After several months of news, reviews and links, I’ve finally got around to the first Brighton Music Blog interview. It’s a rainy January evening, and I’m meeting Simon Bate and Alex Borg in The Gladstone. They’re two fifths of new band The Repeat Prescriptions, and when they’re in the band, they assume pseudonyms and take on a rather interesting back story…
Simon Bate onstage at the Prince Albert
RO: Hello. Who are you?
SB: We’re the Repeat Prescriptions, and we basically play loud raucous rock’n’roll from a distant past.
RO: Tell us about this distant past…
SB: My name is Smuj E Koknokka, and in the summer of 1965 I moved from Ohio – I was a simple farming lad – to the bright lights and big city of LA, but obviously there was no money in it initially so to subsidise my meagre income as a musician, I got a job in the adult film industry as a fluffer, and I was on the set of Gorged that I met the director Ju Ju Sharp, who was a guitarist, and we formed the Repeat Prescriptions. We penned a lot of songs and did a few gigs, we met this gentrified English chap, who was heavily into the brown acid, called Marmaduke Marshall…
AB: Good Evening
SB: …and he was hanging out with a guy called Sandy Hoxton, who was a drummer, who was a surfer boy, wasn’t he?
AB: He liked girls and he liked riding the waves.
SB: Riding waves and women.
AB: That’s all you really need rhythmically. He was always going to be good on drums, wasn’t he? Sandy ‘Sticks’ Hoxton – the ‘Sticks’ is very important, that has to be there otherwise he gets a little bit diva-ish.
SB: What about Brian ‘O Brian’ Brian?
AB: Well he was playing keys for Hendrix, sessioning on some of his work which we don’t think ever saw the light of day, and it was through a friend of a friend we were put on to him and once he jammed with us there was no turning back and that was it.
SB: It was either him or Manzarek, but he was a little bit busy at the time. So in the late sixties – 68 – there was a very real prospect of being conscripted into the Vietnam war.
AB: Being fit, young men, as we are
SB: So we decided that maybe our market might be in the future so we decided to get cryogenically frozen. Keith Moon agreed that he’d ship us back to Brighton because he thought that when we thawed out in the 21st century we’d be a bit freaked out and that would be the ultimate place.
RO: So you’re back?
SB: Yeah, we’re back. We got thawed out last year. Obviously took us a while for our fingers to actually work again so we could play our instruments, but we’ve just started to do gigs again in Brighton – we played one gig already, we’ve got three booked up so far in the next month or so
RO: Which are?
SB: This Sunday, the 22nd, is the Green Door Store for Sunday Service. Two weeks after that we’re playing the Horse & Groom, up on Islingword Road with the Stash DJs, so that’ll be 50s and 60s rock’n’roll music, and then the 24th of February we’re playing the Brighton Ton Club which is a motorcycle enthusiasts day out.
SB: So we’re playing at that, we’re going to have burlesque dancers…
RO: Is that part of your rider?
SB: We’re going to have to start making stipulations for future gigs!
AB: I think we need some platforms for them, to the left and right of the stage
SB: Or if we can’t afford platforms, just get them to wear platforms, so they’ll just naturally tower over everyone else
RO: Next question – Are you planning to put any of this onto record?
SB: Yeah, yeah. We’ve come back and everyone’s doing digital stuff at the moment and I don’t really truly believe that you own something if it only exists as a series of ones and noughts, so I think what we’re going to do is release limited seven inch singles.
AB: Get some plastic out
SB: Make something tangible, it’s important that people can get something that can collect and hold that’s a bit unique, so each sleeve will maybe numbered or something like that.
AB: Something to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
RO: So, the blog’s all about Brighton – What do you think it is that makes Brighton such a creative place?
AB: It’s the people, isn’t it?
SB: I think Brighton is the closest we’ve got in England to Laurel Canyon in the Sixties, home to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jim Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, … They were all neighbours and they all used to play with each other, and I think Brighton’s very similar to that.
AB: It’s a little hotbed of creativity. But only seven people in Brighton are from Brighton, apparently.
SB: Everyone seems like they’re imports.
RO: What are your favourite other bands from Brighton?
