Thee Hypnotics

(-By Geordie “Soul Accelerator” Pleathur)


When I was in my early twenties, I stupidly relocated from the dead-end, repressive, fast-food doomed, Midwest to Boston, mistakenly believing it to be a rock ‘n roll town where one went to be discovered, but the garage days of the Lyres, Aerosmith, Real Kids, and Unattached were long gone. It was the nineties: grunge, indie-rock rich kids, festivals, “Friends”, rave was happening; somewhere…it was definitely not my era. I remember that Fox TV network had just started relentlessly socializing young America to unconditionally worship the idle rich with banal programming like “90210″. MTV was dominated by grunge and rap–which still seemed full of revolutionary promise for counter-cultural consciousness raising. New voices were still being heard. In Boston, everybody was into the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones, riot grrls, and alternative shit like Mary Lou Lord, the Pixies, and Buffalo Tom. The S.S. Decontrol hardcore crowd had all gone ska, or rockabilly. The big local bands were Slaughter Shack and Bullet LaVolta. I remember being personally insulted when one of those boy band New Kids On The Blockers wore a Bauhaus t-shirt in their video, that some stylist had obviously purchased for him at Allston Beat. I had no way of knowing how much worse and even more dominant corporate music would become in the two decades that followed. The only local bands I really liked were Facts About Rats and Black Snake Moon. Andy Wood, Stiv Bator, Johnny Thunders, and Jerry Nolan had all dropped dead, in rapid succession. I didn’t really like the second or third albums from Guns N Roses, Danzig, or Jane’s Addiction. Even the Cult had gotten soft on all that hairspray-metal money. Grunge? No thanks, maybe a cuppla Mark Lanegan tunes, but nothing besides Mother Love Bone really did it for me.

I had my own black leather, Four Horsemen, Coma-Tones, and Lords of The New Church influenced glam band at the time. We seldom made it out of the rehearsal room, but certain envious parties thought we were huge, mainly, just because we steadily wall-papered the town in our band-stickers. We had some unusually stellar guitar-players, good songs, personality galore, but it all fell apart in contentious acrimony, soon after we got a borrowed bass stolen, when one of our sinfully under-valued, rent-paying, girlfriends got tired of all our die-fast debauchery and unemployment and split town abruptly, forcing us to all find our desperate new digs overnight, that kinda started the disintegration of the last remnants of our little gang. One’s a doctor now, one works for the man, the other one’s back in his hometown, with his highschool football trophies, and Molly Hatchet t-shirts, still performing our old songs, on open-mic nights. No reunion is forthcoming. We were all wild little hellions, back then. The rhythm guitar player used to get all spruced up, just to hurl on the subway, and come home bleeding, every other night-he got his El Camino stolen his first night in town. The singer used to take handfuls of pills, and pass out in the street, woke up in a different girl’s apartment, five nights a week. The bass-player intensely researched serial-killers and unsolved crimes, dating green-haired, crusty-punk chicks, and kept aluminum foil over his windows. We were way better commercials for why teenagers should not take drugs, than any corporate-right, “just say no” or “this is your brain on drugs” propaganda campaigns. We got drunk and busked on Newbury Street in all our glam finery, furry hats, tattoos, concho-straps, velvet suit jackets, spurs and cowboy boots, and took a lotta guff offa the locals: “This is Boston, not L.A.” Plus, we could never seem to keep a drummer. The girls from Newbury Comics started hipping us to new bands from overseas-New Model Army, Waterboys, Fallen Angels, These Immortal Souls, Beasts Of Bourbon, Bounty Hunters, all that lot. A couple of us were just full-time, effin’ crazies. Finally, we frightened the more sensible lead guitarist and bass-player straight with our mean, shrieking girlfriends, black eyes, broken ribs, and always shut-off utilities. No one knows how any of us survived as long as we did. For cats like us, there wasn’t much in the way of real rock’n'roll we could believe in, left around, back then. Just Tex & The Horse-Heads, the Coma-Tones, the Beasts Of Bourbon, and THEE HYPNOTICS.  


