Since 30 years now Danny Fury has been a member of countless bands such as Rogue Male, The Lords of the New Church, Kill City Dragons or Vain to name a few, befriended with most of the musicians you could think of from the 80s rock scene, played with some of them at the occasion and is now fronted Tango Pirates as the singer.
It has been a hell of a ride and Danny kindly accepted to talk about it with me.
Seat nicely in your coach cause you can't sum up almost 30 years in a few lines.
Danny, you're coming from Switzerland but you made your career in the UK and USA. Why & when did you leave your native country ?
I left my hometown ( Basel in Switzerland) in january 1984. I've been playing drums all my life and I felt good enough to play in any band I wanted to. I went through my record collection and most of my favorite bands seemed to come from England ....or London to be more precise, so I came over for a few weeks and felt at home instantly. I went back (to Switzerland) to get my drums and moved into a squatt with a young canadian friend.
I guess that most people noticed you when you joined Rogue Male in 1986 but before that what have you been up to ?
Before London I played in many semi pro bands in Switzerland and Germany, even worked as a session drummer in Munich (Germany) for a while. It was not really my thing though. I grew up in a children's home without a family, so I had an urge to play in bands. They often became a bit of a family substitute for me and it felt just more natural to me.
How did you end up in Rogue Male ?
So here I was in good ol' London, not speaking much english and feeling a bit out of context. it's an awful feeling when you can't talk and get yourself across.
So my first task was to learn the language, but as soon as I could speak enough I hung myself on the phone and went to at least a 100 auditions over the next year or so.
I came across bands like The Godfathers who were the only band that did not want me....(laugh)...too good for them they said (ha ha) but I guess I did not fit in with the image. I already looked like I should be in The Lords of the New Church
Anyway,....finally I've seen an add from Rogue Male. They told me that they checked out over a 100 drummers. some name-drummers too like Mick Tucker (from The Sweet....an early influence) so I was very proud to have been offered the job !
When you arrived in the band their 2nd album "Animal Man" was already recorded even if you are credited on the sleeve, right?
yep....it was...but I was promoting it live and since I was made a full member, I was put on the cover.
The outfit and apocalyptic atmosphere were very elaborate and almost seemed as important as the music itself. Do you have memories of the photo shoot for that album ?
Yes you're right. It was Jim's vision and it seemed very important to him. It was pre Terminator days, so it might have influenced a lot of things like that movie.
The outfits on the record sleeve were done by ourselves but afterwards JIm had the Starlight Express people make us even more elaborate outfits. I always had a hard time though to play in that stuff.....(laugh) I used to take some of it off during a show as it kept me from moving freely.
I remember that shoot very well. We spent a whole day shooting at some deserted castle outside of London and Jim had those two huge rotweiler dogs on the set. everyone seemed a bit scared of them, except for Jim of course.
And I remember it being a very cold day. we were freezing our butts off.....(laugh)
At the time Rogue Male had a real momentum in UK and in France. How was it from the inside ?
It seemed like we're about to hit the big time. Everyone seemed really exited but everything went wrong from there on fast -same old rock n roll story-, Elektra, who was our US label wanted to remix our album and ended up making a complete mess of it. They even forgot to put in guitar leads and stuff like that and Jim refused to have it out like that.
I think they had a big coke party and wasted a 100 000 on that remix....our money of course !
Jim insisted on having everything done in big style and so we run out of our advance fast. In the end there was just nothing left and we had to pack it in two years later.
You were quite young at the time, early 20s or so. How was it to be immersed in the 80s rock scene ?
Yeah I was very young. Still am in my head....(laugh)
It was very exiting to all of a sudden tour with major acts and hit the big stages. I learned a hell of a lot in those days, musically and business-wise. It was what I was dreaming of and it is always an uplifting experience when you work hard on something and then get to reap the rewards.
It also taught me that fame is an illusion -if you are an intelligent person- and only in the heads of your fans.
But the whole 80's scene was an amazing experience. there were all those flamboyant characters about and everything seemed possible at the time. ....how things have changed nowadays !!!
Tell us one typical story to illustrate of your RM days ?
A typical story ? Well, there are so many.... From working hard with the band to the gigs ...to backstage...hotel scenes etc.
