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| 6 January 2017 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

Rose Tattoo frontman Angry Anderson brings his Classic Rock Show to Perth for three fiery shows this month, with a band featuring some surprise names. SHANE PINNEGAR called the outspoken rock legend for a chat about the tour and got a lot more than he bargained for.

See The Angry Anderson Band this month at:
Friday January 13 – Friends Restaurant, Perth WA
Saturday January 14 – Ravenswood Hotel, Ravenswood WA
Sunday January 15 – Market City Tavern, Canning Vale WA from 4.30pm

Anderson’s band features fellow Rose Tattoo member Dai Pritchard on guitar, bassist Mark Gale and two names Perth audiences will be very familiar with in drummer Yak Sherrit and guitarist – and former Rose Tattoo alumni – John Meyer.


“Rock stars one and all in their own right!” Anderson says, before waxing lyrical about his bandmates for this visit. “It’ll be a real surprise for people in Perth. I said to Johnny Meyer [last time I was there], ‘we don’t get a chance to play with one another very much any more,’ and he said, ‘mate, I’d leap at the chance!’ And so would I – he’s one of my favourite guitar players. He just happens to be one of the best players I have worked with, and I’ve had the good fortune to work with some amazing guitar players. He’s just an amazing player – he’s got that thing, it’s called taste, [and] he’s such a melodic player.

“I remember the first time I saw Yak play,” Angry continues, “Robin Riley said, ‘there’s this young bloke and he’s pretty good – the band’s called Johnny Diesel & the Injectors!’ and I said, ‘hmmm’ – I wasn’t all that flash on the name, but I warmed up to it [laughs that instantly recognisable Angry cackle] and was knocked out by the band, they were big and fat [sounding] – you’ve gotta be able to swing and you’ve gotta be able to shuffle – rock n’ roll, that’s what it is, swing & shuffle – and he’s a master of that.”

Guitarist John Meyer

Both Meyer and Sherrit have so much feeling in their playing…

“That’s another magic ingredient – you’ve nailed that!” agrees Angry, before praising the whole band further, “what’s that old saying – ‘if you love what you do then you’ll never work a day in your life.’ It’s one of those things – [there’s] so many gigs to do but so little time, [so] the wealth of experience [backing you] is important. People are always saying, ‘you have so much energy and you can still cut it vocally’ and my answer is always, ‘well, try not to sound so surprised!’ but y’know – if you have a passion or a love for something, it’s just natural. It’s like, these guys – when you get up and sing in front of these guys it’s the easiest thing in the world ‘cos they’re just so damned good!”

Meyer played on Rose Tattoo’s Southern Stars album, but Anderson says that in addition to the obligatory Rose Tattoo material, crowds can expect a few surprises.

“The thing is, it is a cover band in a sense. The legitimacy of the Rose Tattoo stuff is of course that Dai and I are current members of Rose Tattoo, as was John at one stage, so there’s an authenticity to that. But the other songs we play – we love [to play some] Accadacca stuff, there’s some Rolling Stones stuff in there, there’s some Rod Stewart stuff in there – a bunch of great tunes, great to play, great to sing – and that’s it. We love what we’re doing, we’re as good at it or better than most – I know that sounds bombastic, but it’s true! We’re really, really good at what we do, and part of that magic is that we love it so much!”

Rose Tattoo shared a label – Alberts – with AC/DC in the ‘70s, but Anderson says his friendship with former Freo boy, singer Bon Scott, went back even earlier when they bonded over a cult Scottish singer.

“We met long before he was in AC/DC,” the diminutive singer explains, “he was in a band, The Valentines, then he moved to Adelaide with Fraternity – they were a bit hippy for me, but they had interesting songs. But I liked him as a person, see, so we gravitated towards each other – birds of a feather, as they say.

“A bit of anecdotal trivia, if you like – is that Bon introduced me to Alex Harvey. I love Alex Harvey now, but he introduced me to his band. We’d discuss lyrics and lyric writing, and I remember him coining the phrase, he said, ‘you know what we do – we’re street poets – but the master, the guy I draw my inspiration from is Alex Harvey.’ So I said, ‘never heard of him’ – and the next time I saw Bon, he had this cassette tape – he’d been carrying it round for the next time we saw each other, and I put that on and it blew my mind. So yeah, but we shared a lot of moments I can’t remember, neither would he be able to – the thing that we had in common was our love of what we did. We both had a very blues background, we wanted to write songs that weren’t trivial, we wanted to write songs about things we knew, and from a male perspective. Like – I don’t mean to be insensitive to anyone who writes endless love songs, but we never did that.”

Anderson has worked with so many great musos over the years, and isn’t shy to share some reminiscences about the talent he’s shared the stage with.

