There is a band that is critically acclaimed and can be found crawling through the debris of London’s back streets, playing smaller or larger clubs with their style of rock music. The Peckham Cowboys now have two studio albums worthy of investigation for those who have the time and inclination to sample some genuine and honest rock n’roll. There are many tags or labels given to this gang of rejects and lost souls who have been at one time or another, a part of other well-respected rock n’roll entities like Hanoi Rocks, Primal Scream, Izzy Stradlin Band or The Quireboys.
Complete with cigarette hanging from their lower lip, the distinctive odor of alcohol on their breath and low hung guitars ready for a loose groove to pulsate through the bones, this six-piece are thrilled with the reception that has garnered their second studio album as something of a success. 10 Tales from the Gin Palace has injected a sincere honesty and fresh energy in to a style that has up until recently seemed somewhat lacking. Daring to take their music in to unchartered waters, there are many attributes to their latest recorded outing worthy of exploration, and thankfully Dale Hodgkinson who co-founded the band several years ago is around to provide an insight.
“It started as a lot of fun. We were doing it just for the hell of it and really it was an excuse for us to get together; like Marc (Eden), myself and Guy (Bailey), and also Alric Guyler – brilliant multi-instrumentalist and drummer. He was not as big a part as the three of us, but he was there a hell of a lot in those sessions.” This was how Hodgkinson began setting the scene for the birth of The Peckham Cowboys. “…And at that time we were all being pretty naughty with various things. It was a full-on chemical happening was Flog it!”
Their debut studio album Flog it! was unveiled back in 2011 and was described by one source of the press at the time as a cross between the Faces and Nine Inch Nails. “It began in that party sort of atmosphere, and we’d record over a period of two – three days where nobody would go to fuckin’ sleep and then we’d leave it alone for ages, and then we’d get together again and the same thing would happen. It got slightly more serious when somebody suggested let’s, you know, let’s, we’ve written a load of songs and maybe three of them were really good, so that’s like about a third of an album, shall we make an album?”
The guitarist sounds like he really is back in those early days as he continues to recollect how the band started and how their debut album was recorded. “It was about that time that Marc nicknamed it The Peckham Cowboys. The entire experience got progressively worse. A lot of weird fuckin’ stuff happened in everybody’s lives personally during the making of Flog it! – There were relationship break-ups, there were deaths that happened and a lot of really, really heavy-duty stuff happened. We found ourselves still sort of pretending that it was a party you know, so everyone was still getting as loaded as they’d ever done before; probably more.”
“There was heavy fuckin’ stuff going on in people’s personal lives and it became a really incredibly intense and mental experience you know. The sessions got more serious in terms of thinking oh we’ve got to do this now, because we’re making this fuckin’ record you know, and there’s all this nasty stuff going on around it which I’m sure somehow psychically or spiritually connected to it somehow. It got very weird and nobody was of particularly stable mind at the time.” Hodgkinson goes with the flow of these dark recollections. “There’s people walking around crying and a lot of really mad stuff going on. I remember it culminated in; I don’t think the entire summer was really that hot, but there was a few weeks where it was really boiling. Possibly the summer of 2011, not sure, but it must have been that summer when we finished it; I can’t really remember now. We were all there with this oppressive Tennessee Williams-esque heat going on and people drunk and drugged out of their minds and this fuckin’ real black shadow descended over it all – and so although we produced this incredible and highly original sounding album, that is one of the reasons why it fuckin’ sounds like it does!”
To lighten the tone of the conversation, Hodgkinson summarizes the explanation of this ongoing ordeal by saying, “I think every band should make an album under such circumstances you know, it puts hairs on your chest!” He then adds how he doesn’t wish to go through anything like that experience ever again, understandably.
Moving on to the topic of their sophomore album 10 Tales from the Gin Palace, Dale shared his insight in to what developed. “There was no gap between the song-writing process, it rolled straight on after Flog it! in to ‘Gin Palace. There were some embryonic versions of Knocked Senseless and ‘Sweet on Me that I cooked up with Guy. Well, they were my riffs and that’s why Guy doesn’t get any song-writing credit on the finished versions.”
With his London accent evident, he continued sharing the tale of The Peckham Cowboys. “The whole thing of getting out and; we never toured Flog it! but we did it gig it around a fair bit which was an interesting experience with the characters that were in the live band at the time. Yes, Guy moved on. It wasn’t any big falling out; we’re still mates with Guy. But he decided that he didn’t really want to do this and nobody can blame him; I mean this bloke was in The Quireboys for Christ’s sake, he formed The Quireboys and fuckin’ toured with Guns N’Roses and Aerosmith and supported the Rolling Stones at Mick Jagger’s personal request, at St James’s Park in Newcastle, you know played Wembley Stadium – So I’m sure the prospect of fuckin’ sitting in the back of a fuckin’ van or at the very best a little splitter tour bus and flogging it up and down the M1 or the M40 (main highways within England) was probably not something he wanted to do really, and who can fuckin’ blame him?!”
After an outburst of laughter, Hodgkinson explained how they are still friends and how it left Eden on lead vocals still, and him on guitar in the lineup of The Peckham Cowboys. The guitarist then shares how Eden and he are the best of friends now and explained the trials and tribulations that befell the lead vocalist. Legalities ensued apparently and after several months fighting his cause, he was free from the pressures of the British legal system.
“We immediately started work on ‘Gin Palace that night with some of the ideas that we’d got, but he’d got this one idea which turned in to Not Guilty! and that night a demo version was recorded.” The guitarist then added “It began then and continued rapidly, unlike Flog it! which took forever to do, we knuckled down and made the album in the space of last year. Marc lived and breathed it which sent the poor cunt mad!”
“There’s no point in being obvious, this is what I think. We’ve always approached the writing thing from the point of view that there’s no rules you know. Who gives a fuck? When people get hung up on you – call yourselves a blues band but you know you’ve got this reggae thing going on, this dub thing, well I’m like – you listen to it. You listen to it and its all blues progressions, the whole lot is based on the blues. So if we’ve got flavors of this other stuff going on and you want to start citing The Specials or The Clash or whatever you fuckin’ want to do; then that’s up to you, that’s all fine but it comes from the same bit.” This is his reaction to the observation regarding other sounds and textures making an appearance on 10 Tales from the Gin Palace.
Hodgkinson is the epitome of rock n’roll as is the case with The Peckham Cowboys. Mixing an attitude with their style of music, embracing what feels right and what blends well with what they know has made their second studio album a sincere recording which hints at other influences. Given the time, there is a lot to get out of hearing ‘Gin Palace if you have the inclination. It is an album that might just make a few top ten lists at the tail end of 2014 with its concise and cohesive loose groove. Imagine a world that is obvious and what that concept brings to each and every one of us. Rock n’roll by its very definition surely is to be dangerous, unpredictable and natural? With The Peckham Cowboys, that is just what you receive.