The Dustaphonics

For the official web presence of The Dustaphonics, please look here or here

To buy the very excellent album "Big Smoke London Town" go to iTunes, eMusic, Amazon, or preferably an actual record shop.

For the unofficial viewpoint of the bass player (late 2012 to mid 2014), and occasional rhythm guitarist (late 2014 onwards), read on...

Scroll down for the in-depth review of my time thunking the bass, but first here are some snaps from some of the memorable gigs at which I've hopped up to twang 6 strings with The Dustaphonics...

Supporting Barrence Whitfield at The Jazz Cafe Nov 2014

With Ma Polaine's Great Decline and Oh Gun Quit at the Jazz Cafe Jan 2015

Supporting The Urban Voodoo Machine at Brooklyn Bowl at the O2, May 2015

Supporting The Sonics(!!!) at The Forum, Kentish Town, July 2015

This was particularly exciting for me, for a number of reasons: 1) I first heard The Sonics when I was 14, and they have probably done more to shape/warp my musical tastes than any other band, 2) The last time I was due to play the Forum (with The Napiers, supporting Dick Dale in '95), technical issues meant we couldn't play, which was massively frustrating, and 3) Sonics' saxman Rob Lind gave The Dustaphonics massive thanks during their set, describing us as "world class" and "a great rock and roll band".

Supporting Martha Reeves & The Vandellas (who were fab, lovely and totally ace) at the Brooklyn Bowl, Sept 2015

Adventures on bass with The Dustaphonics Sept 2012-Jun 2014...(and a bit beyond...)

So, my first introduction to The Dustaphonics was when I bought the astoundingly good Party Girl album and Burlesque Queen single in late 2011.


Bless my soul, I thought, what a top band, gotta be worth catching live. Fast forward to July 2012, and I spot that they're going to be supporting Wanda Jackson at the excellent Islington Assembly Hall. A quick e-mail to old pal Bruce confirms that a) it'll be him bashing the skins that night and b) yes, I can have his guest list spot.

So I pitch up at the venue and am quite figuratively blown away - they are one of the best live acts I've seen in years. Damn, I think, I would LOVE to play in a band like this...

Yvan, Bruce, Kay, Michael

After the gig I sidle up to Yvan, who I haven't seen since ye olde days of the Frat Shack, when we often shared a stage (me as a Diabolik, him as a Sidekick) and say that if he ever fancies adding a 2nd guitar to the line up, I'd be delighted to step up to the plate. He says he's quite happy with just one guitar in the band, which I have to agree with - 2 guitars would be unnecessary in this particular band.

About 6 weeks later I get a call from Yvan:

Y: Can you play bass?
D: Yeah, I started off as a bassplayer
Y: Would you like to play bass for The Dustaphonics?
D: YES! I'd love to. What gigs have you got booked?
Y: A couple of trips to France, a one off gig in Norway...oh, and an Italian tour in 2 weeks time.
D: Yikes.

At this point, it might be worth pointing out that The Dustaphonics are run unlike any other band I have ever known. The sole constant member is Yvan, and everyone else is rotatable and replaceable. In theory, it shouldn't work - normally you need to build up a "rapport" between musicians (did I really just say "rapport"?), but in this band it seems to work. When I took over from Michael on bass, the band consisted of Yvan of course on guitar, Kay on vocals, Eric or Bruce on drums and me. Two months later, Kay was replaced by Hayley. When I can't do gigs, either French Marcus, English Marcus or Domenico play bass. It shouldn't work, but it does. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself, back to Italy...

A mere fortnight after this most wonderful phone call, we're on the plane from Gatwick for a 5 date tour of Italy, taking in  Zero Branco, Vicenza, Brescia, Perugia and Milan. On our travels we encounter many old pals from Diaboliks and Napiers Italian tours of the late 90s (The Fog Surfers, Gianni Fuso) and play 5 cracking gigs...

Accommodation was not to be sniffed at, as we either stayed in nice hotels, guest houses and most spectacularly this Umbrian villa. Nice.

We fly back to London on the Monday, and 3 days later we're off to France, this time by van, for gigs in Nantes, Bordeaux (with the mighty Gallon Drunk - a band I'd wanted to play with for over 20 years...) and Angouleme.

Eric & me backstage in Bordeaux

A week later and it's my first UK gig with The Dustaphonics, at the Hootananny in Brixton. For one of the numbers, 2 of Kay's dancer mates hop up on stage and shake their thangs...

