THE PRIMEVALS : We hope to get to France again in April 2024 !

The Primevals have just released a new album, so it was the perfect opportunity to ask their singer Michael Rooney a few questions and get a geography lesson!

Can you tell us about your "music childhood" in Glasgow and how you discovered the music that still accompanies your life?

My music childhood consisted of playing 45 records at family parties in Glasgow. These parties were lively and fun with the occasional argument and fight. We had 45’s by Them. The Kinks, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds that was the vibe. This music was mainly discovered on the radio or tv at that time.

What were the most memorable concerts of your teenage years?

I saw many concerts in my teenage years. I saw Captain Beefheart a lot and met him to on several occasions. They were amazing shows. Miles Davis and Lifetime also. The Flamin’ Groovies, Muddy Waters, Mott The Hoople, The Kinks, Dr.John, Graham Bond, Kevin Ayers, Rolling Stones and many more..

How did you experience the arrival of punk, and please tell us about the good or/and bad memories you have of the Sex Pistols, Subway Sect and Clash concerts you attended.

I did not see the Sex Pistols, although I liked them, The Clash I saw several times, I liked their early shows more. Subway Sect I saw later. I saw many bands, too many, maybe. I liked mainly the American bands. I liked The Only Ones, also The Saints and Radio Birdman from Australia.

You've said that you particularly like American bands rather than the English ones we've talked about before. Why, being English and the source of this revolution, were you more interested in foreign bands?

You must note I am Scottish (Ndlr : Sorry Michael!). I liked the sound more I loved The Ramones, Television and Richard Hell and The Voidoids. I think some of the music from the earlier ‘nuggets/garage” records were important like the Seeds, The Remains, Question Mark, Chocolate Watch Band etc. Then The Stooges/MC5 of course were phenomenal.

You were once a record salesman. Can you tell us some of your memories? We all have our own little story about a treasure we've discovered. What's yours?

I worked in various record shops, discovered a lot of bands and stocked early records such as the Oak label and The Cramps Vengeance label.

How did The Primevals come about, what was your goal at the time, and do you think you achieved it?

We recorded a 45 and then send some new songs to New Rose in Paris who liked them and they brought out the first mini-lp Eternal Hotwire in 1984.
We did not have any clear goals except to enjoy the experience of playing live and recording- simple as that!- not sure what we achieved. I think we created some decent work.

What do you think of bands that have or have had a specific look such as Turbonegro or the Fuzztones and the Cramps? Have you ever been tempted by an instantly identifiable image for your band?

I think it can look cool if it is a bit different -Not so keen on the ’studied look’ though with the right clothes and guitars etc- except maybe the Cramps of course. There are other too but mainly from the 60’s were the coolest ones.

Can you tell us about your experience with the New Rose label?

To continue from the previous question- after we completed the mini-lp, we recorded a 45- and then 2 lp’s Sound Hole and Live A Little. It was great to be on such a wonderful label but it became difficult as our records were not easy to do buy in the UK as they were on import. We also had little money and they sold ok but nothing amazing.

"Les Primevals" have always been very popular in France. Can you tell us what you think were your band's best moments in the country?

I think some early shows with The Cramps were great when we opened for them in 86- we also recorded a live lp at The Rex- more recently loved playing Le Gallion in L'Orient which is now closed.

After playing with
the Gun Club, the Cramps and David Johansen? Has your image as a fan of some of them changed?

Not really we also have played with The Fleshtones, The Sonics, Flamin’Groovies and others too and remain fans of these bands some of the memories don’t change.

In '92, the Primevals took their first break, then reformed again under a different name (Fatlaistics) to play covers. Then you went back to your own name. Were you tired of your original songs, or did you want to recharge your batteries?

I was living in London for 3/4 years and when I came to Glasgow, we would get together and just play in bars for fun and play some cool covers. When I returned to Glasgow we got tighter and worked on some new recordings and kept on going!

For a time, the Primevals were a "bar" band, playing in Glasgow the songs that the public demanded. Is there a recording of this period and What were the must-have tracks?

Yes- there must be some tapes somewhere- (call to readers, if you have any please contact us)
Some song titles :

Charlie Feathers- She Set Me Free

The Dirty Wurds- Why

Jose Feliciano- You’re taking hold of me

Sun Ra- Nuclear War

Neil Young- I’ve been waiting for you.

Love - Signed D.C.

You've done a lot of cover versions in your career. What prompted you to do them, and do you have a particular way of dealing with them? A band like
the Nomads, for example, have a knack for appropriating these kinds of songs while respecting the original spirit.

Well we try and put some of our own ’spin’ on them I guess. We like to drop some in from time to time-recently we have covered

The Saints- Know Your Product

Cape. Beefheart- Hard Working Man

We The People- You Burn Me Up

Would you be interested in doing covers of French artists? If so, which ones and which songs? Which French artists outside music have influenced you in your life?

I would lie to cover some French songs although the language could be a problem- I like these tunes

Metal Urbain- out of the question

Brigitte Fontaine - il pleut

Le Coeur-bye bye city

Les Dogs-i’m gonna have to live with it

Serge Gainsbourg- ballade de melody nelson

What do you think is the difference in spirit between the Primevals of your early days in 1983 and those of today? Can we say (if we're not talking about changes in musicians) that there have been several Primevals?

We still keep our influences open- some blues /punk style and perhaps a little more garage style rock over the past few years- but there is also a ’swing’ to the Primevals emulating from black music like Sly and Stax etc etc music.

You're a big fan of blues and soul, so could you tell us a bit about that? What obscure or not-so-obscure records in this genre would you recommend? Have you ever taken part in a radio show to present your records?

I spent most of my time tracking down soul and blues music when I can. I also like to dj at times and play mainly black music. There is an absolute endless lists of records, I like to go to soul nights sometimes out of Glasgow and listen to the new “old” records I have not heard. Often I am amazed! I do a monthly show on second Friday of the month on Radio Buena Vida and also occasional on Clyde Built Radio both here in Glasgow. I usually play whatever I like which is cool.

Are you a record collector?

I guess I am, although I now don’t have so much space. I but a Loy of soul, jazz, blues at rock n roll. I have done this nearly all my life

The Dividing Line, your new album has just been released, can you tell us about its gestation?

We recorded it last year- I had a lot of songs and we rehearsed and arranged this over a few months. We recorded it basically over a 2 day session and mixed this over a few days- I am are pleased with it. We also recorded 2 new songs recently which we hope to release soon if we can. Some wide ranging subject matter.

In your opinion, what's the track of the LP that perfectly represents what Primevals want to play in 2023?

Not sure about perfectly represents but "Sonic Pathway" has a good feel and it is little different in terms of tempo.

Thank you Michael
(September 2023)