Lamma Island

Roll-call of the rowdy ones

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 April, 2008, 12:00am

Getting the band back together is no easy feat when you're the Bastards, much-loved punk and rock stalwarts of the Hong Kong live music scene.

With several lineup changes and a roll-call of a dozen or more members over 17 years, a reunion means former members flying in from England, Beijing, the Philippines and Thailand.

'It's going to be a real 'history of the Bastards' celebration, with up to nine band members in different permutations up on stage at various times,' says frontman Dan James, a founding member along with guitarist Mark Harrison.

Given that the venue of the first gig is The Wanch, Wan Chai's tiny home of rock, there might be little room for manoeuvre given the loyal fan base the Bastards have built up since the band debuted at the same venue 17 years ago.

At that 1990 debut, Phil Wright (bass) and Nigel Pike (drums) completed the quartet, which began 'for fun' by playing covers of songs by the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Who and heavier rock such as AC/DC. After Wright and Pike left Hong Kong in the early 90s, Harrison and James recruited new members and began to write their own material.

The first song, Tinseltown, about a night in Bangkok, was well received by audiences and by 1996 they released an album, Welcome to the Royal, which featured Dave Campbell on guitar, Dave Green on bass and Brendan Delfino on drums. For many fans this was the classic lineup at a time when the band were enjoying record popularity.

But there were more changes when Tony Greenwood (drums) and then later Jim Shorthose (guitar) replaced Delfino and Campbell, who joined other music projects.

This is the lineup that released Scheming in the Back Room, which was originally recorded over a couple of days four years ago, but has since been remixed and refined by Green and Harrison and is eventually being released to coincide with the reunion.

'It was done as a sort of very quick valedictory record because Tony and Jim were leaving,' says James.

'But Mark and Dave thought there were things we could do better. They were right.'

Both albums were engineered and co-produced by Rob Porter, who moved to Hong Kong from Canada in the mid-90s.

'We all still get on well,' says James. 'Of course, there were disagreements when the odd pint was thrown in the heat of the moment, but it's like a family.'

In the early days the band played venues from Lamma to Tsim Sha Tsui. Once, as they waited on the street for a van to take them and their gear to Sai Kung, it failed to show. 'Where can we find a van quickly, we thought. One of the band suddenly popped into a girlie bar and asked the mamasan if she could get us one. It arrived soon after,' James says.

All the Bastards remain in bands somewhere around the world, with James now doing vocals for the Spice Boys as well as solo acoustic sets. 'The reunion is not the end.

It's a memorable event, but not a swansong,' he says.

It will be a time for all nine members to swap memories.

Or what they have of them. Asked to name his favourite, James stumbles and admits: 'There've been so many, but most of them are extremely hazy because they involved copious amounts of alcohol.'

The Bastards, Apr 25, 9.30pm, The Wanch, 54 Jaffe Rd, Wan Chai; Apr 26, Bastardstock, Lamma Island, details to be announced.

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