I’ve been banging on about Heavy Drapes for some time now. Recently things have really started going stellar for the band. They are one of the most talked about bands on the punk scene.
The band has very definite ideas, knows exactly where it wants to be. Important it has the tunes and the image that live up to those ideas. Lead singer De Liberate’s swagger and confidence is not unfounded.
Having seen the band on a number of occasions in the last couple of years, they never fail to disappoint. Heavy Drapes have a tight sophisticated sound that doffs its cap to the classic punk 76-78 era. The songs are laden with hooks and memorable, catchy choruses. I find that even some of the unreleased tracks regularly become my earworms.
The band must be one of the busiest with promotion and gigging. They are always on the road playing the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland and now further afield.
In the run up to Kiss This, I was reflecting on some previous gigs featuring Heavy Drapes.
A couple of gigs stick out in my mind. Audio in Glasgow last December sharing a bill with ex-Boys bassist Duncan Reid & the Big Heads and Falkirk band The Media Whores. 3 great bands coming together to be one of my gig highlights of 2016.
Another was the “Dread Meets Punk Rock Southside” gig in The Rum Shack that also featured fellow Tarbeach label-mates ReAction (also playing Kiss This alongside The Zips) and young punks The Minority Rule. A great night was had by all – bands and punters alike.
If the band continue on their current ascendency, I’ll be pleased to be one of the people who can say “I was there” at these and other gigs.
The Edinburgh based band, some of whom originate from closer to my neck of the woods (East Kilbride/Glasgow) are made up of De Liberate – vocals and attitude, Richie Stiv – guitar, Billy Chaos – drums and new member Paul Research on bass.
The band recently returned from a show stealing set, by all accounts, on the Empress Ballroom main stage at Rebellion festival. And on return from the festival, the news broke that original bassist Jerry Dangerous had left the band and was to be replaced by ex-Scars guitarist Paul Research on bass duties. It was sad to see Jerry go, but at the same time a bit of a coup to get a replacement of the calibre of Paul.
Suffice to say, Heavy Drapes are going places.
INTERVIEW – DeLIBERATE AND PAUL RESEARCH
I had an opportunity to ask DeLiberate and new bassist Paul Research a few questions recently. I really wanted to find out about Rebellion and the lowdown on the band changes. As I should probably have expected, De Liberate was very frank & honest in some of his answers.
I wasn’t one of the fortunate ones to have seen their set at Rebellion. However, I but had seen nothing but praise everywhere on the back of the bands set. I wanted to know how it felt from the bands perspective and also how the departure of Jerry had impacted them.
Thegingerquiff: Things are really happening in the Heavy Drapes world just now, you returned from a triumphant gig on the main stage at Rebellion and announced the departure of bassist Jerry, to be replaced by Scars legend Paul Research. For anyone that wasn’t there, tell us about the gig and what it meant to you?
De Liberate: This band could have died at 2pm, Friday 4th August in the Empress Ballroom. It was a critical moment. If there was no audience, that would have been a clear message that we were not what the people wanted.
I met Darren, who heads the event, the previous night. He said we were going to kill it, we’d be brilliant. I really did admire his enthusiasm and positivity but I wasn’t in that headspace, yet.
We arrived backstage an hour before our stage time along with our main man Billy Hunt who keeps an eye on us and makes sure everything happens when it should. We met Billy last year at Rebellion and he’s become a very good friend. He lives in Ireland and he was heavily involved with the shows we did over there in June.
We had a bit of a chat, a beer, individual time with the stage manager ensuring everything was in place from a tech and performance perspective and then I’m on my own. The musicians in the band are with the tech guys side stage which is somewhere through a maze of corridors. Someone had mentioned the hall was huge but empty.
15 minutes is a very long time when you’re on your jack in a large dressing room with only a mountain of beer for company, no internet connection, no coffee and no smoking. I opened a beer, sat on a chair and I went through the band’s timeline in my head. Achievement after achievement, one goal after another exceeded but there was an awareness that this could all go wrong. I knew we would deliver on that stage but playing to 50 or less people in a huge ballroom was not what I had dreamed for the band. We had worked our balls off to get here, it was 18 months of blagging, bluffing, shouting, more blagging and hemorrhaging cash, it had to work. It really had to work or the band wouldn’t exist at 2:40pm.
The guys were back, looking calm while I’m climbing the walls. They mentioned that a few people were in but it was quiet. We decide to go for a smoke which is a bit of a hike. A chat with other bands and crew outside, including The Exploited bass player, Irish Rob, who’s worked with us before and had requested to do our sound at the Empress without us knowing. He’s bloody good and that gave us a boost. Our tunes/sound is at its very best on a mammoth stage. At least we would sound huge while we crash and burn. A quick band selfie and back to the dressing room.
