Angie Pepper Interview :
" the Passengers with Angie Pepper" CD liner notes
the Passengers were :
the Passengers appeared in Sydney following the demise of Radio Birdman.
- Vocals : Angie PEPPER from Newcastle AUSTRALIA, Now living in the USA.
- Guitar: Jeff SULLIVAN from Sydney, AUSTRALIA, now a businessman in Sydney.
He later played guitar in The Flaming Hands.
- Bass: Jim DICKSON from Brisbane, AUSTRALIA.
He now plays bass in The New Christs. His previous bands included The Survivors and The Barracudas.
- Keyboards : Steve HARRIS. An expatriate American, he played in The Hitmen. The Visitors, The Flaming Hands, and several reggae and Juju combos which must remain unnamed.
He now plays in the Salvation Army Band in Sydney.
- Drums : Gerry JONES, a Scotsman from Wollogong. His fate is unknown,
- Alan BROWN, who played drums for most of the bands' live work, was replaced by Gerry for the final few shows and the recording sessions.
Among the many bands who blazed bright in the post apocalyptic era at the turn of the decade, the Passengers stood alone. Their music was compelling and different, and their following was fanatically dedicated.
This recording, mastered from a cassette dub of a demo, contains their only surviving work, the master tapes having been lost or stolen.
It stands as a monument to a wonderful time and place which no longer exists.
The band members met during 1976-78 as friends and fans of Radio Birdman in Sydney. The band was formed in late 1978 and performed together for one year.
In October, 1979, an eight track demo was recorded at Palms Studio in Sydney.
These eight songs, which appear on this record, were engineered by Alasdair MACFARLANE and produced by Steve HARRIS and Jeff SULLIVAN.
Angie Pepper Interview
I'm from Newcastle. It's l00 miles north of Sydney on the lower east coast of Australia.
- How did you get involved in this music ?
The first band I was in was a folk group in high school. I was 12 years old and there were 5 of us and I played guitar and sang.
We played the school functions and a few parties. I can't remember the name of the band, but that was the first one anyway.
After high school I went to Art School, went there for a couple of years. And during that time I joined a blues band.
They were playing in a local bar and needed a singer. I auditioned and they gave me the job. I did that for a about a year.
I lost interest in that band, and also in Newcastle. I moved to Sydney in January of '76. The next time I sang was with the Hitmen, which was a band that Johnny CASS put together from members of Radio Birdman and other things.
I sang "Venus", the Shocking Blues song.
That was it until I formed the Passengers in late '78.
Well I knew Steve HARRIS, he was the keyboard player, and Jim SULLIVAN, through Radio Birdman. They were friends of the band.
I first met Steve at a Radio Birdman gig. He was 15 at the time, looked about 11 or 12. And I remember wondering if his parents knew where he was at the time. He was a friend of Chris MASUAK and it was through Radio Birdman that I was introduced to Steve, and we became pretty good friends.
Chip SULLIVAN was a friend of Rob Younger's, who was at the time a very good friend of mine, too. And that's how I got to know Jim. In the middle of '78 I took a trip to England and the States, and when I got back I moved into a house where Chip SULLIVAN was living, and Steve HARRIS would come' round and visit and we'd play singles and talk about music.
The three of us had very similar taste, and talked about putting a band together.
- How did you get the bass player ?
Well. Clyde BRAMLEY lived in the house with Chip SULLIVAN. He was going to join our band, but we didn't have a drummer, so we couldn't get going and start playing yet. And in the meantime, the Other Side were looking for a bass player and asked Clyde.
So he switched over to the Other Side. Originally the Other Side had asked Jim DICKSON to join up with them. He was playing with The Survivors in Brisbane and they had broken up, and the Other Side wanted Jim to come down and be their bass player.
Jim was delayed, didn't get there for a while, and Robert got impatient and got Clyde instead. So Jim turned up and had no band to play with and no place to stay, and he moved into our house and joined our band.
That's right. Everybody played with everybody sooner or later, and they probably will again.
- Did the Passengers have a concept or anything unifying theory behind the band, or was it just a band ?
No, there was no concept behind the band. We just played songs we liked.
The cover versions we played were songs that the band all liked. We weren't going for any gimmicks, there wasn't anything contrived about us.
We just liked each other, liked music together, and played. And it came out naturally.
- What were some of the cover versions that you guys played ?
We just about always did "Walking in the Sand", the Shangri-Las song. My favorite cover was to do ĞI love Youğ by the Ronettes.
But I think by far our best accomplishment were our originals. There was really a bit of powerful chemistry in the band.
Everybody wrote songs and everybody was able to complement each other's song writing ideas very successfully. I sang our originals with the same passion that I sang my favorite covers.
- Did the band use any visual imagery or any group logos or symbols ?
No, we didn't have a band logo. Jim was a Marvel Comics fan.
Often he put Spiderman on our posters but it had no significance for the band, but he liked it so he did it.
- What sort of concerts or performances did the band do ?
We did most of our gigs in sydney. We didn't tour at all. We did 2 gigs in Newcastle. The gigs in Sydney were hotel gigs and club gigs, the regular band circuit.
