Raped / Cuddly Toys – Parole / Overseas Records – 1977 / 1978 / 1979

During the late summer of 2015, Tony D and Faebhean Kwest, the guitarist from Raped / Cuddly Toys got together for the first time in thirty five years.

Tony D had featured Raped in his original fanzine ‘Ripped And Torn’ and later on, featured Cuddly Toys in his new fanzine ‘Kill Your Pet Puppy’.

Here is a transcript of the conversations.

All the records are from my collection, sorry for some of the surface noise, these records have been well played.

The Cuddly Toys album on C.D and download can be purchased directly from Jungle Records on their website HERE The C.D comes with an extra D.V.D of interviews and promo videos.

All the photographs, flyers and other memorabilia are from Tony D’s collection.

Oh, and a quick note; Tony D was correct when he informed Faebhean that my favourite Cuddly Toys song is ‘Alien’, added to that, and for the record, ‘Moving Target’ by Raped, is one of the finest punk tracks of the era in my opinion. ‘Moving Target’ sitting pretty as the first track, on the first side, of the first single.

Indebted to Faebhean Kwest.

Moving Target / Raped

Escalator Hater / Normal

Your first record that was released. Do you think that Chelsea and Sham had a similar sound on their debut?

We were before Sham, but not before Chelsea as they were going back in ’76. We did not want to sound like any of those early punk bands like Eater or 999. Sean was obsessed with old Bowie and Iggy Pop, where as I preferred, sounds funny, Johnny Winter, Richard Hell  and the New York Dolls, a band I had actually seen, and I came away with my eyes open, a ‘Blues Brothers’ moment, of feeling that’s the way forward, and I was not the only person in the world who thought that you did not have to dress in a white suit like Eric Clapton or perform like the Rolling Stones. You could play music from the dark side of the tracks.

Before the New York Dolls what were your influences?

I liked rockabilly, Eddie Cochrane that kind of stuff. I wanted to be Marc Bolan, and maybe a member of Sweet, although I definitely would have wanted to be in T Rex. I liked the simplicity of it, I thought Bowie, and I know he is somewhat of a sacred cow, but to me, he was more an actor, not a ‘rock star’, he played the part. Whereas Bolan you could imagine that he really would walk around the house dressed like that. I always liked in music and film, people that were somewhat ‘off the wall’ and are not looking like that they are trying to be eccentric. I’ve known Adam Ant since God knows when, and I would say to Adam, you’re a little bit off the wall, a bit eccentric, and he would reply, “No I’m not” and that’s brilliant, as you know, he is eccentric ‘off the wall’. I say that with the great affection. The last time I saw him a couple of years ago, we shared a house with him in Deal, Kent, for a party and he was still as wonderfully ‘out there’ as ever.

Good. How did you meet Sean, Paddy and…?

We met through an advertisement in the Melody Maker. “Wanted for weird glamourous, pantomime band with loud clothes and loud attitude”.

So you never met them before in your life?

No. What it was is that the only places that would put on, you know, the punk groups were either arty farty bohemian places or gay bars like Louise’s in the West End or the Pan Club in Luton. Places like that. If you turned up at a normal rock venue and play, you’d get booed off. The promoters would say “I bet you don’t like Jethro Tull or Pink Floyd”. “No we fucking don’t, we want to play our generations music” and all the hippies would become more reactionary than our dads! The music papers, they sort of tolerated the punk thing, but even so, an advertisement then was…  Yeah that’s how we got together. Sorry I digress.

When did Raped start up?

1976. I had already auditioned for the Pistols late on in ’75 or early ’76, forgotten now, and I could see the way that the wind was changing and I knew that there was something in the air. I went along for the audition, and went to the wrong place in Denmark Street. I thought I was auditioning for Sparks. I turned up and went upstairs. I got bleached blond crewcut hair; I had a green weird top on, a pair of red drainpipe trousers and white winkle pickers on. McClaren was there and he showed me a picture of the New York Dolls, and asked me if I knew who they were. And I had already seen the New York Dolls at the Rainbow Room Bibas; I still got the ticket stub! McClaren wanted me to join immediately as I looked like an embryonic ‘70’s punk. The auditions for Raped we saw a lot of good and bad people, but Sean turned up, who in those days had long wavy hair, like a Kevin Keegan hair style and flares, and polo neck jumper, despite what he would have ever said. Tony Bagget was in some rock band. Paddy turned up, we didn’t know who he was, or anything about him, but others had not turned up, so he joined!

