Jim Lyttle and John Fraser-Binnie - Rogue Male - Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Mark Taylor   
Friday, 06 May 2011 04:00

Simple fact of the matter is Rogue Male should have been huge back in the Eighties; they could have and should have done so much more during their two years plus signed to Music For Nations especially, given the high profile their label had gathered breaking such now mainstream acts as Poison, Anthrax and of course Metallica.  But like so many other great-undiscovered bands that never quite made it to the major league Rogue Male slowly got torn apart dealing with business problems that seemingly dragged on forever.  Here at URHQ we still look at Rogue Male as a band out of time, mainly due to the fact that whilst most of those around them were playing it safe and following the Thrash or Glam Metal trends of the day Jim Lyttle and his gang were taking no shit and shooting their loads over whoever would have them, sounding like a pissed off Motorhead once used to sound, and looking like the maddest of Mad Max outcasts.

 

Back_From_The_Future

 

A quarter of a century later Rogue Male's music has never sounded more relevant, and that's why Jim Lyttle and his guitar-playing partner in crime John Fraser-Binnie just had to get the Rogue beast back together and back out on the road, bringing their message to a whole new generation of Rogue Males (and Females). 

 

Long time fan of the band Mark Taylor was lucky enough to catch up with Jim and John after a recent London show, and discuss the good old days plus what its like to now be called "Angry Old Men".

 

 

First_VisitGuys I have to say from the off its great to have you back.

 

JL; Its great to be back man.

 

Jim I must ask you it was 1987 when you guys split up so why after all these years have you decided to get Rogue Male back out on the road?

 

JL; Well it all started when a Polish record company (Metal Mind Productions) got in touch with a view to releasing both of our Music For Nations albums ('First Visit' and 'Animal Man') and that kick started a certain amount of interest that got me thinking that now was the time to get back into it again. So I started looking for people to help re-establish that magic that Rogue Male had, and when looking for a guitar player we couldn't find anyone so we just had to bring Johnny back you know.

 

JFB; Yeah I had to sober up (laughing)

 

JL; (laughing) Yeah Johnny had just sobered up, and had packed his other band in, so it just happened all at the right time, and bingo we thought "right lets get into the studio", and then all of a sudden we're here and we're back.

 

So what had you both been doing in the intervening years?  Are you allowed to tell us?

 

JL; Well he was gigging constantly during that time (pointing at John)

 

JFB: Yeah I was doing all sorts of shit, working with bands and recording I even got into a bit of that tribute thing as well doing the Led Zeppelin thing for a while, which was actually quite a challenge and certainly kept my playing up to standard.

 

JL; And I just got drunk; I went out to a party 25 years ago and never came back (much laughter)

 

Nail_ItWell Jim thankfully you did come back and you started it all off with the album 'Nail It', which was out about 2 years ago now and utilised G.M.T as your backing band.  How did that come about?

 

JL; What happened there was the Polish crowd wanted to put on a Rogue Male tour but I had no band so I put it to Bernie (Torme) and they just agreed, but the money they were looking for was out of the Polish guys league so when I took it to them they said they get back to us but I've heard nothing yet. (laughing) I guess it's all about the logistics of this though plus with this recession and stuff, I'm not looking at this like I used to in the eighties where I believed every word anyone told me about stuff like this you know. So I'll believe it when it happens.

 

And because that tour didn't come off I then had the time to look to get this line up together, so that's how this all came about.

 

And it's a great line up if you don't mind me saying, and of particular interest is Pete D (bass player) who was an original Rogue Male fan the first time around.

 

JL; I actually met Pete via a Myspace thing he was running, and that was how we hooked up, when I suggested I was getting back into it he was like blown away and just said "I must play bass for you".  So a couple of disc exchanges later it was like "yeah let's do this"

 

Pete and I have something in common guys that I have to admit to you, that is we both saw you live on the infamous Channel Four rock programme ECT e from the mid eighties.  What the hell was that like for a relatively unknown band?

