Business News Education & Events

Liverpool Sound City: Sex, drugs and rock n roll

By | Published on Thursday 27 May 2010

One of the more fun sessions at Liverpool Sound City this year actually took place on the first day, and I think I promised you a write up of it about a week ago. Oh well. On Wednesday afternoon, as part of the Create Sound City programme, journalist and Goldblade frontman John Robb took to the stage to interrogate Dodgy drummer and artist manager Mathew Priest about the roll of sex and drugs in the rock n roll lifestyle.

Noting how numerous British music scenes from the sixties onwards had in part been linked to the illegal drug of the moment – whether it be speed, acid, LSD or ecstasy – Robb wondered whether aspiring bands who wanted to become part of whatever scene is in fashion will inevitably have to partake in the drugs associated with it.

Recalling the early days of Dodgy, Priest observed: “Britpop appeared on the back of the ecstasy scene, and of course drugs were around in abundance, and of course bands took part. And that’s fine. But I think young bands who get into drugs do need to think about why they are doing it. Is it because it’s fun, because it’s part of the party lifestyle? Is it to maintain that unique rush you get on stage when you’re off stage? Is it because you think it’s cool, or it will make you a better musician, or turn you into some kind of  creative genius?”

While neither Robb nor Priest were attempting any “just say no” style preaching on the issue, and both conceded dabbling in drugs could make you seem cooler (though getting addicted to them, less so), both seemed keen to stress that the creative power of drugs is often greatly exaggerated. “Yes, some songs, some albums, might have been influenced by drug-induced experiences”, Robb noted. “But they won’t turn you into a genius songwriter”.

Priest agreed. “There is a tendency for people to look at musical geniuses, and at those musical geniuses’ drug addictions, and think the latter led to the former”, he said. “Doing heroin won’t turn you into a Lou Reed. Living a Keith Richards lifestyle won’t make you a brilliant guitarist. These people were talented before the drugs. Musicians who do the drugs to try to become a creative genius won’t achieve much”.

Heroin and cocaine in particular do little for creativity, both men reckoned. “There’s a lot of very bad cocaine records” Robb joked.

“Heroin, I could never understand”, Priest added. “What is ‘heroin cool’ about? But you saw bands doing it, just because they were desperate to be cool. But it’s a dangerous thing, that generally destroys bands rather than making them great”.

But what about the sex? You get as much sex as you want when you’re in a band right? Priest said: “Being in a band, yes there’ll be girls. But that can be exaggerated too, and depends on how you feel about taking advantage of overly-willing fans – we were never that keen on doing that in Dodgy. But, if you’re the sort of person who finds it easy to get laid already, well, once you’re in a successful band, the sky is the limit”.

“I remember we toured with Space”, he recalled. “The guitarist in that band, he was one of those guys. I remember we came off stage and there he was, in our dressing room, getting a blow job off a girl who was wearing a Dodgy t-shirt! He was getting our blow job! But yeah, he was one of those kind of guys, and while his band were in the spotlight, he had a very happy time!”