THE SUGARBUZZ INTERVIEW WITH RAY MAYHEW of MAYHEM DERANGED & SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK
-by Space-Cowboy, Geordie “Elvis 1983″ Pleathur
RAY MAYHEW’S PUNK REBEL SOUL…
“I don’t want comfort. I want god, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness, I want sin.” (-Aldous Huxley)
“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not. There is nothing more common then unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world if full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are Omnipotent.” (-Joe Strummer)
“…When life, itself, seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? To surrender dreams — this may be madness; to seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness! ‘But maddest of all? To see life as it is, and not as it should be.” (-Miguel De Cervantes)
“Freedom is participation in power…” (-Ralph Nader)
“Find out who you really are, then accept who you are. Fight for your life every day to be who you are.” (-Ari Up)
“It seems that our brave new world is becoming less tolerant, spiritual, and educated than it ever was when I was young…” (-Lemmy)
”No, you won’t fool the Children of the Revolution…” (-T.Rex)
“TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” (-Howard Zinn)
Many boring rock-scribes have spilled oceans of ink, attempting to capture and convey the hot pink, space-aged, excitement of new- wave eighties icons, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, and their sensational, cyber-tart, anarchist-vixens from Mars. They fascinated we American mall-teens, because in the Reagan-era, we were already being socialized to become one-dimensional, always acquiescent, desensitized and nhumane, chickenshit conformist, suburbanite square-heads…joy-stick twiddling, bad, poisoned/processed food munching, passive little dorks and wankers…and Sigue Sigue Sputnik taunted us with a glamorous world of deviant kicks, rubber clothes, Mad Max hot-rods, Clockwork Orange juvie-gangs, seductive Bolan licks, and Jayne Mansfield super-hot bondage queens, from beyond the valley of Rocky Horror. All surface, no feeling, pure flash. The consumer frenzy of non-stop acquisition-the rush of the new. My generation missed out on the NY Dolls and Sex Pistols, and Bowie and the Clash, so we tried to make do with S.S.S. and B.A.D.! S.S.S. were five, larger than life, Ziggy Stardusted droogie-idols, who zoomed around in helicopters, talking business on gigantic cell-phones with lengthy radio antennas, accompanied by their road-crew of fetchingly post-punked, Barbarella-esque, glamazon goddesses. Introduced to the broad U.S. consumer-market, via that dumbass John Hughes movie, “…Bueller”, their one-off, “F1-11″ the maxi-single from “Flaunt It”, is still heard on everyone’s tedious eighties compilations. “Shoot ‘em-ugh-ugh-ugh-ugh-up!” Kinda irritating now, but it seemed very futuristic and cutting-edge, at the time.
With a smidge more emphasis on song-craft, Sigue Sigue really could’ve been bigger than the Bay City Rollers, or maybe even, Billy Idol, but prophetic Space-Boss, Tony James, was having too much fun pressing buttons and envisioning the robotic disco of now. He still swears it was his greatest effort. Anticipating nineties ironic-detachment and the venal, consolidated-media commercialism, that was to follow, they even sold advertising space on their l.p.’s, generating all kindsa press, their “Smash-Hits” magazine color pin-ups adorned the walls of all our favorite We’ve Got A Fuzzbox And We’re Gonna Use It-lookalike ex-girlfriends, and they seemed heroically poised to fulfill their promise of world domination, if only, they could be arsed to write even a few proper Generation X/Clash style pop songs, but sadly, our Sputnik heroes broke up after their second album, “Dress For Excess”, failed to set the charts alight. Sputnik Mythology has it they were always still big in Rio, Brazil, and Japan. Nowadays, there’s no one left, who’s even a tenth as colorful, dynamic, and fun as vintage Sputnik–in spite of the over-hyped disco-slut Project Runway/Blackeyed Peas rot being pedaled relentlessly by the prison-planet, black gas, consolidated-media, shadow factory. The evil villains of Monsanto have bought the mercenary army, Blackwater. International banking cartels, Wall Street financial elites, Military Industrial Complex insiders, C.I.A. oil barons, opium lords, billionaire fascists, weapons dealers, media-monopolies, and the globalist spy apparatus have long since, quite literally, fleeced the world. When we see the black clad lines of American police-state thugs, violently busting up peaceful protests, it almost appears as if whoever designed their new “Star Wars” storm-trooper uniforms was influenced by the sleek, sci-fi look of the old “designer violence” Sputnik gang!
