photo taken from his official site lobbyloyde.com
Calling your heroes on the phone is a tricky one. You think that you somehow know more than they do, and all you want is clarification of your facts - or even some sort of assurance. Now the reason I called was for a music paper, and they wanted me to catch up with Lobby Loyde and Mick Hadley for the Purple Hearts show which happened at the Troubadour in Brisbane. This was in 2006. My review for that show and so on http://www.mickhadley.com/purpleHearts.php
I had a lot of questions I wanted to ask him. Too many, probably. He spoke at a million miles an hour; setting stories straight and using up the time to make sure that he got his message across to his fans regarding his heightened enthusiasm for the band. And too right, as the Purple Hearts are my favourite Australian band of the early-to-mid 60s. Not that there's a terrible lot to choose from then, but still they're not only important to me, but to many other fans of Australian music of that pre-psych era. In other words, there's not a lot coming from my mouth.
This is part one of my interview with the great man. I hope that you get something out of it.
DT: Is this Lobby?
LL: It is.
DT: Would you have some time to do a quick interview?
LL: Yeah, yeah - sure.
DT: How did the Purple Hearts reunion come about?
LL: This particular one?
LL: Well the original one was before I got cancer. I went up and played that festival in Brisbane and halfway through that we said, "wouldn't it be nice to play some gigs?" And in the meantime I got lung cancer, so I'm kind of sick. But I'm looking forward to it. I just had finished Oncology last week - this is my second lot of Oncology - and I'm hoping to go up there and play as normal as hell. I'm flying in Friday, playing the gig, then I'm flying out again.
DT: So there's not a lot of room for practicing in between?
LL: There might be a little bit of practice, yeah. I would've thought that we've been so spontaneous together through the years of our lives that it's like the bicycle for us. The Purple Hearts is my first true love band. I know I've been in a few bands before then, but they were just precursors in learning how to play the guitar. Joining the Purple Hearts and playing with Bob Dames, Freddie Pickard, and Mr Hadley and Tony Cahill - that was the eye-opener of my life. Playing with people that loved the music, had all this lovely English blues and r&b. I was raised by a father that played saxophone, trumpet, chromatic harmonica who lived for the blues and jazz and a mother who played classical piano who lived for Wagner and Beethoven. And me, I lived for Elvis - and r&b and Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. So we were a marriage made in heaven! I don't see how much brains there, brother!
LL: All we need is a stage and an audience - and some amps. Feed us an audience and see how we go. I think we'll play spontaneously because we love it.
DT: So what you're saying is that you're more passionate about the Purple Hearts....
DT: Than the Wild Cherries or the Coloured Balls...
LL: The Wild Cherries were great, man - but that was something to do after the Purple Hearts broke up. Truly. My whole life is this: I joined the Purple Hearts; that was the love of my life the band broke up because Tony Cahill joined the Easybeats. So in a bit of pissed off, I joined the Wild Cherries. After the Wild Cherries I pissed off with that and so I joined the Aztecs. After that I got pissed off with that I formed the Coloured Balls. I played with the Coloured Balls but that seemed devious because everyone wanted to kill one another. Well fuck you guys, I'm going to England. And I pissed off to England for the 70s.
DT: Then you produced a lot of a whole bunch of albums...
LL: Yeah well when I came over from there, I thought "fuck this - I'm not gonna play any more." But when the Purple Hearts said, "hey let's go do a gig at Woodford" I went "yeah!" That's life.
LL: And the most exciting thing I've ever done - go to Woodford - what a festival. So much stuff to see - and the music! So many people. And rehearsal was shitty! We played like a bunch of maggots! And it was awful. And we went to the gig and someone said, "ladies and gentlemen - the Purple Hearts" and we played like mothers. So you've gotta say that's spontaneous. That's exciting.
DT: Yeah, absolutely.
LL: Yeah - that's the stuff you live for, man.
DT: That's right, and one I appreciate about Mick Hadley is that...
LL: He's fantastic...
