Great news Rose fans.

Founder ROA member Paul James Berry is back with a new album, and it’s released on the 4th November, 2016.

To mark the launch of the new album, PJB and I caught up over email recently.

JP: Can you say something about the famous UFO-Studios in Berlin and the recording process for your new album?

PJB: Well, I came across the studio a few years back while on tour and truthfully fell in love with the place, especially with the hall. I guess I’m quite sensitive to the vibes from certain buildings. For example, this place was an ancient brewery and the cellars doubled-up as a bunker in WW2, reputedly Gobbles and his family used it. The engineer took me round the place with a torch, it was really creepy and fascinating at the same time…… So earlier this year I booked a session, squatted in the middle of their great hall surrounded by microphones and recorded my songs. Just me singing and playing guitar, piano even a couple of songs on ukulele. All live no overdubs, except a guy that plays a phenomenal cello on a song and my dog that on backing vocals…..


JP: Now that the album is recorded what are your plans?

PJB: Sell the fucking thing and move on. Although I’ve recorded albums before this is really the first time that I’ve been 100% in control. Not just the songs & performance, butalso the mixing, artwork, promotion and the release. Everything! Of course this gives financial limitations to my ambitions, but it’s rewarding at the same time, a real learning curve. So I would like to find some cool partners across the world that share my vision and push it to the next level….

The next level is ‘Spitfire Jukebox 2’ which I want to be a bigger scenario, in colour – ha ha!! I’d like to work with more musicians, which I think would really push some song ideas I have to a completely different depth.

So there you go people, get online, buy the album and support the wonderful PJB. You can find more info on PJB’s various sites:

Alan Davis Interview 26/7/12

After some 26 years, I recently made contact with Alan Davis, one of the original three members of The Rose of Avalanche. Alan graciously agreed to answer a few questions after some weirdo messaged him out of the blue on Facebook, thanks again Alan ;)

Alan Davis

Alan, 26 years on and still rocking his MC5 T-Shirt…

So sit back and enjoy the following interview which gives some first hand insight into the very earliest days of the band.





JP: Information is a little sketchy on the formation of the band, so hopefully you can help fill in some gaps! Tell us the story about how ROA came about…

I think you’ve already got it about right, James. Basically, Phil, Paul and myself were mates at school which came about from being in the same class, and a shared love of music. We stayed mates after we all left school and used to go out drinking and causing havoc in the local hostelries. At this time there were quite a few of us kicking around (not just Phil, Paul and myself). I guess that we were always the dreamers though and used to spend hours and hours talking about the bands that we liked and how we would one day form our own band and conquer the world.

JP: At what point did you decide you wanted to form a band?

I’m not entirely sure, but it was always going to happen (for the 3 of us). I was at college in Leeds and ended up knocking around with this guy who played bass. He offered me one of his old bass guitars for £30 and I snapped it up. I just remember being so made up that I was a rock and rolling bass player, but then got home and quickly realized that I couldn’t do a damn thing with it! I think that things developed pretty quickly after that, and Paul ended up getting a guitar, leaving Phil as the voice (we were always fans of drum machines in those days and so a drummer was never even considered). The first time that we played as the RoA was up in Phil’s attic/bedroom in Burley. I can’t remember much about what we did other than it was pretty crap and fairly typical of a group of lads with about 3 chords between them. We wrote a 3 chord wonder called Torn Love – ha! Phil and Paul will defo remember that!!! There was one night when we were in ‘the attic’ and we decided that we all wanted stage names. I cant remember how Phil got his name (maybe from the Marlboro that Paul and I smoked all the time) but I know that that was the night that PJB was christened and also I became Alan Davis (after Mike Davis – the bass player in the MC5 – I was WELL into them).

JP: Was it ’83 that you started?

Yeah – something like that.

JP: How did the name get decided?

We were in a café that we always frequented in the Merrion Centre and were trying to come up with a name. There was a poster on the wall of a mountain and so we ended up with the Avalanche bit from that (nothing to do with a drum machine!). Dunno about the Rose part, but I do know that we left that café very happy that we had got a cool name! I enjoyed that time in the band. We were really close at that time, and spent every Saturday in Leeds, supping coffee and hot chocolate in ‘our’ café and wondering round music shops looking at guitars and drum machines. Happy days, them.

JP: What were your influences at the time?

Probably all a bit different. I was definitely more influenced by punk/new-wave (Bowie, Iggy, Lou Reed, Pistols, MC5) where Paul was into The Cure, and Phil was heavily into Joy Division. We all liked Motorhead as I remember, and had a lot of admiration for the local bands like The Sisters and The Violets. We used to go to bloody hundreds of gigs in those days – particularly at The Warehouse. I remember seeing Killing Joke, REM, Cabaret Voltaire, Flesh for Lulu, The Long Ryders, Suicide, The Fall – we were there every week.

JP: What was in the water in Burley during the early 80s?! It seems to have been the spawning place for the entire Leeds Goth movement?

It did feel like a good place to be in those days. There were loads of bands around (some we knew, some we didn’t). Phil was usually the one who knocked around with the other bands.

JP: I think you were a little younger than most of the Leeds bands that were making a name for themselves at that time, but I guess you must have been aware of the growing success of Leeds based bands like The Sisters, March Violets, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, etc?

We were younger, yeah. And it felt like it, too. Most of the bands were formed at Uni and so were early to mid twenties. We were most definitely not uni educated, and were a fair bit younger… 17, 18, 19, something like that.

JP: I hear The Faversham was the “place to be” for the Leeds scene back then – did you guys hang out there much? Any stories to tell?

We did – a lot. By the time The Fav came into our lives we were already a little less close than we had been at the start. Phil started knocking around with a couple of other local bands for various reasons, so it tended to be just Paul and myself heading to the Fav and chatting with whoever was there at the time. All the local bands seemed to go to The Fav. I definitely remember that the Sisters crowd used to hog the pool table all night (pool hogs!).