….The future ain’t what it used to be.
We all know that gaunt rockabilly, Chris Kavanaugh, went onto join Big Audio Dynamite. Clever marketing mastermind, Tony James, went on to play space-bass on the best Sisters Of Mercy record, before releasing “Piratespace” and some more S.S.S. products with Martin and X, and more recently, forming the exquisite Carbon/Silicon, with Mick Jones. He has sensibly ceased wearing the purple pineapple on top of his head. MY guitar hero, Neal X, has become steadily more celebrated for his memorable collaborations with Ginger of the Wildhearts, and Marc Almond from Soft Cell. Whatever happened to the mercurial Mayhew, we Americans, who can’t regularly locate glossy import music magazines from England, like “Vive Le Rock” and “Mojo”, ask ourselves. Finally, we decided to ask RAY MAYHEW! It turns out that the ex-Sputnik drummer, Mayhew was actually a better vocalist than Deg, and has a genuine rebel soul as defiant as any ex-Pistol, or mainstream Idol. Mayhem Deranged are my kind of real romantic, fist shakin’, basement-boozin’, heart-felt, dangerously D.I.Y., die-harder, rock’n'rollers. Warm-blooded emotion, catchy melody, gruff vocals….What I like most about our man is his brazen, live-wire, authenticity. Sputnik were always cynically hyped as total plastic bastards–the world’s most manufactured, capitalist, product-band, right? KISS for gadget-addicted, Atari playing, techno-geeks with fussy Stray Cats hair-cuts, and immaculately well-organized collections of old Link Wray, Cramps, and Suicide forty-fives. Well, Mayhem Deranged is another thing, altogether.
WHO WILL LOVE A LAD, INSANE?
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Please discuss your origins, where did you grow up, what was your family like?
RAY MAYHEW: I grew up in Southampton, or should that be “nowheresville”? and moved to London aged around 15. No plan, just the idea that something better could be found there. Not to mention that I was kicked out of school for violent behavior!
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Were you into the seventies glitter bands, as a kid? Bowie, the Sweet, T.Rex, Slade?
RAY MAYHEW: If we are talking about the classic era of glam then yes – David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Mick Ronson, New York Dolls. Iggy Pop/Stooges or Lou Reed would count among those too?
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: When did you first discover punk rock? What were you doing while Tony was in Generation X? Did you like the American proto-punks: the Stooges, MC5, NY Dolls,Ramones?
RAY MAYHEW: I was playing guitar! – always have, always will. And yeah – listening to some of those already mentioned. Remember they all got it from Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Little Richard and Elvis.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Did you like Generation X, ever meet Lydon? How were you affected by that whole moment? Adam Ant, Don Letts, the Clash?
RAY MAYHEW: Absolutely, Gen X’s “Kiss Me Deadly” is a great album and a good indicator of things to come.
Listen to the extra “dub” versions on the recent re-release of that album to see what I mean.
Never met Adam Ant, but I knew Marco Pirroni socially. Tony James was and of course is still good friends with Mick Jones, so we all hung at various times and places. If it wasn’t for the Clash, there wouldn’t be a Sigue Sigue Sputnik – they were our backbone (Tony & roadie Flea)
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What do you recall about forming Sputnik, how did you guys finance it in the beginning, how did you find each other?
RAY MAYHEW: For me it was around 1983 I would see Martin Degville and Tony hanging out at Kensington Market and as it turned out they were looking for band members. Martin and Tony had spotted me outside a shop called ‘YaYa’ and I was hanging out across the way at a stall called “Pure Sex” – but it was Neal X that actually approached me. (Yaya was Martin and Yanas shop)
Neal – “‘ere mate you look great – can you play drums?”
Ray – “Yeah, but I’m guitarist!”
…And then I was given a phone number and I had a gut feeling that it had something to do with Tony James as I had seen him hanging out with Neal at a shop called “Western Styling” nearby. I was a little apprehensive at first, but something inside told me that THIS was it. I phoned them and got invited round to 3 Pindock Mews, a place that belonged to Magenta Divine. It was Tony that answered the door and was invited in and there sat Martin and I fucking freaked (inside, that is). They gave me a sort of informal interview and we got on great and they fed me as well, which was great because I was starving! A nice glass of wine, but I wanted the bottle really…if only they knew then what they know now! But I still love them!
