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Paul Cook Interview
The Professionals are 'back & better' with live dates & new music

After a hectic summer with Generation Sex, Paul returns with The Professionals. Phil Singleton discovers there's plenty to reflect on and even more to look forward to.Professionals 2023
The Professionals
Phil: How’s things after your busy summer, Paul?

Paul: Not bad mate, not too bad at all. Just gearing up for this tour, getting things in order, the usual.

First off, I wanted to ask about the two new guys in The Professionals, Marc Haywood and Dean Croney who’ve replaced Toshi and live guitarists Chris Catalyst and Rich Jones.

What happened, Toshi (bass) let us down. He was due to be on the tour and something else came up, he got more money and a lot more work, which is fair enough, although he did say he was going to do the tour. So he decided to go down the other route. Chris Catalyst wasn’t available because he was going on the road with The Sisters of Mercy, and Rich Jones couldn’t do it either ‘cause he is busy with Michael Monroe. So we were scouting around for new guys. We had Marc in place first, he was going to play guitar with us. Funnily enough, Marc has been playing on the Black Sabbath Ballet, can you believe?! He’s the bass player now and we’ve got another friend of Tom’s, Dean, in on guitar, and it’s alright, it’s sounding great. It’s just the ever-changing Professionals which is fine by me. As long as me and Tom are there it’ll be OK.

You and Tom Spencer are the Professionals really.

Yeah, exactly. It’s the way it is these days y’know, guys play with many different bands, it’s not just one set up. Everyone is doing a tour here, a tour there, so you have to tie things in when you’re touring and get people in who are around at the time, that’s the way it is. It’ll be fine, it’s sounding good anyway, so that’s great.

Are they in it for the long haul?

Maybe, we’ll see how this tour goes. It might be the permanent line-up now for a while. It’s early days obviously, with two new guys, but we’ll see how it pans out.

You’ve got a new single coming out which ties in with the re-release of your two albums as a double vinyl set.

Yeah, we’ve done a couple of new tracks that we’re going to slot in with the vinyl albums as bonus tracks on a CD, so if people buy the album on the tour, they get a couple of new tracks with it. The main track is one called ‘Dance While No One’s Watching’. It’s a metaphor, it could be about doing anything while no one is watching. We got it all written, recorded, mixed and mastered in about 10 days which is amazing time-wise.

[Phil: I’ve been lucky enough to hear the track, it’s pure timeless Pros, blessed with catchy, hard as nails riffs, a killer chorus, and an abundance of power and muscle. Smart lyrics too. The Pros have announced their return in some style].

Have you had much time for song-writing with Tom recently?

We’ve a few ideas that have been on the back burner for a while. Because I was doing the Generation Sex stuff over the summer, we were taking a break from it all really. We always have ideas floating around, it’s just getting a plan together once this year is out of the way when we will do another album or an EP, or just get some singles out. There’s always stuff on the go though.

You went into Abbey Road to record the two new tracks.

Yeah, we done the basic tracks there, because we knew a guy, a young kid called Alex Stavrou. He was a trainee, and they give trainees a room in Abbey Road to learn their trade. We got the two backing tracks done, which was great and then we went up to Dave Draper’s studio, the usual place in Worcester. It was a weird one, I’ve never been to Abbey Road before, it’s okay, it’s a bit corporate. All the (Beatles) fans were outside, taking pictures and so on, but it was nothing special as far as I was concerned!

You’ve changed your management again recently…

AGMP was just helping us out really. Over a period of nine months, we had just one gig and not much else so we thought this ain’t really happening, so we’ve gone back with Liam Feekery who is helping us out again. We feel more comfortable there anyway and we’re getting on with doing a lot of stuff ourselves, you know the old saying, if you want a job done properly do it yourself.

It’s eight years since the Professionals reformed!

I know! It’s amazing we’re still going, innit?! Banging our heads against the wall! It’s a labour of love still, we’ll see how it goes after this tour, playing all these little places. This tour has been booked for a while now and we’ve got a few dates with the Rezillos. We’ll have a sit down after and see where we’re going to go from there.

You must enjoy it and still get something out of it though?

Yeah, it’s hard work though I must admit, even doing the Gen Sex stuff which was all needs catered for travel wise, hotels, all the organisation, it was still hard work physically but I’m looking forward to getting back playing live with The Professionals. We’ve a bunch of great songs, we will be playing a couple of ones from ‘SNAFU’ that we haven’t played live before. We’ve got a great bunch of songs to pick from, we really have. I was sitting down with Tom recently, thinking what do we leave out? It is a bit frustrating that we don’t get much feedback gig wise, anyway we’re enjoying what we’re doing, we are writing good stuff. What more can you do? Just get it out there and hopefully something will give one day.

Generation Sex: it sounded like it must’ve been difficult logistically getting it all together. Was it worth it?

Yeah, it was good fun. I had fun anyway. We didn’t really hit the ground running with that, because of one reason or another. Steve (Jones) was not very well at rehearsals, we didn’t rehearse as much as we should have. Billy (Idol) only turned up two days before the first show, so it wasn’t an ideal prep. The first few gigs were a bit shaky to say the least but once we got in the swing of it all halfway through it, it was great - it was really good towards the end. Whether we’ll do it again, who knows? I don’t know.

It was great to hear you and Steve delivering the Sex Pistols’ sound.

Exactly, it was good to play with Steve again. It was good to play those Generation X songs, they’re so bloody fast though! It’s unbelievable. It was tough mate, but I got there!

The Crystal Palace show was good fun.

Yeah, we were getting into the swing by that gig. I’m glad we did Gen Sex, it was good being out. We played a couple of funny festivals in Europe (laughing), we were on the bill with Kiss which was a bit weird, and Guns N’ Roses and all that stuff. Once we got our own crowd and done our own shows, it was great.

Is Steve back permanently in England now?

No, he’s gone back now (to LA). He was here for a long time, the longest he’s been here, which surprised a lot of people. He was enjoying himself which is good. Maybe he’ll be back again, who knows?

With Steve being back over here, there was obviously going to be speculation about him being involved again with The Professionals…

People still keep driving us mad, asking us if Steve is still in The Professionals, is he playing with you? It’s like, really? Oh God, shut up!

The Professionals are back on tour starting this month. Get your fix of tough, tune packed rock ‘n’ roll. Go and see ‘em. That’s an order!
Tour Oct/Nov 23

©Phil Singleton / / 2023
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