Catching up with Roddy Byers
Most readers of "Hot Music Live" plus countless others around the world, will know Roddy "Radiation" Byers best as the lead guitarist with the classic Specials lineup & the writer of such well known & well loved songs as "Concrete Jungle", "Rat Race" and "Hey Little Rich Girl". However Roddy has also led his own bands for many years, releasing many records & touring internationally as well as continuing to play large numbers of gigs each year (well apart from 2020 obviously) around our own area to which he remains committed.
The impact of COVID19 has been democratic in hitting the music community, affecting everyone pretty equally badly, whether those still just known in their local area, those beginning their careers, all the way through to global names such as Roddy. I caught up with him (via prudent social distancing) the other day & checked in with how he's doing, deciding to focus more on positive plans for the future than detailing the disappointments of the past months.
I know it's not easy to be sure at the moment, but what gigs have you got booked in next & where can people hopefully see you play?
"Well hopefully these dates!
January 23rd (Solo) The Cluny in Newcastle, Afternoon & Evening Shows
March 6th (Solo) The Black Heart Pub in Camden, London
April 11th (Skabilly Rebels) Undercover festival
May 9th (Skabilly Rebels) Skamouth festival in Great Yarmouth
June 19th (Skabilly Rebels) Hare & Hounds in Birmingham
Sept 10th (Skabilly Rebels) Blam Blam Fever festival in Redcar"
What plans have you got for 2021? Any new releases coming up?
"I'm guesting on a couple of recordings with the AKA and a Rockabilly band from Blackpool way. I've recently contributed to a track for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones' new album and hopefully doing a covers album later in the year"
Your current band are the Skabilly Rebels: which other musicians are members with you at the moment?
"The Skabillys change from time to time: the current line up is:
Joe Harcourt - 2nd Guitar
Adrian Lee - Sax & Keys
Connor O'Connor - Bass
Matt Hart – Drums"
Not many people have invented new musical genres: how would you describe skabilly?
"Well Tim Armstrong from Rancid said I invented Ska/Punk!
I've been mixing Rock'n'roll and Ska and Reggae since the 1980's Depending on the Song, a couple are Country/Reggae and some Ska/Punk. Also there's a fair bit of blues in there too!"
Judging by the international demand for touring, it sounds like skabilly has a global appeal?
"Well I've done these countries in the past few years after quitting the Specials -
Hong Kong, Argentina, USA, Australia and Europe & Ireland
As a ex member of the Specials, I get offers from all around the World"
How does this band compare with the music you were making with previous bands like the Tearjerkers & Bonediggers?
"My previous bands were very similar to the Skabilly Rebels and I do songs I've written from both of those bands"
Some readers may not know that you formed one of the first punk bands in Coventry (the Wild Boys). How much does the punk attitude still shape what you do?
"Well Punk Rock is an attitude that I will never lose..The Wild Boys started in 1975 and finished in 1977. We were sorta Glam Rock'n'roll and adapted when Punk came along. I saw the Sex Pistols, The Clash and the Damned in London all in 1976 at the beginning of British Punk Rock"
Have you any plans for getting involved in City of Culture activities?
" I've been asked to do interviews and hopefully do a show or two"
Are there any local artists you particularly enjoy which you could recommend to our readers?
"The Voodoo Kings. Another local band I like is Dragster "
How about any current artists from outside our area?
"The Rough Kutzs - Stoke on Trent
Skapones – Darlington"
As the music scene emerges from COVID19, are you generally optimistic or pessimistic?
"Good question. Hopefully it will go back to how it was before but I somehow doubt that"
If you had the chance to collaborate with any (living) musicians, who would you name?
For the latest news on Roddy Radiation & the Skabilly Rebels and to buy their music & merchandise, please visit
Strummerville Coventry & Warwickshire
On 6th April 2019 Catch 22 Promotions in association with The Joe Strummer Foundation will present Strummerville Coventry and Warwickshire! A full day of Ska, Punk, and all things in between at Zephyr Lounge in Leamington Spa headlined by Roddy Radiation and the Skabilly Rebels. Also featured will be The Rough Kutz, Voodoo Kings, Black Market Clash, The Old No. 7 Band, The Social Ignition and Huffy. An event packed with brilliant bands, and to top it all off raising money for a great cause.
