The Cockney Rejects
Filed: Tuesday, 3rd April 2012
By: Staff Writer
Later this month a special preview screening of the new Cockney Rejects film, 'East End Babylon' - a documentary based on the seminal East End band - will be aired at the Koko club in Camden, before going into cinemas later in the year.
Ahead of West Ham United's Championship clash with Reading last weekend, singer Jeff Turner, lead guitarist Mick Geggus and the film's director, Richard England, pitched up at the East Ham Working Men's Club to take KUMB's questions about East End Babylon, the band and West Ham United.
In the first part of our three-part Q&A, Jeff and Richard talk to us about East End Babylon. Firing the questions for KUMB was Schu Khan...
KUMB: Jeff: Can you give us a brief synopsis of East End Babylon?
JT: It's a film about the Rejects, about the East End and how the East End's done for. It's a film about West Ham United, boxing and a journey in a band that was controversial, who told it how it was and still lived to fight another day. World wide.
KUMB: Whose idea was it to turn the Rejects' story into a film? How did that come about?
JT: This man here, Richard England. It's all down to him.
RE: I met Mick and Jeff and they were discussing making a real film, using actors. Jeff had written his book 'The Cockney Rejects' - a fantastic book, everyone should read it - and then someone wanted to do a bio, a film, but that would cost millions. And whilst we were talking about it the idea came up to do a documentary.
I'd just finished doing 'Oil City Confidential' about Dr Feelgood. Once that had come to a close I was looking for something else and after I'd read Jeff's book, the story was just so fascinating, gripping, shocking and breathtaking...
JT: ...and sad!
RE: And sad! And funny!
JT: And funny!
RE: ...We felt we had to make a film. That was that and four years later...
JT: ...here we are!
KUMB: We understand Vince Riordan [former bass player] appears in the film; what was it like meeting him again after so long?
JT: I hadn't seen Vince for 20 years. We met up at the Army & Navy, because it was integral that he was in the film as he was a massive part of the band and what happened in the early days. It was great to see him; it was really good and now we're back on track. But it was mad; after 20 years of not seeing the geezer then seeing him, it was like I [only] hadn't seen him for a week. There was just that natural connection.
KUMB: So straight away it was just like the old days?
JT: Yeah, straight away. Vince is Vince and it was great to see him. He's back on board with a lot of things now.
KUMB: So you're going to carry on getting together?
JT: Well yeah, as a mate and doing what we're doing. Obviously not in the band but as a mate we'll carry on. He's a top geezer, Vince.
KUMB: Now the film's finished are you pleased with the way it turned out? Anything you'd have liked to include that didn't make the cut?
RE: No, we're very pleased with the way it's come out and I think we've got everything in.
JT: It's champion, brilliant how they've put it all in to the hour and 40 minutes it is - thanks to Richard's hard work. It's amazing, really really good. We couldn't have asked for more.
KUMB: The previews suggest East End Babylon could be a spiritual successor to 'Oil City Confidential' on which Richard worked as Executive Producer. Were you a big fan of that, Jeff?
JT: Yeah, I think it was a terrific film, a groundbreaking film really. But as a natural successor? We're kind of poles apart in what we did and Feelgood's story is a fantastic story and filmed well, but ours is a different way of coming at it. I wouldn't say it's a natural successor, they're just two very good films. That's the way I see it.
RE: The Feelgood story was quite simple. They got the band together, the band was quite successful, they break up, sadly one of them dies and there you go. The Rejects' story comes to so many different things.
From the East End, from the war, from the docks, you're learning so much about the East End of London and that's even before you've even got into the band. You learn what it was like in the '70s and what it was like to grow up with nine people in a house. Then you're getting into the band, getting into Top of the Pops and all the things that came with it. The violence, the football violence, the racism thing and how they got tarred with that brush and then the way they now tour the whole world and the effect it's had on people.
Whilst the Feelgoods obviously had an effect on music and lots of other bands - and particularly Wilko [Johnson] with his particular style, or Lee [Brilleaux] with his singing - they're not around, obviously. Wilko's still doing it but they're not together like the Rejects are. So the Rejects are still able to take this message with the new album. They're still singing songs about the streets, the subject matter is still local to this very area we're in now and I think that's the fundamental difference - there's tons more stories and they live life far quicker.
There's a moment in 'Oil City Confidential' where they're going, "we were like a little firm going to do a job up town". F*ck me, wait 'til you see the Rejects; it looks like a boy scout party [in comparison]!
JT: And it really is a social thing because it charts the war, what happened on the docks and how Custom House, Canning Town and West Ham got flattened by the Nazis. 37,000 houses were destroyed. It's about how we rose from the ashes and how it's come full circle and going down the pan again. But to me, it's a touching story as well.
KUMB: The film premieres at the Koko later this month with a live gig to follow; any surprises planned that you can tell us about?
JT: Well there are a couple of surprises. One big surprise, but I can't really say anything at the moment because it'd be giving the game away.
RE: Buy a ticket and turn up! You'll get to see the film for the first time on a big screen, surround sound and you'll get to see the band play live afterwards. It'll be a top night.
KUMB: And when can we expect to see it on general release in the cinema?
RE: We're looking at a cinema run in June. That will be independent cinemas, maybe 30 or 40 around the UK.
KUMB: Any plans to release a soundtrack?
JT: I don't know really because most people will have already bought what's on there. It's made up of all the albums that have been out over the years, so I think a soundtrack would be ripping off the punters really. It's a bit like the [Sex] Pistols when they were flogging a dead horse. I wouldn't expect anyone to go and shell out more money if it's already been released.
RE: They can go and buy the new album instead!
JT: Yeah, that's a concept album so that's the best way they can recapture the spirit.