Jerome Alexandre
of the Skuzzies
By: Gus Bernadicou
Jerome Alexandre is one of England's hidden treasures. In 2011 his punk rawk 'n roll band the Skuzzies released their highly acclaimed debut release. In this tell all interview Jerome talks about his fights against reality, his relationship with his punk writer girlfriend Nina Antonia, playing with Mick Jones, all while filling in the gaps of his biography.
Punk Globe:
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Jerome Alexandre:
Can’t be done…
Punk Globe:
Could you explain your childhood?
Jerome Alexandre:
I was brought up by my mother who in my early years worked at Underhill Studio’s in South East London. People like Lou Reed, David Bowie and Iggy Pop would rehearse there, which led to Iggy reading me a bedtime story one night. My mother later worked cleaning jobs just to keep a roof over our heads and is now a social worker. She is a saint and I love her dearly. She also encouraged me to do music as did my grandparents. I enjoyed visiting my grandparents, we’d watch Carry On films, they also liked some of the Elvis features not to mention Hammer horror. They also passed on their interest in the Occult, in fact my Grandmother used to cast the runes! I miss them both dearly. My Stepfather (Andy Clark) also helped raise me and even though he and mum split when I was three he continued to be a strong influence in my life taking me to gigs (He played keyboards on David Bowie’s “Ashes to ashes” and for people like Jeff Beck) and taught me how to structure songs. My biological father(Jimmy Copley) I didn’t meet till recently so I’m just getting to know him, he’s a renowned drummer and has played with Killing Joke, Tears for Fears, Robert Plant, The Pretender’s ,Jeff Beck etc.
Punk Globe:
How did the problems of your youth spark the ingenuity of your talents?
Jerome Alexandre:
I was very insecure as a kid, and I got into quite a lot of fights at school. I envied happy families which led me to forging very intense relationships as a teenager, which left me crushed when they fell apart. However I learned to channel this intensity into my music, I remember playing stuff like Hendrix, Love and Velvet Underground at 12 and mesmerizing older people who couldn’t understand how someone that young could play that kind of material. By 14 I was a gun for hire, I started playing with older musicians, I managed to get away with playing in clubs because I had long hair and no one realized I was underage. Struggle can be good for song-writing; I like songwriters who’ve experienced the underside of life. When I was 19, I fell madly in love but had to sacrifice the relationship in order to give music my full attention. That was when I knew I had to devote my life to music.
Punk Globe:
You did get to meet people like Johnny Thunders though, right?
Jerome Alexandre:
I was born a bit too late although when I was 12, I recall seeing a frail , slightly hunched, raven haired guy carrying an acoustic guitar. He was leaving Peter Perret’s house just as I was arriving with my stepfather. Years later Andy told me that was Thunders, I wish I’d have known at the time although it probably wouldn’t have been the best moment to ask for an autograph. This would have been around 1990 a year before his death.
Punk Globe:
You now have a new band, “The Skuzzies…”
Jerome Alexandre:
New? We got together in 2004! I started the group with some friends, and cut our teeth on the squat scene, playing to several hundred people a night. We went from that to opening for Babyshambles at the notorious ‘Astoria Riot’. Not a bad start. Trouble was the first line up was at severe musical odds so we split a few months later. I revived The Skuzzies in 2007 with drummer Nik L’e West, and we recorded some demos with Strokes producer Gordon Raphael. This led to us getting our first deal and the release of the ‘Dissatisfied’ Ep. After Laura joined on bass in 2008 we gigged constantly and eventually recorded our debut album for Easy Action records in 2010 which was released in spring of 2011.
Punk Globe:
You have toured with quite a few notable people, what tour was the most “fun?”
Jerome Alexandre:
The last Babyshambles tour in December 2009 was amazing, we’d supported them off and on throughout 2009. The highlight of the run of gigs was Nottingham Rock City; the sound was perfect and the audience ecstatic, just insane and totally up for it. That show was better than any drug experience I have ever had it was just soooooo intense. In fact, on the way home I had a major comedown, tears on the motorway but it was worth every second! There are other moments too like when I played with Billy Rath from the legendary Heartbreakers last year. He came over to the UK to do some shows as ‘The Broken Hearts’ as a loose tribute to Thunders. It was great to have the opportunity to play stuff like “Chinese Rocks”, “Pirate love “ and “One track mind.” Billy’s a legend. Another great experience was when I joined Mick Jones on stage for the Joe Strummer memorial.
Punk Globe:
Who are the inspirations you draw from?
Jerome Alexandre:
They are quite vast-I draw a lot of inspiration from film, through the work of Kenneth Anger ,Jean Cocteau and David Lynch. Musically I like Elvis, Frank and Nancy Sinatra, The Shangri- la’s, Johnny Thunders, Stones, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Charles Manson, Death in June, Boyd Rice, Jimmy Page, John Frusciante, Rowland S Howard, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Gravediggaz, Tricky, Little Fyodor, The Last Shadow Puppets, The Doors, Suede, Mozart, Wagner, Velvet underground, Nico, , early Jane’s Addiction, Rozz Williams and on and on and on……
Punk Globe:
When drawing from your inspirations do you find it more beneficial to “steal” or expand from their works?
Jerome Alexandre:
I think somewhere along the line we all subconsciously play a little like those who inspire us but as consciously lifting another’s work-no…it would be pointless and I would be doing myself and that artist a real disservice.
Punk Globe:
How would you describe your latest release?
