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Brighton Rock - 2001 Interview with Gerry McGhee

In The Spotlight - Brighton Rock
Interview with Gerry McGhee
Written by: Gdazegod (October 2001)

Brighton Rock. There's a name from the past. The Canadian hard hitting rock band who were one of many excellent acts coming out of the eighties. Big name producers onboard, WEA Canada as a label, and five guys dedicated to rockin' your sox off! A ten year respite during the nineties, and the band have decided to come out of retirement. The world has moved on, so has Brighton Rock, but the mainstay personnel are still there. GLORY-DAZE's Gdazegod touches base with vocalist Gerry McGhee for a reunion of sorts in the year 2001...

Gerry, a big hello from GLORY-DAZE and welcome back to the hard rock scene again!
Hi George, nice to be back!

With you guys back in the frame, it's an obvious testament to the fact that it's not just a game for all those young puppies out there?
No, it's totally different from when we did it, but it's a lot of hard work now. Actually it's even more harder I'd say than it was when we did it.

What was the catalyst to get Brighton Rock back together?
Well, the catalyst unfortunately was the death of my nephew Stephen and my need to kinda do something in his memory, and the thing to do was putting Brighton Rock back together, and fortunately out of all that, we had so much fun we decided to hang around a bit.

How was it at your first rehearsal session earlier this year? Was the magic was still there?
Awesome, it was like we'd never stopped. Right from the first note, we just kinda looked at each other and went .. 'FUCK!' It was good fun.

I think many people underestimate how tough it is out there performing. With your high energy brand of rock, do all the years of inactivity make it harder to get out and perform to the level that you used to?
Yes, in some aspects but in other aspects I think we're better than what we were because we don't have the demands on us, it's surely for the enjoyment of playing with each other, and not through the fact that we're out there slagging records or that it's our only way to earn a living. It's the way it was when we first started playing with bands.

What about in between times. We've seen the hard rock landscape change so much during the nineties. Where will Brighton Rock's renewed musical focus and influence come from?
That I don't know, because we haven't sat down and wrote anything yet. It would be interested to see. I've heard a lot of stuff that Fraser's done, I've heard a lot of stuff that Johnny's done, and it's different, but, then again it isn't Brighton Rock. It was stuff that they were doing on the road. It would be interesting to see where we go. I don't think there's any real set plan. We'll just go with what feels good.

I suppose it's a bit different from the rehearsal room to a true live gig. But how did it go for Brighton Rock at the Make A Wish Foundation gig in September?
Awesome. It was one of the best gigs I think we ever did. We had an absolute great crowd, great stage, great sound system, and it was just a lotta fun.. And the night for what it was for was definitely well worth it.

Obviously we're looking at a different generation of rock fans out there. Are Brighton Rock going to be aiming for them, as well as catering for all of us 'elder folk' ? (ha ha!)
Ha ha!, Ah no, we're not aiming for anybody. We hope that everybody that liked us before still likes us, and I think it's just been a natural process that some of the younger crowds that we've seen at the two shows have just came out because of their brothers or their sisters listening to us, and they got into it and wanted to see the band live. So, we'll just take what it comes, we're not setting any master plan or anything.

Can we wind the clock back a bit, especially for some of our readers who are not familiar with Brighton Rock's material. Came together in 1984, released an EP, did well on a Toronto radio station album compilation, then a deal with WEA Canada. Does that about sum it up in two sentences?
Yep, that's pretty well it. Thats where everything kinda unveiled from that point and then there was just 'Young Wild And Free' released in the US, and some US tours, and the UK tour, and releases in Japan even though we never toured there, and Germany and other European countries. That's about it, that sums it up quickly.

If we look back at the differences between the three albums.. Perhaps you can give us a brief recollection of each of them.. The sessions, the songs, the final mix, and also the ensuing promotion and publicity etc..

'Young Wild And Free' was great to make because we were so excited with it being the first record but we actually slept in the studio, and the producer actually had to feed us because we had no money to eat with. Our manager didn't seem to care too much about that, he was living in L.A at the time. But it was a great experience, Michael was a great guy, mixing it in L.A. Some things I wish we'd done different on the record. I think it should've been a two guitar album, I don't think there should've been any keyboards but that was the direction that things were going back then. But we were pleased with it, the way it came out.

'Take A Deep Breath' was a lot of fun to make. Especially working with Jack, because he was absolutely the most consumate pro that we've ever worked with. I think he got the best out of us. I think the album sounds great, I think the songs on that record are really good. The only thing I again would I have wished was that there were no keyboards on it.

Love Machine - produced by Toby Wright, yeah, there's no keyboards right?
No keyboards on it. Great record. The only way to go out. Pain in the ass to make, pain in the ass to put together. We fired the Manager, we were dealing with the label. We had I guess to say, a little bit of overindulgence on our behalf after years of touring. It was just tough all the way around. The scene was different. We had no representation, our record company bailed out on us, and they dropped that right from the word go.

