Ian Gil­lan & The Javelins

As he res­ur­rects his teenage band, the Pur­ple front­man tells us about scraps, girls and be­ing a “to­tal ar­se­hole”.

Classic Rock - - The Dirt - HY

There’s a cab driver, an ar­chi­tect and an in­ter­na­tional rock star… The line-up of The Javelins sounds like the set-up to an old joke, but Ian Gil­lan is dead se­ri­ous about res­ur­rect­ing the cov­ers band he joined as an 18-year-old. Ian Gil­lan & The Javelins’ self-ti­tled de­but al­bum, recorded with min­i­mal pol­ish, nods to their setlists of the early 60s, re­vis­it­ing stan­dards such as Heart­beat and What’d I Say and show­ing a new side to Gil­lan’s singing. “This is a joy project,” he says. “I en­joy the sim­plic­ity of it all. It’s kinda naïve. It’s hon­est. And it’s dif­fer­ent.”

There’s some­thing mag­i­cal about your first teenage band, isn’t there?

You can’t ever for­get it. Those were spe­cial times. Not just the mu­sic, but the teenage re­bel­lion. We were liv­ing a vi­car­i­ous thrill through our he­roes – Elvis, Chuck Berry, Lit­tle Richard, Fats Domino, the Everly Broth­ers, Howlin’ Wolf. I re­mem­ber tak­ing some speak­ers and mic stands on a bus to a gig. I couldn’t carry them all at once, so I had to do a re­lay, fifty yards at a time, or they’d get pinched. It was an ed­u­ca­tion. But we didn’t see it that way. We just saw it as a load of fun.

What were you like at eigh­teen?

Well, I was a to­tal ar­se­hole. I think most of us were. I mean, I grew up when I was about sixty. So it took a while. When you’re that age you think you’re im­mor­tal. You’ve got no fear. But the paradox is that you know noth­ing.

You must have got up to some an­tics in those days?

There were fights and girls and whisky and cig­a­rettes. There were times in The Javelins when ev­ery­one would have a fight, but there were no guns or knives around, so you’d just knock nine bells out of each other then go for a beer. No­body got badly hurt, al­though we did get hos­pi­talised a few times in Episode Six, get­ting beaten up in Cat­ford or some­where af­ter a gig.

Why did you record the al­bum ‘live’, with ba­sic ana­logue equip­ment.

I was once stay­ing at the Hol­i­day Inn in Liver­pool, and Liver­pool FC were hav­ing their Christ­mas party in the same ho­tel. We were in the bar, and ev­ery time the door opened we could hear the mu­sic, and it was amaz­ing what sounded the big­gest. They played a Motör­head record and it sounded like a fly in a jam jar. The big sounds were Elvis and the Beach Boys, and they were recorded on two- and four-track ana­logue tape recorders. The other thing is, they were recorded with the band, so there was a hu­man­ity. With the Javelins al­bum you can hear the room, the in­take of breath when I start a line. You wouldn’t hear that on any modern record­ing.

“I en­joy the sim­plic­ity of it all. It’s hon­est. And it’s dif­fer­ent.”

How’s the dy­namic with your old band­mates?

I was the only one that turned pro­fes­sional. The other guys were very con­tent to be ar­chi­tects, cab driv­ers and var­i­ous other oc­cu­pa­tions. But I’m def­i­nitely not treated like a su­per­star. Ev­ery­one’s equal, as they al­ways were. In fact they’re prob­a­bly try­ing to bring me down a peg or two.

Ian Gil­lan & The Javelins is re­leased Au­gust 31 via earMUSIC.

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