INTERVIEWS‎ > ‎

ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELL


ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELL  “Grease Is The Word” 


By Dr. Abner Mality

There is a diner in one of the rougher working class areas of London where time has stood still since about 1973 or so. There they fry everything up with copious amounts of lard, even the Spam. On the old fashioned juke-box, they play only heavy rock and blues from the age before disco. Only a precious few know the location of this spot. The house band happens to be three grimy blokes who have named themselves after an obscure British naval hero. They are Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell and if you like it loud, hard and greasy, they are your band! And mine, too!

Most of the retro 70’s hard rockers are far too contrived and polished to be worthy of their genre, but The Admiral has always been different. They are rough, boozy and greasy to the core, with little finesse and a whole lot of heavy guitar power. They are authentic and back it up whenever they plug in. Pick up any of their albums and you’ll swear you’re in a Birmingham blues club round about 1973.

The latest missile from the Admiral is aptly titled “Keep It Greasy!” and it more than lives up to its title. It was time for me to stumble into that diner I mentioned earlier and navigate through a cloud of smoke to a back booth where band members Louis and Johnny waited to speak with me. As you’ll soon find out, the boys don’t take things too seriously. Only their rock n roll, which I can’t recommend highly enough.

And now, the Shovell…


WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings to you! Seeing as this is our first encounter with the good Admiral, can we get a brief history of the band?

LOUIS: We formed around 2006, played a bunch of shows playing covers (we were pub rock) before discovering we could “borrow” other people’s music making it our own. As unashamed “riff-lifters” we signed to Rise Above in 2011-ish and the rest as “they” say is history.

JOHNNY: We got our name from a sign hanging near a pub we were drinking in! We thought that would be a good name. That shows you how drunk we were at the time!!

WC: The new record “Keep It Greasy” is one of the most “live” sounding recordings I’ve heard. Did you guys play this live right in the studio? Are any of the songs ‘first takes”?

L: Wow, thanks. We played the basic tracks live (drums, bass, guitar) and overdubbed the rest. I can’t remember if any of the tracks are one-take wonders, but is possible.

J: I think there is a couple of one take wonders, but if ya ain’t got it in three takes, it’s time to move on!!

WC: You dudes sound 100% analog but is that actually the case? Is there any point where the Admiral uses digital technology?

L: Yes, Harvey Summers at Broadoak Studios sits in front of a computer whilst smoking copious amounts of tobacco products, that’s the part we fail to understand. We did however use Broadoak’s gargantuan late-1970s Raindirk Series III mixing desk; which came from Olympic studios in London where it had previously been used by the likes of Queen, Pink Floyd and Bowie. If you want to sound like the Shovell, you need to go to Broadoak Studios, kids!

J: Yes we use analogue drugs and booze, they are much healthier!!

WC: Are there any current bands that influence or excite you or is influence drawn strictly from the Golden Age of rock?

L: Fistula excites me, they have the power to take the side of your head clean off with their sonic disruption. Go check ‘em out. The Golden Grass is a decent band also; their second album is exciting gear.

J: We don’t hear too much that turns us on in the modern world, but we listen with impunity!! If it’s good, sincere and honest rock’n’roll then we dig it!!

WC:I hear a strong Budgie flavor to the Admiral’s music. Are there any super obscure old blues rock or proto metal bands you also draw inspiration from….stuff like Elias Hulk or Pluto or Incredible Hog?

L: Pluto, ha! We sound nothing like “Ragabone Joe”, but thanks anyway. Great band, great track. Yes, obscure bands have always been on our radar and we love all that late-60s/early-70s blues –rock and heavy-psych. We had Tucky Buzzard in the van and I had to see a pharmacist.

J: My main influences are Spike Milligan and the guy who owns the local off license, although I do enjoy the odd Litter, Dust, Highway Robbery and Sir Lord Baltimore LP!

WC:What’s the name of your bird-headed mascot on the cover? What’s the story behind this tough looking bird?

