Catching up with Roddy Byers

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?

"Steve Earle"


 For the latest news on Roddy Radiation & the Skabilly Rebels and to buy their music & merchandise, please visit

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