An Interview with
The Frontman of
'Burnt Out Wreck'
that took place at Rock & Blues Custom Show,
Coney Grey Showground, Pentrich, Derbyshire
on Friday 25th July, 2019
Interviewed By Glenn Milligan
Glenn: What does it mean to you to play Rock & Blues Sir?
Gary: It's absolutely fantastic. I've been really, really looking forward to it. I've wanted to play one of these events for years. We finally got the chance and thank god for that. I'm really looking forward to playing.
Glenn: Any particular song that you are looking forward to playing from the album or the past?
Gary: I enjoy playing all the songs. A song from the past: probably a Heavy Pettin song called 'Rock Ain't Dead', Everyone seems to enjoy that one. They get their heads down. Whether they know Heavy Pettin or not it doesn't make any difference. It's still a good rock song.
Glenn: That's a thing about it. A lot of us aren't familiar with some of the bands lower in the bill but we've all got into it regardless. If you get a good rocking song it works doesn't it really?
Gary: Yeah. Well that's what Burnt Out Wreck are about. That's the reason I write songs. Hopefully that's the way they come across. Old fashioned heads-down Rock 'n' Roll. No nonsense.
Glenn: Do you find sometimes that because you were the drummer in Heavy Pettin in the past that you want to get on the drums as well as being the frontman? Or is that part of the past now?
Gary: Yeah, yeah, oh it's definitely in the past. I don't miss it. (We laugh) I certainly don't miss lifting drums around the place anyway. No, I prefer singing. I write the songs so I sing them,. It's better than getting another singer in and try to figure out what's in your head. You just can't do it.
Glenn: How long did it take to get the album together and get it out there?
Gary: Well it was recorded it the late Summer of 2016. I wrote five of the tunes in months running up to it. I used 6 tunes that were originally from many years in the past that we had because the band was actually called 'Mother's Ruin'. I thought, 'I'll change the name, get a fresh start because I was going to record the album'. That was that. That's the way it went so five new songs. That was a bit of a push for me because I knew I had a deadline to meet. It worked out well. Now we've just been in there in April and recorded our second album. That'll be coming out in October. That was another challenge.
Glenn: That's Burnt Out Wreck all the way through. Brand new songs.
Gary: Yeah. There's no old songs or nothing like that on it. It's all original songs and as I say I write the songs.
Glenn: Awesome. Can we expect to hear some of the new songs tonight?
Gary: No. We're not going to play any new material until probably going into September as the album's coming out in October. I don't like everybody stealing everything. Not that you get any money from it anyway once it's out. Officially we should say – we don't get any money. The first album got stolen by the Russians before it was even released. We had to get the Police involved basically. We managed to get that shut down but that was a nightmare as you can imagine.
Glenn: Yeah. You've put all that work into it. It's like you are not being paid for a big job. Imagine being a paint and decorator or working in the office and being told, “Oh you're not getting paid this week!”. You be thinking, 'What?!?!?'
Gary: Exactly. Your whole life down the drain.
Glenn: Exactly. So you prefer the old days when everyone bought vinyl, cassette and CD. I know CD's aren't that old but I'm an old school man. I can't be bothered with all these downloads and stuff. I like it real. What's your opinion?
Gary: I prefer CD's. At least you've got a product. You've got something to look at. You've got something to actually read. You can check everything out. It's just amazing. People just download things. You get no money for it. I think you get 0.01p per download. What am I doing with that? How many downloads do you need to go and buy a pint? (We laugh)
Glenn: You can forget being about to afford getting your shopping in for the week?
Gary: Yeah. Then people don't want to pay you for playing live. You're not getting any money and they wonder why so many bands jack it. That's because they've got their day jobs. Their day jobs are paying for them to play and they can't do it. But yeah, CD's... I'm 58 now so I'm an old bugger (We laugh). I prefer that.
Glenn: No doubt quite a few people ask you this but why did you decide to call the band 'Burnt Out Wreck'?
