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| 13 October 2016 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar


As founding guitarist of The Troggs, Chris Britton was responsible – amongst other things – for one of the most famous and recognisable riffs of all times, and one which has spawned a thousand cover versions and imitations: Wild Thing.

Original singer and songwriter Reg Presley retired from touring in 2012 and passed away the following year, but Britton continues to tour with Pete Lucas and Dave Maggs on bass & drums, and new lead singer Chris Allen.

The Troggs tour pretty much everywhere in Australia EXCEPT Western Australia (BOOO!) in November:

Thursday 3rd November HERVEY BAY Beach House Hotel
Friday 4th November BRISBANE Hamilton Hotel
Saturday 5th November SUNSHINE COAST Caloundra RSL
Monday 14th November CRONULLA Brass Monkey
Tuesday 15th November SYDNEY The Basement
Wednesday 16th November NEWCASTLE Lizotte’s
Thursday 17th November SPRINGWOOD Blue Mountains Theatre
Friday 18th November CENTRAL COAST Entrance Leagues Club
Saturday 19th November REVESBY Revesby Workers Club
Sunday 20th November ROZELLE The Bridge Hotel
Thursday 24th November SYDNEY Factory Theatre
Saturday 26th November MELBOURNE The Palms at Crown
Sunday 27th November ADELAIDE The Gov

Britton couldn’t be more down to earth though, professing surprise when I laud praise on those instantly recognisable and hugely influential riffs.


Shane: Hi Chris – thanks for your time today… I feel a little bit honoured to be talking to a legend!

Chris: I’m quite normal really, mate.

Shane: The word legend is overused a lot nowadays, especially about celebrities and what not, but you guys, you changed the playing field.

Chris: Well, did we? I’m surprised at that. We were just having a good time, doing what we felt like, which was good. I think we contrasted a little bit with what was going out at the time when we first came on the scene, but…

Shane: Oh, very much so and saying that you had a good time doing it, that’s excellent to hear. A lot of bands in the ‘60s got ripped off and treated very, very badly, and held grudges.

Chris: Yeah, that’s true. Well some, I think that was the way things were… I mean, you put up with it.


Shane: Yeah, fair enough. I suppose that’s part of the whole ‘changing of the old guard to the new’ thing, in a way. You have to take the hits if you’re at the front of the field.

Chris: Yeah, well, in the 60s it was early days [for rock n’ roll], they didn’t know how long they were going to last and [the] record company’s response was, ‘we’ve got to make our money back quickly’, so they gave you lousy deals and all this other stuff, but the kids that came out sort of five or six years later obviously got better deals – but there you go. That’s life isn’t it?

Shane: Yeah. But you did okay out of it didn’t you? I mean, you quit at one point and went and bought a club in Portugal?

Chris: I did indeed. I had a night club over there for a while. It was a jolly good time. I enjoyed running it over there.

Shane: I suppose there are similarities to being a rock star and running a night club?

Chris: Well yeah, it was interesting because the year after we got there, I had visions of setting up a chain of night clubs, but then after we got there they had a revolution and [the tourist business] was slowed down considerably and I was stuck there about, I suppose about four or five years before I could move back! But yeah, it was an enjoyable time for me there.

Shane: Wow. So, is it a bit of a surprise to you that you’re still playing The Troggs songs fifty years later?

Chris: Well, when we first started out we thought it would last a couple of years, you know, but a couple of years, and give it another couple of years, and then another couple of years, and before you know it, you’ve been doing it for fifty years. Which surprises me, that!

Shane: Absolutely. It’s been a long time since you released any new material, but I did read one interview where you said that Chip [Taylor – writer of Wild Thing] had written a few songs and you’re planning to record them?

Chris: Yeah, I’ve met up with him in Manchester [when] he was over doing a few gigs, oh six months or so ago, and he sent a couple of demos over that we might have a go at – it would be a good, there’s the possibility we could get something out. We just have to get our fingers out and work on it.


Shane: Well that would be pretty exciting. As I say, it’s been quite a while since you’ve released any new material as The Troggs. You wrote a few of the songs back in the old days – have you any up your sleeve?

Chris: I’ve got a few ideas kicking around, but we haven’t actually put pen to paper yet, in seriousness.

Shane: Fair enough. Well, fingers crossed you can get that out in the next couple of years, eh?

Chris: Yeah, well, it’s worth having a go at, I think, yes.

Shane: I think so, definitely. With the newer guys in the band, do they, to your mind, do they capture the essence that is The Troggs?

Chris: The rest of the guys? Yeah. Dave Maggs, the drummer, he’s been with us, oh, about 35 years or more, the bass player’s been with us for 40 years – in fact Pete played guitar while I was living in Portugal for a while. So, he’s been with us, and Chris Allen, our singer, he joined us about six months before Reg died. Reg actually managed to come and see a couple of his shows and gave us his seal of approval because he was keen to see what was going on. And he also gave Chris his ocarina (an ancient clay flute-like instrument, as featured on Wild Thing). So we carry a bit of Reg around with us to play on Wild Thing every night, which is very good of him. We still drift on through life making a lot of noise!

Shane: That’s a hell of a way to be. If my memory serves me, you’re about 71. Is that right?

Chris: At last count I was 72 – I’m 73 in January.

Shane: Wow, you’re doing well. So, still touring the world in your early ‘70s. Does rock and roll keep you young?

Chris: Well I think it must do. No, maybe I’m … No, I’m not too old for this [he jokes]. Yeah, of course it does. If you do anything that you enjoy it keeps you young.


Shane: That’s a really good way to look at it. Definitely. I had a quick listen to The Troggs Tapes some time ago, which was a very interesting document of the band in the studio. You obviously had a long standing and wonderful relationship with all of the guys in the band, but was there a lot of those sort of episodes where you’re at each others’ throats, yelling at each other, and swearing your heads off?

Chris: Not a lot [he laughs], but enough to keep us amused. It was hilarious in the early days because Reg and Ronnie would fight over anything if they had a chance to and they both smoked like troopers in those days. It was quite funny to watch them because they’d be in the middle of this blazing row and all of the sudden Reggie would get his cigarettes out, offer Ronnie one, they’d light up the cigarette and carry on, and then, ‘right’, and carry on with the argument as if nothing had happened. It was so weird to watch. They were natural arguers when they were in the mood – but there was never any serious animosity, which was good.

Shane: You must have had a special kind of – almost brotherly – chemistry between the four of you, I guess?

Chris: Without a doubt, yeah.

Shane: And I read that, that those first 2 singles, Wild Thing and With A Girl Like You, you went in and you had them recorded in something like ten minutes.

Chris: That’s right. Yeah, so it was quite amazing. It surprised us actually, but, I mean, we hadn’t done a great deal of recording in those days. Larry had sent us a demo of Wild Thing and a few other songs that he wanted us to maybe have a go at. Well we loved Wild Thing, and Reg had written With A Girl Like You and he said, ‘well if you’d come up to London we’ve got a Larry Page Orchestra session going on and if there’s any time left you can jump on the end of that.’ And luckily there was about ten minutes left, so we threw all the gear in, Keith Grant – the engineer – mic’d everything up, pushed the button, we ran through them and virtually recorded them live.

I think Larry and Keith had to do quite a lot of work with the EQ and mixing of what they got to come out with something as good as they did, but there you go. That was the next 2 singles, they were already in the can!

Shane: Of all the many, many hundreds of cover versions of Troggs songs out there, which one takes the cake for you?

Chris: Oh it has to be Mr Hendrix, without a doubt!

Category: Interviews

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