<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> God Save The Sex Pistols - Ed Tudor-Pole Interview January 2005
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in conversation with Phil Singleton

Edward Tudor-PolePhil: The first thing I wanted to ask you about was your name. It's very unusual. I wondered what its origin is?

Ed: Edward Tudor-Pole is my name. The Pole bit goes back hundreds of years, to the Norman Conquest. I'm really Edward Pole but my great-grandfather did some genealogy and worked out some connection with the royal house of Tudor, so he added Tudor to the Pole. So it's a bit bogus really, you can blame my grandfather! Hence the name.

It's certainly not a name you come across very often.

Hopefully the rarer something is, the more valuable it is.

Moving on to The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, had you done anything in music prior to this project?

Yeah, I'd been in one band, called the Visitors. I'd just left drama school and the punk thing was just erupting. I answered an advert in the Melody Maker, which said "Wild front man wanted." I thought, that's me! I got the job, we did a few gigs and got a few fans.

Did you make any records?

No. We did some demos, but the songs weren't very good. We could all play. I was just the singer, I didn't do anything creative for them. We played at the Marquee and got a review, which said the band are excellent apart from the bug-eyed cretin on vocals! So they sacked me basically!

So I was out in the cold feeling rather depressed! Bloody hell, surely I'm worth being in the band?! One of the Visitors, Chris I think, phoned me up a few weeks later saying the Sex Pistols are auditioning for a new singer, why don't you go for it, Ed? If he hadn't phoned me up I wouldn't have known about it and wouldn't have gone along. So I just went along to the audition for the Rock 'n' Roll Swindle.

Was the audition as it was portrayed in the film?

Pretty much. The Sex Pistols weren't there on the initial day. They whittled it down to the final four or something, to do it the next day with the Pistols. The Pistols were miming, with each of us doing (singing) a version of the Rock 'n' Roll Swindle track, and they spliced it up. The audition is as seen in the film, but all cut together.

I was intrigued as to when the lead vocals were recorded. Were they recorded the day before?

They were recorded live over the backing track that was already recorded. When we turned up, they gave us all a cassette to listen to a recording of the song, Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, with just Steve singing it. We had to learn it, we all had a sheet with the words on it. They gave us an hour or two to swot up on it, before we actually did it on stage.

Who auditioned you the day before? Julien Temple?

Yeah. We had to do that. This was the first day, the opening gambit. I'd been at drama school and the audition was in a theatre, therefore I went in through the stage door. All the other lads piled in the front and they were sitting around in the stalls waiting their turn. A man with a clipboard was saying "What's your name, who's next?" So I went in at the stage door and found my way to the stage and made a massive entrance! If you're on stage you've got the attention of the entire theatre.

It's quite funny to think it was done in that fashion for a band like the Sex Pistols. You've got a man stood there with a clipboard saying, "Who's next?" It sounds quite bizarre!

Well, can you suggest a better way? They just wanted to get through the dross as quickly as possible, and the people they liked they got back the next day, about four of us.

Julien Temple once said when you came in, you did a strange routine with a cigarette and a dance. His quote was; "He was serious, he was the one." Did you feel they'd singled you out?

Yeah, because I walked onto that stage and commanded the room, and said "Hello, I'm Ten Tudor-Pole, are these the auditions for Hamlet?!" and they all laughed. It's on your first entrance you're made. It's been the same ever since. At a gig it's the same, you've got to get a relationship with the audience otherwise it goes for nothing.

When you did the film sequence on the second day with the Sex Pistols present, how were they all getting along, was there an atmosphere? Steve and Paul were obviously still friends and Sid was there as well.

In fact, Sid was there on the first day. Sid was there, he came in with Nancy. It was a long day, a lot of sitting around and dossing about in the stalls. A lot of kids dressed just like Johnny Rotten who obviously hadn't got a hope. Sid came in with Nancy and we were all thinking, "Fuck, that's Sid Vicious!" Nancy was really loudly obnoxious and Sid's slumped in a stall seat. She got on stage and did a mock striptease, got down to her bra and pants and said, "I'm not taking any more off, the rest is reserved for Siddy boy." She wasn't being amusing about it.

Then suddenly Sid turned round, he was near the front of the stalls, and a lot of us were at the back. He turned around, he was obviously out of it, and said, "Why don't you lot all fuck off?" One of the people sitting behind me who was auditioning as well, said "Bollocks!" Sid lost his temper! "You said bollocks to me!" He jumped out of his seat, came running up to the back of the theatre and started punching the bloke. This bloke was trying to fend him off as he was being hit by his hero! He was saying, "Sid man, cool it." It soon settled down and they were sitting next to each other chatting.

