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Saturday, 7 December 2019

TWENTY FLIGHT REUNION.

It's been nearly 35 years since the Twenty Flight Rockers roared onto the London music scene with their charged up, full throttle brand of Rock'n'Roll. Looking like wild ones, dressed head to toe in leather, nine yards of dead cow, and sounding like Elvis having a scrap with The Clash.
The band were put together by former Generation X drummer Mark Laff and Gary Twinn ex singer of Australian band Supernaut they were joined on bass by Jeff Vine and guitarist Ian Mckean.
They became a regular fixture on the London gig circuit circa 1985/86 supporting bands such as Lords of The New Church, Flesh for Lulu and The Cult as well as headlining in their own right at venues such as Dingwalls, Croydon Underground, Adlib, and The Marquee. A hot, sweaty and sticky night was always guaranteed. In their short time together they released a couple of singles ‘Tower Block Rock' and ‘Johnny 7’ and recorded a couple of Radio sessions before going awol to the USA and spitting up in 1989.  Thirty years later the original line up have got back together minus bassist Jeff Vine. but replacing him is Rock'n’Roll bass guitarslinger Darren Birch (Gunfire Dance, The Godfathers, Walter Lure) and Black Bombers.

A couple of months ago I asked Mark Laff a few questions about the Twenty Flight Rockers split and reunion.

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO SINCE THE TWENTY FLIGHT ROCKERS SPLIT UP?

For me the Twenty Flight Rockers ended in Los Angeles in Summer 88, although it had really ended way before that and I spent the next few years recovering from an immense loss and not really playing that much. I did a session or two and had the odd jam with a few bands. I did a one off Generation X special for MTV in 1993. After this I bided my time playing with a few close friends until I started seriously thinking about playing again with a view to getting a record deal and playing live, this was with Ian the guitar player from TFR. The band included David Agar from The Passions for a short time and went through many transitions whilst trying to find the right line up. 2004/5 I had my own band Deadly Rivals which was a duo inspired of course by The White Stripes. The first guitar player was Garry Lammin, the period produced about 6 great songs and played the London circuit for a short time. I then decided to try and compile a number of recordings in the duet style with different artists, Bob Andrew’s of Generation X being one. The second guitarist to come along was Guy Mathews who I stole from the great band Steranko. Guy was a fabulous guitar player, very inventive and sang great, but the lure of a monthly salary and a conventional life stole him from the project. 4 years ago I moved to France full time and that pretty much brings me up to date with the music until this year when I played with Walter Lure of Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers fame playing songs from the LAMF album. The highlight was a sold out Saturday night and the band played great.

WHY DID THE TWENTY FLIGHT ROCKERS SPLIT UP?

In 1986 I asked Bernie Rhodes who was my first manager in the Subway Sect to manage us and try and get things moving at Warner Brothers who we had signed to. Bernie had a meet with the record company and concluded we had no future with them and we had no option but to try and get out of the contract. A plan to split the band up and dissolve the situation was hatched with the idea of regrouping in the US to sign with another major and go from there. Ian was asked to leave, which I knew at the time was a ridiculous and stupid mistake, he was irreplaceable. A miserable period followed trying to find a replacement for one of the best guitarists the planet has ever produced, Jeff then left and came back and Bernie struck a deal with Epic in LA and Gary and Jeff went to LA and I decided not to go, knowing it would be a very weakened version with a different guitar player. I relented about 10 months later and went to LA to record an album, however it was an impossible task to bring the band back to its original glory plus the mood had turned sour and I returned to Esher in the UK in 1988 a broken man. Gary and Jeff tried to continue with zero success.

WHAT HAS BROUGHT ABOUT THE LONG OVER DUE REFORMATION?

4 years ago found myself, Ian and Jeff in the same club watching The International Swingers with Garry singing (they played shite that night and I was very disappointed!) and it stayed in my mind that we all still could do something. This year produced significant interest for me to ask the other 3 if they wanted to play as Twenty Flight Rockers again. Jeff however has a career in the movie industry as part of the background staff and felt he couldn't give it the time it requires, so sadly our brother is with us in spirit only, although he still firmly remains an integral part of the bands history.

HOW COME THERE WASN'T AN ALBUM RELEASED AFTER THE JOHNNY 7 SINGLE?

Lots of demos and seriously good recordings were made with some amazing producers as a follow up album, but unfortunately Bill Drummond our A&R guy left to form KLF and it was down to an old school friend of mine at Warners to try and get stuff released but unfortunately bad decisions were made and our relations with Warners broke down. I am as we speak in discussions to get the Warners tapes released under the proper identity of Twenty Flight Rockers.

Thanks to Mark for taking the time out for answering my questions. If you didn't catch the Twenty Flight Rockers the first time round you seriously need to get to the reunion shows, and check out one of the best British Rock'n'Roll bands....

3 comments:

roverinexile said...

What, when, where? First I've heard about this. Will have to investigate, as I never got to see them live first time around.

The other band I thought would never reform, The Rose of Avalanche, are playing shows next year. Happy days.

Nuzz Prowlin' Wolf said...

Anymore news and I'll keep you posted.

Monokrom said...

I shot some fab pix of the band supporting Flesh for Lulu at Heaven20 Oct 1985 (ad in the blog).
Have a look here:
www.monokrom-photos.com

Can't wait to see the reformed band live!
Also, pix of Ian Mckean guesting Balaam & the Angels at Isligton Academy 2018 on available on the URL above