|“Heavy on the blues, sleazy in the sentiment and rough as hell” - Black Velvet
“looking like Dickensian urchins with a Faustian twist, and sounding like The Faces if Trent Reznor ever got hold of them, The Peckham Cowboys are not a band you‘d trust to park your car” - Classic Rock
“fuzzy 'n' fucked up like a comedown fuzz, all distorted guitars, slow groove drums and honkin' harmonica… the more you play it, the better it gets - honest!” - Uber Rock
The Peckham Cowboys stumbled together one fateful night in 2010. The occasion was Quireboys co-founder Guy Bailey’s birthday, and, as party dissolved into after party, a set of stragglers, last men standing and sorts who just can’t call it a night retreated to the guitarist’s home studio for an impromptu jam session. In addition to Guy, the principle guilty parties that night were vocalist Marc Eden (of DNA Doll, Men & Gods and The Ariel Bender band, and briefly of ‘The Project’ that would eventually become Velvet Revolver, of which more later), guitarist Dale Hodgkinson (And Also The Trees, and Bailey’s former bandmate in Dogkennel Hill) and, lastly, one battered old drum machine.
Over the coming months this group would gather repeatedly, until what began as a wide-eyed late night folly had assumed a life of its own, becoming the beast which Marc christened The Peckham Cowboys. The band found their muse in centuries of scum ‘n’ scuzz on London’s south easterly streets, penning lyrics that pilfered a pinch of wit and lowlife poetry from the world of Fagin and wove it through yarns of Del Boy ducking ‘n’ diving in present day Peckham, and letting howling, blooze-addled slide guitar rub jarringly against programmed drums and an affinity for the area’s burgeoning grime scene, to create a sound that might best be described as Deep Sarf Lahndon Blues. Marc Eden preferred to describe it as sounding “like Steptoe and Son on crack”.
In any case, the matter of defining the noise the Cowboys made - let alone refining it - could wait, as before the band had played a single show, Cargo Records signed them up and issued debut album ‘Flog It!’ on Halloween 2011. An bold insult to conventional production values, the record sparkled with ten rough-diamond rock numbers which baffled and intrigued listeners in equal measure, moving Rolling Stones producer Chris Kimsey to call it a work of “genius”. Next, the Cowboys set about beating the material into shape onstage, embarking upon a series of magnificently shambolic tours which would see them part company with Guy and welcome a revolving door rock reprobates and (ill) reputed players, before returning to Peckham ready to create an album which, according to Dale and Marc, “should sound like a fire alarm going off in the burning remnants of the music industry"
Now joined by Timo Kaltio (Hanoi Rocks. Izzy Stradlin Band, Cheap & Nasty) on guitar, Nigel Mogg (Quireboys) on bass, Duncan McKay (Primal Scream) on horns and keys, and Ryan McCormick (Steven Adler Band) on drums, Marc and Dale plan to deliver on that promise on February 14th, when ‘10 Tales From The Gin Palace’ is released via Cargo. With Ryan lending a fresh force to the rhythm section, and the band now boasting a fuller sound overall, the Valentine’s Day release surely possesses a polish and charm to set it apart from the Halloween horrors of ‘Flog It!’, yet it unmistakeably issues from the same grubby black heart.
‘10 Tales…’ picks up where the Cowboys’ story threatened to leave off, with opener ‘Not Guilty’ recalling the mystery-shrouded crown court appearance that forced Marc to keep a low profile for much of last year. An impassioned account of the events, if one that’s still teasingly evasive on the details, the track comes on as jubilant celebration of getting out of jail free, with Duncan’s jiving horns claiming the spotlight. Recorded live (in a junior school hall, no less!), it also showcases all that the Cowboys have learned as a live act since ‘Flog It!’s release.
If giving away little about his court summons, Marc does at least now make plain the reasons why Slash once personally summoned him to L.A to record four demos, including an early version of ’Slither’, with ’The Project’ that would become known as Velvet Revolver. Lascivious story of art school seduction ‘Bromley Girls’ boasts lyrics as sleazy as anything Slash’s Sunset Strip veterans could muster, and a raspy vocal performance that gives a nod and a wink to Rod Stewart‘s star quality, even as the track name-checks the same SE15 gutters that provide a distinctive sense of place throughout ‘10 Tales From The Gin Palace’. On ’The Debt Collector’ the ‘Cowboys present a wry Cockney pub-rock singalong for the crunched 21st century city, while the half-cut, harmonica-heavy ‘Poor Boy Blues’ brings a litany of the blessings the local drinking classes can count, with its declaration “I could never trust a camel, baby … or anything else that goes without a drink!”,
Drawing inspiration from their demographically diverse home turf, The Peckham Cowboys invariably embrace a broad range of influences. ‘Quarantined’ sees a return to the grime-y programmed beats that stood their scuzzy debut apart from the more conservative blues rock herd, with brass touches and a raw, rootsy guitar refrain now joining its filthy rampage through a dark night of debauchery. More daring yet is ‘Don’t Damn The Hypnotist’, where the band dive headlong into full-on dub territory with the aid of ‘Rebel MC’ Congo Natty, and emerge with an appropriately hypnotic number that harbours an edge of menace amongst its smoky, languid beats.
Prior to announcing a full run of live dates to coincide with ‘10 Tales…’ release in February, The Peckham Cowboys will showcase the new material on a string of December shows going under the banner ‘The Cowboys Christmas Crawl’. Lock up the liquor cabinet, and get set to see a storming rock show roll into the following towns;
Sat 30th Nov - ILFRACOMBE, Chill Bar
Sun 1st Dec - CRUMLIN, The Patriot (supporting Enuff Z’Nuff)
Fri 6th Dec - REDHILL, Hellfire Club
Sun 8th Dec - LONDON, 333 Mother Bar
Tue 17th Dec - BRIGHTON, The Latest
Fri 13th Dec - STAFFORD, The Grapes Music Bar
Fri 20th Dec - LONDON, The White Lion, Streatham