From our perspective 'Young Wild And Free' was a pretty good debut, what was the press like back in 1986 for this one?
The press was awesome for that album, especially in the States. UK was great, all of Europe. Canada had a hard time with it. But, I remember one of the best things we'd seen about that was Creem or Hit Parader had picked their top three new bands of the eighties. And the three bands most likely to succeed were Poison, Cinderella and Brighton Rock. They were right for two out of the three!

I think most hard rock fans took to 'Take A Deep Breath' like a duck to water. Perhaps Brighton Rock's most successful album?
Definitely. It out-sold I think double of any of the other records. It was close to platinum when they deleted it.

During 1987/88, did the worldwide success of Def Leppard with 'Hysteria' have an impact or any influence on the band during the recording of 'Take A Deep Breath'?
No, because we were more influenced by Tesla, Judas Priest, Ozzy. I know 'Frase' (Greg Fraser), you know Journey, Night Ranger, they liked that stuff. The thing I felt 'Take A Deep Breath' was too safe sounding. It was like it had a condom on it. Because everybody wanted it to be Canadian and sweet and nice.. and Glass Tiger was big, and Honeymoon Suite was big, and they tried so hard to stick us into that vein, and it was absolutely nothing to do with what we were about. It was great that people loved it the way they did, it was a great tour and everything, but it was still to me a watered down version of what Brighton Rock was all about.

You've toured all over the North American continent, but your tour to the UK during the latter part of the eighties was a bit of a homecoming, considering your heritage and the bands name of course. Well received too by all accounts?
Yep. We sold out all four shows. We were Warner Canada's biggest selling band in Europe. Both records 'Young Wild And Free' and 'Take A Deep Breath' had done extremely well. Unfortunately we had the biggest, probably the biggest dud record label in the entire world working the UK for us. They were more than happy to spend $100,000 on a Honeymoon Suite tour, and the fact that we sold six times the records they did and sold out our own shows, they actually asked us not to come back for a following tour after we sold out the first tour.

Did you get an impression that Brighton Rock could've been a bigger proposition in UK/Europe than back home in Canada?
That was always the plan. Our plan was always Canada, UK, US. And thats exactly the way it was working especially on 'Take A Deep Breath', until the US dropped the ball and didn't want to release it and the UK company just fucked everything.

What about Japan?
Japan we always did well in. We sold records. I mean, we've got a songbook over there, we had big publishing advances from over there, and I know we sold decent records, why we never toured over there I never knew. I think it was probably because of tour support that we couldn't get support out of the label, and we couldn't get extra support out of WEA Canada to do it. I think it was purely financial why we didn't do it.

Moving on to 1991, Love Machine was more of a straight-out guitar assault with no keyboard frills. This got a great review in Metal Forces if I remember. A 95/100?

I know any budding guitarist back in the seventies would have learn't the riffs to JJ Cale's 'Cocaine' like the back of his hand. But this was an interesting selection for 'Love Machine'. Who's idea was that?
What happened with 'Cocaine' is we were in L.A writing 'Love Machine', and we'd been there for a month and a half, and we were just totally enjoying the L.A scene. We were at the Rainbow every night, we had our own apartment on Hollywood BLVD, and we were writing during the day, and I just could not get into doing any writing, I just.. was drawing a blank. The guys had done, if I remember rightly, 'Hollywood Shuffle', 'Nightstalker', 'Heart Of Steel', 'Love Machine' and 'Nothing To Lose'. We had all the music for them, but no lyrics and no vocals. So we said 'lets go in and cut the beds'. And then I'll come back to can and finish the lyrics and everything on it. So our Manager had left us alone, basically because I don't think he wanted to associate with what we were getting involved in. And, I went to the guys, we were in the studio, and I said 'Look.. lets really fuckin' make the guy have a heart seizure!'. 'Bring him in to listen to the demo's, and let's record 'Cocaine' live off the floor'. So the guys were all set up on the floor and I was in the booth, in the mixing room, sitting with a 57 Shure microphone and that was completely live. We even sent a runner out to get the tape of Clapton so we get all the lyrics right. And, so that when the Manager came in to sit down and listen to the new Brighton Rock songs off the new record, the first song that he heard was a cover song, and he went absolutely fucking nuts! We just loved the way it worked out, it was live, it was raw, we thought it sounded great, let's do it!

Tell me is that the live version on there now?
Thats it. Thats the demo version on there now. We never did a fucking thing to it.

How many takes you got?

One take, and its on CD?
One take, yeah!

The album jacket for Love Machine was a bit of a hoot! Mark looked like he was having a good time !! (ha ha)
He is. When I come back in another life I'm coming back as Mark's underwear 'cause you see more pussy that way!

So of all three albums, which one gave the band most satisfaction as a creative and artistic piece of work?
I think 'Love Machine' because we had a lot of control in it, and we actually made the album that we wanted to make, and we still to this day believed in it. But in listening to this stuff for the first time in probably eight or nine years, when we were getting back together. I don't listen to 'Young Wild And Free' much just because the CD version is so bad, being the wrong master, I just think it sounds like shit. 'Take A Deep Breath' I think is a great record, with great songs on it. I'd love to have heard that really with just blaring guitar. But 'Love Machine'.. that was the way I wanted to go out, was that record.

