Tell me about Zero Zero?
With Red Ellis I had played a number of shows opening for The Frankie Miller
Band in 1980/81 and later with Zero Zero we were invited to play at an
ill-fated festival in Skye in about 1982/83. The rain was pissing down for
days and at about 12 o’clock on the day of the gig the promoter (Chris
Rainbow I think was his name) pulled the plug. Just as he was making the
announcement the sun came out and the site cleared up, but there were
thousands and thousands of music fans knocking about the island with not a
lot to do.
One or two of the headline acts, including Frankie left straight away but
the rest of us just wanted to play. That night a number of the bands and
road crews decided to raise some cash for the promoter and put on a show for
the fans. A local town/school hall was quickly sorted out and the PA was a
mixture of the backlines from the bands who had stayed on.
I recall H20 did a set, Zero Zero also played, as did a number of other
bands. Craig and Charlie Reid from The Proclaimers were there but I can’t
remember if they stayed on for the night time show. There was a punk band
who played (I don’t recall their name) and they did a cracking version of
"Maggie" - you may know the song ... I have wandered today through the
hills, Maggie dedicated to Maggie Thatcher and their final song which has
stuck with me included the line “... I really thought I loved you , but I
only needed a shite !” - different class.
Danusha Zareeba, who is now a vocal coach, and her pal Marsha helped us out
some times. They were called Warm Leatherette you can see them in the photos
and video from Kelvingrove that’s up on YouTube.
Tell me how Zero Zero started?
Not quite sure, I think I got a call from Andy McCafferty who was a mate of
Rab Getty (Punky Mendoza from Heavy Pettin’) we met up and rehearsed a
couple of times, Steve Docherty came along to jam at Chow Studios at Charing
Cross and the new band took shape. I seem to be a bit blank about the time
when Duncan and Davie were with the band (sorry boys!) although I did see
Duncan’s myspace on the back of some footage his boy posted on YouTube.
After the line up changed and John McMillan from Cumnock, the brother of
James McMillan - the Scottish composer, joined the band – I think John was
at the same school/class as Loraine MacIntosh from Deacon Blue.
We spent a lot of time rehearsing in Coatbridge (Steve’s home town) where
Hue and Cry, The Big Dish and other Art School type bands used the same
studio in Monklands.
The Evening Times band competition provided the opportunity to record at
CAVA studios in Glasgow where we also worked with the Radio Clyde DJ Bill
Padley. Bill went on to form the music production company Wise Buddha with
Mark Goodyear and as a writer Bill produced the UK Number One hits "Whole
Again" for Atomic Kitten and along with some co-writers produced "That’s My
Goal" for the winner of Pop Idol winner Shane Ward.
We rehearsed a lot at the Berkley Studios in Glasgow where we were helped by
John McCalman from Jammy Records who also worked at Radio Clyde. Later Ian
McCaig from Edinburgh took to managing the band. Also from Edinburgh Big
John Ramsey (the front of house engineer for Simple Minds) worked with us
for a while and friend Joe Gormley (Wolfie) also from Edinburgh used to
roadie (he now works around the world as a specialist road manager/guitar
tech). Local boys John-Joe O’Neil and big Stef McCormack did a lot of work
with the band at that time too.
We played at the "Oil Aid" festival with Runrig and Wet Wet Wet, a kind of
Live Aid for the oil industry in Aberdeen. Zero Zero went on to sign to a
London management co. where we moved to London for a time playing showcase
gigs including a few nights at the Marquee. We made a couple of promotional
Videos produced by Douglas Gray at Mirage TV in Edinburgh.
Ian McCaig was looking after the management site and we did a weeks worth of
shows back-to-back at the Jailhouse during the Edinburgh Festival in about
1984. While in Zero Zero Steve Docherty was offered to front, for I think,
either Uriah Heep or Black Sabbath and I think he also auditioned for AC/DC.
As you know he joined SAHB for a time after we split, not sure what he is up
Do you still meet up with any of your mates from the band days?
