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10th October 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: Have you ever talked about recording some of the original material you’ve written, for an Idiot Bastard album maybe?
ROWLAND: I think yeah. Next year, once we’ve done this tour and the guys have accrued enough numbers that they’re proud of, I think the next logical step would be to just go into the studio and record ‘em… or try and record ‘em live or something like that and put some overdubs on. But, yeah, that has been spoken of. There’s no point recording the covers that we do but the set has got quite a few original numbers now so we’re getting on for an album or an album and a half’s worth.
(Rowland Rivron on his erstwhile quasi-stuntman tendencies)
"I used to scare the shit out of people by saying I was going to jump off of here and all of that! It was a nice way of working out who your real friends are!"
The Idiot Bastard Band - promo shot
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2012 Martin Black
The Idiot Bastard Band Official Website:
Thanks to Michael Eccleshall for arranging the interview
The Idiot Bastard Band Official Facebook:
MD: And maybe a live version without the overdubs – it’s good to hear exactly how it went down sometimes.
ROWLAND: Yeah, exactly. Hopefully, if everything goes according to plan, once we’ve got to the other end of this tour, we’ll be pretty much in that mode. There was talk of doing some sort of a TV show where we’d invite a few guests to muck about and do stuff like that. There are various things in the pipeline that could be happening but we can only do ‘em once we’re very, very confident with the music that we’re doing, and we’ll only be confident with the music that we’re doing after this tour. Doing one-off gigs and meeting up every six weeks, you can’t really get any momentum going.
MD: No, I guess not. Obviously you’re a very talented drummer and you’re also well renowned in the comedy realm so would you say The Idiot Bastard Band is the perfect amalgam of those two passions?
ROWLAND: I’d like to think so. When I was doing Raw Sex with Simon Brint, that was a pretty good heady mix of music and comedy but much more slapstick. But this, there’s a lot more musicianship going on and it’s much more varied which is good and, like you say, doing Syd Barrett numbers; doing John Hegley numbers; doing all the original numbers from the guys; doing an Artic Monkeys number; doing a Blockheads number… it’s very, very varied.
MD: Very eclectic.
ROWLAND: Exactly, yeah.
MD: So as a performer, what’s your greatest passion, drumming or comedy?
ROWLAND: It’s difficult to say. Something I’d always wanted to do was be a drummer and then, by the time I was about thirty two, I ended up on ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole’, the musical, and I got bored to tears with it. It sort of ripped out all my enthusiasm for drumming!
ROWLAND: I sort of drifted into television and then had a bit of a career in there. But I haven’t drummed for ages. The last time I did any proper drumming was with Jools Holland when Gilson Lavis had a heart attack. Gilson had a heart attack on Friday and I was in the band on Sunday! So that was about ten to twelve years ago. Now, getting back and doing this, it’s gonna be interesting to see if I’ve still got the same passion for it that I sort of had. The thing is, I don’t have a kit set up at home in a room, a soundproof room, where I can go and play every day. It’ll be nice to get my chops back as well.
MD: Definitely. I gather your musical roots are in jazz so would you describe yourself as inherently a jazz drummer over any other genre?
ROWLAND: Yeah, I think so. Yeah, I’m a feel drummer. I’m not big on solos and being busy and all that sort of stuff. I don’t know if you know the kit as it is for this tour. It’s literally just an electric bass drum, a snare drum and a hi-hat, a couple of shakers and some congas. So I’m just adding a groove rather than being a sort of “look at me” player.
MD: That’s some of the best drummers, though, I think. When you see people with a minimalist kit, particularly some jazz bands where the drummer has just a six-piece kit compared to, I don’t know, Rush or whoever with a hundred-piece kit…what some people can do with a much smaller kit can be more impressive.
ROWLAND: Exactly. I contribute rather than contend.
MD: Yes, that’s a good way of putting it. I have to say, my earliest memory of you drumming was on ‘A Bit of Fry & Laurie’ on some of Hugh’s songs…
ROWLAND: Oh yeah!
MD: What are your memories now from doing those shows?
