PAUL MYERS in conversation with Phil Singleton 25th March 2007
The interview is presented in three parts.....
Part Three. Escape from Leeds, the break-up, "I Didn't See It Coming", and Paul Myers today.
Part two finished with Paul recounting his escalating drug problem, and the problems it caused during The Professionals' second US tour.
The story continues.......
Phil: It must have been difficult going back to America with a drug problem...
Paul: I had to go on stage. I was really, really, ill for about three weeks.
How did you manage performing live?
To this day I don't know. It was a case of having to.
Steve wasn't so well himself...
No, of course. It was Steve and I, we had the problem. Not Paul and Ray. And Steve and I did some terrible things. I remember during that UK tour, a warm up to the American ones, we were in Leeds.... did you hear that story, Phil?
I know you played at a festival in Leeds...
Well this was another one. We did an English tour, we were touring around, we get to Leeds... you know what it's like, two addicts together. One addict is bad enough, but two addicts together... disaster. We get to Leeds, it's a rainy Sunday evening, Steve and I go for a walk, the worst thing two addicts could do. Suddenly Steve says "What are we doing here?" I said: "Don't ask me, what are we doing here?" It's that kind of story; you know the ending to it. "Here's us playing in this poxy club." Suddenly he says "Shall we go home?" I said "What do you mean, go home? All the gear is set up, the other two will go crazy." Anyway, we talked each other into running away. So, we didn't tell them. We dashed down to Leeds station to get on a train and we went home. It was quite exciting because we were hiding on the floor of the train because we had this idea that they would come and find us!
So we went home, we were going home to score really. We didn't score, so Steve goes home and I go home. I was still living with my Mum and Dad, and the next morning I wake up, I'm thinking "Oh my God! What have I done?" My Mum said "you've got a 'phone call", and I thought "Oh my God." I'm sure it was from Richard Branson, he said: "I'm not even going to say anything, but I just want you two on the train to play in Liverpool tonight, or else I'm cancelling the contract. It's all over." At the time, Steve didn't even have a 'phone. So I had to dash up to West Hampstead, Phil. Lo and behold I see him walking down the road. I said "Listen, we are in deep... deep... we gotta get that train." So he says "OK, but we gotta go and score first." I said "Absolutely." We had no money whatsoever, but he had these old Nazi swastika flags, and he said "I'm gonna sell these. I'll meet you at Euston at 4 o'clock." The train was leaving at half past four. I said "Listen, you gotta be there, otherwise it's all over." Steve said "OK."
Anyway, it was quarter past four, Phil. I'm at Euston and I thought "That's it. It's over." So I get on the 'phone to Virgin in a payphone, really scared thinking they are going to go crazy. I'm just about to ring them and there's a tap on my shoulder, and it's Jonesy. It was such a relief, because he had the gear as well. So we had a great time on the way up to Liverpool, but God almighty they (Paul and Ray) didn't talk to us, nor did the crew. Paul and Ray wouldn't even speak to us for about a week. Understandably. So a lot of this stuff I bear responsibility for myself, for that behaviour.
Going back to that second American tour, I think what happened, why it went downhill, Phil, was that gap (after the car crash). The album came out, then we had the car crash, then we had about four months to recover and nothing was happening. Paul came around to my place, but it kind of... we weren't a group then. We were all recovering. Steve was off; he'd gone nuts with his problems, so by the time we got together again it was almost as if we'd started all over again.
At the end of the second American tour, you, Paul, and Ray all came back to the UK, but Steve stayed behind.
What happened there, we had a security guard... his problem was he could get out of hand. We were going to be together for three months, However, he could also be really funny, so I said "OK". A naive thing to say, but he was (funny). Unfortunately, it manifested itself on that tour to such an extent that he became out of control and we thought he needs to go back. So we rang up John, our manager, and said we've got to put him on the plane, it's just getting out of hand. He'd turned into a Frankenstein's monster, Phil. He refused to go. Our manager did bugger all and accepted no responsibility. We were stuck with him and there was this real resentment towards us on his part that we wanted to get rid of him. It built up to such an extent that he threatened to beat Steve up on the plane back to London from New York. Things got to a head and Jonesy said to me, "I can't fly back on the plane with him, he's gonna kill me. I'll come back in a few days." Of course, he never came back. So, that's what happened, Phil.
That was all that kind of stuff on the second tour. It was almost as if we'd lost the chance, the album had been released on the previous tour, we'd had the car crash, so the momentum wasn't there.
I think you're right. A lot of people I knew that were into the Pistols and bought the early Professional stuff, by the time the album came out there didn't seem to be any mention of you in the music papers, people thought you weren't around anymore. I used to tell people, "You must listen to this album". People liked it when they heard it, but the interest had waned.
Sure. It had waned, Phil. There was that brief chance. In effect we were going back for the second tour promoting nothing. That was fair enough, but that album had died a death earlier. It was a bit too late. Whether they could have held off and then released it, I dunno. But the momentum had died. We were still playing to big crowds, it was packed places we were playing to, but we had nothing to promote.
You seemed more popular in America. I got the impression you were looking to break America more than the UK.
Maybe. I think that was partly it. With hindsight, I think it was a bridge too far, America comes later. Let's be accepted back in England, because as you know, even the Sex Pistols were treated with that animosity in America. They didn't even crack America in those days. So maybe the thing would have been to do England and Europe, and concentrate on that, and then America. However, we went about it in a different way. Also, a lot of it had to do with the drug problem, there's no getting away from that. Steve would have come back (from New York) otherwise. He walks out, he's got nowhere to go, he's got no money and he gets back into that environment again.