After we split I did some photographic work for Ricky Warwick when he was
forming a new band, they needed a bass player and Andy McCafferty (now
called Tantrum) from Zero Zero subsequently went on to join The Almighty as
the lead guitarist. He toured and played on a couple of albums I think.
(There was a surprise 40th for him in Glasgow some years back and John,
Andy and I got up and gave it a belt).
My partner and I are friends with Joolz and Dante Gizzi who played in the
Glasgow Band Blind Allez that later became GUN. They used to run the family
pizza restaurant in Cambridge St in Glasgow, don’t know if they still do.
More recently Dante has been seen as the front-man of Glasgow Pop/rock combo
The venue map from www.glasband80.co.uk shows what a hub for music was at
that time, I forgot about playing at the lunchtime Concerts at the Custom
House Bandstand in Clyde Street and there was also the "Bungalow Bar" in
Paisley, the Heathery in Wishaw and the Iron Maiden Pub in Bellshill. We
also did some gigs with "Robbie the Pict" up north and played at a number of
â Rock and Dole’ type shows for the unemployed.
What was your best memory of that time?
Having a laugh with some good pals I suppose and as a 15 year old heading
off for the weekend to play at being a rock star while my school mates were
hanging about the local park getting blasted on White Lightning and
Thunderbird. Meeting big Phil Lynott is up there of course but for me a
highlight was a local show that we played at the Hamilton Park Racecourse in
about 1980. There must have been 500 or 600 people squeezed into a big
marquee to see the show, it was filmed and I understand there is an old HVS
copy kicking about somewhere – I hope to see it on YouTube some time.
I now only go to Kelvingrove to watch my son practice his kick-flips and
ollies at the skate-park, the bandstand is in a hell of a mess – bit sad
Any Final Thoughts?
Just to say that we had a great time and didn’t take it too seriously, we had
some good support from the folk of Viewpark and I still meet people in the
town who remember me being in the band, makes you cringe some times. Within
a couple of miles there was a whole range of musical talent developing at
that time. Just Google Patrick "Pat" Doyle the Hollywood composer who grew
up in Viewpark in the 70’s/80’s and be blown away.
I meet Harry Travers now and again, Harry played drums for Hipsway who
signed to Mercury in the mid 1980’s.
I said hello to Paul Quinn in Bellshill a couple of weeks back, Paul (who went to my old school) played drums with The Soup Dragons and Teenage
Fanclub and the BMX Bandits also came from Bellshill. For me the most
talented player was Stuart Kerr who came from "the gas flats" in Viewpark,
Stuart was a great drummer who played and toured the world with a number of
bands including Love and Money, Friends Again, Texas and GUN.
You played some festivals and supported Frankie Miller and Thin Lizzy- tell
me about that?
In 1980 Red Ellis opened at the Loch Lomond Rock Concert. The complete bill
was - on the New Wave show on the 21st June (in no particular order) was:
The Chords, Bad Manners, The Cuban Heals, The Only Ones, Ra Bears, The
Regents, Stiff Little Fingers, The Tourists and The Jam
The 22nd was the Rock Day and featured: Red Ellis, Henry Gorman Band, Wilde
Horses, Lindisfarne, Ian Gillan Band, Krokus, The Denny Laine Band, Saxon
and Wishbone Ash.
Unlike festivals today when groups helicopter in to play their set and are
off to do another gig at night, all the bands just hung about backstage,
shootin’ the breeze, drinking and catchin’ up. Because we were a young band
we were drawn to the other Scots, particularly Jimmy Bain and Brian
Robertson who were happy to chat. I recall that on the Monday morning after
the Loch Lomond, our singer wee Joe Cochrane was walking through Central
Station going back to his work. There, he bumped into a group of a dozen or
so fans who were getting autographs and talking to Jimmy Bain and Brian
Robertson (who were going up north to visit some family), they recognised
the wee man, and much to the amazement of the fans, called him over and
chatted for a while. At that time there was no 24hr McDonalds and at 7.30am
Robbo, Jimmy and their Girlfriends were looking for something to eat, Joe
was happy to oblige and left them with is lunch, two pieces and cheese, two
of corn beef and a coupe of kit-kats kept them going for a bit.
