Punk rock legend Honest John Plain plays The Dolls House in Abertillery this weekend.
Honest John met Matt Dangerfield at Art College in Leeds and moved to London with him in 1971. Dangerfield, joined London SS with Casino Steel, Mick Jones (The Clash), Tony James (Generation X) and Brian James (The Damned) with Plain joining them on drums for one session. As London SS disintegrated in 1975 Plain, Dangerfield and Steel formed The Boys.
The Boys quickly built up a reputation as a white-hot live band and in January 1977 became the first punk band to sign an album deal when they signed away their recording lives to NEMS. After signing for NEMS Plain sold The Boys equipment for £500 and put it on a horse, which came second! This and other dodgy deals quickly earned him the nickname ‘Honest’.
Widely tipped to make it big The Boys with songs penned by Steel/Dangerfield & Plain and were highly respected by both the music press and their peers. They quickly became known as ‘The Beatles of Punk’ but unfortunately through a series of poor marketing, bad decisions and appalling luck they never converted their potential to chart success.
Following the demise of The Boys Plain joined the Dirty Strangers and recorded an album with Keith Richards and Ronnie Woods of the Rolling Stones. After almost 40 years in the music business Plain’s musical career is looking extremely healthy with many young musicians citing him as a major influence. The release the new Boys album with gigs aplenty with The Boys and The Landslide Ladies it is certain to enhance his growing reputation and increase his popularity even further.
The Boys have just released “Punk Rock Menopause”, their first brand new album since 1981’s “Boys Only”. Plain continues to tour extensively with The Boys with dates in Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, USA, Spain, France, UK, Canada, Italy, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Germany & Japan in the past couple of years to be followed by numerous live dates planned for 2014 including China & USA.
Honest John Plain recently answered questions from Andy Howells:
The Boys released Punk Rock menopause earlier this year can you tell us a bit about that?
It’s the first brand new Boys album in almost 35 years. We had been discussing recording a new Boys album for a few years but all had our doubts over the venture. We finally agreed to take the plunge in 2010, although it took us another year or two to finally make it into the recording studio
It had been a long time since the release of the last album (1981) what was it like getting back in the studio together?
I was a little apprehensive at first and we initially agreed to record just four new songs and see how it went. However it quickly became apparent that the old creative magic was still there and we ended up recording a whole album, which we are all extremely pleased with. Matt, Cas and I were the songwriters in The Boys, although I wrote separately from the prolific Steel/Dangerfield partnership. With the new album we agreed to write songs between the three of us and it appears to have worked very well. I think it’s our best ever album and the response from critics and fans alike has been phenomenal.
You’ll be visiting Abertillery soon. What can we expect from your show if we haven’t caught Honest John live before?
I’m really looking forward to the Dolls House! I love South Wales, and have recorded quite a few albums at Rockfield. We’ll be performing many of the songs I’ve written over the past 40 years or so including “First Time”, “Terminal Love”, “New Guitar In Town”, “Where Have All The Good Girls Gone” and “Never Listen Rumours”.
What has been your most memorable live performance?
It’s very difficult to pick out just one show but if pushed I’d have to plump for The Boys show in the castle high above Ibiza in 1982. It ended up being The Boys last performance for 17 years.
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just started recording a new album with Petter Baarli, of The Backstreet Girls and have been touring quite a bit with The Boys as well some solo stuff with my own band and solo acoustic shows. I recorded an album at Rockfield a while ago with the likes of Michael Monroe, Sami Yaffa, Glen Matlock, Casino Steel, Verden Allen, Martin Chambers, Darrell Bath & Robbie Rushton and hopefully that’ll be out very soon. I seem to keep myself busy!
- Honest John Plain plays The Dolls House in Abertillery on Saturday, October 18.
- Honest John Plain’s Facebook Page
- The Boys Official Website
- A version of this Q&A with Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus supplement The Guide on October 17, 2014