Casino Steel - The Boys - Uber Rock Interview‏ Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Dom Daley   
Sunday, 29 June 2014 03:00



Maybe The Boys should have called the brand new studio album 'Didn't See That Coming' because I certainly didn't. When I got offered the chance to give it a review I didn't need asking twice and I was blown away at how damn good 'Punk Rock Menopause' is.  

Having interviewed every other member of the band the chance arose to complete the set and fire some questions at Casino Steel: again, I didn't need a second invite.


Having been a founder member of the Hollywood Brats and then going on to record with the inimitable Gary Holton, and even perform as part of Johnny Cash's band, Casino Steel has a mighty impressive CV, no doubt about it, and seeing as he rarely does interviews how could I refuse?



First things first. The new album, 'Punk Rock Menopause': let us know who, what, where and why? I guess from the cover it's yourself, Honest John Plain and Matt - what about the other players?


Yes, these days The Boys are Matt, John and myself. On the album we used Stephane Reynaud, a top French session drummer, along with our long-time live drummer Martin H-Son. Matt, John and Steve Fielding share the bass on the album.  


Over the years we've had numerous offers to record a new Boys album but have always said no. Around 2009 we started to discuss the prospect of making some new Boys recordings. Matt has always been the most reluctant but by 2010 we had all agreed to go back into the recording studio as The Boys and see how the recordings went, although Matt was always adamant that if the recordings didn't come up to the high standards we'd always set ourselves then they'd never see the light of day. We finally went back into the studio in June 2012 initially to record four new songs. The session went far better than we had anticipated and it was clear that the old magic was still there so we quickly agreed that the project was worth carrying on with.


How did it feel getting back into the studio as The Boys? Was it a different mindset than you've been used to?


It was great to be back in the recording studio as The Boys again. Back in 1976/77 it was Matt and myself who were the creative force behind the band, we knew exactly how we wanted The Boys to sound and produced the band's first two albums as well as writing most of the songs. John started writing and at first he was ignored but when he started coming up with things like 'First Time', 'TCP' and 'Terminal Love' it became clear that he could no longer be ignored as a songwriter so he began to have more of a say. The main difference with 'Punk Rock Menopause' is that John had more input into it alongside Matt and myself than he did with our original material.
What about the songwriting? How did you guys approach the songwriting for 'Punk Rock Menopause'?


We agreed before the recordings that we'd come along to the sessions with our own ideas and then we'd work on the songs together. I suppose it's very similar to how Matt and I worked on the early Boys songs, the primary difference is that John was also involved in the songwriting with the two of us and had an equal say.  
Where was the album recorded?


The album was recorded at Jean Cataldo's Rock On Studios in Annecy, France


Having had the record playing for a few weeks I'm sure Boys fans will be bowled over when they hear it. Do you have a track on the album that you enjoyed playing the most? They all sound like they were written to be played live...


I hope Boys fans are bowled over: from our perspective we are all really pleased with the way the album has turned out. I particularly enjoyed recording 'Baby Bye Bye'. The songs were not rehearsed to be played live, we merely went along to each of the recording sessions, spent a couple of days pooling our ideas and laid down the songs shortly afterwards.




I noticed the credits are to the three of you and songs like 'She's The Reason' have a real Boys feel about it and a fantastic amount of energy within the tune, if you know what I mean. Are you ever tempted to branch out and try something different?


I'm really proud that each of the band's four original albums all have a different feel about them, and so does this one, but each is instantly recognisable as The Boys. I think there's many songs on this album that everyone will pick out as The Boys but like our other albums there's songs like 'How Hot You Are' for example that have a very different and exciting new feel about them.


'I'm A Believer' and 'Global Warming' deal with serious issues but the lyrics take a twist on the latter. Is there enough humour in rock 'n' roll?


Matt has always been a master lyricist and those two songs demonstrate he's not lost his touch! Matt, John and myself (and Jack too) always had a great sense of fun and our sense of humour was always a big part of The Boys. We have always got on very well and enjoy each other's company enormously.


I guess it's been asked before but why now for a new album? Were you ever tempted to put The Mattless Boys out under the Boys banner?


I guess we just felt that now was the right time for a new Boys album, there'd never really been any real discussion about it prior to 2009 as there's no way Matt in particular would ever consider it and there's absolutely no way we could have ever recorded a Boys album without Matt.


The Mattless Boys album was recorded as an Honest John Plain solo album, with Stephane Reynaud on drums and a French session guy called Jean on bass. Petter Baarli was on guitar with John and I played keyboards and provided some backing vocals. Steve (Metcalfe) was keen to have the other members of The Boys make guest appearances on the album and invited them to take part. Unfortunately Matt's commitments meant he wasn't able to make the sessions. Vom played drums on a couple of tracks and Duncan replaced Jean's original bass with his own on five songs and added some vocals too. Some time later it inexplicably turned into a "band" album, which it never was. Had I been aware of the agendas at the time I would have not taken part in the recordings, I felt really sorry for John that in effect his album was taken away from him. I think that album also triggered Duncan's desire to record a solo album, as he was very much involved in the final part of the recordings. The Last Rock'n'Roll Band and The Mattless Boys were both good albums, but they didn´t sound like The Boys and they were never meant to.  




The Boys have a loyal fanbase and the anticipation for this new record is gathering momentum: is that something you're feeling inside the band?


As a band I think we are happier and tighter than we have been for many years and we are extremely pleased with our new album. Let's hope people buy it this time!


The Boys recently did some shows in the USA: is that somewhere the band should give some time to?