The rock’n'roll barber of Long Beach-my soul bro, Billy Burks from the Humpers and Vice Principals, shares my enthusiasm: ‘Soul, Glitter and Sin’ is a perfect fuckin’ record . So many layers and tone textures. It is coming from a Dark, Dark place, but at the same time, it’s like a big, fancy, stolen, hotel robe….It makes My Demons happy.”

 Bad Billy Tsounis, the imaginative guitar hero from Fat Nancy and Captain Zapped, concurs. “I loved Thee Hypnotics when I first heard their ‘Come Down Heavy’ cd, and I love their music to this day. Very cool, psychedelic garage rock and roll indeed. Great grooves and dirty.”

Jeff Ward, Gunfire Dance guitarist and critically acclaimed author of “Parasite: Joyous Flashbacks Amidst A Crystal Meth Nightmare”, reminisces: … “While all those Madchester bands were trying so hard to recapture that 60′s ‘essense’ during the 90′s, Thee Hypnotics, out of London, captured it and revamped it better than all of them … I loved that band! ‘Soul, Glitter, and Sin’ could reasonably called a ‘modern’ masterpiece, I think.” His bassist Ray “Birchy” Birch from Gunfire Dance and Black Bombers and Steppin’ Razors adds, ”Thee Hypnotics were one of my favourite bands from the late 80′s -early 90′s…Their ‘Soul,Glitter And Sin’ record is a lost classic in my opinion,and for many years was top of my list for late night listening. Still sounds great today…We did some shows with them on that tour and they were gentlemen!”

The Godfathers guitarist, Del Bartle, similarly concludes:”Only thing is I have to confess I was barely aware of them at the time, despite them also working with Dave Goodman a lot, who was a good friend of mine I see they recorded a lot of stuff with him at Cherry, where the Unholy Trinity album was mostly recorded-here’s a quote for you ….’if i’d known about them in 1989, I would probably have tried to join them.’” The brilliant Jimmy James, lead gun-slinger for Barrio Tiger, Hangmen, and Coma-Tones testifies: “Thee Hypnotics were a HUGE influence on The Coma-Tones, in that they were a fierce, mean, live band! They set the bar up higher thank god! Another case of ‘too much, too soon-they had quite a few bad highs and left behind a trail of tragedies in their wake. What’s more rock n’ roll than self-sacrifice?”

My brutha from another gutter, Marty E. Concussion from NYC’s Dirty Pearls remembers THEE HYPNOTICS: “I was in high school when I got into Thee Hypnotics. As superficial as it sounds, it was a magazine ad that got me into them. It was an ad for their new album (at the time) ‘Soul, Glitter, & Sin’…..and the ad called it, ‘Tales from the sonic underground. There was a really cool picture of the band members in cool leather jackets & hats. They looked cool in a different, effortless way. I knew that I was going to dig this band. I special-ordered the album, brought it home, and it became the soundtrack to my first times getting stoned. Do you remember when the best thing that you could do was toke up & zone out? Yeah, me too, and this was my album. My favorite songs on it are the slower ones, like ‘Cold Blooded Love’ and ‘Kissed By The Flames’. The songs have so much atmosphere, and they positively shimmer, like a deep dark cave filled with candles in the middle of the Summer.”

When THEE HYPNOTICS appeared at a local college pub in Central Square, Cambridge, me and my increasingly spurned and disillusioned gang of swaggering pistols roared our drunken approval like the hick-town, fly-over state, Guns N Roses fans we were. Their guitarist was astonishing; the drummer was like Dennis Machine Gun Thompson. The singer reminded me of Stiv Bator, Iggy Pop, Ant from Gunfire Dance…and me! I interviewed a couple of ‘em that night for my dodgy fanzine, but the batteries were shite, so all I ended up with was garbled mumbo-jumbo. It was a great pleasure to have another chance to interview the drummer of one of the best rock’n'roll bands that ever kicked over your cocktails and went home with the bartendress. Lots of trendy-indie types tried imitating THEE HYPNOTICS vibe, but none possessed the soul, the musicianship, or danger of the immortal THEE HYPNOTICS.