...and then a week after that we're back to France for a one off gig with soul sensations Hawa and Gizelle Smith in Limoges. Turns out Gizelle's drummer in Mark Claydon, who used to play in the Gene Drayton Unit with my old pals Clive Pearman and Mark Norton. Small world.

The next gig in mid-November was at a scooter rally in Mablethorpe. The support band (The Detail) bashed out a fine set of ska-tinged tunes, which the massive crowd went crazy for. The punters were not quite so enthusiastic about our set, but they were appreciative enough, and let's face it - yer average scooter fan knows what they like, and likes what they know...

6 days later we were off to Norway, to play at the excellent Mojo Workout club at The Garage in Bergen. This is a truly great club run by 2 top fellas (Shorty and Benny), and with a great crowd of enthusiastic punters. A top night was had by all, although with hindsight my decision to stay up all night rather than grab a bit of shuteye before the 7am flight home seems a tad foolish.

Yvan, Bruce, Kay artfully snapped Warholing me with her tambourine
 (which is nowhere near as unpleasant as it sounds)

By the time of the next gig, which was a few days before Christmas at the Dirty Water Vicars tribute gig, Hayley had taken over on vocals...

...and although we only played a short 4 song set, what a top set it was.

2013 started in fine form, with the band (without me and with Marcus on bass) playing what by all accounts was a marvellous gig with San Severino in Lille

In February we were back at the Dirty Water Club (albeit in its new home at The Shacklewell Arms in Dalston) alongside The London Dirthole Company and the Masonics, both of whom were excellent.

Dirty Water Club - February:  Masonics + London Dirthole Company + DUSTAPHONICS

and then 6 weeks later we were back at the same venue, but this time supporting the mighty Kid Congo Powers. Kid has been a Cramp, a Gun Clubber and a Bad Seed, 3 of my favourite bands, and he still makes cracking music with his Pink Monkey Birds

That was a busy week, because 5 days later we were supporting James Hunter at the Islington Assembly Hall, the venue where I'd first encountered The Dustaphonics and unwittingly sown the seeds for the fab adventures I've had across the last 9 months or so.

Three weeks later, we were back in the van for a 3 day tour of France, starting off at "exclusive" Parisian night spot Le Baron. (For exclusive read "pricey drinks, scuzzy furnishings, rich Parisian "beautiful people" with, err, slightly loose morals.)
The highlight of this show was when 60s ye-ye star Jacqeline Taieb joined us for a rendition of her excellent hit "Sept Heures Du Matin"

At about quatres heures du matin, we loaded up the van and headed up to Saint Quentin (the Northern French town as opposed to the Californian prison) and got there in time for brekkie and a much needed kip. That night we were playing in the Cavern-style basement of Le Mephisto pub.

The crowd were wild, and seemed to be having a great time (especially the creepy old codger who kept filming Hayley's arse)

Next morning we hopped back in the van and drove the sept heures or so to Parthenay, where we were playing at the very excellent Diff'art venue

The staff here were excellent - the on stage sound was probably the best I've ever heard, the backstage fridge was full of beer, the dinner we were served was top quality and the punters were enthusiastic. Especially the creepy bloke who wanted a lock of Hayley's hair.

Here's a very nicely filmed version of Rockin Boogaloo from this gig

A week later I was away in Cornwall so Domenico stood in on bass for a gig in Shoreditch.

Then at the beginning of May we headed into Soup Studios in Cable St to record the next album. Soup is a cracking studio, combing the very best of analogue and digital (record onto 2" tape, mix on computer). Simon and Giles did a great job recording our sound and we got something like 16 songs down in a couple of days, all of which we're really pleased with.
Hayley, Yvan, Me, Eric and Bruce recording backing vocals

That weekend we were playing the Bedroom Bar in Shoreditch. It's been a loooooooong time since I've been out in Shoreditch on a Saturday night, something like 15 or 20 years. Back then, you were very, very unlikely to see a grown man wandering the streets in a onesie. This time, I saw at least 2 of them. Good look...

Anyway, it was a cracking gig, with a very enthusiastic crowd. For the encore, Yvan threw us a curveball by launching into Louie Louie, which although I've known and loved the song for donkey's years, we had never played. Still, it ain't exactly rocket science, and it turned into a truly fantastic moment when Hayley dragged a fella up form the crowd to sing on it. The (unknown) bloke did a sterling job, even segueing into Wild Thing halfway through. Afterwards, most people we spoke to assumed it had all been planned, which it hadn't. Sometimes these things just come together.

