Gal Bushell - champion of Oi, the man responsible for the Oi album series, bringing the Cockney Rejects to prominence, writer on the now defunct "Sounds" music paper, British TV star (check out his "Bushell on The Box" DVD!) and all-around man of the people is back with his band, The Gonads, who at one time featured members of the classic bands the Cockney Rejects, The Business and The Blood, among others; with a corking new album, entitled "LIVE FREE, DIE FREE." A healthy mix of Gonad lunacy, old school Reggae, Ska and classic ztreet Punk.
As well as being a great supporter of all things Punk, he's a man who loves to have his say -- and why shouldn't he, right?? Gal kindly agreed to be interviewed by e-mail for Punk Globe about his beginnings and his present and future, so many thanks to him for answering the questions.
P.G: So Gal, a new Gonads album is finally out, tell us a little about it.
Gal: "Live Free, Die Free:" it’s the bollocks, it’s also a mission statement. It goes right back to our punky roots and cranks it all up a notch – we’ve got some of our best ever songs on here and some brilliant guest vocalists (Liberty Hayes, Jenny from the Bellestars, and Leah McCaffrey). And it’s true to the old Oi having a laugh/having a say principle. The serious lyrics are very anti-State, but there are fantasy songs like ‘Attack of the Zombie Skinheads,’ a bit of ’69-style reggae and typical offensive Gonads cobblers like ‘The Growler.’ There are fifteen tracks on the CD and seventeen on the album (a vinyl double album). which I prefer.
P.G:How did you originally get involved in the Punk scene?
Gal: I was a fan. I loved the Clash, saw them first, then The Buzzcocks, the Jam; Sham 69 and Gen X a bit later. My school band, Pink Tent, which played 12 bar blues, became the Gonads. I started a punk fanzine, interviewed Polly Styrene etc., and then got the gig on Sounds in time for the Ruts and the Skids. My first ever reviews for Sounds were of The Clash, the UK Subs and the Specials – their first gig as the Special AKA up at Aylesbury. It was a fantastic time to be young and gigging. You could see great new bands every night and so I did.
P.G: You are credited as being the champion of the Oi! movement, what is your take on this?
Gal: Well it’s true. I did champion Oi. I managed the Cockney Rejects, I came up with the idea of doing the Oi albums and compiled the first four. I chaired Oi meetings and debates. So there is no denying it. But I wouldn’t want to deny it. I’m proud of my involvement in Oi. Don’t believe the lies – Oi was working class punk, pure and simple. We found and broke some brilliant bands and had a huge positive influence overseas. You can see its legacy in Streetpunk today
P.G: What was your feeling on The Exploited's "SingalonaBushell," and the story that you were in fact Jerry Harris and writing up bands that you "hadnt seen" -- (as commented by Wattie)?
Gal: Poor old Wattie, he lost the plot there, didn’t he? I am not and was not Jerry Harris, or Garry Johnson , or PJ Wellings or Christine Cousins or any of the other people idiots have accused me of being. I have never in my life been shy of expressing my own opinions. Why would I hide behind a pseudonym? It’s all bullshit.
We did have a song called "Wankaalonga Wattie" but I didn’t record it because we didn’t want to appear bothered by his paranoid ramblings.
P.G: What makes you keep doing the Gonads?
Gal: Love it, mate. I write new songs all the time.
P.G: Where does your inspiration for classics like "Oi Mate" come from?
Gal: Life – that particular song was Kent-inspired but it could easily have been Essex. Loads of geezers like him all over.
P.G: How did you get into journalism, especially for Sounds Magazine?
Gal: I did my journalist training on the Socialist Worker in my wild left-wing past. I got the Sounds gig by doing ten reviews for the editor in seven days. That was 31 years ago. Where does the time go?
P.G: What's next for the Gonads and Garry Bushell?
Gal: I’m not sure. I might do some solo stuff away from the band, more comical London songs. The Gonads will decide what to do next after the February gig in Berlin. There’s talk of a Greatest Hits CD and we’ve had interest in us playing the US, Italy and Australia, but as we all work it’s got to be well coordinated. I’ve written two new songs – ‘Fat Cat Splat’ and ‘Die Heroes’ – which we’re planning to release as a split EP with the Vigilantes from Sweden sometime.
I’d like the Orgasm Guerrillas to record more.
My new book, The World According to Garry Bushell, is out now, and my youth cult book is out later this year. I’d like to do the third part of The Face trilogy
I’m in talks about developing The Face as a TV series, and we’re still trying to get the Cockney Rejects film off the ground. Plenty going on
P.G: What advice would you give budding writers or punk performers?
Gal: Bands need to play a lot and well to get noticed. There are no short cuts these days.
Writers need to specialise and believe in themselves. Again, no easy answers.
P.G: Where can Inquisitive minds find more info on you and The Gonads?
Gal: I’m at: www.garry-bushell.co.uk and myspace.com/gal_gonad . And on facebook, too.
The Gonads are at: www.myspace.com/thegonads and www.the-gonads.co.uk .
Once again, "LIVE FREE, DIE FREE" is out now. Go to the site for more info, it really is a worthy addition to your collection; and, indeed, The Gonads catalogue.