Way back in 1990 Spike and company helped celebrate 10 years of the Monsters Of Rock festival on a bill boasting Thunder, Poison, Aerosmith and headliners Whitesnake.
And in 2012 the Quireboys are back to deliver two sets for Download’s 1oth birthday party at the same site.
With a new album due to drop this autumn and a support slot with Guns N Roses confirmed for next month these are heady times for the band responsible for a slew of rock n roll hits including 7 O’Clock, Hey You and I Don’t Love You Anymore.
For our latest Download exclusive RUSHONROCK editor Simon Rushworth caught up with bandana-wearing frontman Spike to talk the past, the present and the future.
rushonrock: Is this your first time on stage at Castle Donington since the Quireboys’ 1990 Monsters Of Rock appearance?
Spike: It is but it shouldn’t be. I was supposed to get up and play with my old mate Duff McKagan last year but I turned up late! I missed him. That probably wasn’t the smartest move I’ve ever made.
rushonrock: But you’re making up for it with two shows in two days this year – looking forward to it?
Spike: I can’t wait. But the festival has changed beyond recognition since we played Monsters Of Rock in 1990. When we played then there were only five bands and the backstage area was tiny. The crowd was massive though!
rushonrock: Remind us who was on the bill that year…
Spike: We were on with Whitesnake, Aerosmith, Poison and Thunder. And that was the year when the demographic of the British rock festival suddenly changed. The big thing everyone noticed was that there were loads of women – and pretty women – there. In the past the Monsters Of Rock had been the preserve of bikers and blokes in denim and leather. But that year the appearance of a few pretty boy bands like Poison and ourselves seemed to bring out a different kind of rock fan. It was also a beautiful sunny day and that helped to bring out the rock chicks!
rushonrock: What else do you remember about the day?
Spike: I took all of my family down to Donington that day. I even brought my little nieces but there were loads of kids backstage. There was a real family atmosphere with a crèche for the younger ones. Liv Tyler was there – she must have been about 14 at the time – and all of the Aerosmith boys had their families around for the festival.
rushonrock: Apart from playing your stuff what was the biggest highlight?
Spike: I loved watching Jimmy Page get up on stage with Aerosmith. That was a huge highlight for me. It was incredible. We played before that and got between 45 minutes and an hour for our set. It was live on Radio One and I remember we’d been told in no uncertain terms that we couldn’t swear. So of course I went on stage and explained that to the crowd at which point 90-odd thousand people shouted ‘fuck off’. I didn’t swear but I don’t remember Radio One covering the festival live the next year!
rushonrock: Were the Quireboys on form?
Spike: Most people seemed to think so. We’d been doing a lot of festivals in the US in the build up to the Monsters Of Rock so we were pretty much at the top of our game at that point. We were used to playing during the day and getting fans warmed up for the bigger bands that followed. We had a tight set, an amazing backdrop and all the moves. It was an incredible atmosphere and a great day for the Quireboys. I just hope the sun’s out again this year!
rushonrock: You’re playing the second stage on the Friday with some stellar names from the early 90s…
Spike: Everyone I’ve spoken to insists the Friday second stage line-up is the best of the weekend and who am I to argue? It’s just like going back to the early 90s when British rock was on a roll. There’s ourselves, Little Angels, Terrorvision and the lads from SKIN and Jagged Edge. And across the weekend you’ve got Tyla from the Dogs D’Amour, Gun and Luke Morley from Thunder with his new band The Union. All of these lads are still going strong and it’s testimony to the quality of the music back then.
rushonrock: So are you looking forward to a Donington party 1990-style?
Spike: Back in 1990 I actually left Castle Donington on Thunder’s bus! I was having such a great party that I lost the rest of my band but it didn’t seem to matter. I was having such a great time and I seem to remember the party continuing on Thunder’s bus. But here’s a sign of how times have changed – it looks like I’ll be heading home to Wolverhampton after Friday’s set and coming back again on the Saturday for our acoustic show. Then again, who knows what might happen if the sun’s out and the JD is flowing…
rushonrock: Is Download part of a big 2012 for the Quireboys?
Spike: It’s a great opportunity for the Quireboys to remind a lot of people that we’re still out there and we’re still making rock n roll music. We’ve just signed a new record deal and we’re hoping to release our first full studio album since 2008’s Homewreckers And Heartbreakers in September or October. We’ll be touring across Europe by then and we’re hoping to finalise our traditional UK headline tour around November/December time.
rushonrock: And is it right you’re hooking up with some old buddies after Download?
Spike: You’re talking about the Guns N Roses gig in Switzerland? It will be incredible. We were supposed to open up for Slash there last year but it didn’t quite happen. We’ve always done incredibly well in Switzerland and the promoters over there are always keen to get us back. I think they suggested us to Axl and with the history between the two bands stretching back almost 25 years he probably quite liked the idea. He has to sign off before any support band is confirmed but I’m not surprised he agreed to have us on the bill.
rushonrock: You and Axl go back a long way don’t you?
Spike: Axl used to love my father and I’m looking forward to reminiscing about the past. He’s a lovely bloke. He’s not who people make him out to be. Looking back I probably got on better with him than most of his own band and we were definitely kindred spirits. But all of Guns N Roses used to hang out at my house in LA 20-odd years ago and we loved our time on the Use Your Illusion tour in 1993. We were all very close for a time and it’ll be wonderful to reconnect after all of these years.