DT: He's true to it. Even throughout the 80s...
LL: True to it? Holy shit man...
DT: And still doing it...
LL: True to it? He's been better than... true to it. In Brisbane, I mean really - Mick's has put his whole bloody life... single-heartedly and passionately into making this music always come to life and have vitality. I mean - Jesus Christ - every band he ever put together ...didn't they do something good? They were always interesting. I loved him. He's just a genius guy. And he's got that great personality. He just loves what he does - he's a good human being. I love the band, I think Bob James is a mighty bass player because he's right in the centre of the beat. Freddie was great when he pulls his finger out because Freddie always played those off-beat rhythms and he sort of kept it what it is, mate. He was the rhythm guitarist, I was the lead guitarist, Bob was the bass player, Mick was the singer and we had a drummer...
DT: and you all had your room...
LL: Yeah mate and we all had our little areas. And we did our job as well as we could from inside those rooms and because of that it was an exciting band. And I think we... You know, for our day we were recording in mono. Not stereo. We weren't in glorious stereo, mate. Every time we put a vocal or a solo or something we had to bounce it across on the run - because you know there was one track and we were bouncing from track to track. I thought we made pretty bloody good records for the days of chaotically bad shit. If we woulda had a TEAC four-track, we coulda made God's own records. But we never had anything that good. We had a bloody mono Ampex valve recorder. And I thought what we pulled was exciting because the music was played by people who loved it. It was passionate. And let's hope any audience that coming along will hear that passion because the passion's everything. And I always know Mick is going to be passionate about it, and I always know Bob's going to be passionate about it because I know these two guys live for this crap. I mean we had so many arguments! People don't have arguments like that - that get so intense; spitty and hissy like a bunch of girls if they don't really dig what they're doin'. If it's just a band, you go "oh well, who gives a fuck?" I've never heard one of those guys say, "who cares?" They went, "no, it's gonna be great!" And Mick's always been "it's gonna be great." And Bob's always been "it's gonna rock!" And Freddie was always there because he wants to be there. Tony Cahill was a king-hit drummer but unfortunately he's hurt himself. But you know Mick's got a great drummer sittin' in there anywhere and he plays great. And that's how it is...
DT: Do you regret that...
LL: ...Mick's always got people around him that can play r&b fantastically. [pause] Do I regret it?
DT: No, I mean do you regret the fact that the Purple Hearts never wrote their own songs?
LL: Oh no I just regret the fact that we didn't make the records we should've made! Because we weren't together long enough to do an album. We went down and made half the singles one weekend, then in Melbourne got another session and we made the rest of the singles that weekend and that was our recording career. And maybe we got into a studio just before the end to say goodbye. But I mean two sessions in just three years of being in a band... Pretty grim. Yet down in Melbourne... The Loved Ones, who were kind of similar... they were kinda influenced by the Purple Hearts... there was no Loved Ones prior to the Purple Hearts believe me. People in Australia don't record this part of history but this is actually the truth: they were in the Red Onions Jazz Band. Gerry Humphreys and the boys used to come along and see us. They loved us! And they loved the way Mick sang. That way he used to stair up to into those high notes. And so we were a big influence on those guys. But they immediately made the Magic Box album - and we were walking around with our same single, a year later. Do you know what I mean?
LL: And we felt like the poor country cousins that went to yobbo school. Never got to go to the real studio. We gotta go down the back, record it in mono; these boys recorded a full-on album with overdubs, vocals, ten tracks and it's an album and it's a hit. Do you know what I mean?
DT: And they take all the credit for it.
LL: Well of course they're taking all the credit for it because they luckily got in first. They don't remember who's really first, they just remember who's first on the records. But the Purple Hearts, they were just such an exciting band. I believe that if we coulda got to make an album it would've been fantastic. And we woulda written songs - bloody oath! Because Mick can invent a blues song in three seconds onstage. You know, I mean he doesn't necessarily remember the lyrics to anything anyone else wrote, he just uses the name.
...to be continued