Gary: (Laughs) Because we all are you know? Up to a certain age aren't we? We all like to drink.. we all like to smoke... well I don't smoke... and look at the state of us now. We're all in our older years. I looked in the mirror one day and I thought, 'Yep, I'll go searching for that', googled it and there wasn't another one, so I said, “Right, there you go!”
Glenn: Yeah there are loads of bands called 'Mother's Ruin' and the term itself is of pregnant women having gin their bath.
Gary: Aye, that's not so good.
Glenn: When you are playing the smaller venues, how do they compare to something like this?
Gary: It's great being in a small bar or small club as long as there's people there. We've been playing since January 2017 and we haven't stopped. That's why its taken us so long to record the second album because we've been really too busy gigging. We've been up and down Britain. We've been up as far as Inverness. We're forever going to Scotland. I've never played so many gigs in Scotland in all my life -not even when I was in Heavy Pettin. As long as there's an audience, it doesn't matter where you play. This is good. This is outdoors. Hopefully we'll have some people turn up to watch us because there's two or three stages. I mean, there's a lot going on for people.
Glenn: When you are playing up North like in Inverness or anywhere else up in Scotland, are the crowds different there to what they are down here? Or compared to the South? Or are we all about the same?
Gary: I think everybody's the same. I don't think anything's different. We go up there and I think maybe in Scotland they seem to be a bit more into it. I think there are actually people that actually bought it (the first album) because there's a lot more people singing in Scotland. But that doesn't mean to say that the people down here don't enjoy the band because they do. I can see everybody's face. We played at Hard Rock Hell there and that was a cracking big gig, Everybody stood smiling, nodding and drinking. They really enjoyed it. One day maybe, hopefully everybody will be singing the songs. It's the ultimate dream for any band isn't it?
Glenn: Yeah. You could do an cover and we could all sing it now (we laugh). “Here's one you'll know”. Are there any certain songs that you are really proud of that you have written for the band? Either from the first album or the forthcoming one?
Gary: A song from the 1st album – 'Swallow' itself – the album title track. I really liked that. I was pretty surprised at myself because it wasn't singing about women for a start. It's events of Brexit – everything – even America at the time. The elections or whatever it was. Just all the shit in the planet. Something obviously snapped in my head and made me write different lyrics. I thought, 'I don't know why you are doing this but it's fitting really well with this track'. Then when I sang it in the studio it was really angry sounding. I think I turned into Johnny Rotten for that time in there and I was spitting it out.
Glenn: Yeah. It's a great album. It's like a classic AC/DC styled type album with the raunchy guitars and the vocals.
Gary: Yeah. That's what I was trying to achieve. Not totally AC/DC obviously. I write in that style but simply Bon Scott's my favourite singer. AC/DC have been my favourite band since I saw them when I was about 15 or 16 at Glasgow Town Hall. They just destroyed the place. Nobody had seen them before. They turned up and that was it. As soon as I heard that... it was Status Quo and Thin Lizzy before that but as soon as you've seen them it was like “Jesus, God, what???” That beat – that was it. The way that they do the rhythm. It's fantastic. Yeah – AC/DC but my chorus's are more melodic than AC/DC chorus's. AC/DC chorus's are just chant along chorus's things that come out. Especially with Brian Johnson – never-ending penis songs. (we laugh)
Glenn: Any particular songs you are looking forward to playing for these guys tonight?
Gary: All of them. All 10 songs we are going to be playing.
Gary: Yeah! We haven't played for about six weeks.
Glenn: Yeah? Do you have to have a vocal warm-up before you go on stage?
Gary: No I don't do that. I end up losing my voice if I end up playing at that game. For years, years and years obviously I used to watch and listen to people doing vocal warm-ups. I thought, “What are you doing that for?” I suppose it helps some people but I just go along and lose my voice after the third song then fight with it for a while, then drink some still water and crack on. Then all of a sudden it will come back again in a couple of tunes. Then that's us and away.
I've never been big on that. Heavy Pettin toured with Kiss and Helix on the UK Tour on the Lick It Up Tour. The guy from Helix (Brian Vollmer), he used to lock himself in a broom cupboard. He was in there for half an hour screaming and shouting, going through all sorts of different ranges. Then out on stage to thousands of people. I don't know if he was any better for it or not. It used to make me laugh.
