By Paul Williams (Sept 2003)
1. What was it like around Coventry in the pre-Specials days on the local music scene? Was there a feeling something was going to happen?
RR. The scene was punky. For me I had got into bob marley in a big way and URoy and the dub stuff-Reggae was the way forward for me, so the Coventry Automatics fitted my new interest musically.
2. Have you always been influenced by rock'n'roll?
RR. Rock'n'Roll is a term much abused and maybe rightly so.Growing up through the 60s,I got into 2nd generation rock'n'roll of sorts but a lot of mod bands covered early rock'n'roll and blues tunes.Originals are always worth discovering..
3. Did The Specials have an internal friction that helped make you tick?
RR. The Specials as a band were very different people musically and as individuals but maybe thats why people are still interested in the sound..........
4. Did you enjoy the touring schedule?
RR. I guess bands have toured for longer and put up with more crap but I dont suppose anybody is really ready for success....
5. Which period during The Specials was your favourite?
RR. Early gigs,anywhere,pubs in far out places were a lot of fun because it was fresh and exciting...
6. Who were you closest to in the band?
RR. Jerry and me were drinking buddies before it all took off, and I feel I guess that me and Lynval got on later.....
7. (From 2 Tone info website) - Can you confirm that you did indeed sing the vocal on 'Concrete Jungle' on the first album?
RR. Yes!!Jett Rink did sing 'Complete Bungle'!!!!!!!!!!!!
8. Whats your favourite memory of the early days?
RR. I've said this before and I know it may sound silly, but I really enjoyed taking the piss at the BBC Top Of The Pops studios!!..........
9. Was it true that at the end,the band were at loggerheads or was it just individuals?
RR. I guess,in the end,we all wanted a say in our future.................
10. (From 2 Tone info website) - Rod, I loved the way you blended rockabilly with the ska and punk on the first album. The 2nd album went in a different direction, Jerry seemed to want to steer away from the guitar Punky/Rockabilly/ska sound. How was that for a musician who loves the rock guitar sound and what was the atmosphere like making 'More Specials'?
RR. Jerry had created a monster he couldnt control and I wasnt the only one that wasnt happy. Maybe Jerry should have done his Sergeant Pepper thing until the third album...........
11. If you had your time again would you have done anything differently?
RR. I wish i'd have chilled out more and drank less!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
12. You, I feel, are as good a songwriter as Jerry Dammers. Is writing something that comes easy to you?
RR. Well,..These days, its your bank account not what you're sayin' that matters.......................
13. How did you react to playing a ska rhythm for the first time?
RR. I loved the feel but had to totally rethink my guitar playing!
14. What song are you most proud of and why?
RR. Oh,a hard one! I guess it has to be 'Rat Race' because it was a hit single..............
15. Are there any bands that you think shouldnt have been signed to 2Tone?
RR. Well, I had no say really anyway who was signed but I would of picked some Punky rock'n'roll band!!!!!!
16. Whos idea was it to reform The Specials and record the Desmond Dekker album?
RR. Basically, Roger lomas and Lynval Golding.......
17. 'Todays Specials', -it received. a mix of criticism. How did you feel about it and about the way The Specials Mark2 were launched back into the public eye?
RR. I was totally pissed off with the whole 'Todays Specials' situation! I thought the idea of reforming and doing covers a bunch of crap but I was the only one with any songs and I guess, they didnt want to play 'Hey little Rich Girl' type songs!!!!!!!!!!!
18. Did it make you feel old playinmg your comeback on'Pebble Mill'?
RR. Thats a bit under the belt!!! Dont really know 'bout that-it was one of those silly afternoon shows!!
19. How come you rarely played the UK as Specials 2? Why did we not see a UK tour that would have put you back in the limelight?
RR. Yes-You're right,we should have done more UK shows but after the slagging we got from the press after'Todays Bollocks' we decided to try and crack the USA. In the US they didnt seem to mind us not being the entire original band and ska was happening in 1994-1997 bigtime in the land of the flea!!!!!!!!!!
20. 'Guilty 'til proved innocent' was very similar in sound to 'More Specials'.Was that coincidental?
RR. 'Guilty' similar to 'More Specials'?I hadn't thought of it that way! Yes,I suppose cos we had a little more experience of studios and recording. Actuallly, I caught the producer tryin to match up drum sounds and stuff on the Guilty album with the first Specials LP! I went mad but he said he was only obeying record company orders!!!!! Nothing ever change oh no!
21. I feel guilty is a very good album-what were the reviews like and whats your fave track?
RR. We had a lot of problems with Way Cool records (a joke name I presume!) Mixes were done of certain tracks over which we had no control. Lynvals guitar was actually deleted from a couple of tracks! The Specials without Lynval Golding is like faggots without mushy peas (a northern food not a sexual perversion!). Anyway I think there are a few diamonds on the album.
There were also problems with me and Neville who sang joint lead vocals being replaced by Prince Beaver, the trombone player, who did a passable Terry Hall (record company politics again!), anyway my favourite track is "All Gone Wrong" by Mark Adams, the keyboard player......................
22. Why did Specials 2 come to a halt?
RR. A long story! First couple of years were successful moneywise and most of the time it was like being kids again but even though we were older we were not any wiser!!!!!!! and everyone in the group had a different view on how we should proceed. When we first started rehearsing, I mentioned I had a few songs which would work great. All I got was pained expressions from the older guys!!!! I think most of them thought it would be an extension of the Special Beat, a sort of tribute tribute.
Anyway, our business was bollocks, management came and went till we couldnt get off the treadmill and the 98 Warped Tour just burned us senior citizens out! We did 6 weeks in the states, followed by 3-4 in Europe with an Australian tour to follow which we bailed out from. Horace was very ill, Nevilles legs were in a bad way and me and Lynval were knackered.
We did japan and just stopped after that without discussing. why? The new members were flat broke and we still had old royalties coming through. The old albums were selling for quite less than the new album at most of our gigs, so really its a case of let sleeping dogs lie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
23. Do you. still see Terry Hall?
RR. Havent seen Terry for nearly 10 years now-We were never that close really..................
24. (From 2Tone info website) - When was the last time you spoke to Jerry dammers?
RR. Its funny this question and the last I am always asked. I saw Jerry last at Dave Jordans funeral(Specials producer). He died from an overdose while working with The Popes................
25. You're doin well with the Skabilly rebels-is it simply a band you enjoy the art of gigging with or would you take it up another level if the chance arose?
RR. Ah,I question I like!!!!! I'd love the Skabs to go far but if thats not to be,who gives a toss,I'm having fun!!!!!!
26. What made you cross the ska/rockabilly sounds? A jamming session?
RR. Good question. We always mixed things up in The Specials and I've never seen the line that seperates styles. As a punk I played rockabilly licks,so its a bit late to change now!!!!
27. Why did you never shave your head?
RR. Jesus!! I've got ears like jug handles, you cheeky monkey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
28. Sum up The Specials in three words?
RR. Black/White band!!!!!!!!!!!
29. Cheers for the inteview, Rod, any parting words?
RR. I think I'll go and have an aspirin now,cheers Paul!!!!.......................
Click here to visit Roddy's personal website at www.roddyradiation.com
Paul Williams is author of the difinitive biography on The Specials "You're Wondering Now"