 Eighties Pin-Up, Nick Marsh, singer of Flesh For Lulu opines: “Brother Jim and Brother Ray/ The rockinest ever What more can ya say?”
Punk N Roll Legend in His Own Right, Scott “Deluxe” Drake, frontman for the HUMPERS quips, “They always had cool shoes.” 

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Where did you grow up, discuss your earliest introductions to school, your homelife, when did you learn to play? 

PHIL STAINES: I grew up in England, listening to The Beatles, as a young kid, then, moved to Canada, in the early seventies. The first single I ever bought was “Clair” by Gilbert O’Sullivan and “Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett. I then went headlong into Black Sabbath and Purple. The first gig I ever went to was Grand Funk in 1974. I was teaching myself to play drums in my parents basement and seeing Don Brewer was mind blowing. A few months later, I saw Led Zeppelin. I knew what I had to do. My dad brought me a see through black ludwig drum kit like John Bonham. I had a great music teacher at Junior High and within a year, achieved high school super stardom, in the school band, when we played a Chicago medley and I learned the drum solo.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: How are you influenced by jazz? 

PHIL STAINES: My dad listened to Jazz, so I heard “Sound Of The Loop” with Joe Morello’s drum solo and also, John Coltrane, with Elvin Jones on drums. I also got to meet Ed Shaunessy, who was the drummer for the NBC Orchestra, and the Doc Severensen Big Band on the Johnny Carson Show. he was amazing.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Who were your fave bands growing up? 

PHIL STAINES: My fave bands growing up were Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Mott The Hoople, and Kiss. I saw Queen twice in the seventies. They were incredible, and very drunk, although they did not miss a beat. I once counted 22 empty champagne glasses on Roger Taylor’s drum riser.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: How were you affected by glam rock?

PHIL STAINES: Glam rock affected me greatly because I loved David Bowie. All the cool kids at my high school were into T. Rex. Sweet were also there and I nearly went to see Slade. I saw Suzi Quatro open for Alice Cooper. Alice fell off the stage and the gig ended. Bowie was a huge influence on me. One of my favourite drummers of all time is Dennis Davis.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Some fave punk bands? 

PHIL STAINES: My favourite punk bands were the Clash and The Ramones. I saw the Dead Boys in the late seventies and they freaked me out. I saw the Ramones in 1980. I also saw Iggy Pop a couple of time in the late seventies… I loved “New Values” which has a punk attitude although Iggy is an art form and has no label.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What did the MC5 mean to you? 

PHIL STAINES: The MC5 did not have a great affect on me. I was more into “Raw Power”, when I was younger. I love watching live footage of the MC5 for Fred and Wayne. “Skunk” is my favourite track of theirs. When Thee Hypnotics first went to America, we had “Skunk” blasting, as we crossed the Hudson River into Manhattan. Wow…

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: NY Dolls Vs. Hollywood Brats?

PHIL STAINES: I always loved the Dolls and remember watching them on the “Midnight Special”. The Hollywood Brats thing was cool. When we were recording “The Very Crystal Speed Machine”, me and Will Pepper would go to Denny’s on Sunset. Rodney Bingenheimer would always drive in, in his 1972 GTO and sit across from us with a trio of sexy LA girls.  

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Thee Hypnotics had the fire of Detroit proto-punk, the experimental nature of Love, and the roaring Bluesy majesty of Zep and Free….what kind of groups had you played in prior to joining Thee Hypnotics, why did the first drummer split? Any memorable early performances stick out in your head?

PHIL STAINES: I saw thee Hypnotics in camden town about 1988 after seeing Screamin’ J. Hawkins. I never met Mark Thompson but we talk via Facebook and he’s a really cool guy. Jim and Ray kicked him out because he was difficult. The most memorable gig that I played was Glasgow 1990, Seattle first time, Rome in 1991… the crowds rioted… it was electric. I always loved playing Chicago, Austin, L.A., and San Francisco, for obvious reasons.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Describe each of the former THEE HYPNOTICS…where are they now? 