It's interesting because this audition is pretty much the last time Steve, Paul and Sid were together.

It might have been actually, because then Sid went to America. That's right, it was all over a few weeks later.

At the end of the audition, who approached you to say they'd like to use you in the film?

Malcolm McLaren. Julien Temple ran all the preliminary auditions, then Malcolm McLaren saw the film footage. He liked some other guy, Nicky Love or something, I can't remember what he was called. But Julien said, "No, believe you me, this Ten Pole, he's the man." Then I met McLaren, he came round to my squat and said "Ah right…yeah…hello. I want you to write a song called Who Killed Bambi." Then he said he would be back later, he was quite a funny bloke.

You're co-credited as writing the song with Vivienne Westwood.

Yes, cos writing Who Killed Bambi was quite a long process. I wrote the song eventually. McLaren kept coming back and saying, "I like that bit but I want that other bit better."

Bambi in the foyerSo you wrote the lyrics?

I wrote the lyrics but Vivienne improved upon some of the verse lyrics. She definitely did, yes. Some of the lines in the verses are hers. I basically wrote it, in fact it's a rip off of One Man Went To Mow, isn't it? McLaren said they wanted to film me singing it, busking. So that's what I thought it was going to be, me and my guitar, singing this song we were trying to write. Then he changed his mind and said I should do it in the (cinema) foyer as an usher, and we'll record it with a 45 piece orchestra!

(Pictured: Ed performs Who Killed Bambi in the Swindle foyer sequence)

That must have been quite a big thing, to suddenly find yourself in a studio with a 45 piece orchestra!

Well the next thing that happened, I'd written a version of the song, then McLaren came down with Bernie Rhodes who recorded it on his tape recorder, just me strumming in the basement of my squat. I don't know which version it was, it wasn't exactly the finished version. Then he said, "I want you to meet the arranger, Andrew Pryce Jackman. He's a proper orchestral arranger, you can meet up with him and he'll orchestrate it for the orchestra." I met Andrew Pryce Jackman years later, he told me he never got paid!\

So I met the arranger and he said, "You should definitely put an A in there", I thought yeah, of course, thanks! So he improved it another step. Then he did the orchestration for it, and the next thing was, "Right you're going to sing it next Wednesday, come down at 6 o'clock." It was a big studio. Unfortunately, I didn't realise the orchestra were going to record it earlier, because I missed them. They'd had the 45 piece orchestra in and recorded it all. I turned up and they said, "Listen to this!" I said, "Right!" and started singing! Adrenalin you know!

Your vocal style is unique, isn't it?

Ah, but I wanted to sing it quite well. McLaren said, "No, go more over the top." He kept spurring me on, we did loads of takes. Take after take. "More punk, more wild!" What happened was, all the most ridiculous bits from all the takes, he just saved them and put them all onto one track to make it sound as extreme as it could. Some bits make me really wince! But I'm always singing it live still, I just sing it differently.

What studio did you record Who Killed Bambi in?

A big studio somewhere in Wembley.

You also recorded Rock Around The Clock.

Yeah, that was recorded separately. That was recorded a week or two later.

Steve and Paul were presumably on that track?

Yeah. Steve came round to my squat and introduced himself, he was friendly, he was nice. Again, I was just some kid from nowhere and suddenly had McLaren and Bernie Rhodes coming down my squat, then Steve. Steve and I went out for an Indian meal. I was pretty shy of these guys. Then I met Paul. They were very nice chaps, Steve and Paul. Then we rehearsed as a band with a stand-in bass player called Andy Allen.

So who actually played on Rock Around The Clock? Steve, Paul and Andy Allen?

Yeah. Steve can't half play guitar. I was on cloud nine, I didn't know what had hit me. It was great fun. I was glad I got sacked from that poxy other band!

It's funny how things work out.

It is funny. When you look back it's all down to a Melody Maker advert, and one phone call. I suppose if you go further than that, it's down to my dad knobbing my mum! You probably have to go back to the Big Bang!

In Rock Around The Clock, who did all the squeaks during the song?

Some bird who turned up, I can't remember the details.

With yourself, Steve, Paul and Andy Allen in the studio together, was there ever talk of any other songs that you might participate in?

Well I thought, "I want to contribute to this band. I can write songs." I did write songs, I wouldn't call them punk. I wrote a song called What's In A Word. That was written for Steve and Paul, but I was a bit of a new boy, so I didn't want to start shoving my own songs in the Sex Pistols' face on the second rehearsal! We had five rehearsals. But I did show them the song, they said, "Oh yeah that's good" and then we went on to something else.

