Bill, Roger, Danny, Mandie, Suzie and Kelly thank you all for
sparing the time.
How did you all get started in music?
Gary: I got started by nicking my first girlfriends classical
guitar. This aligned with Melody Maker running a series called ‘How to
play guitar in 6 easy lessons’ (they still weren’t easy enough for me!)
and I’m still learning.
Bill: My mum got me a guitar (had a face painted on it) when I
was about six. Been playing ever since (but not that guitar).
Roger: I first started at the
age of 9, with knitting needles and biscuit tins and got my first kit
age 14 after a friend learned guitar and asked if I could play drums,
and have been playing ever since.
I was in the Merchant Navy straight out of school and one
of the first places I went to was Jacksonville where I saw Foghat and
also tacked onto a local band (called Rum Creek). I followed them about
for the few weeks we were there and it was at this time I bought a
guitar (because I couldn’t afford a drum kit!!). The live thing was the
inspiration for me, I loved the volume, and the freedom of it all.
started singing at karaokes when I was 24 and met another girl singer
(Sinead Keating) doing the same, we decided to set up a duet called
leather and lace and sang in clubs and pubs, Sinead decided she wanted
to be a lead singer in a band, so I bought the Loot newspaper to see if
I could find one too and Roadhouse were looking for a backing singer I
applied and was told to meet them at The White Hart in Hammersmith where
they were gigging, I sang Mustang Sally for my audition and it all
started from there in 1993.
I have been
singing since the age of 6 but didn't take it seriously until I was
about 14, when I started writing my own material. I took music GCSE and
then decided I wanted to sing so did a diploma in music practice then
went on to do a degree in music.
loved singing and went to a performing arts school when I was 18. I
tried for every audition I could and ended up playing in lead roles at
the Wimbledon Theatre playing Star to Be in 'Annie' and Jenny Lind in
Did you always want to become a musician?
Gary: I wasted my youth hanging out at the Marquee 3 nights a
week. Seeing bands and buying records. I lived for music, I honesty
never thought I’d get an opportunity.
Bill: Ever since I can remember, its the buzz of playing
"live". That what I love best.
Roger: Yes, when I found I had an
ability to play drums, it was all I ever wanted to do.
From the age of about 16 (I never
entertained the possibility before that time, I was discouraged from
“showing off” so wasn’t “a natural” performing type of character).
No I didn't
have a clue I could sing until karaoke came in fashion, and people were
coming up to me and telling me I had an unusual quirky voice. I wanted
to be an air traffic controller!!!!!!!!!
Suzie D: I wanted to be a 'wild animal saver' as I called
it, when I was really little, but I've always wanted to sing.
Kelly: When I finished university and went to work in London,
music wasn't in my life anymore and I missed it. I had to do something
about it and wanted to join a band.
What kind of material were you playing in the early days?
Gary: When teenagers Bill and I fell in with a bunch of Hippies
and we joined their band .We were the only one’s who turned up for
rehearsals, sometimes we were the only one’s that turned up at all. Neil
Young’s Southern Man and Ohio were the order of the day, along with a
version of Gimme Shelter that used to last about 3 weeks (including
Bill: A bit of a cross between CSN&Y and rock.
Roger: My first band at 14 played
mainly pop covers, but my first pro band, which I toured Germany with
when I was 16, was a soul band.
Nearly everything I did was based around
Peter Green (English Rose album), Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy, and a
little Be-Bop-Deluxe with Bill Nelson before he went all “new wave” and
early ZZ Top.
was singing covers from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s a mixed range of
I used to sing in musicals when I was at school, but when I left I sang
soul and blues, maybe a little bit of rock.
Kelly: I sang theatre initially and at university I was a female
MC to garage music and featured at the Students Union every week.
What first attracted you to the blues?
Gary: As I got older (and the divorces and health problems kept
piling up) I felt I needed something more than rock.
Bill: Very much in to rock/blues but still enjoy the one man
and his guitar blues. We can play the fast songs and then go into the
slow blues so the tempo is never the same. So (hope) we and the paying
public don't get fed up with the same slow stuff which a lot of bands
Roger: In truth I am not a great blues
fan in the true sense of the word, as I try not to limit my taste to a
single type of music, but I like blues/ rock because it is simple,
straight forward music allowing expression and power.
One word “feel”. Mainly I think down to
Peter Green’s expressiveness. I still love the tones and the phrasing
of his guitar playing in those days.
