Thursday, November 14, 2013

Interview - Handsome Al(The Bucky Rage)


Originating in Glasgow, Scotland was a band whose handsome founder was so incapable of playing the guitar that the rest of the members would have to swap instruments to make them sound like a unit.
Against all odds, this was a very successful decision, as the Bucky Rage, as they would call themselves, would now come to sound like a genuine garage-band. Even if they were not exactly mainstream, they would come to receive favorable reviews of all their albums in the NME and the larger Scottish papers, and would get to tour all over the British Isles.

They have both a psychedelic and noisy punk-edge to their sound, in addition to the classic garage sound. If anything, they sound like a cross between Nick Cave's Birthday Party, a teenage 60's garage band, and some Scottish guys playing just for fun. Check out for example "Such A Loser" or "Wild Man", and see what I mean!
Nothing is too serious about the Bucky Rage. They're all about fun... Especially for the listener, but seemingly just as much for the band themselves.
Here is their story in the words of the founder of The Bucky Rage, Handsome Al!


Philthy Collins - Drums, Lead Vocals
Handsome Al - Guitars, Vocals, Sampler, Monotron
Pete Kaoss - Keyboards, Kaossilator, Toast, Vocals
Kyle Thunder - Bass, Vocals


Vote For Jesus(2006) – EP – Northern Cowboy Records
We're All Damned(2007) – EP – Northern Cowboy Records
Ditchdigger(2008) - EP
Cut Em Down(2012), Eruption Records - 12" EP
Outta Sight!(2012), Handsome Records - Split single ((with The Kosher Pickles, The Blunders and Dynamite Pussy Club))
Panther Adams(2013), Northern Cowboy Records - Cd Album 

Bandcamp page(for ordering their albums) 

Definition of Bucky Rage according to Urban Dictionary:
A state of drunken aggression as a result of consuming vast amounts of Buckfast Tonic Wine:
- "Here, what the fuck did ye skelp that lawdy fur?"

- "Ah dae kin mate, ah had the bucky rage, eh."

Anders: What music would you listen to before forming The Bucky Rage?

Handsome Al: I have always been into music, from about the age of 7 when I got my first ghetto blaster. Taste wise, it improved over my teenage years…. loads of different stuff, golden oldies, punk, techno, hip hop, rock, drum n bass, a real mishmash of stuff. Once I moved to Glasgow to university, my collection and tastes expanded rapidly. There is a shop in Glasgow, Fopp, which used to be the best place for picking up all the music that any good collection needs. You could come home with a Voidoids cd, a Beefheart record, some Orbital and a Louven Brothers disc, without having to look particularly hard. I was staying a couple of streets away, and had to pass this shop everyday, and more often than not would come home with something great. For a few years before starting the band, I had also been organising a lot of gigs and events with a mate of mine, after a while the temptation to get on stage rather than be behind it took over.

A: Can you tell me about how the band came together?

HA: The band came together initially cos I had started playing guitar, a few weeks later I realised it would be much more fun to play with other people. The very first line-up lasted about 1 hour in a practice room, before all falling out drunkenly while deafening ourselves. Far too much Buckfast, Jagermeister and loud amplifiers, and zero talent. A few weeks later I recruited the rest of the original line-up, it was a family affair really, my brother in law, his brother in law (not me!) and a good friend of ours too. The first practice we had, we quickly came up with a few tunes, namely Headlock, the first song we wrote and one that we have played probably at every gig since. To even things out with my inability to play, the rest of the band took on instruments that they didn’t play either. Our singer/drummer was a guitarist, our 2nd guitarist was a keyboard player, and the bassist was a guitarist. Straight away we knew we had something different, and it made writing stuff loads of fun, we all had to really try and come up with stuff that we could all play together with very limited abilities on our instruments. Because I had been organising gigs, we knew the bands locally that we wanted to play with. We spent a bit of time writing some more tunes, and started gigging loads and working on our set and getting loads of experience under our belts.

A: Let's talk about your sound. You seem to borrow some from the golden age of rock, in the middle of the 60's. Any especial influences you want to point out?

