Martin Atkins was the proverbial okey cokey drummer for PiL; he was in out in out shake it all about and was sacked on a almost weekly basis by Keith, then reinstated before being sacked again. While all this was going on, we were busy playing and recording for Brian Brain. I had been touring with Cowboys International while Martin was on the first PiL USA tour. The CI lineup was led by singer songwriter Ken Lockie and included Stevie Shears (ex Ultravox) on guitar, Paul Simon on drums and a prick on keyboards who I can’t remember but was a right little cunt. I’ll save that sad little story for another day but suffice to say, after the tour we weren’t gonna be playing together again and the band duly split there and then, never to play live again. Ken I was to meet later in a rather surprising way.
So concentrating on the Brian Brain shenanigans was the only gig in town and we managed to play many a gig causing much hilarity on the way. We had a couple of jaunts to Holland and eventually, 4 visits to the states as well as numerous shitty gigs up and down the UK. By May 1982, the 4th US tour was over and we had recorded Funky Zoo, which was arguably just nudging above mediocre which for us was good! In June that year, Argentina had given up fighting for the Falkland Islands and personally I was glad of that. (While we were in the states a couple of drunken knife wielding locals made us stay In a bar with them while they shouted insults about the Queen at us. One of them wanted me to cut my own wrist with his knife… A bit extreme but hey ho, I lived to tell the tale) Anyways, we had heard that Secret Records had signed a publishing and distribution deal with Virgin which should have been good news, but like a lot of promises it came to nothing as nobody really wanted to touch us with a barge pole. I was well and truly down in the dumps and seriously thinking of chucking it all in.
Martin stayed in the states and had hooked up with Johnny Lydon again, I think he only got sacked 4 times that month but in August, totally out of the blue, Martin called me and asked if I’d be interested in joining PiL for some US dates. I was so pissed off at this point, I said I’d think about it, Keith Levene was well miffed that I didn’t throw myself at his knees in gratitude but I honestly thought that PiL were shit.
24 hours later, I agreed to fly out and join the band in New York so I went out and bought all the PiL albums to learn the songs. I started playing bass in 1972, and for my sins, my formative playing years were against a backdrop firmly rooted in prog rock, Chris Squire was my hero so my aspirations for playing bass technically went far beyond what Wobble had played on the PiL albums. I think I learnt the PiL back catalogue in an afternoon, and that included lunch, and I was a bit wary about playing what I thought was bollox on a live stage. I really wasn’t looking forward to it at all.
But Martin was my mate, I knew his drumming would be good and that together we could polish the turd and make it sound ok. Anyway, the whole live thing was all about Johnny Rotten, that who people were turning out to see, Anyone that missed the Pistols furore was coming to see what all the fuss was about. Everything else was secondary.
It took some time to sort out a visa and a plane ticket for me, more time spent sitting at the American embassy with my finger up my arse, but, eventually it was sorted and off I went. With all the self nagging doubts and dislike of the music, I probably wasn’t in the best frame of mind from the start…. When I got to the other side, things took a strange turn from the off..