A potent and swiftly vocal roar for one particular band in the past months has been very noticeable in the London and UK underground scene, an eager buzz which led ourselves and colleagues at Reputation Radio to go check out live Cauldronated, the new band of punk legend Dave Barbarossa. This is a musician who has been the rhythmic driving force and inspiration behind Adam and The Ants, Bow Wow Wow, and…well the list goes on. Certainly those first two bands, and indeed Dave’s unique playing style left a legacy still inspiring artists today, and it is quite easy to suggest his new project with Eva Menon, has the potential to make the same potent impact. So excitedly we got in touch with the man to not only discover more about the band but also to find out about Dave’s acclaimed debut novel Mud Sharks which has just had a revised edition released via New Haven Publishing Ltd. Dave kindly agreed to let us throw a torrent of questions at him, subsequently taking us into the world of Cauldronated, the seeds and landscape to Mudsharks, the linking up with Adam Ant on tour again, and the musical heart of Dave Barbarossa.
Hi Dave and thanks for sharing your time to talk with us.
There is so much to, and areas within your career to talk about but with the enjoyment at your recent show at The Unicorn, Camden still rushing through the veins and thoughts, can we look at your latest project Cauldronated first. How would you describe the band and its sound to newcomers?
Thanks for those kind words, mate. It was a pretty good gig, I have to admit. Cauldronated is a blend of quirky synths, a lot of drums, and impassioned vocals. I like the discipline of playing with a digital metronome (clicks/synths). It pushes my playing into places it wouldn’t go if I were just allowed to play as I liked…so the strictness makes me creative, that make sense?…sounds a little masochistic, but I enjoy it.
Was there a particular spark or idea which gave birth to the band?
I was working with David Harman (we were both in Chicane together). We thought we’d try something very drummy with synths and sequences.
How did the initial link up with David and Eva Menon come about; were these musicians you already had in mind to work with on something?
I’d not met Eva in person. I was aware she was a drummer. When I eventually met her, I had one of those ‘McLaren’ moments and immediately asked her to join David and me in a bit of an experiment.
Eva has a presence and drama to her stage presence which has the potential to be, in my mind, one of the most creatively imposing and invigorating vocalist you have worked with. Was it this quality which first captured your attention too?
Yes, her presence and intensity were compelling. I knew she would ‘pull her weight’ with the idea I had.
When I saw the band at The Unicorn, it was just Eva and yourself on stage, is that the usual live set-up?
At the moment it is…who knows what the future may hold.
The band has a sound and presence which feels as punk in nature and attitude as anything over the past four decades; this was a deliberate or organic essence which emerged?
It was deliberate only in the sense I wanted something uncompromising and challenging. I didn’t want to serve up what people expected. Musically, I feel uncomfortable being comfortable.
Do you still feel that individualistic punk and defiant attitude in your music and creativity as strongly as those first days and years of your career?
That ‘individualistic and defiant attitude’ sustains me. I’d be in a covers band in a pub without it. At the risk of sounding a bit of a knob, I will forever be a punk rocker.
How about in music in general, is it still loud and potent or more of a recurring whisper in modern music for you?
It is still loud and proud. You just have to dig beneath the superficial…it has always been that way.
Cauldronated seems to find you returning to and exploring the more tribalistic rhythms and contagion which marked your time in The Ants and more so Bow Wow Wow. Is this something you feel too or have you not been too far from that side of your adventure over the past years anyway, so it is just part of the current evolution of your ideation?
There are so many drummers (most better than me) playing ‘straight’ beats, ‘serving the song’, being a ‘side man’. I’ve got a trick and I’m gonna play it!
Your first novel Mud Sharks was published in 2012, but I believe it is being republished again very soon?
It is…With added extras; photo, review and a ‘Mud Sharks’ track. (please keep this under your hat until I have a release date – that will be very soon) ta.
What was the trigger to writing a novel? Was it something brewing in your thoughts for a while?
Yeah, I think a lot of us have a novel in them. I simply got mine down. Some emotional events collided with professional ones and out it came. Frankly, I’m a little stunned about how well it has been received.
Can you give a synopsis to the novel?