 

JL; Ahhh we were born for it, (much laughter) I seem to remember Bernie being on the same bill and Girlschool.  You know I'd known Bernie from years back well before that show and its just a shame that Polish thing never came off you know.

 

JFB; Bernie's a lovely guy really is, I just get a red mist coming up when you ask me about these things (laughing)

 

RM_2_Tony_Mottram

 

So lets talk a bit about your history and the first album 'First Visit', it came out in '85 and then 'Animal Man' in '87, both released via Music For Nations who at the time had Metallica, Anthrax and Poison on their roster of bands.  How did you guys end up signing for them?

 

JL; Jeez how did it all come about?  Ummm Well I was taking our demo stuff to every label I could, and I had known Martin Hooker before, and he had told me to keep in touch.  I mean I had been in this band called The Pictures who were like punky types ex Radio Stars you know, and when I left them he just said "keep in touch as I think you've got some talent", but I never di actually as you just don't think at the time.  Then when I heard he was running a label and a metal label I was like "wow I know that guy" so we had an in you know. And that's how it happened I walked in to his office got through the door and got him to listen to tape of 'All Over You', and he immediately said "you've got a deal". I was like "really?" (laughs) but yeah we had a deal.

 

And of course you were on the front cover of Kerrang magazine at this time as well issue number 101 if my memory serves me correctly.

 

Pete D (popping in) I used to have that on my wall.

 

JL: I still have it on mine (laughing)

 

And I had it on my dartboard (even more laughter)

 

JL; Funny you should say that man as when we had all that make up on there were bits that used to look like black dots and we used to joke they were dart holes, so there (laughs)

 

Kerrang_101I mean what was it like for friends and family when they walked into WH Smith's and there you were Jim in all your glory snarling back at them?

 

JL; When my dad first saw us, it was on the ECT thing and he said to me "Son I have no idea what that was supposed to be you were like a bunch of fucking headhunters"

 

JFB; That was very close though Jim (laughing)

 

But you guys did have something of a unique type of look back then though sort of like a fucked up Mad Max type of thing.

 

JL; Sure

 

JFB But we never really conformed to the "usual" type of stuff anyway, that's what being a rogue is all about after all.

 

JL; Back then we were trailblazing like, we were trying to find our own direction and not be like everyone else.

 

And do you think that being from Northern Ireland Jim and Scotland you John that you not being American went against you in any way?

 

JL; Nah we didn't nah, I have to say, nah.  Even when we went to America we got a great reception there.  We went there in support of 'First Visit' in '85.

 

And didn't you guys tour with Savatage as part of your deal with Elektra in 87?

 

JL; Yeah we did, when we went over though we were originally supposed to be supporting Motley Crue, we arrived in New York at the hotel and suddenly we were all called into a room together in Elektra's offices.  Now we thought this was going to be maybe a meeting with Motley Crue or whatever and when we got there they were like "look guys we got some bad news Motley Crue have listened to 'First Visit' and they don't want you on the tour".  They just wouldn't tell us why we had been dropped from the tour but as some sort of consolation they were going to put us out on a three "new" band bill, which featured Savatage as you correctly say.  So we go go out on that tour instead and suddenly find that the other two bands have been around the circuit a while you know weren't new bands at all.

 

So this tour starts and we're taking turns headlining but by a couple of weeks in we were getting the regular headline slot with Savatage on and Illusion opening, but Illusion were getting booed off most nights which we found ridiculous as they were fucking brilliant. They were like AC/DC but they had this singer Jay he sort of looked like Steve Marriott and Robert Plant and they were fucking brilliant.

 

Animal_ManSo guys that was the 'Animal Man' tour and then you sort of imploded after that, so what exactly happened?

