Vicarious Thrills + Pol-A-Ticks: Crossing The Irish Sea With The Adverts

ACTUALLY, WE didn’t swim across, we flew in a chartered taxi-cab with Rosalind Russell (Record Mirror) on the wing and a two-hour vomiting session courtesy of Laurence Driver, Adverts drummer. By the end of the four-day binge, Laurie would be isolated in a Dublin hospital with a dose of the ‘rock star’s flu’, hepatitis and two out of the four Irish dates fulfilled.

Yeah, it was ‘that’ kind of On The Road — jeeze, T V Smith was reduced to chucking a sandwich out of a hotel window! and Ray Stevenson, veteran photographer of total chaos, to declaring “More fun than the Sex Pistols’ gigs!” As for the writer, fresh from a convent and too many jaded nights in London, I had myself a ball and resolved to take a Sony cassette recorder, a million blank tapes and an 8 millimetre camera NEXT time.

The Adverts internal World War III makes the Who look like a sewing circle — and guess who got’up on the roof to do some dirty pictures with Ray (ménage a trois) Stevenson? Suffering silences, when you love your friends! Poor bleeders, you’ll have to wait until all the group are deceased and manager/notorious book publisher, Michael Dempsey gives me the all-clear-thank-God sign. £50,000 advance (rub hands) at least.

Ah, maybe I’m just winding you up… lost leather jackets (Gaye wants it back, you Dublin fink), nights of drunken mayhem (NO drugs in Ireland, junkies!) and Steve (I-Was Kaiser-Rotten’s-batman) English’s impersonations are Sunday paper fodder, ain’t they? One must do one’s job, eh what?

C’mon Adverts, you’ve left us in mid-flight playing Eye-Spy — there’s 700 students at Colerane University reading last Septembers music paper and trading last tour’s Adverts’ badges; they’ve been waiting hours.


WELL, COLERANE sure was a gas! Show me the way to the Belfast gig. Can we stop at Stormont, Ray? Ra-aa-y, can we park outside Stormont and get some shots just like the Clash? You know, flies undone, arses stuck out and bank accounts growing and — oh, there’s a policeman with a gun over there…

We drove the transit into the city centre, past the bonfires and bombed out buildings. I thought, God, the degradation of so-called democratic man and took another toot. All those poor, proletarian-never-mind-Catholic sods lining the streets, and pleading with empty eyes for an Air Lingus ticket to take them away from a ‘no-hope, John’ existence that you, rich — bourgois-anti-feminist totalitariate have created for them on the ill-found earnings of your luncheon vouchers… oy, hang on! One of ’em’s stolen me Red Star badge!! —

We turned the corner, and, wham-bam-thank-you-m’am smack into a bleedin’ army jeep. The Adverts guitarist, Howard, gave the driver a sudden wave and a sea of lean, hungry, fascist faces swung round their bully-boy-iron dildo-rifles at the ready. They would have fired, but a bird with big knockers walked by and both sides leapt to the windows to scream a penultimate scream of, “The Revolution will have big tits!!”

Laughed? I could have cried… burning with an inner anger coupled with despair (sod it, I lost my Red Star, didn’t I?) I walked the streets of Belfast to secure a quart of Vodka for Gaye Advert, she of the ‘MASH the f***ers!’ quote, only to be met at the Off Licence door by a ‘security’ man who checked my plastic carrier bag for bombs. Dammit! They didn’t even have any lime …

AAHHHH, BELFAST isn’t like that. There’s soldiers, guns, ‘car parks’ that were once houses, but its like a package tour of ‘troubled Northern Ireland’, innit? to quote Steve English, ‘I wish that building over there would blow up right now —” Vicarious thrills and pol-a-ticks. Meet the kids at the gig and you’re well pleased you came. So desperate for bands to entertain them, they argue for hours about how Belfast is really Kew Gardens after plastic surgery. Yeah, yeah, sonny, where’s the bar?

Honest, I don’t remember a gig — uh, experience like it: Belfast University, and audience of pre A-level kids, mostly boys, who gobbed and yelled for Gaye Advert in unison; to the extent that an irate Gaye dived into the audience, rasped “F*** Off!” over the saliva-stained mike and spent the next two numbers playing the bass in the wings, being cajoled by manager and roadies into treading the mine-field of spittle one more time. No time to be 21/and spat upon… Mind you, with the combination of Howard’s Pete Townshend-turned-bull frog leaps and TV Smith’s whirling dervish now-you-see-the-lead-singer-now-you don’t acrobatics, not to mention the exploding wall of sound (bass on the floor, guitar to the right, vocals over the crowds’ heads, drummer out to lunch…), I was just about ready to fling my packet of Rothmans into the exuberant throng and wring the necks of the identikit punks up in the front.