PHIL STAINES: I see Ray now and then, he has not changed and has issues. He does not maintain a healthy lifestyle. Will came to see me play several years back when I played with Alan Tyler, from the Rockinbirds. Will and I used to play with Epic Soundtracks. Jim I see when he’s not touring. He has it going on. Me and Jim have been through some hard times and are both lucky to be alive. 

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Did you see any of the following bands live-Lords Of The New Church, Hanoi Rocks, Marionette, Jacobites, Godfathers?

PHIL STAINES: Never saw any of the bands mentioned.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: How was the band affected by Nick Cave, Rowland Howard, Epic Soundtracks? 

PHIL STAINES: We were big on Nick Cave. We would sometimes hang out with him at the San Moritz club on Wardour Street. He would always give us tickets to bad Seed show around the world. I’ve seen them about ten times, the first being 1894 with Roland Howard on guitar and Sonic Youth supporting. As I said, we were pretty close to Epic. His death was a shock. 

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Martin Chambers or Clem Burke?

PHIL STAINES: I love Martin Chambers and have his autograph, but to see Clem Burke play drums is like no other… what a showman. 

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Dennis Machine Gun Thompson or John Bonham?

PHIL STAINES: John Bonham over Dennis any day simply for Misty Mountain Hop.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Keith Moon or Charlie Watts? Rat Scabies or Filthy Phil? 

PHIL STAINES: Charlie Watts is the coolest person on the planet and you just have watch him and listen to Honky Tonk Woman to understand why and Rat Scabies is one of the coolest people I have ever met. I love Machine Gun Etiquette. Rat is in my movie. We went to Glastonbury with him to see the Black Crowes. We hung out with Robert Plant… amazing.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Didn’t you guys work with summa the Pretty Things? 

PHIL STAINES: Phil May and Dick Taylor both played on our first studio LP. 

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: How did you finance Thee Hypnotics in the early days? When did it feel like stardom was imminent? 

PHIL STAINES: Thee Hypnotics made money from gigs and welfare checks. Recording in LA, meeting the Red Hot Chili Peppers and going for lunch with Rick Rubin felt like stardom was ours. 

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: How did you feel about the Scientists, Cramps, Tex And The Horse-Heads, Gun Club, Beasts Of Bourbon? 

PHIL STAINES: Jim and Ray were nuts about the Scientists. I’m more of a Beasts of Bourbon man. Ray is friends with Tex Perkins and Kim Salmon and I think Jim hooks up with them with the JJR. As for the Gun Club, saw them in 1980 and love Miami. The Cramps??? What can you say? Cool as… Jim loves Lux more than he lets on. We openned for them a few time and like the Bad Seeds always got in to their show. We were good friends with Candy Del Mar and she always was the hostess with the mostest when we were in L.A. Nick Knox is so cool…

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What do you recall about any of the following: Soho Roses, Gunfire Dance, Bounty Hunters, Quireboys, Dogs D’Amour?

 PHIL STAINES: The next batch of bands don’t mean much. We were friends with Nigel from the Quireboys and I liked the Dogs but that whole Wardour Street rock thing and the Intrepid Fox did not really float our boat. I was more into Guns N Roses and Motley Crue at the time.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What was the peak moment of Thee Hypnotics experience, all-time low? 

PHIL STAINES: The peak moment for Thee Hypnotics was blowing the Fuzztones off the stage in L.A., playing a full house at the Metro in Chicago, opening for the Cult in Valencia, and seeing 20,000 people jumping up and down to “Soul Accelerator”. Playing with Tad was great. Playing the Pyramid in New York and seeing Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore and J. Mascis is the crowd was good. Playing CBGB’s when the Bowery was still a run down, dangerous and cool place. Hanging out with Chris Robinson at the Sunset Marquee was great, he was a fun guy to be around and really generous. I also hung out with Paul Anka’s daughter during that time, she was really a sweet girl. We always had amazing shows in Austin. We played an early version of South by Southwest in front of 1000 people. I remember the Butthole Surfers came to see us and we hung out playing snooker then the set fire to our dressing room. The lows are to many to mention. It’s all in the movie.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What did you think of the grebo bands-Zodiac, the Cult, Circus Of Power, Crazyhead, Four Horsemen etc.?