Joining Roadhouse, I had no clue about Blues before hand.
I didn't really listen to blues much in my teens until I met my ex's Dad
Trevor Burton who I watched play on a Monday night in Birmingham. He
really inspired me to sing the blues.
Kelly: When I was 9 years old my parents split up. Each Sunday my
Dad took my sisters and I to see the GBs at the Grey Horse in Kingston.
We knew all the words to the songs and even then, we saw the passion.
What does the blues mean to you?
Gary: In itself it’s the source of the river, so to speak. But if
I watch a pure blues band, 4 songs is my limit, I don’t like Blues
‘purists’. For me they fall under the same category as anyone who limits
expression. Now give me a mixture of Rock and Blues and that’s a heady
Bill: The blues can be a good way of getting things off your
Roger: The expression of all that life
throws at you.
See above, Peter Green could, to me, make
the guitar cry. It felt like his heart was breaking through this piece
of wood with the six metal strings! Don’t you think that’s amazing? I
rarely achieve it but it is something I always try to do, (communicate
via the guitar).
from the heart, its deep and meaningful, its sad and honest, its lonely
Suzie D: The blues is my way of expressing myself. Singing
the blues means everything to me, it releases any anger or hurt or even
happiness that I keep built up inside.
Kelly: Expressing the soul.
Who are your favourite blues artists (both old and new)?
Gary: I really enjoy the guitar playing of Walter Trout and Joe
Bonamassa and its been a privilege to open shows for these guys. I never
did meet Jeff Healey before his tragic death through cancer, a real
Bill: Got to be John Lee Hooker and Eric Clapton.
Roger: Don’t have any.
Peter Green, Rory Gallagher, Derek
Trucks, Gary Moore, Billy Gibbons (ZZ-Top I love the guitar playing on
Blue Jeans Blues!) Robben Ford.
Suzie D: Loved Louis Armstrong when I was a little girl,
Billie, John Mayer, Ella. My ultimate is Adele at the moment, I think
she is amazing. Also saw Walter Trout with the band which was amazing.
Kelly: I love the guitar of Gary Moore and
Gary Boner has just introduced me to Water Trout.
Eva Cassidy has sung some beautiful blues.
Who has influenced you the most in your music writing?
Gary: Anyone good, who left a legacy/imprint in my Brain. I
subconsciously plunder any inspiration. I’m delighted with the acclaim
I’ve received as a songwriter. I just need some mega star to buy one and
I’ll be rich and famous (What are you waiting for!!!!). I like the
underated US rock Band ‘Live’. Pretencious, but full on in cinemascope.
Bill: I only write the bass parts. The words I come up with are
shit, so leave that to others.
Roger: A Bass player/producer friend of
mine called Trevor Jones; I learnt most of my production skills from him
and how to construct what few songs I do write.
Not too relevant to me in this band but
just about anything I hear will influence what I come up with. I try
very hard not to come up with “same old – same old” stuff. Sometimes I
achieve that, sometimes not.
Dylan, David Gray and Gary Boner!!!
Errmmm, I'm influenced by lots but I can't specify, it's too difficult.
Eva Cassidy, Alanis M, Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Aretha Franklin, No
Kelly: My mother.
What was the best album you ever bought?
Gary: Too many to mention, currently listening to Walter Trout’s
new CD, Linkin Park, Joan Osbourne (Relish), And some US alternative
metal bands, including Shinedown.
Bill: Made in Japan- Deep Purple. Bob Seger Live.
Roger: The first album by “Yes” it just
blew me away!
Very difficult one that. It would be
very hard to beat Rory Gallagher’s “Irish Tour 74” double album, packed
with songs and the best version of “A million miles away” I’ve gotta
put Joe Satriani’s “Surfing with the Alien” album in even though not
really blues. Has been a big influence on my playing over the years.
War of the
Worlds by Jeff Wayne
Suzie D: I haven't got one. No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom is
awesome, but Adele's album is amazing and I used to put Nirvana on all
day..... and Alanis and Eva!!
Kelly: Rolling Stones – Forty Licks.
Are there any particular songs that you play that have special
meaning to you?
