Wingmen’s instigator and driving force, drummer Marty Love, checked in with Punktuation! before their second full show to discuss the success of his inspired collaboration with fellow musicians, their debut album and tour.. plus future plans.
Wingmen, the new band formed in pandemic lockdown isolation by Baz Warne (The Stranglers), Paul Gray (The Damned), Leigh Heggarty (Ruts DC), Marty Love (Johnny Moped) and now joined live by Rob Coombes from Supergrass on keyboards, have finally taken flight and are currently roaring across the country in support of their critically acclaimed debut album. The band have been going down a storm and have been thrilling audiences with a set that consists of the new album, some choice cover versions and one or two deep cuts from their respective bands.
Q: The Wingmen project is incredibly positive to come out of a dark time – it must have been a lifeline for you all, stuck at home during the lockdown, the excitement of seeing what each band member came up with next.
A: It was exciting, even though, as you know, we weren’t in the room together! It was the excitement of looking at your emails in the morning to see what had been pinged across, then who was going to work on it first, because it wasn’t like from Leigh; ‘Here you go, Baz, you work on it’, or ‘here you go Paul, you work on it’ – everyone got it, and everyone put their ideas down. I was left until last to be able to put my bits together (the drums were recorded after the other parts), but it was still great to hear what the boys were coming up with, and I was sending my songs out to them, and they were coming back with great stuff. It was like Christmas Day every morning – you’d unwrap it, and you’d never know what would be inside – it was great, really good fun!
Q: What did you learn from this new way of working?
A: Well, firstly that I can actually do it because it is back-to-front, as we know! It was hard because normally the energy comes from the drummer, where things are going to move and drop, and the dynamics.. but Baz particularly was very good at putting some drum tracks down with ideas, just feelings, and a lot of the time they were exactly how I was working them out in my head.
Q: He must’ve been psychic!
A: Yeah, it was a little bit like that! When I was putting the drum tracks down in Panther Studios, Leigh came along as moral support – Dick Crippen (Richard Coppen, the album producer) is a fantastic person to bounce ideas off, he’s brilliant, but it was nice to have a member of the band there to go ‘Well let’s try this, what about that?’ and I’d say ‘How about this pattern, what do you think Leigh?’ ‘Yeah, try that pattern’. Other drummers have put their parts down later in the past – Dave Grohl did it on the Killing Joke album (recorded in 2003).
Q: The unique way you created this album also allowed band members to be multi-instrumentalists – do you feel this gave you greater creative input and freedom?
A: The main thing that gave everyone in this band freedom is that there’s a formula when they write songs in their parent bands. There’s no formula here – it was left wide open. There are influences because of the people they are, not from the bands they’re in; it’s just who they are. There was a lot of freedom for them – Paul’s been in The Damned for 20-odd years, Baz has been with The Stranglers for 20-odd years, so there’s going to be a bit there. I think the freedom came from it being a clean sheet for everybody; no one was pigeonholed in what they had to do. The beautiful part for me was with Baz’s singing – he’s got an accent, and he used it – for example, in ‘Oh! What A Carry On‘ (puts on a Sunderland accent) “Down the boozer, smokin’ fags”, he could never do it like that in The Stranglers! It was lovely that those personalities in both vocals and playing instruments were allowed to come out – this is OUR band!
Q: Recording the drums at the end of the process is unconventional, yet it has worked incredibly well – is this the way to do it in the future?
A: We chatted about this; if we ever do another album or even tinker around with songs, I can’t see the point in changing it because – firstly, we’d probably never get the time to all be in the studio together to rehearse and thrash things out – be nice if we could! – but I think we’ll have to do it the same way, and I’ve got no problem with that because it’s worked.
Q: Musically, the tracks on the album showcase a broad range – the sound isn’t traditionally ‘punk’ although the lyrics are – was this intentional?