PHIL STAINES: I loved Zodiac Mindwarp and I liked Kid Chaos when he was in the Cult before he formed the Four Horsemen. Zodiac was such a character and was great on stage. I loved his lyics. That was a good time to be in London and it was that scene that gave rise to Thee Hypnotics. See the movie…

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Was “Soul, Glitter, & Sin” influenced by the shoegazer bands or Sonic Youth? How did you guys feel about Jesus & Mary Chain? 

PHIL STAINES: Soul Glitter and Sin was definately not influenced by shoegazers. We hated shoegazers. It was more about Your Funeral My Trail and Big Star and Dr. John. The Mary Chain were a different story. We were friends with Douglas Hart who directed one of our videos. The Mary Chain wrote great songs.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Did you like any post-punk bands-goth, Sisters Of Mercy, Flesh For Lulu, Psychedelic Furs, Adam Ant, post card, MTV synth-pop, etc.? 

PHIL STAINES: Post punk stuff was OK, I love the first Psychedelic Furs album and “Kings of The Wild Frontier” by Adam and the Ants. I played with the Monochrome Set who had two original members of the Ants off of “Dirk Wears White Socks”, which is an amazing album. Flesh For Lulu were great, I saw them lots of time. Nick and Rocco are good friends of our band. 

I gotto go pick up my daughter from Bethnal Green… will finish this later. 

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Sub-Pop, Grunge? Grunge Vs. Brit-Pop?

PHIL STAINES: Grunge for us was all about Mudhoney. We mixed an Album in Seattle during the early days of grunge. We would play improve shows at random bars each night for food and booze. Saw early Nirvana shows… I was more into Brit pop because the clubs played The Small Faces and The Who plus I loved the first Oasis lp. Then smack hit town and it all went tits up. The manager of the Happy Mondays was a big fan and was negotiating becoming out manager. 

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Were you guys aware of Pillbox NYC or 39 Steps out of Canada? 

PHIL STAINES: I have never heard of 39 Steps or Pillbox NYC…

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Wasn’t there a crazy car accident? How did that affect the whole mission?  

PHIL STAINES: We had a car accident in Minneapolis and it was bad. I got totally fucked up and spent three months in hospital. That was weird. We were on a big run in the US. It made us a lot darker and musically introverted. It made our song writing more credible. We wrote as a band although Jim and Ray always got the song writing credits except for Crystal Speed. 

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Been in any other groups since Thee Hypnotics? What did you think of Black Moses? 

PHIL STAINES: I played with the Raincoats (Kurt Cobain’s favourite band) who I just saw last week in the Camden Crawl. We were gonna tour with Nirvana and then Kurt committed suicide. I also played with Alan Tyler and the Lost Sons of Littlefield…A truly amazing country band if you google them… After Thee Hypnotics broke up, Ray got lots of offers, one of which was The Sisters Of Mercy. He turned it down. I loved Black Moses especially “Emperor Deb”. Jim could never get the right line up so he canned it and formed JJR. 

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Can you name any other rock bands as under-rated as Thee Hypnotics? 

PHIL STAINES: Under rated bands? Alan Tyler and the Lost Sons of Littlefield. 

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Did you ever dig the Mescaleroes, Phillistines, Manics, or Carbon/Silicon?

PHIL STAINES: I like the Mescaleroes and the early Manics. Watch them do “You Love Us” on top of the pops on you tube. Awesome… I’ve seen Carbon/Silicon many times as my girlfriends brother works for Mick Jones. The first Libertines album is a total classic. I go and watch Pete play when he’s in Camden.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What do you listen to for your own entertainment? 