JP: For such a young group of lads the initial batch of recorded songs seemed to be incredibly mature – both musically and lyrically. Did it come so naturally?

Thank you and yes, I suppose it did. Phil wrote all the lyrics so only he can take credit for that, but Paul and I wrote the music and it did seem pretty natural. I reckon that LA Rain was only about the 5th or 6th song that we wrote, and bear in mind that we were only just learning to play our instruments at that time. I still think that’s pretty cool.

JP: Do you remember the origins of the Phil’s American accent ;)

He was American, wasn’t he? Ha! Ha! No, not really. I just remember playing our first gig and after the opening song (Assassin) he started waffling on in a faux NYC accent. Paul and I just looked at each other and shrugged.

JP: What was the song writing process like?

Most of those early songs came via a similar process. Paul would generally just mess about on the guitar playing random chords and then I’d suddenly shout “stop – play that again”. It might only have been a 2 chord sequence, but it was often enough to build a song around. I think that I tended to build most of the song structures in those days, but Paul often started things off. Phil was definitely the lyrics man, and to be fair to him I think he did a pretty good job at it. Paul and I spent a few hours trying to write lyrics, but always gave up when we realized how hard it was (much harder than the music). Glenn’s influence on the song writing process also started to grow as we developed as a foursome. He was light years ahead of us, technically, but tended to take a back seat when it came to song writing. But, he was a bloody gifted guitarist and that alone helped him to influence the way that a song developed. I particularly remember that I came into the studio with the basis of A Thousand Landscapes which I was in the process of writing. We jammed away at it for a while and then Glenn added this guitar part which absolutely blew our minds. I just remember looking at Glenn as we played it and (at that part) we both knew it was really good.. it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Unfortunately, like with a lot of our songs, we never really managed to do it justice in the studio.

JP: Where are the embarrassing “baby photo’s? There must be some lost terrible early songs or did you really go straight from schoolboys messing about to songs of the quality of LA Rain?

Torn Love, as mentioned previously. Ha! Ha! I’d love to hear that classic again!!! We actually recorded Torn Love at a studio in Armley, along with a dreadful version of the Beatles song, Birthday. We thought we were great until we got back to Phil’s and listened to it! That was probably the catalyst for the band and how we progressed from there on in….. we became a lot more professional.

JP: That initial period for the band must have been a really productive time, as it seems that pretty much most of the material the band released between ’85 – ‘86 was written while you were still in the band?

Yeah, but that’s what we were into. The band was our lives. We rehearsed, wrote songs, rehearsed them and wrote more songs. Simple.

JP: What Rose tracks stand out for you as favorites?

I suppose LA Rain, as it was pretty much responsible for everything that happened afterwards. If we hadn’t been on that local LiL compilation album, John Peel would never have latched onto us and it would have been much, much harder to make it. I like Velveteen, which I wrote most of the music for and I think it has stood the test of time pretty well. Rise to the Groove and Too Many Castles were also great to play live – real rockers and got the place banging. Pity that ‘Rise’ was so badly recorded, as it was a cracking little song. If I could re-record one song from all that time it would be that one. Funnily enough, I only heard one of the Rose songs that I wrote most of the music for a couple of months ago – Never Another Sunset. We played it on a Janice Long session, but I was long gone by the time the band recorded it. I’d even forgotten what it went like and so was quite excited to hear it. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a disappointment and (again) a bit of a let down in the studio.

JP: I understand you met Glenn at Parkside when you recorded LA Rain and American girls for the Parkside Shivers compilation. Tell us how he came to join the band.

Glenn worked at Parkside (not sure what as!). We used to chat to him and got on well and always admired his guitar playing. We invited him to play 12 string on LA Rain, which he did, and his playing was very good too – makes that song! After that it was just a case of time before we asked him to join. Paul, Phil and I had a chat in the rehearsal room and decided that we would ask him to join. I ‘think’ that I popped the question (but I could easily be wrong!).

JP: Both Paul and Glenn have said that him joining was a bit of a shortcut for the band, as he was a little more experienced. Paul also said it kind of messed up the original dynamic of the three of you. What were your thoughts on that?

He was more than a “little more experienced”. Glenn was a proper guitarist, classically trained and everything. We were just bairns, learning the game. It’s hard to explain what I think about the dynamic. Glenn was critical to the development of the band and his playing took us to another level. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t have got there eventually, but like Paul and Glenn have said, it was a shortcut. Glenn had a very different style of playing to what we had been used to, and certainly to what we were listening to at the time. We were listening to punk/new wave guitarists and Glenn was very definitely not that! I think Glenn liked the more classical rock bands like Led Zeppelin. I suppose that Glenn joining did change the dynamic. He was a good bloke, Glenn, but just very different from the rest of us.

JP: From the outside looking in it seems to have been a whirlwind from first recording (Parkside Shivers) to first single (LA Rain) to recognition and airtime from John Peel. Was it really that quick?

It was. Write songs (LA Rain and American Girls), rehearse them, get invited to record them for local LiL compilation, get asked to record session for John Peel, make JPs festive fifty! All before we had played a gig.

JP: What was it like to be an “overnight sensation!”

Dunno if I’d describe it as that. We were cocky and arrogant, so (somewhat bizarrely) we expected it to happen. I suppose it just made us even cockier and even more arrogant! No wonder the music press hated us!

JP: From talking to Paul, the reaction to LA Rain was somewhat unexpected, so much so, that you hadn’t really had much experience playing live as a band. Was there pressure to deliver from the off at gigs?

I suppose that most people expect a band who has a Peel session under their belts to be able to cut it live. Well, we couldn’t (at least at first). We could play alright, and with the amount of practicising we did we were very tight. We just had no stage presence. Shame that.

JP: How did you get LA Rain and Goddess out. They were released on local Leeds label LiL, right?

