International Swingers at Whiskey Richards, Santa Barbara, 6/26/12 (L. Paul Mann photos, copyrighted and all rights reserved)
James Stevenson (lower right) was the guitarist for the U.K. punk band Chelsea. Later, for a short time he joined Generation X with Billy Idol. He spent a longer time with goth rockers Gene Loves Jezebel, and has also played in The Alarm and The Cult.
Glen Matlock (upper right) was the original bass player for the seminal and hugely influential punk rock back the Sex Pistols. Their album Never Mind the Bollocks is widely viewed as one of the most important in the history of rock music, punk or otherwise. Matlock co-wrote nearly all of the songs on this album, including “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “God Save the Queen”, but he didn’t play on it because he had left the group. He later played in Rich Kids, and with Iggy Pop and the re-formed Faces.
Stevenson and Matlock are part of The International Swingers, which also has Clem Burke (upper left) from Blondie on drums and Gary Twinn (lower left) on vocals. The following interviews were for a preview article for their 6/26/12 show at Whiskey Richards in Santa Barbara.
Greg Lake first made his mark as a founding member of King Crimson, for which he was lead singer and bass player. During Lake’s tenure, King Crimson released their debut album In the Court of the Crimson King, which is regularly hailed as one of the pioneering works of progressive rock, and included “21st Century Schizoid Man” and the title track. When this original line-up broke up, Lake joined with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer to form the prog rock supergroup Emerson, Lake & Palmer (often abbreviated ELP), which became one of top bands in the genre. ELP’s albums included Tarkus and Brain Salad Surgery, and their best known songs include “Lucky Man”, “From The Beginning”, and “Karn Evil 9”, all of which were written or co-written by Lake. ELP broke up in 1978, but reunited in the 1990’s and beyond, most recently for a one-off 40th anniversary concert in London in 2010.
Lake is currently on a solo tour called “Songs of a Lifetime”, in which he performs songs and tells stories about his life in music. The following interview took place on 4/24/12 as Lake was on his way to a gig in Alexandria, Virginia, and served as the basis for a preview article for his 5/17/12 concert in Ventura, California.
Photo: Lee Millward
Steve Diggle plays guitar, writes songs, and sometimes sings for The Buzzcocks, the hugely influential band from Manchester which produced the blueprint for pop punk. The Buzzcocks also jump-started the punk do-it-yourself ethos with their 1977 self-released Spiral Scratch EP, on which Diggle played bass guitar. The Buzzcocks’ notable songs include “Orgasm Addict”, “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)”, “I Don’t Mind”, “Promises”, and “Harmony In The Head”. Their compilation Singles Going Steady is regularly ranked as one of the best punk rock albums of all time.
The Buzzcocks broke up in 1981, but re-united in the late 80’s and have been going strong ever since. Between performances at this year’s Coachella festival, they will be playing a few smaller gigs in California, including one in San Luis Obispo for which this interview served as the material for a preview article. I reached Diggle, who also released a solo album called Air Conditioning last year, at his home in London. The interview took place on 3/23/12. (Ian Rook photo)
Penelope Houston fronted the San Francisco punk band Avengers, whose “Pink Album”, consisting of recordings made in 1977-8 but not released until 1983, is often hailed as one of the best punk rock albums of all time. Avengers opened for the Sex Pistols at their final show. Houston re-emerged years later as a folk singer-songwriter, still retaining much of her punk attitude. Houston just released a new solo album called On Market Street, and a new Avengers compilation is coming out soon.
This interview was conducted by email, with answers received on 4/1/12. (Photo: Ethan Hill)