<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> God Save The Sex Pistols - Ray McVeigh Interview November 2008
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Ray McVeigh
in conversation with Phil Singleton
November 2008

Ray McVeigh was enlisted into The Professionals by Steve Jones and Paul Cook in late 1980 to bolster the band's guitar sound. With Steve possessing one of the most recognisable and dynamic guitar sounds in rock 'n' roll, the addition of a second powerhouse guitar player was designed to make The Professionals one of the most ferocious groups on the planet.

I first interviewed Ray back in 2003 when he talked about his early days leading up to meeting Steve and Paul and joining The Professionals.

This time Ray discusses the audition; live debut; John Peel; producers; video shoot; managers; I Didn't See It Coming, song writing, Montreal riot, the car crash, America, "All the Nasty Girls", the break-up, Ray McVeigh today, and the future.


Phil: Hi Ray, it's good to interview you again for the site. I thought I'd start by picking up where we left off last time by asking about your early days in the band. Can you recall how you first got involved with The Professionals? You went to audition for the band, what was that like? Frightening?    

Ray: I met Steve and Paul in 77/78 through Thin Lizzy, who I was involved with through Robbo and Gary Moore. I had always had a laugh with them, and thought the Pistols were great because they were all so young then, just a year or two older than me, and they had so much attitude. It was an exciting time, Brian Robertson and Gary Moore were teaching me guitar lines and Steve was teaching Gary and Brian how to hot wire cars.

Steve knew I played guitar almost as good as he could hot wire motors and after the Pistols split, said I should go down and have a play with him and Cookie for a new band they were forming. Steve and I had been out on the lag one night and he said to come by the next day as they were seeing a bass player. I went down to Denmark Street, and there was Paul Myers, holding Paul Simonon's paint-splashed Rickenbacker...totally casual. It was the least audition-like moment ever...

I remember Steve being really impressed with Myers suntan, he was a part time lifeguard at that time (laughing), and Steve wanted him in the band because of the tan and because he was a remarkably David Essex-ish handsome young chap then; time hasn't been kind (laughing). Cookie, on the other hand, was attempting to be vaguely serious, saying how they should maybe try a song with Myo (Myers) first, so they ploughed into Little Boys In Blue while I watched; though at the time I had no clue what it was, just that it was simple and sounded like the bollocks.

When they finished, Steve spotted another amp and guitar in the room and said did I fancy a go. Seemed like a good idea at the time and off we went - sounded great with two guitars, rounded the tea off nicely and that was that. Being a musically minded fellow I remember standing mouthing the chords to Myo...'B'...'D'...'A' as he seemed to be just slamming all the strings at once. Afterwards he asked what I was trying to say and we died laughing when he said "Oh fuck that stuff, one of them is bound to be right if I hit all of them at once."

A revelation! Eventually we all did learn the actual notes (laughing). Myo is playing great these days, he and I have just finished a Maltese folk/punk album together that will be released next year on Malteser Records, called 'Never mind the chocolate balls, try the finger of fudge'.. we tried to get Gary Glitter to sing but couldn't find him anywhere (laughing).

We played Join the Professionals as well -  and then I guess I did (join the Professionals). Not a mention of money or hours. The benefits I already knew about, ha ha ha! We just all agreed it worked and that was it, we played some more. Steve and Paul loved how much more meaty it sounded with all of us, and that I was, in actual fact, a simply incredible electronic guitarist who learnt the whole album in about 10 minutes (laughing).

All jesting aside, it was really awesome to play that first time with Steve, Paul and Paul - Cookie was and is one of the best real drummers there is, no nonsense, THE BOLLOCKS, and can still do handstands; and Jonesy is Jonesy. It was a fucking glorious racket, still is - as anyone who really did witness it live will agree. So much so that we decided to re-record the album with a new producer... then another new producer, then another new producer... then another producer, and then finally with a new producer...luckily the studio canteens were reasonably tasty and there was plenty of 'stuff' as we call it in the trade to be requisitioned.

What songs did you play at the audition?

All of them. Twice. Some of them three times. I believe I scored a perfect 10 on at least one of the songs and thus was enlisted immediately; lately I heard rumours that a young Eddie Van Halen turned up to try out the next day but couldn't do the windmill or the monkey pose.

With all four of you hitting it off so well as a unit, what was your live debut as a group like? Can you remember where it was?

