Dave Jackson has been the vocalist with Liverpool's the Room, Benny Profane and Dust, and currently fronts the Dead Cowboys. I have known Dave since his days with Benny Profane some 20 years ago now.

The Room released a tape only album shortly after forming in 1980, before putting out their first official album 'Indoor Fireworks' in 1982. They would release another both a mini LP 'Clear'(1983) and a second full-length album, 'In Evil Time', before splitting up in 1985.

After the Room's break up, Dave and Room bassist Becky Stringer formed Benny Profane, with whom they recorded two albums, 'Trapdoor Swing' (1989) and 'Dumb Luck Charm' (1990).

Dust, Dave and Becky's next project, recorded two unreleased albums between 1991 and 1994. They then decided to change names to the Dead Cowboys, and since then have recorded two albums,'Comings and Goings'(2000) and 'Twin Evil Stars' (2005), which, as their name implies, in contrast to the dark indie guitar sound of their previous offerings, have more of a country vibe.

Benny Profane remain one of my favourite bands of all time. On the 30th May they played their 1st gig together in nearly 20 years in Liverpool.

Needless to say, I went. It was a great gig, and, after crashing out on Dave's sofa that night, the following morning after tea and toast and about ten minutes after I woke up this interview took place.

We began by talking about the Room, whose albums have been remastered and which are finally out on CD for the first time.

PB : I believe your first band was 051 (The local dialling code for Liverpool at the time-AS). Was that your first project then ?

DJ : Yeah. That was. I met Becky in 1977. I was at art college doing a foundation degree in art, and I think she was still at school and we met at an art school dance and we started going out. She was learning the bass at that time, and I was like "Fancy being in a band ?"

But in those days most bands were horrible Queen cover bands. A bit like now( Laughs). And in order to be in a band, to be the singer, you had to be the biggest and the best because you had to buy the PA. Most singers were rich kids who couldn't sing.

Becky's dad had a small PA so we started writing songs, and her sister Helen played sax, and she had a mate from school called Phillipa, who played rhythm guitar which actually was an acoustic played through a pick up with a wooden wah-wah peddle that she had made up.

Our first gig was me and the three girls(Laughs). We played at someone's house party, and shortly after that Stephen Cockrall, whose dad is a famous artist, joined us, but he was more into being Jimmy Page than the Velvet Underground. Then we got this guy on drums called Paul Hornby. He was a drummer but he wanted to be Keith Richards, so we did our first gig as a six piece at a biker's club in town. All our stuff was our own apart from a very fast version of 'Get Off My Cloud'. We did very fast versions of Bowie's 'Suffragette City' and Lou Reed's 'Vicious' as well. And it went down well.

I think Becky's mum then had a word with Roger Eagle, one of the co-owner's at Eric's, and he got us a gig there. We played a matinee there as you do, and then a few other shows there and built up a bit of a following. We got on local radio. I was meant to go to Birmingham to do a Fine Art degree, but I gave that up because of all the travelling nvolved in getting back to Liverpool. That band split up in '79, and Becky and I started to look for new people.

PB : Was this what became the Room then ?

DJ : Yeah, 051 was our learning project really. It was an odd mixture of styles.

PB : How did you recruit people then ? Was it through ads ?

DJ : Yeah, we tried out a few people. There was a guy who turned up with a sax, whom ended up in Dead or Alive, but we got fed up with the sax after 051 really. Helen is a lovely girl, but that's probably why.

Robyn Odlum answered our ad, and he was a bit of a hippy with limited guitar playing, but he had a punk sensibility, so we started building songs around that.

We had a few drummers, but eventually got this guy called Clive Thomas. He smuggled his drum kit in from South Africa, where he had joined the navy just so that he could get out of there. He would play in his bare feet, and he was left handed and he played a right handed kit, so in the end we played around him. And that band lasted for one album and three singles.

PB : Was that the tape album then ?

DJ : No, it was actually two albums because we did the tape album in 1980. That was 'Indoor Fireworks' which came out in 1982.

PB : The tape album is the only thing of yours I haven't heard. Whats it's like compared to 'Indoor Fireworks'?

DJ : It's spikey. It has Robyn doing an echo thing, as he had a different amp, so it's like the song 'Motion'. That's on it, so is 'Waiting Room', which got a good review from Paul Morleyin 'NME". He said we sounded like Wire on an off day. We released our singles on our own label for a while.

PB : That was Box Records.

DJ : So we put out this tape and a few singles, and then John Peel phoned up and said "Can I use four of the tracks on the tape as a session ?", and so that was our first session. Shortly after that we did a proper session with him. We did a lot of stuff. We toured America. The biggest gig we did here with that line up was at the Hammersmith Palais in London with the Fall and the Birthday Party. We also played with Bauhaus as well.

PB : Was that good ?

DJ : Yeah, it was funny, because we were snotty, and we thought they were crap.

PB : I heard they wore cardigans back stage and then they came on stage wearing make up.

DJ : I think we were very much into the idea of what you wear backstage is what you wear on stage.

PB : The Room, Benny Profane and the Dead Cowboys don't sound like anyone else. They are all similar to the Smiths in that they had a totally unique style. In the late 70's and early 80's in Liverpool you had all these psychedelic pop and new wave bands like the Icicle Works, the Teardrop Explodes and Echo and the Bunnymen who were all influenced by the Paisley Underground. Were you against all of that, or were you just doing what came naturally ?

DJ : I was more into Joy Division than what was going on in Liverpool. I actually like the Bunnymen. I never liked the Teardrops. I think the thing I didn't like about those bands was the lyrics were crap, and they weren't about anything. That's why I wanted to write stuff.

All of those sounded a bit prog rock to me. I like the Fall, where they strip the sound down to the basics. The Fall were an influence, but it was an odd thing because after the 'Bitter Reaction' album. I vaguely heard bits of the Fall in one of our songs, and I went to see them and I was blown away. In those days there was a big rivalry between bands and you didn't want to be like everyone else. And even if you did, you would never admit to it.


The second and final part of this interview will follow next month.











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