Glenn: I guess when you first took this on, your voice was warmed up anyway? Is that how it works for you?
Gary: Possibly. I'm alright with that. Even if you do a wee soundcheck. That's you loosening your tonsils. (Laughs)
Glenn: Yeah. What do you enjoy outside music now? Do you have various hobbies?
Gary: I've got my wife. She keeps me very busy. If it's not looking after the cats and the dogs, the garden and the house and her it's the horses. She's got some horses. I'm forever picking up hay and horse-feed in the van. I'm just a donkey myself. I think that's the trouble. She'd seen me coming didn't she? (We laugh)
Glenn: Whereabouts are you based at the moment?
Gary: Northamptonshire. I've lived in England since 1985. I've actually lived in England longer than I've lived in Scotland. That was because of Claire obviously (Gary's Wife). I much prefer where we live down there. We used to live in Milton Keynes which is only 40 minutes from where we live now but the weather's much better year in, year out.
Glenn: When you went back to Scotland when you have been touring up there, what did you realise you missed? Has it changed a lot since you were living there?
Gary: Going back to Glasgow for instance and playing Glasgow – it was great. I miss all of my old friends. All of my old drinking buddies. You only saw them when you went out at the weekend. All the crack that they have. That's what you miss isn't it?
Gary: When you realise that and think, 'I miss that but it's still sunnier weather where I live'. I wouldn't be moving back up there. If I went back to Scotland, I probably wouldn't be alive if I lived in Scotland. If I'd have been there I would have been long gone because it's one big party up there. If I talk to my mates on Facebook, they are forever going out. It's all about going out. Facebook is just full of pictures of them and their wives lying in pubs drooling in the corner and stuff like that – slumped in a table.
Glenn: Claire's not into that anyway.
Gary: No Claire's not into that no.
Glenn: She keeps you on an even keel which is why you are still here today.
Gary: No not any more. She gave up. (We laugh) She gave it up. Just as well.
Glenn: What things are you proud about in this band right now?
Gary: Just that I am amazed that I've actually got my own band and the musicians that are in the band. Adrian Dunn is an absolutely fantastic guitar player. My drummer, Paul Gray – he's a drum teacher. He's a great drummer – fantastic.
We've got Miles Goodman on rhythm guitar. Miles unfortunately isn't playing at this gig. We've brought a replacement who hasn't practised with or rehearsed with us. This guy is called Jeff Summers. He's from Weapon UK amongst quite an awful lot of bands actually. He used to be in Statetrooper years ago with Gary Barden from the Michael Schenker Band. He's been in various other bands. He's played with quite a few people. Alex Carmichael on Bass and Al's driving down from just outside Glasgow at the moment.
Glenn: What would you say your standout gigs have been so far in the last couple of years. Also, why do they stand out?
Gary: We've supported quite a few people. Big names from the 80's and the 90's. We've been very lucky. One of the craziest gigs was to play at a place called The Stables in Milton Keynes. That was quite early on in our career. It's a 400 seater venue. It's like a mini-theatre. The seats are three sides all sloping up. It was full because it's like a club. Right across the board age wise they all come to it.
We were supporting Focus. We thought, 'Who is going to know us at this gig? What's it going to be like?' We went on stage and as soon as the lights come on and you see every seat and it's full.. as soon as we start playing.. obviously we don't sound anything like Focus. I'm thinking, 'This audience ain't gonna like this', but halfway through it we had them all clapping and they're dancing.
They got into it. The old feet were going, their legs were going. They are not allowed to stand up so they are dancing but they are dancing in their seats. It was just so good. So we came off of there and felt really good because we'd play to a fresh audience who had no idea who we were whatsoever.
Glenn: What was the reception from Thijs van Leer (Focus Frontman)? What did he say about it you guys on stage?
Gary: He never saw us. They'd done a soundcheck for a couple of hours. That's a short one apparently. Then they all got together and went to get dinner somewhere away out in Milton Keynes. They missed us but they actually just made it back just in time themselves to put their coats in the dressing room and walk on stage. You think, 'What are you doing? What's this?' But obviously Focus, they're great. They can jam away for hours those guys. That's what they've been doing all their life.
