The Prefects Robert Lloyd Talks To Jean Encoule.
Over the course of the last 40 years, Birmingham has produced relatively few rock n roll groups that actually mattered. Both The Prefects & The Nightingales were glaring exceptions to this rule - & Robert Lloyd sang for both of them.
Mr Lloyd recently agreed, most graciously, to cyber chat to Jean Encoule about The Prefects, the Ramones, Punk Rock, Brum, Palmolive, Frank Skinner, Duran Duran - &, eventually The Nightingales.
This is what he had to say:
trakMARX - What was Cannock like to grow up in?
Rob “Cannock was fine as a kid. The chase, plenty of parkland, etc - but as a teenager, at least at the time, there was very little to entertain the mind - a move was definitely required.”
trakMARX - Who were your idols prior to Punk?
Rob “Idols is a bit strong. My first love was football - and my first football hero was Bestie. I was also a big Cassius Clay fan. Musically, I always liked all sorts of stuff - from “Little Red Rooster” to “Mouldy Old Dough” - Brahms' Hungarian dances - whatever. My favourite as a nipper was Lulu; dead sexy.
The first group I was a real fan of was T-Rex; bought all their records the day they came out and they were the first group I went to see 'in concert'. One thing led to another - and in the years leading up to punk - I was into the Velvets, the Stooges, MC5, Krautrock, Beefheart - all the stuff that everybody says.
trakMARX - What was yr personal Punk Rock epiphany?
Rob “Er, let's say the Ramones first album - but especially first UK date at the Roundhouse in July, 1976. Like a lot of others, I guess - Punk, when it arrived, felt just like the thing I'd been waiting for.
trakMARX - Tell us about yr time as a roadie for the Ramones.
Rob “This was a falsehood put out by Alan Apperley in The Prefects' CD sleevenotes - albeit accidental. The truth is - myself and two mates hitched to London to see the Ramones when they first came over. They had two gigs - the first one as support to the Flamin' Groovies - and the second a headliner at Dingwalls. It was our intention to see the first date on the Sunday night then hitch home for school and work on the Monday. However, bored by the Groovies - we went to the bar and found the Ramones were in there. Their Manager - a legendary figure to me as he'd managed the Stooges and was connected to a lot of the Elektra artists (Nico and the Doors) - was a bloke called Danny Fields - and he came over and spoke to us, introduced us to the group, etc. They could not get their hat on that not only had some people come to see them specifically but had hitchhiked to do so. We were invited to stay at their hotel, hang out with 'em while they were over here, including posh meal with record company bods, etc, and to be at the next night's show. Suffice to say, we delayed going home by a day or two. I could go on - as this was a top time and there are many anecdotes, and what have you, but...
trakMARX - What anecdotes do you have from yr experiences on the Anarchy Tour?
Rob “Loads, I suppose. Being attacked in Cleethorpes. Johnny Thunders approving my proposed name for my soon come band - The Gestapo. Pies and pints with Cook and Jones at the Electric Circus. Blah blah blah.”
trakMARX - You were once offered a vacant drum stool by a young Ian Curtis. Any regrets?
Rob “Not about that, no.”
trakMARX - You hooked up with the Apperley Brothers to from The Prefects in Feb '77. How did that come about?
Rob “I was trying to form, or pretending to be in, a group with Joe Crow and PJ Royster - the, never to be, Gestapo. At some stage PJ saw an ad in the Birmingham Evening Mail for a singer and bassist to form punk group with existing guitarist and drummer - this seemed more instantaneous than where we were at - so we answered the ad. I met the advertisers, who were the brothers Apperley, at a Patti Smith gig in the autumn of '76, we got on enough to give it a go.
trakMARX - Another of B'ham's famous sons (ahem) - Frank Skinner allegedly showed great interest in getting in on the act but was ignored due to his wankerish tendencies. Was he as bad a Punk as he is a television presenter?
Rob “Never met the fella. He was one of the other potential singers the Apperleys met. I think Alan even wrote a song or two with him. Dunno if he was so into punk - Alan reckons he wanted to form a band "like the kursaal flyers". He does mention the Appo Bros in his autobiography apparently - and I have seen, in print and on telly, him claim to have been in a punk band called The Prefects but, as far as I am aware, he never sang with Paul and a bass player - and certainly it was not called the prefects - as that name came from PJ.”
trakMARX - What are yr memories of the White Riot Tour?
Rob “Fun. Fancying Palmolive. Annoying the Clash. Jamming with the Slits and Subway Sect. The Clash meeting and being photographed shaking hands with the Mayor of Chelmsford. Ted, our then bass player, getting his head smashed open by one of the Clash crew when they playfully attacked him in a hotel in Dunstable.”
trakMARX - The Prefects were B'ham's only 'real' Punk Rock group. Why do you think the nation's second city failed to ignite in the way London or Manchester (or even Coventry, for that matter) did?
Rob “Haven't got a clue.”
trakMARX - What was Barberellas like as an 'experience' in 1977?
