An Interview with John “Eddie’ Edwards of The Vibrators

All images courtesy of Glass Onyon PR

Image credit: Ian Brown/All images courtesy of Glass Onyon PR

When the Punk explosion happened in the late 70s, a million bands came out of the woodwork. Only some of those bands created a legitimate impact on the scene. Out of those bands, only some created genre-defining albums that helped set the pace for the era.

Unfortunately, many of those that created such an impression didn’t have much staying-power, a product of the times and scene. You would be hard-pressed to find a band from that scene that, on top of having the qualities previously mentioned, continued to produce album after album of top-notch Punk. Can you think of a band that fits the bill? How about consummate First-Wave Punk legends, The Vibrators?

One of the men behind it all for The Vibrators is their drummer since day one to present, John “Eddie” Edwards. It was a privilege to virtually converse with a Punk legend such as Eddie. Below we discuss the most recent studio album, Mars Casino, the exciting boxset of Vibrators demos, and what the Punk scene was like in the late 70s.

Joe:
What have you been up to the past few years considering the current state of the world? Any new music or projects coming out that we should know about?

Eddie:
The Vibrators have a final album called Fall into the Sky coming out early next year on Cleopatra Records. We recorded it during the lockdown period with me, Knox [Ian Carnochan], Pete [Honkamaki], and Nigel Bennett. I have been playing in the town where I live, with some friends, in a couple of local groups. Doing some raucous RnR with EEEM and some Jazz/Blues with a fine lady singer called Vic and The Vapo Rubs. Good fun they are too. We have the last Vibrators gig next weekend in London with the original Vibrators lineup. So, all of that has been keeping me busy.

Joe:
Here at VWMusic, we have been enjoying listening to the boxset with all those early years’ demos. I feel like many of these demo versions are breathing a different life into the songs. What went into the decision to release these demos now and as a CDboxset? What do you feel the value is in listening to a demo version of a song?

Eddie:
The demos have been out before in the UK, but Cleopatra has recently released them in the USA for the first time. They are the raw first impression of the songs. They were mainly recorded live in the studio. With demos, you can find which songs are best and what can be done to improve them. Most records are done with computers now in days. These demos are an example of a live Rock ’N’ Roll band playing together for the first time in a studio. You can feel the energy and excitement of youth, and a new beginning.

Joe:
In 2020, you and The Vibrators released Mars Casino. It is an exciting project as it got the original lineup back together. What was the impetus for revitalizing that lineup? The album is dynamite, although I will say it wasn’t what I was expecting. What approach did you take to writing and recording? Were you looking to subvert expectations or simply just get out what flowed naturally? Do you think that lineup will record again in the future?

Eddie:
It was suggested by Chris Spedding’s record company following the release of some early 1977 radio sessions we did with him. He rang to ask if we would do an album now. We did a few songs to demo for them, but they changed their minds. So, we finished the album anyways and got Chris to put the finishing touches on it. Chris also helped with finding Cleopatra to release it. We went through the songs, picked the best, and recorded them. We recorded at Pat Collier’s studio whenever it was empty. It was done for fun. We are all very old friends, so it just comes naturally. I don’t think we will do another, but we didn’t think we would all get back together in the first place. At the moment, there are no plans afoot.

All images courtesy of Glass Onyon PR

Joe:
Let’s talk about the drums for a second. One of the most unique things about the drums is that it has so many moving parts. Many drummers have their own unique setup. Do you have your own standard setup? Or is it different depending on who you are playing with or if you are in the studio or touring? How has it changed over the years?

Eddie:
I have four different kits which I use. Bigger kits for bigger gigs and others for the studio. The kit I used in the recording for the last album is an Eddie Ryan custom kit. I also use an old 1950’s Ajax Edgware kit for smaller gigs and jazzy stuff. I grew up in Edgware so had to buy the Eddie Ryan kit when it was being sold. Just one top tom, usually one floor tom, and Zildjian cymbals. I try to keep it simple and don’t like to swap with other musicians. It really is very similar to how I started. I just use a flatter setting now, for the top tom. That way I can hit down on it more but that’s about it. I can usually sit and play most kits from other drummers with a similar setup. I can’t be dealing with lugging lots of drums around. Four is more than enough for me.

Joe:
What was it like coming up in the rich original era of punk? What do you remember most about it?

Eddie:
It was a fairly crazy and intense period. But it was full of friendly rivalries with other groups, and just lots and lots of gigs. Lots of recording and rehearsing. I also had a lot of practicing to do back then as I only got my first kit the day before our first gig. I had a lot of catching up to do. It was all about energy and adrenaline for me. The main thing was the gigs were packed and just full of energy, and excitement. Great fun and still is. On top of that, I get to make a living doing it.

Joe:
The Vibrators first album, Pure Mania, is widely regarded as one of the best Punk albums if not Rock albums of all time. What do you think it is about that album that has given it the reverence it has been bestowed?

Eddie:
Thanks for that. I guess it was the rawness and excitement that went into the grooves. We tried to make it as live as possible, and get that old feeling. That feeling that those early Rock ’N’ Roll records had. Maybe we succeeded. Still, I think V2 was an improvement in many ways. We still try and get that vibe in our records today.

All images courtesy of Glass Onyon PR

Joe:
You have had a long and fruitful career in music. That’s easier said than done. What does it take to sustain a career in the music industry?

Eddie:
Just getting up and doing it every day. Not moaning about the hard bits like the long drives and dodgy hotels. Just feel privileged to go on stage every night, and make good honest records. Albums that you, yourself would rush out and buy. Also, you need those fans that turn up to every gig and sustain you. Without all the fans coming, there is nothing. So, thanks to all of the fans.

Joe:
You are the only original member of The Vibrators to consistently continue to record, and tour with the band over all this time. So, when it’s all said and done, what would you like the legacy of the band to be? What does the band mean to you?

Eddie:
Just that we gave our best and were a great, honest Rock ’N’ Roll band. That we gave it all to the music. The fact that the interest is still there for us forty-six years in proves we did something correctly. For me, it’s been fun, and it let me see the world. I got to play in thirty-eight countries and had a great night in every one of them. I’m proud that we stuck to our principles and made the music that we wanted. Took the blows and we still kept going. The legacy is in all the albums we made, and hopefully, they will be played in fifty years when I am gone. It was bloody good fun! Thanks to all the fans again, you made us.

All images courtesy of Glass Onyon PR

Interested in learning more about the work of The Vibrators? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Records, Roots & Ramblings, by Joe O’Brien, here: https://vwmusicrocks.com/records-roots-ramblings-archives/

About Post Author

Joe O'Brien

Joe has always been a huge music fan. Growing up on Long Island, NY, USA, Joe did chores and dumpster dove for bottles with his best friend Andrew to trade bottles for money to buy vinyl. Joe is a Registered Nurse in the ER by day, and a life-long music lover by night. Having been an avid consumer of all things music since he was a child, Joe’s diverse collection of over 3,000 vinyl albums, plus several hundred tapes and CDs, tells the story of a man who simply loves music. Joe’s goal is to write about what he is most passionate about and share new and exciting music. Joe lives on Long Island, NY with his beloved dog Scarlett.
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