Glenn; Yeah they've got that famous song (I sing a bit of it).
Gary: Hocus Pocus.
Glenn: That's the one. Any other bands that you've supported just recently or in the last year or so that you could mention?
Gary: Well most of the things that we end up playing are festivals. This is a proper outdoor festival bike rally come rock festival. Looking around us it's just amazing. It's great to see it all. All the tents and bikes. It's just fantastic. You don't really see this any more. It's not so well-attended. But this is the kind of thing. People call it a festival when they go and turn up at a pub with 20 bands over two days or something don't they and say, “We're having a festival”. That's not a festival. That's just a blooming racket. (We laugh). That's what that is.
Imagine you are there drinking pints – if you'd stay here and you'd seen every band that played that day.. I do wonder. But yeah, like I said, Hard Rock Hell, yeah that was cracking. We played that. It was UFO that was headlining on the night we were playing. We played on the main stage at that. That was a great gig. Love/Hate played as well. They were great. That boy's got a voice and a half (Jizzy Pearl).
Glenn: Yeah. He's never lost it has he.
Gary: No. no. I've wanted to see him for years and there he was. I got my picture taken with him. He was chatting away to me. It's funny because I was saying to him, “You're awesome” and he's saying to me, “I loved your set”. They stood and watched it. You just think, 'Is this real?'
Glenn: Yeah. A pinch-me moment.
Gary: Aye it is, it is. I got 'Blackout In The Red Room' when that came out. I just thought, 'God that's incredible.' Obviously it's the voice isn't it. He's got a high voice and it's because of Bon Scott really. Most people (these days) are grunters.
Glenn: That's not singing to me.
Gary: Yeah. Let's just stop it on that right there.
Glenn: We're oldies aren't we.
Gary: Yeah I think that's what it is. (We laugh)
Glenn: So how did you come to play here? Did they contact you or did you contact them?
Gary: I think this one particular gig. I think a couple of bands pulled out. Our name got put forward and obviously the Promoter said, 'Yes. It sounds good. Let's get them then!” That's how we ended up at this particular one. Everybody talks to everybody else don't they?
Glenn: That's it. It's a very small circle.
Gary: You don't realise and you have to watch what you are doing and saying to people. You want them to be talking to other promoters for other venues, other gigs. They'll say, “Yeah. That's a good band that. You want to get them in and give them a shot with whoever is coming support-wise”. If you support bigger named acts, you get to play a lot more. It's better than to try and struggle your way around.
Glenn: I guess you don't do all that 'pay to play' sh*t do you?
Gary: No, No, no. Anybody that does that wants a kick-in. It's just dreadful. People have asked us to. People ask us to do everything for nothing, but like I said earlier, how are you supposed to live. I don't have a day job. This is all I do.
Glenn: And of course, you've got to put gas in the van. (And at that exact moment Bassist Al turns up in his van) Al is in the field.
Gary: He's in the field. The day has been saved and I can do my singing now instead of playing bass.
Glenn: I've got to ask, what is your connection with Pete Way.
Gary: Pete and his wife Jenny and Claire have teamed up. They knew each other way back in the 80's and through working with each other. Claire was a journalist when she was very young. Jenny was working in a record company. I don't know Jenny. I soon will. They've just recently got back in touch with each other. They came up with this, that they could do something together, get Pete, because Pete's going out on the road. We'll see if we can go and play with them. We managed to get onto some of the shows. We can't do all of them because people in the band have got jobs and families. We can't be out there doing that every day of the week.
Glenn: Which ones are you doing with Pete?
Gary: We are doing The Tivoli which is North Wales. We're doing The Underworld. We are looking forward to doing the Underworld as well. We've done The Underworld with quite a few people over the past two years. The Underworld is always a good gig in London. We seem to go down well. It'll be good to go back again.
Glenn: My buddies played it not long back – they are in Metal Church.