“I’m very selective with people I’ve spent time with musically, and in all honesty there are very few bands or players who have inspired me who I haven’t worked with. Even when I was in Buster [Brown] – the original Buster line-up with Phil [Rudd – who went on to be the mainstay of AC/DC’s rhythm section for many years] and Johnny Moon and those guys – and Geordie Leach came in playing bass, he was only a kid then – and we used to do supports for Bill Thorpe, Lobby Lloyde, the La De Da’s, Chain – you know, the really great Australian bands. I remember every now and then I’d see someone – like Kevin Borich with the La De’s and then later the KB Express – and you kind’ve make a little list in your mind [who I’d like to play with one day].

“Like Timmy Gaze – the first time I saw him with Taman Shud I thought, ‘I’ve gotta have that guy in a band at some stage,’ same thing with Johnny Meyer. There was only a small handful of great drummers – Digger [Royal – original Rose Tattoo drummer] is still my favourite drummer apart from [Tatts drummer since 1997 – Paul] DeMarco. The first time I saw Digger… I thought, ‘this guy has an amazing feel,’ and I locked his name away in my head. Then years later when Buster broke up, he turned up and hey – I thought it was gonna be hard to replace Phil [Rudd], but as soon as Digger played I thought, ‘wow, I’m in heaven!’ But I have been lucky enough to have either done lots of gigs with [people] like Kevin [Borich] – never been in a band with him, but done lots of gigs with him and been on stage in front of him, so that’s a cross off the list for me, So I’m lucky enough to have worked with most of my list so far.”

Anderson has made it abundantly clear that Rose Tattoo is finished, most recently directly to 100% ROCK MAGAZINE in February 2015 – yet you’ll have noticed them announced as a support for the upcoming Guns n’ Roses tour.

“Well, yeahhhhh…” he says, perhaps a little uncomfortably. “It’s not a dishonesty, but the band who will be onstage for Gunners, as Rose Tattoo, playing the Rose Tattoo songs, is my band – it’s the Angry Anderson Band. We don’t know what the future holds for DeMarco [who is currently in jail on gun running charges], but I promised him when he first went to jail, ‘I’m not going to reform Rose Tattoo without you, because as far as I’m concerned you’re the drummer of Rose Tattoo.’

“But the promoters, Dainty, said, ‘Guns really want you on that bill.’ So I said, ‘fine – but there is no Rose Tattoo, there’s just the AA Band.’ And he came back and said, ‘sure, they understand that, but they want to call it Rose Tattoo because they want to be associated with the brand’ – it’s an acknowledgement of how they were influenced in the early days, [before] they transformed themselves into one of the biggest rock n’ roll bands of all time! So they came back and said they wanted to use the name Rose Tattoo on the advertising, and they do understand that it’s not [the old band], so this will probably be the only time this line-up plays as Rose Tattoo, then they’ll go back to being my band…”

No-one should find that unfair – Angry Anderson is, effectively, the Rose Tattoo brand, after all.

“Well, thankyou for that,” he says genuinely. “There are two [other early] members still alive: Geordie Leach, who replaced original bass player Ian Rilen – he came in very early in the piece, we only got to record four tracks with Ian before he decided it wasn’t the direction he wanted to go in. So he’s still alive, Geordie… and Robin Riley, of course, who came in to replace Mick [Cocks], and recorded the Scarred For Life album, and was with the band on and off over the years – as was Mick until he passed. Actually it was the anniversary of Mick’s passing a day or two ago – and Pete’s not too long ago…

“Someone said to me the other day – they were talking, as we did just a moment ago, about the original Tatts line-up, and I said, ‘well they’re all dead – cancer, every one of them,’” he says with no little sadness in him voice. “And Rob Riley – he’s got diabetes, which is not helping his fight, but he has cancer too – but right now, he’s doing great. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

“Anyway, the surviving members are just that. I just didn’t want to, I suppose, go back and revisit the past to try and recreate something that had had its time and was over. So, by way of explanation, if The Tatts are to do something again, it will be with DeMarco, when we know what his future is going to be – if he gets out soon we will look to do something, but apart from DeMarco and Dai we will look for fresh players and take the band, I suppose, into the direction that Pete and I always envisaged – maturing and mellowing, if you like, pretty much into a blues band. That’s how we started, that’s our roots – and we always planned, had he survived, that that’s where we would take it.”

All this talk of fallen comrades begs the question – when you have friends and colleagues seriously ill and passing away, does it make you more aware of doing something to leave a legacy, knowing that your own clock is ticking?

“Uuuuuum… I suppose,” Anderson replies cautiously – or, perhaps, thoughtfully. “’Yes,’ would be the simplistic and the easiest answer – because, yeah, it would be deceptive of me to say that I wasn’t looking now at time and age differently than I did even five years ago. I’m not that far from turning 70. I’ve been less physically fit at a much younger age – in my forties, for sure – I’m probably as physically fit as I ever was, in comparison. Mentally and emotionally I’m very, very healthy – I have a very strong spiritual base, I know that that helps my view of life and the way that I deal with life – because it doesn’t get any easier, as we both know.

