|KWESTIONS FOR FAEBHEAN KWEST
FROM 'RAPED' & 'CUDDLY TOYS'
By June Bird
|I asked Faebhean Kwest could I interview him, he said "Certainly M’deah!"
Then he told me that he'd just that day set up his website...I went to look at it and a lot
of the information I needed (and what I thought you guys would want to know about)
was already on the
(Looks like this site is no longer available but you could try here if you wanna contact Mr Kwest)
So I've just included that here. It saves me a lot of typing anyway...and as I've just had
scary acrylic nails affixed typing is nigh on impossible at the moment!
Okay, so here's Faebhean's own info and my hard-hitting questions come after that......
|Faebhean: First off - the website has only just been put up and is still in transitional stage 1! I will be
adding loads of stuff to it over the next few months and tidying it up. I am quite lucky in that David Levine
the photographer, who did all those famous pictures in the 1980s of people like Boy George, Steve
Strange, Bananarama, Spandau Ballet, etc, is helping me set it up.
"I was born in Liverpool in 1956, as an only child. I left in the mid-70s and went to live in Chelsea (Elm
Park Mansions, Park Walk, near World's End). Played in various groups - mainly
Rockabilly/Jive, as well as a stint as guitarist in a strip club in Soho with a keyboard player and congo
player (just like Ronald Rivron's "RawSex"!!). We played stuff like Telstar, and Wheels, but occasionally
would throw in the odd Deep Purple number!!! I also played lute in a medieval restaurant
in St. Martin's Lane in which I got to wear a jolly hat with a feather on it and a pair of fetching 2-coloured
tights!! I play not just the guitar but also a little piano accordion, harp and nanjo (tenor, 5-string and
uke), as well as harmonica and zither, balalaika and mandolin.
As I lived very near the King's Road, I got to know most of the early crowd who became punks, early
names like Johnny Rotten Johnny Diahorrea (now that's a name!), Jack Stafford (who joined X-Ray Spex
as their guitarist), Dave Sylvian - later in Japan, Marco Pirroni - later Adam & The Ants and a host of
others so I was in the right place at the right time -1976 and an unswinging London.. I had previously
been in a group called Swank which was Swankers shortened down...the original name of the Pistols -
Gary Olsen (originally Gary Grant) the singer, who died recently - he was the fat fellow in the British TV
sit-com' "2.4 Children" - formed it with me as guitarist.
I had originally been asked to the audition for the Pistols in Denmark St (West End of London) and met
Steve New (later of the Rich Kids), and we both walked out of the audition saying what a load of tripe
Malcolm McLaren never forgave me for saying no, as I had auditioned with short bleached hair, red
drainpipe trousers, winklepickers, and a battered old Telecaster, plus my heroes were people like
Johnny Thunders, MC5 Link Wray - in an era (1975/76) when every other person had long wavy hair,
flared jeans and wanted to be in Jethro Tull orThe Moody Blues!! The numbers I was auditioned on
were such as 'All or Nothing' (Small Faces) and 'Stepping Stone' (Monkees). Malcolm thought someone
like me would have been exactly right and he couldn't handle the idea of someone turning the great
Malcolm down! Hence, him saying such snide things about me in the magazines and papers/books like
Q Magazine and on the radio! Particularly venomous was Jon Savage who did a book called 'England's
Dreaming' in which he got the facts all wrong on purpose and didn't even spell my name right! (But this
was because me and a couple of other lads would not sleep with him - tired old poof!) Although later I
got to know Johnny Rotten fairly well. (I once gave him a pet rat for his birthday. The only one of the
Pistols I have really had anything to do with since is Glen Matlock, who's quite sweet
and the only musical member of the whole charade.
I then left Swank as it was too grey a band with members only wanting to play locally, and formed a punk
group, but one I decided that would not be as stereotypical as the others..I used to say to people "OK,
very nice every one of the punks wanting to look individual..but why do you all want to look like the same
individual?" We were called originally the Solicitors, but that was such a dreadful name that me and
Sean (from a Melody Maker Ad), called it the most offensive name we could think of - Raped!