The door bursts open, it’s Billy Hunt. He’s taking the guys side stage to hook up with the crew for last-minute checks and he’ll come back for me 5 mins before showtime. He mentions the hall is getting busy. I’m then I’m on my own, again.
Billy’s back, he’s firing me up with his excitement. “Let’s do it. Let’s go. It’s busy”. He’s in front of me, out the dressing room we go, through the maze of corridors and into the band chill out area. I’m behind Billy with all the clobber on, Seditionaries’ shirt, big fuck off creepers and the largest shades I could find. I’m swaggering behind Billy and I could see Jeff Turner from Cockney Rejects with his mates. I had to pass them and I knew I was gonna get some verbal. I was getting closer and I was thinking, fuck it, I can handle this.
“What the fuck is this”?
“Alright Jeff, how you doin, De Liberate, Heavy Drapes”. Big smile and I’m off through some doors with a voice shouting, “You look fuckin great mate, fuckin great. Give ’em some”. I could have misheard that comment but it sounds good and I’ve now convinced myself it actually happened, so there’s no going back.
I’m side stage and I get a glimpse of the crowd and it’s a sea of heads from the front to back. Rikki Stiv, for some reason, was as calm as you like. He pulls out his camera, takes my photo and both of us stand at the bottom of the stage stairs waiting on the nod to go on.
We get the green light and we’re off. Our entrance is planned, the way we delivered the songs was planned. The first 60 seconds was the guys taking positions and me stumbling my way around the stage and getting a good look at the audience, knowing there will be shouts from the crowd to get started. Its theatre and we’re aware of that.
“We’re Heavy Drapes and we’re a fuckin’ punk rock band.” And we’re into what is a 10 song, 40 min set. We nail it in 37 mins, according to the stage manager. We leave the stage to a thunderous roar.
I’m backstage, collapsed in a heap of wet Seditionaries’ and my phone’s ringing. It’s Peter Coyne from The Godfathers (top bloke) and he’s wanting to meet for a chat in 20 mins, he’s next to the mixing desk. I couldn’t do it, I was a mess. Wayne Barrett was there, who loved it I was told. Christ, we were minutes from extinction and now we’re the band of the moment. This was how I wanted it to be. We were going up the punk ladder rapidly. I looked up from under the towel over my head and Jerry said “I’m off, see you at the next gig”.
The 3 of us hung out at Rebellion for the remainder of the weekend. We partied so much, we had nothing left to give. On the way home up the M6, we stopped to grab a coffee and make the decision on Jerry.
Tgq: Sounds like Rebellion was a brilliant weekend! Can you tell me more about what happened with Jerry?
De L: We went through one of the most challenging and demanding days knowing Jerry had already left the band the week before. He quit two days prior to our Rebellion warm-up shows in Sheffield. We couldn’t believe it. He quit while we were on a band chat arranging the finer details of our next London trip.
He had done this twice previously, sudden verbal outbursts of aggressiveness. His words were “I fucking quit, go and find someone else, I’m out”. His decision to leave was a personal one. We wanted him in, not out. This wasn’t part of the plan. We decided to sleep on it, maybe Jerry would chill and contact us.
Nothing all next day from Jerry. I’m at home and I phone our guitar hero. The gravity of the situation has kicked in. Billy Chaos is up North trying to chill, there’s rubbish internet and he’s completely out the loop but he knows about Jerry and he knows we’re trying to come up with a plan of action to save the day. We agree a list of 3 potential replacements.
Gary McCormack (ex Exploited) was the first name. We had been in a band with Gary briefly in the mid 90’s called Slider and were courted by various major labels before we fell to pieces. Gary looked the biz and could play.
Paul Research (ex Scars) was the most unlikely name to come up but it did. It was ridiculous, he was a guitarist and known to be a bit of player. He was already a punk star, it was a stupid idea. I had only met Paul for 5 secs after our Edinburgh show with UK Subs. I was actually standing with Alvin Gibbs and Paul walked past and we said hello, although we had never met. A quick hand shake and he was off. In the 5 secs we had, he got his message over about what he thought of the band. We blew him away.
3rd on the list is Glen Matlock, completely stupid because it just is. Glen did stay on the list and as a last resort, when everything else is lost, I would contact him. It would have been easy, absolutely nothing to lose.
What actually did happen was, we called Paul Research and put the proposal to him. We had 8 days until Rebellion and 2 days until our warm-up shows in Sheffield; it was looking like the warm-ups would have to be cancelled.
