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The Cockney Rejects: Part Two

Filed: Wednesday, 4th 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 and lead guitarist Mick Geggus 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 second part of our three-part Q&A, Mick and Jeff talk to us about the Cockney Rejects. Firing the questions on behalf of KUMB was director Richard England...

KUMB: You were both pretty decent fighters in your day - why choose music over boxing?

JT: Because it's easier, isn't it? You're not getting punched in the mouth every time! But I think it's just a natural thing, you go through phases in your life where you're good at something then you want to leave that behind and go to the next thing. You couldn't mix the two. I did for a while; the boxing was great but there was always that love of music as well and the older you get in boxing, the harder it gets.

MG: And it's always been there, it'll never go. It's like West Ham, it's in your head and it's in your heart - it'll always be there.

JT: Yeah. I still prefer boxing to music but I don't prefer the violent part of it!

KUMB: Who were your own musical influences as kids?

MG: To start with mine was very early Queen and Led Zeppelin, stuff like that. Obviously, as you got a little bit older you moved into the Clash and the Pistols but I always leaned more towards the hard rock side from an early age.

JT: I can go along with that because Mick's three years older than me so all the records he was bringing home became the same influences for me. So early Queen, Zeppelin, without a doubt Black Sabbath, [Deep] Purple and going on then to the punk bit - obviously the Pistols, the Stranglers, the Clash and all that game. The Ramones, loads of them. They were the main genres, the heavy rock side and punk but like Mick I might lean more to the heavy rock side.

KUMB: And what bands do you particularly dislike?

JT: Well if you've got all year I'll tell you! Haircut 100!

KUMB: Whose idea was it to cover 'Bubbles'? And who re-wrote it?

MG: Funnily enough it was EMI. We pushed EMI to do it and they accepted, because it was a no-brainer for them. You've got a band, you've got an FA Cup Final, you've got rabid football fans in the band. I know Iron Maiden wanted to jump on it but we f*cked them off, we got in there first. I just sat in the bedroom and re-wrote it in one night, we jumped in the next day and did it.

JT: That's it in a nutshell.

KUMB: Tell us what it was like appearing on Top of the Pops for the first time?

JT: It was sh*te! I thought it was going to be the dream of dreams being a schoolboy and getting on Top of the Pops but it was full of divs, full of wrong'uns, we got pissed and they showed about a minute-and-a-half of it! I've had pisses that last longer than that but that was the way it went. It kind of shattered your dream but at least we lost our cherry and did it.

MG: Yeah. Bubbles third time on there was even better, we got barred from Top of the Pops after that because of our behaviour backstage and during the filming and all that. But we wouldn't swap it for the world.

JT: I'm glad they barred us anyway!

MG: Yeah, we wouldn't want to go back there!

KUMB: Can you remember who else appeared on that show?

JT: I remember there was some div who did that '[You'll Always Find Me] In The Kitchen At Parties'...

MG: Jona Lewie!

JT: Yeah, that was him. I think David Essex, another West Ham supporter was doing 'Silver Dream Machine' but he didn't want to mix with us. I thought all West Ham stood together, but there you go. I dunno, they had so much crap around. Johnny Logan, the geezer who'd just won the Eurovision Song Contest.

MG: He was alright as it goes!

JT: He was alright, yeah!

MG: A straight player...

JT: Yeah - he was in there, rolling black up and all that, having a laugh, getting hold of Legs & Co. He was a proper geezer, he was!

KUMB: You were well known for having no security at your early gigs. How did that come about?

JT: Because we were our own security. If anyone wanted it, we'd give it to them. You see these divs like that Liam Gallagher walking round thinking they're hard, dressing the part with a load of geezers from the security agency. If someone went to him 'crack' he'd be out the frame, it'd be over. We didn't have that; we went out there, if they wanted it, 'bang' - let's have it. So we didn't need security, that's the way you've got to do it.

KUMB: We spoke to Cass Pennant recently and spoke about the problems involved with keeping the National Front out of West Ham. Was it a similar story for the Rejects?

MG: Well they were involved in the careers of bands like Sham 69 and they were all up Sieg Heil-ing at the likes of UK Subs [gigs]. Poor old Charlie [Harper] and the boys couldn't do anything about it and they thought they could come round us. When they did try to come round us we sorted them out good and proper, bashed the living daylights out of them. Then they threw a load of innuendo at us, calling us certain nasty names and we settled it all with a dust-up outside Barking station in 1980.

JT: We dealt with them good and proper.

MG: Yeah, we put several of them in hospital and we never heard from the c*nts again.

JT: So that was them well out of the frame.

KUMB: It's well documented that the infamous Cedar Club gig in Birmingham was the beginning of the end for the original Rejects. What do you recall about that night?