Yeah, it was Nottingham Boat Club... I distinctly remember because it was a nightmare (laughing). We were managed at that point by Dave Hill, who had managed Johnny Thunders and was managing The Pretenders. Consequently he came with half of the Pretenders. I was fine until right before we went on stage when Jonesy pointed out that it was our first ever gig and that the crowd would probably go as mental as the last time the Pistols had played; it suddenly dawned on me what expectation level there was, and as I was the one who started the show, instantly began to shit myself.

I think it was the ever sympathetic Cookie who shouted at me "come on you wanker, get on with it"  and spurred into action I ran out and started Little Boys In Blue. The opening chords were great, or would have been if I hadn't taken off half of the strings at once...woeful. It was a true baptism of fire...gob, coins, lighters, shoes, the whole bloody lot, thank fuck for Mr Jones covering for me while I changed guitars, even if he did slag me off laughing for the rest of the show - he loved it, it meant no one realised it was his first gig ever singing, all attention was on the knob on the other guitar.

We played for an hour or less, which was our usual offering - did Little Boys, 1.2.3, Join the Professionals, Just Another Dream, Kick Down The Doors, More Than A Feeling, Silly Thing, White Light White Heat, most of the album. I remember the crowd loved it and wanted more but we didn't have any.

Pete Farndon of The Pretenders was an instant convert; he came to as many of our shows as he could after that, great bloke, taste too...toss up between him, Simonon and Myers for coolest looking bass player in those days...lucky old Myers has the ring to himself now!

It was great getting that first show over and done, it felt like we had actually made a move, it was always just the biggest buzz being onstage with those three, never an argument or row over bollocks like who did what - Jonesy is the best mate you could ever have to learn the ropes from, never afraid to pull a move, The Guvnor then and the Pontiff now. Cookie was guaranteed to be hitting it like Tommy Cooper, I mean Henry Cooper, with the occasional "faster you wanker" as polite encouragement and Myo was just fucking unflappable - there were full scale riots kicking off some nights, and really full scale riots, and he would be there smiling calmly, dodging the missiles, scanning for Richards, winking at me, amazing. I thought we were the dogs bollocks you know, and I wasn't wrong.

Ray McVeigh in recent action

Just after you got together you recorded a John Peel session. John Peel said the guitar wasn't Steve but was "Kid" McVeigh! I still have a copy of it on tape. I assume Steve did play guitar on it as well as yourself? Any thoughts on this?!

I have the same tape of it (laughing). Thin Lizzy used to call me "the kid" because I was so young, and I think somehow that was mentioned to John Peel by Phil Lynott who had come down to the BBC with us to borrow this Gretsch White Falcon off Jonesy, and on the night Steve was more bothered about getting the vocals spot on so he did have me play the bulk of the guitar - aside from the trademark Jonesy solos. Hard to tell the difference but that's what we call the stuff in the trade. Also I recall Jonesy was quite busy signing something soft for one or two of the receptionists so I had to deputize if you catch my drift. Rounded the tea off nicely.

Did you get many in the crowd shouting for old Pistols songs? You used to play Silly Thing of course.

I guess it's well enough documented that we only ever played about seven or eight shows here in England, and never did Scotland, Ireland or Wales...in contrast to quite a substantial amount in the States...maybe 100 or so over there. A big reason was the difference in reception - we always got asked to play Pistols songs at the gigs which was no real surprise, they are great songs and as you say we did do SIlly Thing live, although that was mainly Steve and Paul anyway. But in the States they were just way more enthusiastic about the band and the sound; here it seemed to be more about the aggro and trouble, because a lot of people had missed out on the whole Pistols scene live, they had that distorted press image that it was always a riot; spitting and rucking mandatory etc, which got old really quick.

We had a couple of really ugly moments at gigs in Coventry, Birmingham and Middlesborough, with kids getting glassed and ridiculous amounts of shit getting thrown, and it just felt like North America was more open minded in a way, with less emphasis on the trouble and more on the music. Aside from one legendary night in Montreal with the Upstarts.

The real drag was that it was finally really starting to be about The Professionals and our tunes, when we had the car crash and then every other possible balls-up possible. In the States they had bought the album solely on import, yet there would always be yells for favourite album tracks and the singles which was always a good vibe. In the UK it finally seemed to be accepted on its own merit too.

I think the majority of the crowd realised what a difference there was between the two bands, it just takes a while to settle in. I saw early P.I.L. shows and they would get the same reception initially; you just needed to set your stall out and give them what you got.