Did Paddy look like… you know; have the long hair and… glam?

Oh yes very much so. I had already been doing a punk thing with a band called Swank, which was what was left of the Swankers. Swankers were members of the Pistols thing. Swank were people like Nigel from the Vibrators, Gary Olson, the popular actor on vocals. We were like really early punk stuff. We actually supported Adam And The Ants, at the Man On The Moon in Chelsea, early 1977 and the audience walked out apart from Jordan and Sue Catwoman!  Adam was running around with one of those ‘rapist masks’ from Seditionaries’ and he was mad and I thought that’s the way for me! Swank also supported the Rezillos.

So Swank were still kind of punky?

One of the first punk groups.

But you left Swank and joined Raped?

Yes, I wanted to form my own band. Gary Grant (Olson) auditioned this other guitarist behind my back, actually got him into the rehearsal studio, and I decided it wasn’t for me. Anyway I thought it was becoming a little boring and tedious and that advert went into Melody Maker for a band a little more glamorous, a bit more pantomime. The band that would become Raped.

What songs did you have written early on?

Oh, ‘Escalator Hater’, ‘Moving Target’. We performed the song ‘London’, which was the Screaming Lord Sutch number. He was quite ‘out there’ as well; I thought he was a kindred spirit. There were certain bands that the punks liked, like The Who, MC5, oh and Link Wray, people like that. These bands and people were not like the rock ‘guitar solo’ acts. These people were, again, from the dark side of the tracks. When I saw Link Wray live he was like; “Go fuck yourself, I’m not Elvis, I’m real”, I felt that he was another person that I would like to be… Raped sat around and all added parts to the early songs, I bought in a bit of New York Dolls and Johnny Winter and dare I say it, a bit of early Jimmy Page.

Tell us about the studio that you recorded the first single ‘Pretty Paedophiles’ in.

Sean had met a man called Alan Hauser, who wanted to put a punk record out. Alan wasn’t the best manager, but he ended up managing us. Alan knew the people behind Spaceward studios in Cambridge. The sessions were alright. It was the first recording studio that any of us had been in. We had done some recording around people’s houses with tape records and things; but not proper studios.

Did you record just the four songs or were there more?

We did record more songs at Spaceward, but I do not know what happened to them. They just disappeared. I think we recorded six or seven songs.

So you did not record any demos or anything, you just went straight in?

That’s right, it sounds laughable nowadays, but back then, bands were going straight in for quick recording sessions, a bit like it was in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. Bands nowadays probably spend a week laying down a bass part! I like to think of the bands from the ‘Swing’ period, Duke Ellington, Django Reinhardt who would know the music intimately and go into studios with large orchestras and take just a couple of takes and that would be what would be cut onto a 78 rpm record. If any errors did occur, then the errors would stay on the recordings. But that was all part of the charm, you might get a few bum notes, but you would get the spontaneity which has been lost now.

The title of the single was ‘Pretty Paedophiles’…

That had nothing to do with me, I did not even know what the word meant, next thing you know Alan Hauser and Sean came up with that name. I’d suggested something like ‘Pantomime Bastards’, which I thought great at the time! It was just to be annoying I think. This was in a time that bands were singing in phoney American accents, being really cool and who would be the new guitarist of the Rolling Stones, who gives a fuck? And we did not want that, we wanted it to be mad. Sean and Alan said this is what we are going to call it. Later on, any input that I had was being diminished, and the band was becoming Sean and Alan’s thing. “Thank you very much for everything, but we’re in charge now”.

Yet you had formed the band.

Yes originally. Sean was practically living in Alan’s place, and was there all the time. Album designs became Sean’s baby, that was it, whether we liked it or not. In fact one of the bones of contention, one of the reasons I was dismissed from the band was because of his plans after ‘Guillotine Theatre’ album, he wanted to do an album of Bowie and Iggy Pop covers. He was just trying to be annoying and a Bowie clone.

The same question about the band name ‘Raped’.

Originally we were going to call ourselves ‘The Solicitors’, until Sean realised what Soliciting meant, and then ‘The Glass Spiders’ which was getting too silly, Bowie to a large degree. Some more names were thought of. ‘Wolfling’ was one; I pretended that there was another band called ‘Wolfling’ because I thought it was a shyte name.

