Dumpy Dunnell – Dumpy’s Rusty Nuts Print E-mail
Written by Johnny H   
Monday, 25 January 2010 19:26

Dumpy_BMF_Rally_2004December 2009, and it's the week before Christmas, Hard Rock Hell was but a distant memory in most people's gig going calendars, but we at Uber Rock still had one outstanding interview from that weekend left to do.  A combination of diary mix-ups and technology malfunctions meant we missed out on our interview slot with Mr Dumpy Dunnell of the legendary Dumpy's Rusty Nuts on the Saturday afternoon.  But ever the gentleman Dumpy got in touch with us and suggested we set up a phone interview instead, and before I could even get a question out, the irrepressible frontman was out of the traps faster than Harry Redknapp submitted his 2010 Income Tax Returns.


So you're recording this on a Dictaphone and then transcribing it? .... Fair play to you.


Yeah we do this the old traditional way fella. 

(What followed was some chatting around mobile volume and battery levels, as we certainly didn't want to lose contact this time around, and then we were finally off and running)...

2009 as its coming to a close, what's it been like for you Dumpy?


Ummm...quiet really, apart from playing some really nice places like... of course Hard Rock Hell, and various Bike Rallies this year, you know.


Pete_SugeySo, how's the new line up with Andy and Pete shaping up? (That's Andy Smith Drums and Pete Surgey on Bass for those of you who don't know)


Oh it's really good, I really enjoy playing with Pete, he bounces around the stage a lot you know, he's an excellent player, good singer, and I've know him for about four years now, playing with me in Bluezz Intoxicated.  So when my last bass player Martin Connolly decided he wanted to leave, I just asked Pete if he wanted to do some gigs, because he knew half the songs anyway. So he jumped on board and he's still here now and as you know he's still playing in Witchfynde.  Plus, with us all sort of based around the Midlands these days it makes it a lot easier to rehearse.


Is it really twenty eight years this year that you've been doing this?


Oh it's over twenty eight years now, more like twenty nine.


So what keeps you going then Dumpy?


The need for ummm bread and butter, I haven't got another job; I have to live on what I do with the playing.  I suppose I'm what you'd call a professional musician, and I'm always trying to make my living that way you know. Working hard and keeping the ball rolling and that's why I diversify into completely different things, like tonight I'm playing Acoustic.  This is just me standing up playing Sixties songs in a Dumpy sort of way, I'm playing songs like 'Mr Tambourine Man' and its quite countrified you know, but it's not like just getting up and playing covers.  Plus doing it is a lot of fun and helps pay the bills you know.


Dumpy_as_SpacenutZAnd I suppose your love of varying genres of music is what gives Dumpy's Rusty Nuts their timeless charm. I mean you've always been a bit of a musical melting pot of blues, rock 'n' roll, and rock/metal, call it what you want you know?


But you've also got the psychedelic side as well; when I play some songs there is that edge to them as well. And over the last ten years I've been using a synthesiser with bass pedals but not at the moment because it's bust (laughs). And during the last five years I've been doing SpaceNutz and I've been out supporting Hawkwind on tour and that was just me solo you know, and up on my Myspace right now is like a sixty second sample of me doing this which remember is all me but with some psychedelic backing tracks.


And of course that music is still very relevant today. Kory Clarke's 2009 solo UK tour was basically him doing reworked Acid Trip versions of Warrior Soul tracks.


I had a guy come up to me at Hard Rock Hell and he told me that he went to see Hawkwind and I forget where he said it was now, but he didn't even know who I was, he said he'd just walked in the auditorium and all this sound, all this music went whoosh over him with all these heavy guitar licks and psychedelic reverb and he suddenly realised that there was only one person on stage, and he's like fucking what!!! I have had people in the past criticise me for using back tracks or tapes but they are there for the psychedelic wind generator noises, in fact I've never used backing tracks musically.  You'd never find me playing bars where you have layer after layer of backing tracks and you just stand there doing Hank Marvin links over the top and nothing is live except that.


I know what you're saying Dumpy, it's the "Enjoy Your Chicken In A Basket" crowd that I'm dumfounded any professional musician could bite their tongues long enough to even contemplate playing to.


(Much laughter follows as Dumpy does his finest impression of that scenario)


Dumpy__Boot_The_Dog_Kerrang_83So Dumpy it's been a long journey but what was it that first sparked you into doing this and why?


Well considering my age, I'm sixty now I was playing in bands from the mid to late Sixties where I was like rhythm guitarist playing the Blues and sort of like Cream sounding stuff, before moving onto more psychedelic stuff in the Seventies and they we started getting into jazzy folky stuff of all things.  So we were playing the pub rock scene around London and ended up supporting Budgie at the Dagenham Roundhouse around 1975. There were so many pubs and clubs to play you know and we'd be playing places like where Kilburn and The High Roads would be playing.  You have to remember that you could see major bands at venues like this in those days.  I saw in a venue in Tooting, Wishbone Ash one week and the next Mott The Hoople supporting a band called Daddy Long Legs, and then the Greyhound at Fulham would very often have Think Lizzy or Hawkwind.


That was such a vibrant time for live music though wasn't it.


Well the thing was in those days band's could play like the Roundhouse at Chalk Farm and headline it but the following week they'd be playing at some pub venue in North London. So that ability to play a large and smaller venue at the same time without losing any credibility is something we sadly don't see today you know.


