Dennis Munday
Billy Hassett
Sounds 1979
Martin Mason
This is the second questionaire I have had filled in by one of the members of the band. I was suprised and happy with Billy's answers. What is interesting is just how sobering some of Billy's thoughts are. There is a lot of text but some very sharp comments, please read it all as I found it a very compelling read.

If you have any questions use the contact page.

If you have any scrap books or magazine interviews, promptional material I would really like to include them in the site, and of course anybody who supplies material will get a mention.

Billy's Questionaire

1) What were you doing before the band, job, college

I just got a job as a draughtsman with the London Electricity Board. As the only one with an income it was me that had to sign for the hire-purchase agreements for the gear. If my mother ever found out she would have killed all of us.

2) Where are you all from?

London-Irish stock. Born in Whitechapel but we lived mostly in SE London between Bermondsey and Deptford. Close by Goldsmiths college were Martin and I sometimes use to hang out with Fred + Jim Long and Malcolm Ball.
We used to hang out with the student’s sometimes-even see Squeeze and Dire straight before they were big.

3) What were you first musical encounters?

Well, I was taken to see the Beatles at the then Finsbury Odeon. A matinee performance and mum said we even got backstage to see the group. I don’t remember any of it I was two or something and there aren't any photos. I suppose a good knees up with all the aunts and uncles doesn't count? \
So, I guess it must have been at school, I always loved music. Martin and I went to the same school, St. Thomas the Apostle school in Peckham, luckily we had a wonderful, inspirational music teacher, Mr. Busitol. Anyway, we were in the school band. Classical music mostly, but we got to play in loads of places we even did a tour of Malta where we were all celebs. for two weeks, even played in Malta's Opera house! Some gig I can tell you!
The first band I remember? The Who, when they played Charlton the first time. I remember a bloke stopping and asking where the gig was. He was on a scooter, loads of mirrors and wearing a strange green coat. He looked so different I wonder what ever happened to him…he must have been 20-24 then. Anyway I was about 14 and little did I know what was to come. We managed to get in under a fence, loads of kids were doing it and I went with the flow. Sadly I don't remember much of the gig but it was loud and I didn't get anywhere near the stage, saw some women with it all hanging out…well impressed! Bob Dylan at Blackbush was a day to remember what a laugh and all for less than a fiver but that's another story!

4) Did you see any early punk gigs like the pistols etc.. and what did you think

I used to go to The Roundhouse in Camden every Sunday with my brother, who is two years younger. Everyone played there, so I guess I was lucky enough to have seen them all, except, of course, the Pistols. I loved Siouxsie, Slaughter and the Dogs,The Dammed, Stranglers, ATV, X-Ray Specs, Clash, .Jam, ahh…the list is endless. Sometimes I use to go to the Albany Empire in Deptford, gone now. Saw a myriad of reggae bands there as well as the punk ones…yeah I guess I was well into it all at the age of sixteen, seventeen.

5) What gear were you using at the time, guitars drums etc..

I had a Strat copy but soon got rid of it when I got my first Rick,a 66' model with an f-hole and solid plate with a tremolo arm. I got it second hand, in fact Paul Weller used it on TOTP. When they did News of the world, or was it Modern World I forget now…it's been a while. Mum and Dad got me a great Vox AC30 with blue-bulb speakers, late sixties, for my eighteenth, I still have it now. Then a got a great Gibson SG 1966. It was stolen when we did the first Peel session. I loved that guitar and I say it must be worth a few bob now. I just hope whoever has it appreciates it. I also rented a white fender tele. and a 12 string brown Rick, which I used on the first TOTP. We tried to buy them but they wouldn't sell.

6) How did you hear about the quadrophenia film, was it common knowledge?

Yes, I guess so. We even submitted a demo ( P.Halpin on drums ) to audition for a "mod" band. We got a nice letter saying the usual. I think we were a bit raw then.

7) Did you spend 78 writing tunes etc?