What happened to the tapes.. was it a mix up?
We had breakfast one day with the President of Warner Brothers and he said to us, 'whaddya guys want?' and they'd just started to releasing compact disc. And we said 'we want to be on CD'. He said 'fine.. you got it'. And so they went to the vault and there were two versions of 'Young Wild And Free'. One that was the rejected master because of the poor quality sound, and one that was the master that was used for the casettes and the albums, and they picked the rejected master, and just decided never to switch it.

I guess there's no plans right now?

Greg (Fraser) went off to do a stint with Helix during the nineties, but what happened to the rest of the band after 'Love Machine'?
Well, Mark and I went to L.A. I was there for over a year, Mark probably four or five months. Stevie just pulled out and started doing gigs with local bands. Greg (Boileau) went back to work at Hesco (an electrical supply company in Hamilton, Ontario) and doing local bands. Johnny was out touring pretty steady with different bands across Canada and the US. Everybody just kinda went their own ways. It was just.. very anti-climatic, for the fact that we basically lived in each others back pockets for eight or nine years. It was all like 'see ya'. No big farewell, no nothing, we just walked away.

So here we are in 2001 with your new Z Records deal.. What prompted Mark Alger (Z Records) to put the deal on the table to Brighton Rock?
It was solely him talking with Mark (Carvazan). Mark was over doing a Von Groove thing, and Johnny was speaking with Phil Naro, and they asked Mark if we were interested, and we said 'yeah we might be', and then he called me and thats where the idea of the live album came, and possibly the studio album for 2002. So we just we thought 'yeah, what the hell'. It gives us a reason to go over and play a show in the UK.

Are there are specific obligations you have to undertake (apart from Z Rock 2002)?
Nope. No, nothing else we've undertook with.. We'll just gonna play it by ear and see where it goes.

I'm sure there will be a number of things going on between now and next September when the new Brighton Rock album is due. What will that entail for the band?
Scheduling. Having to get together and starting writing this stuff. Most of us are married and have kids now, or at least have kids, and Johnny plays six seven nights a week, and Mark he travels a lot, and Stevie's busy, and trying to get the time. Where as before it was the only thing we did, it was the priority. It's difficult, so getting that scheduling together and starting to put the pieces of the album together is going to be a bit of an undertaking.

Shortly we are going to see the re-release of the two Brighton Rock albums (the last). Did the band have any say in their re-release, or was this a unilateral decision by WEA Canada (Warners) to get these out at this particular time?
WEA Canada put them on after me busting their balls, and that's why they've given them exclusively to Isotope now.

Can you explain what Isotope is?
Isotope is the new company that I own and work for, and we export Canadian CD's all around the world, and do the amount of volume that we've done with Warners in Canada. I'd asked them either to licence me the albums, or sell me the albums and finally after almost two and a half years they've agreed to re-press the records for us to sell here.

But do they own the first one as well?
Yes, but that first one is still available domestically.

Are these albums going to be the same as their initial release, or is there going to be some additional stuff thrown on it?
It'll be identical.

So Gerry on a personal note, you're a Scotsman by birth, so was it by chance that fellow countrymen like Rod Stewart, Frankie Miller, and Dan McCafferty give you that unique blend of power and rasp?
I don't know if it's got something to do with the nationality, 'cause when you think about it, even Bon Scott and a lot of the screamers all came from Scotland. I don't know what it is, but I'm glad it worked that way, 'cause I'm glad that it sounded the way it did, but maybe it was, but I don't know why, I know my brothers sing and they don't sound nothing like I do. So, I think it was a generation gap..

Finally, what would you hope for with the return of Brighton Rock lets say, 12 months on from now?
Well.. hopefully to have as much fun as we did the first couple of gigs. We've got no dreams or expectations of overtaking the world, or becoming the new Creed or anything like that. If we can do the odd show every now and again in front people that have seen us before, and haven't seen us, and they enjoy it as much we do playing it, thats enough.

Is there anything else you'd like to add for all of our readers out there?
Yeah lets a get a gig going in New Zealand! We're willing to travel! We're older now, but we're willing to fuckin' travel!

Thanks very much for your time Gerry. We're really looking forward to you and the rest
of the guys getting out there again!

My pleasure..

As at October 2001, Both 'Take A Deep Breath' and 'Love Machine' are now available as re-released CD's. Refer to your normal CD supplier for availability.

An extra special thanks goes to Brighton Rock website editor Paul Morosin for assisting with the physical interview and providing the audio transcripts to GLORY-DAZE. Thanks Paul.. Pop on over to to catch up on all the latest goss..

Related Articles:
Brighton Rock - 1988 Take A Deep Breath
Brighton Rock - 1991 Love Machine
Brighton Rock - 2001 Interview with Gerry McGhee

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#1 | reyno-roxx on July 01 2008 08:46:57
These guys were great. Spent three days with 'em in Canada just after 'Take A Deep Breath' was released for a 'Kerrang!' feature and then hung out with em again when they came over to play in the UK a month or so later. Fantastic live act.
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