The wild boys
Pedro, Nasher and Mark are not quiet types. “Getting absolutely bladdered and smashing the place up”, is a little more their line. That and slagging off other groups. Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s terrible trio tell all to Tom Hibbert.
Do I have my wild moments?” snarls Nasher. “It’d be better to ask if I have any quiet moments. Life’s one big continuous party —
Which is rather often these days. The shifty trio, Frankie’s second tribe, the ones who bash abouton instruments while Holy and Paul camp it up at he front, have left their Liverpool homes and now share a flat in London’s Maida Vale. And here they whilr away their few spare hours “mucking about listening to Bob Marley” and engaging in various ‘lad-ish’ leisure pursuits such as, in the immortal words of Nasher, “getting absolutely bladdered and smashing the place up.”
The notorious rise of Frankie is already part of pop history; their record label ZTT, “Relax”, Mike Read, “Two Tribes”, ZTT ‘spokesman’ Paul Morley, a load of t-shirts, you know the tale. It’s been the two singers, the one with the cane and the one with the moustache, who have grabbed most of the attention: the Other Three have remained in the background all shadowy and scruffy.
But now it can be told! The guitarist ‘digs’ Black Sabbath! The drummer’s father works in double-glazing! The bass player is a motorcar model kit enthusiast! These astonishing facts, and more, were gleaned under laboratory conditions; sitting on cardboard boxes in a cramped storeroom in photographer Peter Ashworth’s studio, Nasher, Mark and Pedro talked about themselves and other things, starting with Frankie Goes To School.
Back then, Pedro “wasn’t a tearaway but wasn’t a goody-goody”, Mark was “well behaved most of the time but got a bit out of hand near the end”, while Nasher got booted out for irregular attendance. What were their choicest pranks?
Nasher: “Sticking bunsen burners in the fish tanks and gasssing the fish.” Mark: “Taking screwdrivers from woodwork class and unscrewing the school clocks off the walls.” Pedro: “Pinching the teacher’s cane, not doing homework, copying other people’s homework, bunking off, coming in late… Nothing special.”
The TV set, it would seem, played a greater role than the classroom in the trio’s development.
“I used to like The Avengers and The Champions” says Mark. “The Champions were the ones who used to wear polo necks.
“Magpie was crap” growls Nasher, “but John Noakes (Blue Peter presenter) was brilliant. He had loads of bottle doing all these things that no-one’ll do anymore like jumping out of planes and getting stuck on mountains in Scotland. He was a bit of a plank, like, but he was dead funny. But then his dog died and he went weird. He was never the same after the dog died.”
Did you ever try to make any of the cheap’n’easy model ‘ideas’ the Blue Peter team are so fond of demonstrating?
“No,”snaps Nasher, “because they usually made such a cock-up of it themselves it was never worth trying. It ws like, ‘We were going to make an album but we just happen to have one here we made this morning. All you need is 18 boxes of Rice Krispies and a bar of chocolate. It was a joke.”
Mark wasn’t too impressed with Blue Peter’s modelling skills either.
“The things they made were always dead boring. But I started making proper models about a year ago. I make radio controlled cars and when I’ve finished them I give them to my nephew Michael and he smashes them up.”
While Mark and Nasher were busy not making any of Blue Peter’s crafty nick-nacks, Pedro was engaged in not becoming a guitar hero. “I used to watch a lot of bands like The Who and Led Zeppelin on the television and I wished I could be there. I tried to play the guitar but my hands were too little, so after six months I went onto bashing thing.”
After leaving school and bagging jobs, the Other Three played in a succession of ropey groups. Then they met local hero Holly Johnson.
“When Holly was in Big In Japan, I used to think ‘God, he must be dead famous,’” says Mark. “He wasn’t really but when I first met him I was a bit in awe. He was a bit eccentric but he helped me with this girl who worked in a shop in Liverpool’s city centre. I fancied her but was too shy to go in and ask her out. Holly made me go in. And she turned me down.
“Nasher thought Holly was rather odd at first, too: “I met him after he left Big In Japan and was rehearsing with this other group, singing Caribbean rhythm songs. He was a skinhead and I thought ‘Oooh! He’s weird!’ He had this blond skinhead cut with ‘PSYCHO’ sprayed in black on his head. I hated that. He was wild but he’s not anymore. He’s been tamed by age.”
Only Pedro appears to have been unaffected by his first glimpse of Holly: “I didn’t really think anything. He was just another feller. Now he just another feller that sings.”
To Frankie’s critics, however, Holly’s just another feller who can’t sing for toffee while the Other Three are a bunch of incompetents who don’t even play on the record. Pedro is not fond of such critics: “I don’t think that anyone genuinely doesn’t like us. But there’s been a lot of people —
And who else can’t the Other Three stand?
“It would be too easy to say Culture Club, wouldn’t it?” barks Nasher. “They’d only start writing bitchy little letters. But like everyone else, Culture Club have definitely wimped out. The Thompson Twins are really wimpy. Duran Duran used to be really brilliant but they’ve wimped out too.”
“I don’t despise anybody” says Mark, the most ‘mellow’ and gentle of the Other Three. “Oh, yes I do. Cyndi Lauper. Continue »
“Cyndi Lauper’s really obnoxious,” yelps Nasher. She stands for everything that is bad in America. She’s ugly too.”
“Oh, and I don’t like Lloyd Cole & The Commotions because they don’t like us,” says Mark. “The singer thinks he’s really smart. I’ve never heard any of their records. In fact, don’t put this in because I don’t want to give them free publicity.”
“I really despise Sade,” whines Nasher. “Trying to write an album round three chords and this new jazz movement…”
“I used to really hate Prince,” says Mark, “But then I got brainwashed.”
Once the fuming has drawn to a close, I mention t-shirts. What, in the opinions of The Other Three, is the ideal Frankie slogan?
Pedro: “Frankie Say Aren’t You Sick Of These T-shirts”. Mark: “Frankie Say We Can’t Play”. Nasher: “Frankie Say Hang Paul Morley”. No, “Frankie Say The Three Lads Are Great”.
And with that, the three lads go off to get “absolutely bladdered” or whatever. As they say, life’s just one big continuous party.