Interview: Edweena Banger
Life and The Nosebleeds on the eve of a new album
A true character of the Manchester music scene who now goes by the name Edweena, having fully embraced his feminine side. Nigel Carr and photographer David Gleave met with the former Nosebleeds front man to discuss times past, present and future.
Eddie Garrity formed Ed Banger & The Nosebleeds after the legendary Sex Pistols gigs at the city’s Lesser Free Trade Hall in Summer 1976. The band were described in Mick Middles’s book “Factory, The Story Of A Record Label” thus:
“They were genuinely, completely, utterly crazed – Ed in particular, who , with absolutely no sense of self-preservation would think little of jumping on to a table mid-performance, grabbing a guy’s beer and pouring it over his girlfriend. Other such actions would result in near tragedy”
“I have no idea how we managed to stay alive” – Vini Reilly
After a short photo shoot at the back of his house in the leafy suburbs of South Manchester, we head upstairs to talk about his life, troubles and struggles as an original progenitor of the Manchester punk scene. Eddie now prefers to be addressed as Edweena after starting to cross dress in the early 80s,
The Nosebleeds consisted of Eddie on Vocals and guitar, future Manchester luminary Vini Reilly on lead guitar, future Primal Scream drummer, Toby Toman and Pete Crookes on bass. Later members included Morrissey and future Cult singer/guitarist Billy Duffy. As bands go there are few that can boast of such a heady line-up of future names.
Louder Than War: I have read a lot about your history as there is a lot out there already. How did you got in to music which lead to the formation of Wild Ram?
“Well that was Glam Rock, we used to go and see Slade, David Bowie and T Rex then. That’s why we picked up guitars and I learnt to play because you want to emulate your heroes don’t you? Mike Rossi out of Slaughter and the Dogs got the first guitar. He was ahead of the game – we we’re 12-13 at St Paul’s School in Wythenshawe. My brother played guitar, he was in to The Rolling Stones and I learned a little bit of him.
I was at school with Toby, and Pete, (Showing Edweena the cover of the band’s first single ‘Ain’t Been To No Music School’), This is our old school, this is the music room. I actually got a U in music! Although Vini Reilly hasn’t done bad out of his classical training has he? So that’s how we formed.
Our first gig was at the school disco, 1974. We were playing Slade and T Rex – bit of everything really – we were called Solid State. I’d seen it on the amp and thought ‘that’ll do’. We didn’t have much imagination in them days!
We changed in to Ram after the Paul McCartney album. We started doing Social Clubs and things and kept getting thrown off. Until we got good. It was that pub rock circuit. Then we got Vini Reilly, he joined the pub rock band. Ian Gray left and Vini replaced him. Vini was on another planet to us. All them chords, you’d never seen anything like it!”
Louder Than War : You look at Cook and Jones the driving force behind the Pistols, nobody played guitar like Vini!
“No, we missed the boat there didn’t we? We went to the first Pistols gig in June. Ian Gray had seen a little piece in the NME about the next big thing. He said ‘we’ve gotta go’, and I’m like ‘no I’m watching the telly’ haha. He actually dragged me out the house and said ‘we’re going’. Pete Shelly was on the door and they were awful basically, they couldn’t really play. They were just coming out and making an impact with the noise. We only stayed for four or five songs and went ‘oh it’s crap that’.”
Louder Than War: Steve Jones was a pretty good guitarist wasn’t he?
“No I don’t think so, he sounded pretty awful. Then the second gig was on July 20th, he must have been locked in the rehearsal room for that! When they came back, they were a different band he had turned in to this punk legend! All ramshackle and a shambles the first gig and then the second one, everything was spot on. So yeah, unless Glen Matlock pulled ’em all together, yeah. I think it was them locked up in a rehearsal room for a month.”
Louder Than War: Why were you roadying with Slaughter at the Pistols second gig?
“We used to follow each other round, we were all mates wan’t we? We’d do Waiting For The Man one week and Slaughter and The Dogs would do it the next. They’d do Sweet Jane and we’d do it the next week.
After that second gig we became ‘Ed Banger and The Nosebleeds’. This punk thing was taking off and we needed a punk name and that was the old story with the roadie, I got a bottle on the head and Toby, he got punched in the nose. The roadie said ‘Look at you, ‘head banger and the nosebleeds!’ So that comes from the Pistols gig,
The first time we went to London as the Nosebleeds it just erupted as soon as we got on stage, (At The Roxy). Bottles started coming and I’m just beating people up with a mic stand from the stage Vini Reilly hiding behind his amp! We never really got to play it was just a massive big fight and we came home.”