When we auditioned Paddy he thought he was joining a group like Kiss or Eddie and the Hot Rods! We
auditioned him in the studios in Furze Street (where Leftfield come from), Tony - the bass player - joined
from Melody Maker (as did the others) having been the last bass player with Steppenwolf..we did
not dare tell anyone at the time that - we'd have been lynched - we were supposed to hate that sort of
We rehearsed in a lunatic asylum in Notting Hill - that figures - we were as nutty as most of the
inmates! Our roadie was (one of the helpers) we quickly renamed Mike Moron! I used to live in a flat off
Gloucester Road, South West London, with two people from the original TRex Fan Club, who'd known
Marc Bolan for donkey's years, before he'd even had singles or records out (he used to work in a
Wimpeys in Hackney - bet you didn't know that! Apparently he said he was a very good burger maker!!)
Hence, us getting to know Marc B. When we said that we would like to do a '3-chord wonder' as a song
and that all the good songs seemed to have been done(!!) Marc gave me a tape of him, David Bowie
and Gloria Jones "fucking about" in a hotel room singing ideas and bouncing song bits at each other.
It is truly dreadful but me and Sean took a few of the numbers, polished them and hence - the single
Madman (released 1978). When we rehearsed and recorded Madman in Ian Gillan's (of Deep Purple)
studio, Woody Woodmansey came in to show us how some of the drums would sound (better) and sang
backing vocals on it with us (so did Ian Gillan - 'rock n roll baby'!!) Woody said my guitar lines were very
evocative of Bolan and early Micky Ronson. (I was quait overcohm dahlinks!). Marc Bolan was brilliant,
he was tiny, about 5'3" and very up-front but a real sweetheart and very loveable with it. He'd just lost
loads of weight and was looking great and who knows what might have occurred If Marc hadn't been
killed in a car crash, he was going to manage us as he absolutely loved us - along with managing (or
so he said) Generation X and The Damned. He was going to form a production company with David
Bowie. Marc was the one who coined the phrase that we were 'Peacock Punks' or glam-punks!
We were already using the name Cuddly Toys privately and changed to it properly in 1978. We had
decided to change the name when concert halls just wouldn't put us on and John Peel (the DJ) and Bill
Grundy (the man on the notorious Sex Pistol TV interview) suggested that we give ourselves the silliest
name we could think off - you should have heard some of the names we came up with! We were at one
point going to call ourselves Oasis!!! Now there's a thought...and in 1978 as well! Actually, David
Hemmings, Gary Glitter, Brain Connelly, various Mott the Hooplers, Iggy Pop and in fact most of the
glam-pop crowd (who we were much more impressed with than the average punk group!) came and
either watched us, partied with us, wanted to manage us, or just corrupt us!!
A lot of the groups and musicians that we did like and get on with - such as Psychedelic Furs,
Banshees, etc we used to socialize with but most of the average punk groups around after mid-1977
were very straight and thought we were too anti-establishment. (The biters bit!!) Some of them were so
normal it was like playing a gig with your Dad! We played one gig with a so-called punk group who asked
us to please say onstage that they were not connected with us, as they didn't like the idea that me and
Sean had eyeshadow on! (Nice colour too!) We used to hang around with bands such as Generation X
a bit because we were all from the same crowd. (Sean went out with Dave Vanian's ex-girlfriend. I still
see Dave about occasionally at classic bike meets - we're both nutty about pre-1960s motorcycles - he's
a smashing fellow!) Before 1977 the 1975-76 punk scene was very outrageous and a lot of the more
glamourous and adventurous punk crowd actually became the New Romantic originators, that's why we
(C.Toys) used to know band members from like Classix Neavoux, Duran, Culture Club, Adam & The
Ants, etc. Oddly enough, a lot of the two-tone crowd liked us as well (Madness, Modettes, Selector, etc)
and we were asked to go on the bill of quite a few bands who seemed almost at askance with us - such
The hatred that the English press had for us was quite amazing, we actually for a time became a band
that the press loved to hate - but that's the insular, class-concious snide Limey music press for you! We
were never prophets in our own country but other people's liked us from outside the UK.