We just came out with a really stupid name (Raped) like that. The name was changed because of John Peel of all people. He had already been playing our stuff on the radio a few times. He wanted to do a session with us, and suggested a complete opposite extreme name to Raped like ‘The Fluffy Bunnies’ or ‘Cuddly Toys’ or something and we thought, yeah. I still have a letter that he wrote to us which has got his inked stamp on it, stating ‘John Peel, the World’s most boring man’. Brilliant, I liked John Peel.

So you all sat around and chose Cuddly Toys?

Yeah, Sean suggested, Chocolate Fireguard, The Moonrockets, Rocking Rhythm Boys… That would go down well wouldn’t it! Glass Spiders name came up again, or the Ziggy Wiggie band or something… Oh fuck off please!  Why don’t we just call ourselves the Bowie impersonators? I wasn’t even that much of a Bowie fan, although I liked him, Sean was obsessed by him.

Was there any danger to the band being called Raped, did you get any aggression towards you?

No, no, not really. It was all part of the punk period and germaine to 1977. It was usually students, and the rock establishment who would get pissed off about it. It was just being annoying. You cannot take it in the context of nowadays where everyone wants to hang around with Simon Cowell. It was also a kick back to the Americanisation of bands with Marshall amp stacks and white suits or whatever. We were just annoying U.K boys really, and thought the name would be funny (followed by ironic ha ha ha’s – ed), but not as bad as the ‘Moors Murderers’ or the ‘Cambridge Rapists’.

When I first interviewed you for Ripped And Torn, we went to a gay bar.

Yes, we went to one in Earls Court, a heavy gay bar, leather and whip type places. We went there just to be annoying, I mean nowadays, you would probably be taken to a Starbucks or something! It was just an odd place to go to. You weren’t freaked by it either; you showed a bit of class! It was full of fellas with big beards and leather hot pants and things like that, yes.

There was a connection to gay bars at that time, The Roxy used to be a gay bar and…

It was, yes. It wasn’t really a connection; it was just that these places were the only ones willing, or able to put on these oddballs. It’s like the only places that would be willing to put on ‘black disco’ acts were gay bars, and is partly why disco had such a large gay following really.

We were regarded as so ‘out there’ the established rock establishment didn’t want anyone like us, they hated us with a passion. It must have been like what Elvis had experienced when he first went on stage and was considered a white musician performing ‘coon music’ and he would have experienced something similar, almost hatred. Jazz was regarded with the same sort of hatred in the early 1900’s. Even Strauss was booed off stage, and Debussy was threatened with ‘Le Fauvre’.

So did you go to gay bars when you were not performing?

No, not intentionally!

Raped played The Roxy of course.

We did yes, many times.

That was an old gay bar called Chaguaramas.

Yes, owned by Kevin St. John, who was quite funny and put a lot of the bands on there and Andrew Czezowski. I had watched many groups there and Andy asked us to play.

Do you remember the first time there?

No not really, I don’t remember the first one although we played with nearly all the bands like Menace and The Lurkers and all the bands like that down there. I had been to the Roxy initially early on when it first opened and I saw The Damned there and thought that they were absolutely brilliant. As close to the stage as I am to you right now, knowing that they were not ‘guitar heroes’ but they were great. Our generation! It didn’t matter, and we were the same age. They looked like me, but an extreme version of me, and I liked the songs. I just thought they were brilliant.

One memorable night we were down there and Generation X turned up and wanted to play and headline the night. Kevin St. John or Andrew Czezowski told them you can’t as Raped are headlining, but we agreed to toss a coin, to see who would go on first. So we tossed a coin, and the coin went our way so Generation X supported us that night which was quite funny, wasn’t it. There is an epilogue to this story, as years later when Billy Idol was going to America, he was holding auditions and I went along with my late wife, and he knew me anyway so I got a second audition, for a very short while I could have been a member of Gen X! He done very, very well for himself, I must admit I do like some of the stuff that he did over there, ‘White Wedding’, good, nice tracks.

Yeah he got the production that he deserved really.

Yes. He did.

You played other venues as well; do you remember any of the others, the Music Machine, the Vortex?

Yes. The Music Machine that was a beautiful place, full of nooks and crannies. It used to be an old music hall theatre. The stage was beautiful. The kind of stage that you could imagine Vesta Tilly, Marie Lloyd and all those performing, I’ve always loved the music hall, even when I was a kid, I was made up with it, we played there. A wonderful sound!

The Vortex?

