Bombed Out! Press Interview: Punk rocker’s memories of a life-changing scene.
Above Photo: Antony Gormley’s superb piece of art, called ‘Another Place’ at sunset on Waterloo beach – one of 100 life-size cast-iron men, standing looking out to sea.
Last week I talked to a journalist called Jamie Bowman at my local Liverpool newspaper, the Crosby Herald. The interview was then posted onto the Liverpool Echo’s website and I have reprinted it here, although I’ve added photographs for illustration of places referred to, which aren’t in the original article.
There are a couple of small factual errors, but given the short amount of time we spent talking, the journalist didn’t do a bad job.
I’ve put a link to the original interview at the end.
By Jamie Bowman.
“From Echo and the Bunnymen to the Teardrop Explodes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Pete Wylie, Liverpool’s punk music scene in the late 1970s was an incredibly fertile time full of larger than life characters.
Right in the middle of it all was Waterloo music fan Peter Lloyd who quickly progressed from teenage pogoing fan to actually playing bass with some of the stars of the movement he so loved.
Now 35 years later, 52-year-old Peter has taken a nostalgic but still attitude-laden look at what it was that made Liverpool so special during that period.
Interspersed with Pete’s memories of growing up as a teenager on the Brownmoor Estate, Bombed Out! follows the music fan’s life as he leaves school and enters a rock n roll life of gigging, partying and working behind the bar at Eric’s – the Mathew Street venue at the epicentre of Liverpool’s punk scene.
“I’ve been wanting to do it for a very long time as I think it’s an interesting story which takes in two important aspects of Liverpool history.
“It was a fantastic period of creativity with all the bands and the scene centered around Mathew Street, but it was also an absolutely terrible period for the city when there was just no hope in terms of employment.
“I really wanted to capture that juxtaposition so I took a couple of years off to do some writing and I enjoyed doing it very much.”
Peter now lives in Thailand but his memories of living in the Crosby area are crystal clear.
“My overriding memory is of all the gang fights which used to take place on the fields which are now called Rimrose Valley Country Park,” he remembered.
“You’d have gangs from Brownmoor, Litherland, Pendle and Thornton fighting each other every summer holidays and it was crazy really. After a couple of years I remember thinking what am I doing here?”
School didn’t offer much solace for Peter who attended St Mary’s and never got on well with the Christian Brothers.
“St Mary’s is a great school but I hated it. I wasn’t cut out for a formal education and that was clear from day one.”
Year zero occurred when Peter first heard the Sex Pistols – a moment he still describes as “life-changing”.
“I was with one of my friends Sinbad, who still lives in Crosby, and his brother was a punk. We went round to his house and he said ‘listen to this’. He put on Anarchy in the UK and God Save the Queen. The scales just fell from my eyes and I thought it was incredible.”
Soon after Peter was learning bass guitar and got his own back on the staff at St Mary’s when his punk band Plastic Orgasm played their first gig.
“It was a Christmas party at St Mary’s which we gatecrashed by calling ourselves Plastic Organism so the teachers would let us play.”
Travelling to Liverpool to watch bands at Eric’s and often having to walk back along the Dock Road, Peter eventually found himself auditioning for one of the scene’s biggest bands, Pink Military which featured well known face about town, Jane Casey.
Skipping an English exam to try out for the bass slot, Peter quickly found himself right in the middle of Liverpool’s punk explosion as well as working behind the bar in Eric’s.
“The bands all stood out,” said Peter. “People like Pete Wylie and Wah! Heat. Pete Burns lived underneath Jayne Casey on Bold Street so I saw him a lot and then there were The Teardrop Explodes guys like Mick Finkler who I became good mates with.
“I was on nodding terms with Echo and the Bunnymen but was never really part of their clique.”
By giving the outsider’s view, Peter’s book is able to look at the Eric’s scene a bit more objectively and this sense of being on the outside looking in is something he was desperate to capture.
“I was going out with this girl Liz and that kept me from really submerging myself in that band culture which helped me write a more objective book if I’m honest,” he added.
As a massive fan of so many of the acts which emerged from Eric’s, but burdened with the curse of being a toddler and living 200 miles away at the time, I asked Peter what was it about Liverpool at the time that caused these bands to form, sell records and in the case of many, go on to even bigger careers in the 1980s.
“A lot of people knew there was no future for them and they were never going to get a proper job so they put everything into making their bands as successful as possible and they really worked at it.
“The economic conditions in Liverpool at the time really turbo charged that creativity.”
Peter isn’t keen to elaborate on what happened after he joined Pete Burns in his band Nightmares on Wax which later became the chart topping Dead or Alive, preferring that people read the book to find out whether his incredible journey through the 1980s has a happy ending or not (clue: it does).
Instead, he is far happier talking about his childhood in his hometown where his family all still live and he tries to visit at least once a year with his Thai wife who he says “loves the Iron Men”.
“Writing the book made me weirdly nostalgic for so many things I remember about Crosby,” he added.
“The things which I really miss are Crosby library, The Liver pub, the promenade and Rimrose Valley Park but not the fights!
“I walk past the library when I’m home and I always think without that place I would never have done half the things I do in the book.
“When I read about the libraries being cut and closed it really annoyed me. They give people a quiet space where they can work and study away from the bedlam of their homes. I sent the library a copy of the book with a note saying thank you – I just hope they don’t throw it away!”
Buy a signed copy of Bombed Out! here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php
Bombed Out is available from News From Nowhere on Bold Street, Liverpool, or via www.bombedoutpunk.com”
The original article on the Liverpool Echo website is here: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/in-your-area/punk-rockers-memories-life-changing-scene-7915636