Yeah – just through the rehearsal studio’s label (LiL). Mike (the little Scandinavian bloke that owned the studio) set up LiL and put out this compilation album (Parkside Shivers) of the bands that rehearsed there. After the success with John Peel, Mike asked us to record our first couple of singles on LiL.

JP: Bootlegs of early live shows highlight Phil was learning how to interact with audiences. To be fair, I’m not quite sure the band ever really had a warm on stage relationship with fans or with the press. Was the “mean & moody” image all part of the plan?

Not really. Probably just embarrassed at how little stage presence we had (see previous answer).

JP: Was there a “grand plan” for the band – was it world domination, or a take it as it comes approach.?

No grand plan as far as I can remember. We never doubted we’d make it, it was always just a matter of how long would it take. I guess that events after I left the band had a pretty negative impact on that really happening.

JP: Although I know you did not play on The Mission tour, where you still in the band when the option came up for the World Crusade support slot, or had you left by then?

I can’t remember tbh. We were always supposed to be supporting The Mission at some gig or other, but it never happened for whatever reason. I guess that they finally resolved whatever the problem was if they toured with them eventually. I can’t say I was that bothered about not supporting The Mission as I never really liked them (although, oddly enough I’m going to see them play in a few weeks!)

JP: How did your decision to leave come about?

Two reasons. One, I was getting a bit tired of the direction that the music was going. We were getting less and less ‘punk / new-wave’ and moving more to the rock/goth sound. I guess this was down to Glenn’s playing style – not a criticism, just a fact. Two, I started going out with a girl and she took my whole attention away from the band. The Rose had been my life and suddenly I had other, more important things going on. I don’t do things by half, so it was time for me to walk.

JP: Any regrets on leaving? You were certainly drawing a lot of attention at that point?

Not regrets as such, but I do occasionally wonder what would have happened if…….

JP: Not many people are able to say they notched a couple of Indie No1 singles and had John Peel as a fan. Do people know much about your rock ‘n’ roll past? ;)

Some do, but I guess most don’t.

JP: Did you stay in touch with the lads as the bands career developed?

Not really. I saw Paul a couple of times, but not Phil or Glenn.

JP: Any favorite memories of the band?

Yeah – rehearsing in a church hall with Phil and Paul in the freezing cold when a goat wandered into the church hall and we had to chase it around the bloody place before it ate our guitar leads. I also loved our first tour abroad when we played some festival in Holland. We played one night at the festival and the place was absolutely heaving, people literally hanging from the rafter and singing along to every word of every song. That was really good!

JP: Any message for the fans?

How can you answer that! I guess all I can say is that I’m glad that the music has brought some pleasure to some people. Cheers!


PJB is back and he needs your help!

Great news Rose fans. Founder member Paul James Berry is back!

Orignal Paul James Berry interview by James Parton 01/06/12, updated 15/10/16

JP: First things first. How are you doing after your terrible accident? It happened 

PJB live in Marsbergin June 2009 right?

PJB: 1.45pm 18/5/09 was when I died and then came back… I’ve been trying to heal and piece together my life ever since… It’s been a long long road. I still don’t have any external feeling to my left leg and the foot basically just hangs there. However, I’m out of the wheelchair and get about OK with a walking stick. The jury’s out as to whether I’ll ever walk ‘properly’ again. Kids call me Dr House…

JP: For the people reading this that may be in the dark, can you tell us what happened with your accident?

PJB: Yeah, I was riding a bicycle and a 32-tonne lorry turned left into me while I circum-navigating a particular notorious roundabout called The Seven Dials in Brighton, England. The result was my legs were crushed…… Q: Aside form the gruelling physical therapy; I guess you have had to be incredibly mentally strong to get through such a terrible ordeal? A: An Interesting question! I’ve got a young family and the idea of ‘giving-up’ never was an option. I spent the first three weeks in Intensive Care, then I think nine weeks on the trauma ward. I was later on told that I actually lost 5 times my body’s blood capacity, had operation after operation, told twice that it was all over blah blah blah. ICU were absolutely brilliant. The Trauma ward was a scary scary place….. We are the best in the world at saving lives, but rehabilitation? NHS doesn’t do gruelling physio, it’s more, ‘you’ve stopped bleeding, next please, we need the bed……… It was a real hard time.

JP: You made a rare appearance in the UK recently – is it still hard to get bookings in the UK without label backing? 

PJB:  Yeah, but I’d love to change that. When, if, I get this project off the ground then I’m sure I’ll play more in the UK. However, it’s a little bit my own fault because when I left The Rose of Avalanche many years ago I just wanted to ‘pay my dues’ as a singer/songwriter in my own right, and so I always distanced myself away from the ROA world.

Perhaps because I was only a guitar player and a frustrated singer. The result was that for over ten years nobody really knew about my ROA years and hardly any ROA fans came to the gigs.

In them days I’d just knock on venue doors and blag my way in for a short set. However, I did learn to sing!!! And, GOD did I pay my dues. I never played ROA songs, in-fact I’ve only ever played my own stuff. Which I’m very proud of.

I still play only my own songs, but I would welcome everybody and anybody to my shows. Especially ROA fans… You can run from the past-well in my case, more hobble – but it eventually catches you-up!!

JP: For the people reading this that may be in the dark, can you tell us what happened with your accident? 

PJB: Yeah, I was riding a bicycle and and a 32-tonne lorry turned left into me while circum-navigating a particular notorious roundabout called the Seven-Dials in Brighton.  The result was my legs were crushed……

JP: Aside form the gruelling physical therapy; I guess you have had to be incredibly mentally strong to get through such a terrible ordeal?

PJB:  An Interesting question! I’ve got a young family and the idea of ‘giving-up’ never was an option. I spent the first three weeks in Intensive Care, then I think nine weeks on the trauma ward. I was later on told that I actually lost 5 times my body’s blood capacity, had operation after operation, told twice that it was all over blah blah blah. ICU where absolutely brilliant. The Trauma ward was a scary scary place… We are the best in the world at saving lives, but rehabilitation? NHS doesn’t do gruelling physio, it’s more, ‘you’ve stopped bleeding, next please, we need the bed’…. It was a real hard time…

JP: Aside form the grueling physical therapy; I guess you have had to be incredibly mentally strong to get through such a terrible ordeal?