Yes we played the Vortex. We played the Global Village Trucking Company, which became Heaven, and the strangest thing about that place was that you could go on stage there and play with an amp the size of a match box and you will hear this most incredible, the sound was able to carry right to the other end of the hall. You could hear every note, ambiance for music that I have ever heard in my life. I’ve never known a venue like it, I hope that hasn’t changed but it didn’t have loads of sound deflectors like you have at the Albert Hall, it just had this incredible sound. So we were playing with these little amps and people right at the back were listening to us.

It wasn’t called Global Village Trucking Company…

No. it changed its name shortly afterwards, probably to exorcise our evil after we performed there!

And then there was a place called the Centro Iberico.

Yes, that was a bonkers place. We got the gig through Alan I think, he knew some people there, I think he was trying to chat some women up that were there. We turned up and there were loads of Spanish anarchists there, it wasn’t long after Franco had died and the end of fascism in Spain, so we played the place and it was full of people saying I am going to smash the Spanish state, I had never been to Spain so I did not have a clue about it. There were pictures of Franco there with things like safety pins sticking out of him. And I always remember, someone told me a strange and funny story there, that when Hitler went to see Franco and tried to get him to join the axis with Mussolini, and apparently Franco was so annoying, horrible and just pedantic that you come away almost feeling sorry for Hitler because apparently he said “I would rather have my teeth pulled out than listen to him again”. Anyone that could do that to old Hitler and old Mussolini was, brilliant, quite funny. That story was floating in my head while we were playing there.

Who were you playing there with?

Oh I can’t remember some fucking really awful bands, people that kept saying; “I know punk, I know this and that” and you just wanted to say; “You don’t, you haven’t a clue sweetheart”, bands that think that they ‘knew’ punk, because they were wearing bin bags and safety pins, and just jumped about playing so badly shouting and screaming. That’s bollocks, what you on about? It’s like nowadays when you get people saying; “I’m a punk”, no you’re not. Punk was a just a period of time from 1976 through 1978 really, and then it died. It stopped. Which is fair enough, something else came along. If punk hadn’t died there might not have been that new romantic thing, the Blitz kids and those party people.

We, as anarcho punks thought it all carried on, Crass and all that, 1982, 1983.

Crass were ‘out there’. We really got on with Crass and became good friends with them but I wouldn’t have called them punks. They had a punk history and a punk background but I feel they moved on. They didn’t stay static in amber, they moved on from that.

At one time, I used to feel really saddened when I used to see in 1975 or ’76, before the punk thing, well at the start of punk, early ‘50’s Elvis and people dressed up like Teddy Boys and saying that the only music that ever exists is rock and roll. No, something else is going to come along which will be good in its own way. And it’s true, the punk thing happened in 1977.

And that’s why when people say to me; “They don’t make music like they used to”, I go yes they do. It’s not the same but they do, it’s different, things change as it does do. I like playing lots of 1930’s guitar music right now, and I know that music has changed incredibly since then, but the shape of the guitar, the shape of the amplifiers, the sound, the way people react is different, of course sometimes people wallow in nostalgia from before and want to re-live their youth. And that’s fair enough, it’s like lots of people go and see these Mersey Beat bands, Gerry And The Pacemakers and that sort of stuff. Its good fun, but they are not eighteen years old lads in tight fitting suits anymore; they are bunch of overweight sixty year olds, which is fair enough, but don’t ignore what’s happening now.

Cheap Night Out 

Foreplay Playground

OK, let’s talk about the second single. That was recorded at Morgan Studios. What do you think the difference was between that and Spaceward?

Oh, Morgan Studios was much better, I think maybe Led Zeppelin had recorded there, and lots of bands like that. We went in there and it was much more sophisticated. The desk man was less chaotic than the man at Spaceward, he was a bit more smooth. That didn’t mean that the sound was smooth, it just meant that he seemed to have far more experience which does help. It sounded better, was a much better studio, a huge studio.

How come you got into that studio?

Because of Alan. Alan Hauser our manager got us there. I think he knew them.

The sound of the first E.P was far rawer than Morgan.

Yes, well we went straight in there and ‘boom’, recorded six or so tracks in the day, so of course it was going to be much more urgent, much more, bang, straight in. Whereas we had the luxury at Morgan to do the whole track and wow, we did double track, and which sounds laughable but, despite the fact that Les Paul invented that in the 1950’s, we didn’t have much of a clue of it.