Gary: Voodoo Queen and Blues Highway (am most proud of, but the
recoded versions don’t come close to the live experience/sound), Slip
Away and The Answer for lost health and love. Of course our epic closer
Preacher Man, as I’m proud of that twisted, southern gothic, skynrd type
‘tribute’. Every time I play it, it means I’ve finished a show, we have
an encore and I have triumphed over my longstanding muscle and tendon
disease (a condition which means I have to re-invent my guitar laying
technique on a nightly basis). So basically it’s a screw you too fate
and death for me – but we all know who wins in the end!! Sea of Souls,
our new CD, is my fave all round Roadhouse album.
Bill: Hard to say..... Songs can change to what's going on in
your life....sometimes good others times bad.
Roger: No one song in particular, but I
have my Roadhouse fav’s like “Voodoo Queen”, “Couldn’t get to sleep”,
“Fire Walking”, “Don’t Point That Thing At Me” and “Voodoo Dance” (from
the new album).
I like the songs “Blues Highway” and
“Slip Away”. In both cases I can kinda slip into a hypnotic trance and
“ride” the song, so to speak. Both songs can be approached either with
passion, or anger, or a little each of those emotions. Slip away, is a
very beautiful, if not sad song that carries me away completely at
times. I also like some of the newer songs, Voodoo-dance keeps me very
very busy on the guitar and I always feel like “I’m hangin’ on to a
roller-coaster” when I’m playing that one – love it!
Man, The Answer, Tumbling Down.
Suzie D: Stormy Monday is one of the few songs that makes
me want to cry when I sing it.
Kelly: The Answer and Lights on the Water on the new album ooze
passion and meaning to Gary. I love singing these. I feel the pain.
White Water from the album 'Broken Land' holds great memories for me.
What is your favourite guitar/instrument?
Gary: I play mainly souped up Stats (I have 5). Ace Luthier Tom
Anfield hand built me a great guitar out of Swamp Ash and that’s great
for certain songs like ‘The Big Easy’ on the Broken Land’ CD. I love my
Martin acoustic which is integral to our recording process.
Bill: Got 3 basses at the moment. The working bass is a Yamaha
BB1100s which has a great all round feel. Also have a custom made
fretless which I enjoy playing.
Roger: Drum Workshop kits, I would
donate bits of my body to own one!
Well, it’s not a favourite with the blues
purists but my best and fave guitar is my Kramer Nightswan. I bought it
around 1991 and it’s an American rock guitar with an upturned
headstock. But you know what? I can’t find a guitar that matches it
for tone and that matches my sometimes aggressive playing style. I keep
trying out other guitars but I still come back to this one. Put it
through a Fender Bassman amp and it sounds bluesy as hell.
guitar and piano.
Suzie D: Beyonce's vocal box and my Yamaha Clavinova.
Tell me about the band, when did you all get together?
Gary: 18 years go a good friend, Ray Murray, introduced me to hap
Player Bob Roberts, and we formed Roadhouse to play a friends ‘ Rock &
Roll’ wedding. Bill and Roger were in the original version, we were
50/50 whether we’d carry on. It’s over 2,000 shows now…
Bill: Me and Gary have been playing together since we were about
15/16. A guy we knew hooked us up with Bob Roberts and Roger Hunt. The
idea was to do a friends wedding who wanted a bit of blues/rock/rock and
roll. That's how roadhouse was started.
Roger: I knew Bob Roberts very well,
having played, and recorded with him before, he knew Gary, and asked if
I would like to do a one off gig playing for a mates wedding I think!
The rest, as they say, is history, or should that be agony??? !
I met this band about four years ago when
I started going to their jam nights. I really enjoyed those jam nights
and made a lot of new friends there. I also re-learnt to “improvise”
and revisited some of my old blues roots. Before long I was “depping”
for Roadhouse. I liked the people in the band and loved working with
them so when a chance came up for me to get involved, I jumped at it. I
haven’t regretted that move, I have loved my time in this band working
with a great bunch musicians and friends.
joined Roadhouse in 1993 when Gary was lead guitarist Bob Roberts was
lead vocalist and harp player, Bill was bassist and Ivan was the drummer
I was the only girl singer in the band at the time.
I only joined about 3 years ago. I did drunken karaoke at the Kings Arms
in Acton which Mandie was running at the time. She asked if I wanted to
join a blues band which I said yes to, then forgot about the next day!!
She called me in to audition at the jam which is where I met the rest of
the band. They were awesome and welcomed me with open arms. We're all a
Kelly: I wanted to get into singing again and my friend's uncle
passed away. There was a tribute night to him and I saw Roadhouse there.
I fell in love with the band and they were looking for another female
vocalist so I went for it.