PJB: An Interesting question! I’ve got a young family and the idea of ‘giving-up’ never was an option. I spent the first three weeks in Intensive Care, then I think nine weeks on the trauma ward. I was later on told that I actually lost 5 times my body’s blood capacity, had operation after operation, told twice that it was all over blah blah blah. ICU were absolutely brilliant. The Trauma ward was a scary scary place….. We are the best in the world at saving lives, but rehabilitation? NHS doesn’t do grueling physio, it’s more, ‘you’ve stopped bleeding, next please, we need the bed……… It was a real hard time.

JP: Have you come out the other side with a new lust for life?

PJB: When I hear your question I think, how corny and pathetic it sounds! However, in reality – YES, it’s true! I really do have a lust for life and a deep belief and need to document and move on… However, let’s be clear I don’t seek sympathy for being disabled. I seek help to record a new album!

JP: You played some live shows in the UK and Germany in 2010, which is pretty incredible coming so soon after the accident. Was that the last time you toured?

PJB:  You know, when I finally got out of hospital I was bound to a wheel chair for six months and then later crutches. I was taking still a lot of anti-inflammatory and other pain killing drugs… but I really needed to break the dependence from others…

I always cherished and prided myself on my personal independence. So, when the medicine-induced stupor eventually subsided and my mobility improved, I contacted some venues and arranged a few gigs. I craved autonomy. Remember I had had nurses, doctors & family basically doing everything for me over the last nine / ten months. I hired a small automatic car, slung my acoustic guitar in the back and hit the road. Truthfully it was fucking knackering, but I swear I had a smile on my face for most of the 2600 miles I drove.

JP: A slightly lighter question.  Are there any bands or artists that stand out for you at the moment?  Who are you into?

PJB: I listen to a wide range of stuff and I’m at ease with most genres. But, but I’d say I do generally gravitate to, moody shit as my wife call it: Vic Chestnutt, Nina Simone, George Moustaki and many many more. Though, I still get off on The ‘bloody’ Beatles, The Birds, Neil Young, etc…

At the moment I’m writing new songs and find it difficult to listen to music similar to my own (guitar & vocals). So, I submerge myself in a lot of classical music. Also, Japanese, Indian & weird Balkan stuff. It annoys the hell out of everybody around me, but I like it… The last record I actually bought was Jack White’s new album, Blunderbuss. I love it though he’s got the habit of turning into some Led Zep seventies throwback, but I love the sounds and way he records. If he wanted to produce my new album – I’d consider!!

JP: Now that the album is recorded what are your plans?

PJB: Sell the fucking thing and move on. Although I’ve recorded albums before this is really the first time that I’ve been 100% in control. Not just the songs & performance, but also the mixing, artwork, promotion and the release. Everything! Of course this gives financial limitations to my ambitions, but it’s rewarding at the same time, a real learning curve. So I would like to find some cool partners across the world that share my vision and push it to the next level….

The next level is ‘Spitfire Jukebox 2’ which I want to be a bigger scenario, in colour – ha ha!! I’d like to work with more musicians, which I think would really push some song ideas I have to a completely different depth.spitfire_1_sleeve_cover_jpg

JP: Can you say something about the famous UFO-Studios in Berlin and the recording process for your new album?

PJB: Well, I came across the studio a few years back while on tour and truthfully fell in love with the place, especially with the hall. I guess I’m quite sensitive to the vibes from certain buildings. For example, this place was an ancient brewery and the cellars doubled-up as a bunker in WW2, reputedly Gobbles and his family used it. The engineer took me round the place with a torch, it was really creepy and fascinating at the same time…… So earlier this year I booked a session, squatted in the middle of their great hall surrounded by microphones and recorded my songs. Just me singing and playing guitar, piano even a couple of songs on ukulele. All live no overdubs, except a guy that plays a phenomenal cello on a song and my dog that on backing vocals…..

There you have it folks. Many thanks to PJB for updated on his latest album release. You can follow Paul’s adventures on his sites linked below, and be sure to buy the album…


1997 Interview with Paul James Berry

Interview with Paul James Berry 16/10/97 by James Parton

How did you all meet up?

Phil, Me and Alan were all at the same school and in the same classes, same age. We all used to skip school and go to Phil’s house, eat egg sandwiches and listen to the Beetles. At about 14 or 15 we were listening to stuff rather than writing anything.

What were your influences?

Old rock and roll, like the Beetles, the Stooges and MC5, Hendrix, mostly guitar based stuff. Bowie was also a big influence on us. We tried to do silly covers because no one else would do that kind of thing. No other fucker would do Dizzy Miss Lizzy.

Why the Goth tag?

I think you summed it up really well in your Biography. We weren’t particularly into Goth, but we were from Leeds at a time the Sisters were getting really big. The March Violets and the Lorries as well, plus we used a drum machine, it was the scene….It was like if you came out a year ago you were part of Brit pop, no matter what you did.

I suppose to get gigs you had to support these types of band?

There was no calculated master plan like there is with some bands, we were just young and naive and we were really into what we were writing. Especially the first 3 of us. The Early stuff we thought could be mega big. The biggest influence for me personally was Alan (the first bass player) we used to have a really cool rapport. We didn’t just get things and slap them together, we tried to, I don’t know, make a spiritual thing out of it. I feel the best thing we ever did and the only thing I really like was LA Rain.

Oh right, so it all went down hill from there?

Yeah, totally! (laughing) No there was some nice bits, but that was the best thing we ever did.

That’s interesting, because I think the style changed

Oh it totally changed.

You’d got the original line up, was it the fact you were going to start playing live that you got the second guitarist in?