3 days later, we were back at The Bedroom Bar, this time upstairs at the swanky new Nola bar. The event was a party for Dan Aykroyd, who was in town flogging his fancy vodka. We'd been told he would probably turn up at some point, and may well want to sing a couple of songs, but we wouldn't know for definite until he got there. The evening's entertainment kicked off with the very, very excellent Boom La Tete dishing up some jaw droppingly good gypsy jazz. Playing bass for BLT that night was Jean, who we had last encountered in Limoges last October when he was playing bass for Gizelle Smith. Small world.
Following 4 or 5 numbers from Boom La Tete, all 5 Dustaphonics (Eric & Bruce alternating on drums and maracas) plus the insanely talented Jessica Lauren on piano ran through 4 or 5 laid back versions of Dustaphonics songs. The Boom La Tete boys then hopped back up and together we starting jamming our way through some blues and r'n'b numbers. 
Then suddenly the main man was there - Dan Aykroyd appeared on stage, yelled "Mojo in E", and off we went playing a 10 minute hi octane version of I've Got My Mojo Workin, with the great man singing and blowing like crazy.

The video footage is murky as hell, but I think it demonstrates we all had our mojos workin' that night...

We followed that with a 10 minute version of Born in Chicago, and then he vanished as quickly as he'd appeared.


And here are a few more snaps from that bizarre and amazing evening...

Would you trust this man?

 Jessica, Yvan, Bruce, Eric, Me, Hayley

Yvan, Me, Hayley

 Jessica, Crispin, Dan Aykroyd, Yvan, Me, Stephane, Bruce

Me, Hayley

21st June is a big, big day in France, as it marks La Fete De La Musique, a countrywide celebration of live music. Every, city, town, village, hamlet and homestead puts on a broad range of free gigs, and this year we were lucky enough to be invited to play Au P'tit Garage in Paris. We pitched up at the venue late afternoon, which is a compact and bijou rock'n'roll bar in the 11eme (described to me as "the Shoreditch of Paris" - not sure if that's a good or bad thing...). The fine folks who run Le P'tit Garage set about constructing a stage half in and half out of the bar, and explained that pretty much every bar, cafe and restaurant along the street would be doing similar. As the evening drew in, the punters started to arrive and thronged the street, which amusingly was not shut off, so every few minutes a car, a scooter, and sometimes even a bus would have to nudge its way through the crowd. By midnight, the street was rammed...

Shortly afterwards, we hit the stage, and other than the two punters who decided to engage in a spot of biffo about 3 songs in (reminded me of being at the Klub Foot circa 1984), were as enthusiastic a crowd as you could ever want (not that you'd guess it from the vinegar-sipper standing at Yvan's elbow...)

Ah, that's more like it...

Chatting to a punter afterwards, he said to me "So, have you only just started playing bass?" Cheeky beggar, I thought - I've been playing it for the best part of 30 years! Turns out, what he meant (or maybe he was just very good at diplomacy) was that he thought I played bass like a guitar, so had I just switched from git to bass? Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrright.

On 20th July, a year and a day after I first saw The band supporting Wanda Jackson, they played Mark Lamarr's Gods' Jukebox stage at the Latitude festival. I say "they", as this was one of the gigs I couldn't make, so English Marcus played bass that night, at what, by all accounts, was a storming set, despite Yvan's strap breaking early in the set, and being scheduled at the same time as Kraftwerk.

Mark Lamarr, Marcus, Hayley

Yvan (post strap break), Hayley (apparently on fire)

Hayley, Mark Lamarr, Yvan, Eric

Interestingly, and frankly quite amazingly, this was the 9th different Dustaphonics line-up to play live across that year and a day:

1) Yvan, Kay, Michael, Bruce
2) Yvan, Kay Michael, Eric
3) Yvan, Kay, Me, Eric
4) Yvan, Kay, Me, Bruce
5) Yvan, Hayley, Me, Eric
6) Yvan, Hayley, Aina, French Marcus, Eric
7) Yvan, Hayley, Me, Eric, Bruce
8) Yvan, Hayley, Dom, Eric
9) Yvan, Hayley, English Marcus, Eric

and that's not counting the extended line ups in Lille in Jan or with Jessica and the Boum La Tete guys at the Dan Aykroyd gig. Blimey.