A: No, not intentional at all! This ‘punk’ thing is quite strange for me – The Stranglers were never a punk band, they just happened to come out at that time, but they were formed in 1974. The lyrics aren’t even punk; it’s just that Paul’s got his views on how the world should be, and he’s going to tell it – he’s done that with ‘I Would If I could‘ and ‘Oh! What A Carry On‘ and he will always do that. He did it on The Sensible Gray Cells album with ‘What’s The Point Of Andrew?‘. He’s got a voice, and he’s going to make sure it’s heard – this is his vehicle, which is what punk was back in the day. We get put down as a ‘punk super-group’ – we’re not a punk super-group; we’re just blokes playing in a band together! We happen to be in other bands, that’s all.
Q: The reaction to the album has been 100% positive – are you surprised by how well it’s been received?
A: Yeah! (laughing) Very, very surprised. You always expect with this type of band to get a bit of a backlash – this sort of thing has been done in the past, and some have worked, some haven’t. I’m always waiting.. but another review comes thorough, and it’s ‘Oh! They like it as well!’ We feel very lucky AND thankful that people get it; it’s really lovely.
Q: What are the future plans for Wingmen? I know you’re all busy with your other bands, but is this something you’d like to pick up again?
A: Yes, we would, and I think this tour will determine if it’s a success. There are songs left over that we’ve all thrown in that we didn’t have time to work on anymore. ‘Oh! What A Carry On’ was the last one we worked on – Paul sent it in, and it’s the only one where the drums were laid down first. I think we will do it again – I hope we’ll do it again!
Q: How did you decide on the songs you’re playing as cover versions on this tour?
A: A few were banged about, thought about, and dropped! I came up with the idea of ‘Long Black Veil’ because I thought it would be nice to do a Stranglers song, so I went to the first album that Baz played on, and he wrote that track. Sonically it fits us completely. The Eddie & the Hotrods one.. it was like, ‘should we? You know what, I think we should!’ The T.Rex one Baz came up with was his shout. The Bowie one – it’s obvious where that came from! (Marty is a massive Bowie fan) The main thing that influenced me to suggest that to the chaps was Leigh’s brilliant slide-playing on the album, which is astonishing. It was the style of that song; the guitar riff suited the slide guitar that Leigh brilliantly came up with on our album, so sound-wise, that fitted.
The Stooges one, we all said we would like to do something that is a little bit ‘give the punters what they want’ – they want to call us a punk band, well here you go, we can still do that! There were others, which we won’t mention, in case we do them next time! There were about 12 songs thrown in there, and we decided these were the best of the bunch. They’ve moved around in the set as we rehearsed – even though we had the idea to do the set in the album order, which we have, it was a matter of where those other songs fitted in. I hope we picked the right ones anyway!
Q: It sounds like everyone loved what you did at the first show!
A: It’s a shame for the people coming today to the second show, the cat’s out of the bag, and it’s not a surprise, but in the modern day, you can’t do anything about it, that’s the way it is.
Thank you so much, Marty! A: You’re more than welcome!
While the tour still has a few dates to go, those unable to make any of the dates will be able to sign up to watch a live stream of Wingmen’s performance in Brighton at the Concorde 2 this coming Sunday, January 29th, for a minimum donation of £10 – the streaming link is HERE. The link will be sent to ticket holders about 30-60 minutes before the gig starts. Once it’s started people will still be able to buy tickets until 1st March.
Remaining tour dates:
26th January – O2 Academy 2, Liverpool
28th January – O2 Institute 3, Birmingham
29th January – Concorde 2, Brighton
The album ‘Wingmen’ is out now via Cadiz Music – buy it HERE
Main Photo Credit: DUDS
- Starting Blocks
- The Last Cigarette
- Louie Smokes The Bible
- I Would If I Could
- Down In The Hole
- Mary Go Round
- Oh! What A Carry On
- Backstage At The Opera
- It’s Raining All Over England
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‘Usually found jumping around down the front at gigs, I also relish taking photos and videos, singing, speaking with fellow music fans, and asking musicians the questions nobody else does Writing about my favourite bands and connecting with people who love music too keeps me more-or-less sane I’ve worked for over 25 years at a video production company, mainly filming live music events, therefore I have an additional backstage perspective!’