Nowadays all the punks are a lot older! We did Blackpool and they all just collapsed on the stage from drink. They’re not beating each other up these days, they are picking each other off the floor and holding each other up!”
Louder Than War: There is a film on Youtube with interviews and a performance at Rafters. (Film by John Crumpton and Bob Jones). It shows an electric live performance but a band starting fall apart.
“At the time of the film we were due to go in to record the album and we all fell out about money. It was the old rock ‘n’ roll story, there were loads of potential great bands that fell out before they got anywhere.
Me and Vini were writing the songs, some of which were old Wild Ram songs, speeded up a bit and more punky, so we knew the chords already and Vini put his magic on top. I wondered how it would have sounded if I’d just kept playing the guitar. It might have been a bit more ballsy.
The reason that The Drones, (Fellow Manchester Punk band), can come in a different direction to us now is because they had their album, (Further Temptation), out in ’77. If we’d have had an album out then we could have commanded more money on the circuit. It was generic punk though wasn’t it? It’s like we all started writing songs the same, as a punk band, I wonder who started it first?, it might have been them. They were a great band and a great live band. We used to do a lot of gigs with them and they were great lads, we really got on well with them.
We used to play at the Electric Circus and it was the worst venue in the world. We’d get there and there’d be all these alsations running round and dog shit everywhere and stuff like that. There was no health and safety in them days.
If we’d have released an album it would have been quite a big turning point. I had some savings which were from the fly posting and I was the only one that did any saving, so I was the only one with any money. We’d had the single out, (Ain’t Been To No Music School), and I was like, ‘Whatever we make on that we’ll spend on the album’ but Rabid had spent the profit on other projects. The others were spending theirs on nights out basically, pissing it up the wall. I’m like ‘well I’m not paying for it! so If everyone chips in then it’s alright’. They’re all, ‘we’ll give it you back’, and I’m, ‘no you won’t’, so it was basically just that.”
“I could make £150 a week on the fly posting in them days and my building society book was in the back of the car and it was ‘Look at this!, you can pay for that’ and I’m ‘well that’s my money, it’s not Nosebleeds money’. We were getting a fiver each a gig So I said ‘Where’s all your money gone? so we all put in the same and we’re there aren’t we?’ Basically that’s what it was.
Tosh Ryan, (Head of Rabid Records), used to run The Music Force, running the fly posting and putting gigs on. They’d got all the contacts and they’d do the Midlands, The North East and Scotland. There were guys in London fighting over it all the time because there was a lot of cash. It still goes on, I did some a few months ago.”
Louder Than War: Vini was playing amazing punk guitar back then so it was before he’d developed his unique technique he used in Durutti Column. It was a big difference, what happened when he left?:
“He played straight rock and roll. We were going to form another band after the Nosebleeds and we’d had a few rehearsals. We’d got Mike Doherty out of the Smirks and a guy on bass called Budgie and that was sounding great. Then Vini came under some pressure from a few close associates and had to walk away which was a shame.
That’s when Morrissey joined The Nosebleeds with Billy Duffy. Morrissey had been knocking around some other bands at Tony Davidson’s rehearsal rooms and Vini Faal would have heard us rehearsing the new band. Billy Duffy was a roadie for the Nosebleeds. They lasted two gigs. They did the Mayflower and The Ritz supporting Magazine. I was supposed to go down and see ’em but I never did.
I have actually got a tape of one of the songs that we recorded. Somewhere! I’m sure it’s safe but I can’t find it now.”
Louder Than War: Paul Morley had a bit of a dig at you when Morrissey joined, saying that, ‘Finally the Nosebleeds have got a singer with personality’. But you were Mr Personality jumping around in front of the band, so why did he do that?
“Well that’s because I booted him wasn’t it? He came up to me at the Electric Circus saying that ‘You’re not real punk you’re just a made up punk band’, and I said ‘ave some fucking punk’ and booted him in the face. That’s why he said that, he was getting his own back there.”
They always used to be sacred of us because we were from Wythenshawe so they used to give us a wide birth.
Then Mike Doherty, I’m not sure if he was already in the Smirks. He just went ‘Why don’t you come and support us?, we’re playing Sale Hotel’, so I just made up some songs on the spot.”
Louder Than War: So then you become a solo artist and called yourself just Ed Banger??
“Yeh, then it all went surreal, avant-garde, stand up comedy and made up stuff yeh, I didn’t really have any formatted songs at the time. I’d just go on and see what happened.”
Louder Than War: So all the punk stuff just went out of the window and you started doing all this comedy stuff?