HA: The biggest influences on the Rage were more our inability to play our instruments rather than aiming to sound how we do, a shambolic garage band. That initially lead to the way we sound, and still has a massive impact on what we can and do play. From there we started hearing and finding out about a load of other bands that were in line with what we were doing, locally, internationally, current bands and all the old shit that you don’t usually see in music stores. Although we had all heard a good amount of punk and garage, I certainly started getting more and more into it the more we played, learned and met other folk. It all gets a bit competitive with garage fans/bands, and can become quite boring, trying to out obscure each other competitively on the next song that someone else hasn’t heard. I know bands who would never think of playing a well known cover version, only the b-side, like a badge of their own knowledge. That’s never been our style, we would rather listen to stuff without trying to out-nerd each other. We have covered things like "Ghost Rider", "My girl" and even "Lonely This Christmas". There are loads of wee references to our musical heroes in what we do, but there are also loads of non garage/punk/surf influences that range from Kool Keith to 80s pop. The influences that I would say are most obvious are things like Black Lips, Mummies, ? Mark & The Mysterians, the usual Nuggets bands, Suicide, NY Dolls, Ramones, Sonics, Velvets et al. Straight forward fun stuff.

Nuggets was a compilation album(put together by Lenny Kaye, mainly known as the guitarist/bass player for the Patti Smith Group) of a certain style of raw and occasional aggressive(and/or psychedelic) songs from US bands.

Later Rhino records would release a series of albums with the same name, including bands and songs with the same style as the first compilation. Bands like these are mainly refereed to as garage-punk or 60's punk.

Both Nuggets was along with Greg Shaw's fanzine “Who Put The Bomp” some of the main reasons that 60's punk got it's following it got today.

A: So where did you play in the beginning? At hotels/schools/bars(if you where not under-age at that time?)?

HA: Because I had been organising a fair few gigs prior to starting the band, we were able to get into some good venues and pick up some good support slots pretty quickly. We also played all sorts of weird and wonderful places, and still do... Played in an organic farm last year, which was ace, have played pretty much every venue in Glasgow, and loads of other places over Scotland and England. Most of our gigs are played at places where alcohol can be consumed, and that suits us fine!

A: Vote For Jesus were your first album (also including the before mentioned "Headlock"). Was there any kind of statement behind the album title/title-cut?

HA: The Vote for Jesus EP was our first recording session as a band, I don’t think there was any real statement or thought behind the songs or indeed the EP, other than it was the best six songs we had at the time, and of them 'Vote For Jesus' was the favourite track name, and the one we thought would get most attention from punters. It worked, the NME reviewed it, as did Scotland’s biggest newspaper. Looking back it was remarkably organic, and its only in the last year or so I have written with a thought to the final song, and how it fits with other songs. Before then, we have just released EP's as and when we had enough tracks ready, and the time to get them recorded.

A: Where was "Vote For Jesus" recorded? Can you share with us how your experience of the recording process was?

HA: That was my first experience of recording, and because we did it ourselves, I got very involved with the process, and we have went onto record pretty much everything ourselves thereafter. I have also recorded a bunch of other bands, it is something that I really enjoy, and with all the practice, it has helped greatly in capturing the music the way we want it to sound. Looking back on the stuff we have released, I can hear definite advances in our recorded output, both in terms of actual playing/songs, but also studio technique. We never really had the finances or the desire to do it any other way either, but it’s never held us back either. Just have to get on with it.

A: 4 EP's and one split record followed "Vote For Jesus". Did those records get the same attention the first did?

HA: I think with each release we have got a bit more attention, though the type of attention has changed, from initially a kind of ‘what the fuck are these guys doing’, to people starting to get it, and to later on, folk actually sort of getting a lot of the less obvious bits n bobs and appreciating the production and stuff like that. The split single was different again, in that it was almost done to celebrate the joining of two geographical scenes. Our favourite band up in Glasgow, The Kosher Pickles were on the Glasgow side with us, and our chums the Dynamite Pussy Club and The Blunders filled out the Bath/Trowbridge(English) side. We didn’t really bother too much with trying to get any press with this, as it was a very limited run, and really just wanted to sell off the records to folk at gigs. In saying that, we did again get some radio play of it, the guy liked all the songs apart from ours, he seemed baffled!
We have always been quite lucky in that we have managed to get press reviews of all of our releases, in newspapers and magazines, and now that the internet is full of blogs and online stuff. We seemed to get loads of very good reviews for the Cut Em Down EP we released last year, it seemed that every few days another review was popping up, and was really loving the record. With all these things though, you only really get out what you put in, both in the studio and outside it. We were very proactive in sending EPs to people to review, and following it up, building a working relationship with them, which we have kept doing and it keeps working. With so many bands about, you do need to make the effort and not sit back and expect good things to happen themselves.


