Interview: Spike & Guy Bailey, The Quireboys

Best Bitter

A Bit Of What You Fancy established the Quireboys as bona fide British contenders. However, management changes, productiob difficulties and record company hassles rendered many muted release dates for its successor Bitter Sweet And Twisted unfeasible, until now, that is.

Despite these traumas both vocalist Spike and guitarist Guy Bailey remain in good spirits, humorously sending each other up at every opportunity. They have good reasons to be optimistic as Bitter Sweet is every inch as strong as its predecessor.

Just how pissed off are they that they've been left kicking their heels for so long?

Spike: "The recording of it didn't take that long really. It was the politics and pissing around that've held us up. We split with our management. Our A&R guy left. It was one thing after another. We wrote the songs in Ireland and then had to wait seven months for Bob Rock to become available."

As we've already touched on the subject, what happened to the management deal with Sharon Osbourne?

Spike: "She told us that she wanted to move to Hawaii, write her autobiography, and concentrate on Ozzy. She was great for us in what we do, but it had run its course."

The Quireboys have now signed to another heavy-weight team, that of Stewart Young and Steve Barnett's Hard To Handle, who also look after AC/DC, Gary Moore, ELP, and Foreigner.


Many of the problems with Bitter Sweet apparently lay with the production/ mixing of renowned knob-twiddler Bob Rock. Rumours have been rife regarding the siege atmosphere surrounding the mixes.

Spike: "Bob was great when we met him. We got on really well with him. It was just when we came to mixing it that we had problems. Some of his mixes were good but he wouldn't let us have any say in what we wanted. He's a good guy and a great producer. We can't take anything away from him. It just didn't click with us so we should have mixed it sooner with someone else."

Which is eventually what they did, employing Chris Kimsey, he of Rolling Stones fame, to tidy up the project.

Spike: "Basically with Chris, we stripped it down and started again. I even redid some vocals as well 'cos I felt my singing wasn't as good."

The lyrical content of Bitter Sweet seems to point towards many relationship break-ups for the band in their private lives. Is this therefore more of an autobiographical album?

Spike: "Yeah, we've not had much luck in our personal lives, but it's a learning process."

I guess then that the inspiration for the churning Ode To You (Baby Just Walk) comes from the heart.

Spike: "Actually the idea I had for that was to have it as a duet, kind of like an argument. I really like that song. It's really vicious."


One of my favourites is the rollicking My Saint Jude. I admit that the first time I heard it, prat that I am, I mistook the lyrics for "might as well jump," which isn't as embarrassing as faux pas as one American scribe.

Spike: "After one of the shows this female journalist came up to me and said, 'I really love that song you do, Suck My Cock.' I was like what! Then I realised she meant Seven O'Clock."

The album also sports three great ballads, The Last Time, Take No Revenge, and the epic King Of New York, a tune Spike introduced as originally being titled The King of Middlesbrough recently, only the latter wouldn't rhyme.

Hates to Please features the by now familiar country influence. Witness the live rendition of Sweet Mary Ann for proof.

Guy: "Hates is quite an old song actually but it's completely different to the original. Bob suggested we do it in a country vein."

There's no arguing that with the delays the band have lost important ground in all countries. The first single Tramps And Thieves was more a statement that they were back than anything else.

Spike: "It served its purpose but we've definitely taken a few steps back down the ladder. The good thing was the tour we did before Christmas showed a lot of people are still into the band. It's a shame the way things happened but we've learnt a lot and hopefully it won't happen again."

Mark my words and make the most of the Quireboys' presence while they're still around. Bitter Sweet And Twisted is of such quality that all will soon be on their bended knees pleading with them to return. You have been warned.

Joe Mackett
Rif Raff
June 1993
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