I didn’t understand that ‘this’ was genuine behaviour in this part of town… I’m used to the Music Machine, maaan! To wake up, after a night of over-indulgence (SOUNDS made me an alcoholic, ma —), and find a lobby full of schoolboys (literally) babbling and chasing after freebies, good God, waving the road crew bood-bye — what does one do? but I shed a glycerine tear and leave ’em behind with the promise of correspondence if they’ll send the stamp… ha ha… I think you’re funny/a funny ha ha/we’re all tragic. Whoops! Onto Dublin fast!!

Battling in the truck against Laurie (soon to be smitten) Driver’s Free tapes and Gaye’s exquisite Iggy Pop Cassettes, we tumbled across the border into the South; collected a couple of nubiles on the way and stared the army back into their barracks. Can the human element not defeat sawn-off machine guns? No, bo-ooo-om!!, but the solitary citizen MUST try — Cor, she’s got nice boobs! Oh, we’re ‘ere? hang on a sec…

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY looked like the Albert Hall would have if it had been designed in somebody’s front room: there were even oil-paintings for the punters to deface, and the group had to crowd through a four-by-four feet ‘fire escape’ in order to reach the stage. Admittedly, T V Smith gave the ‘performance’ of his life — carrying the WHOLE show in a way. That made me wonder why a nation is still mourning Monsigneur Rotten, when there’s a rotating Long John Silver bopping, dropping in your town soon — but the majority of it all was crass and the urge to kill and chuck the ‘reporter’ bit once and truly overwhelmed me in a wave of jaundiced-yellow sick (Laurie in the dressing room). Frustrated males slipping their dirty finger nails into the slit of Gaye Advert’s jeans, and some callous pleb throwing a lehal envelope-opener at Howard. And if Yew think that’s how an Adverts audience behaves, well, join the Klu-Klux-Klan, Stan —

In the dressing room afterwards it was strictly fly on the wall time. Cast: one chuckling, inebriated blue-bottle, Gaye Advert as Boedecia, T V Smith wearing ‘the unchanged shirt’ and the road crew guesting as Phillip Marlow, private dick, in the QUEST FOR MS. ADVERTS’ CLOTHING. A series of tea-cups, tonsils and one EMPTY bottle flew back and forth… aprés gig frolics, of course. Encore: Laurie Driver escorted to an isolation ward where he will remain for several weeks regretting ever reading those Sid Vicious interviews.

The final, and arguably, the pinnacle of the Crosswords With The Adverts’ Irish tour was the Irish TV appearance, recorded in a long long afternoon. Dublin’s own Ready, Steady, Go, the — ah, pop programme sat there begging to be usurped. After four-takes, and two rehearsals for the Irish Punk Fashion correspondent, TV, Howard and L’enfant terrible Gaye (a hippie sat in on drums — a PA guy!… sniff) were in ‘high spirits’. Are you ready to … mime? Mind you, this wasn’t the first time the Adverts had suffered fools with cameras and clipboards.

Why, didn’t we start the jaunt off with a flash down the Beeb for TOTP? Robin Nash, producer of said lobotomy, arguing for two minutes with manager Dempsey as to whether T V Smith’s ‘bracelet’ — a decapitated Action Man — could REALLY be connected with the finer points of Marcel Duchamp’s contribution to Art. In the end, the BBC wardrobe department wrapped a bin-liner round it —

The Adverts encountered the mighty BBC again five days later in Birmingham for the Old Grey Whistle Test — allegedly the first New Wave band to appear on the programme. Didn’t I always say this band has mass appeal? Getting blitzed with the likes of Jim Capaldi and one Dusty Springfield in rollers — good God! It seemed like a good time was going to be had by all, particularly with short-notice drummer John Towe (ex-Generation X and Rage) sitting in the Driver’s seat. But it wouldn’t be an Adverts’ assignment if some major catastrophe didn’t occur to sour the occasion and send us all away embittered and wringing our gloved and chained hands.

Yeah, some expletive deletive musician thought he could have his evil way with Gaye, and T V, rightfully so, blew a fuse, leaping out of the car and stomped the corridors of Pebble Mill studios until he’d found the strumpet. Violence did not ensue but it was extremely unpleasant, mostly because T V Smith is not given to acts of fever and rage… my string of wisecracks (none of them repeatable/all of them libelous) came to a halt, to be replaced by moody silence and the occasional petulant whine: “Shut up, you old slag!” hissed Dempsey, ex-psychiatry course student and my ‘father figure’.