A: Cut Em Down was a very good album, so can't say I'm surprised of the good reviews. I'm especially found of your cover of "Wild Man", "Such A Loser" and "Billy Ocean". Was the two latter songs self penned?

HA: I was really happy with Cut Em Down EP, the previous 3 EPs featured our old guitarist, when we used to have 2 guitars on the go. So Cut Em Down was the first set of songs where I had written the music myself whereas before that we had shared music writing duties, our singer/drummer Philthy Collins has always been the words man. I was VERY happy with how it turned out. The cover of Wild Man was a very big nod to the sort of things we were listening to at the time, obviously the Tamrons, but also the other Back From The Grave stuff. Was also a rare chance for me to take lead vocals on a song, which we do a bit more of now with a couple of the other songs we play in our sets. Such a Loser from the Cut Em Down EP is one of my favourite Rage songs, I think its pretty clever in its own simple beautiful way. Billy Ocean was something else entirely, a good example of a song that came quite quickly during a rehearsal one night... There have been a few songs like that, I have tapes of us somewhere where we come up with a riff and 15 mins later we have a song, this was one of those kind of tunes.

"Back From The Grave" was a compilation that was know for including some of the rarest and most aggressive 60's punk songs.

A: I guess you saw this coming Al.. but you perform in Mexican wrestling costumes.. Where do the wrestling image come from(feel like asking Mick Jagger if he's finally satisfied now)? I reckon there are fans of the sport in the band?

HA: The wrestling image came about at the start of the band, everyone else in the band played in other Glasgow groups. When we got together to begin with I think the other guys were a bit wary of how we would be received, and were happy to hide their faces! Little did they know how much of a wrestling fan I was, or indeed how good the band turned out! And since then, the new folk that have joined are more than happy to play in Scotland's only wrestling rock n roll outfit!

A: Regarding the split record.. The jungle-drums are saying that we might possibly hear another collaboration of yours on separate sides with another band/bands. Can you reveal anything about this?

HA: Hahaha, the jungle drums must be beating loud n clear if you’re hearing them across in Norway!!! There are plans afoot for a more split singles in the near future, the one we did was on my own label, Handsome Records, if all goes well there should be a programme of releases over the next year or so, still early on in the process, but have a bunch of great bands over here interested in working with me on limited pressed runs of splits for the foreseeable future. The Bucky Rage will be on a couple of these, but will also be getting something from my other band Handsome Al and Thee Beauticians sorted pretty soon, as well as our favourite Scottish/English bands. This is sort of my side project away from the main Rage business, I love recording and we have a brilliant scene here, so will be great to combine the two and get a bunch of singles out into the ether. With the price of recording and manufacturing vinyl being quite prohibitive for bands to do it all themselves, this is a way for all the bands and the label to get a good deal, and get some of their stuff on vinyl, the best format, a rare thing that the garage purists and I agree about!

Excellent! We cannot have too many vinyl-recording artists out there. I'm sure Al knows who to call when the first records are picked up fresh from the record-plant.

A: On your last album, Panther Adams, there is a very wild and hard-rocking cover of The Crusher(The Novas). Sounds like you had a ball recording that song just listening to the record. The effect used on the vocals is also very cool I think. How was this done?

HA: Ooooh, you after the trade secrets now?! The Crusher was great to record, we LOVE playing this live, and it's the one song that the crowd can't help getting involved in, largely cos we all end up wrestling the audience whether they want to or not. The actual recording was all done live too, as was all that EP actually, we wanted to get as raw and live a sound as possible on that, so we took the sensible approach of getting good and messed up the night before, stayed up most of the night then kept partying all through the recording session! The vocals were done via my sampler, essentially giving them the effect of an old tape delay. With a bit of practice you can sort of play the actual effect when singing/shouting, and that’s what I did with that one. Most of my vocals are done through that, as it gives a good sound that sits well against Philthy's vocals. I’m a big fan of weird sounds and noises on records, and between the sampler, the weird fuzz sounds and our synths/noise boxes, we got that covered.