SB: I love Abi Wade…
AB: …Gentleman Starkey …
SB: … Lolly & The City of Flies, Lost Dog, Rocker Switch *laughs* <it’s worth pointing out that Simon plays with the last two bands mentioned>
RO: Do you think the success of Rizzle Kicks and the Maccabees (currently in the top five in the singles and album charts respectively) will help the music scene in Brighton?
SB: Well, I think anything that puts the spotlight on a particular area is good. It would be nice if we had what happened in Manchester when the baggy scene started up, everyone was looking at Manchester and there were these bands who weren’t even particularly good suddenly getting some sort of recognition.
AB: I’m going to be controversial and I’m going to say that it’s not going to make any difference, just because those two bands are completely different and they’re not really coming out of any scene.
SB: I suppose so. When the punters think of that, they don’t think instantly Maccabees = Brighton.
AB: I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s ever been a big scene in Brighton. There’s been lots of good bands doing their own thing, and just the ones that are really good at whatever do are the ones that shine. So Rizzle Kicks I think are great – I especially like the one about mums, and the video to that is brilliant.
AB: And the Maccabees are great. I think they’ve always been great, personally. That Pelican tune is fantastic considering they’re all about what, 21, 22?
SB: Still? They can’t be 21,22! They’ve always been 21, 22!
AB: They’re probably all 36. Anyway, I like it. It’s not boring drossy run of the mill indie.
RO: What’s your favourite venue to play in Brighton?
SB: I think the Green Door Store was what Brighton always needed. It’s got that Berlin shabby chic. It looks like a bombed out shell of a building.
AB: It’s very industrial there.
RO: It’s good because you can spill your pint and no one cares
AB: You can spill blood and nobody cares!
SB: All the girls I know there wear quite fancy shoes. That massacres your shoes. It’s basically like dancing on emery boards.
AB: It’s an orthopaedic war zone. That would make a good album title.
SB: It’s a concept album!
RO: So you love the Green Door Store…
SB: And the Albert. I think the Albert’s got great sound.
RO: A lot of the stuff that goes on at the Green Door Store kind of feels like the stuff that would have gone on at the Albert before, but it still feels like the Albert has got loads going on all the time. Any other venues you feel warrant a mention?
AB: The Hope. The sweaty Hope. It is incredibly hot. In the summer it’s almost unbearable but it just seems to be the perfect little sweatbox venue that holds about a hundred people. I’ve got a lot of happy memories from there. I’ve played there a few times, put on gigs there. It’s a weird venue, the road it’s on, you get the passing tourist trade and that can make it quite exciting sometimes. I always thought there was an air of danger from that place because you can get anything from football supporters to the complete other end of the spectrum.
RO: And what about the Hippodrome – the old Mecca Bingo Hall down on Middle street, which has apparently been bought up and is being done slowly up by Live Nation who used to be Mean Fiddler. It’s got history – the Beatles and the Stones played back in the 60s.
AB: Whenever a building of that historical significance, it’s great.
SB: I think it’s inevitable in a city the size of Brighton there’s going to have to be something like that. There is still a city centre gap…
AB: …and it’s going to have to be someone with some money and some clout to make it a successful operation. The only way that would work otherwise would be if you got some kind of community syndicate project to sort it out. That’s obviously not happened so somebody with some clout and some money’s gone in there.
SB: I still think places like the Albert and are going to be perfect for the homegrown bands, because they’re really nice places to go.
AB: It’s going to be touring bands that play at the Hippodrome, anyway.
SB: Anywhere would be better than the Brighton Centre. That’s a horrendous place to see bands. You might as well stick a ghetto blaster in the King Alfred Centre for the sort of sounds you get in there.
AB: I have a feeling it’ll be about the same capacity as the Dome, which does seem to go for the “still touring at the age of 60” middle of the road vibe
SB: It’s a seated thing isn’t it?
AB: That’s why all the good gigs are in places like the Hope or the Green Door Store. So many good ones happen when it’s just you and a fifty or a hundred people.
RO: Last Question: Brighton or Hove?
AB: Hove’s full of estate agents.
SB: Hove’s a little bit snooty. I love this side of Brighton. I love the area where I live.
AB: There’s nothing to do in Hove, except get on a bus and come into Brighton.
SB: Stick us down for two Brightons!
The Repeat Prescriptions play the headline slot at 9pm for the Sunday Service at the Green Door Store on 22nd Jan.