L: It’s a person dressed as a buzzard, well the head part anyhow. That’s why he’s known as Buzzard Head, simple really. The story is simply due to our mate Andy poaching the image for the first single (Back to Zero/Day After Day) from a 1969 photography yearbook and we decided to bring the image to life for the first longplayer.

J: His name is Rocky, he used to be called Goon until he found a packet of raisins.

WC:What kind of gear does the Admiral use for their dirty work?

L: Speed and brown booze. I use one of those Orange Bass Terror 500 amps through a handmade 2x12” cab, or alternatively an HH 2x15” cab. I also have a mkIII Sound City B120, which is louder than your god and mine put together.

J: The cheaper the better!! Fuck valves, fuck vintage, it’s all in the fingers dude!! 

WC:Your press release mentioned Shovell’s  music is the perfect antidote to the awful times we live in. Do you see yourself as escapees from a better time?

L: Of course. If I could go back to 1970 and spend 5 years purchasing the entire Vertigo Records catalogue, I’d have a tidy little nest egg. I would also buy a dozen pairs of handmade stack-heeled boots in a variety of suede and leather, all the colours of the rainbow. A better time? Course it were.

J: I don’t believe in nostalgia. When I was a kid there was none of it, and the music and  summers were better too!! 

WC:There’s some sound effects like speeded up tape and changing radio stations on “Keep It Greasy”. What’s the idea behind these?

L: That’s all a mistake in the mastering and shouldn’t be on the record. Apologies to all the fans for that shizzle.

J: I didn’t notice any of that??? I thought that was how we play (the drums)???

WC: Some of the titles and lyrics are pretty far out. What’s the story behind songs like “Hawkline Monkster” and “Potato Boy”?

L: Ask Johnny, he’s mental.

J: I once met a tiny, fluorescent , olive who asked me the way to Madrid, I didn’t tell him, he was tripping and wouldn’t have remembered who my doctor was even with a tattoo. (Well now, that clears things right up!--Enlightened Mality)

WC: Could you ever see yourself adding other touches like maybe Hammond organ or sitar to your authentic sound?

L: We had some Hammond on a first album track or two. We play to our strengths and also our weaknesses. I’m not sure if a sitar would add anything to our sound and could even soften it. I always skip that sitar track on the Hurdy Gurdy album, so that says it all.

WC:Have you guys ever played in the States and do you have any plans to play here?

L: Never even been to the states. We would love to play in the states so please make it happen.

J: Wanna go – sort it out NOW!!

WC: Do the songs change significantly when you play live….do you jam more in that situation?

L: No, not really. We might add a few dynamics along the way, but generally is the raw versions of the album tracks.

J: Depends on the mood, and how long we get to play, we love a bit of  jamming, in but these days of early curfews for rockshows, it’s fucking hard to do!!

WC:If you could have dinner with any 3 people from history, who would they be?

L: Richard Brautigan, Eli Wallach and Houdini.

J: Desiree Cousteau, Annette Haven and Scarlett Johnanson!!


WC: What was the last release you got just because you wanted to hear the band?

L: The Band, trick question, right? (I had that coming!--Mality)

J: Hmmm, good question! Last record I bought without hearing was Brown Acid Volume 2!!

WC:What can you tell us about your historical namesake, Sir Cloudesley Shovell?

L: Yes, he was a famous naval officer who changed the course of history by dying along with his fleet on the Scilly Isles where legend has it an old sea hag chopped off his finger to get to his precious ring and subsequent to this massive disaster the use of Longitude was developed. Why couldn’t we have just been called the Pricks?

J: At least people would remember how to pronounce ‘the Pricks’!!

WC:Have you ever had a “Spinal Tap” moment where things went wrong that you could share with our readers?

L: Yes, I leapt in the air once onstage and sharted. More of a Spinal Crap.

J: Every day is a Spinal Tap moment for us. Just ask us to tell you the one about the drummer who………

WC: Any last words from the Admiral to the troops?

L: Yes, buy our album or else I will send an ugly old man to molest you as you sleep, you cunts!

J: KEEP IT GREASY!!! ROCK ON MUTHA-FUCKERS!!!! We love ya!