Well, maybe he was right… my job had ended in Dublin, but I loved the band and all the mass murder too much not to jump the bus once again — ‘I am the passenger/and I ride/and I ride…


Gaye: (upping the volume of her cassette recorder, churning through the Master’s Kill City, in order to drown out Laurie Driver’s goddam Free cassette) Huh! It’s like comparing God to a slug —


I’m SORRY but the only voice that came over the cassette (T V’s batteries run down by constant Iggy Poperama) was mine:

Howard: “Yes, I heard you talking to Ray Stevenson through the wall —

Suck: Well, you shouldn’t have had that glass to it!

However, I do recall the conversation, and the world does deserve to know more about, arguably, the Adverts’ main-stay and guitarist. So, imagine a walking, six foot Max Wall impression with a soft-spoken northern accent and you’ll get the picture.

Got any funny stories?

Howard: “I remember Wigan. There were a couple of guys in the audience who were really going for me. I was a bit pissed like, and I’d had about enough, so I threw down my guitar and did this Kamikaze leap into the audience. I was aiming for the two guys’ heads but instead I went sailing over the top of them… this big space appeared in the audience where everyone had stepped back in fear, so I landed on the floor in a pool of blood with everyone staring at me. I made it back to the front of the stage, and was just climbing onto it when Dempsey (manager) starts pushing my head back saying, ‘I’m sorry, lad, but you can’t come up here!’ I yelled, ‘Shut up, you fool, it’s me — Howard’.”

Ha Ha Haa! There’s something that I wasn’t aware of, and that is how you and Tim were actually managing and promoting the band at the beginning…

Howard: “Yeah, that went on from December to about March (the Advert’s Roxy days). We were both working in the day-time then rehearsing and hustling for gigs at the same time… it proved too much of a strain.

How do you feel about being the Adverts’ ‘guitarist’.

Howard: “Well, what too few people know is that I’ve been playing for FIFTEEN years” (He ain’t lying, I’ve SEEN him in his room reeling off Hendrix, Clapton licks, not to mention Django Reinhart.) “Just because Tim writes all the songs doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to play… when I’m on stage I have to play both lead guitar and rhythm. ‘No Time To Be 21’ is good, because Tim wrote me a solo — I enjoy playing that.”

IN A TAXI-CAB to the Speakeasy (the outer-ring of Dante’s Inferno) Howard rapped — I dunno what he’d been drinking, honest! about the ‘change’ in his personality and — ah, lifestyle, that all those connected with the band had commented on: stop taking tablets, boy (pat, pat).

Howard: “Yeah. ‘That’ scared me! I had to stop and think, ‘F**king hell! It made me grow up, stop screwing around blind drunk … I’ve got a girlfriend that I LOVE now —”

Oh, leave it out! Slashed wrists only in the music press, ple-ea-sse!


T V Smith: “Testes, testes 1-2-3-4.”

JANE (the voice) SUCK: Oi! Tim!

(two rooms away)

T V: I can HEAR you!

Listen, I’ve got Howard on tape going on about his OD. What about your DISGUSTING behaviour last night (OGWTestes)…

T V: “I’m only a squirt but I’m quite capable of killing someone — “

Forget ‘that’. How do you feel about television things?

T V: “I think we’re not afraid of doing it… we don’t shy away from it. No sense in being coy about it — it’s the best way to get to a lot of people. They don’t treat you very well, but…”

Old Grey Whistle Test?

T V: “We’d really like to do a little blitzkrieg on it, I think doing the songs was enough — no sense in doing a ‘Grundy’ every where you go

Spitting and gobbing your way to…


Let’s not bring Dadaism into it!

T V: “That’s’ the next album title, ‘I Was A Tenage Cucumber!'”

You have really got the monopoly of songs, haven’t you? Don’t you feel any pressure?

T V: “The walls are closing in! I DO feel a lot of pressure… sometimes I wait two months for a song to come (with the milk).”

What about the new songs, like ‘Hell On Wheels’?

T V: “Well, that’s the direction the Adverts are taking. By the end of the tour we will have changed the set…”

AT THIS juncture, Interviewer and Interviewee became aware of the ludicrous situation of sitting in a studio toilet with not even a bog roll to steal. Besides, we’d already ascertained months before that for T V Smith, ‘the music is my message, Man’, and anyway, I’m a lazy so-o-ddd! Oh, show me the way to the next Adverts gig/oh don’t ask why…

© Jane SuckSounds, 18 February 1978

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