Jerome Alexandre:
Well one thing I think we did was release an album that you can dance too whilst maintaining a street level awareness to it, I wanted the lyrics to be great too and I really believe I couldn’t have done any better, It’s a great reflection of where The Skuzzies began with songs like “More than this” to a song like “Hungry as a hound” with its sinister overtones. I’m glad that people like the slower songs too like “Are you sleeping” and the melancholia of “Heartache accelerates”, It’s got the perfect variety of emotions one should experience when listening to an album. Overall I’m very proud of the album.
Punk Globe:
So far the critics have been agreeing, how do all the rave reviews make you feel?
Jerome Alexandre:
It’s great when your work is recognized. I was over the moon when I saw Pete Makowski’s review in ‘Classic Rock’. Not only was it highly complementary but it meant a lot coming from him because he’s been in the business for a long and has reviewed some of my favorite artists.
Punk Globe:
When making an album do you consciously take into consideration, “what will the critics think…?”
Jerome Alexandre:
Once a piece of work is released it belongs in the public domain. The people who hear it interpret it in their own way and there’s nothing you can do about it-the best thing is to always please yourself. It’s true that The Skuzzies album got loads of great reviews, some went as far as saying the album was a “21st Century London calling”, I think we had one bad review from some middle class blogger that tried to say I was imitating the lead singer of Ash which is laughable considering I couldn’t even name you one of their songs, oh and that “Rich Girls” was sexist…guess they didn’t notice we had a female bass player!
Punk Globe:
Your album also features an appearance from England’s Pete Doherty…
Jerome Alexandre:
I initially met Peter around 2002. My Ex-girlfriend knew him and she introduced us. We immediately got along, and became close friends. Anyway one night early 2009 we were driving through East London and for some reason whenever we’re in a car we always end up playing songs on acoustic guitars. We were on our way To Mik Whitnall’s Studio (Babyshambles guitarist) and I started playing “On the corner”, Peter really liked it and we agreed to record it. A year to the day we recorded it at Peter’s country house. I even remember the birds singing it outside and Mik turned to me and said “Did you hear that?” followed by Peter yelling the same from the vocal booth, I was glad as I thought I may have been going mad and was hearing things . We performed it live together a few times and there is one ramshackle performance of us playing it live on youtube just type in The Scuzzies featuring Peter Doherty clip 1. The song is about a road in Deptford south east London which is infested with pimps, gangs, junkies, prostitutes, drunks etc. The place is rumored to be cursed. ‘On The Corner’ is a testament to the victims both dead and alive. One time I was meeting up with Peter in Camden and I couldn’t find him anywhere, then all of sudden I saw him swinging on a lamppost singing at the top of his voice “On the Corner!”Whenever I go out to a club or gig I usually hear some drunk individual singing it, then at the end of the night coming over and shaking my hand and saying something along the lines of “ Great tune that!” which undeniably feels good.
Punk Globe:
Help with the rumors- is your relationship with him strictly platonic?
Jerome Alexandre:
There’s nothing strictly about it- you can’t define friendship (especially not ours).
Punk Globe:
You have had some honorable hook-ups back in the day, any details you could tell us?
Jerome Alexandre:
I was very fortunate to meet Bowie a few times, he was a major inspiration, Rozz Williams who I was obsessed with as a teenager, Boyd Rice who I had the great fortune to meet after finding out he was a fan of Nina’s books! We met properly last year when he called us from his hotel to let Nina and I know we were on the guest-list for his performance at the Mute Festival and we now stay in regular contact. Also sharing the stage with Mick Jones of the Clash, Billy Rath of the Heartbreakers, Peter Doherty, Television Personalities, Carl Barat, Captain Sensible of the Damned and many more….
Punk Globe:
You are now married to Nina Antonia…
Jerome Alexandre:
I am? Wow we both must of forgotten the date or slept through the entire ceremony. I have no doubt it would have been an absolute blast, I certainly feel like were married no-one else in the world understands me like she does. Years ago a journalist asked me what it was like to be married to Winona Ryder which was kind of odd……I like Nina better at least she doesn’t shoplift.
Punk Globe:
You were a fan of hers before you two hooked up, is that correct?
Jerome Alexandre:
Nina? Oh she’s one of my favorite writers period, her book’s are like mini film noir movies, plus she was the only person who had the guts to write about Johnny Thunders when no-one else would. I still feel honored to this day to be living with her. And she saved my life!
Punk Globe:
What can the world expect from the Skuzzies?
Jerome Alexandre:
Right now we are taking a hiatus until spring and I’m in the process of writing our new album and have about 30 songs to cherry pick from. I’m keeping busy working on a spoken word/experimental project with Nina and Miro Snedjir (Death in June/Spitting at Pigeons) I’m also playing guitar/backing vocals for a project which I’ve sworn to keep a secret but - I’ll say this though- the other members have been in huge Indie/Rock bands and the songs are great, all will be revealed In good time.
Punk Globe:
What is the best way for fans to keep up with your endeavors?
Jerome Alexandre:
Our Facebook Site is the best, The Skuzzies (Group) run by our good friend April, I don’t bother doing myspace at all any more as I don’t remember the password!
Punk Globe:
Could you explain your relationship with Sartre? Isn’t he your relative?
Jerome Alexandre:
No but I do share the same family Tree as Kaiser Wilhelm (Last German emperor) apparently.
Punk Globe:
Thanks so much for the time Jerome, any advice you could give our readers?
Jerome Alexandre:
Thank you Gus! You’re a legend! Hmm let’s see…advice… Follow your heart and don’t be afraid where it may take you…..




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