Earliest musical memories: “The first music I can remember being excited by, was The Shadows, I was always fascinated by guitars from that point onwards. ‘Crazy Horses’ by The Osmonds was another early favourite, and seeing The Sweet on Top Of The Pops was a big turning point, I bought all their early singles and still have them now.”
Early influences and current influences: “When I started teaching myself guitar, I had just discovered heavy rock music, as everyone called it back then. It’s a cliche but some older friends played me ‘Smoke On The Water’, and as soon as I heard that intro, it was game over. Jimi Hendrix was another early influence, and from there I went on to discover all the other rock bands of the day … Led Zep, Lizzy, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Scorpions etc. My influences these days are massively varied. I am influenced by a lot of rock, punk, indie, and country music in different ways. I am influenced a lot as a lyricist by Bruce Springsteen, Bon Scott, Frank Turner, Deaf Havana and The Hold Steady. As far as guitar playing goes, my main influences are Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marc Ford, Neil Young, Slash, Malcolm and Angus Young, Michael Schenker, Paul Kossoff … the list is endless.”
Musical start and first bands: “After years of playing air guitar with various tennis rackets and other random objects, I started teaching myself using the famous Bert Weedon ‘Play In A Day’ book, I must have been about 11 or 12. My first band was Black Dog, formed with a couple of school friends, we started rehearsing in the local scout hut when I was 15. That is when I met Mark Grimmett, who actually answered our advert for a drummer. He was a good drummer, but was always a better singer than our actual singers!”
Before 3Sixty: “After Black Dog, I was in a band called Raider, also with Mark before we formed another band called Crywolf. This is when Mark finally made the switch from drummer to singer. It was during these years that me and Mark learnt to write songs together, but after Crywolf split up in 1990, we went our separate ways and I joined London rockers The Tattooed Love Boys, and recorded the album ‘No Time For Nursery Rhymes’ with them. After that I formed The Firebyrds with TLB’s drummer Mick Ransome We played a lot of gigs around London mainly, including one particularly memorable night at Hammersmith Apollo (Odeon), before splitting in 1996. I was pretty disillusioned with bands at that point, and fell out of playing in them. The following years were largely spent, writing songs and recording them on my home studio, until I bumped into Mark again by chance in a pub, and we decided to see what happened if we got together again to write some songs.”
3Sixty: “I hadn’t seen Mark for many years, when we bumped into each other. We started talking a lot on the phone about the old days, and settled our old grievances. He talked me into going over to his studio to see what would happen if we worked on some songs together. The first song we actually wrote together was ‘You Know My Name’, not long after that we wrote ‘Long Time Coming’, and we started to realise that we still had a really special songwriting chemistry together, despite all the years we spent apart. Then we wanted to put together a band to play these songs. Mark Simon was the first person we had in mind for drums, as he had played in Crywolf for a while and we loved his drumming, but we had no idea where he was. Someone told us he was playing with his brother Russell in a local band, so I went to watch them play. I also knew Russell Simon from way back, but hadn’t seen him play for years. It was great to meet up with them again, and watching Russell play, I kept thinking how well his punky rock’n’roll style would mesh with the way I play, and so me and Mark sent them some of our songs and asked them if they wanted to get together and see what happened. It was also important to us to have people we already knew in the band, so that we already had a connection, and knew that everyone was solid. I will never forget that first rehearsal, as soon as we started playing together, something about everyone’s individual styles just clicked into place. I remember me and Mark looking at each other as we played ‘Long Time Coming’, a song actually about us getting back together, and knowing that we were both feeling the same goosebumps.
Favourite 3Sixty song: “In all honesty I don’t have a favourite, but I think ‘Stronger’ is the song of which I am most proud. There is no such thing as “best” in music, but if there was, I think it is the best song I have ever written or co-written. Other than that, maybe ‘Just Around The Corner’, or ‘Can You Feel The Rain’, which was written too late to make the #truestories album, would be my favourites. Although, tomorrow, I might pick a different song entirely.”