Talking Music: From Sex Pistols To Professionals – Paul Cook Interview

The Professionals are back and founder member, drummer, Paul Cook couldn’t be happier. The band have just released their third successive EP in three months. All tracks are new recordings but then Paul, who shot to fame as a member of the Sex Pistols in the 1970s, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We had songs ready to go and didn’t want to wait till the end of the year to get another album out,” Paul explains to Andy Howells. “We thought we’d get stuff out in the meantime and get the ball rolling.”

Some of the new material will be heard at Cardiff’s Great Hall on Friday March 13 when The Professionals support punk legends, Stiff Little Fingers. However, even with Paul’s own impressive punk CV, supporting Stiff Little Fingers won’t be the reunion some fans might imagine.

Paul laughs, “Everyone thinks we all knew each other and that we all hung out together. We (The Pistols) weren’t around long enough really. I don’t know a lot of those other punk bands. I know contemporaries like The Clash and Buzzcocks There were a lot of bands that came out just slightly afterwards that I don’t know at all.”

Born in 1956 and hailing from London’s Shepherd’s Bush, Paul’s own music influences were grounded in early Ska and Motown before gravitating to other styles with school-friend, the guitarist, Steve Jones.

“When we were teenagers it was the early 1970s. We had the Glam Rock scene, Roxy Music, Bowie, Slade, it was brilliant growing up in that time. We were influenced by all that and evolved ourselves as musicians and it came out in the mix as Punk Rock.”

In 1975, The Sex Pistols were formed. The bands story has been well documented over the years but what was Paul’s own take of it?

“It was exciting for us because we were doing great as a band and a lot of people liked it. It was very scary as well because there was a lot of reaction against what we were doing. The times were so frustrating and conservative.”

“We were sticking our heads above the parapet with what we were saying, singing and playing. I think that’s why the band imploded. There was a lot of pressure on us at the time with all the adverse publicity.  God Save The Queen, Anarchy in the UK, the situation! They were quite violent times the 70s!”

Following the demise of the Sex Pistols in 1979, Paul and Steve Jones formed The Professionals and released several singles and an album before splitting in 1982. Paul spent the next few decades working with other acts including Chiefs of Relief and Edwyn Collins, before The Professionals reformed in 2015 minus Jones but with the addition of Tom Spencer. In 2017, the reformed Professionals spearheaded by Paul Cook, Paul Myers and Tom Spencer released a new album, What In The World, the bands first new material in 35 years.

Paul continues “We got back together with The Pistols over the years because that was kind of unfinished business and it was the same with The Professionals really. We never really gave that a good go so we reformed and now it’s kind of my band with a new line-up. I didn’t want to do a retro band thing playing all the old stuff. Now we have a new album and three EP’s!”

Paul prefers to think of The Professionals as a rock band but understands why some people may still want to think otherwise.

“People like to put things in bags and I guess we would come under the punk genre. We never made up the word “punk” it was just what all the bands were labelled at the time.

At 63, Paul still gets a lot of enjoyment from live performance as well as creating the new material with his fellow Professionals. Fans can expect a lot of energy and hard-hitting relevance from new tracks 2020 Vision, Curl Up and Cry and Kingdom Come when they play their set on the current Stiff Little Fingers tour.

“Me and Tom Spencer write all the songs together now,” explains Paul, “Tom’s great, he’s brought a lot of energy and ideas to the table, which is what you need because I can be a bit like “Oh!, Do we have to?”  The boys in the band are a bit younger than me, so they keep me going!”

“I’m happy with the new line-up of the band and we want to keep moving forward. I don’t want to keep going back to the old retro stuff.”

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