The Members release a new Greatest Hits collection on the first of December through Cadiz records, featuring all of their singles. We caught up with The Members songwriter and guitarist JC Carroll for our twenty questions, read them below.
Formed in Surrey, England, in the summer of 1977, the Members played at the Roxy and all the other Punk clubs on the london circuit. The original band — composed of Nicky Tesco (vocals), Jean-Marie Carroll (guitar), Nigel Bennett (guitar), Adrian Lillywhite (drums), and Chris Payne (bass) — was among the first to successfully blend reggae rhythms with punk attitude.
Their first Record Solitary Confinement was released on Stiff records in 1978 and is now a collectors item they then signed to Virgin Records Their first Virgin single, The Sound of the Suburbs, was a British Top Ten Hit selling 250,000 copies in 3 months (it has since sold 1,000,000 copies).
Their first LP, Live at the Chelsea Nightclub, was listed as one of the top 20 punk Lp’s by Eecord Collector. After one more album for Virgin in 1980, the Choice Is Yours, they moved to Martin Rushents Electro/80’s Label Genetic to record Uprhythm, Downbeat (released in 1983 in the U.K. as Going West), broadening their sound with horns and a more serious attitude. Working Girl from the album was a huge hit in the USA. During the 1980s the Members toured endlessly across north America experiencing the elation of huge shows in New York and Los Angeles.
Hi how are you today what’s the weather like?
Its freezing in the Surrey Suburbs and I’m about to hit the Monday night pub Quiz.
How do most of your songs start life? A lyric?A chord? Or a melody?
Sometimes they spend 15 to 20 years at a larval stage sometime the butterfly pops out perfectly formed. Usually I start with a lyric.
How did you meet the other Members?
I met original singer Nick Tesco on a Train… Chris Payne the Longest Standing other Member I met at a Party
What was your first gig like?
My first Show with The Members was with the UK Subs in Croydon.. back in 77.
The Royal Family: should they stay or should they go?
I’m a Republican.
What’s your favourite book?
Paul Clifford – Edward Bulwer Lytton
What were you like at school?
Gobby, Pretty Boy!
What’s the difference between releasing music now compared to the 70s?
The seventies was a high point for record Sales….We had record Companies do everything and take everything. Now we work very closely with Cadiz Records and its more organic…
Best gig you’ve played so far?
I love playing The Roundhouse with The Buzzcocks last year.. It was a great show. Also the show at Punk and Rock and Roll Artshow in Bermondsey a few weeks ago was epic.
What’s your favourite single?
Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys
What do you listen to in your tour van?
We listen to the Radio in the Middle of the Night Driving Home…Reggae 70’s Rock, Classical. Disco.. its very eclectic.
What’s been the biggest musical influences on the Members sound?
70’s reggae, Surf Music, 60’s Garage, Punk Rock, a Good band sounds like the Sum of its influences rather then another Band. Lots of bands are so Retro they sound like tribute bands… we like to surprise people… We had an electronic album in the 80s.
Who would you want to play you in the film of your life?
I would like you Bill to play me… or perhaps Benedict Cumberbach.
Vinyl, CD, Download or stream?
All valid all music… I prefer CD and Vinyl coz we make money from them.
What’s the best cover version you have ever heard?
Hendrix x 2 Like a Rolling Stone… all along the Watchtower.
What are the best new acts you’ve seen or heard lately?
Sadly we do not play with many young bands.I loved playing with Mille Manders and the Shut Up Recently in Manchester,
I Saw Grade 2 at rebellion and we played with some young Lads Called Tyrant
from Pangbourne who were great…
The Members have a greatest hits out, what is your favourite Members single?
I guess its still the ‘Sound of the Suburbs’ because its my Signature Song… and it makes people very happy when I play it.. that and a Track off the One Law album called “Incident at Surbiton”.
What was the best band The Members ever played with?
Technically, last year we played with the Tubes they were awesome.. We did some shows with The Ramones in the 80s they were fantastic too.
Are you planning anymore solo records?
Yes I am nearly finished a Record Called Painting in the Sky, it sounds poncey but that is what you do when you distribute music on the Internet. It will have two covers on it Bowie’s “Where are we Now?” and a Punk Rock version of Edith Piaf “Je ne Regrette Rien”.
What would be your dream collaboration?
Most of my heroes are Dead, I would love to make a Record with say Tony Visconti…..