Bonzo Bills offers a brand-new band formed of former members of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and the Bill Posters Will Be Band.
Just over a year after getting together, they play Chichester’s Priory Park Festival on Sunday, July 10, when they will show themselves direct descendants of the celebrated Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.
“I think it is the anarchy and the fun that survive,” says keyboard player David Glasson. “The music is underlying all of that obviously, but the anarchy and the fun are always there. It is like putting two fingers up at the mainstream stuff.”
David first became aware of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in 1967 when the Bonzos released their first album, Gorilla. David was on tour with another band at the time, a member of which managed to get hold of the album, and David was instantly smitten: “I had never heard anything quite like it before. He must have found a record player somewhere, and I just thought it was brilliant.”
Bonzo Bills was formed from members of Three Bonzos and a Piano and Bill Posters, David explains: “Both bands coincidentally retired in inverted commas at the end of 2014. We had such a wonderful gig. I was in Three Bonzos and a Piano, and Bill Posters did their farewell concert around about the same time. Sam Spoons was in that band as well as in our band.
“We had retired because Roger Ruskin-Spear (reeds and vocals) didn’t want to do any more touring around with lots of props. He just wanted to get on with playing. He was developing his clarinet style, and he wanted to play with people that wanted to play 30s and 40s music where he could play his clarinet and sax and not do any of the Bonzo silliness anymore. So in April 2015, they started this band.”
And that’s when David came in. Roger and Sam (drums, spoons and vocals) joined up with ex-Bill Posters band members Megs Etherington, (cornet and teapots), Chris Lowe (trombone and ukulele) and Biff Harrison (banjo, accordion, saw and stravoli). Jim Heath came in on banjo and guitar, alongside David on keyboards.
“The music is a mixture of stuff from Three Bonzos and The Bill Posters, but hopefully playing some decent big-band music with only a small band, doing a lot of 30s and 40s music. There is also lots of comedy in it, and Roger does lots of arrangements. They have gravitated towards that kind of music or never left off. It is just a nice bit of nostalgia, but I also like the opportunity to do some of my original stuff as well. It’s a compromise between different things. It is not just 30s and 40s. With the line-up instrumentally, it looks like it, and you can’t get away from that image, but I love the cross-over and the fact that we are doing a mixture of things. They are still keen to play, but really they don’t want to do that much. They don’t want to tour the country, but they are happy just to be playing. For myself, I am in so many different bands, Bonzos-related, that I am getting a bit confused as to what hat I am supposed to be wearing!”
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