Ska and two-tone band Bad Manners are set to hit the UK in a few weeks time. Fronted by vocalist Buster Bloodvessel, the novelty ska favourites will be bringing their silly on-stage antics and catalogue of hits back to stages across early November and December.
Rising to prominence during the late ‘70s ska revival movement, Bad Manners quickly gained early exposure through 2-Tone Records package tours and an appearance in the live documentary Dance Craze. Securing themselves a string of UK hits including “Ne-Ne Na-Na Na-Na Nu-Nu”, “Lip Up Fatty”, “Special Brew” and “Can Can”, the band are heading into their 46th year with no signs of stopping.
Now ready to hit the road again this Winter, we caught up with Buster Bloodvessel to find out what we can expect from the shows, tales of Christmas woes, fond memories and what's on the horizon for Bad Manners...
Bad Manners have been going for quite some time, how would you sum the band up in 3 words?
Glorious, and fantastic fun.
What can fans expect from your shows?
It’s all part of the 'Greatest Hits Tour', which we've been around the world with. So, we're back home. This is our home run now. You're gonna expect partying, above the normal partying because it's the greatest hits tour, and it’s also Christmas, so celebrations all round.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Yes, we do. Indeed. Just before we go on stage, we do a Bad Manners warm up, which is something that started with our old harmonica player, and he can put it down to an Arabic warm up, but it's not quite an Arabic warm up. It's more of a homemade Arabic warm up. You have to watch it to be able to explain it, really, but I'll try. You start with rubbing your hands together in a fast way, and then it goes to the head - you touch the top of your head, and then you shake your hands, and then you put your hands on the back of your head. What it does is it just puts you at ease with going on stage because after you've done such a silly warm, stage doesn’t matter after that, everyone feels very good afterwards.
What's your favourite song to play live?
I suppose, I know this sounds a bit crude, but 'Lip Up Fatty' still goes down the best. I always enjoy it because it just brings so much fun to the audience at that point. You know that it's a winner, even though it wasn't our biggest hit. It still goes down probably the best.
You’re playing all over the UK, do you have any favourite venues you may have played before?
Well, obviously, coming from London it's always a special place for me. I always get a little bit nervous and a little bit agitated before I go on stage. But I love it. You know, I couldn't not do a tour without doing London. Also, I like Bristol because of just how many times I've done Bristol. We do it in the same place at The Fleece which is a particularly great pub. We've sort of made it survive over the years. So I'm quite affiliated with that pub. Then there's Brighton which is also a fantastic place to play. We've always done really well there. All of the pubs and clubs that we play in are all really great and I love them all but in particular, London, Bristol and Brighton.
You'll be playing through December, how do you and the band celebrate Christmas?
We don't get to celebrate Christmas. Can I tell you my worst Christmas? I live on a houseboat, we got back on Christmas Eve and I’d lost my keys. So I had to break in which meant going all the way round the boat to find the kitchen window that was open, and I broke in and trod on the tap, and broke the tap in two, so it then started gushing water everywhere, then got onto the boat and turned the water off. As I turned the water off, my electric, which was run by an electric company that had run out, and so because it was so late at night I had no way of putting it back on, so I spent the whole of that day as well with the electric off and I couldn't wait to go back on tour on Boxing Day. It was damp, and it was cold, I had a blanket, no way of watching any telly. I thought well you could just get up and get a taxi and go somewhere else. I think I went to the pub for a few hours and that was it. It was my worst Christmas ever.
Besides playing, what's your favourite thing about touring?
I really love the fans I mean they're just out of this world, and they give so much so we have to give a lot back. I like the whole process of touring, playing in different places. And yeah, I'm really into sorting out the vehicles, but unfortunately, Bad Manners have a curse with vehicles. It happens virtually every time, this time of the year is when we are just about to go on tour. The coach bus breaks down, or the bus breaks down, or something happens or we start off and we don't make the first gig, often the way is the first gig, so as long as you're not coming to the first gig you should be alright.
Do you have a favourite 'on the road' memory?
Wow, I mean, so many. Thinking of one then you think of another, I can’t think of just one! We used to always climb up on the roof of the vehicle that we was travelling in, going down the motorways, which was just a bit silly of us, but we was silly in them days. That was a pretty silly thing to do. There’s great photographs, and I think that the police probably hold a few of them. I used to really sh*t myself as well, it used to be a very scary thing to do, to climb out of a moving truck, climb up onto the roof rack then climb back down. Some of them used to do it just like that. But yeah, too many occasions really. There's too many stories.
What would you say is your best achievement so far?
Probably showing my bum to the Pope. I don't think anybody else has ever done that. It wasn't for any bad reason. It's just, we were doing Italian TV. And we wasn't going down too well, and we were supporting Barry White. And he was going down really well. So he'd gone on and done one song, we had to go on and do one song, then he went on did another song. Very strange behaviour. And I thought, well, we're not going down too well, I need to get this audience a bit more lively. So, I sort of just bent over and showed my bottom. And then I noticed all the record company started looking very nervously as I was walking off the stage. And I said oh don’t worry it’s only my bottom, I just showed my bum. And they said, yeah, but you didn't realise that the Pope watches this every year. So, I didn't know that. But yeah, so I think we got dis- communicated.
Do you have any new projects on the horizon?
We have indeed, yes. Next year, we are planning on doing a new album. We're all really looking forward to that. It's still amazing how many young people come to our shows, and everybody's asking for new material, so it's time to bring some new material. A lot of the other contemporary bands to us have either died or they're dying, or they're not well. So we're still going, so we should definitely do this Christmas tour, take a bit of time off and start writing some new songs.
Is there anything else you'd like to add that you want to put out to the fans at all?
I mean, if they haven't seen Bad Manners before, they should definitely come along to see it. It’s an enjoyable show, it’s a great night out. Guaranteed to be sweaty by the end of it, and smelly. But it's worth it.
One last question - because you've been going for so long, do you still see the same energy from the crowds as you did back in, let's say the 70s to now, is it still the same energy from younger fans?
I think that because people have got older there is an element of them not being the same sort of enthusiasm. But, but there still is a good amount of young people that up it, a bit. So I mean, it's still relevant. I mean, I don't think that we're as lively as we used to be. But the style of music doesn't change, the style of music is still quite energetic.
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