One of the constant moans I hear, particularly from groups, is that they had to "go commercial" to get noticed. Once in the charts, however, they find that commerciality is not such a bad thing and that they can learn to enjoy it as much as their new found popularity. If they are talented, they can write their own material to fit the public demand and gradually get the fans round to their way of thinking, musically.

The Gun are a case in point. "Race With The Devil" is not only ultra commercial but a damn good number to boot. Adrian Curtis, one of Gun’s two brothers, wrote it with the charts in mind and is still writing with the Top Thirty uppermost but with a slightly different accent on the song’s contents.

Gun’s drummer, Louie Farrell, met me at Ronnie Scott’s, led me through the midst of workmen, up a dark flight of stairs to the Upstairs Club, sat me on a semi circular padded bench type seat and spoke of Gun’s arrival on the scene.

"We had to commercialize so terribly to get through, but now we can let go," he began.

"We had to earn the money, we still do, but it’s easier now."

"We’re a rock group, not really on the West Coast sound, but a hard sound, large noise, exciting. People say ‘turn down, turn down’ when we play. We’ve got some nice new equipment and some beautiful sounds down."

Talk led to job

Louie came up the hard way, the way of so many contemporary young drummers on the road abroad. He took drumming really seriously for the first time when he was fifteen and still at school, and began playing semi professionally eighteen months later.

"I was playing in Manheim and met a guy from Dagenham who I didn’t know, but he knew a lot of people I knew and I knew a lot of his friends, and we got talking and I joined a group with him," Louie explained.

"Eventually, I was left skint with one drum kit hanging round my neck. It must have happened to everybody." So rather despondent and disillusioned Louie went home, and three months later got a call from Adrian Curtis, as a result of which he joined Adrian’s Wall for six months.

"Then Adrian went with Crispian St. Peter’s, which left us in the cart again," Louie recalled. "Then I got an offer from Paul Curtis to join the Knack, and Adrian joined us eight months ago.

"We grotted around and had promises, which didn’t mean a damn thing, then Ronnie Scott saw us at the Roundhouse, asked us to come down here to see him, and he signed us up."

Ronnie appointed Peter "Chips" Chipperfield and Jimmy "New York" Parsons as Gun’s managers, and things sped on. First a tour with Scot Walker, then a hit record…what net?

The answer is – an album with a picture of Apollo 8 on the front taking off. "We got someone to record it taking off and put it at the beginning of one of the tracks," Louie revealed. "The album should be out in February."

On the singles front, Gun are pretty well confident that "Doesn’t It Drive You Mad" will be their next single, though the title may be altered slightly. "It’s gotta have brass added to it, then it’s finished," he said. "I think it’s stronger than ‘Race’ which was going to be a ‘B’ side, but someone high up in CBS said they were making it a ‘A’ side.

"It’s got a few nice words, it’s gonna drive people mad trying to work them out," he added with a sly grin, leaving me to make what of I could of that.

Louie is quite happy about the improving standard of today’s groups, but not so pleased with current sales trends.

Lot of rubbish

"The standard of musicianship is definitely getting a lot better," he commented "but there’s a lot of old rubbish in the charts. There are a lot of young musicians who have been playing for five years who realize that they have to go on improving to last, and they are doing it. There are a lot of very very good musicians about, and this is a pleasing fact."

For the future, Louie has some very definite ideas on how to avoid the abyss if it should ever loom up in front of him.

"I want to stick money into a few houses," he said in a business like manner. "Bricks and mortar, that’s the thing. I want to let my father deal with it because he has an excellent business mind.

"Let it earn money for you until the time of reckoning. Stick a few houses up, fill them with tenants and collect all the time."

How about things like gold and jewellery, I suggested. "Gold and jewellery don’t earn rent do they?" he replied.

(Richard Green)


Bonzo Dog Band, Gun and Family in charity concert at Newcastle city hall on Sunday, January 26.

Gun plays TV dates in Scandinavia and France in late February and early March.