Rob “It was a splendid mix of being great and shit. It was certainly the place to go to see groups, steal or blag drinks, find places to sleep, etc.
trakMARX - Groups like The Suburban Studs simply cut their hair & speeded up their tempos - isn't it ironic that they got their shit records out on time whilst we had to wait until 2004 for “Amateur Wankers”?
Rob “For better or worse I decided that The Prefects would not release records, not that anyone ever made us an offer, really. Even “Wankers” would never have happened were it not for the persistence and enthusiasm of Dan Selzer at Acute Records. The Studs, or indeed any supposed punk group, would have had no real difficulty getting stuff released because at the time every little label - and there were plenty - wanted a punk group and, I guess, most would have sold enough copies to recoup the costs of the relatively cheap recordings.”
trakMARX - B'ham has a long standing tradition of not liking music that isn't traditional - the UBMafia, Rich Bitch, etc - do you think this factor was responsible for The Prefects getting glasses thrown at them in pubs?
Rob “Er, dunno. The first glasses that were thrown, at our first public gig, were actually by some of the UBs. We did a song called “Birmingham Is A Shithole” - they took offence - but when they came up to threaten us afterwards and discovered that we were not ‘London wankers’ and were from Brum they apologised, bought us a pint and stuff. We laughed it off and became mates, of sorts. I still don't like hearing people slag 'em off - they're alright by me.”
trakMARX - Do you remember Nigel Taylor or Nick Bates attending any Prefects shows?
Rob “Yeah. Nigel Taylor was a big fan - and I think his first group, Shock Treatment, probably opened for us a couple of times. Nick Bates yuk - lifetime achievement award, dear God.”
trakMARX - Where you subsequently flattered by their patronage?
Rob “I was quite chuffed when, the by now, John Taylor was plugging the Nightingales around the time that Duran Duran were a new happening chart group; every little helps.”
trakMARX - The Prefects crashed just as the spotlight was beginning to intensify. What caused the wheels to fall off?
Rob “Lack of ambition caused us to let it fall apart when we got a bit bored.”
trakMARX - Tell us about The Prefects reformation in 2001.
Rob “A bit of a long story. I had agreed to do a spot opening for Peter 'The Tank' Byrchmore’s group in Brum - but did not actually have a band - or any real plan of what I was going to do - except that Eamonn Duffy would be playing bass. Then at the wedding of Paul Apperley I met his brother Alan for the first time in years and he asked if i would do something at a '25 years of punk' type do that Wolves Uni were putting together. It was the same week as the proposed Tank gig - and when Alan offered to play guitar I thought; why not? All that was missing for a group was a drummer, which, of course, is what the groom used to be. Paul was roped in and lo - it was The Prefects; never planned and even at the time we were not particularly gonna do a reunion as such but once we went to practice it seemed like a good laugh to give the old gear a blast for a couple of dates.”
trakMARX - The arrival of “Amateur Wankers” in 2004 finally gave punters the chance to own a bit of Prefects (“Going Trough The Motions” 45 on Rough Trade/Vindaloo, notwithstanding). Are you happy with it as a legacy?
Rob “It does exactly what it says on the tin.”
trakMARX - 'Amateur Wankers' is a cracking LP title, by the way. Does it sum up The Prefetcs in retrospect?
Rob “Yeah - I suppose it does.”
trakMARX - You've recently reformed The Nightingales - new 45s, re-issues, etc - how's that been going?
Rob “It has been fun, though various band members keep quitting, which has been a bit of a pain in the arse. I'm happy with the singles - there is a compilation cd of them due in a couple of months - plus we, well, me and some musicians including Alan, will be recording a new album later in the year. We just did our first ever US tour, which was top banana, and the plan is to return afore too long. There are murmurs of a visit to Japan - and there'll be more UK dates at some stage.”
trakMARX - What's next for Robert Lloyd?
Rob “The 'gales plan, as above, plus a possible Ted Chippington 4xCD box set on my big print label.”
trakMARX - What's the best way for readers to keep abreast of future Prefects/Nightingales action?
Rob “To get our sporadic newsletters drop a line to:
This address is also the one to use to get the current catalogue by mail order.”
NIGHTINGALES/PREFECTS CURRENT CATALOGUE:
limited edition 7" singles
“black country” (big print)
“workshy wunderkind” (big print)
“sex & god knows what” (big print)
“devil in the detail” (big print)
all orderable in shops through shellshock distribution - or £3 (inc. p&p) by mail order from big print
limited edition extended play CDs
“grudge match” (big print)
£4 (inc. p&p) mail order only from big print
“the prefects are amateur wankers” (acute) (UK distribution through cargo)
“pissed and potless: the definitive nightingales collection” (cherry red)
“pigs on purpose” (cherry red) - both distributed by pinnacle
All three CD albums available by mail order from big print at £11 (inc. p&p) each.
Jean Encoule tMx 20 06/05