"I USEDTA STRONG IT...But we're much tighter now"
Chris Salewicz gets stroppy with Gary Holton of The Kids, maybe they really are all nuts, he concludes.
"You didn't like me?!?, yeah" (Once more with feeling) "That's a fair comment. I fink I can 'andle it a lot better since then. "I really seriously would like to come up to you and say "Listen c***"... But I'm afraid I might get it. But if I'm standing onstage wiv a few bouncers around me I can call you a c*** and you ain't gonna do f*** all about it 'cos there's 'eavier guys protecting me. Do you know what I mean? There's no limit to what you can do on a stage. There's a limit to the way you do it. F'instance you made a fair comment but I betcha stayed..."
Well actually, I didn't. I split during the encore when you made that Amateur Rep Long John Silver entry from the circle swinging on a length of rope. Totally Banal. And those lavatory jokes!!! My review began something like: "The Heavy Metal Kids aka P-R-O-D-U-C-T". You must certainly know how to administer a Cockney Sparrer OD.
Holton takes another gurgling hit from the bottle of Polignarc. The steel shriek accent dilutes and is less strained: "But can you not ignore what you don't like? If I don't like something I tend to ignore it."
No, you annoyed me. It was far too extreme. The rest of the five piece have the capability to produce some supreme punk sound shifts: Small Faces meet Mott meet...oh, everything you've ever listened to. Even Zeppelin. By not blending with the band you were actually detracting from some pretty good music.
"Sound's grite! So really you've got to be just like ...like a humanoid. There shouldn't be any special people in this world ? Shee-it!"
Not at all. You were simply taking far too much away from the band.
"Well, that's wrong. Because that's takin' it away from myself isn't it? If you fink about it I'm one of the 'Eavy Metal Kids so if I'm takin' it away from them, then I'm taking it away from myself."
How much is Gary Holton a Heavy Metal Kid, though?
Ronnie Thomas, the concerned and serious bass player: "He's our little bruvver"
Holton: "Might be a star onstage, mate, but I earn exactly the same dough. And we all use each others' bottoms and the same toilets. So don't worry about that."
Oh, I'm sure I won't. Besides the Lady from your record company assures me that The Kids, as you are now quaintly known, have got "much tighter" and that you've cooled out the onstage histrionics.
"Nah, I cooled down that aht. I gotta tell yuh I used to strong it too much...Because I used to get a bit drunk and get a bit too much bravado... Use to strong it. I cooled that a bit, you know."
CLUNK. The bottle slides out of his hand and onto the floor.
The Kids have stuck themselves away across the cobbled road in a church hall. The stage is the dressing room. The obvious logic would be to just to pull the punters over here, draw back the curtains and let them see drummer Keith Boyce puking his sea-poisoned guts around the stage boards. BLECCCGHH!! Living art, mate. Isn't it what the kids are all about? That delicious common as muck chic? Quintessential nostalgie de la boue?
But, like I said, I once walked out on them once. Walked out on them twice as a matter of fact. Holton blew it for the rest of the band again some weeks later when I checked them out at London's Imperial College.
Then, there was their TV appearance. The exact title of the Panorama show escapes me. "The new criminals," something like that. Six year-olds ripping off motors from Kilburn High Road. Plus The Heavy Metal Kids, Spokesmen for a Generation. (Wha-aat?). Footage of dozens of East Enders decked out like Kiss if they hung out on the Crumblin Road.
"The Punters, me mates" says Holton, "They're at every gig."
Then I get to hear that as the apparently unexpected BBC crew stepped into some backwards' dressing room where the Kids were playing, a bottle had simultaneously splintered by the feet of a producer. ("S'right. We wuz 'aving a bit of a fight" - Ronnie Thomas)
Virtually the whole band getting busted on drink diving charges isn't too easy to fake either.
Experience in watching those little crystals turn green is apparently de rigeur for a HM Kid. Nor is coming straight off playing 23,000 seater gigs with Alice the Cee in the States driving straight up the M1 to play Skipton Town Hall. Jeeze, these guys work so hard they're almost a cliche. OK, so reports from the Panorama camp re-establish more than a smidgen of interest in these bohos. Maybe the East End hedonism isn't all a hype. Maybe they are all nuts. "Anvil Chorus", their second album, is listenable even.