No, what happened was when we were in the studio recording LA Rain at Parkways I think, and we got Lawrence the bass player from the March Violets to mix LA Rain. He helped us record it, and we were big fans of these people, they were all a little older then us, we were about 18 or 19 and they about 25. It was like “Oh wow”, we really admired these characters. He came to the studio and produced it, and he make a real fucking mess of it ( laughs), he really fucked it up. I think it was his 25th Birthday or something. We thought it was really cool, but….we knew nothing but we thought this sounds totally wrong. So he went and we re-mixed it! We saw him in the pub and he said “Did you change it?”, and we’re all going no, no (laughs) Yeah that was brilliant, that was the best. It was all drug orientated, taking speed and stuff in them times. Yeah that was the most interesting song we ever did.

I met Glenn at that studio, he was working there taking the money and stuff. He helped us because he was a really good guitar player, and we were only young lads and we didn’t really care about the fancy stuff. We wrote all the songs before Glenn joined, they we all simple but ones we considered really brilliant, but they never had that professionalism. We thought oh wow he can do all this twiddly stuff, yeah get on it.

I regret that now to be honest

Jumping ahead its interesting to note that when Glenn left, you didn’t replace him and got back to basics

I was told by a lot of people at the time it was a big mistake, but a really liked Glenn as a person, but I knew he was to advanced for us, and I felt we didn’t evolve at our own pace. Like I don’t know, a band like U2, their early stuff like Boy was pretty simple, and their later stuff is still pretty simple but there’s a definite progression. If we’d have spent 5 or 6 years, it would have changed , we’d have all got better as musicians, and we would have found our own identity. Instead we got someone in too soon, and too good. We were one chord and take over the world – totally. I think this was one of the reasons Alan left.

Alan and me used to write all the songs, Goddess, Velveteen, everything came out of that early stuff, well everything that I consider broke it for us.

Well I always considered that Mission support slot to be the big break

I wouldn’t say that I was the driving force but I wanted to do things but I was never in control of everybody. I was just young to understand. At the time I thought we shouldn’t get involved with these people. These guys like the Sisters were ok, and I fucking loved them but we were going to be stuck with that, but people didn’t understand. We had a manager that got us involved with a company that had the Mission, and because they were bigger then us, we were always looked down on. I though we were 10 times better than these people, their lyrics were crap compared to some of Phil’s and the structure of the songs. Their stuff would only ever reach a level, never total mass. We wanted to be the biggest thing ever, but I guess the people around me never really understood, and it kind of never evolved.

I don’t want to sound sour grapes, because it’s gone, I think a lot of it was complacency from Phil’s side, I don’t know just kinder doing what he did, which was fair enough. But if your destiny is being taken over by someone else you have to put your foot down and say hang on a minute. You need to be a two headed monster at times, and I’ve learnt that now, definitely. I need that to get anything.

The Mission tour was the first were we did consecutive dates, but we did a lot of one off gigs before that. We used to come down to London to do one gig, then go back. Coming from a small town like Leeds the people around the Mission were very cliquey. We were younger, and we didn’t realise why we couldn’t be part of that, and it made it really difficult for us to get anywhere.

The tour came up, and we had to pay for that , and it was £8,000 which was a lot at that time. Glenn nearly left after the England dates because he couldn’t hack it. It was just too much we were getting out of our skulls every night, it was total madness. But we thought this was normal. The things that piss me off now were the people around the Mission, they used to treat us like shit. You know it was “Who the fuck are you?” You know we didn’t know anything different, and to be on a tour with these guys who’d done it all with the Sisters, they were totally fucking professional. We were just slobs! It really spoilt it, because of the atmosphere. On the German leg of the tour we traveled in a converted horse box!!

The only good thing, and escapism I guess, was we could get totally pissed every night! Some nights we would totally blow them off the stage, because we didn’t know. This was totally typical of that tour – it was Halloween in Newcastle I think. The Mission had this amazing light show and we had nothing. On the way to the gig we stopped in this field and got three pumpkins, and chiseled them out in the van (laughing), got to the gig and put in candles, and put them on the amps, and it looked amazing (laughs some more). And the Mission crew asked if they could use them and we told them to fuck off!! They had all these gothy arches, and these pumpkins totally blew their lighting show!! We had a good time, apart from the attitude, but as a band I don’t think we leant very much because we just got pissed all the time.

Like I said before the Irish dates, Glenn just refused to go, because he was just too fucked. I went round to his flat to talk him round, because you don’t have to drink like an animal every night, it’s not fair on everyone else. I managed to persuade him, and he went, because we wanted to go, I’d never been to Ireland, and it wasn’t fair on the rest of the band.

It was around that time that you signed to Fire, which seemed to fuck everything up?

No we actually signed to their publishing company Twist and Shout. The first time we’d ever been to London, it’s like one of these clichés, and we got ripped off. Alan, me and Phil went down to their office. The only reason I remember is because I nicked this book out of the office (laughs) and I was really proud! They became Fire records. When it came to signing the contract I was in Paris, so Sid the guy that helped us out a lot, signed it for me.

They re-issued loads of compilation albums, I take it you never got a penny from them?

We never got anything off them, I think we got a £300 advance, that was it. We were just young and stupid, we didn’t have a manager. I remember us all sitting in a studio, again cliché, trying to work out all this legal jargon, passing it around. The reason we so were quite in England was when we were fighting Fire in the Courts. When you are in dispute with a record company you can’t release anything. We got legal aid for the case, but Promoters weren’t interested in booking you if you didn’t have a product to sell. The band weren’t clued up enough to take part in the legal side of things, and so after a number of years it was just a case of banging you head against a brick wall. All this time we weren’t getting paid either. I remember that we did managed to get some cash out of Fire to record some stuff, which was later to be released as In Rock. We were still in the studio, and Fire arranged for someone to steal the master tapes of the session, which is something you just don’t do. Normally the tape has to be finished, and everyone sign to agree that they are happy with the results and stuff. But they nicked it, and just released it, and turned it into an album.