Would he like to join the band as bass player and be ready in less than a week? The answer was Yes.
To learn a set of songs is a huge task but the added pressure of being able to deliver them in the manner we needed for the Rebellion show, note perfect, one after another, relentless, with no chat, seemed like an impossible task; on an instrument which you’re not familiar with, it seemed ridiculous.
I received a message from Jerry to call him, this was the day prior to the first of two Sheffield shows. We had a lengthy chat and although his head was fucked, he agreed to my offer of coming back onboard. Paul Research very kindly agreed to stay on standby but he was absolutely driven by the thought of joining the band and made it clear he wanted the job.
The journey to Sheffield was fine. Jerry was a bit distant but we had no issue with that, he was a quiet guy normally anyway. We hung out with friends for the weekend, warmed up and came home with 5 days until the big one.
3 of us travelled down to Blackpool on Thursday and Jerry arrived on the Friday, 4 hours before the show as planned. And that takes us back to me in the dressing room……
Tgq: I also asked Paul how he felt about joining the band.
Paul Research: I’ve been a massive fan of Heavy Drapes for about a year, and I’ve known Richie and Billy for years in and out of various bands. There was talk of me coming on for a “supersub” appearance at the 100 Club show, so Richie and I started jamming to prepare for that.
Initially it was just the two of us, and we’ve since gradually gathered a bunch of other players together, and been writing and recording – that project is called Voicex. So when I got a call asking if I could step into the bass role, I already knew we could play and write music together. An easy decision to make.
Tgq: I know you are in the process of recording your debut album. How is that progressing?
De L: We started working on ideas for the album at the end of last year. We secured the services of Mark Freegard, who has a fantastic pedigree, including the production of Manic Street Preachers, the Breeders, Erasure, Del Amitri and the list goes on. He was also involved with Sandinista – The Clash.
Mark has understood what we’re trying to achieve and he believes the best way to deliver the best result is for us to only use the instruments we play and capture it live in the studio. To do this, you need to be playing the tunes at gigs, the song takes on a new life and you start to get a better feel for the dynamics and arrangement. Most of the tunes on the album will have been through this process.
The album will have 12 tracks, just like our favourite albums; we are firm on that, and any more than 12 is too much. We have recorded and mixed 6 tracks and we’ll start work on the next 6 between now and the end of the year.
We’re receiving a lot of requests to have the 4 EP tracks included, this appeals to us because it would tie up all the tunes we’ve written since the band got together. We’ve worked on 2 of the EP tracks for the album, these were produced by Mark Freegard, they sound much more urgent and have more depth; they sound massive in comparison to the EP production (which is actually 4 demo tracks remastered and released due to the demand).
We’ll have the album complete and ready by January and then we’ll be in negotiations with record companies to secure a release date. We will go with the label who understand what this album is all about. It’s not just another album by another band, this is THE album, it’s special, it’s the shot in the arm the punk/alternative scene needs. It’s been said that this is the most anticipated punk album in decades, if that is the case, then from our side we need to ensure we nail it, from a record company side, they need to realise what they have in their hands. We have our sights on Europe and America, we know the American market will lap this up, if they hear it. So, it needs to be a label with clout. I wouldn’t say no to Geffen.
We’re being asked constantly when the album is out, which is a good thing but what needs to be made clear is, if we were just another punk band, we could have knocked out a couple of albums this year but this isn’t about knocking out any old tune, it’s about getting it right and thinking about what you’re trying to achieve. You don’t go top 50 USA by knocking stuff out. Sex Pistols first show was Nov 1975, their album was released September 1977; we’re on the same timeline. This may be the last album the band ever does, it’s our legacy and we’ll take our time thanks very much.
BACK IN THE DAY….
Tgq: You’ve all had some previous experience and success in the music industry, with 3 of you being the core of Baby’s Got a Gun and obviously as mentioned (a number of times) earlier, Scars. What are the key differences and challenges you see now compared to your previous incarnations?
De L: Heavy Drapes is an opportunity for all of us to get it right. Paul has already been in a band at the top-level and delivered an album which has been documented as being special. Through numerous conversations, I know Paul feels he has much more to give and he is 100% convinced this will be with Heavy Drapes.
As for us other 3, we’re the same as Paul. We’ve got an opportunity to be part of something which is pure and untouched; it’s not been manipulated, watered down, copied or influenced by the dollar. It’s real rock music containing no bullshit.
