Dig the Now Sound (Thursdays at 10:00 pm eastern on Turn Me On, Dead Man Radio) plays standout recent garage/psych and Echoes in Tyme (Tuesdays at 10:00 pm eastern) looks back on the garage revival of the 1980s and 1990s. This week the leadoff tracks for both shows are by the same band, the X-Rays! who are from Nottingham, England. Between 1994 and 1998 the X-Rays! put out several releases reveling in sex, drugs and rock & roll–in a general sense, that is–more accurately the X-Rays! reveled in whores, beer and garage punk. But then between 1998 and 2013 the band went on hiatus. I noticed recently that their entire back catalog suddenly appeared on Bandcamp, along with a new single “Jameson Shot”, and that led me to contact Gary X-Ray to find out what was going on.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: So why the long hiatus?
Gary X-Ray: The X-Rays in our original line up split in 1997 when Steve (our drummer and original member of Heresy) left after a European tour in which we had a lot of trouble including Steve getting arrested in Holland. It’s a long story but we carried on for a bit after Steve left with another drummer. It did not really work and we split not long after but reformed in 2002 to play a one off gig with our original line up with Steve to play with the New Bomb Turks. We had played a few UK tours with the Turks and reformed just to play their last ever UK gig. The New Bomb Turks are still one of my all time favourite bands.
Anyway me and Coop played in various different bands after the X-rays but last year decided to get the band back together with me, Coop and Gman original members and a new drummer Benny Ramone. We have a 7″ compilation single out on Big Neck Records, USA which also features Livids (Eric from New Bomb Turks new band). We also have a 7″ single coming out on Big Neck and a 25 track singles compilation album coming out on High Noon Records, Germany very soon. We also have a few other secret projects coming out with other labels but I’d have to kill you if I told you about them hahaha! ………….only joking!!!!!!!!!!!!
Turn Me On, Dead Man: The New Bomb Turks were my favorite band to see live, hands down. Sorry to say I’ve never seen the X-Rays live. I read Eric Davidson’s book (We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001) and it sounds like X-Rays shows were always entertaining! One of the points he makes in his book is that the punk scene in the 1990s was all pre-internet. You’ve posted the X-Rays catalog on Bandcamp so you’re taking advantage of the internet now. How have things changed between then (before your hiatus) and now?
Gary X-Ray: Yeah New Bomb Turks are still one of the greatest bands that have ever lived and one of the best live bands ever. We were lucky enough to tour with them in, I think, 1996 and they were such great guys. Our last gig, we played before reforming last year, was in 2002 where we actually got back with our original drummer to play the Turks last ever gig in the UK at the Garage in London.
Eric’s book was fantastic and brought back a lot of great memories if the mid 90’s gunk punk scene which was amazing in Europe but was none existent in the UK. The X-Rays were pretty much on our own in the UK during that period of time but we had a great break getting signed to Empty Records in the states.
Back then in the 90s there was no internet…………..and definitely no Facebook. We kinda got known through word of mouth from people seeing us at gigs and fanzines. We were in contact with a whole loada fanzines (sadly most of those DIY photocopied paper fanzines are long gone replaced by blogs etc). Organising gigs and tours in those days meant writing letters, phoning promoters (which was bloody expensive if you were booking tours abroad) and we went high tech by using a fax machine haha. It’s now so easy and quick with the internet. The problem I have with the internet generation of bands is that they don’t really have to work at being a band it’s so easy to just post stuff on Facebook and get your band noticed. As i say we had to work hard sending stuff off to fanzines, promoters etc (I’ve got to be careful i don’t sound like an embittered old man haha). We have embraced Facebook and Bandcamp because it is great for people to be able to hear us and contact us without having to spend a fortune trying to find our out of print vinyl.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: The first time I heard the New Bomb Turks was on John Peel’s show on the BBC World Service (broadcast on my local public radio station from midnight to 5:00–great for insomnia!). I remember he referred to them as a “noisy boys”.
So, being out of the mainstream, has it been better for you to be in Nottingham? Did/do you have a supportive scene there?
Gary X-Ray: when we first started round 1994 the UK was pretty bad for gigs. We really were the only band doing what we did in the UK. We saw the New Bomb Turks play Nottingham in 1993 and that was a massive inspiration but the UK did not seem ready for garage punk at the time. It was only when we went to Europe and the States that we got really appreciative audiences and realised that people did like our style of music. It was also the first time we got proper riders and big crowds. It was strange reforming and playing in Nottingham after 10 years and realising that people had caught up and were ready for garage punk. We re now seen as some kind of originators (even though we weren’t anything new it’s just that people remember us as the first UK band to take on that style etc).
Funny you should mention John Peel. He was one of the few DJs who picked up on us at the time. He played quite a few of our singles and was the biggest influence on me musically. I used to listen to his show as a kid and remember hearing a lot of the early punk rock on his show.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: Glad you’re back and that Nottingham (and the rest of us) have caught up with you.