The Primevals secret is out

GLASGOW group The Primevals have always been one of Scotland's best kept secrets.

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n John Honeyman, Tom Rafferty, Mickey Rooney, Paul Bridges and Martyn Rodger have talked about writing book  Picture: Mark Mainz
n John Honeyman, Tom Rafferty, Mickey Rooney, Paul Bridges and Martyn Rodger have talked about writing book Picture: Mark Mainz

But the band has gained some extra va va voom recently – thanks to a dedicated fan base in France.

The five-piece has been on the go since the 1980s, releasing several records of raw rock 'n' roll, including this year's excellent Heavy War.

That led to their latest French connection, with a run of shows taking place in October.

"We were quite surprised at all the people out there who still like the band and are big fans," says Michael Rooney, the band's singer and guitarist.

"We get looked after there and it's good fun. I think they just get us.

"It's not people there in their thousands, but people just like our stuff.

"We're from a period of time that has an authenticity about our sound."

Despite earning critical praise around Scotland and touring with acts such as the Cramps, the band never quite hit the heights of fame after forming in 1983.

Michael reckons that's because the group were never easy to fit into any sort of scene, and always stood out on their own.

"We were pretty much a rock 'n' roll group with some elements of garage and funk, and at the time it was all about Goth music and indie here," recalls Michael.

"So we struggled really, but I'm not complaining.

"There were some bits [in their career] that we could have done better with, but we wanted to stay with what we felt comfortable with, and that was the music that inspired us, whether it was jazz or Isaac Hayes or whatever.

"It wasn't what was around at the time, as we weren't particularly moved by that so much."

After years of inactivity, and then only occasional shows, the past several years have seen a flurry of goings-on with the band.

Heavy War is their third record in five years, and they will be playing songs from it, as well as several old favourites, at Stereo this Friday for a festive gig.

Michael's glad to be heading back to Glasgow for the first time in 12 months.

"It will be the first gig we'll have done in Glasgow for the past year or so, so we are hoping it will be a good night," he explains.

"It should be fine, there are some good bands in with us, it's a place we haven't played for a while and it's a chance for us to play some new tunes and some old stuff.

"We don't hold back, so we are hoping for a pretty full-on show and performance."

The band themselves also recently reshuffled their personnel, with former guitarist Tom Rafferty climbing on board again, along with new addition Martyn Rodger.

"They join the long-standing core of Michael, bassist John Honeyman and drummer Paul Bridges.

"Tom's a pal, and we needed to change the band a bit to tour more," explains Michael.

"So we asked Tom to do that and it went down pretty well. We then thought it made sense to get the new band working.

"I think the new one is more of a cohesive album than the last one [2010's Disinhibator].

Once the New Year is under way, the band aren't content to put their feet up.

They are working on a song for a tribute CD to Jeffrey Lee Pierce, the singer with Californian punk band the Gun Club.

Pierce passed away in 1996, but the past few years have seen unfinished songs he was working on completed by other acts.

The third and final CD in the series is set for release next year, and The Primevals have been asked to contribute a track.

"The previous two featured songs he had but didn't record, and people like Nick Cave and Debbie Harry have been on it," explains Michael.

"We are doing a track for that in January.

"We're just looking at other options for adventures, really, and to see if anything interesting comes our way."

They've even discussed the possibility of a book at some point, too.

"One thing we've actually talked about, in a jovial way, was writing a book about some of the things that have happened to us," says Michael.

"It's been quite strange and bizarre, as well as how we've focused on certain things and missed opportunities.

"We don't really sit comfortably in any genre, as although there's rock 'n' roll and garage, there was stuff that came out on the Pyschobilly label, we've ended up in Classic Rock magazine, things like that.

"We've laughed at the absurdities that relate to that, and also some of the gigs that have been a bit mad.

"There's a lot of ridiculousness in this group – but that's one thing that keeps us sane."

l The Primevals, Stereo, £6, Friday, 8pm

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