The mixing desk was twice the size and really good mics and of course, we were going to sound better. I don’t want to say that one sound is better because I actually listened to my old E.P a few months ago and I was actually pleasantly surprised to hear, and this will sound big headed, how good my guitar sound was and how precise it was. I hit all the right notes and used all six strings! Wow… And I can’t recapture that. People have said to me; “Oh you don’t sound like you did in 1976-77” or whenever, and I have to say, of course not.

I’m not a Tom Jones fan but I would agree with him totally when he said that people going to see him expected him to sound like he did when he first sung ‘Delilah’. Of course I’m not going to sound the same and of course he will not. Dave Vanian does not sound the same as he did when he recorded ‘Neat Neat Neat’. He’s a top man and has a fantastic voice, but he would not sound the same. Same with me, my guitar playing is totally different. I have a huge wealth of different styles and sounds to pull in nowadays. Maybe because I did not know any rules, I was able to do things that technically are wrong but are correct for the time, because I did not know I was treading on any musical toes.

One of the tracks had Sean’s sexual grunts recorded. Where did all that come from?

Oh yes, fuck me. We did the recording of the song ‘Foreplay Playground’, it wasn’t originally called that by the way, I can’t remember what is was called now, but it was more of a blues thing really as I was putting in my Johnny Winter and Rory Gallagher licks into the song. There were no words for it and then after we recorded it, Sean went in the next day and sang his words… He tells us that these are the words. “Are they? Oh dear”.

You were telling me that the title ‘Foreplay Playground’ came out of the blue to you and the sleeve with all the underage school kids. What was your reaction to all this back then?  How was it received?

Well, it was not something that I wanted to do myself, Sean wanted to go to an annoying school somewhere, and although we were not in the school grounds the Headmaster got rid of us. The Japanese photographer wanted to do pictures at Buckingham Palace I think originally, and that’s as far as I know really. I did not have anything to do with the title or anything. I was being side-lined, next thing you know; “That’s the name of the album, that’s the name of the single, that’s the name of…” Oh great.

I had no input, ending up as an unpaid session guitarist. Apart from playing the guitar to the point of, I was going into studios without Sean or Baggett being there. Alan was very good with this, going in early to record my guitar without those two being around saying; “Oh I don’t like that guitar, let me show you how it should be done”. Asking various hangers on their advice on how I should play!

I used to get that and it used to fucking wind me up. I hope it doesn’t sound like I am being bitter, but actually I am being bitter! When we were doing the album ‘Guillotine Theatre’ that’s when I knew it was the beginning of the end for me. And I was not going to be a vital part of the band. They would say; “Why don’t you play more like…” Oh who’s that guitarist for Bowie?

Mick Ronson?

No, not Mick Ronson, he was brilliant, love his sound, the other one. Earl Slick. I would say I don’t want to sound like him, who hasn’t got grounding in British rock music or the punk scene of Britain. Why would I like to play like him?

So we know that Raped changed their name to Cuddly Toys, and with that change, came a change in sound. What was that about?

Well, we just went from snotty punks being really annoying, and of course to do anything musically, people did not want to hear the; “Blah blah blah, we’re on the dole, blah blah blah” kind of thing. It might be good for a short while, and it’s good to have realism. I don’t really know what it’s like now, and I am trying to think of what it was like back then in 1977 or ’78, but we never wanted to be a punk band. We weren’t really. I certainly did not want to be a punk, and I can say that now, as I was in the heart of all that in the mid ‘70’s. I can get away with that. We didn’t know what or how we wanted to be. We didn’t want to be experimental, new wave or all that nonsense. We just wanted to be a little bit different. It’s something that John Lydon once said about Sex Pistols spawning hundreds of bands that all looked and sounded like Sex Pistols rather going out on their own tangent, and that’s true that is. We wanted to be different to those bands, and not be restricted.

We would get people at gigs coming up saying; “Why have you got so many chords in your songs? You only need two chords”. Well, yeah. There are great songs that only have two or even one chord, but we wanted to do a bit more than that. Branch out with all our influences.

And despite the fact that… And let get this straight, my name is not on a lot of the songs apart from one or two, which is bullshit, because you can see, without my input, they wouldn’t be the songs that they were. Same as Jagger & Richards, Django & Grapelli. The Bowie stuff, ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Honk Dory’, if it had not been for Ronson’s input, the sound would just not be there. Whether Bowie likes it or not, that’s the way of it. Influences that I added would be classical music, which I have always loved, opera which I have always loved, 1930’s music, which countered Sean’s Bowie obsession, because if it just been him, as it eventually ended up, the band sounded like a third rate Bowie, or a third rate Tubeway Army.

