The Lambrettas came into being in the late 70s. The original members were Doug Sanders, Paul Wincer, Mark Ellis and Jez Bird. Their first gig was on Hastings Pier, and promoter Peter Haines offered them management. After a few months of gigs they were signed to Elton John’s Rocket Records and released their first single Go Steady.
Newport Riverfront will play host to the latest line-up of the band with Doug Sanders and Paul Wincer joined by Phil Edwards and Ant Wellman. Fans can expect The Lambrettas biggest hit as well as tracks from their classic album Beat Boys In The Jet Age. Andy Howells recently chatted with Doug Sanders about The Lambrettas.
Are you looking forward to playing Newport and have you visited the City before?
I look forward to playing every gig. We’ve played Cardiff a couple of times but the other Welsh visits we’ve made have been way up North.
So Newport’s new ground for The Lambrettas?
Its new ground for The Lambrettas but not for our guitarist, Phil Edwards. His family comes from there and so does he. He doesn’t sound like a Welshman but he’s a Welshman at heart.
When did you decide you wanted to be in a band?
Since when I was at school really, I used to go and watch the local bands at the YMCA or wherever it was. I’m sure they were awful but I thought they were absolutely brilliant and then you get to the point when you’re playing in the YMCA and you want to get into some clubs and then it goes “I want to be on Top of the Pops.” If you’re lucky you get some of the way there.
How did The Lambrettas come together?
It didn’t take too long really I was playing in another band called Shakedown. We were just playing in pubs and stuff we were playing a few covers and writing a few of our own songs there was another guy in it called Jez Bird and I thought “I want to do something different.” I got Jez to com along with me because we wanted to do our own stuff , so we started The Lambrettas.
Did you get signed quickly?
We did get signed quite quickly. We did a few gigs in Brighton and then in London where the clubs were full when we were playing. Every record company wanted to sign their own little Mod band and we went with Rocket. We did a single called Go Steady which got to 80 or 90 in the chart by which time we thought we were The Beatles. One of the people who was behind our version of Poison Ivy was Pete Waterman because he used to work in the A&R dept of Rocket Records, that was one of his first music biz jobs.
In actual fact, the first silver disc that Pete got out of the billions he has was us. Poison Ivy had been covered quite a lot before in the same vein, very close to the original and we didn’t see the point of doing it that way so we worked it as a Ska thing. It was in-keeping with the time and quite dancey and it got played to death on the radio, so it did quite well.
I remember seeing you guys on Top of The Pops in the 1980s, what’s it like watching yourselves when the shows are rerun?
I try not to do it (laughs). I find it cringe-worthy quite frankly but most other people I know find it quite good. It’s good to have done it and in some ways I’m quite proud of it but I find it tricky to watch. I’m never comfortable watching or looking at photos of myself.
What material will you be doing at your Newport Riverfront show?
Its 35 years since we’ve done The Beat Boys in the Jet Age album so we’ve done a few gigs where we’ve done that album in its entirety and one or two other bits. At the moment, I guess were doing tracks from that album and a couple of homage type things. We should really be doing some new stuff and the only reason we’re not is that we don’t want to do it till it’s released.
We had ages getting the back catalogue released, because we had legal wrangles but that’s finally released but we wanted that out before we did anything new. We re due in the studio on July 1st. I think that’s going to be a 4 or 5 track EP and the minute we’ve recorded it we’ll start doing those songs as well. I write songs that’s what I do; my plan is it’s for the Lambrettas but its bang up to date.
- The Lambrettas play Newport Riverfront tonight (June 12) at 7.30pm. For ticket details visit tickets.newportlive.co.uk
- A version of this interview by Andy Howells is published in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on June 12, 2015