The new line up and new sound – was this a deliberate move?

Yeah, I wanted to try and re gain that early feel that we had from the 3 piece, and just get back to simple powerful songs. We wanted to be in control and positive. We tried to get new people in that were younger and enthusiastic, and try and re-invent the band. We even did one tour as The New Rose. We didn’t play in England too much because of our management, while it was easier to play in Germany.

After about 2½ years with the new line up, things were getting slightly better, we had new deals in France, Germany and Italy. Stringa Beads worked, but it was just, you know ok. We were going along at a level, but I didn’t want just that, I wanted all or nothing.

I.C.E. did turn out badly partly due to the fact that Phil wanted to record each part on the tracks separately, where I wanted a ‘band’ feel to the sound. Phil’s influences were changing, and the people around the band weren’t 100% committed to us, I wanted people that wanted to support us, nothing half hearted. I wanted all or nothing basically and was getting really pissed of with the apathy. If your aren’t 100% into what we are doing then that’s going to show itself in the quality of the songs.

I.C.E. was the final contractual obligation we had. I thought this was my opportunity to say my piece, because I didn’t want to shit on the others, they were all my mates, and I’d known Phil for years. I remember we called a band meeting in a pub. I made it clear I felt it was time for me to try something different. I could see that Phil was visibly shocked by the news, but Sid just started talking about who we could get in to replace me. I was totally shocked by his attitude, and it left me with a horrible feeling.

Phil and the other did actually carry one after that, and even got Glenn back into the band. I think they were called Diversion, and I’ve got a demo somewhere. I’ll try and find it for you, but I don’t think anything ever happened.

Tell me about starting out solo?

Well I was trying stuff out myself towards the end of The Rose, and I always felt I could sing, but I never really tried, as we never even had any backing vocal parts. In 1994 I booked some studio time, and cut my first demo, and my first gig was at the Mean Fiddler club in London.

Were you shitting yourself?

No, not really I knew what it was like getting up on stage, I knew I’d only get better by working at it. The more work I got the better I’d get as a performer. I supported the Cranberries and Belly in Leeds in front of my first large crowd, and loved very minute of it. I need the experience to give me the confidence to control the stage, and get peoples attention. I traveled around Europe by train just with my guitar playing every dive, and East German Squats. I kinda developed a cult name in Germany for turning up at gigs and getting myself on the bill on the spur of the moment. It was just a case of taking it to that next level, having a product to sell, so I had to take various day jobs to finance the CD.

What inspires you now?

It’s the freedom I now have, I really truly feel I can do anything that I want, being out of a band frees you of the different personalities, I only have myself to please. I wanted to get to a level where I could entertain people.

Are you there now?

Just about.

Are we going to see you playing in England?

It’s difficult. In Germany people will let you play your own stuff, if I wanted to play in England they expect you to play cover versions, or play a club where you don’t get paid. I love the attitude of the English people, but promoters aren’t really interested. When I started playing in Germany I was billed as “ex Rose Of Avalanche”, but I don’t think it brought any more through the door, as old Rose fans didn’t really give a fuck. I’d never play any old Rose songs, as I don’t really want to cling on to the past, even though I never did anything I’m ashamed of, I wanted a new start. However if it ever does help to mention the band then of course I will, I’ve met a few people that remember seeing me playing with the Rose.

Life as a solo artist?

I did a big support tour with the American band Giant Sand, but my main problem was having no product to promote. So even though it was great, and I was playing in front of a 1,000 people per night I had nothing to sell. Now I make most of my money selling CD’s at my gigs. So at the end of the tour it was a little flat. I needed to get to the next level, either my own headline tour or record an album.

I have also played support to German band Salavdos, we got in contact via a German music paper, and by me writing one of my cheeky letters to them.

What next?

I’m thinking about a change, maybe brining in some more people, adding some more instruments, but I want to be careful. Getting the business side of things sorted out is the key, and I’ve got my own company, Eggtete Records. Finding some finical backing would be nice!

You can find details of Paul James Berry’s current activity by visting

2006 Interview with Glenn Shultz

Interview with Glenn Shultz 04/02/06 by James Parton

You obviously weren’t part of the original lineup of Phil, Paul and Alan. How did you meet the band and could you explain how you ended up joining them?

I worked in the rehearsal and recording studio where they practiced and played session on several tracks on the ‘Parkside Shivers’ album – they wanted some 12 string guitar on a track they were recording for the album and asked me to do it as Paul hadn’t been playing very long. They explained what they wanted for the track and I went and did it. They seemed quite impressed that I managed it in one take and got the feel they wanted straightaway; naturally I didn’t tell them that with a sequence as good as that it’d be damn hard to make it sound bad!! The song was L.A. Rain! Shortly after that Phil came up to me and asked how my band was doing – I replied that it had just broken up. Phil, somewhat insensitively, exclaimed ‘Oh good!’ – I was deeply wounded until he asked me to join The Rose which was very exciting as they had generated a lot of interest so naturally I said yes.

The original trio was younger than you. Did you feel you brought a richer, more mature sound to the band?

Ha Ha Ha …More mature? – I should coco!!! – I think that, possibly, I was a kind of shortcut – by being there and having more experience the sound evolved somewhat faster but I think that they’d have got to a similar place without me eventually, but it could be argued that I was a detrimental influence (and not just musically!!) because I brought a more standard, ‘old school’ rock sound in which took them slightly away from the original direction. Some of the very early songs had changes and ideas that I found quite bizarre and left field. That kind of thing vanished almost totally – the only example I can give is ‘LA rain’ which involves a standard 12 bar bass line but the guitar part is simply one chord over the whole bass riff and there are sections which from a technical viewpoint just don’t fit ……..still sounds pretty good tho’!!!

What were your musical influences?