The gigs we did in Newcastle were at a nightclub and university dance. The nightcluh gig was particularly interesting because there were about a dozen people there and we'd never played to a crowd that small before, but we had a good time anyway.
The university dance was really good because no one up there had seen us before. It was a new crowd and we played with The Visitors. We had a good time with that one,too. In Sydney we played with The Visitors quite a lot because Steve HARRIS, being our keyboard player, was also the bass player for the The Visitors and it made it alot easier on him if we played at the same place. And we also liked each other's bands alot. So that was a lot of fun, too.
- I remember that show at Newcastle University.
I remember your performance, but I don't remember my own from that show. It was really good. When I saw the band at the Stage Door Tavern several nights later, there was about three or four hundred people there and the people just seemed to be in rapture, not dancing that much but just standing, staring at the band, and transfixed by the performance. What was that like from your perpective on stage, to be involved in that ?
It was wonderful. There wasn't one gig I didn't enjoy -I don't think I've ever felt so good as when I played gigs with the Passengers. As far as the performanccs goes, I was very much aware of the audience but I wasn't afraid of the audience. When I was singing those songs with the Passengers I meant every line I sang. and the band played with a lasting conviction that made it possible for me to really sing from my heart. I felt that I was revealing a very personal side of me that would be impossible for me to reveal in any other circumstances. Even though there was hundreds of people watching me, it felt okay to be that raw.
- As an observer ot the scene in those days, there was a whole profusion of new bands coming out and all these bands were looking for an image ot looking fot he next trend, and trying to project something that would be next rtend.
the Passengers, on the other hand, seemed to just be playing music and playing from a love of rock'n'roll music, their own brand of it. And I think it was that honesty that really took the the Passengers head and shoulders above most of the other bands that were playing in those days. Were there any other bands around that you took note of ?
Well, we really enjoyed The Other Side, too. It was funny in those days because whereas before all these friends became friends through going to Radio Birdman gigs, now all these friends had split off into different bands.
And we all liked each other. It was fun. there was no competitiveness or jealousy between, or aggression that you might come across. thiere was no rivalry there, is what I'm trying to say. We were just all playing music that we enjoyed, and there was no animosity between the bands at all.
We all tried to help each other out cuz the venues weren't that great. The managements were always difficult to deal with. So we all felt like we were up against the same common enemy.
- This recording was taped from a cassette that was just lying around your house. Why is that ? Where's the story behind that ? How come there was no master or something like that to make a record from ?
We did our last gig in August of 79, and I left a couple of months later, to move to the States.
Just after that last gig we went into Palm Studios and did an 8 track demo of 8 of our original songs. I left that with a friend for safe keeping, and it mysteriously disapeared, lost or stolen.
Anyway, we went to great lenghts to try and find it, but all we have left of the Passengers is this tape, and I'm extremely grateful that it can come out.
- So what happened to the other members of the band after the Passengers disbanded ?
I think I forgot to mention that Allen BRANDT, our drummer, was replaced towards the end of our lifecycle, by JerryJONES. So, I'll have to include his story in it, too.
Jeff SULLIVAN formed the Flaming Hands, played with them for a couple of years. And I'm not sure what he did, musically, after that. He became a business man, a successful business man and that's how he functions in Sydney al the moment. He's also still writing.
Steve HARRIS, he was a carpenter while he was in the Passengers, and after the Passengers broke up he became an architect. Then I heard he went to Chili, where he met his future wife and brought her back to Australia. He played in some reggae bands, I noticed. playing steel drums. Steve HARRIS can play anything.
The last I heard, he was playing with the Salvation Army band, and working for them. But it's all been word of mouth, I haven't heard from Steve in a couple of years.
Jim DICKSON, after the Passengers broke up, went to England and joined the Barracudas. They played in England and Europe for a while, and then he returned to Australia.
He's now playing bass with The New Christ in Sydney. He's also running around doing a lot of errands for people like he always did, and not getting paid for it.
Allen BROWN was the editor for a music magazine in Sydney for a while, and the last I heard he's not doing that any more.
He's freelance writer.
Jerry JONES waved goodbye at the end of the Passengers recording session and has not been heard of since. We have no idea what Jerry's fate was.
I left Australia, moved in the States, where I still live with Deniz and our 2 children. Future plans, you wanna know what my future plans are?
I have no idea. I have no idea what I'll be doing from one year to the next. The only constant at all are Deniz and our children. and other than that I have no idea.
Angie Pepper discussing the Angie Pepper Band and the Houston tapes:
- How and when did you meet Deniz Tek ?
Well, I met Deniz Tek a couple of weeks afer I moved to Sydney, in early' 76. I met Rob Younger about the second day I got to Sydney, and it was through Rob that I met Deniz.
It took me a little while to get to know Deniz because he was in medical school and then playing in the band, and beween those two things it didn't leave him much time for socializing. But over the next couple of years I got to know him pretty well.
- When did you played together ?
Well the first time that we played together was in that Hitmen manifestation in May'77.