Quite a few of the major companies chased us, and we were going to sign to Casablanca, and another
company (whose name escapes me) who had the band Angel on the racks except that the man who was
going to sign us suddenly went very strange, gave up his job and became a Hare Krishna! (Hope they
never blame us). We turned a couple of companies down as they wanted us to change so dramatically
or they just wanted Sean...we eventually signed with Techiku in Japan (a label a bit like Decca - old-
fashioned), as they promised us complete artistic control (huh!). Incidentally, we did a half
hour video for Japanese and American television which was released in some states and in Japan in
which we used part of the film set of Alien just before the film came out and the two lads who directed us
were responsible for quite a few of the major pop video milestones of the 80s.
The clothes came from the fact that we always wanted in fact to be glam rock 'n'rollers rather than punks
- we were much better than the average punk group (and better looking...meow!). We had more in
common with Rod Stewart and the Faces or Sweet than The Stranglers. Sean wanted to be either
Iggy Pop or David Bowie; Tony wanted to be John Entwistle or John Paul Jones, , Paddy would have
loved to have been in Sweet or New York Dolls, and I wanted to be in Led Zeppelin, T Rex , or be
Johnny Winter! That's why I bleached my hair white - to try and be an albino like Johnny Winter who
was one of my 4 great guitar players*! Most places actually loved it - the clothes, attitude, it was almost
pantomine, or urchins who'd raided the trunks and suitcases of a great house of the 18th century and
ended up in a masquerade instead of the chamber orchestra. The main reason why we got a
Japanese following/record deal was due to the strong 'glamorous' image. We really were a glam-punk
group such as Adam & The Ants, and the very early New Romantics".
* I have always had 4 main guitars players that I adore …my pantheon of guitar gods… so although I like
loads of other guitarists, Chet Atkins, The Edge, Taylor (from Duran Duran), and others - they are:
Django Rheinhardt, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix and Oscar Aleman. The swing period and blues
period represented as well as rock (and roll!).
June: So, does anybody recognise you these days? Has anybody rushed up to you and breathlessly
exclaimed "Faebhy Baby! Wot's happening?!"
Faebhean: Well, I have had some very strange experiences since. In fact, in America
I have quite a little crowd of 18-19 year old girls who are apparently my new fan club! (5 or 6
of them have my name tattooed on their ankles! (I love them already!) And I keep hearing old
nonsense of mine still played in places like Prague, or Corfu – "Meester Keeweseest ..please
for you the record to ssyan my record pleeesh!?" Oh go on then!
June: Is there life after punk? How did you feel when 'it all ended'? (Phew, 2 questions in one....
excellent....gotta cut down on the typing!)
Faebhean: Well, the real London punk scene was very short, it started about late 1975 and
died around 1978ish.. and then degenerated like all movements.. such as the Flower Power
movement and the early Rock n Roll period. A lot of the movements such as Rockabilly, Ska/2-
Tone, Powerpop slightly overlapped and carried on - but if not for the punk impetus, they
might not have happened - or in a very watered down version. The punk influence though is
very strong still and can be found in bands as diverse as Men at Work, U2, Blur and Oasis -
bands who might not have been taken seriously if not for the upheavals from the status quo
(pun intended) that the punk scene fomented. And I sort of melded into the (what became
the) New Romantic movement as a lot of the people were old glam-punks anyway.
June: What are you doing now music-wise?
Faebhean: I haven't really played (in a rock and rollee kind of way), for a few years now but
I'm definitely on the lookout for the perfect set up. I'm too old for pop music and boy bands;
too different for jazz and not enough of an old fart for easy-listening! But what I have been
doing is hanging round with a group of people who play 1930s guitar music (like Lonnie
Johnson, Eddie Lang, Django Rheinhardt). I am still up for playing some proper Rock music
and would love to put together a decent power trio - like early J.Hendrix Experience or Taste
but most people don't know what that is!
June: I hear that you and Tony Baggett are releasing some new/old tapes/stuff in the near future.....
please tell me more!
Faebhean: We have recorded quite a few bits and Tony is looking through all his old
tapes of us (like a bloody library Mr. Baggett!!) We can release this as soon as it's done.
June: How did you find out that Sean Purcell was dying? (of a brain tumour in 1995). Did you keep in
contact with him?
