James Bronson (aka Stefan) gave us his Essential Weekly Playlist…
The Bronsons were born about 1981. Our inspirations included legendary London acts like Dr Feelgood, Lew Lewis, Eddie & the Hot Rods, the Count Bishops; but took in as well 1960s trash and garage rock, rhythm & blues and 1970s punk. We played a mix of original songs and covers – some of them pretty obscure songs that nobody else did.
Around 1985 we split up, but in 2013 most of the original members got together for a one-off rehearsal for old times’ sake. We discovered we still had it. In fact, we had more of it than we had before. So here we are: The Bronsons.
James is the showoff, which is probably why he ended up as the frontman and doing most of the social media stuff as well.
Chas literally does nothing apart from play guitar. He has very clear ideas about what he likes and what he doesn’t, and when new songs get rejected that’s often Chas’s work.
For a drummer, Carlos is relatively sane. He’s also frighteningly good-looking, which is why the rest of the band like to keep him hidden at the back.
Jorge is a professional sound engineer when he isn’t playing bass for us. He joined the band in 2014 and is a perfectionist, the most likely to say « let’s try that again » in rehearsal.
Zara is Carlos’ girlfriend and had been coming to rehearsals for a while. She first sang with us in 2013 in a recording studio and joined the band properly a few months later.
Giselle is our newest recruit, joining in November 2014. She’s added some real vocal power to the Bronsonettes and she and Zara are making a big difference now, especially on some of the newer material.
Half the band use their real names, and half don’t.
The Bronsons are aged between 27 and 55, and I’m at the top end of that. So the stuff that inspired me is all pretty vintage. In no particular order, my top ten songs and/or artists and/or albums would be:
LEW LEWIS – The Bronsons are a rhythm and blues band rooted in 1970s London pub rock, and Lew and his band Reformer grew out of that too. They were rough, loud, raucous and fantastic fun live – all the things we aim for. We still cover a couple of their songs.
IGGY POP – an inspiration not so much for his music (though the early stuff with the Stooges is great) but because of the act, the image, and the walking on the audience at a time when nobody had even heard of crowd-surfing. See the pic taken in 1970:
HOWLIN’ WOLF – there’s a long list of people who were involved in the birth of rock music but for my money Howlin’ Wolf has one of the best claims. He used riffs, rhythm, repetition and driving vocals in a way nobody before had quite matched. His stuff still sounds fresh.
THE DAMNED, “NEW ROSE” – just love the speed of it, the aggression, the energy.
THE RAMONES – the legend is that they only ever played half-hour sets because no audience could stand more than half an hour at that volume. The best music is live music: for proof look for a YouTube video of them playing in London on New Year’s Eve, 1977:
SWEET – singles like “Teenage Rampage”, “Ballroom Blitz” and “Hell Raiser” – early 70’s glam rock – trashy, trampy rock and roll, all lipgloss, pose and pout. What’s not to like?
LEE BRILLEAUX – dead now, sadly, but with Wilko Johnson and the rest of the original Dr Feelgood band behind him he was just a manic strip of energy on stage, like he was plugged into the mains. The same as Lew Lewis, the Feelgoods were a big influence on The Bronsons, both in style of music and in approach to playing live. Funny enough, Lee and Lew knew each other and they say one of the taught the other to play harmonica. Who taught who depends which version you read.
“Rock Bottom” (album) by ROBERT WYATT – Completely different from all the above, this is an arty, surreal, jazzy album full of strangeness. It has one of the most beautiful songs ever written on it, “Sea Song”, which stuck in my head and never left, so that’s why it’s here.
DOLL BY DOLL – a band few now have heard of, and even when they were around in the early 80s they were a bit left-field. They took the energy of punk and turned it into weird, driving, obsessive music with fantastic lyrics. Their live set was the whole of their first album, “Remember”, played track for track with scary intensity. The best live band I ever saw.
“Live at the Marquee” (EP) by EDDIE & THE HOT RODS – Pub-rock turned into punk, and this is a crossing point. My favourite recording, this, and the vinyl I most regret getting rid of. It’s also a reminder of the Marquee in London, sadly no longer there, but one of the best live venues in town in the 70s and 80s.