Bernie Torme Interview by Billy Ifantis, www.skylightzine.tk

Bernie Torme

1. Bernie, what led you or the Label to release this DVD?


Well I mentioned to Peter Purnell at Angelair, who I've known for many years, that I had some old video footage, and he was instantly very keen to put it out as a DVD. Being a musician and having my own little label (Retrowrek records), its a funny thing but I've never had much interest in video, so I definitely didn't want to try to do it on Retrowrek.

Following that conversation I really tried to forget about it, but at regular intervals Peter kept calling me and asking if I'd got it together yet, of course I hadn't! So I finally gave up and realised that he'd never stop hassling me untill I actually did it!

I did the basic choice of tracks and mixing the audio to 5.1 at my studios, Barnroom Studios. That was a real battle because the audio varied from 24 track analogue on Ghost Walking and Shoorah Shoorah to 8 track on Star, Frontline, Turn Out The Lights, and Hardcore from the Clarendon Ballroom right down to a crappy mono microphone at the back of the marquee club for Boney Maroney and Getting There. The 24 track stuff was fun. The mono stuff was distinctly not! Its also really weird watching yourself again and again from so long ago, remembering what was going on and the shit you were going through. A bit like therapy really!


2. Why did you decide to release material from your "Glam" period?


Because there is nothing much there from the earlier period: in the 70's you got filmed, not videoed. My punky Bernie Torme Band did a promo in 77 or 78, and we got filmed in 77 at the Vortex club in Wardour Street, but I have no copies of any of those, people just didn't have vhs in those days.

The first Gillan promo we did was a promo film of three tracks, it was used by Acrobat Records in the UK and EMI-Electrola in germany. I've never even seen it! At the time Gillan did all of the Top Of the Pops stuff and Rock Goes To College and the other bits, the only person in the band who had a video recorder was Mick Underwood. So I have very little of that too.

So when the 80's happened it all became far more video orientated, and there was a lot of independent little video companies whereas before that it had just been the BBC and people like that. We were a hip London band at that time, people were keen to video us, so most of the stuff I had was from that time.


You've got to remember when you talk about glam, that I had had that image in Gillan, you know dyed blonde blue purple and green hair, lightning streak on my cheek, sometimes an eyepatch, and always the military and pirate jackets, I just thought it was rock'n'roll, so when glam really happened in the 80's, i felt it had just caught up with me!


3. I believe that musically is very interesting material, how can anyone find material from these years?


Its all out on retrowrek releases http://www.retrowrek.co.uk or on angel air. There's one album "back to babylon" out on cherry red, but I haven't heard the reissue, they never even sent me a copy, but the original album was not that great soundwise. I hope to do a remix at some stage.


4. You were really in Glam lifestyle that period, what's your opinion now about Glam rock?


I don't know much about glam rock I was really just into rock'n'roll. That was more the lifestyle. We used to hang around a bit with nasty and andy from hanoi, and spike from the quireboys, but I never really thought of it as glam rock, just rock'n'roll, I was hanging out with Vincent Crane from Rooster too. It was all just rock'n'roll to me.


5. Do you consider this DVD as representative for your carreer or are we going to have a series of DVD releases?


Not really 100% representative since it includes nothing pre 1983, at which time I had already done Scrapyard with John McCoy, the Bernie Torme Band during the punk years and Gillan and then Ozzy and then the Electric Gypsies. The Shoorah Shoorah promo video was at the end of that period and is the oldest footage included. And nothing much after 1987 other than Ghost Walking which was 97 or 98.

So there's no Gillan, no Ozzy, no Atomic Rooster and no Dee Snider so it can't be really all that representative.

I wouldn't want to do any others unless its a new live gig or something like that. The past is gone, it would be good to do something now, I'm currently working with the great John McCoy again and a really spectacular drummer by the name of Robin Guy (He used to play with Bruce Dickinson). Its pretty cool and different, it would be good to do that, but frankly I've no real interest in digging through the past.

Bernie Torme


6. What can you remember from this concert that featured in this DVD?


It was more than one, the first five live tracks are from the clarendon ballroom hammersmith London. No longer in existence, I don't remember the date, probably 86-ish I suppose. I don't remember anything much about it. Then there are two tracks from an open air festival at a football field in folkestone Kent, that was a really fun gig, we had to hang around all day, lovely sunny day, free drinks we were all wrecked by various means by the time we played. it was a very good day, we were special guests to wishbone ash who were headline. Then there are a few numbers from a gig in Liverpool, and then a few more from another gig I've no idea where. We did quite a few gigs in those days and usually its the very bad or very good ones you remember, and our standard was usually pretty high, if unpredictable.

I didn't get on all that well personally with everybody in the band, and I seem to remember bits of tension before the liverpool gig and the clarendon, but it sort of gave it that bit of fire onstage. You need that. Liking everybody doesn't necessarily result in the best performance.


7. Unfortunately the vision quality is poor, how this concert was filmed ?


Well if it's watched 4:3 format and not wide screen its not too bad at all, but wide screen its horrible. I don't know why the dvd can't open up with an advisory screen saying "change your tv settings from widescreen to 4:3". Unfortunately the video compression on dvd does horrible things to it if it isn't watched as 4:3.

It was mostly videoed professionally 4:3 format, the exception being the marquee clips, which are on an amateur camera.


8. Except the live performance, we also have video clips and a TV appearance here, right. Please tell me more about this non live material ...


Two promos, and an interview, everything else is live. The promos were just to promote singles, Ghost Walking in 97/98 and Shoorah in 83. The interview was done beginning of this year.

9. Do you believe that your guitar playing was an influence for newcomer guitarists of those days ?

I hope not.

Bernie Torme


10. What is Bernie doing right now ? Any plans for new recordings ?


Currently completing an album and doing some few gigs with the great Mr John McCoy on bass and the brilliant and spectacular Mr Robin Guy on drums. Its great. This album is going to kick peoples asses, its very very good stuff.


11. Are you also going to tour ?


Depends if I'm paid enough. I'm a lazy bastard, I don't like touring. I've done enough of it not to want to do it again unless theres a damn good reason and its comfortable.


12. Give me an advice for a newcomer guitarist


Practice practice practice, listen to everything you can, learn everything you can, from all areas of music, it is all relevant, play with as many people as you can, try to play with people who are better than you, get onstage at every available opportunity, take criticism but always follow your own road, listen again and again and practice practice practice. Have a drink every so often too!

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