Can you remember the first songs that you wrote after the change?

Oh God, I think ‘Aliens’, you know those new songs as soon as you hear them, my guitar style had changed, bringing a bit more of a rockier edge. I cannot remember exactly which songs we wrote early on, ‘Aliens’ was one of them.

Penguin at KYPP likes ‘Aliens’, I think that’s his favourite Cuddly Toys song.

Really? Excellent!

How did you get the ‘Madman’ song off of Bolan and Bowie? How did that come about?

Despite what other people say; and people have said that we found a cassette in the street, it’s probably more likely that we would have found a discarded Brotherhood Of Man cassette in the street! Bolan gave the song to us; we were talking to him and complaining that we did not have any three chord songs anymore. Bolan gave me this cassette, which I still have at home, with him, Gloria Jones and Bowie had all recorded in a glorified hotel room by the sound of things. We did another song off the cassette, a song called ‘Jaguar Scratch’, which has never even been on a bootleg! I’ll play it to you sometime…

Mick Ronson, I met a few times in the ‘80’s, I played him some of our stuff, and he liked the guitar playing, saying it was simple, effective and exactly right. I felt quite vindicated. I thought, wow, someone that inspired me so much. One of my favourite rock guitarists.

Introvenus / Brain Saviour / You Keep Me Hanging On / Full Circle / Astral Joe / Guillotine Theatre

Madman / Time Warp / Alien / Join The Girls / Front Page News / The Fall And Decline Of The Universe

Lets’ talk about the album ‘Guillotine Theatre’. Where was that recorded? Was it Japan?

No, it was recorded in England, but mixed in Japan. Originally it was mixed by Woody Woodmansey in Kingsway Studios near Holburn, owned by Ian Gillan from Deep Purple, a massive man with long hair, he should have been in ‘The Game Of Thrones’ or something. Ian tested the microphones with his beautiful rock voice, and although I am not a huge fan, I did like some of the Deep Purple songs. I thought that the amount of people that I know that were into Deep Purple would love to be here right now! Woody Woodmansey and Ian actually did do some backing vocals on a couple of the songs on our album.

The record was released in Japan, not England right?

Yes, it was released in Japan. Initially, as we could not get a record deal, a company called Teichiku Records released it there, an old fashioned company like Decca Records, and they released it first. They were very bemused with us, as they were used to established folky acts and classical musicians, and the Japanese equivalent of Tony Bennet or something like that.

How did you get this deal then? Alan?

 Oh no, not Alan. I think it was more to do with Paddy’s wife.

Let’s talk about Paddy then. He was from Japan?

Yes, Paddy was born in Japan. Paddy pretended his wife was his sister, the only reason he used to tell people that she was his sister, was that he was a bit worried about us not being as popular over there with young teeny boppers. We would tell him that we were not The Beatles or the Bay City Rollers, don’t be silly. It was quite bonkers. I thought it was strange that he was so possessive of his ‘sister’!

After the Japanese pressing the album came out on Fresh Records.

Yes, Fresh Records. The thing with the Japanese record pressings at the time, the pressing and actual quality of the records was the finest in the World at the time; the recording quality was so good. They would understand stereo in a way that we in Europe had allowed to lapse. The pressing quality was unbelievable. It was like the difference between an Austin Seven and a Lamborghini!

On the Japanese pressing you had ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’ and another old Soul track…

Yes, Sean went through my record collection of old soul music. I used to go to the old Wigan Casino and had a large collection of all those original northern soul records and all that kind of stuff. He found an obscure copy of ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’, a white label that I had and he pinched it and he decided we should do that.  We had a huge fan base in Japan.

The version on Fresh what happened then? Were Cuddly Toys promoted?

Well, no not really. Alan wasn’t really pushing things for the band. He would miss meetings with distribution companies, publishers that would have wanted to give us songs to bullshit our way into the charts. We were meant to have a meeting with Casablanca records, who were very keen on us that never happened.

Let’s talk about some other musicians that were close to Cuddly Toys. Alig from Family Fodder. How did he get involved?

Well, he was part of the Fresh / Parole stable really. He got grafted in to do some keyboards. He was a friend of Alans. He was alright, but he was hardly rock n roll. He was alright, he could play and that, but he’s not somebody I would have wanted in the band really.