Around the time of the Peel session I recall reading that Join The Professionals was going to be a single in November that year (1980). Everything then seemed to go quiet with the single eventually being released in June 81. Can you remember why there was a delay? You've mentioned about the problems with finding the right producer....

The delay was what really killed a lot of the impetus. We were being tossed backwards and forwards by the record company and various producers; just trying people out till we heard what we liked. It seemed like we had a shot with anyone and everyone; Chris Thomas was great but tied up, even a stint with Vic Maile, who had done Hawkwind, Motorhead and Girlschool! I have no idea what became of those sessions.

Mick Glossop we liked because of The Skids stuff he had just done, and it was okay recording Join The Professionals with him - he got a reasonably close feel of the band, the main problem was that we recorded it at The Manor in Oxfordshire which felt like a country holiday camp to us - there were some awfully shocking incidents. I mean, a go-cart track, a replica of a British frigate in a window sill directly over the swimming pool, a child's inflatable boat and a trout lake, two thirds of Bananarama, Lemmy's favourite friend, Motorcycle Irene, the disappearance of Mr Branson's wristwatch, combined with us, savagely unlimited amounts of alcohol and anything else that came to hand.

I think by the end of the recording Mr Glossop was just relieved to have survived it alive, so it wasn't likely he would do the album. Serious sense of humour failure for most people who had to contend with us at that time. Still remember Jonesy washing Cookies BMW with a massive trifle nicked out the kitchen and hosing down the serving staff with the fire hose through the kitchen window. Not received well. Possibly why the mix sounds a 'trifle' rushed in retrospect.

When the single finally came out, you filmed a video for it. At the same session you also shot one for 1-2-3.

Those videos are about as two bob as you could get. I think they cost about nine guineas for both. It was early days for that kind of bollocks, and the crew were really old school BBC union types, hated us on sight. There was a bald bloke who had to keep standing in front of us with the clapper board to start each take, and Steve would do that whole Benny Hill thing slapping the geezers head, not appreciated at all, except by us...I particularly cringe at the Rambo bandana and evident overindulgence of some kind of performance enhancer on my part... I think they had to slow-mo every shot of me because I was so hyper. I love Myers always being in a cloud of nicotine and looking in slow motion when he isn't (laughing).

The funniest thing about those videos is in 1.2.3. when Jonesy just fucks every single mic and stand; we were pissing ourselves from start to finish. If you watch it closely, he breaks his mic and stand, lets it fall and snatches mine and starts carting it round over his shoulder, fucks that up and out of the corner of his eye you see him eyeing up Myers mic, which we are both singing on, comes and grabs that and drags it off tangling everything up (laughing).So now he is holding two mics, tosses one in the air in time to the song and actually fucking catches it! He is so pleased with himself he busts out grinning and looks round for us, as if to say "did you see that?" then tosses both mics and sings into the guitar head...genius!
We still piss ourselves watching that now. The deep meaningful storyline and dramatic context. MTV it aint, more like STV.

Going back to what you said about changing managers, you ended up with John Curd. Was he a good choice for the band?

At the time the band was a nightmare to deal with, pretty uncontrollable, with no real plan. I admired Dave Hill, who had really looked after us, but he ended up with no option but to let us go after one too many unmentionable incidents and being knee deep with The Pretenders; and at that point I guess John Curd seemed a really good choice as he was one of the best promoters around, a tough old mate and well feared in the business. All qualities that actually should have kept both sides from working together.

At that point we really needed someone objective, from outside our circle, to step in and co-ordinate the album release, a worldwide deal and an overall strategy for us as a band. Diplomatically, because I love Curdy nowadays, it was not a good career move for him or us, and we all fell out badly because of it for years afterwards. I think his business suffered because he was forever trying to pick up the pieces after us and we suffered because he had too much other stuff to deal with. Milk spilt. All chums again now.


Onto the album itself, (I Didn't See It Coming). How did the recording with Nigel Gray go?

Ray: The first day of recording with Nigel Gray  went really good, down at Hurry Sound, sorry Surrey Sound in Leatherhead. We kind of knew more of what we wanted so it was pretty plain sailing, we liked what Mr Gray had done with Siouxsie and the Banshees and were hoping to get the hard hitting edge down on tape after having the advantage of having played the material live.

