For our youngest readers and for those who lived in a cavern those last years could you introduce the members of the band?
The Piccadilly Bullfrogs are Danny Brittain on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Pete Davenport on lead guitar and backing vocals and Tim 'Trundle' Purkess on string bass and backing vocals.
How did you get the idea to form the Piccadilly Bullfrogs?
I've spent a large part of the last thirty years playing Big Beat Rock'n'Roll, Swing-Jive, etc, in five and six piece bands and although I still love that kind of thing, I had a real urge to re-visit the material which first switched me onto the whole scene. I had a bunch of Essex recordings from Bill Haley and The Saddlemen/Comets, plus some of those wonderful SUN 45s all of which happened to be tucked away inside a big valve radiogram given to me by my uncle Mick, when I was only just in my teens. This mixture of primitive Rockabilly and very early R'n'R made a huge impression on me and changed my life forever, although I rarely got the chance to play it on stage. So, as we were having a much needed break from The Stargazers, I finally decided it was time to put things right and I'm very glad that I did. The trio format is really much more flexible than people imagine and because of its size, the process of writing and arranging new material is totally streamlined. Especially when you're lucky enough to be teamed up with major talents like Danny and Pete!
The three of us have worked together for many years now and most people on the scene (over a certain age!) will probably remember us for The Stargazers, but there have been other interesting projects such as The Four Chaps, and The Rock'n'Roll Society. Then about a year ago I casually mentioned my desire to form an old-school trio to Dan and to my delight he was ready to sign up for it straight away! Peter was the obvious choice for guitarist and I seem to recall calling him that same day. Happily, his reaction was the same as Danny's.
Can we see the Piccadilly Bullfrogs as an evolution of the Four Chaps?
Hmm, tricky question. I think I'll have to say no. True, all three of us were in The Four Chaps, along with our fellow Stargazer John Wallace, but I think that band actually had far more in common (musically speaking) with John's later creation The Hep Chaps.
Before being known as Stargazers members, the three of you used to play in Rockabilly bands (the Rhythm Cats, the Barn Shakers, Red Hot) so the Piccadilly Bullfrogs can be seen as a "return to the origin"...
Absolutely. In terms of style and ethos, The Piccadilly Bullfrogs is quite closely related to the "spit and sawdust" pub bands we played in before things really started taking off in the early/mid eighties.
As Peter so rightly pointed out the other day, folks now have a tendency to over-intellectualise. Then in dissecting the songs to find out how they work, they miss the point entirely! As I see it, this isn't the type of music that demands any in depth analysis. If it doesn't speak directly to the soul - either the band aren't up to the job, or the audience haven't let the music into their heart. In short, the beauty of these old tunes is that they work on such a fundamental level. They don't need the fussy, complicated treatments that the larger R'n'R dance bands are obliged to use.
You have just released an excellent song called Cutthroat Joe as an official download. Do you plan to release more songs this way?
Thank you! Cutthroat Joe! is our debut single, available worldwide as a download through all the big on-line stores. I'm happy to report that reaction to the song has been fantastic (you can also watch a live version of it on Youtube) and has been an added inspiration to us. This is just the first of many new originals and our second release No Time To Lose, should be out within the next two or three months (there will be film on Youtube to accompany this one too).
Maybe a "real" record too?
Viniyl Japan have returned to the land of the rising sun, and ACE seem to be concentrating on their re-issues at the moment, but we're always open to offers...
I guess this is an original, do you have more original songs in your setlist?
We have three brand new originals in our current set list. Cutthroat Joe! is my own composition, No Time To Lose which was written by Danny, and Bullfrog Stomp which is Pete's new instrumental. There are many more still in the embryonic stage, plus another two which are nearly finished.
What are your influences?
In this instance, rather than mention specific names I will state that we have been influenced by a great variety of old Rockabilly, R'n'R, Bluegrass, Hillbilly, Skiffle, R'n'B, and Country artists (with perhaps just the very very lightest hint of Gypsy Jazz in there somewhere).
What is the contribution of each of you?
There are no well defined boundaries here and we all bring new ideas to the business of songwriting and delivery. The same can be said of the administrative side of the band, with everyone sharing the duties. This is a very democratic arrangement and if a suggestion is not met with 100& approval, it is promptly discarded. This way, everyone's happy!
How would you define your sound? Of course one can hear a lot of rockabilly but there's also some skiffle too...
I think we should leave it to others to define our sound. Hopefully (if we're doing things right) it will be reminiscent of all the genres mentioned earlier - but at the same time different. If we haven't brought anything new to the equation, we may as well give up now!
What about the Stargazers? Do you have plans for occasional gigs or even a new album?
We do indeed have big plans for The Stargazers. There will be a return to live work in the spring of 2011 at the Valencia Hall party in Spain and I dare say there will be a concert in Holland for those good folk at Radio Modern at around the same time. It will be five years since the last Stargazers gig and when we do return, we'll want to make the right kind of impression with everybody, so you may expect a new single (perhaps even an E.P.) to be released at the same time.
I personally think that the world still needs an official Stargazers live album (or even a DVD)?
Perhaps you're right! We certainly haven't ruled anything out, so we'll just have to wait and see how things develop. However, the first official release will doubtless be a studio recording.
You also play in the Rock'n'Roll Society. A word about that project?
Ah yes, The Rock'n'Roll Society. In essence, it's a six piece R'n'R band which is aimed primarily at the corporate market. The set is filled with nothing but the biggest of '50s party anthems. Stuff that everybody on the planet knows! It may not have universal appeal (jaded scene-sters might find it too obvious) but it's proved a big hit with dancers, and with the more mainstream audiences.
Well, do you want to say something special to the readers of Jumpin' From 6 To 6 ?
Only that we'll always try to bring them something worth hearing just as long as they want us too, and that we're extremely grateful for all the support we've had over the years. Many thanks also to the amazing Jumpin' from 6 to 6 for giving me this opportunity to talk about The Piccadilly Bullfrogs. Cheers Fred!
Don't forget to check their pages on myspace and facebook to hear more music.