Who Killed BambiWas there any suggestion of the Sex Pistols continuing at the time, and continuing with you as the new singer?

Yes. As far as I was concerned I'd got the job. I was now the new singer of the Sex Pistols. And then on the advert for Who Killed Bambi, which was rush released, it said introducing Ten Pole Tudor. My reality then was that I was the new singer. My heart was in my mouth. In a way I didn't want to be the second Johnny Rotten. I thought I can't compete with Johnny Rotten, but I wasn't going to get off the train, I was going to see where it led. It would obviously lead somewhere exciting. When it all ended, part of me was relieved because then I could do my own band, and be a band leader myself, which is what I'd always wanted to do.

How far down the line did it go?

Only talk. But we had five rehearsals.

We filmed the foyer sequence for the Rock 'N' Roll Swindle, that was an exciting day. That was one day's work. It was in the Rainbow Theatre, they built the foyer set there.

You had Irene Handle there.

Yes, Irene Handle who called me Tadpole!

Was that an accident?!

Ah no, I've been called Tadpole in the past! They think it's a lot easier than Tudor-Pole, we'll call him Tadpole!

Looking back are you proud of your contribution to the film and the band?

Yeah, I suppose. I've never managed to live it down. But yeah, it was quite funny. It was all crammed into a very short amount of time, four or five weeks, maybe a six week period. Then Sid Vicious died. McLaren was ousted from control of Glitterbest by a law suit because he'd been squandering all the boys' royalties making the Rock 'n' Roll Swindle film, which eats up money. Strictly speaking he shouldn't have spent their money, but McLaren always said you have to speculate to accumulate. So on that technicality they stopped him having anything whatsoever to do with the Sex Pistols, and then Sid died about a day later and the whole thing was finished.

When Sid died everything stopped. Obviously people were in a state of shock, and that was the end. But I got a bit of money out of the publishing company Warners, for Who Killed Bambi. That was recorded very late, it was rushed onto the album. Then the Rock 'n' Roll Swindle album was released. McLaren said the album was coming out in about two weeks, and by the way "I'm not calling you Ten Tudor-Pole I'm calling you Ten Pole Tudor. I said "I'm not sure I like that really." He said "That's too bad, you're printed on 10,000 copies!"

What was his thinking behind that?

Well, when I went along to the audition, they said "name?" I said my name is Ten Tudor-Pole, I don't know why, it was just a brainstorm. So they started calling me Ten! "You'll be next Ten!" I hated them calling me Ten. I thought what did I call myself that silly name for? So they had me down as Ten Tudor-Pole. Then McLaren saw that and thought, Ten Pole Tudor, that's better! I didn't like any of the Ten business, but he said it was too late.

When Silly Thing came out it was promoted as a double A-side with Who Killed Bambi.

McLaren wanted Rock Around The Clock / Who Killed Bambi double A-side, but Virgin said, "Who is this fucking Ten Pole Tudor, we've never heard of him?" So they put Silly Thing on the other side.

Virgin eventually put out the Rock Around The Clock / Who Killed Bambi double A-side, when they tried to cash in on your later success.

Yeah, they might have done, they were a bunch of cunts. They were pretty nasty. There was a very nasty vibe about Virgin Records. I remember at the time, Vivienne Westwood always referring to (Virgin boss) Richard Branson as Branston! There was no love lost. But you know record companies, they are all the same.

I remember back in 1980 in Smash Hits magazine, they printed your Top Ten favourite songs…

Well, that's a bunch of baloney. If you were asked for your favourite songs, you'd come out with the first ten you could think of. The next week you'd be kicking yourself for not having mentioned loads of others.

It's an impossible task, but looking back, the list made me smile because you put in The Professionals' Just Another Dream.

Did I?

You said, "These boys are underrated." It showed there was still some affection for Steve and Paul.

Total affection. I never fell out with them. Yeah, I love Steve. Paul, he's a top man.

Am I right in thinking they got up on stage with you during some of your own shows?

What happened was that Steve didn't know quite what to do with himself. He'd tried The Professionals, but that wasn't exactly full-on. I'd got my band together, and they used to come and do a number with us at these venues. No one had really heard of us, but we were beginning to build up a following and Steve used to come along, there wouldn't be that many people there, such as the Moonlight Club in West Hampstead. He'd come on stage and play on a song or two. He'd often be quite pissed. Once he got up one song too early and just sat on the amp until it was finished, until his turn. He was supporting our band, when you've only got about 50 people coming along…

It would be quite something for the 50 that turned up.

