More from year 1975
Other interviews of Geoff Britton
Dec 07, 1974 • From Disc And Music Echo
Interviews from the same media
Circa June 1974 • From Wings Fun Club
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Drummer Geoff Britton joined Wings in November 1974. The Wings Fun Club newsletter N°3 1974, sent to members of the fan club circa January 1975, featured an interview to introduce himself and explain how he came to join Wings.
Geoff Britton served his apprenticeship in the music business in bands like East of Eden and The WiId Angels. His wide scope as a drummer secured him a job with Wings. He’s as comfortable playing Country and Western, as he is playing raw Rock ‘n Roll. At the audition over fifty-two drummers were set through their paces, they were expected to cover a spectrum of music, which varied from a Kansas City Shuffle, Duke Ellington’s ‘Caravan’, a Herbie Mann tune, to a blues twelve eight number. This test sorted out the men from the boys, as far as music was concerned. We interviewed Geoff, shortly before the band were due to record Top of the Pops. To start, he told us a little about his major musical influences.
Geoff: “There were a load of them really. If you take progressive Jazz … I had lessons from Billy Joe Jones once; he’s out of the bop era, played with Miles Davis, etc. But I really dig people like Buddy Rich and guys like that and then in the pop or rock world you’ve got so many good people – in America you’ve got Jim Keltner and Billy Cotton jnr. and then in England you’ve got Ian Paice and Ringo. Really every big band at the moment has a good drummer. Take Kenny Jones of The Faces who I saw last night. I listen to them all, you know. As a kid I was infatuated with drumming, I used to play on biscuit tins in the garden. If I went to bed at night and there would be a clip from ‘The Benny Goodman Story’ or something, my parents would give me a quick shout and I’d come racing down. I begged them for a drum kit, as I was convinced that I was going to be a drummer, but because the family didn’t have any musical interests, they didn’t take me seriously.”
Question: “Were your parents just unperceptive about music or did they want you to do something else?”
Geoff: “They wanted me to do something else. The music business had a lot of adverse publicity in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s; jazz had the drug problem, and Rock ‘n Roll was pretty anti-social – the riots, the long hair etc. – so I think parents in those days weren’t quite as enlightened as they are today, and joining a group was almost like joining a band of desperados!”
Question: “But you seem more jazz orientated, which was surely more respectable?”
Geoff: ‘‘No, it wasn’t at that time. You had the real finger-throbbing, gumchewing, smoking hash image, against the pop image of booze and punch-ups. All the major figures – Charlie Parker, Billie Holliday, Gene Kruppa were viIIans as far as the social world was concerned. When I first started out, I joined a Country and Western circuit group called The King Pins, working every night in a different pub all around the London area. Then East of Eden, which was the first of the road groups I’d been in; getting into transits, getting out at Newcastle, playing a gig, getting back in and on to the next place. The real apprenticeship, you know, the rest, by comparison, is easy. It was a real cult, underground type of band. We moved on the same circuit as Free and Yes. From there I joined another band which I haven’t previously talked about. I did a year’s stint with a group called Gun, which had a hit record, ‘Race with the Devil’. When I had enough of that, I had the choice of joining either Uriah Heap or The Wild Angels. Well at this stage I was so involved In my Karate that the Angels seemed a better bet because the music was fun, the guys were fun, and I liked the leather jacket idea. It appealed to me, I fancied a really heavy band, as I’d been in progressive bands. Anyway, by the time they made it, there were hardly any original members left, so I thought I’d blow it, Karate was more important now, Karate’s more personal to me. I’m reliable to myself in Karate.
“How did you get involved with Karate?”
“Through East of Eden actually, about five years ago. We’d just finished a gig in Hamburg. It was a nice night, so I decided to walk home and some guys set about me. You see, in those days long hair was just becoming tolerable in England, but they were still behind on the Continent, so when you turned up there with long hair, the local lads thought: Hullo, we’ll have a bit of fun here! I just knew they were going to pick on me, it’s just one of those things. There was the language problem – I couldn’t sort of say anything- but I got off that, and ran across the road nearly getting run down because of the German traffic. It was such a bad experience that I thought, Blimey, I’m not going to let that happen again.”
“You were on a short list of five at the auditions, how did you feel at the time?”
”Very excited, I had a 20% chance, then the office rang to say they’d like me to come back, I was on a shortlist of two. My chances had come to 50/50, and all the time the gig seemed to be getting further away. Anyway, I went along on the Monday and spent all day with them and the other guy went on Tuesday. They didn’t give anything away, you know. They were very nice; we went out to dinner, had a nice day. We played all day and they taped it and there was no way of knowing if I’d cut any ice or not. Paul rang me on the Thursday, and just said: “Yeh, well …we’ve listened to the tapes and you’ve got the job. Take it easy, go to the office and have a chat, and then we’ll go to Nashville.” Actually once I was short listed to two, I thought I’d leave my other group no matter what. I had some money in the bank so I thought I’II either go to America, or go to Japan and see some of my Karate friends. I’ll do one or the other, and have a complete break, blow the money and start again. If I was number two for Wings, I’d be number one for somebody eIse. As it happened I got the job, and went to the States.”
“To what degree is the forthcoming Wings album influenced by NashviIle?”
“Probably, not much, but the b side of the single, ‘Sally G’ was a direct influence. But the album as such, was already in conception before we went, so there’s probably very Iittle influence there, but then, everything influences everything in life. With making an album, you go in with this idea and that idea, and on plastic it doesn’t work as it did in your head, so you revamp it or whatever and then you come across something by accident and it’s great. Recently in the studio I was playing a drum part, and afterwards they had kept the tape running, I’d been fooling about on milk bottles. Paul thought it was great. But really it was a pure accident, and this happens all the time when you’re recording.”
“Is the album more of a direct progression of ‘Band on the Run?’”
“Yeh, the whole things going to flow, so it’ll be more of a concept album.”
“To end, could you tell us what Wings are planning for the immediate future?”
“The plan is for a world tour, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Hawaii, then America, the Continent and Britain. Perhaps we’ll do some sort of charity gig in England before we go, and play somewhere Iike Yugoslavia to loosen the band up.”