PR: In some ways some of the old challenges have disappeared: the cost of recording demos is minimal now, you used to need a record advance or a bank loan and it was a huge gamble. Plus you can reach an audience with YouTube and SoundCloud in a way that was literally inconceivable in 1977. But the market is shrinking now, and because it’s easy to generate music it is harder all the time for the audience to separate noise from signal. Also, people don’t want to own music or to pay for it. It is expected to be free and always available on demand. So it’s harder all the time to make your living doing it.
Tgq: Paul, what are the things that stand out for you during your time with Scars?
PR: Recording our first single was a highlight. I was blown away but how well everyone performed in Scars, it was exciting to hear things that the others were doing in the studio environment. It really gelled and carried a lot of power. We had a similar experience recording our album. It wasn’t always fantastic, but Scars usually delivered when it really mattered, on the big occasions. Heavy Drapes also has that sense of drama for the big occasions.
Tgq: So, going back to the beginning, when and how did Heavy Drapes come about?
De L: The idea of Heavy Drapes goes back to 2007. Rikki Stiv and I advertised for a drummer and bass player. We jammed for a while with a drummer called Mark Rabies and bass player called Martin. We never had a name but we did have 25 punk cover versions nailed. Martin had an alcohol issue and would slide down the studio wall while drunk and sleeping, mid tune. He never came back after Mark Rabies hit him on the head with a full can of beer during one of his slide down the wall incidents. Rikki pulled in a guy called Jerry to play bass, who ended up being Jerry Dangerous.
We got asked to play a couple of shows, a private party and charity event in the late summer of 2007. We named ourselves The Stivs, after Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys and went out and played our set of covers. These gigs worked in the sense that Rikki and I knew we wanted to write tunes and get a bit more serious about it. We kept Jerry, moved on Mark Rabies and drafted in Billy, later to become Billy Chaos.
We wrote some tunes, including the 4 songs which appeared on our EP last year. Lined up a run of gigs at The Box in Glasgow, that was April/May 2008. Played to 20 people at the first gig and the next two shows were busier. We were picked up by the mainstream music agency, Regular Music. They secured us dates with the New York Dolls, Hoodoo Gurus and Stone Gods (the Darkness).
We also had management based in Los Angeles, that’s who arranged for the video of Into The Blue to be filmed at The Box in Glasgow. You can find this video on YouTube; the footage is dark, due to lighting rig being too large for the venue and it couldn’t be used.
We had everything going for us but I knew something was missing. We had our sound, we had the songs but I had no clue where we wanted to go with it. We did a show at Leith Depot in Edinburgh which ended with us completing 5 encores and finishing with God Save the Queen with police sirens and a massive street brawl. This was July 2008, we had been together less than a year, did 7 gigs and wrote approx. 7 songs. We imploded that night in Leith. I knew I didn’t want to be in a band at this point in my life. On hindsight, if we dropped into the punk scene at this point, we’d have ripped it right open, as we have done now.
We got together again in 2011 to play a one-off charity event. We then tried to play the same charity event in 2012 but I got ejected from the venue just as I was about to go onstage (I was in the wrong company).
Tgq: Where & when was your first gig as Heavy Drapes?
De L: In the summer of 2015 I was offered the Electric Six Scottish dates but I didn’t have a band, although Rikki, Jerry and Billy were up for it, we wouldn’t have been ready. I was also offered the support slot with 999 in October 2015 and that was far enough away to give us some time to get ourselves together. We agreed to do the show.
On 3rd October 2015, Heavy Drapes did their first show opening for 999 in Bathgate. We barely had a set of songs and only a few rehearsals under our belt but we destroyed it. We knew prior to this show that this time we would be much more direct and focused. We wanted to be the biggest new punk band in the UK and release the best punk rock album the world has heard in a long time. We wanted to deliver the message that punk rock doesn’t have to be the way it is, it can actually look and sound like us. Punk can be new, it can have influences from the decades post punk, it can be explosive, have swagger and it can have tunes; big tunes which are all-inclusive with potential to appeal to a broad demographic. It can be fun.
Tgq: I mentioned earlier some of my favourite experiences of seeing Heavy Drapes. What are some of the key highlights along the Heavy Drapes journey so far for you?
De L: Key highlights so far would be; securing 5 Rebellion slots in 22 months, Blackpool 2016, Blackpool 2017, Dublin 2017, Amsterdam 2018 & Blackpool 2018. Uncharted water for the Rebellion team. No other new punk rock band in the world has achieved this I’m told.
Being included on 2 Vive Le Rock magazine cover CD’s, one of which was the best 16 new bands in the country.
Playing to 2000 people in the Empress Ballroom, Blackpool, and knowing they were there to see us.