It might be my memory but we got on really well with Frankie Miller and his
band. We supported them quite a few times and they were a good bunch of
blokes, YouTube provides the opportunity to look back, I think Frankie is
one of the most talented singer/songwriters Scotland has ever produced. Not
many folk know he had co-written "Still in love with You" the Thin Lizzy
standard as well as ton of other R’n’B Classics. In his band at that time
was a young Irish guitar player called Ed Deane he was a remarkable talent
for such a young guy. He was left handed but also had his strings upside
down as if he had just spun a normal right handed guitar around when he was
learning to play and stuck with it!
In 1981 we had the opportunity to open for Thin Lizzy on about 4 or 5 dates
on a low-key UK Tour. Phil Lynott was everything you would hope he would be?
We also got involved in an enormous fight between some locals at "˜The Café"
youth club in Gourock. I remember playing "Rock n Dole" concerts at Govan
and Partick Town Halls, and I think at the time you could get dole money
paid as Enterprise Allowance if you were involved in a band. In mid 1982 we
did a tour of about 25-30 dates back-to-back all across Scotland, on
reflection not a bad effort all in all. We spent some cash and had some tee
shirts made up, and was pretty pissed off that they sold out at the first
I recall we opened for Glam Band "Mud" at a holiday park called "Grannie's
Heilan' Hame" a Holiday Park in Dornoch, it was June or July and I’ll always
remember the lead singer Les Gray saying “…Merry Christmas darlin’ wherever
you are” at the end of Lonely This Christmas. – You couldn’t make it up.
We did some recording and produced a single "Pretty Polly / Urban Life" with
Henry Gorman acting as Producer and seem to remember Duncan from "Sneaky Pete"
helping out on the technical side.
Why do you think you didn’t make it?
As a band I didn’t think we were particularly talented writers, nor did we
feel we understood that it was the Music Business, record deals, albums and
stuff, we were just a wee bunch of mates who having a lot of practice and
rehearsing we could put on a bit of a show. We could make quite a racket
with just bass, drums and one guitar. Chick was a really talented guitar
player and had the look, dead slim, corkscrew Bolan/T-rex type hair. Wee Joe
was a good lookin’ fella, he looked like a rock star, on stage he acted the
part as well and would not have looked out of place fronting Free, Bad
Company or Rainbow (he was the same height as Dio I think!), Davie the bass
player and I became a really tight rhythm section and I could count to 4 and
then count to 4 again so I suppose I could drum a bit. As we got into
playing then so did the folk that would come alone to watch – I think that
early gigs up in Laurencekirk helped us to cut our teeth and we were
comfortable getting up and doing our thing towards the end I guess we must
have been pretty good to watch.
I don’t recall that the band ended in an enormous flash of light, bust up or
fall-out , we just dropped every one off after a gig one night and that was
Do you still see anyone from Red Ellis?
I haven’t seen Chick for years, Joe Cochrane and I meet once a year or so
and share a laugh and Davie Sweet is about to become a Grandfather so he’ll
be back in Scotland more often and we’ll will catch up a bit more then I
hope. It seems a pity that I lost touch with Ian Harris and with Jim
McCelland after we split, I think Jim moved to England although I did see a
post from him on the Glasband 80 forum a while ago, glad to hear he is still
was the Drummer with Red Ellis and Zero Zero, He started playing with Red Ellis at the age of 14 and has played all over Scotland and the UK performing at venues such as The Loch Lomond Festival in 1980 with Red Ellis, The Kelvingrove Festival many times as well as The Marquee in London and a week full of gigs at The Jailhouse in Edinburgh with Zero Zero (among others)
Joe has worked alongside artists such as Frankie Miller and Phil Lynnot and is a good friend to the site.
Joe James Interview July 2007