Jimi Hendrix , The Beatles ,The Doors, Cream, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Hank Marvin and The Shadows, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, B B King, Django Reinhart – I don’t know if this is how to spell his name but check him out!, Pink Floyd, The Sex Pistols, Magazine, Ultravox – the first three albums, Rush, Hawkwind, Motorhead, Jethro Tull, Free, Bad Co., J.S. Bach, Andres Segovia, Paco Pena (can’t work out how to get the Spanish squiggle!), The Sisters of Mercy – recently got a compilation album – still sounds good!, Rory Gallagher, Little Richard

The original songs were quite basic power chord type of affairs. With your playing ability you introduced the “solo” to the Rose sound. Was this a conscious change of style for the band, or was it more of a case of you just doing your thing, and the rest of the lads letting you get on with?

Very much just ‘doing what came naturally’ – when rehearsing, if we had a section that we didn’t know what to do with we’d just repeat it until something better came along and I got bored, so to relieve the tedium I’d launch into something outrageous –usually as a joke – y’know a screaming, feedback version of ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ or something. Often this would then become the bit where ‘Glenn does a solo’ and would gradually mutate into a ‘sensible’ solo and become part of the track.

Paul insinuated there was a degree of resentment towards the band on the Leeds scene – did you feel this too?

At the time I was ‘feeling no pain’ so couldn’t say for certain but that was certainly the received wisdom. I was aware of a certain tension at gigs but that might have been due to nerves – I, personally, never had any problems with other bands but they probably just saw me as a genial idiot who turned up with a selection of substances that wouldn’t receive the good housekeeping seal of approval and got trashed whilst having a jam! Having said that I didn’t frequent ‘The Faversham’ which was where all the Leeds 6 bands used to congregate, so if there was any action I’d have missed it anyway. Mark, who probably has the most reliable recall of events, has told me of a number of incidents that could have been down to resentment or possibly due to Mark attracting other people’s girlfriends (he was a little monkey for that!) but most bands are pretty bitchy anyway so I would surmise that we did get a certain amount of flak just because we’d attained a slightly higher profile than most.

I get the impression from your playing style you were a bit of a rocker, were you behind ditching the drum machine and getting Mark in to fill the sound out?

I would love to take full credit for this but honesty compels me to deny it. It was a general decision based on the fact that programming a drum machine in those dim and distant days was an absolutely mammoth task – just getting the damn thing to play a straight beat for writing to was a major pain in the a*&&!! And once you’d programmed it you never changed it because it was so labour intensive, and the bloody things were unreliable. What we wanted was the ease and flexibility of a real drummer. Luckily we got Mark who’s timing is about as accurate as a drum machine and who happens to be a musician whose chosen instrument is percussion, rather than some bloke who liked hitting things. This is an ever present danger with drummers. As Billy Connolly said in the film ‘Strange Fruit’

“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Drummers are from Pluto!”

Mark may well be from Pluto but he’s been here long enough now to be classed as an honorary Yorkshireman!

Alan, the original base player left around the time of the Velveteen release. What were the circumstances behind this?

I have absolutely no idea! As far as I was aware (about 16 microns if truth be told – i.e. not very far!) everything was going splendidly. It came as a complete bolt from the blue. The only thing I can think of is that Alan had a proper day job with prospects and he was a shrewd operator, so he probably weighed things up carefully and decided that, much as he enjoyed the band, he wasn’t going to give that up for the dubious prospect of being a ‘Rock Star’ which was always a remote possibility, realistically speaking. Let’s face it Goth was never very mainstream and Goth with a dash of retro rock was even more specialized. It’s not an attractive proposition for someone with aspirations of owning a home and having a family. Unfortunately I never heard from Alan after he left and I didn’t really know him socially so I don’t know how things went for him.

Alan’s replacement was Nicol. You two seemed close – were you friends before he joined the band?

No! Nicol was suggested by Mark because they’d played together in the band that we’d stolen Mark from. I got to know Nicol aka Beresford because I was nominated tutor. I went round to Beresford’s house when he’d agreed to join to show him the songs and I’d only ever spoken to him on the ‘phone to get directions. Within a couple of hours he’d pretty much picked up the basics so a celebration spontaneously started – I can remember something to do with Southern Comfort and everything goes blank after that. From that point on we were destruction buddies!

What was the writing process in the band? Was it collaborative or did you all bring your own ideas for songs?

No No No !!!! I did everything … Well not quite. To start with it was Alan who’d come up with a bass line and then I’d try to fit a guitar part over it which wasn’t always easy but generated some interesting ideas. After Alan left we fell into a pattern which involved me standing in the rehearsal room saying ‘what about this then’ and playing some riff and then another and then another and so on ad nauseam. After about 4 hours someone would wake up and say – ‘Stop you mad creature, that riff had potential!’ at which point the really boring bit started as we tried to kick it into some sort of shape. When the ‘track’ had an intro, verse, chorus, middle eight and any other ancillary bits needed we would record it on a boom box in the corner of the room and Phil would take it away to write the vocal part. The first time we heard the complete song was an odd experience because we’d been playing the instrumental version for a week or so. Later on Paul and Beresford contributed much more, notably ‘Dreamland’ which was Paul and the intro to ‘Mistakes’ which was Beres and the whole process was much more free-flowing. If things had been different we might have actually become the band we always wanted to be – Damn those evil record companies!

Some of my favorite “Glenn” moments are to be found on Assassin, Majesty, Dreamland, Not Another Day, Height of the Clouds, Mistakes, and King of Fools…any stand out for you that you are partially pleased with?

Dreamland was probably the most ‘finished’ track we ever did because Paul kept coming in over a period of weeks and saying ‘I want to do this for the intro and this for the chorus’ and by the time he’d finished it just worked from beginning to end which didn’t happen with everything we did. The other thing that I remember with particular fondness is ‘Majesty’ because it just happened – we were recording some single and needed a second track for the B side and nobody really had any idea but we had to do something and, again, it was Paul who meekly said ‘I’ve got a nice chord sequence’ so without even hearing it we told him that he’d get no more biscuits for a week until he’d shown us it. After about 10 minutes we’d all worked out our parts on the spot, agreed what was happening and then turned on the tape machine and played it through! Oh and I remember at one very early gig in London playing my big show-off guitar solo on Assassin a semi-tone flat all the way through – that stood out for me for years as one of the most appallingly embarrassing events of my life, but was later superceded by that gig at the Halifax Peace Hall

Ultimately what do you think held the band back from the next level that I think the song writing deserved?