Faebhean: I heard about Sean's dying from both Tony Baggett and his mother. During the last
6 months I was in constant touch with him and was one of the last people to speak to him
before he died. I told him on the phone - as he had moved to Ireland - when he knew for
definite that he was dying and living on borrowed time, that I loved him to bits, always had,
and always will love him and that he would never disappear from my (or Tony's) thoughts. I
told him that he had done something very few people had ever done - that he, with me, Tony
and Paddy, had been not just part of but active participants in history. In the future, people
would read and hear of him. Not to the same extent of course as (say), Bob Dylan, but certainly
more than the average Chartered Accountant. That group was more like a marriage than a
group and quite often I think how we could have (and should have) handled it in the 1970s!
His ashes were scattered over a sports field in Galway, Ireland, his personal effects burnt
and we (the original members of the band - apart from Paddy who no-one knows where he
be) all held a wake for him in London. His former girlfriend Lisa told me that she was looking
through his letters after he died and she found some of the ones I wrote to him when he was
feeling very depressed after finding he had only a short time to live. She said that my
letters bolstered him up better than anything and actually rekindled his life-force. (But sadly
not enough to keep him alive). As they say - "Those whom the Gods love die young..." To be
honest, I think its fucking awful that Sean died and people like Robert Mugabe are alive.
June: I know that you're still a friend of Steve 'Fade to Grey' Strange. I heard that he'd been attacked
recently on his way home from a club....shit, what happened there?
Faebhean: Yes, Steve said he was attacked by a junkie in the East End, and he did get a few
stitches, Hopefully he's OK. I went to his new club/s (Rouge and Chasing the Dragon - at
Opium nightclub - what an evocative name!) He's got a book out at the moment which is very
entertaining (BLITZED); I had to get him to sign it as I made that mistake during the punk
days, as I have loads of posters, records,bills, etc, from (now) famous people that I should
have gotten them to sign - such as an original Anarchy in the UK poster that a certain Sex
Pistol gave me back in 1977, and one of Jimi Hendrix's jackets, some of Marc Bolan's bits and
lots other oddities!
June: You used to live near the World's End, so did I. We must have met up at parties and gigs surely? I
went to a party with Mr Idol one night after he'd jumped up and did an impromptu couple of songs at The
Man In The Moon) everybody that anybody in the punk scene was there (it was at a record
company executive's penthouse pad) and I vividly remember copiously vomiting in his private lift. Serves
him right - he was a total sleazoid! I didn't trust a lot of the 'oldies' getting in on the punk scene like the
guy I just mentioned - they were like leeches. Did you find that?
Faebhean: Well, I have memories of that period and one funny one is when we (Raped)
played the Roxy and Gen.X turned up and we tossed (..steady now!) for who would play first
and who would headline and Billy lost! So we made the Gener's support us! But they were
great fun, game for a laugh and the whole thing went swimmingly! The mood was different
then, nowadays bands would start hitting each other (or even shooting each other!), but then
we felt we were part of a great movement and we had/and were something special!
Actually I do remember you and you promised to get me a cup of coffee with one sugar and I
still haven't received it (probably cold by now!).
Seriously, I think we were more trendy than our kids are now, and let's face it June we
wouldn't have put up with Pop Idol, or any of the boy bands that are supposed to be sooo
(I have to tell you this!! In a seaside town in southern England, I saw a tribute band to the
people who failed to be in the runners-up in Pop Idol!! Now that's sad!! What do you mean I am
the sad one for watching them? Ah, but I did get their autographs!!!
June: Many thanks for that. Well, we're the 'oldies' now, and I know that I'll always thank those punk
daze for waking me/shaking me up. I shudder to think what my life would have been like without it. By the
way, where did you get your great rock star name from - is it something you made up?
Faebhean: Not again!! That's because everyone's a bloody Saxon now! My name is Celtic, my
distant ancestors (cue very boring anthropological bit), were members of the indigenous
tribes of Britain before the Romans. Kwest is Iceni and Faebhean is Attacotti-sed version of
the Roman Fabian (like Hans/Johanns is the Germanic John and Ivan the Russianised
version). The Attacotti and the Iceni were two of the northwest / northeast Britons. ( A very
dull man in the Victoria and Albert museum told me that!) So when people go on about their
families living in Britain since Norman times, I can ask them quite innocently what they think
of my country??!
June Bird - 2002. Sydney, Oztraylia - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For a good Raped/ Cuddly Toys page check out www.myspace.com/cuddlytoys