“I suppose I’m more excited about what I’m going to do musically – when I mentioned earlier about the Angry Anderson Band looking forward to recording, that’s only a working title – we do have a name for the band, and when we get to record, and consolidate the line-up organically and become a real band we’ll go on from there.

“And I’m also gonna form another band with another bunch of blokes – a guy called Jak Housden [The Badloves, The Whitlams], he’s just a beautiful player and a great bloke. I’ve always wanted to form a band based around The Faces, that sort of sound – drums, keyboards, bass, guitar – and play lots of Faces material and get into that sort of mid-paced sort of groove music. Influences like Van Morrison, Little Feat – that sort of more mellow, still really good vibrant music… so that’s another project I really hope will consolidate soon – we have a bunch of guys keen to do it, so hopefully we’ll be able to start rehearsals soon and make it a real band and possibly start to record.

“So there’s a few things – like you say, the clock is ticking, there’s no doubt about that – a few years ago I always thought, ‘there’ll be time, there’ll be time’ – but now, nup, do it now.”

We talk a little about Russell Morris’ recent blues reinvention, going back to his pre-fame blues roots and scoring the biggest hit of his modern career, and also Brian Cadd’s new ‘70s-rock-flavoured album which looks like being a bigger hit for him than his more well-known pop songs. I put it to Angry that maybe reinvention is the key?

“I’ve talked about writing with both those blokes,” he recalls, “particularly Brian, he’s paid me some lovely compliments over the years about my style, and he knows I’m a huge fan of his because it goes back to the ‘70s when Brian was in Axiom, and Glenn Shorrock – the first time I ever saw The Twilights, Buster was in Adelaide and I saw this band that just blew me away – next thing I knew they were in Melbourne. I remember seeing a showcase gig of theirs and they played Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – I thought, ‘wow!’ I’d never heard anything that good, ever. So you know – I’m gonna write with as many people as is sensible, and I do have a few people on the list that I want to do something with. So it certainly isn’t over at all just yet – I’m excited about what’s coming up over the next ten years. It will be very bluesy too.”

An album of blues and/or collaborations from one of THE pre-eminent Aussie rock singers? Where do I sign up for that!!!

“Well trust me – that’s on the cards. The person that I have in mind – and years ago agreed to co-write and produce a blues album, contempory blues – is Ross Wilson [Daddy Cool, Mondo Rock]. ‘Cos you know – similar background and I’ve heard him in motel rooms or whatever, sitting there with a guitar playing John Lee Hooker stuff, Howlin’ Wolf, Leadbelly, whatever. I love the way that Ross writes and I love the way he produces – some of the stuff that he’s written and produced himself is some of my favourite Australian music of all time.

“The best thing about being my age is that we can pretty much do whatever we feel like!”

That is a privileged place to be, for sure! Having kept Angry for over half an hour already, I throw one final question to the leader of Rose Tattoo: Do you still have any room on your body to get tattooed?

“Oh yeah!” he replies enthusiastically. “Over the last couple years I’ve been recoloured – but [I have been finishing a] total back piece that goes all the way down to the bottom of my buttocks, that’s 4 or 5 or 6 sessions away from completion. There’s a bit of room on my leg and there’s a couple of pieces I want that would be good leg pieces. Like Tony [Cohen – famous tattooist and owner of the Illustrated Man studio] said, ‘gee whiz, your skin’s in real good nick, so if we’re gonna do any more work we’d better do it in the next couple of years.’ I said, ‘yeah, let’s do it, ‘cos I wanna be buried as colourfully as I can!’”

Angry with tattooist Tony Cohen

It sounds like there is much more music to look forward to from Angry Anderson – and these Perth shows should give us a good indication of the next stage of the little legend’s musical evolution. It’s also great to hear that he hasn’t lost his rebel outlook on life – after all, this is the man who wrote the lyric, ‘got tattoos on my arms and rings in my ears – never gonna suffer a straight man’s fears.’ Just before he signs off he adds one more slice of street philosophy about his love of tattoos.

“Tony Cohen, he’s my [tattoo] man, he always makes time for me. I mean – he’s probably one of the great relationships of my life. And when you think about it – the emotional, physical, spiritual commitment… there’s the guys you play music with on stage, that’s a big commitment of trust and stuff, and then apart from a partner or raising kids, the most intimate relationship you can have with anyone is with your tattooist.”

See The Angry Anderson Band this month at:
Friday January 13 – Friends Restaurant, Perth WA
Saturday January 14 – Ravenswood Hotel, Ravenswood WA
Sunday January 15 – Market City Tavern, Canning Vale WA from 4.30pm


Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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