Yeah, you'd like to think. We all enjoyed it, it was all good fun. It wasn't like the second coming or something, but as time goes on you look at past events and they take on a pattern of glory and glamour which at the time, one's unaware of. It's the reason I'm still going today.

Looking back at this Top Ten, you also had Malcolm McLaren in there with You Need Hands. You were quoted as saying, "This man deserves a knighthood for his services to the country."

(Ed laughing).

Is that how you regarded him, or still do?

Yeah, I stand by that. He's an amazing man, a one-off buccaneering, maverick, mad crazed, mad man. He's great.

Do you still enjoy his take on the Sex Pistols story, that he was the…

Malcolm can say what he likes, he's quite a man in his own right. He's very irreverent, sending people up. There should be more people like him. People are too similar these days.

Following on from your Pistols stint, a couple of years later you released Real Fun. That was the first single with your own band, which was called Tenpole Tudor.

Yeah, we thought, "What shall we call the band?" Might as well call it Tenpole Tudor.

Real Fun

This single had the song you wrote for the Pistols, What's In A Word, on the B-side.

Yeah, it's not a bad record.

That led to other things, 3 Bells In A Row was probably one of my favourite ones of yours.

Yeah, that is a good one.

Then, of course, your big moment of fame, Swords Of A Thousand Men.

Yeah. We made a stupid decision to follow it up by releasing that song Wunderbar, which was really was always called Fall About. A much better title. Why I changed it I don't know, I must have been mad. You know it as Wunderbar, I know it as Fall About. It hasn't got all those beer swilling German connotations. That killed us off when we released that. Everyone thought we were a fucking joke band. It was completely just a pop song, it was catchy, but had nothing to do with Tenpole Tudor.

Did you go to the All Day Punk Festival (Wasted - December 04)?

No I wasn't there.

It was great.

You were compering it, weren't you?

Yes, it was 12 hours, and I played some of my songs on my own. I also managed to form a band backstage, we performed Swords Of A Thousand Men just before Sham 69. Sham 69 were just fantastic. Jimmy Pursey is the greatest showman of punk. Theatrically, he's incredible. He's got to be seen to be believed. He doesn't look any different at all, if not better.

I saw you at the 100 Club 25th Anniversary Punk Festival a couple of years ago. (pictured right)

That was my last gig with the band. Yeah, the one man format is a different thing, it's something fresh and new, and dangerous.

You enjoy that?

Yeah, if you pull it off, it's great. Very nerve wracking, lonely in the dressing room. If there's a support band that's good, you can get them up at the end to play Swords Of A Thousand Men. That works. Or just get the drummer up and do Who Killed Bambi, that also works. I'm serious about this one man thing, definitely. It's a challenge.

I want to see how far I can take it. Just because it's one man doesn't mean to say I'm not trying to rock it up. Some say, "Oh he's doing an acoustic set, he can have a little slot in the acoustic tent at the festival." They don't understand, I've gotta be on the main stage, I play the guitar and I play the crowd. The bigger the crowd the better they play.

You're taking your show around the country?

Yeah, that's what I've been doing. It's going well.

Any new material?

Quite a lot. I've not had a record deal in twenty years, but we'll see. Not for the want of trying.

Is the new material in the same vein as Swords?

Yeah, it's rock and roll, with rhythm and melody. That's my only criteria. I play guitar in a more rhythmic way, you don't need so many notes to get the beat across. If the crowd are clapping and singing and we've got the harmony vocals going, it's quite a big noise. It sounds like rock and roll. It's attempting that connection with the audience.

Are you doing any more acting at the moment?

I don't know, if someone offers me something. It's not something I think about because there's nothing I can do about it. I play the guitar every day of my life, that's what I work on. That's what I want on my grave stone, if they put on my gravestone, "an actor", I'll fucking kill myself, if I wasn't dead already!

You're definitely looking forward with your live show...

Yeah. I haven't got any CDs, but I'm working on that. Some say I'm mad to tour when I'm not promoting something, but I say, "Don't be so cynical", I'm just born to play and I want to get out there. I suppose I'm starting out all over again. I've been going 13 months, just paying my dues… as McLaren said, I'm a small fish in a big pond hoping I'll grow.

Many thanks Ed, and good luck with the one man show.

All material ©2005 Phil Singleton / www.sex-pistols.net
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God Save the Sex Pistols


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