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• Rooster Booster •
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reproduced from
Sounds - October 24th 1981.

The perfect hostess proffered cream cakes and tea while the lady Hell’s Angel took another swig of ale and leered – and all at Atomic Rooster’s tenth birthday party

"You’re gonna get debauched," she insisted. I smiled inanely, a lump in my throat despite her unsubtle fixation. This wasn’t a joke, Vincent Crane played some Chopin on the booze-laden grand, wife Jean thoughtfully made another gallon of coffee, Paul Hammond sat silently staring into an unfathomable darkness, the lady Hell’s Angel beside me took another swig of ale and leered. No nightmare. This was a birthday party with a difference. Atomic Rooster was ten years old.

Strictly speaking, of course, Vincent Crane and Carl Palmer formed Rooster from the ashes of Arthur Brown’s Crazy World in late `69. So the REAL excuse for the party was the establishment of the Rooster legend in late `71 with the `Death Walks Behind You’ album and `Tomorrow Night’ and `Devil’s Answer’ single successes on the back of the most fruitful Crane/DuCann/Hammond line-up. A more universal manifestation being the release of a new single, `Play It Again’ bw `Start To Live’ and a live version of `Devil’s Answer’, on Polydor.

Before the celebrations Vince and John had expounded on various facets of the Rooster philosophy while Jean, the perfect hostess, proferred cream cakes and tea, and Paul sat silently eating peanuts in their shells (the Cranes having run out of chicken heads).

The reformation (early last year)
Vince: "I took the band off the road (a) because I was fed up with touring, and (b) cause I didn’t want to run the band into the ground. After a couple of years though, you think `Wooo, why not go back on the road and do it again?’ There didn’t seem to be any point in getting away from Rooster. It just needed an event to get it back together, and John rang me out of the blue and said `Do you fancy doing it again... because people have been saying what a great idea, why don’t you do it now...’ and people had been saying the same thing to me. If you look back at the break up, there was no reason why it should have ended when it did. It was just a silly thing that happened at the time and we didn’t really see Atomic Rooster through."

Heavy metal
John: "It was unfortunate that this metal thing happened in a way because I don’t think we are heavy metal. We don’t have a bass player for a start so we’re missing out on that vwooooommm part of the heavy... Heavy in attitude actually."

The set
Vince: "I think that people still want to hear the old stuff. You’ve got to be prepared to go up from an hour set, which we do now, to an hour and a half, and do an hour of new and half an hour of old material. I wouldn’t play anything old that I no longer enjoy playing, and fortunately, I haven’t had success with or put on record something which I really hated. A lot of bands do that and then they pay the price or they won’t play it, and that’s not fair on the audience.

I’m not interested in just recreating the past. At the most you’re just proving that it was as good as people remembered and that’s hard enough... especially as people think that it was more wonderful than it was. For Rooster to be accepted in the 1980s we’ve got to top the 1970s Rooster. You have to go on as a double bill with both of us on, if you like, and blow ourselves off. So, the fact that most people think it’s as good as it was means, in my mind, that it must be better... that’s my kind of twisted logic.

If the new stuff wasn’t going down as well as the old ones I would feel threatened, but this hasn’t been the experience. The second encore, if we’ve the strength to do it, is a new one, and the fact that it goes down and rounds off the whole thing seems to show that the audience are accepting the new stuff."

The rigours of gigging
John: "Stagewise we’re suspiciously on the verge of overkill."

Vince: "But I do like overkill, It’s great."

John: "You get to the end of a number and you think `Uh God, I’m so tired’. I literally die on stage actually…blood pours off my fingers. Oh, it’s bad some nights."

Vince: "Well he’s singing as well as playing. I know, having done that myself, that singing and playing is the worst for sheer sweat. It’s hard work just singing. If I’m really exhausted I can cheat and stop jumping about. I can play…but it’s hard playing standing still. I usually think `Forget it, I won’t have the strength to play in a minute if I don’t start leaping about. But if you take mayhem too far it gets boring, like anything else that’s taken to excess.

Although it seems like mayhem, we do actually work to a schedule of mayhem. We always like to be able to put in more or take a bit out as the audience wants. After all it is a live show. I remember Deep Purple getting a German audience up, nine thousand all on their feet, and then in the slow section of `Child In Time’, and they all sat down again. I thought `No, why don’t you carry on the up bit."

John: "We could finish with `Gershatzer’ then people would have to call us back to hear `Devil’s Answer’."

Vince: "This is really cheating."

John: "When you come off you really cannot do an encore. It’s just `No, please go home’."

Vince: "But they’re still fresh, they want more."

Hardware heartache
John: "Sometimes we get booked into a rotten gig and I think `Oh why am I working so hard, this is a rotten gig.’ But you just can’t help it. There’s a power when you plug in a guitar…it’s weird…something about guitars that other instruments can’t reach."

Vince: "I can’t rush about the stage with a Hammond. I have a go, but there’s a limit. I like to bash it around a bit. I do have to restrain myself sometimes."

John: "I have to put my guitars in for service once a week. Pick-ups go, frets fall off, everything’s gone on it at the moment. I’ve got a roll of four of `em in permanent use."

Paul Hammond
Vince: "Paul is very odd as a Rooster drummer. He’s sort of accepted the Rooster philosophy through the lyrics, which freaks me and John out a bit…"

John: "He lives in entrails."

Vince: "Almost too into it."

The fans
Vince: "At one gig an enormous truck driver said `That was wonderful’ he stops kissing my hand and says `I’ll kiss your feet.’ `Don’t bother to kiss my feet,’ I said hastily. We don’t attract a large female following."

John: "We never claimed to be Genesis."

Vince: "True."

The press
Vince: "One review referred to me as an `ancient Greek hippy about to wretch up some foul poison.’ I don’t know if that’s a reference to the fact that in the middle of a set I downed a vodka and blackcurrant and it stuck in me throat. I nearly died in front of the audience, and I had to dive behind the set and be ill on the floor. Never again. I thought my hour had come for a moment."

The future
John: "This year we conquer England, next year the world, and the year after we retire, then come back and do a comeback tour, starting at the smaller venues such as Wembley…ten nights."

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