ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 30, 2001
By Steve Newton
When the London Quireboys blasted onto the music scene in 1990 with the swaggering boogie-blues hit “7 O’Clock”, originality wasn’t their stock-in-trade. They took their musical cues directly from Rod Stewart and the Faces, and even looked the part with their scarecrow hairdos and black top hats. But at the same time as naysayers were clamouring “Rip-off!” they were tapping their toes to the band’s undeniable party-rawk vibe. And guitarist Guy Griffin wasn’t riled by the comparisons, anyway.
“It didn’t bother me too much,” he relates over the phone from L.A., where the British band is rehearsing for a cross-Canada tour that kicks off at Studebaker’s on Saturday (September 1). “I think a lot of it was directed at [lead vocalist] Spike. But if you really listen to it, the only thing he and Rod Stewart had in common was sorta husky voices. I mean, Spike sounds as much like Dan McCafferty from Nazareth—or Stevie Marriott or Janis Joplin or Bon Scott—as he does Rod Stewart. He’s a mixture of them, but I think he’s got his own voice.
“I always took it [the comparison] as a compliment anyway,” Griffin adds. “I mean, bands from that era like the Faces, that was my favourite kind of rock music anyway.”
After releasing two albums in the early ’90s—1990’s platinum A Bit of What You Fancy and 1993’s nonplatinum Bitter Sweet & Twisted—the “burnt-out” Quireboys broke up. Griffin put together a group called Glimmer, bassist Nigel Mogg joined a band called Nancy Boy, and Spike released a couple of solo albums in Europe and Japan. But last year Spike and Griffin hooked up again in L.A., wrote a couple of tunes, demoed them, sent the tape around, got some positive feedback, and recorded a new album, This Is Rock ’n’ Roll.
The music’s still the same: straightforward barroom blues-raunch driven by two cranked guitars and showcasing the smokes ’n’ whiskey–drenched vocals of Spike. It’s the sort of noise you’d expect from guys who came of age listening to their older siblings’ Faces and Status Quo LPs. Matter of fact, bassist Mogg—nephew of former UFO vocalist Phil Mogg—sports a nifty Quo T-shirt in one of the new disc’s studio pics. “That was actually a T-shirt that I picked up,” notes Griffin, “but I washed it and it shrank. Nigel’s a little skinnier than the rest of us, so he got it.”
Mogg may be the biggest bone rack of the bunch, but none of the Quireboys appear to have gotten the least bit bloated during their hiatus. There’s not a beer gut among them, and yet they do love their brew: the cover of This Is Rock ’n’ Roll sports a snapshot of the quintet slouched around a table crammed with drinks. And there’s a long list of locals who shared sips with the band when they were here for a few months back in ’92, recording Bitter Sweet & Twisted with hot-shot producer Bob Rock. “We still like to have a tipple,” Griffin declares, “but nowhere near as much as we used to. I just turned 31, so I’m getting to the age where I’m feelin’ the hangovers more nowadays.”
Griffin was only 20 years old when the band recorded its platinum debut in L.A. No wonder he doesn’t feel too crusty for a comeback. “Aw, nah—we still feel like we’ve got something to offer,” he relates. “I mean, the type of music we’re playin’, we could be playin’ it when we’re 45 and it wouldn’t matter. It’s all blues-based, and all the best blues guys are old.”