Tell me about the making of your new album ‘Sea of Souls’
Gary: We spent more time, took more care, improved the production
and performances. Our new guitarist Danny Gwilym is a revelation on the
CD (filling big shoes after Jules Fothergill and Canadian speed master
Drew Barron). It also marked the emergence of Suzie. D and Kelly Marie
Hobbs as major talents.
Bill: Loved doing this album. 3 of the songs we only played 2
days before recording. Due to me not playing much because I had a op on
my shoulder so we had less time than we had hoped to do new songs. But I
think its the best one we have done.
Roger: This album is very special to
me, as a lot of the production is mine, along with Gary, and Andy the
engineer, and I really wanted a well produced, quality album, and with
Gary’s great songs, and a brilliant new guitarist in Danny, I felt that
with the three amazing girls all the ingredients were there. We all
worked very hard for this one!
I found this very hectic personally.
First time in with the band, everything was happening so fast. We had
three songs that had literally only been rehearsed once and we were
still changing the arrangements as we were recording. I felt a lot of
pressure not to let the band down, they’ve always had very good guitar
players around and I wanted to try to make sure this album carried on
that tradition but without losing my own style. I’m hopeful that if we
do another one, that I’ll be better prepared and that I’ll be a bit more
relaxed. I think the end result is quite amazing, everybody worked so
hard together, the girls came in and more or less layed their stuff down
in one take - fantastic! I’m pleased with the overall feel of the album
and it was a highly rewarding experience.
was the most positive out of all the albums I have done with Roadhouse
(Edge Of The Night, Runaway Train, Dark Ride and Brokenland) due to the
great support of Suzi and Kelly they gave me the confidence to use my
voice and not be scared of it, express my feelings and be positive and
not be afraid, leading me to do my two solo songs House of the Rising
Sun and Tumbling Down in one take!! which really surprised me!! and the
rest of the band!! The girls have enormous talent, which has brought out
my voice, showing that I have a big range, so it wasn't a surprise to me
when everyone I knew who had listened to the album thought I was the low
harmony, when in fact I’m the highest harmony on all the songs I share
with the girls and this is due to working with great talent and being
pushed to my ability. The atmosphere in the studio was fantastic
everyone supported and helped each other!! no alcohol!!! - just a lot of
chain smoking!!!!! I believe vocally this is my best album, even though
I still nitpick things about myself and my vocals but I guess most
vocalists do that.
A lot of work went into this album. Mand Kel and myself worked really
hard to get good harmonies in the songs, we really wanted to make our
mark on this one. The production was better and the playing was better
too. I think we really gelled with each other as a band for this album,
and I really loved working with Gary for my solo on the Lying Game.
Kelly: We've all put our hearts into this album. Everything has a
meaning. The three part harmonies work so well together and the guitars
make your hairs stand on end. The relationships within the band have
grown too. We are practically family.
I hear your previous album ‘No Place To Hide’ sells on Amazon in the
US for over £30, how much exposure have you had in the USA?
Gary: I’ve played numerous open mike sessions and jammed and
promoted Roadhouse across Colorado, California and Florida .We have
significant Radio play across the whole USA including to radio station
hits (based on listeners votes) in Telling Lies and Voodoo Queen. Right
now UK Bob show in Atlanta has us on full rotation as does a lot of East
Bill: We on a few radio stations but would love to do a tour. I
think once they see roadhouse "live" they will be back for more.
Roger: From what I hear we get a lot of
radio play there, would be great to gig there.
have never played a gig there, Gary and Bob used to go to America a lot
and played at jams out there so I guess they took albums with them and
people got to know about us.
Suzie D: I hear we're played on some radio stations, but it would be
good to get over there.
Kelly: We want to play in the US so badly as our music is
frequently aired there and they love it!
Tell me about you famous London jam sessions.
Gary: Been going for 10 years, currently at The Woodman, by
Wimbledon Park tube. Just a chance to bring through new talent and do
something for music in my local community.
Bill: The Jams are a great way of meeting other musicians and get
feedback (hope not guitar feedback) on new songs etc. Also great to see
the kids of today coming up and playing. It makes you want to be young
Roger: They have been running a long
time now, and are well supported, a great chance to see and play with
lots of people new and old, and a good social gathering as well.
musicians, a friendly atmosphere and great supporters and fans its like
a big family.