He seemed like a reasonably nice bloke for a toff and ex police surgeon, and gave the impression he was really into it. By day three however there was some mix-up over missing equipment, scandalously attributed to our leader, with threats of the police being requested etc. etc. There were always misunderstandings like this occurring when guitars or equipment were borrowed from time to time. Old habits die hard, and a man has to keep his hand in, you know!

Memorable moments were watching Jonesy on the studio camera sneaking out, climbing the local railway station fence and bunking the train back to London, all while the rest of them sat in the control room unawares, waiting for him to start a vocal take - not well received!

From that point on it felt like having dinner at the in-laws... they can't wait to get you out and spray the air freshener. We had a few moments of magic, like Friday Night Square, which was pretty much put together in the studio, but the vibe was fucked; he didn't like being in the same room as us, which was obviously a slight obstacle. Mr Gray mixed the whole record in under 10 minutes, or that's how it sounded to us. Jonesy got nabbed by the rozzers on a class A charge in Mr Gray's car. Guess that's why it's called a nark charge. Little boys in blue...

The production was very polished, but some including Steve felt it wasn't meaty enough. What was your view on the finished album? 

I never liked it, the stuff had sounded so fucking majestic live, it really did. We were the armoured division, the heavy squad, I mean, come on, you had the bollocks of the Pistols, plus another guitar and yet it ended up sounding half as punchy. 

The songs carry the album, great tunes; the production killed it. In comparison to the vibe on Join The Professionals with Mick Glossop or even Payola with Chris Thomas, it sucks. I didn't mind the polish so much except I thought the mixes emasculated the sound. It would be interesting to remix some of that stuff now - having produced ever since then myself - I did that first Bananarama single with Cookie - and have worked with everyone from Shaun Ryder to Duff McKagan, Killing Joke and Amen, I am sad that it stands as the only real representation of that line up. I would like to rectify that - so would Steve and Paul.

Personally I felt it was what killed us here in the UK. Everything we released prior to the album had that weight to it and then this just didn't. Oh well, milk spilt again.

You co-wrote Friday Night Square with Steve and the two Paul's. Did you have any more group compositions planned? 

It was always open to anyone contributing. I liked that we had some different flavours going on at that point, everyone could have input. The band had great future writing potential to me. It was never a struggle getting tunes together, we wrote a lot on tour, at soundchecks. I thought the second album was going to be awesome, after months of hard touring of the States, the band was teutonically precise and powerful!  Ask Lemmy. Or Iggy  Or Weller. Or Meatloaf (laughing); there's a story!

When we played the Ritz in New York - you have something about it on the site 'Trouble at The Ritz' - more like 'Tea, Biscuits and a ruck at The Ritz'. When we turned up to the soundcheck, there was this lovely spread laid out, unusually so. A delectable buffet of fantastical fare... we dug in, me and Steve possibly less elegantly than most, demolishing the pretty tableau, picking out whichever non-Yankee tasting bits we liked... when all of a sudden this rather large goon comes up yelling "What the fuck do you think you're doing, who the fuck do you think you are?"' etc. etc., very bolshy malchick, distinctly encouraging the ultraviolence. "That's Meatloa's buffet for his record launch party, you fucking Limey pigs," to which I believe Monsieur Jones replied, "Well that fat fucker certainly don't need it, you wanker."

Cue ultraviolence whereby Cookie tolchocked the goon in the zoobies and broke his nose - excellently accomplished and applauded by all - not well received by The Ritz, but then we were playing the rathole that evening so what could they do? The show was a roaring success and as I remember we had Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone, Debbie Harry, Iggy and Lemmy sidestage. No Meatloaf though.

I'd like to talk a bit more about your adventures in America! Tell me all about the legendary night in Montreal with the Angelic Upstarts?!

Professionals & Upstarts

It started out innocently enough, we turned up at the gig, and I realised The Upstarts were supporting us, and having had many a drunken rampage at their expense in Abbey Road Studios, I felt it only gentlemanly to give them full access to all our amenities. We were pasted by 5PM, and despite promises to get up and play one song with them I was still semi-conscious by the time we (The Professionals) were meant to play, much to Myers amusement and John Curd's dismay; it being the first show on the tour he had flown out to see.

I had a bucket next to the amp, and was projectile vomiting as we went on; much like my first gig with the band. I started Little Boys when a massive lump of spit hit me full in the face, really not the best moment. I stopped and went up to the mic, and as per Jonesy, announced that  whoever thought they could do it, come down the front and do it. At which the tallest widest skinhead I ever saw shoved his way right up in front of me, and waited...