This is what is says on the cover so it must be right ‘Mud Sharks? Harry Ferdinand is in trouble at home, in trouble at school and now he’s in trouble with the police. He’s battered, bruised and lost until he meets the love of his life: the drums. Things are never to be the same again. Plunged into the world of Punk Rock, Harry finds purpose, adventure and heartbreak as he transforms from boy to man.’
It looks at and confronts racism and violence in its story, within the embrace of the seventies music scene. How much is autobiographical or inspired from experiences you have had or closely come across yourself?
It is a story based on my childhood, schooldays and early career. Not a factual, chronological ‘blow by blow’ of my life. But, all the stuff, good and bad, happened, pretty much.
Do you feel its narrative and observations still represent the current music world and young lives within it now?
It is a story of its time, but perhaps it resonates with people of ‘Harry’s age now. Dunno
Have you plans to write another book in the future?
Yep, finished the second…It is going through the editing and proofing stage. These things take yonks.
Returning to music, what were the inspirations which led you into music predominantly?
I was captivated by the drums, so big and loud. I wanted to master the instrument, on a very basic level. Never dreamed it would be my life.
We have to ask about those heady days, certainly for us fans, when Dirk Wears White Sox was the creative anthem for a great many of us. What are your strongest personal recollections of that time with Adam and the Ants and in the punk scene generally?
Well, it was a while ago and at a time when a young person’s life flashes by. Personally, I was in a perpetual state of astonishment and relief. Both states were euphoric, blissful, magical…how’s that sound?
Next came of course Bow Wow Wow and the highly publicised and still seemingly talked of departure of yourself, bassist Leigh Gorman, and the sadly missed Matthew Ashman from the Ants. What musically enticed the move and how coincidental was it that the two projects pursued the tribal/Burundi sound from that point on?
I really can’t think of why the drums sounded so familiar in both bands – insane coincidence? I left Adam because Malcolm gave me the opportunity to be my own man. Create my own sound and lead ‘from the back’. With Adam, I was a loyal soldier to a musical genius. I like change.
Probably the last thing fans imagined would be the coming back together of yourself and Leigh with Adam again, something which happened last year when you both joined him in The Ministers Of New Super Heavy Funk Punk and an UK tour. Was this something you would have probably not predicted over the years either or was the supposed ‘animosity’ between all parties a media driven ‘reality’?
Never been any animosity between myself and Adam. I’ve played in his bands off and on down through the decades. We have coffee, talk about our daughters.
How did the link up for the shows come about?
Adam called me and asked if I’d fancy doing the old Dirk numbers live. We’d never done it live, apparently. The minute we got in rehearsals, we knew why. He turned round to me during Animals And Men and said, ‘This is fucking jazz, how did we do it?…’
It is fair to say that you helped pioneer the tribal rhythmic temptation which has graced so many bands and still does. Do you offer yourself an inner smile every time you come across another proposition in band and song form obviously inspired by your legacy?
That’s very kind of you mate. I have been lucky to do what I love and what comes naturally.
Sadly missing out plenty of the other bands and projects you have been involved with, can we turn back to Cauldronated and what is ahead for the band over the coming months?
We’ve got another offering out soon…Ring of Khan, there’ll be gigs and the inevitable quest for world domination…All of it, such a laugh.
What about your solo sounds,; particularly thinking of the Barbarossa Beat two-track download release of last November which teased with a sound reminiscent of a Bow Wow Wow flavouring in songs like I Want Candy but took feet and energies into a new tantalising dance…More to come and any other irons in the fire musically for us to look forward to?
Yes, more to come with Barbarossa Beat, I love changes in direction, challenges. There are a few other things, collaborations popping up too.
My big thanks again Dave for your time.
An absolute pleasure Pete…Thanks you so much for your interest.
Mudsharks is available @ http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mud-Sharks-Dave-Barbarossa-ebook/dp/B00ULELOP0/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_10 and for more info regarding the book go to https://www.facebook.com/MudSharksNew/
The Buy This Thing EP from Cauldronated is available now @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/buy-this-thing/id914978407
The RingMaster Review 19/03/2015
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