Rogue Male first exploded into being in 1983. They released their debut album ‘First Visit’ in 1985, and woke the music world up with an almighty roar. Their fusion of punk and rock was metal plated, they were new and raw. Eyes were opened on a worldwide scale and they enjoyed success in the UK, Europe and United States to much critical acclaim.
Yet a shadow was lurking over the rogues and even though they were set up to achieve what seemed like the success they had always dreamed of, management confusion and record companies taking the soul, the punch, from their music, they sadly disbanded in 1987. However in 2007 an independent Polish label ‘Music Mind’ re-released the Rogue Male albums, and when Jim Lyttle was made aware of this, and the fact that yet again they were receiving attention on a mass scale, it seemed to make sense to reform the band.
In a recent visit to London I am talking to Jim Lyttle, John Binnie, Phil Clarke and Larry Paterson aka Rogue Male. We are settled in a little pub in Camden and pints are at the ready. Already I feel comfortable with the guys and we are having a laugh.
I asked the guys how it feels to be together again after all of this time. “As far as I am concerned it was fantastic” John tells me “Getting back in with Jim here. We lost touch for quite a while and we met up again in Ireland. I was playing with another band, and it was like we’d never been apart. We had the old friends kinda feeling, you know, the same old thing.” Jim reminisced “When he came off stage it was like hey bud, remember me. We started talkin’ and it was like listen, what are ya doin’? John told me the band he was playing with was coming to an end, and I went well as it happens Rogue Male is kicking off again, are you interested? and he was like yeah, so it was like ok we are back in.”
It’s great news that not only was the band reforming, but the original line up was coming into play. Phil Clark tells me how he came to being back in the band. “I’d been moving around a bit, did the whole France thing and ended up in Ireland. I never thought that I would see these guys again, but thanks to Facebook, I picked up Jimmy again and we became friends. The next thing he says is oh Rogue Male is going again. I said, oh what line up have you got? He said they were having problems finding a bass player and I said; well I’ll have a go” Phil Laughs. Jim jumps in “we threw a few rehearsals together and bingo it worked again you know. It was like the natural magic that was in the band was back again, then Larry came on the scene” Larry speaks up “Yeah I’m the new boy” he laughs and tells me how he feels about becoming a part of the rogues “Well, someone’s got to do it!” he laughs “It’s really good. I was into Rogue Male when I was a kid in New Zealand we imported the album in about 1985, and was like fuckin’ hell. We used to have these weekend parties in Christ church and it used to be tradition that the first song would be a Rogue Male song. It’s really fun to be playing it now”
With a history like these guys have there were obviously struggles at times, Jim recalls one of their biggest struggles “Well, we have all had our ups and downs with drugs and alcohol so you know, when the band split up in the 80’s it was a big thing for me. I just crashed and hit the bottle. I didn’t come out of it for about twelve or fifteen years and finally got cleaned up and dried out. Phil was the same. A polish record company re-released the two albums and it kicked me back in again, there was interest! It’s always been there in the back of my head, gotta get the band back together, gotta get the guys back together, and that’s basically when the Polish company released the albums. They did it without asking me of course, when it was brought to my attention, I got involved and that spurred me on and I put together an album. I would have loved to have done it with these guys but I didn’t know anyone. I was living in the middle of nowhere in the Irish hills. I just had to get away from everybody. Back in the 80’s I just disappeared you know, but it has always been there in the back of my mind, I have to get Rogue Male back together again, the energy in this band is something that cannot be surpassed you know, and bingo here we are.”
So we know how they got back together, but I asked the guys how they actually met in the first instance, back in the 80’s when it all started. Phil recalls “well I was living in France at the time. I grew up in London, but I knew that I had to get back to London to make it in music; there was an ad in the melody maker, Rogue Male Bass player wanted. I’d just been playing in a punk band. I was a heavy rocker but I liked the punk scene. I played in a punk band for a bit but they always knew it was temporary. I had my hair dyed on the top and long and bumped into Jim at the audition and he had his hair dyed the same, and it was like whoa, you know yeah ok. So it clicked, we’d both been punks we liked the same music and Johnny was working in the rehearsal studio at the time.
