They say you never forget your first love and it was something along those lines that prompted Still Burning to track down one of the Cockney Rejects original members guitarist Mick Geggus who shows he still has the passion that the Rejects were famous for. Taking the rage of punk rock and defining it slightly, the Oi music scene was born, although the group were to later add a more rock sound to their songs.
For our readers who don’t know the Cockney Rejects can you tell us a bit about the band?
Formed in the East End of London in 1978, a sort of backlash against the artschool West London punks. Loved the early bands such as Pistols, Clash, Gen X et al, but as there was nothing from our neck of the woods we thought that it was about time we happened!
Also, nobody had ever taken the concept of mixing Rock n’ Roll, Football and Boxing and ran with it, ha ha.
Yourself (Mick) and Stinky are the only two who remain from the original line up, are you that hard to get on with?
Very! When we came back in 1999 we had to find people who would bring the enthusiasm back, to make it still sound relevant, and as I had known Tony Van since he was a 16 year old Rejects fan and had massive respect for his playing, he seemed like the natural choice. He also brought Lainey in, and the guys have been with us ever since.
Whats Vince up to these days?
I haven’t seen Vince in 20 years but I hear that he is alive and well and living in Essex with his bird and 5 kids!
You were never a Reject, so why the name?
Well I could go all Freudian and claim it was ‘cos we were rejects from society and all that crap, but the simple truth is that Jeff’s band (later to be the Postmen) called themselves that, and i thought that it was a cool name and nicked it for my band!
What was most important, the lads, the football or the band?
Hard one that, but i suppose that the straightest answer would be that the band were the end product of the other two. We were of course, WHU, we all knocked about together, and we loved rock music, so the band was just the manifestation of those things. (plus the chance to get on Top of the Pops!)
Were you really `The Firm` or did you just sing about it?
No, at that time in our lives, we were The Firm. Maybe we should not have glorified the fact so much, but when you’re a kid you don’t think to much about such trivial things as consequences.
Who was Badman?
He was an amalgamation of every shitbag everybody knows, you know, the housebreaker, the mugger, the ponce, the grass, and so on. Trouble is, the country has been turned on its head in the last 20 years and all common sense seems to have gone out the window, so these days dogs like that would probably be hailed as heroes!
On a personal note, what are your favourite Rejects tracks?
Of course Bad Man, I’m not a Fool, The Rocker and Power and the Glory spring to mind, but i also like a lot of ‘The Wild Ones’ and i’m very proud of the ‘Unforgiven’ album, which I believe captures intact the spirit of the Rejects if we had carried on from “The Power and the Glory’ album.
What do you listen to today?
Today I believe is the worst period of creative music that i have ever known. There are very few bands out there who float my boat, they all seem so student orientated and, well, ‘drippy’ I suppose would be the term.
So mainly, apart from a few Coldplay tracks, i go back to early Queen, early Clash and the delta blues players of the ’30’s and ’40’s to get my listening kicks. And, of course, not forgetting the Stones!
On the subject of names, why did Stinky become a Turner instead of a (Jeff) Geggus?
Again, simple- everybody had a punk name in the ’70’s, and in my old man’s class in the ’20’s there was a bloke who had the worst armpits on earth called Stinky, yep, you guessed it, Turner, and Jeff thought that this was so hilarious that he swiped it. I must point out, though, that Jeff categorically does NOT have B.O!
John Peel always gets credit for playing punk and oi music way back in 1977 and beyond but how much credit should be given to the likes of Gary Bushell for promoting `the scene` through the pages of Sounds?
Both of them are enormously influential to the scene, John was a legend and Garry was the first to put the working class bands forward as viable alternatives to the art-school scene, and what he did was from the heart, ‘cos Garry was 100% working class himself, unlike the majority of his contemporaries.
You must have some absolutely amazing memories of some of your gigs on the road with a large West Ham contingent following you everywhere?
A lot of it is lost in the mists of time, but i’m not copping out when i say that Jeff and Garry’s book ‘Cockney Reject’ captures those moments more vividly and accurately than I ever could.
There was a period around the early eighties when the Rejects went all rock on us, what was that all about? Did you need to lose the street anger to progress as a band?
Me, Jeff and Vince had all been into heavy rock years before the punk explosion happened, and after three brick wall punk albums we decided to change direction to something that we had always aspired to, instead of ripping everybody off with Vol.1 and Vol.2 clones. We had said all we needed to as a punk band, and if there is one thing that even those who despise us have to admit, we were brutally honest with ourselves and our fans, so we just said, ‘Well this is what we do now, if you don’t like it, fair enough, thanks for the ride!’ And that’s how we still are today.
You released your last album Unforgiven on G&R Records back in 2007, how did that go?
Better than we ever expected. It sold so well, in fact, that we are currently planning a new release for 2011. Life in the old dog yet!
Talking about releases I notice that the book you’ve just mentioned, Cockney Reject is out this month in paperback which apparently includes some new chapters. Anything he missed out that should have been included?
I truly do not know what new chapters Jeff and Garry have included, I know that they wrote them some months ago, so I am as excited as anybody else to read it.
I have a dream that you’re going to play at Upton Park as a warm up for a Dagenham Destroyer Kevin Mitchell fight. That’d clear up an ambition for yourselves as well I’d imagine?
Have you been speaking to Frank Warren, ha ha! Seriously, of course to play at Upton Park before plastic Hammers like Iron Maiden or Russell Bland do so would be a dream come true, but let’s not kid ourselves- some people over there regard us as maybe representing a darker period in the club’s history, so I won’t hold my breath, but hey, hope springs eternal, and stranger things have happened!
Are we likely to see you playing in Scotland again?
We came to Glasgow some time ago and had an absolutely fantastic time, and we truly thought that we would be back up there soon after, but for some strange reason promoters North of the border have been silent so far, which is a crying shame ‘cos we’re busting our bollocks to get up there and see our Scots faithful again.
Wake up Scottish promoters! We’re ready, willing and able!
What’s the latest on the `Join the Rejects and Get Yourselves Killed` movie?
In development hell at the moment, but certain powers that be have been filming for a forthcoming documentary on the band. I can’t say too much at present, but it’s REAL exciting. Watch this space!
Do you still get along to Upton Park?
Whenever I can, but it’s real expensive these days…
Happy with Gold and Sullivan as owners?
Yes. About time two local boys who know exactly what the club means in a historical content to the East End got involved, and hopefully the passion they have for the club as opposed to just sheer business acumen will see us to better times. Hell, Goldie’s mum used to have a stall over Upton Park market, it don’t get more local than that!
England to win the World Cup with Three Hammers in the side again?
No fucking chance.
Five Desert Island Tracks?
I Had a Good Time, Boston, Seven Seas of Rhye, Queen, Complete Control, The Clash, Bron-Yr-Aur, Led Zeppelin & Gimme Shelter, Rolling Stones.
Thanks mate, here’s hoping that promoters there come to their senses and hopefully we’ll se you all North of the Border real soon. All the best, Mick G.
Thanks a million Mick and COYI! Still Burning
Official Cockney Rejects Website
G&R London Website
The pics from Japan are copyright of Pete McDonnell, Rockaway Photos Inc.