Yeah I totally agree with that there is a definite stigma attached to bigger bands playing longer tours in smaller venues these days, even Iron Maiden now do just the one big show where they would have done the bigger shows plus many other smaller gigs even going back to the late Eighties.


But getting back to your original question (laughs) I'd actually given up playing in the late Seventies and was doing PA Hire, it was going great, I'd done Madness' second gig at the Dublin Castle, so things were good, and I used to work for the band that would many years later become Thunder called Nuthin' Fancy, and you must probably know that the first line up of Dumpy's Rusty Nuts featured the original bass player and drummer from that band.  The rest of the members went on to become Terraplane and Mac Mackenzie (the bass player from Nuthin Fancy and DRN) ended up working with them again as Thunder, but as their manager. And that was the story of what started Dumpy's Rusty Nuts going.  But at the same time I was still doing the PA thing and working with Geno Washington at various gigs around London, and one day we were sound checking the monitors at some venue in Fulham and his three piece backing band which featured Gordon Russell who went on to be in Dr Feelgood asked me to line check the vocals so instead of the usual 1-2 stuff we did some rock 'n' roll and before you know it I'm singing 'Keep A Knocking'.  So I put the mic down at the end and suddenly I've got Geno Washington saying to me "What you doing rodieing, with a voice like that you got to be in a band".  So with those wise words in my mind I ditched Dumpy's Dirt Band, which was more of a part time band I had and formed Dumpy's Rusty Nuts.  Which of course was the worst thing I ever down.


Reading_86So, I'm going to put you right on the spot here Dumpy and hit you with this, what is the absolute pinnacle of your Dumpy's Rusty Nuts career to date?


(After some quiet contemplation) I really can't say because but playing Reading Festival has got to be one of the highpoints, I mean the fact I went back and did it the second year that was 1986-87. And I was talking to someone about Hard Rock Hell yesterday I had a fantastic crowd and I've heard the biggest they have recorded in that Queen Vic bar.


Absolutely we couldn't even get into the bar it was that packed, so just ended up waiting for The Glitterati to start. (And I have to be fair it was so packed it was verging on claustrophobic, that is why it wasn't the best place to try and squeeze a hangover the size of North Wales)


Well after I played no one else drew the same amount of people and that's not me bragging that's what I was told.  A security guard came up to me and said "I've been working here years and you've just filled this place with the most people I've ever seen in here".  We set the record, so that's a great feeling.

But what I'm getting at is that there is some sort of magic to all this, when I played Reading festival I looked through the curtains in '86 and everyone is sitting down and I'm thinking this is going to be a hard crowd to start moving, but we went back five minutes later stated up my bike and suddenly the whole place was rammed and everyone was squashed against the front and we're all like "Where the fuck did they all come from?"

And it always seems to happen, I must have some sort of magnetism that people have got to come and see me.  When I went on tour with Status Quo in 1990, playing all the NEC's and Wembley Arena's and all that, but a mate of mine was at The Brighton Conference Centre and he's a big Quo fan and he commented that we were the only band he'd ever see play there as a Quo support to clear the bar, and the venue was rammed.


But saying that when I saw you supporting Venom At The Hammersmith Odeon back in 1984 the same thing happened there as well.


Well a lot of those people are my people as well you know, it's like Hawkwind.  When I toured with Hawkwind in 1985, I'd say about a third of their followers were followers of mine as well, so it was like a double whammy playing support to them for any of our fans. And that tour built up my fan base further than any other tour I did, even Status Quo.  There was just something about that Hawkwind tour, everything was just right about it, the timing everything, and then doing double nights at the Marquee.  And after all them years I'm still here doing boy (adopting a Texan drawl).  Just diversifying it all a little bit you know.


Dumpy_Shires_Shoe_09I was wondering if you'd read the Classic Rock review of your Hard Rock Hell Show and what you thought of it?


All I'll say is it baffles me why it all had to be quite so nasty. Now let's move on.


OK, so to finish off what will 2010 hold for Dumpy's Rusty Nuts, new album, more gigs?


Well my main thing is playing live, its what I love doing and its what people love me doing. It is quite hard getting live gigs at the moment because of the recession and you've seen my comment on tribute bands on 'Angel of Metal', and I had to say that.  This country is overflowing with tribute bands, and when you're trying to get gigs playing your own stuff and tribute bands are packing places out it's hard you know.  But one small thing I've got to get sorted before the next set of tour dates is moving houses and that has become all consuming taking up a lot of time and energy.  But once that's out of the way it'll be all systems go again with Dumpy's Rusty Nuts.


And with that I sadly had to say goodbye to Mr Dumpy Dunnell, I still had a raft of questions to ask him (like did you know James Dean Bradfield used to work behind the bottle bar when you played the Newbridge Memo?) and we could have talked for hours about the Eighties characters that we both knew.  But with time against us we parted with a fond memory of the once great Crosskeys Institute and one Saturday night involving a teenage version of me, and one of Dumpy's infamous mid gig mooning competitions, now this is something that isn't big or clever. So don't try it at home kids.


Anyway, you can catch up with all things Dumpy's Rusty Nuts here including tour dates and copies of all of the band's albums available to buy on CD. 


So get along there and check out this Great British music institution, tell him Uber Rock sent you. He'll be chuffed as fuck.


Classic Dumpy Pic courtesy of T Mottram, also thanks to Stagedive Photography.