When I restarted the song he spat full in my face again. I swung my boot at his head and remember watching as my boot went up and over his head and then my head, landing on my arse, about to throw up again, having completely missed the miscreant. Wanker. "Great that's me fucked" and I looked round to see Steve, guitar already off and being swung like a mace; geezers shell like hit out of the ground. Home Run. Cue instant riot, proper riot, bottles, glasses, the whole bloody lot. We got pulled offstage and it took about 10 minutes to calm the masses down, a few thousand of them. Promoter begs us to go back on to stop a full scale riot.

We go back on, wild cheers and applause. Steve warns that any more agg and we will leave, it's not that kind of party. We restart, it's all okay...I hear PSST PSST PSST and look to the sidestage where Mensi, Decca, Mond and the Upstarts crew are standing holding lumps of wood and mike stands.. "START IT AGIN MON, HOWAY MON, START IT AGIN" Mensi is yelling... I turn back, disgusted at the brutish notion and there in front of me is self same skinhead....bandaged and bruised, grinning, giving me the thumbs up, we're all mates now... I didn't miss this time, beautiful Cantona style - immediate riot, this time totally out of control, us hitting people from onstage with stands, whatever was to hand. The Upstarts were in the thick of it, battling like tyneside yeomen, (laughling) Curdy looked like Custer, knocking out hooligans right and left, Myers was smoking, elegantly, verbally sparring with rioters (laughling)... Riot Police, News helicopters, over and out. Doubt if we got through 2 songs total.

I talked with The Upstarts not too long ago and in reminiscing Decca Wade laughed with glee and said; "The finest part of that was at the height of the rioting, people cowering, debris flying, truly scary, there was Jonesy behind the bar, hand in till, notes in hand, never happier." Cash From Chaos indeed!

The car crash in Minneapolis was a massive blow to the band. It couldn't have happened at a worse time - it coincided with the release of the album. Paul Myers remembers the incident vividly. What do you recall about it?

Firstly, the album was never scheduled for release then, it was always meant to come out later. It was our last night of the winter East Coast dates. We had just played 13 shows back to back, no night off, the next day we were flying out to LA, the sun, days off, Britt Ekland, Raquel Welsh.... It was after the gig at Duffys in Minneapolis, and as I recall we got told Prince had thrown a party for us at his club downtown to which we were obliged to go. Jonesy being Jonesy, he had already left with unidentified female so there was Cookie, Myers, me, our soundman, 2 other unidentified females and our driver, the famously named Avrum Zeron!!!!!

12 days before the car crash.....

We were in a ridiculously long stretch cadillac, and Cookie had sat up in the front, turned back to face us as we drove. We were on the motorway, arguing about Bob fucking Dylan with the soundman when I noticed a set of lights coming at us, I said 'Don't they look just like they are on our side of the road?' Cookie turned his head and bang, the loudest noise I have ever heard. Myers and I were wide awake, everyone else was out cold. It was silent at that point and the two of us spoke. "What the fuck just happened? What time is it in London? I am going to have to call my mam and say I had a car crash, I hurt."  Gibberish - we could see the other car had hit us head on, flipped onto the roof of our car and landed next to us.

The driver was hanging half out of the side, visibly dead, skull wide apart, claret everywhere, not nice. Our huge car was now about the size of a mini, whereas my arm was now about 4 feet long and wrapped around the roof decidely unnaturally. Myo said he thought his leg was broke, I could see it, he couldn't - sharp white bone sticking out of leather pants, definitely broke Myo. We were just saying how Cookie had to be dead when he woke up, climbed over the seat, trod on whoever and climbed out the smashed window, then went and sat down. The soundman then woke up, also climbed over whoever out of the window, ran in circles for a minute screaming and then fell over, both legs broke, the girls woke up and started screaming and fountaining fine jets of blood over us from miniscule head cuts, they climbed out. Just me, Myo and our choking death rattling driver, not nice.

Police, Ambulances, news choppers and Firemen turned up and cut us out, sparks everywhere, too near my arm for me, plenty screaming and crying.Taken to separate hospitals so we all got into theatre immediately. I was in an ambulance with someone resembling that scary guy from The Goonies, teeth smashed, nose broke, eye popped out - it spoke - IT was the soundman, who it later transpired I had broken my wrist, elbow and forearm hitting in the face upon impact. My upper arm was fractured in three other places, I had windscreen glass embedded in my head and neck, cracked 3 ribs, again with my own arm and damaged my spleen, not so important. My worst moment was when they told me they had to catheterise me (tube down inside of penis to empty bladder pre-surgery). I begged not to, then finally agreed as it was wall to wall beautiful nurses... and then Charles the intern appeared with a garden hose, not nice.