JT: I just remember it going off and off and off. That's what I remember.

MG: It was like the fight that wouldn't end.

JT: All these Brummies - there were about 150 of them - wanted to kill 20 of us but they couldn't even manage that. It was a poisonous atmosphere; I suppose we'd built it up.

MG: We'd brought it on ourselves a bit, we know that. But what happened, happened.

JT: That's right, but you've got to stand up for yourself haven't you, because it's your manor at large, it was everything you were brought up to be and you couldn't let them take liberties. I don't know how we got through it; by rights it's embarrassing for them because they should have caned us, but they couldn't.

KUMB: How long do you think it went on for?

JT: Ah, about half-an-hour...

MG: It's like a boxing match seems to last forever, doesn't it? I don't know, but it just seemed to go on and on and on. When the fellas got back out and smashed the door down where they'd been locked in they managed to these disassembled clothes rails, so we had some tools - because they were tooled up downstairs. When they finally came out - and there was a few of us left out front, I think there was me, Andy Swallow and a few others - then Jeff, Vince and all the boys came bursting in and that was when we gave it one last push and smashed the f*cking living daylights out of them.

JT: It went on afterwards anyway, because seven of us got tooled up in the van and we caned them on the street outside anyway.

MG: Yeah, big time, run them all over the place.

JT: You could say it was over two legs - and we won them both!

MG: On aggregate!

JT: No penalties either! We scored the away goals.

KUMB: How does playing live these days compare to when you first started out?

MG: Chalk and cheese obviously! These days it's a different thing now. In the late '70s and early '80s this was a violent, fractionalised country - every firm hated every other firm. Nowadays the Cockney Rejects bring everyone together. Everyone's under one roof, this is one big party for you whether you're Leeds, Man Utd - it doesn't matter. Everyone's at the party all over the UK and all over the world. There's no f*cking grief; this time everyone's in on the celebration - and it's f*cking great.

JT: You might get your odd dippy bod, but there's always one everywhere.

MG: You get them in the chemist, don't you!

JT: That's it, you get them queuing up for the bus but that's life.

KUMB: Why do you think 'Oi!' is still misunderstood thirty years on?

MG: Well I don't understand it 30 years on!

JT: I don't know, whether it's misunderstood or whatever...

MG: Always been a bit of a mystery to us, that one. We may have started it but we never encouraged it or gave it credence.

JT: We inadvertently started it. But listen, we're our own little band, we are. We're own thing; we aint this, we aint that, we aint the other. We're just the Rejects, West Ham and who we are. That's it, we don't subscribe to any subculture or nothing.

KUMB: Do you still keep in touch with Garry Bushell?

JT: I've spoken to him, yeah. He was on the blower to me for an hour yesterday telling me how hard he's having it! I tried to get in how I was having it harder, it was one of them, a bit of a tug of war going on. No, Gal's cushty, always been a good mate.

MG: Good old Gal. Always been around.

KUMB: What kind of bands do you listen to today - if any?

JT: I still listen to all my old gear really. Sabbath, Zeppelin, Aerosmith, all that kind of stuff. I don't really have time for it, I suppose you go back in time, you know?

MG: Some of the Coldplay stuff's pretty good.

JT: Yeah, I don't mind some of that but there aint a lot about now, I've sort of lost interest with a lot of it.

MG: Music was the '70s mate and that aint just being a retro old git.

JT: That's it; you used to get a record in the '70s and you'd get an album cover and you could 'smell' the band, greasy f*ckers on the cover. But now you get what - a download and all that?

MG: [mockingly] Kasabian...

JT: Yeah, a load of fake knobs.

MG: Come to Leicester... We know boys from Leicester and they wouldn't give them the f*cking time of day.

JT: Yeah, some guitarist walking around dressed like f*cking D'Artagnan - what's all that about!?


KUMB: What's the latest on the new album?

JT: What is the latest, tell me!? Someone tell me! We finished it 26 years ago and we're still waiting for a release date!

MG: So watch this space!

JT: It's a great album, let's just hope it sees the light of day. We'll get another Teflon disk!

KUMB: You cover some interesting subject matters, can you tell us about some of the songs on the album?

'Your Country Needs You' is a poignant song, we sing about what's going on in the world today. I think people die needlessly in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it's just my own view - basically what's happening to this country. We've got a song on there [called] 'The Devil Went Down To Essex' which is about the amount of trade that went out of east London to Essex and certain people we know. Really it's a bit of a concept album.

MG: We've also got the title track 'East End Babylon' which is about six minutes long and we try to combine everything in one hit, a little microcosm of life in the East End from way back to now.

JT: Yeah. You get a lot of myths like, "oh, you could always leave your back door open". My old man left his open and the f*cking video went! "What'd you listen to that old b*llocks for..?"

... continue to part three