Luck! – in our case bad, that’s what everything in the music business is about. If it were down to talent then very few current chart toppers would be there and an awful lot of people who currently play for pennies in the back rooms of pubs would be massive. In our case there was also the fact that after waiting for two years to get a court case sorted out we found out that everything we’d waited for and yearned for meant nothing due to a piece of legal legerdemain. At that point I decided that I’d had enough and that I needed to go away and heal.

How did your departure from the band come about?

Well, how much time do you have? The band had taken the time off to sort out our ‘contractual differences’ with Fire Records. We were told by everyone that as soon as we got the court date we were sorted – eventually legal aid came through and we went to the next stage but just before it happened Fire Records came to us with a proposal. We decided to accept on the grounds that it would get them away from us and we could progress. This was the point we released the album and went on the final tour. At some point Fire Records contacted us and told us that not only did they want the percentage we’d agreed as part of the severance deal but that as the album ‘Never Another Sunset’ was released within weeks of signing this agreement it must have been recorded prior to the agreement and was therefore covered by the old agreement. They wanted everything, which seemed to be the basis of our contract with Fire. Unfortunately we had signed the contracts and they did have the law on their side so there was nothing we could do. I still think we had the moral high ground tho’ which has been an enormous comfort to me!!!!!!!

Did you keep in touch with the rest of the band when they decided to carry on?

Not everybody, Paul and Phil were off on tour so I never saw them and Mark came over all sensible so our paths didn’t cross, ‘cos I was never sensible. Beresford and m’self carried on as usual but our excuse for socialising was writing the book ‘The Van, Man’ rather than playing in a band but after about 15 years we kind of forgot to get together and apart from xmas cards and an occasional party we haven’t really got together in years now. Eventually I came over all sensible too and promptly found that Mark was in the next street to the studio I was recording in so I rang him and he came round and programmed the drum machine for the recording I was doing and we’ve been playing together ever since. The last I heard of Paul was that he’d gone to live in Paris with his partner and he now makes a living from playing music – The jammy sod!!

I heard on the grapevine that you rejoined Phil once Paul left – is there any truth to this? What’s the story?

Ha! The infamous ‘Diversion’ episode, Phil phoned me and asked if I fancied doing some work, possibly some gigs and maybe even a couple of quid – naturally I grabbed his hand off. We needed a name and someone suggested ‘I can’t believe it’s not The Rose of Avalanche’ which I thought was absolutely perfect but got vetoed anyway. We ended up being called Diversion for at least some of the time and did do gigs.. Well at least one gig, we were one of the first bands on at the Carling festival the first year it happened in Leeds but by the time we played the battery on my distortion pedal had gone flat so we came and went not with a keranng but with a whimper. We did record a demo which generated absolutely no interest whatsoever. Phil probably has a copy somewhere. I’ll try and get in touch and get him to send you a copy.

Did you carry on in the business?

Not in the business as such – I carried on playing and gigging in pubs, having a wonderful time playing the blues, learning and earning more than I ever did in The Rose but studiously avoiding anything that smacked of ‘The Business’ and that’s what I’ve done ever since.

What you listening to these days, what floats your boat?

Well I’m still listening to all the things I was listening to before but I also like Supergrass, Ocean Colour Scene, Kula Shaker, some of The White Stripes, I have a soft spot for The Datsuns, Gomez, and I have to admit to a sneaking admiration for Anthony and The Johnsons – I don’t know if I like the music but anyone that out of line with the other ducks gets my vote! But mostly now I listen to radio 4 and the music in my head which is like nothing else on earth. Oh! and I kind of like The Kaiser Chiefs mainly because my son likes them and they are the only band to come from Leeds that ever got anywhere!

Some 17 years on does it seem a little strange that there is still an audience interested in the band, and that your doing this interview? Any messages for the fans still out there?

Is there still an audience? If there is it’s astounding! And are there enough of them to subscribe to a pension fund for me? Doing the interview has been a great pleasure as nostalgia often is! But it is interesting to try and organise my memories and impressions of that whole time because (here comes the message!) I don’t do the mood altering substances like I used to as it’s not big, clever or funny and it is very fucking dangerous! And without a prompt like this I would never have trawled though the memories and spoken to people who have more recollection than me and buried some demons. My prevailing attitude towards my time in The Rose was one of unremitting horror but looking back I can now see that there were important lessons in the experience. Some of the music was far better than I thought and there was a lot more fun that I must have been too wrecked to notice at the time. Overall I’d have to concur with the ‘Butthole Surfers’ who once said that “It’s better to regret something that you have done than something you haven’t” and I think that is absolutely true. So as a result of this interview I’d have to change my long held view and say that given the chance I wouldn’t go back and change anything!! (except maybe those cowboy boots!)

You asked for an update on Mark and Beres – I asked Mark the other night what he wanted and he tried to claim to have come out of the closet and to have revealed his homosexuality. I didn’t believe him due to his extensive history of success with the opposite sex and the fact that he has a partner and children, but you never know! Beresford worked in a couple of musical ventures with me for a while but then got stuck into his job, which we all thought was a criminal waste of talent but then he silenced us all by leaving his job, having saved all his wages and going round the world. Most people use the word ‘traveling’ but Beres got quite irate about it and insisted that he’d just been on a bloody big holiday!

He now works in the field of Rhubarb cultivation and periodically provides tales of great warmth and humour about the frailty of humanity as perceived through the lens of out-there-on-the-edge agriculture!!!
(c) 2006