Did he tour with you and stuff?

No, no, he was just in the studio.

What about Steve Treatment?

 Well, he was different. He was a mate. I used to have a flat and there were some rooms off it, and Ross who was running the Bolan fan club was there, Steve Treatment was part of that crowd. I got to know him, and he was bonkers but lovely. I was so unhappy when he died; we had kept in touch for many years afterwards.

Did he get into the New Romantic scene?

Who me?

No, Steve Treatment. He was in the Moors Murderers wasn’t he?

 No, he was more in the punky thing really. I jumped into the new romantic scene with both feet as I already knew Steve (Strange) and (Boy) George and all their crowd I had met, and of course I had been asked to audition for Fashion. I knew that entire crowd.

Do you think that influenced Cuddly Toys?

I think it was the other way around, because we were part of the glam punk thing, that there was an element of our ideas in that scene. Bands like Adam And The Ants, and dare I say it, Classix Nouveax, were the more flashier and more flamboyant side of punk. After 1979 punk got really dull. All the band’s looked the same, blue jeans, leather jacket; “I’m on the dole, I’m on the dole”, that was alright in 1976/77 when it was unusual and new, but things have moved on, the nihilistic approach was all well and good, but after a time, no-one wanted to hear that. Which is what a lot of the bands did do.

When Cuddly Toys were gigging, were there people that wanted to hear the earlier stuff, ‘Moving Target’ and songs off of the Raped singles?

All the snotty stuff? Yes we did still play some of that, but we didn’t want to stay in the box, we wanted to be outside of it. I wanted to progress as a guitarist and a writer. We just found it a good sound board to jump off.

Around this time, what do you think of me, Tony D, changing Ripped And Torn to Kill Your Pet Puppy?

Oh the worst… Oh… No seriously, we liked you; you moved on, you didn’t want to do the same old, same old. Nostalgia is great but you can’t live in nostalgia, you have to constantly find something new. You didn’t end up a nostalgic tribute writer. You might not have seen it, as it was your art, but I could see that you thought you could stretch yourself and went out on a tangent. It does not work mind, and you could have fallen flat on your face, but it is better to do that, than to be comfortable.

Talking of comfortable thing, did you used to dress up like glam rock punks. Did you get any aggravation from that? Skinheads and…

Yes we did dress like that. No, not as much as you would think. Actually what was really bizarre was that we did not get aggravation from the rocky crowd, or like the straight people on the street. It was from boring punk bands, and they would say; “Oh you’ve let us all down, you’re not much of a punk”. I would just say that I wasn’t. Even though I was in the heart of the punk thing from 1975 and ’76, so I did not have to prove anything.

Let’s talk about Sean now. What happened to Sean?

Sean believed his own publicity. When people would come up to me and state that I was a wonderful guitarist like Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix’s older brother, and I would be better off being on stage alone, I would just say; “Yeah alright, next”, whereas if they told the same things to Sean, and he would be better off without the band and he would be bigger than Bowie, he would say; “Am I really? Would I really?” and he’d believe it.

And this was the split? What happened to Cuddly Toys?

What happened was, the real reason of what happened, was that they were trying to get rid of me for some time. Sean did not want to be involved with someone who might be a threat to his, um, solo career. He wanted to be him, and Cuddly Toys. He suggested at one time calling it, Sean and the Cuddly Toys. He even suggested we all play keyboards like those buggers Devo and Kraftwork.

Bagget would go along with everything Sean said, I wouldn’t say Paddy as he was in a world of his own. It came to a point where they were looking for any excuse to get rid of me, and Tony Bagget’s cousin was getting shagged on a snooker table in a nightclub that we were playing at. I had this cheap camera, and I saw her getting fucked by a member of another band who will remain nameless. The flash went off, and anyone with any rock and roll attitude would have laughed it off and would have just said; “Oh, fuck off”, but she was getting very upset being photographed doing this in a club. The thing was that I did not have any film in this camera. Tony and Sean were upset and phoning me after I got home telling me that she was going to commit suicide because of me, and; “Look what you’ve done”, and that was it.