Unfortunately I wasn't able to go to the US but I was told that the sell-out audience were incredible, and there certainly seems to be a big demand for The Boys to play more shows Stateside. We are hoping to go back later in the year and I will definitely be there next time! Steve (Metcalfe) has had numerous enquiries for shows in the US and had been discussing the Chicago show for a while but it didn't look like it was going to happen. Then a firm offer came through only about three or four weeks before the gig.


If you don't mind, we'll pop back a few years and take a look at some of the other bands you've been involved with: You formed the Hollywood Brats around '72 who were seen as something of a UK version of the New York Dolls - would you say on reflection that's a fair assessment?


We were called The Queen when we started in 1972. We had never heard of the New York Dolls in those days. When we first heard The Dolls in '73, we thought they were rubbish and no competition at all.




Didn't you have a stand off with a certain Freddie Mercury over the name of your respective bands? Obviously we know who ended up using the name but how did that come about, and where did the name Hollywood Brats come from?


When we first played The Marquee in '73 under the name The Queen, Freddie Mercury came backstage and demanded we'd have to change our name but Andrew Matheson and I threw him out after Freddie tried to punch me. We didn't care to much as we'd already decided to change our name to The Hollywood Brats. That sounded much better as we were all heterosexuals, and our motto was "to annoy and disturb!"


I always hear elements of the Hollywood Brats in a lot of bands I like; from early Damned to the Dogs D'amour and many more in between - would you agree? Every now and then a band crops up and puts a single out that either sounds like the Boys or Hollywood Brats. I've also heard a couple of covers of 'Terminal Love' recently as well.


That always makes me proud. In the mid-70s , there was nothing to listen to except The Dolls and The Brats, so no wonder they were influenced.


After The Brats split what did you do next before forming The Boys? There must have been a couple of years in between?


The Brats split up in '74 and The Boys formed in '76, so the time in between was used for rehearsals, demos and finding the right musicians with great ideas and their own hair!  


I've interviewed the other 'Boys' and the history of the band is well documented. What was your take on how things panned out early on, especially with the label fiascos and things like the pressing plant delay (why is it always something other than music getting in the way?)  Do you look back and laugh at some of the situations the band got into? Not many rock 'n' roll bands down tools and go on strike!


Early on things were panning out well for The Boys. Matt and I knew where we wanted the band to go and the direction we were going to take the band. We were confident in our ability to write good tunes, and that was enhanced further when John started writing great songs. We were well thought of by our contemporaries and the music press and then unfortunately we signed for NEMS. Things started to go wrong from there. Once we'd signed on the dotted line for NEMS our fate was sealed. I'm not really sure what we could have done to make the outcome any different. We had a winning lottery ticket and gave it to NEMS and they lost it!


I decided to get some of your albums out to play whilst thinking up questions and I've come to the conclusion that there is an incredible wealth of material and almost all of it stands up to this day: the "60" compilation is a fantastic set and a really productive collection of varied tunes. Looking back on your output what would you say stands out as far as recordings go? Is there one landmark record, one you think above all stands out? Any you'd listen to and would change?


'Sick On You' by The Brats, 'First Time' and 'Brickfield Nights' by The Boys, 'Ruby' by Gary Holton/Casino Steel are the most successful of the releases. I have also recorded a lot of shit, but I think that is necessary if you want to be sure as an artist on what you are best at.


You mentioned Gary Holton: You always hear so much about characters in rock and roll but he always came across as larger than life and someone who enjoyed the whole lifestyle. You recorded some great songs with Gary like 'Summers Over' - I guess a lot of people wouldn't associate Gary with something so, shall we say, touching or emotional but he could deliver a great ballad as well as the more rock and roll numbers.


Andrew Matheson and Gary Holton were the best frontmen I ever played with. True entertainers and pure rock 'n' roll!


What do you remember of his passing? You were working with him up until his death, weren't you?  


Gary was my best friend, but his passing did not come as a shock. He took it too far, and I still miss him a lot.


Is there any unreleased material from your time recording with him?


I don't think there is any more unreleased material now.




You also managed to find the time to work with some of Country's biggest names: how did you get the gig with Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, again, two iconic figures in their given genre? Was there ever a chance to write or record with either?


The closest I got to recording with Cash was with Carlene Carter (his step-daughter) on the CCCP-album. I had the extreme pleasure of touring on the same bill as great country-stars: George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristoffersen and many more. We all became friends, and they were all more rock 'n' roll than you'd ever imagine.




Throughout your career you've always ended up playing with John (the excellent Dirty Laundry, Last Rock 'n' Roll Band etc, as well as The Boys) - what is it about John, or can't you shake him off?


As well as being an exceptionally gifted guitarist, songwriter and singer I love the bloke!!! He can also be an irritating son-of-bitch, but I trust him with my life. Matt and John are two of my closest friends and I love recording and playing live with them. It's a pity that Jack suffered health problems over the years which prevent him from playing drums as we all loved Jack too. Duncan chose to start a solo career, and I really wish him all the best. The Boys were a band who always played with a smile on our face because the five of us were such close friends.


Is there anyone you had the chance to work with but for some reason didn't get around to?


I recorded an album with Mick Ronson just before he died. He was a very nice person and a fantastic musician, so the only answer to your question would be more recordings with Mick and Gary. I suppose I also had the chance to do keyboards on Ramones recordings, but that never materialised except for some bootlegs from live gigs.




What's next for Casino Steel? I know the Boys are playing some dates, will there be the chance for a more extensive run? Are there any other irons in the fire or projects you have on the go?


We are looking at the possibility of playing some more Boys dates in Europe (and possibly UK) but our priority at the moment is to play some US dates and we are hopeful that we'll be also playing a few gigs in China later in the year.


So there you have it folks, Casino Steel. Thanks very much to Cas for taking the time and to Steve Metcalfe for making it possible.


To pick up your copy of 'Punk Rock Menopause' - CLICK HERE