Of course he never really returned, did he? He's still there now.
He never returned! He's still there now! Good for him, he's clean and sober like me.
When you came back from that tour, did you think it was over, or did you expect the band to continue?
I felt it was over. I had a feeling, because with Steve and I having the same problem, we confided in each other. I just had a feeling he wouldn't come back. I had a feeling that he almost couldn't come back; when you're in that deeper hole, it's hard to get out. He was in a real deep hole over there. All I was doing was coming back to dig my hole over here. Both Steve and I were in deep holes. With Steve, the people he was mixing with, you get into that stage, when you're into drugs, it's like man-yana; "I'll come back tomorrow," but tomorrow never happens. Especially if you've got a habit, you want to stay at the source of the habit; even a flight back to London is totally impractical. Also, by the end of that tour there was a certain amount of ill feeling. It didn't manifest itself, but under the surface, Phil, it was starting to fall apart. I was very doubtful that Steve would come back. Also, I do think Paul had had enough of all the behaviour. After the second tour I do feel Paul had had enough. You can only tolerate that behaviour for a certain time. So when I came back from America, I did feel that was it. We went our separate ways.
Looking back on the album I Didn't See It Coming, is it something you were proud of at the time?
Yeah I was, but again, was I at the time? That's a very good question. Because I take responsibility and I'm sure Steve does, but with that album we were always pre-occupied with scoring.
The album came second...
Yeah, the album came second. I think it could have been better, also we had Nigel Gray, that ex-Police producer, who I think was totally the wrong producer. There was a lot of rushing into things back then, instead of sitting back and thinking, "Who should we get?" Nigel Gray seemed to be as bad..., he'd come to the studio in horse riding boots expecting to leave at 5pm to go and do a bit of horse riding. All that kind of thing, plus Steve and I whizzing off all the time. When I listen to it, some tracks I really, really like.
Which ones are your favourites?
Well, I like Friday Night Square. And it was my idea, which died a death, to open the set in America with Friday Night Square, but that ended in disaster! We did it for about three gigs and it kind of set the pattern (laughing) and things went downhill.
People were expecting things a bit more rocky to start the set with?
You had a hand in writing that one, didn't you?
We all had a bit of a hand in that one.
Musically, did you go on to do anything else after The Professionals?
No, I didn't do anything. I had so many other problems, Phil, I had to sort that out. But I just knew it was over, and also for some reason, all our equipment went. All these Ampeg speakers disappeared, all that kind of stuff. You could just tell that... there was a lot of anger there on my part about the equipment and stuff, and I just thought, "That's it, it's over."
It was all a long while ago now. What are you doing now, job wise?
I'm an Addictions Counsellor. I love it.
Really? It's certainly a good way of putting your own experience to very good use.
It is. I just kind of fell into it. I didn't think "that's what I want I to do." It was the last thing on my mind, Phil. I fell into it like I fall into everything, but that's ok. I love it. I did play in a little band about a year ago with Rob (Simmons) from The Subway Sect, called The Fallen Leaves. It was a hobby, and I absolutely loved it. But it was starting to encroach on work. I wanted it to be a hobby, playing around London, but all of a sudden we end up playing in Nottingham on a Wednesday night. Fair enough, but I've done that and I didn't want to take it that far.
It doesn't suit your lifestyle as it is now; you've got other things to do.
I've got other things, I've got a son, and my life is really good. I feel very fortunate, Phil.
And you recently had a get together with Ray and Paul.
Yeah. That's the thing, we all live on each other's doorsteps and we are all friends. Maybe it's bone idleness on all our parts, the usual thing, "I'll ring you" and we never ring each other.
We're all guilty of that with friends. It's the same with everybody, you say "I'll ring you" and you never do.
It is. I'm as much to blame; I don't get on the 'phone. We're all good friends, there's no animosity, we just never get together. Ian was the catalyst. He said let's get together and all meet up. The last time we did that was a year ago. We say we'll have to carry on doing this and we never do. The next time we meet will probably be when Ian comes over. Steve Jones has talked before about doing some gigs, but he's doing that radio show so he's got to stick around Los Angeles. I'd love to if it ever happens, but I can't see it will ever happen. I just can't see that we'd get it together to do it. It's a shame really because I'd like to do a few gigs and get us all back together, but who knows.
It's good that you are all getting along.
Oh yeah, there's no problem there. A lot of groups have fallen out years ago and they hate each other. We don't. There was no major falling out, even years ago. Ian phoned me the other night and said it was good to see Ray, Paul and me having a laugh, but we've always done that. There was a bit of animosity about certain behaviour, but we are all good friends. I think that's really good.
It's nice to hear. It's also been great to talk to you.
Yeah, it's been great. It's been nice talking to you, Phil. My pleasure.
You've been fantastic, you've been very honest...
It's about honesty for me, Phil. I am honest these days and why shouldn't I be? I've got nothing to hide. What happened, happened, and that's my story. That is my truth. I wouldn't be here had I not gone through that, and I'm only speaking for myself.
If you hadn't gone through what you went through, you wouldn't be doing the job you are now.
Absolutely. With me doing well, other people benefit. My son, clients I work with, it's great. It's been a pleasure, Phil.
Likewise. Thank you very much indeed, Paul, I really appreciate it.
Top portrait adapted from a picture submitted to www.cookandjones.co.uk by Bev Davies
Phil would like to extend special thanks to Ian Stewart
All material ęPhil Singleton / www.cookandjones.co.uk
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