“I’d ask people to shout titles of a song out and make a song up. Kinnell Tommy was about when my brother-in-law used to play for the Royal Oak. He is quite a good footballer but he was just having a bad game. His name was Tommy, yeh?, Fuckin’ ‘ell Tommy, you fuckin’ missed the ball…!
I then joined Slaughter and The Dogs after that in 1980 for the Bite Back album and singles East Side Of Town and I’m The One. I joined as a stand in after Wayne Barrett had jumped ship mid tour when it was finished I was asked to join. We went straight into DJM studio’s home of Elton John and worked with producer Dale Griffin (Mott the Hoople drummer).
We got Morgan Fisher ex-Mott, on keyboards and went for of a more Rock sound. People think it’s somewhat of a classic today but at the time the UK wasn’t ready for it. The band had its ups and downs when I joined when the single Ready Now was in the top 75. We were to get a top of the pops appearance the next week if we were still there which it was, but someone at the BBC decided they could only pick from the top 50 from then on so we were dropped!
We also got asked to do The Old Grey Whistle Test and we were loading the van to go when we got a call saying that they had cancelled us to go with Van Morrison who had just flew into town, I said ‘Who the fuck’s Van Morrison?
We tried to record a live album with the Rolling Stones mobile at Dingwalls but got so pissed on a free bar we only managed 2 songs. I blame Lemmy who was there hanging out and encouraged a Jack Daniels drinking contest! We had one last break to go to the states as east side of town was getting tons of air play but Mike Rossi had gone Missing.”
Louder Than War: From 1980 to 1991 there is no documented information about you. I can’t find anything?
“We were still trying to get deals and stuff and came close a couple of times. It was ’81 when we got a deal with NEMS and got a manager. He phoned me up to say ‘I’ve got the deal right? For x amount of pounds and I’m bringing the contract back for you to sign and he died on the way home. He got decapitated on the motorway. The contract was on the passenger side with my name on it so they thought it was me!
They had a big contact with Hansa in Germany and they brought them down to see me at The Music Machine. He had this big idea of what he could do with us. That’s what he wanted, a manager sees what he can do really. It was after that massive shock when I said I’m gonna do the Isle of Wight thing for a couple of years.
I moved down there doing cabaret for the weekend to see a mate who was doing the guitar singing thing in a pub. He said ‘Do you want to get up and do a few songs’. So I just got up and did a few Slade songs and the guy said ‘You’re brilliant you aren’t you? I’ll give you some work’. He used to know all the hoteliers and stuff, he was like ‘d’you wanna come down and do a season? So I did that and ended up staying there for seven years. I was songwriting but I wasn’t putting any records out. I think Howard (Bates) out of Slaughter & The Dogs, he came down for a year as well and we wrote some stuff together.
I was then offered a TV show in 1991, another one of them stories where got offered! I got ‘Access all Areas’, the sister program of The Word. I’d sent the producer a tape of the single Fancy It Tonight Or What? And he loved it. He phoned me up and said, ‘we’re going to make you a big star here as The Eddie Baskerville persona’, ‘cos it was like a Liam Gallagher type thing you know? They were going to hook me up with Mark Lamaar and give me a series with him for six shows and then I had a brain haemorrhage, woop! He was phoning us up and obviously he phoned the wife up as I was in hospital, saying ‘come on we’ve got to start filming where is he?’
After the haemorrhage I was out for about five or six years. I couldn’t do anything. I was just gradually getting back, I did a Frank Sinatra tribute to learn to sing again. We were doing a photoshoot for the single when it happened. My wife actually died of a brain haemorrhage about ten years ago.”
Louder Than War: Tell us about Edweena and when she first made an appearance.
“I first started cross dressing in the 80s then later with Mark Stanley from V2. He’d formed a Glam Rock band and their singer had left and he was like ‘ why don’t you come and do some Glam Rock with us?’ so we formed Diamond Dogs and it all came out that we both had these fetish things. It was like, ‘why don’t we form a band to get this fetish stuff out?’ We then formed PLeaSurE Dome which was a fetish Glam Band with two girl backing singers in rubber and we could dress up ourselves. He was more wearing leotards and stuff, this was 2002/3 I think. It just got worse and worse and the parties were legendary. The Rubettes were scared to death of us!
I did versions of that right up until 2010 but I did do a Nosebleeds album in 2002, but I didn’t like it, I just canned it, I mean the band were great but I wasn’t happy with the result. I was just doing it to sell at gigs, getting CDs made I suppose.