Sean told people that he had ‘dismissed me’, like I was working for him. Fuck off!  Years later I saw Sean and he admitted that he had made a mistake, and the bands that he had since, Cuddly Toys 2, 3, 4 and once you get to that stage, the band were taking the piss out of him, he admitted as much, and they were just using him and the band to just further their careers. They had some line ups that you wouldn’t fucking believe. One incarnation of Cuddly Toys looked like a load of builders or bricklayers. The last incarnation of Cuddly Toys, Sean was not even in that band! A band with no original members…

After Cuddly Toys, what did you do afterwards?

I turned down a lot of things that I shouldn’t have done. I had an idea of going off on a tangent, start playing other things. I was in various bands, but I got tired of dragging people with me and trying to get something together.

What are you doing now?

What am I doing now? What I should have done years ago! Even as a child, seven or eight, I always loved music from the 1930’s and ‘40’s, big band music. And now I play swing music. French swing music. And it’s lovely, and it’s the most demanding and difficult guitar style in the world. Some of the musicians I know have more knowledge of sophisticated styling playing guitar than anybody… I try to emulate them, and it’s enjoyable and it’s a whole different ball game, and I don’t have to worry about rock or pop prima donnas everywhere!

Are you proud of that era? Raped and Cuddly Toys.

It’s more than pride. I am just really happy that I was in the heart of a movement that changed things. It’s quite nice when people talk about Strummer, The Damned or Sex Pistols, and afterwards, Duran Duran or whoever, that I can say; “Oh I knew him” or; “I knew her”.  I suppose I am proud of it. I was in a band that made some records, and that reminds me of Bill Wyman when he joined the Rolling Stones when he stated that all he wanted to do after joining a band was to make a record to show his friends and family many years later.

This was before The Rolling Stones became huge of course. They ended up being quite popular didn’t they?

What would be your favourite memory of that time with the bands?

Oh God… When Generation X turned up at the Roxy Club and ended up supporting Raped after a coin toss would be one of them.

We had gone to another place, meant to be a punk venue, where hard core bikers were most of the audience. We went on stage and started playing our stuff, and were met with stony silence. They didn’t like it at all. The manager came over and asked us if we knew anything by Sabbath. We told him that we knew a couple of Sabbath songs. We played ‘Paranoid’ and the place went mad, people dancing on tables and everything. The manager said; “Play it again”. So we played it again repeatedly all night, about twenty times, and saved the night. The manager came up afterwards to tell us that that was the best gig he had seen, and; “Do you write your own songs?” We had to tell him that we do, but not the Sabbath songs that had mostly been the gig.

He invited us back to play another gig there a few weeks later and we played Sabbath again for most of the night… The manager and the audience were ecstatic. Some of the audience had told us that they didn’t want any of that punk shit!

Isn’t that so bizarre.

OK, let’s leave it there. Thanks for all your time Faebhean.

Thanks to you too Tony…

Rest in peace David Bowie who sadly passed on today. The man who sold the world. An inspiration to us all here at Kill Your Pet Puppy.

We can be heroes just for one day.

  1. luggy
    January 16, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Played all their stuff to some younger friends that I was staying with in Ireland a couple of years ago, they knew Sean from when he was running music workshops in Galway before he died but had never heard most of his music.

  2. Iain McDougall
    Iain McDougall
    January 16, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    That was a great read! Have to take issue with one comment in the interview though.
    There’s an urban myth which still persists, that the final line-up of Cuddly Toys continued playing under that name with a new vocalist in place of Sean.
    At the end of 1985, Sean had wanted to shorten the name of the band to The Toys. When he and the other members of the final line-up of Cuddly Toys met-up with Angie Bowie, there were ideas about working with her in 1986.
    When, with no prior hints or warnings, Sean emigrated to Southern Ireland over the Christmas period, we were left with the dilemma of whether to cancel all the plans, or to try and continue. There were mixed feelings, but two of the band members wanted to continue. The idea of keeping the Cuddly Toys name was mooted by somebody, but I was adamant that without Sean, the name could not be used. Eventually, and with a new singer, the band went out as (the terribly named} O Wow, who also supported and backed Angie on many live dates. The only reference to the old name was the “ex Cuddly Toys” foot note on the early concert promo posters.
    In the letter that Sean sent to say that he wouldn’t be coming back, he also said that the potential in that band was great. I think it was too, but without him, it could never have been as Cuddly Toys.

  3. Chris L
    Chris L
    January 30, 2016 at 12:52 am

    Great piece. Really didn’t know much about them although I had the singles and have always loved them. Also didn’t know about their links to Japan (other than Paddy) which explains why all the older punks I know there are massive fans.

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