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Wasn’t Degville an eighties club kid who palled around with Boy George and Marilyn? Did you guys know Pete Burns? Ever go to the Batcave?
RAY MAYHEW: Yes, I did go to the Batcave – does anyone remember anything about all that!?
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Who were your favorite punk bands?
RAY MAYHEW: Can’t answer that categorically today or ever really, but I was listening to Basement 5 recently. A seriously under-rated record that was designed to be played fucking loud, and if isn’t available on CD, then get the vinyl, kids. Let’s hope if it is on CD that no cunt messed with the mastering – I really hate that, listen to what they did to Raw Power if you want an example of a recent fuck up. I mean why fuck with something that was already good first time around?
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: How often were you mistaken for Idol, as a young man? Does it still happen?
RAY MAYHEW: We do have similar voices – not much you can do to change the DNA is there!? Of course Billy was an influence and we hung out back then, some of that was bound to rub off.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Where are Yana Ya Ya and Magenta Devine, now?
RAY MAYHEW: Sadly, I have not seen either in many years.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What were some of the highlights of the SSS experience? It looked like you guys had a blast.
RAY MAYHEW: Touring Germany, Brazil and the US were all highlights of it.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What eighties groups did you feel a kinship with? Did you ever like, say, the Cult? The Smiths? Goth? Sisters Of Mercy?
RAY MAYHEW: Was not really into the Smiths. It is still a little known fact that Andrew Eldritch (Sisters) was asked to join Sigue Sigue Sputnik around 1983. Tony James must still have pictures of that meeting somewhere in his archive. “Vision Thing” is a great album and Tony’s influence is there, but me and Andrew didn’t really get on very well in ’83. We were both different people then – fair do.
Always been into the Cult – from the Death Cult period onwards and I knew Billy Duffy quite well at that time and I am still in contact with sometime Cult drummer Les Warner today.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What did you think of Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction? The grebo bands, Crazyhead, Bomb Party, Gaye Bikers On Acid, Doctor and the Medics, etc.
RAY MAYHEW: I knew Cobalt Stargazer from Zodiac Mindwarp and hung out with them and listen, Cobalt, if you are reading this, when we are going for that pint?
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Did you ever see Lords Of The New Church live?
RAY MAYHEW: Yes, I did and there is a method to MY madness too.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Will Mayhem Deranged be performing any shows with Carbon/Silicon? Big Audio Dynamite?
RAY MAYHEW: I have not ruled doing something like that out.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Will SPUTNIK ever reunite-do you keep in touch with the others? I saw a picture of you with Chris-what’s he up to nowadays? What about Martin?
RAY MAYHEW: Yes, I met Chris for the first time in some years at the Mudkiss punk party in 2009. We stayed in touch since then and indeed he came to our gig supporting Glen Matlock in April this year to hang out. I always stayed in touch with Martin and I played drums for him when he formed Sputnik 2 at the Garage gig in Highbury some years back for a laugh. He returned the favour by singing “Love Missile” for me at a Mayhem Deranged gig in 2008 at the 12 Bar Club.
Interesting version… (See www.myspace.com/mayhemderanged - should be some pictures of all that there still) Martin, Tony and Neal did reform some years back and knocked out a couple of albums – so it has already been done really? In answer to those who still hold a torch for that era and a reformation of the 83-90 line up? I can only say that I’m sure as individuals we’ll work together somewhere in the future but as for anything else you would be clutching at straws.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What did you think of “VISION THING” by Sisters of Mercy?
RAY MAYHEW: (See Above!)
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Have you seen Neal X with Marc Almond? Ever been surfing with Neal X?
…Ever see that home improvement television show with Rocco Barker from Flesh For Lulu?
RAY MAYHEW: No – Sadly, I didn’t catch either one.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Discuss what you’ve been doing in the years since American Teenagers plastered their walls with pictures of the space cowboys…Do you have kids? Why did Sputnik disband? Did you make any money when SSS were big rockstars? What do you do nowadays?
RAY MAYHEW: After what 7 years? – 2 studio albums, EMI pulls the plug on Sputnik and that’s it.