Rockschool came next and was a version of PleaSureDome, but Mark had left by then and it all went mad with the drugs. I had a breakdown so I had to take a year off. I was just so paranoid. I was hearing voices and music. I’d stick me ‘ead out of the window thinking someone’s playing bagpipes outside, telling them to stop! It was just in me ‘ead. I moved up to Saddleworth and got a little cottage and hid away and went for long walks on the Moors and stuff. Just to convalesce.
Edweena came out of that and I now live as a transgender person. I found out my true self as Edweena, I’m more happy now than I’ve ever been. I go to work like this so I’m living life as a full time lady and everyone at my day job have been very supportive. But people who know me as Ed or Eddie for forty years or something, it’s a big change.
Louder Than War: In 2008 you become Edween’s Party and so what’s the progression of where you go from here?
“I did an album as that but didn’t do much with that either. I always get sidetracked as something else comes along and I’m not really focused. I just really drift from one thing to another. Just the Glam Rock thing after that with the odd foray in to my own stuff and not doing anything with it.
I went to Brian (Grantham) and Howard when I was on the Isle Of Wight saying shall we get a version of Slaughter together because they weren’t doing anything. I said if we take it on now then we can go off and do it but they weren’t ready to do it then. Then a couple of years later Mike, (Rossi) and Wayne (Barrett-McGrath) got back together and did it.
Louder Than War: In 2013 you release an album as The Nosebleeds with all new tracks (New York City). Why did you never scoop up all the old Nosebleeds tracks, like the ones you played at Rafters in the film and make an album out of that material? Tracks like Rich Kids and Uptight.
“Cos it wasn’t new. It has crossed my mind recently. We could take them off the video and rewrite them. I sold all the rights to all that though to Receiver Records. They own all the royalties to Music School and ‘Kinnell Tommy, all the old stuff basically. Colin Newman from Wire owns the company and Frank Lea, Jimmy Lea’s brother out of Slade. They were going round buying up record companies, mainly all the old punk record labels. I’d have to buy a licence to release them! We sold the royalties and it was old to me so I was like ‘why would we do that?’ It’d be nice to do a new version of Music School this year though, like a small collectors piece.
Belfast Label Spit are interested. They want to do something this year. He asked about all the old stuff and said ‘Why don’t you do it?’ same sort of thing you know?”
Louder Than War: Tell me about you plans for 2017:
“I’m still doing the Glam Rock solo show now. I was out last night in Stockport and on Friday I was in North Wales doing a holiday park. It’s a way to earn money, I mean I earn more than that doing the day job but I enjoy getting up and singing all those songs live. Classic Glam Rock; T Rex, Slade and a Bowie tribute as well.
We did the albums Kicking Off in 2012 and New York City last year on EBM and we’ve got a new Nosebleeds album coming out, Legal High, in January 2017. The New York City album from last year was when I was immersed in Lou Reed, New York Rock ‘n’ Roll, more rock and roll than punk. Like the Boyz really.”
“I’m really lucky to be working with the current Nosebleeds: Brian Grantham, Stephen Wilson and Al Crosby. Recent gigs have been some of the best ever it feels we have a special chemistry when the four of us get together and we really rip it up on stage!
I do a punk radio on Fab Radio Monday nights 5-7, Edween’s Party. I used to be on with Mick Middles’s show but it clashed with the gigs. I play Glam and Punk and stuff sent to me by STP records and a few other and put them on. I have a lucky bag, I don’t listed to them first just put them on! I’ve done a few gigs with Dirt Box Disco so check them out! I’m also starting to record some solo Edweena stuff starting next week, It’s all go!”
Louder Than War: “Who are your all time favourites?
“Slade were my favourite artists. I used to follow them all over the country, getting the fuck out of school and all that. Eventually they started letting us in the gigs, good lads as well. Thin Lizzy I like as well, used to follow them round a bit. Mott The Hoople, Transformer, Iggy Pop, The Stooges. We actually played with Johnny Thunders at The Oaks back in the day. Siouxsie and The Banshees was there as well.
Louder Than War: What you listening to now?
Rammstein, I’m back in to heavy metal again, Killswitch Engage, (US metalcore band).
What an amazing life story with plenty more to come. We leave Edweena as she’s off to perform a Glam night – dressed up to the nines in dress and a floral pom-pom in her hair! a final word? “Glam PUNK Its the next big thing…”
New Album Legal High is available for Pre-Order on the website and comes out on February 1st 2017
Quotes by kind permission of Mick Middles whose book: Factory, The Story Of A Record Label – is available at Waterstones