We caught up with Derek from The Blockheads in the run up to their last run of gigs for the year. Check out all The Blockheads’ tour dates here http://bit.ly/SGHrOt and read our interview with Derek below:
TW: Hi Derek, how’s it going? What are up to?
D: I’m alright, just typing up some lyrics for when we go into the studio next week ‘cos we’re recording a new album.
TW: Cool, is that just something you do so you don’t get caught with your pants down as it were…
D: Ha ha! Yeah that’s right.
TW: And has that ever happened?
D: Oh yeah…definitely.
TW: Alright,just some question based around what we’re vaguely calling the nature of “Blockheadism”. First up, you’re listed on The Blockhead’s website as Singer, Percussionist, Ambiance Co-ordinator. What’s involved in being an Ambiance Co-ordinator?
D: Ah yeah, well all the other Blockheads have got profiles of themselves up on the site but I like to keep a low profile.
TW: Just maintaining the mystique are you?
D: Ha! Yeah, that’s right. Ian (Dury) always said “Don’t explain. Never complain.”
TW: So what does it take to be a Blockhead?
D: Well our problem is we can think too far into the future, we’re all a bit nutty like that, living for the moment I guess.
TW: And if you could recruit anyone as a new Blockhead who would that be?
D: Oh I don’t know you know (pauses). Quite a difficult one that. I don’t want to piss anyone off. Jimmy Page I reckon. He might add something.
TW: Good one! You’ve all been in the game a while now, what’s changed?
D: Well we’re more of a cottage industry now. When Ian was about the venues we played were a bit bigger but nothing’s changed apart from that. We’ve got a fabulous band and the best bass player in the world (the legendary Norman Watt-Roy. It’s part of playing together for nearly 35 years. There’s no such thing as a bad gig with a band like we have.
TW: We’re not promising anything …but it’s you’re opportunity to put it out there…Christmas is coming up so what are you after this year?
D: Aw I don’t do Christmas really but…maybe a Kindle.
TW: Right, Like I say, we’re not promising or even suggesting we’re getting you one. Are there are new bands that have caught you’re ear recently?
D: To be honest I try not to listen to too much music because I just think you can start writing something and you think “Oh, this is good!” and then you realise that it’s something you’ve just been listening to. I do enjoy listening to roots music though, country, folk, blues. But not much new stuff. Oh James Brown, Bootsy Collins, too, love them.
TW: Nice. Okay, here’s your chance, give us your best rock’n’roll anecdote.
D: Oh God, I’ve got a terrible memory. I can tell you what I was doing when I was 14 but I can’t tell you what I was doing this morning, short term memory is shot! Okay here’s one. Back in the day when Ian was still around and we did a lot of touring the tour van used to get in a right state. I mean crisp packets, pasty wrappers, coffee cups everywhere. So sometimes we’d hire a nice car if we were going to be in a town for a few days. Trouble is same thing would happen to that and I’d damn near have to valet the bloody thing before we could give it back. So I made a rule, no crisps, pasties, drinks,burgers, nothing like that in the hire car. One night after a show we were in the hire car and I saw a kebab shop so I said “Come on, we’ll all go and have one of these kebabs”. So in we went and ordered and then I was like “Alright, sit down, you’re not having it in the car, we’ll have it here.” So we all sit down and eat these kebabs and when we’re done I say ” Right, gimme your wrappers.” ‘Cos I know they’ll just put ’em in there pockets and then dump ’em in the car. I turn to Ian and say “Come on, gimme your wrapper.” He’s like “What wrapper?” He’d eaten the whole bloody thing, paper wrapper and all! Ha Ha!
TW: Ha Ha! Okay, now just a few questions we ask everyone, what was the first gig you went to?
D: Oh, I don’t know. That was a long time ago. I saw Dylan unplugged in ’64, saw Pete Seeger around then too but I think the first was John Mayall at Eel Pie Island ’63.
TW: Not bad for a first one, eh? What about the last gig you went to see?
D: That’s be The Animals, in a church, in Teddington. Our Mickey ( Blockheads’ keys player) plays with ’em. I’m just seeing my mates really. I Like going to watch Wilko Johnson though, our Norman plays with them.
TW: You’re all in it together.
D: ha ha, yep, we’re all at it.
TW: Derek, alright Derek, we’ll let you go. Thanks for talking to us and good luck with the new album.
D: No worries,good to talk to ya! Cheers!