And of course prior to when this account picks up the story in July 2012, there were all the early line ups featuring alongside Yvan at various points Aina, Kay & Dana on vocals, John Gibbs & Simon Lovelock on bass, Bruce, Johnny Edgirt and Pinball Geoff on drums and Dave Koor and Greg Boraman on Hammond. In fact, it might be easier to list people who haven't played in The Dustaphonics...

5 days after Latitude we played at blinding set at The Camden Blues Kitchen, to a lively and enthusiastic crowd, many of whom were dancing either on tables or up on stage by the end of the set.

It did occur to me that I was wearing one of my old Diaboliks shirts, which I first wore 18 years earlier, and just to prove it, here is a Diaboliks snap from the I Love Johnny Bravo single, with me looking just a tiny bit more youthful...

Following a nice summer off, we were back in action in late September for a cracking gig at the excellent Hare and Hounds in Hayley's hometown of Birmingham. A particular highlight of the evening was when one of the security guards had to tell Hayley's mum off for dancing on her son's shoulders.

Late October saw us playing at the 7th birthday of the Gypsy Hotel, with top German surf combo The Razorblades, and Gypsy Hotel host P-R Angel's Urban Voodoo Machine spinoff trio, featuring my old mate Gav on bass. In 1986 Gav was playing bass for rockabilly combo The Memphis Rockets, who were the headline band at the first ever gig I ever played  (with the Shockwaves). 13 1/2 years later, in December 1999, Gav and I played together for 1 gig only at a PRS Christmas gig.

Keith Wilson (dr), me (git), Gav Smith (bs), Steve Pom (git/vox), Mark Norton (sax)
Chris Gardner (piano  - not pictured)
And then 13 1/2 years after that we found ourselves sharing a stage at the Gypsy Hotel. I look forward to the next time we play together, which at the current rate will be in Spring 2027...

Some snaps from the Gypsy Hotel gig, including an excellent guest harmonica slot from P-R

November was book-ended with French gigs - at the beginning of the month Yvan hosted the inaugural (and massively successful) Lille Vintage Weekender. As Marcus was out there anyway playing with the Bikini Beach Band, he played bass at this show.
At the end of the month, we popped back through the tunnel for 3 very different, but all massively enjoyable shows in Beauvais, St Quentin and Paris.
First up was a gig at L'Ouvre Boite, a great arts centre in the town of Beauvais. Support that evening came from the massively talented and really rather excellent one (wo)man band Becky Lee & Drunkfoot. Just playing drums requires a shedload of co-ordination, but Becky lobs singing and wringing stinging tones out of her greenburst Burns Marquee into the pot too. Seems like she's pretty much always on the road, so if you get a chance, go and see her - she's ace.
The Beauvais audience was peppered with some really good photographers, and the fruits of their work can be seen here and here
The following day it was just a short drive over to St Quentin, where we'd played back in April. Back then we'd been in the properly rock'n'roll cellar venue under Le Mephisto pub - this time we were booked to play the very splendid Le Splendid theatre, a slightly larger venue

There were some big ol' posters round the town too

Saturday 30th we headed down to Paris on a selection of back roads, as French truckers were blockading the motorways. The venue was Cafe Miz Miz, a happening place just round the corner from Le Petit Garage, where we'd played in June for La Fete de la Musique. In fact, one of the pugilists from the audience at that gig was spotted in the audience at this one, although he managed to refrain from duffing anyone up on this occasion.

The Dustaphonics' 2013 finished up with 3 gigs at the end of December, each with a different bassplayer! I played the POW in Brixton supported by the very excellent Ma Polaine's Great Decline on the Friday before Christmas, the next day Dom played the Paris vintage festival and the following Friday Marcus took care of bass duties at the Blues Kitchen.

2014 started with a bang as three of Dirty Water Records' top combos (MFC Chicken, King Salami & The Cumberland 3 and The Dustaphonics) played a storming gig together at The Rhythm Factory in Whitechapel.
It reminded me of ye good olde days at the Clarendon in the mid 80s, where you would be guaranteed to enjoy every band on the bill, as rather than it being a case of headliner + supports it was more a case of, as DW promoter PJ put it "a line up that is greater than the sum of its parts".
The entire Dustaphonics set was captured on viddy-o, and here 'tis... 