14+ event (under 18s must be accompanied by an adult)
"Alternative Sounds": Coventry & Warwickshire compilation album
Between 1979 & 1981, Martin Bowes created & published eighteen copies of the highly influential fanzine "Alternative Sounds" which chronicled the local punk & post punk music scene, including the whole Two Tone adventure. Towards the end of this period, he also put together the legendary "Sent From Coventry" compilation which is essential to understanding what was going on at that moment. Martin then moved on: to his internationally successful & immensely influential band ATTRITION, his own studio, The Cage & his own record label Two Gods. However Martin always felt that a nineteenth "Alternative Sounds" might be an idea: hence instead of a pure fanzine, the idea of a Coventry Music Museum record label to put out a series of albums under that banner, not just capturing the Coventry & Warwickshire music scene of today plus, emerging new local talent but bringing back into the light unreleased & not well known gems from our musical heritage, with an accompanying booklet to explain who all the artists are/were & what they are/were all about.
Since "Alternative Sounds Volume One", to be released on December 12th 2017 features material written, performed & recorded by Coventry & Warwickshire writers & performers from between 1601 & 2017, with participants who range from people involved in four UK Number One singles, countless international hits to a local school & emerging artists including recent BBC Coventry & Warwickshire Introducing Artists of the Month, that aim of diversity, breadth & depth has been well met already.
The album (which was preceded by a limited edition 7" vinyl EP a couple of months ago to whet people's appetites) is not only in aid of the Museum, but brings to light many previously unknown tracks, gives a shop window to people who will be stars for years to come & tells some perhaps little known stories of much admired musicians. By luck, three tracks featured the late Steve Edgson, (a member of Analog, ENS, the Reluctant Stereotypes, the Pink Umbrellas, Crocodile Tears, the Giraffes and Two Giraffes.) so we decided to dedicate the album to him (future volumes will also have dedications): a really moving media piece relating to this aspect may be found here:
Advance copies of the album can be bought here:
and there are still a few copies of the EP (which features the same tracks by Roddy Radiation & the Skabilly Rebels: ("Heartbreak City") and The Primitives: ("Never Kill A Secret") plus different tracks by ATTRITION ("Two Gods") and Crokodile Tears ("Trains (2017 remix")) (the eagle eyed will note the variation in spelling between ‘Crocodile' and ‘Crokodile' on the two records: that's not my error: the spelling changed over the years due to lineup changes) and are available from the Museum, ‘Head' in Leamington, ‘Seismic Sounds' in Leamington, ‘Just for the Record ‘ in Rugby, ‘Vinyl Destination' in Coventry Market and via Bandcamp
Once the album is released, copies will be available via the same outlets too.
The tracks on Volume One are:
- Roddy Radiation & the Skabilly Rebels: "Heartbreak City"
- The Shapes: "We're Not Very Famous"
- Satsangi: "Sixty Four-Seven"
- Ak Band: "8-3-12"
- The Primitives: "Never Kill A Secret"
- Crocodile Tears: "Chinese Whispers "
- Reluctant Stereotypes: "Radical World"
- ATTRITION: "A Girl Called Harmony"
- Lieutenant Pigeon: "The Boots of the Rosewood Brigade"
- Skeet: "Brief Call"
- The Giraffes: "Come In Out Of The Rain"
- Furious Apples: "Habit of Hate"
- Human Cabbages: "Lemon Tea"
- Prole Position: "You Will Never Own Us"
- Izzie: "Give Me A Reason To Stay"
- Filthy Cake: "Hit"
- Gods Toys: "Package Tours to Heaven"
- The Rude Mechanicals Band: "Oh Mistress Mine"
- Fall Girl: "Maybe"
- Huffy: "Don't Speak Out"
- Grangehurst Primary School: "PsycheDelia"