We spent a lot of time learning, practicing and sometimes playing gigs (we weren't The Chords then). Hours spent around Chris's folks house in Catford, with Chris teaching us his new songs, sometimes we tried writing together but Chris worked better alone. Weekends and rehearsing at the LEB's social club. I managed to talk the club secretary into letting us use their facilities. It was handy, a PA a little stage, everything.

8) How come buddy joined, was Paul no good.

Paul couldn't give us the sound we needed on drums, so Martin and I wrote an ad. In Sounds, I think, looking for a "Keith Moon type" drummer and that's how we got Brett.Much earlier I think we used the NME for Chris…ask Martin.

9) Did you play at all before buddy joined?

Yes, we played a few gigs but nothing that would prepare us for what was to come. Buddy seemed to be the spark that set us off. Phut…

10) What was the intention for the band was just for fun or world domination?

To get girls…ha ha. A right disappointment that was too! But seriously, I personally wanted to do something different with my life, and I wanted desperately NOT to be a draughtsman anymore. I was bored and music, something I loved so much anyway, offered an escape. There weren't any big plans, just four lads on a big adventure. We really had no idea, did we?

11) How did you manage to get so many people to see you so quickly?

A lot of people loved punk but weren't punks and there was a need to have something to identify with. The Jam stood out but always claimed to be a Punk band. Then the press went out to kill Punk so they created a void, just brief enough to let some bands in. It was really exciting and we were so lucky at the beginning. We were ready and we believed and people went with it. But I thought that the new-mod scene would simply be a step further in new wave taking music to places, maybe, where the likes of Blur and Oasis managed up years later. Little did we suspect what was going to happen and once Quadrophenia came out we knew it was the end. I guess that's why we wanted nothing to do with the march of the mods and all that. We could sense where it was leading and we didn't want to be part of that. We had the Undertones tour just done and we were always hoping that a call from the Buzzcocks or even better The Clash would save us but…So if a lot of mods were fed up with us at that time, well I don't blame them. We kind of lost our audience later on and the remainder of the punks didn't want to know and anyway we weren't sure where we were heading. We were very lucky that anyone liked us at all. It was terribly confused and our lack of management or guidance killed us eventually.

12) For the next year you seemed to play everywhere, did you have a management deal?

No managers, just a dream.

13) Who were all the people at Tower Bridge?

They were the first lucky few. That's how small mod was before the flick. Just some mates, young, spirited and intent on having fun. You'll see a young Terry Rawlings there too! In specs.

14) Jimmy pursey, what happened there

We were signed to Jimmy. Now it's Gone was finished the artwork decided…well, he had, but we were happy enough. Then Jimmy wanted to re-unite the Pistols, if anyone remembers. We were touring with the Undertones
When Pursey appeared with two of the Pistols, Cook and Jones. After starting a riot that nearly saw the demise of the Undertones bassist, Mickey Bradley, we all agreed that we wanted out. A real shame, because, I feel if Now it's Gone had come out it would have been the first 'Mod" single. A wee bit better than You Need Wheels don't you think? Mod could have been different none of that Secret Affair nonsense. Is it any wonder Weller wanted to stay a Punk hardly motivational is it? You need a car if you wanna go far…la dee da! I don't want to slag but when Punk had Anarchy what did we have? Even Weller was Down the Tube station and Going Underground and think about it a new groups first song…Now it's Gone… a kiss goodbye that nobody saw.
Chris was clever, too clever perhaps.

15) You video for London weekend, was this a mod special

LWT's Janet Street Porter was doing something about the rumblings in the street. And her documentary was right when she pointed out were it would lead…misery/despair and finally annihilation by a fickle press. Very clever Janet.

16) Were the gigs paying, how did you get around?

Money??? Cash??? The smell of the folding stuff??? Never saw a bean!!!
By this time the gigs were just financing themselves but we hardly had a bob between us and it was hard for me as I had given up a wage, I didn’t like being poor. The others were slobs anyway apart from Mart. You should've seen the B+B's, later the hotel rooms after Chris, Brett, and Paul. I even had to loan Chris stuff that I never wanted back ha ha.