Second worse moment a week later when a fan sneaked into the hospital room with an import copy of the album for me to sign (!!!!) which is when I realised Virgin had gone ahead with a cover we had nixed; the band photo was gay, credits were fucked, and the album was out! A week after the crash, smart move, Friday 13th, no band to promote it. They did send me flowers, with a note about my leg! Proving they had no clue about us or who the fuck was who in the band. I sent them a postcard of the hospital saying "I can honestly say I fucking wish you were here" Sat in hospital, miserable, alone, sore and watching the album sink. I had the arm rebroken twice to realign, nerve damage, never right. All because some selfish twat decides to kill himself by driving into whoever is ahead. Welcome to America.

Only funny moment, Ian Copeland, our american promoter, brother of Miles and Stewart, wonderful man, sent a poster advertising the gig to me in the hospital, and wrote on it "I told you I'd break you in Minnesota."

Finally got home just before christmas, full plaster cast, no one at the airport to pick me up, no money for a cab. I had to call Curdy, who muttered about running around after useless fuckers, then drove at traumatisingly high speeds into London where I was bedridden for another month. Broke over christmas, not nice.

Myo got home later, permanently fucked leg, the pair of us were not happy and broke. Cookie with fucked jawbone and skull, was amazingly lucky; no belt, hit the windscreen and lives ! Jonesy guilt ridden that he wasn't with us - now the drugs don't work, they just make you worse - but we have to go back to finish off the tour the next spring.

How did you feel it affected the fortune of the group?

It killed the group in so many ways. The physical damage was bad enough, we were out of action for months, I broke my right arm and couldn't play for almost 4 months, Myo couldn't walk without a stick till the end of the second tour, Cookie couldn't speak, eat or hear properly, had constant headaches.

The album, which was so overdue anyways, Virgin decided to rush release in the hope one of us died, and sales could jump. Nice idea but in reality it meant there was no band and no promotion in place at all so it sank; a follow up to Never Mind The Bollocks and it fucking sank!???

The aftermath totally soured how me and Myo viewed the situation, the management and the record company; we were left out to dry. Steve and Paul had no idea how badly we had been treated,  the worst christmas ever, the management let us down badly, we ended up with the most bent shithouse ambulance chasing twat on the planet representing us over the accident. I had hospital bills of over $100,000, but sadly, probably the worst and most indirect result was Steve ending up alone, with no band, no mates, feeling bad about it all and falling into bad habits worse than ever. Myo succumbed too, after months of painkillers, so the second tour was more about damage control than anything else. Heartbreaking really, because despite all that the band was still fucking amazing and we laughed constantly. We still had more bollocks than anyone else out there, then or now. Ask anyone who did see us. Imagine us clean and healthy!

The end result was The End. Steve couldn't face coming back to England, and the same old narcocycle. Myo just wanted to be back in that same old cycle. Cookie and I were just battle weary and tired of shit never materialising and dealing with them both in that cycle.

The plan had been after that first American tour, to come back to the UK, and really tour here properly, release the album to coincide with that, and take it from there. We had been offered several killer deals in the States after the success of the tour and things were looking rosy. Oh well, milk spilt. As Ronson always told me; "You can't move forwards if you're always looking behind you."

Ray, you given some passionate insight into the fortunes, not to mention chaos, surrounding The Professionals. It's amazing you achieved the amount you did - at least you got the album recorded, despite your misgivings about the end result. I just wanted to mention an unrecorded Professionals song which I've sent you, possibly called "Around The World." Does this bring back any memories? 

(Laughling) It's actually called "All the Nasty Girls" and was written on that tour, and was a reflection on how much fun we had when we toured the States. I liked this, even though this live version was really rough, a work in progress or the stuff as we call it in the trade. It was an idea Steve and I had messed around with at soundchecks and days off. I remember it was one of the few songs we shared vocals on, which I quite liked the direction of, and another reason it seemed like we were on the up for the next record etc. There were actually about four more new tunes we had been messing around with on the last tour, all real rockers, looking towards the next record.