ROWLAND: They were amazing. I mean, Hugh was just unbelievable. He just knocked those songs together… he was so insecure about ‘em. He couldn’t be told that they were good or anything like that because he was just knocking those out. In fact, I might try and see if we can’t do a couple of his songs.
MD: That would be amazing. Wasn’t ‘The Sophisticated Song’ one of the ones you played on?
ROWLAND: I can’t remember. There was one about a tennis player.
MD: Oh yeah… Steffi Graf.
ROWLAND: Steffi Graf, yeah, that was the one. I mean, those little numbers are very good contenders of The Idiot Band. I might put those forward when we have the next get together.
MD: That would definitely be amazing.
MD: I read a recent interview with Ade where he said that you once threw yourself off a balcony in a theatre foyer and he said: “I kind of caught him”! Is that a true story; do you have any recollection of this?
ROWLAND: Yeah, yeah, I used to scare the shit out of people by saying I was going to jump off of here and all of that! It was a nice way of working out who your real friends are!
MD: [laughs] By who catches you…
ROWLAND: Yeah, exactly!
MD: He also said that back in the day on ‘The Comic Strip’ and ‘The Young Ones’ tours that you used to crawl around hotel exteriors, many stories up, and knocked on random windows to give people a little surprise?
ROWLAND: Yeah, yeah! If the hotels had scaffolding you get to climb out on the scaffolding, starkers, edge around the building and tap on the window. That’s always good fun! But, yeah, you do that when you’re young and on the wrong side of five bottles of wine!
MD: Of course. So would you describe yourself as the most rock ‘n’ roll member of the band then in this sense?
ROWLAND: I probably have been in the past. Phil’s pretty good; he likes a late night. So we’ll see. I mean, we’re all the wrong side of fifty now…
MD: So you’ll see what transpires…
ROWLAND: Yeah, we’ll see what we can and can’t get up to!
MD: If you had to sum up each of your band mates in a few words, what would you say about them?
ROWLAND: Neil - conscientious and astute. Ade - a trier… keen. Phil – big on equipment.
MD: Really?
ROWLAND: Oh yeah, he likes his… every time we see him he’s got a different amp, a new guitar and he buys percussion bits like there’s no tomorrow but he has no idea how to play them! I’m schooling him on the finer points of clave works at the minute!
MD: Big on equipment… I’m glad that wasn’t a euphemism just then, and actually literal!
MD: I have to ask briefly about the ‘Weapon of Choice’ routine on ‘Let’s Dance for Sport Relief’ – massive congratulations on winning of course, it was a pretty fantastic thing.
ROWLAND: I had no idea… the thing was, they called me up and said: “Will you come and do it? Will you learn a routine and just be a reserve in case anyone of the people we’ve got breaks a leg or can’t do the show?” So I had to learn that routine and just be on call every week when the heats happened. And I said: “Well, look, am I gonna actually perform this if no-one drops out?” And they said: “Oh, you can come on the last show and do it then.” So I was very much a token gesture but then sailed through and won the bloody thing! And I think I was the only performer that didn’t perform with dancers. So that was the reason they had me there every week, just in case.
MD: Just in case, waiting in the wings…
ROWLAND: Yeah, and I didn’t have to be there mob-handed with sixteen dancers.
MD: Since doing that, have you been heckled at Idiot Bastard shows to do a bit of dancing?
ROWLAND: Yeah, that comes up now and again. You sort of get that in the street, really, as well.
MD: Oh really?! What do people expect you to do in the street?!
ROWLAND: Strike a pose mate, strike a pose!
MD: The final thing I was gonna ask – what can people expect from an Idiot Bastard show on this tour… what do you want to say to make people feel immediately compelled to buy a ticket?
ROWLAND: It’s an evening of entertainment, musicality and distraction. It’s four people that you probably know from completely different spheres coming together with one love and that of a humorous song, and an enjoyable evening had by all.
MD: Good closing words! Thank you so much for your time, it’s been very entertaining speaking with you.
ROWLAND: Cheers.