PHIL STAINES: For entertainment, I listen to seventies funk like the Ohio Players, BT Express, Rufus, Jackson 5, KC and the Sunshine Band, Parliament… I listen to Ska and blues but mostly hip hop… of which I have a wide taste. I’ve seen a lot of classic rap bands like Run DMC, Public Enemy, Cypress Hill etc… I am devastated that MCA is dead as I never saw the Beastie Boys and always wanted to drum for them.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Discuss the movie… 

PHIL STAINES: The movie is very entertaining. Unlike most bands, the story of Thee Hypnotics is interesting and bittersweet. It is still being mixed by my soul brother Dado Jehan… google him. He played with the JJR for a while. I am going to screen the film at festivals and low key lo fi clubs and pubs. I did a test screen at my favourite club in London when it was a rough cut and it went down really well. It’s very cool. Pimp it for me… you’ll like it.


PHIL STAINES: I have a thirteen year old son and a nine year old daughter and have been engaged to my girlfriend for fucking years. I should get my soul and shit together. 

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Religion/politics?

PHIL STAINES: I don’t do religion and I fucking hate politics. What fucking chance have we got with these fucks who make it into power? I vote for the Green Party and I am a Euro skeptic. 

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: How do you make money, what do you do for fun? 

PHIL STAINES: For money I teach film and media at a Jewish High School in North London. I used to be a video editor but I got bored of that. For fun I drink beer and cider, go to pubs and drink beer and cider, jam Ska, hang out, follow Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, watch television and cherish being with the family. 

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Do you still hang out with Jim?

PHIL STAINES: I still see Jim but he is away most of the year. We talk books and film these days. We still do Bukowski in a big way. Jim is very literary and a smart cookie. I love him a lot.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: What do you remember about the U.S. tour? Boston? 

PHIL STAINES: I remember the gig in Boston with the old guy in the suit who spoke through a hole in his throat with one of those mics. (*Might mean legendary Rat bouncer, Mitch. R.I.P.)

I remember playing “Sweet Emotion”… Geordie was there I just found out… small fucking world. That’s about it.

SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: Were you a Black Crowes fan? What was it like working with those guys? Why did Primal Scream get bigger than Thee Hypnotics? 

PHIL STAINES: I liked the Black Crowes. They were great to tour with and fun to hang out with. Johnny Colt kept us in vodka and bourbon… Chris was great to work with. He liked me and Will because of our playing. We did everything first take. Ed the hammond player was great and Chris does a little backing vocals and I wish he had done more. He recorded them but left them out of the mix which was a downer. Marc Ford was a great guitarist, but not as good as Ray, and it caused tension in the studio, and Marc knew it. He would have rather not be there but Chris thought he played like Duane Allman so wanted him around. We drank a lot. partied at night and hung out at Chris’s house in the hills. It was a fantasy world and it was great. I wish we had a manager… which is why Primal Scream made it big… they had a manager and recorded “Screamadelica”. which is still a classic. They were great to see in those days… I saw them a lot. We always got in cause we knew Bobby. Bobby Gilespie followed Thee Hypnotics and always came to our shows. He is a really nice guy.
SUGARBUZZ MAGAZINE: When are you gonna write a book?

PHIL STAINES: I will write a book one day but the older you get the less time you have. My job keeps me busy. As for this movie, I am contemplating re issuing some preachin n ramblin T shirts to go with it… I have never marketed a film before. Everyone who has seen it loves it so I am confident that people will enjoy it. Like I said, it is a great story told by me, Jim Jones, Ray Hansen and Rat Scabies… it’s a classic rock n roll movie. martin Scorsese would love. I ain’t jokin’….

Jim Jones (vocals)
Ray Hanson (guitar)
Chris Dennis (bass)
Mark Thompson (drums)
Will Pepper (bass)
Phil Smith (drums)
Robert Zyn (guitar)
Craig Pike (bass)
David Ashe (guitar)