After yourself and the two Paul's returned from New York in the summer of '82, did you really think it was all over, or did you still hope you might re-group?

Initially we had no doubt we would be getting back together. The tour had been a massive success, sold out almost everywhere - we had done double bills with The Jam, Siouxsie and The Banshees, played some huge headline gigs,   including one in LA, The Florentine Gardens, where there was a street riot by over 1000 kids who couldn't get in - Police helicopters, riot squad, the whole bloody lot. 

It felt like we had really proved a point, especially Stateside - after the disappointment of the last Pistols show in San Francisco and The Professionals car crash in '81, we had returned and played over 100 shows, played in every state and every major town. We had played to and with Iggy Pop, Blondie, The Ramones, R.E.M, The Pretenders, Motorhead, David Johanson, The Stray Cats and The Police amongst others, all giving us huge props and praise afterwards.

Live at the Keystone April 24th 1982.

I just thought Steve needed a break, it would be good for him to be out of London and that vicious drug cycle for a while;
there were so many parasites hanging off him here. We were waiting on the US deal getting finalised and for the dust to settle in the UK with Virgin - the general idea between the 3 of us here was to get some more tunes together and regroup to do some more shows later that year and possibly remix the album for an American release.

As it turned out Steve went even more off the rails and was untraceable for a while, during which we had offers of shows come in that we had to blow off, including headlining a festival in Malta, mine and Myers homeland, to an audience of 150,000, a major disappointment.

The management stuff had come to a head with heavies turning up to 'borrow' equipment, Jonesys' treasured Les Paul mysteriously being sold, no money in the band account suddenly, all despite a hugely successful tour - it all started to smell very ominously sinking ship like, and then there was the ongoing court case over the car crash (something that went on for 6 years and ended as unresolved as the band did). It just got too messy and Myers and I decided to take a leave of absence. It just lasted a little longer than anyone anticipated.

Can you tell us a little about what you've been up to since?

Well, one reason I took time out was to work with Richard Jobson of The Skids, who at the time was sharing a flat with me. I did The Armoury Show with him for a while, with some other mates including Bob Kingston from Tenpole Tudor. There was also a brief moment when I went down and rehearsed with Johnny Thunders for a tour, it was going to be him, Cookie, Myers and me. It sounded great on paper but in reality he made Jonesy seem like a choirboy on the drugs front so we all passed, wisely by all accounts.

I was in about 40 different bands at the time, (laughling) one with Mick Rossi from Slaughter and the Dogs, one with Kirk Brandon, Raven and Big Paul from Killing Joke, another with Rat Scabies and Paul Fox and Segs of The Ruts, I was in Black Elvis 2000 for a couple of months (laughling). I did lots of recording and production, ended up on a whole slew of records, including some stuff with Billy Currie from UltraVox, Derek Forbes from Simple Minds, Geordie from Killing Joke; formed another band called Wild Crash 500 with Bob Kingston and Gary Long from Tenpole and Koozie Johns, who later ended up playing in The Philistines with Glen (Matlock) and I.

There was an ironic period when I joined half of Bow Wow Wow with Dave Barbe and Leigh Gorman in Atomage and Cookie joined the other half with Mathew Ashman in Chiefs of Relief, separate paths but parallel. Early 90's I was inhouse producer and head of A & R for Immediate Records (Jimmy Pages first job back in the 60's!) and was unbelievably lucky enough to have Mick Ronson take me under his wing to educate and inspire me about production and composition, right up until April '93, when tragically young, he finally lost his fight with cancer - the bravest, most talented person I ever met and the hugest impression on me as a man following his own path.

After he had gone London really depressed me so I headed east to Japan and on to Los Angeles, following up on work and collaborations I had made with the industrial mob, through Raven and Immediate. I got much more heavily into production from '94 onwards, especially in Japan, and ended up in Los Angeles working, then living there, while I produced the Zilch stuff, with Hide, genius Japanese guitarist and singer. (*1  *2 - see index at foot of page for YouTube clips). Zilch ended up being the most innovative thing I produced, with Paul Raven in my corner.

I was able to have Jonesy come in and play on the record, along with almost everyone I was ever mates with; Ian Astbury, Shaun Ryder, Duff McKagan, Brian James, Lemmy, Jaz Coleman, Geordie Walker, The Professionals best mate and security Youngy, his son Shabba D was on the record! We had a stack of American mates play on it too; Cypress Hill, Kool Keith, Joey Castillo (now with Queens of The Stone Age), Dave Kushner (now with Velvet Revolver), Chris Vrenna, NIN and Marilyn Manson, Scott Garrett of The Cult, Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains - it was like the ultimate open door sessions - Strummer, Scabies, Mani, Michael Hutchence all came by. It was great and oddly enough, nearly everyone had some strange affiliation or connection to The Professionals.

