Punk rock icon Sonny Vincent has regularly been unloading head-bashing rock and roll through various lineups for more than three decades. The 62-year-old’s journey was kick-started with the New York trio The Testors in 1975; a straight-forward power chord storm alongside bands like Dead Boys, The Dictators and The Cramps. Vincent’s hooky and aggressive songwriting proved he and The Testors would be far from a “one-and-done” punk rock ensemble in that era.
Dozens and dozens and dozens of releases later, Vincent has recruited Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Rat Scabies (The Damned) and Steve Mackay (The Stooges) for what could easily be the record of the year. The heavyweights behind Sonny Vincent & Spite’s Spiteful create nothing short of a punk rock masterpiece with 14 skull-rattling hits. Recorded in Brussels with vintage equipment, Spite grabs from each member’s past and spits out a boiling stew of madness.
Vincent called in from France to talk about Spiteful and its origins:
How did this amazing lineup come together?
I was offered to record some songs at an all-vintage, analog studio and I called the drummer that I was working with on the previous tour — he was a kid, like 21 years old or something. I called him [and was] very excited and said, “Hey man, an all-vintage studio! Come to Brussels.” And he was like, “Ah, I don’t know, I have to do my job, I don’t know if I can break away to record.” And I was like, “What? When I was your age, I would walk to Alaska naked to do this, you know?”
Keep in mind this is a dude, who when we were touring, talking about Little Richard in the van, he didn’t know who Little Richard was.
Anyway, I called another drummer …. A German guy, he was older, like 47 or 48. I told him the same exciting stuff, “Come to Brussels, record! There’s a room for you and the drums will be set up. It’s a done deal and it’s all vintage gear!” And he said in a very stern, German voice, “I’m 47 years old. I don’t get on trains and go to Brussels!” And I thought, “Jeez, man, what the hell is going on?”
So I’m standing there with the phone in my hand and I’m thinking of who I can get. The previous year I had jammed with Rat Scabies from The Damned in a studio in London. So I called Rat and he was totally down for it …. So I was lucky those other guys couldn’t do it.
Talk about bringing Steve Mackay’s saxophone to this album…
I’ve made a lot of albums and have done a lot of guitar solos and I just wanted to make this special ….. I decided to invite Steve. I wasn’t really thinking much about getting The Stooges feel, but of course that’s inevitable when Steve’s blowin’ on the sax.
So after he came in and added his parts, did the album take a different turn that what you had envisioned?
Yeah, it was special. It did give it a whole other element of wildness with Steve goin’ mental on the sax. There was sort of a crazy vibe going on in the studio anyways. Just before Rat left, Glen (Matlock) showed up. Rat was all drunk and running around saying he was a pirate. He ended up getting into a big fight with Glen and tried to stab him in the leg with a butter knife-
But it didn’t work out so well. I think Rat was all drunk on some Portuguese wine and Glen had been drinking some whiskey …. But there were other problems; the stuff in the studio was from the ’50s and they were hooking things up that were catching on fire. And, there was some stuff that we laid down that was really cool but then it got chewed up because the equipment was so old. Eventually we sorted out all those equipment problems and the personal, mental craziness. But that whole vibe came out on the tape and I was happy.
My favorite on the album is “Shameless Face” because of that weird alien noise.
That’s actually an old Moog synthesizer, one of the earliest ones. That’s one of the cool things about the studio. These two guys who were fanatically driving a van all over Europe would go to flea markets and people’s attics and people’s basements, buying all this gear from the ’50s and ’60s …. [With the Moog] you may recognize the sound because it’s in a lot of B-movies and stuff like that.
Are there plans to tour with this lineup or at least on the record?
Yeah, we’re working on that …. I think it would be pretty cool to tour together.
-Chris Coyle, CBS Seattle
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