John says fondly “That’s right, I was helping to run the rehearsal studio where these guys were rehearsing and I was playing in a band, we just kind of got talking and I used to be listening to these guys” Jim interjected as he laughed “I will tell you what happened right, we were auditioning for guitar players and there was a string of about fifty guitar players all lined up outside comin’ in and trying and it was bit no no no, but Johnny was sitting listening to us in the office the whole time and sort of gotten to know the songs and everything” John joins in “l loved it” as Jim continues the story “So we went through all these guys, and thought Christ it’s a bit shite really. We were packing up one night and he went you know I’m a guitar player…” Phil interjects “No, no Jim, do you remember we took a break for coffee and John was playing on his own in the studio, just practising in one of the studios and we walked past and just went...” Jim jumps in “BINGO!” as Phil continues his recollection of the story “well we thought, fuckin’ who is this? Listening to this guy, as we opened the door there was Johnny.” Jim adds “So we were like do you wanna come in for a blast? He came in and bingo, and the rest is up to Johnny” as he laughs.
John continues the story fondly “Well after that I was sold because like I said I’ve been listening to them rehearsing from the office anyway, and I thought fuckin’ hell, I love this stuff, the punk rock side of it. I like playin’ that sort of stuff. I was comin’ from more of a heavy rock side of it, but the kinda punk thing that Jimmy was doing, that energy. Just give me some of that!”
Just hearing the guys tell the story I can sense just how close they are and also how much it means to them to be back and playing together Jim tells me how they found Larry “The biggest worry for me really this time round was getting’ the drummer. Getting the right drummer was difficult, we tried a few. We auditioned three or four different people. One or two were ok. Good enough in their own right, but there is a certain magic that has to happen in this band you know, and understanding that feeling there was only one man that could do it and that was Larry Paterson.” Larry looked over at Jim and said “Aww isn’t that nice.” He laughs “It’s my sort of stuff. I come from a different background, probably because I’m a head banger really; you know Motorhead, Priest and Iron Maiden. But Rogue Male has always featured high on that list too, and I just got talking to Jim and then we had a jam, they said yeah ok, and that was it. It is easily the best band that I have been in”
With nothing but positivity surrounding the band and now that they are back I wanted to know what lies ahead, where they see themselves going and what they are most looking forward to Phil says “gigs, tour, gigs, just playing, just fuckin’ dishing it out” Larry added “it’s nice to be touring the world on a bus, it’s nice on a plane, it’s nice to be walking if we bloody have to because you meet such cool people everywhere. You can turn up at the ‘Dog and Duck’ somewhere and there will be two blokes, but if they are into it there is nothing like it really, that’s why we are all destitute because it gets under your skin.” I don’t think anyone could have said it better.
It can be tough playing in a band these days, and the only reason why the rogues are doing it is for the love of the music, the thrill of playing live “It’s a way of life can’t think of doing anything else” Jim says, swiftly corrected by John “We can’t do anything else” Jim laughs “that’s more like it Johnny! Fuckin’ can’t do anything else.”
With all the touring and the history that these guys have, I find it hard to believe that there isn’t a funny story or two. Jim tells me of his fondest memory from tour “There were several strange things that happened, but we won’t get into the nitty gritty! When we toured France there was a guy in a wheelchair who happened to turn up to every gig that we played. From one end of France to the other, and he managed to get there before we did every time. So when we turned up to the gig, this guy was sitting outside in a wheelchair, and he thumbed it, we were like wow there is that guy again. In the end we thought as well throw him on the bus and we took him with us then. It was about half way through, because we didn’t know who he was and then we got to know him so we threw him on the bus. Actually we were thinking of tying a rope around him and just pulling him behind us but there was enough room in the boot so we just chucked him in there” Jim laughs “that was a strange one because there he was at every gig. That is dedication for ya”
Rogue Male, now in the midst of recording a new album for our listening pleasure, Jim tells me about how it’s going “All the tracks are written and ready to roll. We’re not going to veer too far away from what we are about. We don’t care what is comin’ or going or anything like that. We just do what we do and that’s it you know, back in the 80’s it was said that we were scene setters we didn’t follow any particular trail we are trail blazers come what may. The new stuff is still relevant to what we were about in the 80’s although we are aware of a modern approach to it as well.” Jim continues “I’ve always said that I like versatility, and Rogue Male are capable of coming up with anything really and I think anything goes and more importantly we’ll make it go. We’ll try anything….”
With that said, the sky is obviously the limit for the rogues and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us. I have had a great time with the guys. Roll on next time! If you haven’t already and want to see what these guys have in store please check out below the video of their new single ‘Liar’
All articles are © Michelle Nevill