Suzie D: It's a really great night where we can all get
together and have a jam, a rehearsal for new songs, and watch other
great musicians play together. It's also a great night for meeting other
up and coming artists and really nice people.
Kelly: The jam is our rehearsal time. We mix things up and get
the opportunity to play and listen to great musicians. Sometimes it is
more nerve wrecking playing there than it is at major festivals. I have
made some great friends there.
Having played over 1,500 gigs you must have some amusing stories to
tell, please could you share some with us?
Gary: I crashed a 4x4 into a Moose after playing a gig in Jackson
Hole with a major US Country Rock Band in Wyoming. Kelly dressing as a
giant penis when we were playing a Motorcycle News weekend festival. A
million stories about Mandie, when not ‘off on one’ she is a legend.
Bill: Don't much like doing bass solo's but at a gig, been
playing for about 2 hours and was up for it (drink didn't have anything
to do with it) (must have been a lot of drink) and I was going to go for
it.........then broke a string...... and the moment the lost....
Roger: Where do I start? The clean ones
are not always that funny! And Mandy would never forgive me if I told
you all the unclean ones! But there are lots really, like getting the
tour bus stuck under a low bridge in Holland, having my drum stool
collapse in the middle of a gig!
maybe over a Jack or two!
A CHANCE!!!! I think I’ve had the most embarrassing situations out of
the whole band put together!!!
I would love to tell but myself and the girls will never
Kelly: We were featuring at the MCN show at Skegness Butlins
earlier this year and got there a night early so went out for some
drinks together, only to find everyone in the craziest fancy dress. Gary
got chatted up by a he-she, Danny has his temperature taken by some
nurses and Suz and I ended up in a giant blow up penis outfits. Mandie
ended up on the floor!!
A lot of music styles are fads but the blues is always with us. Why do
you think that is?
Gary: A human being has the god given right to complain.
Bill: I think with the blues, anyone can play a 12 bar so you get
the people hooked, then build up to the more complex side of the blues.
You are never too old to learn something new.
Roger: I guess because it is real
music, played by real musicians, and it’s all about life, and Blues can
cover a wide variety of styles.
essence, it’s very honest music and again, all about passion, feel,
emotion. It can be worked to express the full range of human emotions.
It’s also very “real” music that is quite a contrast to the very large
amount of “processed” product. It is good to just see a bunch of people
working together, particularly live, and creating a “moment” of time
that can touch your heart.
Because its not a style its a legacy, its honest its written from the
heart, its sung from the heart, and the only time it will ever die is
when a vocalist uses it as a substitute for the fact they cannot sing
any other type of music will it stop feeling.
The blues is in so many other genres of music, because the blues started
it all. It won't disappear because it is our
lives, it's the expression of how we are feeling at that point.
Kelly: It sounds so good but expresses the opposite. Beautiful.
How do you see the future of blues music?
Gary: There’s strong new talent coming through, but I fear for
live music as a medium.
Bill: With some of the kids I have seen coming up in jams etc,
the blues will still be around well after we are in the ground....
Roger: It will go on forever, because
it is still played by up and coming young players.
That’s a difficult one. I think all
genres of music have been watered down somewhat and the genres have now
all got so many sub-genres that it can get quite confusing. The sheer
amount of music available now is stunning. However, blues is a very
large part of the history of rock music and as part of the “roots of
rock” will never actually die. As time goes on, the likes of BB King
will get harder to find and people will look back to this tough but more
honest time of music.
Positive if it is used for the right reasons.
It will always be here.
Kelly: It's getting more and more difficult for live music to
What are your future plans?
Gary: I’ve written 2 new great songs, we are in the high street
press and in the shops (well the big ones) and have global radio play.
But it’s uphill and health wise it’s a struggle. Mind you my perspective
and values keep getting clearer. Can we/I continue, hope so.
Bill: More "Live" shows, bigger shows.....more new songs......
Roger: To continue to help take
Roadhouse onwards and upwards, and play until my body say’s “No More”.
stay alive, to keep passion and emotion in my playing, to try and
improve as a guitar player. To drink more JD!
will stay with Roadhouse, until the band expires!!! Then I guess I will
retire, I would have liked to have done my own album, but to be honest I
guess I’m a little scared - I have a great comfort zone with Roadhouse.
To sing until I can sing no more.
Kelly: I am just about to record my own demo, but I am happy with
Roadhouse so will stay with them until we have fulfilled all of our
Thank you, Roadhouse.
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