Deniz got up to play with Ken, his friend. I was doing a guest spot and Deniz had never heard me sing before. I was a little nervous, but I think I did a pretty good job. At the end of the night Deniz gave me a compliment said he really liked it, and I remember being very flattered. His compliment meant alot to me.
Other occasions? Well, when the The Visitors and the Passengers played together at the Newcastle University Dance I mentioned earlier, Deniz played along on one of their songs. That was fun. This was many years later, and Deniz and I had got to know each other very well at that stage. When Deniz finished the Radio Birdman tour he went back to visit his folks in Ann ARBOR and then went back to Australia.
He got back there a little while after I gotback to Australia after my trip to the States, and he was working in a hospital in Newcastle. That was my hometown. My grandmother ended up in Deniz's hospital.
When I didn't have any band commitments with the Passengers, I would go back to Newcastle and visit my parents and go and see my grandmother. That's when I realized that Deniz was working very hard up there and didn't know any anybody, and so a couple of times we had him over to my parents place for dinner and anytime I'd go up to visit my folks I'd go out with Den. And so we ended up spending a pretty good time together.
After leaving Australia I lived with Deniz in Detroit for a year while he was at a hospital there. I went back in October of 1980, Deniz joined me in Australia in January of 81. We got married secretly and put together, we made the Angie PEPPER Band complement.
Deniz had written a bunch of songs that were for me that Trafalgar Studios was prepared to put on an album. This was Clyde BRAMLEY, whom we'd known for many years, Steve HARRIS on keyboards.
Ivor HAY (the Saints) on drums, Deniz playing guitar, and me singing.
We played together for six weeks, did live gigs for six weeks, and then went into the studio. We put down about 8 tracks. The next time I played with Deniz was in the Philippines. It was during his many military adventures. He ended up in the Philippines and I went down to visit. He'd managed to get a band together from his squadron, the guys from the ship that he was on. They were doing gigs in a bar, the Brown Fox- I remember New Years Day, I can't remember what year that was. Anyway I got there New Years day and that night we went to the Brown Fox and played every song that we could remember that we all knew. that was a good time, too.
But I've got to say that the Angie PEPPER Band complement was a lot of fun for me. I really liked the songs and I really liked the people that were playing with us. We had alot of fun with that too.
Unfortunately, the album didn't eventuate, but the recording, hopefully, still exists. If it doesn't, we've got a cassette. but I believe sooner or later that'll be heard, too.
- There was a single from those sessions that was completed, 2 tracks, "Frozen world" and "Why Tell Me", That Trafalgar licensed to Citadel ? What was about that record, what do you think about that ?
Well I'm really glad that anything from that session came out.
I'm grateful to Citadel that they had the wherewithall and courage to put their time and money into putting that out. But it just goes to show you that there are people in this world that care about real music, and that aren't just business man.
So I'm grateful that exists. I'm even more grateful that any of the tapes that the Angie PEPPER Band or the Passengers recorded are in some form that they can be released and preserved.
- How did the Houston sessions eventuate ?
Deniz and I were in Pensicola, Florida.
He was at flight school, he was flying fighters, and the only musical contact we had in the States besides Ron ASHETON and friends of his that Deniz had met in Ann ARBOR was Mort BRADLEY, who was from Melboume and had at one time been involved with Radio Birdman tours in Australia.
He was an engineer at a studio in Houston, A.C.A.Studios, and he invited us to come to Houston and record. and said it would be a free session and he would get some session musicians. So Deniz and I went to Houston and recorded four of the tracks that we had recorded at Trafalgar in Australia. Thanks Mort.
- How did it happen that the trafalgar work never did come to anything ? How come we don't have an album from that ?
Well I don't want to goin to too many details about that' cuz I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings.
It was dropped without very much of an explanation to me. The only thing that I can ascertain from the whole situation was that Deniz and I had gotten married secretly down in Australia and when Trafalgar found out about that, I guess they figured that I would follow my husband to the States.
Which, of course, I did. I was fully prepared to follow through with my obligations as far as that musical project was concerned, without any sacrifice. I mean, you mary somebody and then,for me to mary somebody anyway, you get to that point that nothing can threaten it, but they fell through with their part of the obligation, and it didn't come off.
- After those sessions were done, what happened to the other members of the band ?
I mentioned what happened to Steve HARRIS in my Passengers interview.
Clyde BRAMLEY joined The Hoodoo Gurus after we left the country. That's history now.
They did play very well, but a couple of years ago Clyde left the Hoodoo Gurus, and I can't understand why.
Ivor Hay, I did'n know what happened to Ivor. I'm sorry I don't know what happened to him because I'd like to contact him and thank him for his part in it and tell him what's going on now. I hope he's doing well now.
One of the things about that session with Trafalgar was were going to a couple of gigs, when his musical commitments would allow him to, and played. He's still in Towrie, practicing as a doctor.
Michael CHARLES played on those sessions. He played with the Screaming Tribesmen for a while. I never saw them. I never read anything about them. I don't know what that led to. I hope he's doing okay, too.