I still think Keith Forsey should have produced the records and picked up where “Kiss Me Deadly” left off.
Mayhem Deranged has been my life – 24\7 since then.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What is happening in England with the student riots we hear about? They’ve stripped Americans civil rights, under the so-called, “Patriot Act”. Now they want to outlaw unions…and do away with a minimum wage. Wasn’t the heavy handed Thatcher politics and the garbage strike part of what helped spark English punk? Does England’s police apparatus fondle and radiate passengers when you fly?
RAY MAYHEW: And it didn’t help that people in amongst those students riots, weakening the intended message.
I mean that tosser that threw a fire extinguisher off a roof? All over the news – that’s what you people really saw right?
What does that say to you?
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: That the radical right-wing Murdoch propaganda empire manipulates and dominates the big-media. ‘Probably an Agent Provocateur. They did that in Seattle-the state plants cops in black clothes to break a Starbucks window, and that becomes the big story in the Consolidated-Media. Regarding Sputnik’s pioneering mix of image and electronica, it seems like History has definitely proven you guys right. If Madonna is Lady Gaga’s Mama, SSS have to be the cyber-punk father. Hasn’t the electro-banging gotten boring, though-do you think Tony actually still listens to techno music at home? It all sounds the same to me. What contemporary sounds/films/artists/books do you
RAY MAYHEW: I will listen to anything interesting – nothing is ruled out, music is music. The Music, Katy Perry, Madonna, 50 cent, The Game – you name it.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Discuss origins of Mayhem Deranged….Current operations…The Mayhem Deranged Manifesto? Where can your fans hope to see/hear the “new” band??
RAY MAYHEW: Mayhem Deranged was formed in 1990 after Sputnik disbanded and has been through various incarnations in the years since.
Some of the earliest demos go back to Sputnik in 83 with Neal X on guitar!
We finally released the single “Here I Go Again” on iTunes which was originally recorded in 2008 along with a new dance mix in late 2010. It has since been a slow burner out there – got some airplay on live.365 in the US which was cool for us. Nobody on UK radio will play it! (the drugs references, no doubt)
Since then, we were joined by John Catto, best known for his work with Canadian punk band, the Diodes.
He did some gigs with us from 2008 to 2011 and we recorded some of that material too, which we hope to release soon. John has just gone out to Canada to reform the Diodes and I am now working with Riff Star from classic London punk band, Shag Nasty.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Are you going to see Billy Rath’s Street Pirates? What do you do for fun? Do you still lead a rocknoll lifestyle?
RAY MAYHEW: Sadly didn’t catch Billy Rath. If there was an example of the rock’n'roll lifestyle 24/7 then I must be it – the other would be Lemmy.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Future plans, links, web-sites, any merchandise for sale?
RAY MAYHEW: Working on recording new material now and will be gigging again in the new year.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What did you forget?
RAY MAYHEW: What did I forget? Can you tell me where I am!!?
….SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE urges the real rock’n'roll community to look in to Mayhem Deranged. Many of you “Sons Of Dolls” and “Veglam” young punks will like them more than Sputnik. You might be surprised by the pop melody, and British hardcore, unpredictabe, rogue-ish street-punk attitude, more commonly associated with GBH, Discharge, and the Exploited, than with Sigue Sigue Sputnik. I’d like to see Mayhem Deranged tour with Matlock’s Phillistines, Anti-Nowhere League, or Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction. Shockingly real punk’n'roll, played from the heart! Very impressive. I wonder if they’ve been booked to play that big gothic punk festival with the Cult. If I had a band, a club, a booking agency, or label, I would bring them to America. At least some of the 27 million Americans reported to be taking Merck’s anti-depressants could probably really benefit from having a night out, of dressing-up, of reuniting with the alley cats, and singing along with Mayhem Deranged.
I suspect the annoying ”Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous”/”Greed is Good”/”Dynasty” eighties ambition fantasy was TJ’s fetish…One doesn’t get the impression that Mayhew gives a shit about big business, or big houses, or consorting with greedy executives-he seems more concerned with having a laugh. I like Mayhem D., and I’m a hard sell. I don’t believe in many former rockstars, these days. Ray’s the Real Deal.
NEW Single out now! Go Geddit!!!:
Speaking of the nazi occult bureau…