It’s been a busy time for Adrian Stranik, author, singer/songwriter and part of Bedford-based musical hoodlums The Broadway Twisters. With a new book recently released and a string of live dates underway (including a slot at the UK’s premier psychobilly jamboree Bedlam Breakout) now seemed like the perfect time to speak to the man himself…
A lot has happened since I last spoke to you pre-Covid, most notably the release of your album South By South West 2 (reviewed here). How do you feel about it now it has been out in the world a while? Anything you’d go back and change?
Still proud of it. I think it makes all the right noises. Still somewhat unnerving that people all over the world are potentially listening to it. We had some great gigs lined up to coincide with its release but (The Plague©) put paid to that idea, so the album was never properly launched. Would be nice to change that. Maybe we’ll try to organise something retrospectively.
Also, I spelled my daughter’s name ever-so-slightly wrong in the credits. Major fail on my part!
I understand the album shifted a fair few copies in Finland. What struck a chord with the Fins? Did you hit any other surprise markets?
No clue. Clearly the Fins are hipper than I knew. It appears that they’re still keeping the flame and have a major ‘rockin’ scene’ going on up there. Who knew? Certainly not me! Would be nice to play there at some point. Albums have gone out to Japan and Australia too, which is exciting. I wonder what the Japanese make of ‘The Madness of Suzuki Seijun’. Hopefully, they’ll receive it as the heartfelt tribute that it is.
Have you started working on a follow up yet? If so, what can people expect?
I’m playing around with the idea of putting out a series of EPs under the name A D Stranik and The Open Range, which will be a revolving door of musicians I want to work with. For a start, I have a new song, ‘Rocked by the Shocker’, which I plan to record with the fabulous Dois Padres who are currently backing me on Broadway gigs. (You’ll see them at Bedlam, folks!) It’s a cross between Sleepy La Beef and The Sweet! Ha ha!
Then I have a set of acoustic based Americana/country songs I’d like to record with someone like The Boot Heel Playboys or some other ‘Western Swing’ type outfit. Then I have a couple of Rockabilly screamers, notably ‘Rockabilly Bitch’ (Relax, it’s about a guy) and ‘A Rootin’ Tootin’ Tooting Shooting’ which, if at all possible, I’d like to record with slap-bassist Bob McDonald (ex-Whirlwind) and an amazing young guitarist by the name of Ruzz Evans. I put him up there with the unholy triumvirate of ‘legacy guitarists’, Darrel Higham, Ray Cotton and Morgan Willis.
Once I have enough songs recorded, I’d like to put them all out on a compilation, possibly on the Always a Hit Record label, who released the CD edition of the South by South West 2 album.
Another exciting development is your new book. Can you give me a brief synopsis? Did your musical lineage come into play/influence you when writing the novel.
Monomania, Mon Amour is an unholy union of neo-noir and rock and roll mythology. It was inspired by the 1957 disappearance of ‘Queen of the pin-ups’ Bettie Page. In the book, she is reimagined as Peggy Deveroux and the central character, Marco Mascini, is an ex-hitman who, becomes obsessed with her, and also happens to be obsessed with 1950s Rock and Roll. So, as you can imagine, I’ve drawn on my own fascination for this era and the mythos surrounding it. Funnily enough, it was an evening with The Cramps at their Glendale apartment in LA that first turned me on to Bettie Page. Little did we know that at the time of that meeting that she was only an hour’s drive away in a San Bernardino mental asylum.
On the subject of your musical history, I understand you grew up in south London so what was it about Americana that spiked your interest? What was the local scene like at that time? Were there plenty of bands/venues?
I grew up listening to ‘50s Rock and Roll but I think Punk did much to ignite the Rockabilly scene. For all Punk’s claims to be a working-class movement, it really came out of middle-class art schools. So, I guess we were looking for an alternative to the alternative: hence the rise of the late ‘70s Rockabilly scene. It was thriving for a couple of years, but then The Stray Cats and Matchbox had hits and turned it into a six-month fad. For many still on the rockin’ scene today, this was their entry point. But for us it was the end. We still loved the music but avoided the scene.
You’ll be playing Bedlam in March. Last time I spoke you didn’t think The Broadway Twisters would get the call to play. So how did it come about?
People kept asking us when we were going to do the ‘Breakout’ as if it was a foregone conclusion, but I didn’t think we were Psychobilly enough. But I guess the event has a wider range than we’d given it credit for. The bookers must have seen us somewhere, decided that we’d fit the bill, and contacted us. Obviously, we very much said yes!
What are your feelings about playing? How do you think you’ll slot into the bill?
Not sure. I think we’re going to be something of an anomaly, especially with Dois Padres in the engine room. (On bass and drums). But Bedlam’s 2023’s bill looks pretty eclectic, so we might just get away with it.
Any other bands you’ll be checking out on the day?
Definitely the Hurricanes, who are knocking it out of the park at the moment. Also, The Masonics, who I haven’t seen since The Dirty Water nights at The Boston Rooms in London back in the day. We’re also hoping to catch the SabreJets on the Friday who are also quite excellent. They’ve got an instrumental called ‘38th and Norton’ using James Ellroy samples which is just screaming to be used in a movie soundtrack.
Finally, what can people expect from you and The Twisters for the rest of 2023?
People should continue to expect (and receive) songs of quality and distinction… coming to a juke-joint, gin-palace, honky tonk or sound system, near you!
- The Broadway Twisters play Bedlam Breakout on 12th March 2023. A variety of day and weekend tickets are available here.
- Adrian’s novel Monomania, Mon Amour is available to purchase here.
- The Broadway Twisters are on Facebook.