I remember Jim kicking mike stands around in rehearsals cuz I would get something not quite right (he was a perfectionist in the truest sense) and me storming out the door cuz I felt treated wrongly.....(laugh)
I remember sitting in Jim's pad and having some wine and laughing my head off cuz he was so funny.
I remember naked bandmembers crawling along hotel gang ways, trying to get away from too much chick action.
i remember Metallica crying their eyes out in our record company office cuz their bass player just got killed in an accident
There is so much..... oh.....I vividly remember 6 marshall stacks doing my ears in too......(laugh)
Jim Lyttle seem to be a real character. How was it to be in his band ?
Yes, you could say that, he's a one off ! He is a man who works harder than I have ever seen. He is someone who will always get up again no matter how many times he's knocked down. And he believes in his vision right up to this day. He has a great sense of humor but keeps a tight regime on his band.
He is a very loyal person I am proud to still be his friend.
When the record deal ended with Music for Nations, was is because of a lack of record sales or -as it was said at the time in France- Jim Lyttle had get on the nerves of too many people ?
The record deal ended cuz they run outta money to invest in us. Of course It could be because we were a very expencive band to run, ha ha. And yes.... Jim had things done his way or not at all and not everyone could handle that.
In my mind it is a great shame, that he was not given the success he deserved. That band had more attitude than I ever seen before or after (well, maybe Stiv Bator was up in that region too, but more of that later...)
Few demos has been recorded afterwards, were you still in the band at this time and confident in the future of the band ?
Yes, i recorded some more demos with the band after the record contract ended. We believed in ourselves and wanted to still make it work.
jim opened up quite a bit in those days and even let me write some lyrics for the new songs. The direction changed slightly to a more song oriented concept...a bit more melodies or something, but without losing the attitude.
Rogue Male eventually split and every members went separate ways. Did you keep in touch with them ?
I lost contact for many years after the split cuz my life took me in a completely different direction......or directions as it later turned out.
We have now been in touch again for the last few years and hang out quite a bit. He is still the some old Jim, has not changed a bit.
We are still good friends and I think he is one of the great personalities in english hard rock.
I know Jim asked you to join the reunited Rogue Male a few years ago but you didn't agree. Why ?
He did ask me to rejoin the band a couple of years back, but I have become a singer and songwriter myself and got my own band Tango Pirates. It is more of a challenge to me now and my heart is in my own songs and projects.
I did talk to him recently though and since he told me that he still could not find the right drummer, I told him that I will help him record new material and maybe play some gigs with the Rogues.
I will have to see if i still can do the job as he needs it done though. Playing drums in Rogue Male is physically the hardest thing I ever had to do. You gotta hit it very hard and fast and groove at the same time. Not an easy task, but I always loved a bit of a challenge so I will give it a go.
After Rogue Male's split you went to join The Lords of the New Church. You were a longtime fan, weren't you ?
Yes, you could say that. they were my absolute favorite band at the time !!
Nowadays I don't really have favorite bands anymore... well, maybe my own band... (laugh). Just love most music from the heart.
Did you keep in touch with them since you met at a swiss gig ?
Yes I met Stiv after a gig in Zurich, supporting The Lords. I asked him if he knew a cool band in London that I could join. He looked at Nicky (original Lords drummer) and said... you can have his job when he dies... Stiv thought that was funny -don't think Nicky did- (laugh)
We now know that it came true, though Nicky did not die, but left the band to live in LA.
Stiv told that story to a lot of journalists after I joined the band. He thought it was in the stars and meant to be. He was very much into magic, the stars and all sorts of mystical things.
But to answer your question....we did not keep in touch after the Zurich gig.
When you joined the band Dave just came back after quitting them because of their manager Miles Coppeland. How was the band spirit at the time ?
Not quite. Dave joined The Cherry Bombz after he left The Lords. He was my favorite bassplayer in rock'n'roll and when I heard that he left The Cherry Bombz, I arranged to meet him and we got on right away. We started to play session work as a rhythm section when Stiv called him up a few months later. He wanted to start a new band cuz The Lords had split at this point.
We started a new band with Nasty Suicide from Hanoi Rocks and Stiv was gonna call it Gang Bang (laugh) but after a few rehearsals and some recordings, Brian James called up Stiv to reform The Lords again. We all decided that this was the way to go and everyone was really exited with the way it sounded. They told me that I should have been there from the beginning, which made me very proud.
