps you wouldn't agree with me here :-)

Punky - It had been mentioned before. Our A&R man at Arista said he sounded like Minnie Mouse on helium. You werenít very far off.

RU - I'm sure you knew I had to ask this question. Eurovision Song Contest 1987 and that Romeo toon. How did all that happen anyway??? How did Heavy Pettin' get involved with that in the first place?

Punky - The downfall of the band. The nightmare scene in my jaunts down Pettin Memory Lane. I saw grown men cry because of that show. My mate was in a car accident because of that show. I pissed off Terry Wogan because of that show. I laughed for years because of that show. But to be honest, the paycheck from the BBC and the backstage antics I got up to were well worth it.

RU - Do you look back at the Eurovision thingy as a groundbreaking and unique happening or do you regret ever taking part of it?

Punky - Too late to regret. It happened. We payed the price.

RU - Was it the beginning of the end for Heavy Pettin'? I guess you received a lotta shite from hardrock media and fans?

Punky - Bang On.

RU - Do you still keep in touch with any of the lads from Heavy Pettin?

Punky - I didnít really keep in touch with the guys when I was in the band. Even less when we split.

RU - Any chance of a reunion? It's a very popular thing to do nowadays.

Punky- I doubt that would ever happen. The Punky Mendoza Show might be on the cardsÖ dancing naked on the tabletop of some bar in Madrid.

RU - Henrik Larsson - hero or zero? (this answer will certainly give away which team you support).

Punky - Hero. One of the greatest football players ever to play for Celtic. Big loss for the Bhoys. The results of that loss are showing now.

RU - If there's anything you'd like to say, add, or promote, please do:

Punky - Email me at punkymendoza@aol.com if you have any stories about Heavy Pettin or myself. If you have any photographs from gigs let me see them. If you are interested in hearing some new toons then make a request. Other than that.... Rock On!


Interview by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
(C)2004 RockUnited.com