Duff McKagan is a great example, while recording with Zilch he told me how the first gig he ever played was as a 16yr old drummer, in a support band for The Professionals in Detroit back in 1982, which inspired him to get onto guitar, form Guns N' Roses and never look back! A bonus from these sessions were several tunes Steve and I laid down with Duff in the studio, which were so blatantly Professionals material that they were kept for a possible future album, to this day!

It was also great because I finally saw Steve on a regular basis, he had gotten clean and sober and was a different geezer - still the same humour but didn't filch everything you weren't sitting on! We were a regular double act in the local gyms in Hollywood (laughing), routinely mulling over putting The Profs back together. It made me realise just how much I had missed the silly sausage all those years, he was and still is one of the most important influences in my life, musically and spiritually. How he has battled his personal addictions and  problems the past 18 years continues to be a huge source of pride to me. Top geezer.

Ray & Steve Jones in Japan

I produced a few American acts, including Danzig, Amen, Space Age Playboys, and played guitar on Perry Farrell of Janes Addiction's solo album, but the Zilch thing had blown up enormously in Japan after Hide tragically and inexplicably committed suicide in 1998. Out of respect for him and his family I toured there to show how much he had meant to me as a musician - again with all my mates - which resulted in some incredible one-off live performances with Steve, Ian Astbury, Duff - doing some killer tunes; Anarchy, Bodies, New Rose, Problems, Roadhouse Blues etc. There are some killer pics of me, Jonesy, Ian and Duff smashing it in Tokyo. (* 3).

It also afforded me the chance to pay back one of the people who had given me my first ever break - I had Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy, who gave me my first job, (and how I met Steve and Paul) come out on tour with Zilch in 2001, along with Matt Walker, drummer with Morrissey, Smashing Pumpkins and Filter.

2003 saw me with 3 daughters, who I wanted educated in London not LA, so it was time to come home, and in The Philistines with a certain Glen Matlock, someone I have been close mates with ever since those early early days of 80/81 (Rich Kids - Ronson produced). The Philistines 2003 sounds like The Profs to me with 2 guitars and has been a blast playing live - we had Cookie and Myers at all the London gigs heckling, and a certain Mr Jones onstage with us in Los Angeles when we played there a year or so back. (* 4 * 5)

It's a funny old game, you end up almost right back where you started out from. I am back in the same flat in Kensington that I was in when I joined The Professionals in '80, hanging out with Cookie, Myers and Jonesy when he's in town, down the pie and mash shop, nothing changes, well, some things do, we pay for the grub these days! It feels just like the old days but better, more to reflect on and be proud of.

This year has been the strangest yet, after my dear mate Paul Raven passed away last November, I had a couple of major scares and ended up having some rewiring on the ticker myself, since then, it's been like I was back in 1981. Steve was here all summer because of the Pistols, and we hung out continuously, catching up on all the times in LA, and Cookie too, strange I had forgotten how close he and I had been back on that last tour in '82.

Glen Matlock, Ray and Steve Jones. The Philistines in LA, December 2005

It seemed like everyone I was ever mates with, or worked with, has reappeared in my life, I saw Richard Jobson last week, amazing, Duff played here the week before and Brian James got up; Killing Joke at The Forum with Youth on bass, just like 1981 when Cookie took me to meet them, and then Decca Wade from The Angelic Upstarts called me yesterday!

If it ever felt like the right time to give the old squad another run out, being a proper paddy, I would stick a few quid on it happening this season, I guess we'll see. I was talking with Cookie about it the other day and we both laughed at how it still sounds like the bollocks today. Never say never!

Ray, thank you very much. Fingers crossed for some Professionals action in 2009!

* 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-4EzKLpJT0
* 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlctBeRzi-E
* 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnTghvRCbkg
* 4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhIXoXi1clA
* 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZ-viEZzuiss

Ray McVeigh's MySpace  http://www.myspace.com/raymondmcveigh

Phil would like sto extend special thanks to Ray McVeigh

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God Save the Sex Pistols


God Save The Sex Pistols ©Phil Singleton / www.sex-pistols.net