Gary ‘Guitar’ Lammin is a man with a colourful history. From his friendship with MC5 manager John Sinclair to his work with the late Dave Goodman, the Bermondsy Joyriders frontman is an underappreciated punk rock character is often overlooked. Following the release of his delta blues solo album, RUSHONROCK co-editor Adam Keys caught up with Gary Guitar Lammin.
RUSHONROCK – Hi Gary, thanks for joining us at RUSHONROCK. How does it feel to have the album out after such a long time?
Gary ‘Guitar’ Lammin – It’s exciting because everyone who is hearing the album is saying “What’s this…? This isn’t the kind of thing that Gary Lammin does, is it…?” But everyone is also saying “Hold on a minute there’s something interesting going on here” And that’s exactly what Mick Jones of The Clash said of the album… I mean its still a street rock n roll album with guitars… its just that this album is a very late night chill out with a nice cool joint type of album rather then an amphetamine driven 10pm in a dive bar album. I’m very pleased with how open minded people have been which is something that we all need to be if we are to progress as a species…
RUSHONROCK – Could you tell us about the wait, and why it’s taken so long to be released?
GL – Yeah…I waited this long because actually I had no intention of ever releasing the album. When Dave Goodman died I was very upset and I still am. It’s actually hard to listen to some of the tracks on the album without drifting off into a memory of the fantastic time I spent at Dave’s studio and I am as I say still upset that he had to go and operate in another dimension other then “SE19 Earth Sub Sector Gipsy Hill”
RUSHONROCK – You worked with Dave Goodman almost 15 years ago to make this album, what was it like coming back to it after such a long time to complete it before release?
GL – I had been given the blessing of Dave’s lady Kathy to release the album and also Mat who runs the Dave Goodman tribute page had said to me “Gary go and get it mastered…. it sounds fantastic just release it…its one of the best things I’ve ever heard Dave produce” And I got to say there was a feeling when me and Dave were getting this together that he was really going the extra distance. I remember him for instance listening to the song Value during the final mixes and when Value had finished he was still staring into space and I was just looking at him trying to decipher his thoughts and he then turned to me and said “What a song man” He was totally focusing on my song writing where as I, well I was focussed on his production skills. I think that’s why the album works so well… It all fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle… It was a team and we passed the ball back and forth to each other for the sheer fun of it.
RUSHONROCK – You’re connection to John Sinclair is a fascinating one. Could you tell us a bit more about how you two met and the influence you’ve had on each other since?
GL – O.K sure…When I was on the second USA tour with The Bermondsey Joyriders we went out every night at every gig and told people we were playing each gig as a tribute to The MC5.
I also tried to contact John Sinclair whilst I was out in The USA but every number and address resulted in that he had moved on. So whilst I was in The USA I never once was able to make contact with him. But here’s the interesting thing and this is something that Dave Goodman told me about. It’s called “synchronicity” The theory is if you put a enough energy out into the universe then at some point the universe has to answer the energy… i.e you get what you ask for. So I then get back to The UK and after a three month tour of The USA there’s like hundreds of messages on my land line answer phone and one message which had been repeated several times was from a shop in Farringdon that deals in vintage and rare underground film posters and astonishingly they were trying to contact me to play slide guitar as an atmospheric soundscape for a poetry evening conducted by…. Yep! Mr John Sinclair!
At that precise moment that I heard those messages I had a flashback of Dave Goodman telling me that one day all questions are eventually answered by the universe and as I sat down on the sofa my hair was standing up on the back of my neck and all I could keep saying was Wow! Wow! The synchronicity has been answered! But then I checked when the last voice message from the shop had been left and to my alarm it was about two hours before I had got in… (bearing in mind Id just got off a plane from a three month USA tour) And I realised that this poetry gig was to take place now!
That very evening… Sooooo…. instead of getting some much needed sleep and trying to shake off the jet lag I instead jumped in the bath and was back on a tube to Farringdon to meet John Sinclair. It was such a great night. If I hadn’t have been so tired and so jet lagged and so freaked with this synchronicity concept then I think I would have been in to much awe of John to have played the right on guitar that was needed for him… but I was knackered and I could hardly think straight and I just went straight up to him and said Hey John I’m Gary Lammin I’m your slide guitar player for the evening and John said…”Yeah cool I heard some good stuff about you” And I replied “well some of it may even be true…but I doubt it” And John burst out laughing and said “yeah…? well I got a feeling this is going to go along very nicely” And it did… it was a fantastic evening.
RUSHONROCK – You have said before that you don’t understand artists that make solo albums that sound exactly the same as the stuff they do with their bands. Could you tell us a bit about your vision when making this solo record?
GL – Ok If it had been any other producer then I might have done what a lot of other people in bands do that release so called solo albums… I might have just done an album that sounded like the band I play in except without the band on the album. But Dave Goodman was a man of such “artistic” vision there is no way he would have allowed that to happen. In fact he had told me already he wouldn’t produce me if I was just going to stay in my comfort zone… He wanted to find out who I really was and more importantly he wanted ME to find out who I really was… It was trip I can tell you, and I’m glad I did it but it was sometimes very scary.
RUSHONROCK – The record itself is heavily inspired by Mick Jagger and The Stones’ The Satanic Majesties Request. Could you tell us more about this?
GL – Yes your right…There is indeed a lot of influence from Satanic Majesties but that was because Dave had said we are going to use as a rough template the idea that we are re-writing the soundtrack for the film “Performance” which stars Mick Jagger and James Fox and Anita Pallenberg which is a film that explores sometimes in a very sadistic way the dilemma of personal identity or how we think we see ourselves and from my immersing myself into the film Performance I realised the parallel that the album Satanic Majesties had with the exploration of alternative realities and attitudes.
RUSHONROCK – It’s been said that there is a natural progression for punk musicians to explore the sounds of the blues. How did this first come about for you?
GL – Well the thing is I was always under the impression that the blues was quite simply the music of working class black musicians who were making social observations and statements… The blues is therefore the punk rock of the black ghettos. I also believe that what The Sex Pistols played was blues based Rock n Roll.
RUSHONROCK – Moving forward, can we expect more of the Delta sounds, or will it be a return to your punk roots?
GL – At the moment I’m listening a lot now to that album by David Bowie entitled “Low” I missed that album when it first came out because it came out right in the punk rock explosion but it is full of very accurate social statement…. I will however, to answer your question, probably go back to playing very loud and very fast slide guitar punk… BUT if the next Bermondsey Joyriders album has a synthesizer on it I promise to make it more Brian Eno the Rick Wakeman.