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Spann Talk: Adrian Edmondson talks to Chris about punk, folk and butter adverts

by Chris Spann on 27 July, 2009 | 1 comment

Adrian Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds

So what’s the story behind the Bad Shepherds?
As you know, we play folk songs on folk instruments – Not as a gag, we’re not Hayseed Dixie – but because it makes a very nice noise. I grew up during punk, and I’ve always played these songs at home on my acoustic guitar like most would be performers, and I acquired a Mandolin a few years ago, but I didn’t really know how to play it! So I figured out the chords, and started playing the same punk songs on the mandolin, and it sounded… intriguing, it sounded very very different, very good. I was touring with Niel Innes and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band at the time and we tried it in the dressing room and at his house, but it didn’t really work. Neil said “What you really need is some s**t hot folk musicians… and I went out and found some. And that’s the potted history.

Where did the name of the band come from?
‘Bad’ is the punk element: Punk bands have ‘bad’ in the name, and shepherds is a lyrical thing that seemed to fit. What is a name any way? The Rolling Stones is a crap name if you think about it, until you’ve heard them.

The Shows tend to be advertised as “Adrian Edmondson and The Bad Shepherds” Do the crowd come expecting Eddie from Bottom on the stage?
We don’t get a bottom crowd, but we do get people who are here because of me. I think I’ve done enough different things for people to know it’s not going to be Bottom – It’s not advertised as such (Points to a poster for the show, featuring four men with guitars in a field full of sheep) – I think it’s fairly obvious it’s not going to be one! People come a) Because of me, or b) Because they like the idea. Most people get it or they don’t. When you explain to people on the phone, they either go “Yeah!” or they go “…What?”, and the ones that go “Yeah!” come along.

Where was the album recorded – I read you did it live?
Well we did it ‘as live’ – We were on tour and we recorded it in Banbury, in someone’s Garage, basically. We decided there was no point doing a ‘studio’ album, because it doesn’t really suit the sound so we just did it as live and cut between the takes to edit the mistakes out.

You’ve played a lot of Festivals this summer, has the wet weather caused you any problems?
We’ve not been affected too much, we’ve been lucky. That very big rainy weekend we weren’t playing, and we’ve just missed the rain on a couple of occasions.

No mud strewn fields then?
Oh, we’ve played some muddy places! We played a muddy place in Shropshire, that was very muddy – Thought we weren’t going to get out.

How does the Punk to Folk thing work then?
Well I do it because it’s fun mostly, but there is an intellectual argument to be had, which in my mind is that they’re the same kind of music. They’re played by the same kinds of people, just years apart, you know? They’re both three chord wonders, they’re both naive and self taught, and they’re both songs about the existance of their times; they’re usually songs about their jobs, or ballads – there’s a lot of ballads in punk. I think it’s an obvious marriage, and we don’t claim to be the first people to do it, I mean the Pogues did it, although I suppose they did it the other way around.

What have been the best and worst shows on the tour?
We don’t have worst shows. The one in Shropshire might well be our best one, just because of the circumstances starting off were really poor – We thought it was going to be called off because it was so wet, it was miserable, it was late, the sound system was crap, but it depends whether people are up for it or not, and they were up for it.

Who are your main influences?
Well, I’d like to be Johnny Rotten. He’s my all time hero.

Even after the butter ads?
I think his butter adverts are the best adverts ever made! I’m in a small club I know, but I think they’re brilliant – I rewind them and then play them over again. We don’t do enough Pistols in the set, we do one by them and one by Public Image Limited.

Have you been to Wrexham before?
No, I’ve not. I actually forgot my underpants today, so I had to go and find a Marks and Spencers to get some more for tomorrow.

What do you think of the venue?
I like these sticky clubs. Not a lot of people do, but it’s where I like to see a band. If I’m watching a band, I like to watch them near a bar, I don’t want to watch from halfway down a football stadium.

What’s next for The Bad Shepherds after the tour then?
More touring! We’ve not really planned it – We’ve got bookings to the end of October and we’ll see what happens then.

No Plans for a second album then?
Well we’ve had vague thoughts about it, but you can’t plan too much, otherwise life gets boring. This is a fun thing – It feels very much like when Rik (Mayall) and I first started; just doing things because we liked doing them, and making a living out of it as well, which is quite nice, making a living out of your hobby.

Could you see this becoming a full time thing?
Well, it basically is full time at the moment. We’re starting to look at booking for next year, there’s adventures to be had in Europe and Australia and places yet.

So, serious acting, comedy, music… What’s next for Ade Edmondson?
Erm… I don’t know. I’ve had no plan at all, at any time in my life, longer than about 8 months. This is a lifetime dream fulfilled.

Read Chris’s review of the Bad Shepherds’ gig at Central Station, here.

Author
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Chris Spann

Email: spann.chris@googlemail.com

Chris is a freelance writer and a guest author on wrexhammusic.co.uk. View Chris' blog here: www.chris-spann.co.uk
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  1. [...] Read Chris’s interview with Adrian Edmondson, here. [...]

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