In February we were invited to play the Vaults Festival under Waterloo Station, on two consecutive Thursday nights (13th and 20th), as part of the "Ones to Watch" series of gigs. 

Both gigs were enjoyable (as all Dustaphonics gigs are from my perspective) even if the crowd - a mixture of hipsters, arts patrons and heavily-refreshed commuters who'd missed their trains - took a bit more encouragement than usual from Hayley to get up and shake their thangs. Still, consummate professional that she is, by mid set she had them jumping around like loons.

In March 2014 I notched up 25 years working for the same organisation, and to celebrate had a little soiree with live sets from 5 of the bands I play in: The Richwoods, The DC3, The (reunited) Charles Napiers, Clarabella and The Crypt Kicker IV and of course The Dustaphonics. The entire evening was a hoot, bolstered by sets from JB & The Wolfmen and Belle & The Dots. Pam'la Motown was there to capture it on her fancy new camera, complete with its built-in "silly bugger" feature:

Then the following night we were over in fashionable Shoreditch, playing 2 sets at the Brew Dog near the top of Brick Lane (handy for post gig bagels). The venue was surprisingly hipster-free (I had been dreading it would be heaving with blokes in beards and flat caps - as it turned out, the only hairy faced cap-toter was me...), and the punters who were there were massively enthusiastic (you might like to forward to about 8 minutes into the video below to see quite how enthusiastic). The staff were great too.

After a quiet couple of months (for me at least - the rest of the band have been busy getting newest member of the Dustaphonic extended family, Devid, up to speed on bass in preparation for June's Spanish tour, which I can't do), we met up in London's fashionable Shoreditch for the official launch of the new video of The Message, shot by the very excellent Cat & Bear production team.

Both Yvan's and my cameos as "Surprised Passers-By #s 3 & 4" were left on the cutting room floor, which was probably not a bad thing.
The "premiere" was very well received by all present, and straight afterwards we upped sticks round the corner to Nola, the venue where we backed Dan Aykroyd a year ago (scroll down for details of that amazing night).
There was no Blues Brother this time, but the joint was jumping as we delivered a blistering hi-octane set. We received a great backhanded compliment afterwards from the bouncer: "I have no interest in your kind of music, but I loved your set tonight - so much energy!"

Following a couple more warm up gigs with Devid taking care of bass duties, I was back in action at the end of May for the hugely exciting album launch gig at The Jazz Cafe in Camden. Whilst I had been massively looking forward to playing this gig, and of course to the long awaited release of the album, I had heard many times over the years that the JC was renowned for having terrible sound. Well, I'm glad to say that poor sound there is a thing of the past - the sound man, Kevin, told us that some years back they invested massively in a better PA and sorted out the acoustics, and as far as I could tell it sounded excellent. It was a great line up too, with King Size Slim kicking things off with his one man Delta blues stylings, followed by sets from Future Shape of Sound and a special appearance from Raison D'Etre alumnus Charlie Winston (apparently he is very popular with our Gallic cousins).

Anyway, the gig was a stormer, as you can see from some of these highlights, or if you particularly want, the whole set:


Following the album launch bash, there was a hugely successful Spanish tour with Devid, then I manned the bass again for three dates in Belgium and France, including a great show for La Fete de La Musique in the tiny Belgian town of Thuin. As with most places in France and Belgium, Thuin really go to town on La Fete, and had put on a great line up in a marquee in the town square. Unfortunately for me, I came down with a nasty case of the Norris McWhirters shortly before going on stage, so was unable/unwilling to take advantage of the generous rider, and spent much of the gig concentrating on not pappering my kex.

And that's about it for now, as the Dustaphonics enter another phase in their fabulous career with Devid on bass...


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About Me

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West Sussex, United Kingdom
Upside Down Guitar, Bass, Uke, Mandolin, Banjo, Bouzouki and Cigar Box Git. In 1984 I picked up a right handed bass guitar, but being left handed, turned it upside down and taught myself to play cackhanded. Seeing no reason to change this, I have since applied the same logic to all other stringed instruments (doesn't work so well for piano). Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to play with upwards of 25 top combos, and have been lucky enough to play gigs in England, Scotland, Wales, France, Belgium, NL, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain & the US, releasing a number of records along the way. Further details can be found on the various pages of this site. I am also a quizmaster, record spinner, radio presenter and Scrabble obsessive. Contact: eviljackmcdeath[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]uk