Glen Matlock telling me he thought Heavy Drapes was a great name and him being thrilled when I told him it came from a line in a book called ‘Only Anarchists Are Pretty’, describing the heavy drapes hanging at the rear of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s ‘Sex’ shop on London’s Kings Road, the same shop where Glen worked on a Saturday as a teenager.
The one thing which brought me joy above anything else was the front few rows at the Empress Ballroom, it was all people we knew, friends we had made on our journey since that first gig with 999 in 2015. There were faces from London, Dublin, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Nottingham. These are the people who make as many sacrifices as the bands do to make this whole scene happen. We were very proud to be with them, as one, when we conquered Rebellion in August.
Tgq: DeLiberate, I’ve heard you talk at length about some other bands you enjoy playing with/listening to, like Duncan Reid & The Lee Harvey’s. What new bands are you excited about just now?
De L: New bands, I’ve seen more bands in 20 months than I have over my lifetime. I don’t believe I’ve seen any good new bands. Bands who I’ve seen and rate have been going for some time.
The Lee Harvey’s are special, they play straight forward punk rock, no frills, like Ramones/Undertones, good lyrics and good songs. We now class them as mates. We played Dublin with them this year and it was one of the best nights we’ve had, as a gig and a night on the town. They rocked Rebellion with us in 2016 and 2017.
Do ‘Knock Off’ and ‘The Blue Carpet Band’ count as new, I dunno, they’ve been going a fair bit longer than us. When does something stop being new? I’m thinking too hard.
No, I’ve not seen any good new bands.
Tgq: There are a number of great gigs coming up for you – including playing with Duncan Reid and 3 Minute Heroes in October (as I said, your gig with Duncan Reid in Audio last year was one of my gig highlights of 2016) and also with 2 of my other favourite bands on the Scottish punk scene, ReAction and The Zips in September, what else are you particularly looking forward to in the next 6 months?
De L: The next six months is crucial. We have our first London headline show at the 100 Club, London. I’m told it’s going to sell out. We have 3 top London bands on the bill and I think it’s a fantastic night for Edinburgh and Scotland, where we have are top of a bill that people are saying is the cream of new talent in the UK.
We need to raise the roof to put our stamp on it.
We need to deliver the album of our lives and present it to the world early 2018.
We need to shine at Rebellion Dublin, Amsterdam & Blackpool.
We’re now entering an exciting phase in the band’s history, it’s a white knuckle rollercoaster ride and we have no idea where it will end up. I suppose we know where we’re going, we’re just not clear on how we’re going to get there.
Thanks a million to De Liberate and Paul for taking the time out to talk to me and for being so open about recent events. I for one am thoroughly looking forward to seeing the band in the next few months before they take a break from live gigs to finish recording the album.
You can catch Heavy Drapes at the following gigs for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018.
For anyone who hasn’t heard the band, check out their video for Into the Blue:
Heavy Drapes discography:
Should I Suck or Should I Blow (CD EP) (UK release) – self-released – Suck 1976
4 track EP
- Should I Suck or Should I Blow
- Into the Blue
- Hanging like a Suicide
- (I Wanna Be) Maladjusted
Should I Suck or Should I Blow (CD EP) (US Release) – Tarbeach Records – tar010
4 track EP – same tracks as UK release – different cover.
Should I Suck or Should I Blow (7” Yellow vinyl) – Tarbeach Records – tar010
A-side – Should I Suck or Should I Blow?/Hanging Like a Suicide
B-Side – Into the Blue/(I Wanna Be) Maladjusted
Heavy Drapes/ReAction split single (7” Red vinyl) – Tarbeach Records – tar007vs
Heavy Drapes side: Into the Blue
ReAction side: Hey Patty Hearst
Heavy Drapes on compilations:
Tarbeach Compilation: No Animals Were Harmed On Any Recordings On Tarbeach Records.(Charity Release – supporting NYC musician Sonny Vincents family) – Tarbeach Records – tar016 CD
Heavy Drapes track featured is Nighttrippin’
Vive Le Rock cover CDs:
Let it Roll: Heavy Drapes track featured is Should I Suck or Should I Blow
Recharge – 15 of 2016’s Year-busting tracks: Heavy Drapes track featured is Into the Blue
Heavy Drapes current releases available from Tarbeach Records
Follow Heavy Drapes on Facebook & Twitter
Fancy some quality Heavy Drapes clobber?
New VeRy LiMiTeD Heavy Drapes t-shirts also available now – designed and made by Phil Gallagher and Rachel Forsyth of MoNkArOcKs. Get in NOW to get yours before they disappear, they are limited to 77 and are all individually numbered.