Roddy Radiation Interview

Our e-mail interview with the Great man Roddy

Exclusive Interview With Roddy ‘Radiation’ Byers

Interview, May 4 2020

Q. I understand when you first started out in 1975, your first band were called the wild boys, what type of music did you play with the Wild Boys

A. Actually I had a Youth Club band when as 13 yrs called the Undead lol, The Wild Boys 1975/77 were kinda Rocknroll Punk with a bit of Glam Rock thrown in Covers of Classic RocknRoll and Bowie And Lou Reed + my early Songs.

Q. When you joined The specials they were originally called The Coventry Automatics, what songs did you write under the Coventry automatics

A. Jerry Dammers had seen me play live with the Wild Boys and asked me too play some lead guitar on tracks the Automatics were recording in London. I then joined the band as Jerry wanted a Punk RocknRoll guitarist at the time, i brought with me my Song ‘Concrete Jungle’ that I had written and played in the Wild Boys. .

Q. When the specials spilt in 1981, you reformed with the Tearjerkers, what was it like playing with these as I know you originally played with these when you first started out

A. I formed the Tearjerkers while still a Member of the Specials early 1981. We played mostly my new Songs that I couldn’t get the Specials too play. We played Country Punk/RocknRoll and released a Single on Chiswick records called a Desire and also an EP all my Songs..

Q. You then started the bonediggers, after the tearjerkers ended, what was this like going back to play with these

A. The Tearjerkers split about 1986, I then played in a few local blues - bar bands. Before forming the Bonediggers similar to the Tearjerkers doing ‘Rocking Blues’ music with a double bass. Recording an Album and a EP released in the UK - Europe , Japan and Canada .

Q. Then you re-joined the specials called Part 2, what was that like re-joining the band after the you all had spilt back in 1981

A. The MK2 Specials came about after some of the Specials ( myself , Neville Staple , Lynval Golding , Horace Panter with Aitch Bembridge from the Selecter on drums and a couple of local musicians on Keys n Trombone) Recorded an Album backing Desmond Dekker. MK2 Specials toured Japan twice, When we first reformed aS we were offered a tour of Japan and afterwards reformed properly touring Europe, Canada and mostly the USA until we split in 1998. We recorded two Albums a released several Singles. ‘Today’s Specials’ a Covers Album And ‘Guilty until Proven Innocent’ All originals of which four were written by myself..

Q. Can you tell us why you spilt from the specials - both specials & mk2

A. I never officially left the original Specials but it was obvious I wouldn’t be carrying on as I'd fallen out with the band leader Jerry Dammers. The MK2 Specials after four years most of us decided we had had enough.

Q. Do you still see many of the specials now

A. I only see Neville Staple now. We have continued recording on each other’s projects and occasionally playing together Live.

Q. I know your was born and breed in Coventry, have you ever left Coventry and moved or live elsewhere

A. I’ve always lived in Coventry apart from a brief period living in North London in 1981.

Q. How has Coventry changed over the years

A. Well it’s become a University Town now with most of the City Centre taken over by the University. Most of the Old Venues Pubs n Clubs have gone. There is now a Coventry Music Museum - Shops, Restaurant/Cafe & Venue which features the Specials and other Coventry bands and Singers from the before the 1950’s to the present day.

Q. Who taught you to play guitar

A. I’m mostly Self taught on Guitar.

Q. Who inspired you to start playing guitar and wanting to start a band & What bands have influenced you over the years

A. I loved the Monkees TV programme as a nipper. My Musical inspiration it’s changed many times over the years Everything from Jimi Hendrix to Hank Williams Rock/ Blues / Pop / Country / Jazz / Reggae and Flamenco .

Q. What’s your favourite ever Specials song

A. Well the ones I wrote of course, but most Probably ‘Hey Little Rich Girl’.

Q. What do you think of the new 2tone bands that are out today

A. There’s a few good ones The Skapones, The Rough Kutzs, Big Fat Panda,And several others But the Ska/2Tone scene now is mostly Tribute bands and cover bands which are only mimicking what happened 40 years ago..

Q. Roddy Radiation and Skabilly rebels, I understand you do a lot of support big gigs

A. I still play Shows everywhere With my band and Guesting with other bands. I’ve done Six tours of the States, Argentina and Singapore + Australia three times.

Q. I understand you have been involved in the specialized a few times and played with The Rough Kutz, how has this been

A. My friend Paul Williams organises Specialize and his band the Skapones. So I do quite a lot for Teenage Cancer Appeal I guest on many Albums with UK and US Ska/Reggae bands.

Q. What gigs have you coming up after the lockdown

A. Hopefully all the Shows that have been cancelled we can do later this year. Early next year I’m doing an Australian tour again - mostly the East Coast. Hopefully California soon too! and Recording a new CD of my Songs.

Cheers! Roddy ‘Radiation’ Byers Skabilly Rebel 04/05/2020