Interview with Roddy Radiation from The Specials

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Roddy Byers AKA Roddy Radiation is the guitarist from the Specials who also wrote some of their classic songs. Here he tells Carl Stanley about life in the classic reformed band…
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So whats your thoughts on the tour as whole after closing last week at Ally Pally, with a fantastic show…

‘Yeah, I thought it was one of the better U.K. gigs, nearly as splendid as the Paris show we did on the European tour a few days before we started the U.K. tour. I always have trouble adjusting after a tour like a lot of performers do, after all the excitement.
I find I get an adrenalin rush at the time we go on stage for days after on returning home.’

'don't call me scarface....'  Roddy Radiation from The Specials interviewed

'don't call me scarface....' Roddy Radiation from The Specials interviewed

Personal high-lights of the tour for you Roddy…

‘Well as I said the Paris show followed by Berlin and Amsterdam were the high points, I found the U.K. tour more of a blur but can’t say I remember a bad one. Coventry as my home town (Horace and Neville still live here) always makes my slightly nervous because family and friends are there and they know me!’

funny moments…

‘Er…someone threw some ladies panties at Neville I heard!’

What makes a good gig for you & the band when your up there, any of the same things as when you all started out…watching the shows it looks like you all enjoy it still, especially Lynval

‘Audience reaction makes it work, if they’re all dancing from the first song which happens quite often- well it’s not such a hard slog then, I guess nothings really changed much since the early days, apart from we feel the pain more the next day now!, also we’re more accomplished musicians so musically it’s better in my opinion. I think we all get a buzz from playing live together, Lynval’s Mr Happy 24/7!’

The crowds themselves have been a great mix of new and older fans…it’s great to know the kids are still picking up on the band…

‘Yes it surprises me how many youngsters there are at the gigs and not just the ones with their parents but also our children’s age group 20 plus, and they know all the words! I guess its because our music is still relevant, Violence on the streets in ‘Concrete Jungle’, education only the rich can afford in ‘Rat Race – Racism and the E.D.L. and the British Movement in ‘It Doesn’t Make it Alright’ and ‘Ghost Town”

The songs you’ve written in The Specials have really stood the test of time, does it make want to carry this on Rod, what you & the band started all that time ago…

‘Jerry Dammers was the main song writer/band leader while I was the second major song writer after him. It’s wonderful to know that our words have meant something too so many people. l’d love to record a new album with maybe Jerry Dammers producing, but we will have to wait and see about that sticky wicket!’

In terms of influences would you say over the years the band have stayed or moved away from each other in that respect…

‘Well I think some of us have moved in different directions but The Specials were always about mixing different styles.’

Though you all have your own commitments to your bands & projects don’t you, are The Ska Billy Rebels still your full time band…

‘Well, because the Specials have very different musical tastes and very different life styles it is hard trying to please everybody musically. I still still write a lot of songs and I feel several would work as Specials songs. The Skabilly Rebels is my baby and seems to be catching on with Rockers,Skins,mods and punks!….Things aren’t so tribal now-a-days…’

…and did you ever think in 78 or when ever that you’d be coming from a sell out tour with The Specials in 2011…

‘I never thought l’d live this long! if I had, l’d of taken better care of myself…LOL.’

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