17) You played with all the revival bands, what were they like

I don't remember much… all them amphetamines play havoc with a memory. But I can remember the ones we toured or gigged with were the finest, a right laugh. Loved the crack (fun) with t' Kilometers, and we always loved being with Back to Zero. I don't think we ever played with the Circles but I enjoyed being with 'em in Liverpool just recently.

18) How is it you toured with the undertones without a deal?

Well, we had signed to Pursey and we were with the same Agency as the Tones ..Asguard. They set up the deal.

19) How did you eventually sign for polydor?

We were still ultimately owned by Wallydor as they owned the Pursey label. After we did the first Peel session they grudgingly stepped in and released some cash. I remember the big day they signed us. They gave us 25 nicker each, to celebrate with I suppose. Anyway we did by doing a runner from a Wimpy! But it was a bad move that we had little say in, no not the runner, no not having a manager fighting in our corner to get us away from that shower.

20) What songs were in the set at this time?

Chris had most of the first album done by this time. Plus we did a few covers.
So Far came later.

21) What was it like when 'now it's gone' charted

To be honest I was so disappointed with the reviews. We were too much like the Small Faces for the press…can you believe it? I didn't feel anything, I guess the emptiness started then. Maybe Tomorrow was just a rest bite. And the Beeb being on strike at the time of release of British Way, I believe, sealed our fate. Yes, I was not the optimist no wonder I may have seemed miserable all the time. It was like having this blade above your head.

22) Was recording fun,

I loved being in a studio. Playing live is too much stress/butterflies etc.
Too many things have to be right to make it a success, so you’re always putting yourself on the line. Some of the others like that, but it's not me, another reason why I was quiet and especially nowadays. Yet most people say we were at our best delivering that wall of sound!

23) Did you meet john peel, was he playing your records.

Didn't get a chance to meet the man only his producer but he did enthuse over us for a while…bless him.

24) What was top of the pops like, who was on your week?

Brilliant can't explain, just waves of joy then you actually do it, go there. Well it's not much fun because all of a sudden you realize that your ugly mug will be gracing millions of TV sets up and down the country…frightening.

Dexy's, the Beat, Selecter, Buggles…the Nolans I think. And the band we got on best with, honestly, AC/DC!!!

25) Being arrested isn't big or clever explain

Wrong Chord, .ask Brett maybe?

26) Are you still married bill, infact are you all married ?

Married divorced and now married again to a patient lass from Japan. We have a wonderful little girl who's five and are devoted to.

27) You had to rerecord songs for telly at the time was this a pain

Well it was something to do before going to the Bib. And anyway they usually swap the tapes so that they receive a copy of the original. Which in our case Wallydor got that little switch arse about face. Yes we ended up miming to our demo so if you look and see my lips not quite mouthing the same lines…well you can appreciate I shouldn't have been miming to that tape at all! Thanks guys.

28) Did you ever do any videos?

No, but we would have loved wallydor to have forked out for us… we had loads of ideas.

29) Was there many people at gigs, as you always imagine lots but

At the beginning yes but as I said earlier we lost our fan base when we shied away from mod. And a lot of the London mods lost faith in us even hated us, rightly so.

31) After the non-stop giging of 79 and 80, by 81 you seemed to slow down.

We/they had to. They were auditioning for a new me. When a front man goes you've got problems. But it should never have come to that especially when we were all set to go into the States on the back of Warner Brothers. They got hold of us because of a review of Maybe Tomorrow from a compilation that was sold over there. We even met the Big Man, Mr. Stein, who said he had never seen anyone like us since The Who back in the Sixties…loved that man!