You gotta love a wild band who'se drummer's called Philthy Collins.

A: I've had the pleasure to discover quite a few new Glasgow bands - much thanks to you and your own Kyle Thunders, who also have been busy with his Punk Across The Globe project - who most of them are playing raw, fun rock music not too unlike the music of The Bucky Rage. Do you feel the rock scene in Glasgow have changed or evolved in any way since you started up?

HA: It's hard to say whether the Glasgow scene has changed or not over our time, from a band point of view, the more we played, the more we found like minded bands to play with, and it sort of happens that the bands we like best are the ones who are good fun and up for a party. Whether Glasgow has always had that or not, I am not sure. It has certainly always been a party city. We are very lucky that we have some of the best bands /friends that we can go out and play music with, The Kosher Pickles, The Fnords to name a couple of my faves. In general there seems to be waves of bands, so certain types of bands come and go, and come back again sometimes. But the garage scene seems to endure nicely, and gets better and better all the time. Most of the bands we started playing with years ago are still on the go, one of the new bands making great music just now is Los Tentakills, well worth checking out.

A: Let's talk about your up-coming album with the Bucky Rage.. You've been cool enough to let me have a sneak peak at some demo's that may or may not appear on the forthcoming album. And I must say it's sounding very promising. Any chance "Boots"(originally by Nancy Sinatra, but some might remember the cooler and definitively more fun version by The Boys Next Door) appear on the album? You demoed a very good take on the song.

HA: Yeah we loved doing Boots, was loads of fun. We are big Lee Hazlewood fans and were messing about one day, and boots came together pretty quickly, we then messed about with it some more, to try and give it a certain sort of creepin’ sound we will definitely be sticking it on the album.

A: Which brings me to ask.. what's your opinion on the noise punk of the Nick Cave bands, The Birthday Party or his "new wave??" band The Boys Next Door? (To me, especially The Birthday Party is the synonymous to psychedelic noise, and brings a thought or two to performances in small, dark, and sweaty bars.. with other words a damned good time)

HA: We are also big Nick Cave fans, from Boys Next Door to Birthday Party, Grinderman and the Bad Seeds. Our old bassist used to tour manage the The Bad Seeds for a while actually, and had some good stories to tell. I love the Birthday Party stuff, some amazing songs, the sounds of all the parts of the band alone are brilliant and together completely mind blowing. 

A: "Bela" is perhaps my favourite of the demo's. Think it has a lot of promise. It's something about about the simplicity of the song creating a psychedelic kind of atmosphere.. at least to my ears.(The basics of the melody is the riff of "I Wanna Be Your Dog"(The Stooges) isn't it?)

HA: The Bela tune was just us messing about, its a VERY rough take on Bahaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead".

We love it, and have played it live a couple of times, so may one day get a proper recording. It's one of those songs that are so simple, that they can become quite hard to do a great version of.

Similarly we have played 'Sister Ray' a few times, maybe 10 or so, and only once did it sound great. Same sort of thing.

A: Is it set a date for the new album to come out yet?

HA: The album will be out soon I hope, we are almost finished it and a few tweaks and it should be finished. Maybe a couple of months and it will be done. Then we need to decide what we are doing with it, and take it from there. We have a few options, so will see what happens!

A: What are your plans regarding playing gigs for this year? Might we have the honour of seeing you in Norway perhaps?

HA: No major plans gigs wise, got a mini tour booked for November, but really just been concentrating on getting the album done and playing the odd gig. Once the album is finished, we will be back to playing whenever/wherever we can. Would LOVE to get over to Norway, we are always on the lookout to visit/play in new and exotic locations! If we can get our costs covered and some space on floors/couches, we are there! We can bring over some Buckfast to keep the party going!

Did you hear that mr. Norwegian promotion-man?? We could definitively need some Bucky Rage here in the future.. Some good, plain fun!

A: At last, Al.. do you have anything else to declare?

HA: Been a pleasure chatting with you and getting to know each other, thanks very much for the support and hopefully we can meet up face to face, get drunk and destroy!!!

A: Likewise Al! Have had much fun getting to know you and the Rage. I'm definitively taking up on your offer.


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