But there's still that schmuck Holton and his over the top antics. Even though he claims to have "cooled that aht a bit". And the lady from the record company is so insistent that The Kids are "so much tighter".
An half hour before the gig and we're talking about rock music and theatrics. Gary Holton spent some months in the lead role in "Hair". Alex Harvey was playing guitar in the show at the time. They used to rap about music and the theatre a lot too, according to Holton. And one's attention is drawn to the relative similarities between the Harvey and Holton stage personas. The proverbial pregnancy pause and a lop sided half-grin is used by Holton to emphasize something he obviously feels should be stated. Then it's forgotten.
"Ave you ever been to a pantomime" he leers into my face, "and though ' ow bad it is, yet enjoyed it?" "Ave you ever seen like Wilfred Brambell playing Ol' Mother 'Ubbard?..."
You really want to be a star, don't you?
"Only because that's the time I can sit down and see what it is that I really want to do."
What is it you want? Money...
"The power. To do what I want to do."
What do you want to do?
Shakes his head "I don't know."
He pushes his hands down into the pockets of his dungarees and rocks back and forwards over his chair: "See, it ain't the dough because before I was in the band I was making good dough. Aht of flower-power - "Air?" And the band didn't even start out seriously. It started out as a bread winning scene in London where we all got fifty or sixty quid a night in the Speakeasy. We used to do the Speak for the most amount of money any grouped ever got in their hands...It got out of 'and, you know." (Now the more sincere Holton gets, the more slurred is his voice)
Then six inches from my face : "Listen, man. If I wanted to do the whole big number I'd just ring me Ol' man at 'ome and say "Lissen , Dad. I want some dough. Can you let me have it?" He owns 3 pubs, you knows "E's an ex-boxer. "E's gotta lot of dough...When I've got enough stage experience - which is maybe five or six years - I'll do something else. But ...(pause)...People really don't know how to take us. They take us far too seriously. They almost take us as seriously as I do"
But listen: Why don't I trust you?
"Why don't you TRUST me?"
There's no way I'm convinced about your being honest.
"But 'ow 'onest d'you 'ave to be? Do you 'ave to be poor to be honest? Ask Joni Mitchell. Ask 'er if she loves what she does. I tell ya: I live more than most people you've got on stage. Much more. Much more. I like looking right. There are very few bands that turn me on. I'm not really into music that much. I get it all wrong. I 'ear something totally different. I 'avant even got a record player at home."
You're just doing it for the gig, aren't you?
"Nah... There's a lot more to it that that"
You're getting quite a little buzz out of this whole scene.
"Oh. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah ...That's it...That's It - I'm enjoying it - that's why I'm doing it"
You're not committed to rock music, are you?
"But that's fair enough. I really don't think rock 'n' roll is such a tight thing."
Listen you make out that you don't understand words I say but you've not had too bad an education: public school, secondary modern, the Central School of Drama...
"My vocabulary is quite limited, actually. I gotta tell you."
What was the last book you read?
"Wild Boys. And now I'm reading Lenny Bruce - 'e's my idol."
So how come your vocabulary's so limited?
"HARGH-HARGH-HARGH - Hargh. Touche. Touche - Good One."
Forget it musically. The Breton fishmongers had The Kids' sound beat. Think of an average Face's gig. Now you know how bad the mix turned our. Think of an average Faces gig though and move right on in on the vibe. Better still, link it with the last time you saw - it cannot be ignored - A. Harvey and his crazed clansmen. Complex and ballsy. Brandy panache.
Even with costume changes during the night, Holton still finds time to act the true lead singer and let his navel peer grimly through his tux.
And, yeah he has "cooled it 'aht a bit." I stayed till the end this time.
And they're so-ooo much tighter now.
Many thanks to Thomas Robinson for sending me this article.
I've seen you a few times before, you know. The Heavy Metal Kids' opening the King's Road Theatre's brief spell as a rock venue, for example. There was just no way I could take it.
"Grite!" Gary Holton's brandy-ravaged features twist and open up, leaving him resembling a contented Kosher rag trade merchant observing his solicitor son helping out at East End Saturday market.
No, you see. I did think you were overdoing it totally. Your lead singer stage act was far too heavy. It was totally swamping the music.
"Ahh. Well. That's a fair comment. That's a fair comment"
In fact, I enjoyed the band but I really didn't like...