Dave Woodhall goes overboard with Slim Jim Phantom, Stray Cat and now a Jack Tar.
Dead Men Walking were a side project giving some of the punk era’s finest musicians the chance to play with their mates. They’ve evolved into the Jack Tars, who are currently touring with a line-up that includes the erstwhile drummer and rockabilly legend.
How’s the tour going so far?
“We’re driving to the next gig. The shows have been different every night, we can never predict what anyone’s going to say or what’s going to come into someone’s head. We try to work in a new song every night – on Hendrix’s anniversary we did Hey Joe then it was George Harrison’s passing so we did Here Comes the Sun which is a very odd song to peform so we’ve been challenging ourselves to see what we can come up with.”
To the uninitiated, who are the Jack Tars and why aren’t the Dead Men walking anymore?
“Mike Peters from the Alarm, Chris Cheney from The Living End, Captain Sensible of the Damned and mysef. The others were a more fluid line-up, guys coming and going all the time, but we did shows in LA this year and we invited Chris who lives there now to join us. When he got involved it became more of a band, we’re writing, aiming to record and probably half of the shows now are made up of new songs.”
Mike was sadly disagnosed with a recurrence of leukaemia last summer. How is he now?
“He seems fine, he’s always got more energy than the rest of us put together. Ask where he is and he’s always doing something, always moving on to the next thing. Writing sings, designing t-shirts, answering fan mail. I’ve known him 35 years since the Alarm did the first Stray Cats tour and we’ve been pals ever since. He’s still the same as ever.”
This line-up is a lot more wide-ranging. Apart from Mike whos been there from the start there’s the Captain who was in on the start of punk, yourself from a rockabilly background and Chris who fronts a modern rock band.
“The original Dead Men Walking were a greatest hits kind of thing then when we hit on this line-up we had the desire to write new songs. Chris is the young lad but we’re keeping him on the straight and narrow. We took him for a cream tea in York on our day off.”
That may or may not be true, but you’re no stranger to other collaborations. Headcats, where you work with Lemmy, have released a couple of albums. Will there be more from them?
“I hope so. Lemmy’s haivng his seventieth birthday soon and I’ll be off the tour just in time for that. We’ll play and drink whisky; I’ll be asking him then.”
Lemmy at seventy; that’s something you never expect to read. But I suppose it goes along with the general feeling now, that music isn’t just for young people. When I was growing up you’d never excpect to see anyone in their forties at gigs, but it’s a regular thing now and not just for audiences of older bands.
“That’s the way it should be. You can share with the next generation. It’s making a connection and the more ways we can find to connect is always a good thing.”
I’m a firm believer that whatever state music may be in, it eventually returns to four lads wearing leather jackets and that’s where real change always comes from.
“It’ll never go out of fashion. That will always be a cool default setting and you’ll never go wrong with it, because the basic sound will come out of that.That’s the foundation you can build anything you want onto so I don’t think it will ever change.”
And the Jack Tars will continue regardless.
“Of course. We’re having fun and we’ve got a four song EP that we’re more or less giving away at gigs with an eye on finding a spot in everyone’s schedule to go in and make a record. Everyone’s got plenty of ideas, plenty of songs, we’re having a laugh and we’re enjoying it.”
The Jack Tars play the Robin 2, Bilston on Wednesday 2nd December. Tickets from www.therobin.co.uk or 01902-401211