 

JL; Well what happened there was, again we thought we were going to go and tour worldwide and there was a tour set up for Japan actually, and before we actually started it we could feel there was something going down within the business and we started asking questions.  We actually had it written into our contracts that we could inspect the books if we gave then 48 hours notice, but every time was asked to check them we never could.  And this just went on and on and on and we never got accounted to for anything. So I took some legal advice and allowed them to see the contracts and they just told me the whole thing was a joke and we had to get out of it.  "Do you realise your manager is helping himself to £400 a day here for office expenses alone?" It was that type of thing you know, and alarm bells just went off.  Plus at the same time the Elektra guys refused to release 'Animal Man' in America, because their mix that they did, which was just shite by the way, was unrecognisable to us.  They got someone to remix it and did that without even asking us and it cost us $20,000.  But we didn't know any of this was going on martin Hooker had given them the go ahead to do that, and that started the whole thing off.

 

When we heard it it was unrecognisable to us, they even left in the outtakes where we were messing around you know. And we were like "what the fuck is this man?" There were no guitar solos left in at all...Nothing.  It was just shite.

 

So did that lead to the eventual split up of Rogue Male?

 

JL; The continuation of the legal advice was to getaway from the situation as these guys were going to bury us you know.  The whole thing did in the end anyway as Martin Hooker just avoided the issue for like six years, with going to court etc. The legal aid was something like £150K and once they reached that limit they dropped it that was it...so....

 

RM_Tony_Mottram

 

Fast-forward to last year then and Rogue Male was back, you had this big comeback show lined up at Hard Rock Hell and it didn't quite work out as planned did it?

 

JL; All I can say about that night is "Sorry" but these things happen.  We weren't firing on all cylinders and our drummer had to play a double kit on the left pedal, he right pedal was stuck in the bass drum, it was just phew....

 

Pete D (popping in again); We just ended up with substandard equipment due to a misunderstanding and that also affected the set so.... I have to say we did the best we could.

 

JL; It was like a nightmare waiting to happen though man, the drum kit had been brought over from another stage and was soaking wet, and then the first bang! And the bass drum goes bang! You know.

 

Fortunately I've seen you twice since, and both gigs including tonight have been absolutely awesome, and I cannot tell enough people that Rogue Male are back.

 

JL; You know we're certainly looking forward to meeting the fans again you know, and it looks like we made some new friends again here.

 

Well what was surprising was that a lot of your fans here tonight probably weren't born when your Music For Nations albums were released, how amazing is that?

 

JL; Its terrific, but back then they did say we were 10 years ahead of our time so...

 

JFB; its just people catching up (laughing)

 

JL_Mark_TYeah but you were out of time by playing what you were when Hair Metal/Glam was taking off big time.  But your music still rings true today.  'Take No Shit' for example.

 

JL; Exactly, we were always poignant when it came to our politically influenced lyrics you know.

 

JFB; 'Unemployment'.

 

JL; Yeah 'Unemployment', I've been unemployed for 25 years now (laughing) whoops. But politicians they're all the same. Thatcher or Blair they may wear a different jumper maybe but they are all the same underneath.  I'm a revolutionary at heart; I think we need a revolution like the French revolution you know for a better system to ever happen.

 

So are you now what they call an "angry old man?"

 

JL; Yeah (much laughter)

 

So what about new material how things shaping up for album number four?

 

JL; Well we've been playing 'Liar' which is a new one, and I think someone said that was our best song, which is good you know, certainly bodes well when you can have people look forward and not just look back you know.

 

Yeah I do know exactly what you mean, well its fantastic talking with you, and it really is great to see you back, I'd just like to wish you all the best in 2011 with whatever comes next for the band.

 

JL; Good one, Good one, we'll see you all soon.

 

 

We'd also like to thank Jim here at URHQ for giving us such a frank and in-depth yet ultimately light-hearted interview that was a pleasure to listen back to.  So if you've made it this far and you'd now like to know more about the music Mark was raving about within the interview and maybe haven't heard Rogue Male before, then why not check out their Myspace page or better still get a copy of 'Nail It' from the band's website. Either way we're sure you will be very happy with what you find Uber Rock Soldiers.

 

You_Can_Run

 

Photo Kudos B&W shots Tony Mottram, Live shots Mark Taylor