The Skuzzies – Rock ‘n’ Roll outlaws.

15 Feb

The Skuzzies are everything I like about ‘Real’ Rock ‘n’ Roll music. They look like they have just woken up after a night of serious indulgence and they sound like a beautiful cacophonous musical cocktail of hard living street urchins.

The Skuzzies musically are a mix of MC5, The Clash, The Libertines and a darkly romantic dashing of The Only Ones. The music is brash but tuneful – the lyrics tell tales of being up on a high and down on your luck, there’s an almost Dickensian quality to this band.

Trust me, The Skuzzies are the real f**king deal.

After the release of their stunning self-titled debut album, we took the chance to have a few words with front-man Jerome Alexandre.

What a pleasant chap he is!

Hi, Jerome. So, tell us all about The Skuzzies.

“The Skuzzies first incarnation began in 2004 and lasted 6 months. We literally played two squat shows and then played the Babyshambles Astoria Riot, which Peter (Doherty) had offered us and of course when he didnt show the fans gave the venue a titanic makeover. For some reason we went down really well, which still puzzles me today, as the first line up was at musical odds with each other and after we quickly disbanded. However, I got a lot of people asking what had happened to the band and I was eager to play again, so in 2007 I hooked up with Nik Le West (Skuzzies drummer) and we made some demos with Gordon Raphael (Strokes Producer) which led to our first Ep deal. We later recruited Laura Clarke on Bass around 2008 and began playing shows like Death Disco and The Joe Strummer memorial (Where I finally got to join one of my guitar heroes Mick Jones onstage for “Police on my back” and “Bankrobber”. Come 2009 We played constantly with Babyshambles and set out on a tour with them at the end of that year. In 2010 we recorded our debut album for Easy Action records, which when released in 2011 got us great reviews in magazines like Classic Rock, ArtRocker and Vive le Rock.”

What inspires you musically?

“Wow, that is a tough one. How long do you have, haha? Johnny Thunders, Rozz Williams, Death in June, Boyd Rice, The Clash, Psychedelic Furs, John Frusciante, Rowland S Howard, Nick Cave, Gravediggaz, Sly and the Family Stone, Tricky, Marc Bolan, Lou Reed, Bowie, Iggy Pop, The Doors, Siouxsie And the Banshees, The Cure, Joy Division, Prince, Nico, Early Stones, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Gun Club, Bobby Beausoleil, Charles Manson, Cocteau Twins, Jimmy Page , Suede, and early Current 93 etc….”

And outside music what are your influences?

“I probably get more inspired by film than music when it comes to writing- I love the works of Kenneth Anger, Jean Cocteau, Alejandro Jodorowsky , David Lynch, old film noir-Hammer horror films etc. Then when it comes to painting, Salvavdor Dali, Albrecht Durer, Felicien Rops, Hyronomous Bosch, The Writings of Anton Lavey, Boyd Rice, William S Burroughs, Jim Carroll, Aliester Crowley.Even walking down the road influences me-I have felt lucky and in some cases unlucky that my life has been like a chaotic, surreal yet fun movie.”

Peter Doherty has performed with you on-stage how did that come about?

My Ex Girlfreind Heidi knew him really well-long before the Libertines existed and introduced me to Peter around 2002. We instantly became close friends, Jamming, partying, watching old movies, generally having a great time, and one night a we were in a car on our way to Mik Whitnalls old east end studio when I played him our song “On the corner”. This led to Peter performing it live with us a few times (When we opened for Babyshambles) and eventually led to us recording it at his country house for our debut album.”On the Corner” is a testament to all the wicked souls of Deptford who would wait on a turning of Tanners Hill, for a fix, a piece of ass , a skirmish, collecting debts, executions you name it,  it has all happened. Peter is one of the few people who can make me smile and laugh even when I’m down. He’s a kind soul and I feel incredibly priviledged to be friends with someone who’s been such a bright spark and catalyst culturally and musically, he’s helped The Skuzzies out so much and weve shared wonderful moments.”

What’s the funniest thing someone has said about the band?

“Hmm, there’s a few. Around the time the album came out Nik and I were really amazed at how great the reviews were, pratically everyone had wonderful things to say about it, including writers like Pete Makowski(Who has interviewed and reviewed some of my favourite artists) he gave the album a rave review in Classic Rock. Anyway, of course someone had to hate it and it was this nerdy Middle Class blogger who started off by saying we were a sexist band , I guess she didnt realise that our bassist was female, and secondly she made out that yours truly was trying to imitate (Ash vocalist) Tim Wheeler -which is hilarious considering I dont even own one single of theirs and that I couldn’t even name you an Ash song. Once our P.r Company informed us that we had been asked to do an interview with a DJ for a British Army radio station, it was great to think that we could provide the troops with entertainment and during the show the DJ told us that “Dissatisfied” was getting requested a lot by the troops in Iraq. Anyway, I was really proud of this so come a few weeks later we were playing the now extinct Heroes Bar in Camden, and I turned to the audience and yelled ” It really gets me off that the troops in Iraq are polishing their guns and marching boldy to war to this song-this one’s called “Dissatisfied!”, the audience were really great and it was a fab show. After the show I was walking to the backstage area when all of a sudden a really angry woman came right up to my face and said “My son lost his leg in war- do you think thats right? what you said was bang out of order!”,  she was extremely drunk and I tried to let her know that the song was for people like her son but to no avail… she and her boyfriend even tried to attack me several times! Eventually they were kicked out by security, yet even after the show as we were saying goodbye and signing albums the woman appeared again and began to shout “This band are evil! they promote violence!” – the whole thing was mega surreal!”

What is on the Horizon for the band?

“We’re taking a hiatus at the moment. I’ve written another bunch of new songs for the band – it’s just about finding the right time, besides we all need to recharge our batteries, we’ve been through a lot and at the moment there are other projects I’m doing. I’m playing in a band called “Deadcuts” which features Mark Keds (Sensless Things/Jolt), Joni Belaruski (The Great Malarky) and Mark Mcarthy (Wonder Stuff/R.D.F). I’m also doing a spoken word/experimental project with Nina Antonia and Miro Snedjir (Death in June/Spitting at pigeons) which explores another side of my personality that I’ve been dying to get out under the banner of “A Warning to the curious”. I’ve also had the great fortune to be in a movie by Richard Wolstencroft (who runs the Melbourne underground film festival) and has produced films like “Pearls before swine”, “Joe blow” and “The Beautiful and Damned”. The Film is entitled “The Second Coming” (based on the W.B Yeats poem). I feature in the English section and alongside Nina Antonia and Peter Doherty.”

Which bands currently do you rate?

“Crybaby Special and the Monsters. I met them at a few of our shows. The Cyndies who are an Italian electronic group who remind me a little of Psychic Tv – I’m going to be working with them next month on a single. To be honest, I’m quite lazy, I dont seek out new bands to listen to as I’m way to busy with what im doing.”

And any you hate?

“You would need eternity to list my contempt for the bands I hate- it seems to me they all have one characteristic in common and that is they belong to the school of, “Anyone can do it”… Anyone can’t do it!”

What would be your three desert Island discs?

“Hmm, one would have to be Death in June and Boyd Rice’s “Alarm Agents”, Johnny Thunder’s “So Alone” album and you know what? It’s just to hard to say! I couldnt possibly choose, I have a wide range of tastes for a wide range of mood swings.

Thanks to Jerome for doing the interview.

You can see and hear more about The Skuzzies at the links below.”


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