Gary: Oh aye, Metal Church. I've still got a Metal Church CD – it might be the first one or the second one from years ago. You know what is funny, I am a singer in a Rock band and I don't listen to music. I just have no time for it. Everybody says, “Who is your new favourite?”, I say “AC/DC” because it is.
Glenn: Yeah. They've got a new album coming out and Status Quo have got the 'Backbone' album coming out soon.
Gary: Quo. I think actually we're playing with John Coghlan.
Glenn: I known John. He's great. A nice guy.
Gary: Aye. We're playing in Bilston.
Glenn: At the Robin 2?
Gary: The Robin 2. That's not that far away I don't think. That should be quite good. We support Pat McManus in there. That was nice. Nice to meet up with Pat. That was a good gig.
Glenn: John Coghlan's Quo have got a new singer/guitarist so I am looking forward to seeing them with him. They are playing The Greystones in Sheffield and am looking to that. You can't beat a bit of Quo can you? (We laugh)
Gary: No, not at all. I used to go and see them at The Glasgow Apollo all the time. That's way back in the day.
Glenn: Were you there for the 1976 show when the did the 'Live' album?
Gary: Yeah and before that. Everybody claims to be on the cover don't they? That's me, that's me...
Glenn: Are you on it then?
Gary: Nah. I wouldn't claim to be on it. (We laugh). But yeah, that was a brilliant place. It's a shame that that place got pulled down. When you asked about audiences, that's when it did make a difference – back in the 70's.
Glenn: Yeah. There was no downloading then.
Gary: Yeah. The audiences were different. Everybody that came to Scotland came to Glasgow. The Apollo held about 3000 people or 3500. It just mobbed. Everybody was singing their heads off. Complete nutters – loonies. Great! It was fantastic. It was only £2.50 to go to a gig.
Glenn: Is there anything you like to say to wrap up the interview?
Gary: The new album is coming out on 11th October this year. It's going to be called 'This Is Hell'. Just everybody keep your eyes open for it and buy it off Amazon. Don't download it.
Glenn: Exactly. Is that coming out on your own personal label or another label?
Gary: It's going to come out on 'Burnt Out Records'. It's through 'Cherry Red' because I am fed up with... we want money. Give us a chance to make something somewhere. It might only be £100 in two years time... that's not going to do me any good either is it?
Glenn: That won't pay for the shopping for a week will it?
Gary: No. No.
Glenn: Or the horses.
Gary: No. Or the horses. Don't talk about about horses! I've just done a photo-shoot with a horse.
Glenn: Hard work.
Gary: No I'm alright with horses. We've had them for 20 odd years. Nearly 30 years. It's just strange standing in a field and getting on somebody else's horse and having your picture taken dressed up with my stage gear on. I am thinking, 'What are you doing to me now?'. That's what happens when your Wife is your Manager. The pictures look great though. I showed some pictures to some people and they say, “Oh look at the horse!”. Aye, never mind Gary! (We laugh) He just looks like he always does. Honestly! It's great isn't it.
Glenn: Yeah. So you are on the cover with a horse?
Gary: No, no, no. Definitely not no. (I laugh) It's a really good cover its got. Hopefully it will make a really good t-shirt.
Glenn: Nice because that's what it's all about. If you don't make it on the album, you make it on the t-shirts or other merch that comes in hopefully.
Gary: Yeah but it all costs money to buy in the 1st place. Then people say, “How much for a T-Shirt? £10! I say, “Aye £10. What about it? Everybody else is £25-£30 for a t-shirt. And they are complaining about it.
Glenn: Any last words? Any last, last words before we wrap it up Sir?
Gary: Yeah. Try and catch the band. I'm sure you'd love us live. We love to play for people and that's the only thing we're here for. This is what it's all about. I seem to be having a better time in my 50's than I did in any other part of my life.
Glenn: Well you've seen it, you've done it and you're not going to fall into the traps the same are you?
Gary: No. This is far more fun so we'd love to see you.
Glenn: Awesome. Thanks. That's been great.
Gary: Okay. Thanks Glenn!
Special Thanks to Claire Moat for setting up the Interview as well as the amazing staff at RBCS.