Imagine, ending up in your favorite band !! Not many musicians in the world can say that....well, maybe Ron Wood....
Correct me if I'm wrong but you never recorded in studio with The Lords ?
I will have to correct you there......(laugh). I did a 12 inch mini album with The Lords called Making Time. It has just been reissued in a box set, but wrongly credited to Nicky Turner. just like the whole of side three (it's all me playing) which is in fact the live album I recorded with The Lords called Second coming. It will be corrected (hopefully) in the next issue...
Why the band stopped recording new studio material and only released gigs recordings ?
Well, like i said, we did release this studio recording on that mini-album but we constantly toured and never seemed to be able to take time out to rehearse new songs. We did at the end, but those never saw the light of the day. I wonder what happened to them... just like the songs we recorded with Gang Bang... never heard any of them again. They are still somewhere though. Maybe Caroline (Stiv's girlfriend) has got them and will release them one day.
How was your relationship with Stiv Bators ?
He was like a big brother and a mentor to me. Stiv and I ended up sharing rooms on tours and he kept me up many nights, telling me about conspiracies, crowley and rock'n'roll history. We were very close (we are both libra's) and I still cry when I think of him (which is nearly every day).
I wrote a song for him called Dark star, we play it live at the moment with my band Tango Pirates. I wanna record it with Brian and Dave and it might end up on my solo album (I'm working on at the moment) as well as on my band next output. Maybe in a slightly different version.
Guess partying was quite usual. Was The Lords life as wild as we might imagine ?
Yep, absolutely ! Very wild and very crazy days they were !
Stiv used to stay up for days on end and then you could not wake him up for a few. But we all had a good time and 3 of us are still standing. And in quite good health, as my doc says....(laugh)
No I don't think it was down to that. All members were old soldiers and could handle whatever they did or took and Stiv always lived in Paris.... ever since I joined The Lords. He met Caroline and she was french, so he moved in with her.
The real reason was that Stiv felt exhausted from touring and started to cancel already set up tours. but we all needed the money and were worried that the promoters might not touch us anymore after too many tours cancelled so Brian put an add in the Melody Maker seeking a singer to replace Stiv for a tour we had already set up. (as if you could replace Stiv....NOT)
I thought Stiv knew this and was cool with it but it later turned out that he was not so happy about it.
He ended our last gig of the running tour (at the Astoria in London) with sacking us on stage during the encore. He came out, wearing a t-shirt with the add on it and asked the audience if anyone wanted to sing for The Lords, then he was off....
It was of course not Brian's fault. we all thought it should be done this way and like I said, I thought Stiv knew and did not mind.
What are your recollection of the last days of the band before the infamous '89 Astoria final gig in London ?
Well, like i said, we were all a bit exhauted from touring and especially Stiv. His back was killing him and he wanted a time out but we made a living from touring and could not afford to stop so there was a bit of differences in how to takkle the future.
We did rehearse some new material though towards the end and were planing a next album but it never happened.
Have you been in touch with Stiv after the last gig or during the year preceding his death in june '90?
Yes I did see Stiv a few times before he died and luckily had the chance to make up with him again !!
We even talked about maybe reforming The Lords again some time in the future as we already had Kill City Dragons on the go (Stiv came to a gig and loved it !)
And he had plans for a new band too with Johnny Thunders on guitar and Vom on drums.
You obviously stay close to Dave & Brian as you still play with them. Were you at some point involved in the reformation of the band few years ago ?
Yes I stayed in touch with Dave through all those years, a bit less with Brian as he is not a fan of modern technology and hard to reach but I played for a while in Brian's band Brian James Gang.
We toured all over europe until I was too busy with Kill City Dragons.
I met Brian again when I came back to London in 2010 and have seen him a few times since. We are still like brothers as far as i'm concerned. He lives in Brighton now and I don't see him very often though.
He asked me if I wanna rejoin in 2005, but I felt like we should not do The Lords without Stiv. I was also too fucked up at the time and did not know if i could even do it.
I have now changed my mind, as people all over the world would love to hear The Lords songs live again and would do a reunion. It is ultimately Brian's band though and up to him to decide. Time will tell......
... More to come (Kill City Dragons, Vain, Wild at heart, Tango Pirates)