The Godfathers are back with a new line-up, a new album, and a disdain for poodle hairdos

The Godfathers
(Image credit: Cargo Records)

Since arising from the ashes of The Sid Presley Experience in the South London of 1985, The Godfathers have dealt in a particularly savage, tunes-based strain of sharp-suited, punk-edged rock’n’roll. Upon signing to Epic in ’87, they released the classic Birth School Work Death, toured extensively and made significant Billboard chart inroads. 

Thirty-five frantic years later, and founder/frontman Peter Coyne has returned once more with a brand new line-up and an album (Alpha Beta Gamma Delta) that finds the quintet in truly dynamite form.

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In 2019 you had something of a night of the long knives and dispensed with the services of the whole band. What happened to cause that? 

Initially when people join a band they’re a hundred per cent up for anything, but after a while you learn who they actually are. Crazy decisions were being made thatI didn’t agree with, until I felt like a passenger in a car I should have been driving. So I took all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune from that line-up, until I couldn’t take any more. I tried to have discussions with them, to warn them, but they didn’t want to make a new album. 

No regrets? 

I’ve got no regrets whatsoever about getting rid of those guys, because this Godfathers line-up is far superior; we can get along, write songs and make new records. I can’t be in a band that’s static, where all you do is play what you done in 1987. No way. The most important Godfathers record to me is always the next one.

Has the band always been primarily based on your personal vision, and are you The Godfathers in much the same way that Lemmy was Motörhead? 

This is a real band, a proper band. Every song on the album was written with various other people in the group. They all bring something to the party. I bring a whole lot, of course I do, and the overall vision is mine, but to do it without these guys would be impossible. Jon Priestley [bass] was in The Damned and he’s a fantastic producer, 

Billy [Duncanson, drums] and Richie [Simpson, guitar] were in this great up-and-coming band called The Heavy Drapes, until their singer died in 2018, and Wayne [Vermaak] is a brilliant guitarist. As a line-up it gels really well, there’s a certain chemistry there and a whole lot of rock’n’roll dynamite. 

Might The Godfathers have sold more records in the eighties if you’d worn the accepted spandex uniform of contemporary corporate rock? 

The Godfathers always looked like a classy band, and I think our image lasts a lot better then all of those stupid people with poodle hairdos. They looked absolutely ridiculous then and they look even worse now. 

Would you say The Godfathers were a band out of time? 

We stood out, maybe like a sore thumb, but made brilliant records and still make brilliant records. Not many bands from that time are still making albums as great as Alpha Beta Gamma Delta, as good as the stuff they did in their prime. I’ve no complaints about anything. It was a dream to be in a band, and if you can do it, make it real and still keep doing it, you’ve realised your ambition. 

Alpha Beta Gamma Delta is available now via Cargo.

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 19 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.