32) By 81 had the mod scene start to fade

Mod began fading after Quad. Most of the early lot viewed it as a piss take of our lifestyle. Me? Well I laughed it was like looking at a documentary. After the initial surge the hounds started moving in.Our spokes man, Ian Page, wasn't Weller. Weller and I spoke about this around the time of Setting Sons he had to take up the mantle but we both knew that was coming to an end, besides the fashion thing was taken over by the Ska bands so what was really left?

By 81 I was living in Ireland so fed-up with the biz and all my dreams gone. I had to get away. I was totally disillusioned with anything mod and as, I guess, I was the only one that aspired to it, it was a bitter pill. Once I had gone the guys would be better off with out me free of the shackles I brought but it never went away, did it?

33) Your last gig, did you know this was to be the last one?

The Music Machine? Yes, I suppose all the signs were there. But when it was over, after the storm rolled away I felt so alone. Not to be in a band anymore and what could have been/the future….it was heartbreaking/sickening.

34) When you finish a band what did polydor say, do you still owe money?

I believe we were written off as a tax loss…sums us up?

35) What did you do after?
Buddy billy chris martin

Well, after Ireland I went back to London, separated with my then wife joined a band with Tony Lorden, the bassist from Dept. S and a couple of purple Hearts, it didn't last. After that I went to the states then Japan were I lived for twelve years. I've recently returned and now I'm living in Ireland. I guess it took me a long time of searching to find something to fill the hole in my life that was the Chords.

36) I personally was very grateful when you did mods mayday last year as I was too young to have seen you.

It was a nerve racking experience but I was so pleased that we actually managed to pull it off. Well done to the lads as they put in a lot of extra time as I was still living in Japan then. But I think our sound was shite! For once excellent on stage but woeful outfront. Brett and I were interviewed in Japan weeks later. The guys interviewing us, wanted to know what happened to the Wall of Sound they heard so much about? See what I said about playing live
They knew nothing of the feeling though. There we were, the four of us, yeah it was special.

37) Does it touch you when people still like you music?

Of course it does and it's especially pleasing to know that there are younger fans like yourself, those perhaps who never got to see us back then. It was great meeting people, at mod mayday, who said " I wasn't there at the time but your music meant so much to me…" I just couldn't believe how much we were appreciated. I mean, I bowed out late 80's when to be a mod was like being a villain in one of those old silent movies, you'd get beaten-up if you let on you loved John Lennon! Christ!!!

It was just so refreshing, after all that, to be with people you had so much in common with again. Anyone who saw the Jam at the Music Machine Dec. 78 would know what I'm babbling on about. Anyway it proves that Chris was a great writer as it all came from him. I don't know if he realizes what his songs meant to all of us.

38) If you had your time again would you do it different?

Yes, there are lots of things that could have been done different but lets not go down that path…we had our chances but lady luck was having none of it. It's taken a long time for all of us to get over The Chords. Still we are here and it's today we survived and we are better people for it.
What more should we ask for?

39) What do you think to music these days?

Hmm, it seems the media/the labels have won total control, most real bands have gone, the charts are predictable, the kids are on different stuff and the times they have a changed. Everyone is looking forward to The Who tour… says it all. As yet nobody's ready to start another revolution, like Punk, nobody bothered enough. But I pray the day will come, and I'm looking forward to seeing the backlash!

40) Do you think it would be a good idea to regroup full time or just for fun?

It's harder now, finding time and the energy to get us all together. For me, living here in Ireland I'm away from all that and to be honest I'm glad. I find it so nerve racking playing live and self-consious; I’m forty now! I seem to be getting rounder too, besides what do they say about old mods? (Is looking good the answer?)
I expect we may stick our heads into the firing line, to meet up with you all, but it'll have to be rarely because my zima frame is hard to get around stage ha ha. And maybe being there doing it again gets us nowhere after all, didn't we manage to exorcise all those demons?

41) Have you been in rehearsal for this tonight?

What me rehearse? You got to be kidding. Like the coming gig in October,
I just show-up and do it….. (yeah Panic) ask the others!

Cheers Bx