Interview: Bad Manners

Elodie Moore

Performing since the 70s, Bad Manners rapidly became one of the biggest names in Ska history. Buster Bloodvessel, the band’s iconic frontman, is renowned for his outlandish antics, including mooning the Pope on television. During their tour, which features a Rock City gig this December, Buster took the time to chat to Elodie Moore to reminisce on the last 45 years he has spent performing and to reveal that he does not plan on stopping anytime soon.

“I come from Hackney [and was] surrounded by friends at school… and we formed a band which then meant we always had to meet up at weekends and we’d get drink and meet people.” Buster explained as he recounts how he first got into music. When asked if he had any advice for anyone wanting to form a band at university, he first joked and abruptly exclaimed “Don’t!”. However, he went on to retract this, “I think it’s always good to let your musical or artistical side out so I do really encourage people to do it,” but he warns that “it is a tough job and it’s something that people just think ‘Oh, that’ll be easy to do’”. Buster even goes as far to say that “to keep it up for many years and to have some sort of success at it, you must be insane. And I definitely know I am!”.

Edinburgh, Dalkieth, Scotland Let’s Rock Festival 1980s Music Festival

It is clear to any listener of Bad Manners, a chart-topping two-tone and ska band, that there a vast number of varied musical influences. Buster disclosed that he “really liked the ska bands that existed in the early 60s, you know the Skatalites, Prince Buster, Laurel Aitken, just all of the famous names from them eras” and remarks that his favourite band of all time was Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. He goes on to reminisce about his deceased friends, including artists Ian Dury and Judge Dread; audibly producing tears while discussing how much they meant to him, Buster apologised for getting himself “a bit choked up”.

“Bad Manners were banned from all Italian television after this stunt”

Reflecting upon the time he exposed his bare buttocks to the Pope on Italian television, Buster explains that Barry White was due to perform after Bad Manners. He then concocted a plan to “win over the audience” by any means necessary. Buster recalls that once he saw the audience, he thought to himself “Oh my god, they’re all middle-aged women and I’m a young bald-headed nutcase from London so this isn’t gonna go down too well”. During the performance, Buster appreciated that the audience seemed to be enjoying it but not nearly to the extent he wanted, so he decided to moon the audience and the cameras. It was only afterwards, he claims, that he was informed that the Pope was watching at the time, and Bad Manners were banned from all Italian television after this stunt. Buster disclosed that after mooning the Pope, he swore he would “never do it again” but then joked “I would if they gave me the chance”.

Edinburgh, Dalkieth, Scotland Let’s Rock Festival 1980s Music Festival.

Buster Bloodvessel’s wild antics also earned the band a ban from Top of the Pops, a big blow considering they were one of the most regular performers on the show at the time. He decided that he wanted to look like a Swan Vesta (a brand of matches that are popular with smokers) so he asked the makeup artist to paint his red. However, the producers were not made aware of this and it affected the cameras, causing the makeup artist to be fired, for not discussing this with the production team, and Bad Manners to be banned from the show.

“It’s certainly something I’m gonna be doing forever; entertainment’s always been my game”

When I asked about the upcoming Bad Manners gig at Rock City this December, Buster stated that “Rock City is a place we haven’t played in such a long time… I think because we haven’t been seen for so long, the crowd will be encouraged enough to go absolutely bananas which will make me do the same! The whole of January is booked for me doing nothing because this will be quite a strenuous tour and I’ve been doing this since 1975 so it’s a long struggle for a man who’s getting on in age”, Buster declared. However, to the relief of his fans, he asserts “It’s certainly something I’m gonna be doing forever; entertainment’s always been my game.”

Elodie Moore

Featured image courtesy of Martin Bone. Permission for use granted to Impact. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of Martin Bone. Permission for use granted to Impact. No changes made to these images.

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