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Big Jimmy Paterson: The Interview

November 6th, 2009

By: Tim Webb and Gina Hepler


We took some time out to have a chat with Dexys legendary songwriter, trombonist and all round top man


Here's how things went.


Tim: We won’t try and make this like Mastermind Jim, although we have prepared some questions; they are probably crap though!

Jim: If I remember back to the late 70's, then it doesn't matter what you ask.

Gina: LOL! So, Jim, first things first--what made you take up playing the trombone?

Jim: A big man from South Shields turned up at my primary school with a van load of instruments and we all got to choose one. My first choice was flugelhorn, the Tenor horn, then I finally progressed to trombone, so it was a complete fluke really, certainly not planned.

Tim: Turned out to be a good choice!

Jim: Yes, I think the music Gods were looking down on me that day.

Tim: hee hee!! OK, me next Jim, typical smash hits sort of question from me: What was your favourite Dexys song to listen to?

Jim: Very hard to answer that. It's got to be off SFTYSR; I find The Teams That Meet In Caffs quite emotional even though it is an instrumental and I do like anything that puts a lump in my throat.

Tim: My fave instrumental from Dexys-OK G over to you!

Gina: Can you tell us which was your favourite song to perform on, Dexys or non-Dexys? Or both?

Jim: Again, very difficult probably the ones where I was totally drained at the end of it like, forgotten the bloody title now, Robin hope you don't mind me etc, or usually the last one of the set so I could go to the bar.

Gina: There There My Dear

Jim: Exactly.

Gina: Brilliant song!

Tim: I prefer the slowed down version, but I liked the SFTYSR one, should have been the 2nd number 1 if it hadn’t been for the beeb on strike.

Jim: Strike, what strike? Only joking!

Jim: To be honest, I don't think there is a bad song on that LP.

Tim: Right, here's one from me: Did anybody inspire you musically? Or do you have a music "hero"?

Jim: I've been planning this answer for years. My hero was Alice Cooper, I saw him/them perform Schools Out on TOTPs, and I turned to my parents and said "You will see me on there one day". Of course I didn't mean it but life is funny that way. I don't think I have been influenced musically by anyone other than Kevin and Dexys.

Gina: You knew subconsciously what you wanted even back then! Do you still play, then?

Jim: I haven't played for years, but recently I have been searching in my loft for my trombone with the intention of practising again. You never know who's going to come knocking on your door.

Tim: OK then, Music today Jim, do you listen to anyone in particular; is there any good stuff out there today?

Jim: I don't listen to anybody in particular. Peter Innes sends me stuff, Brazilian, Scottish folk/traditional which I find far more interesting than a lot of stuff that is supposed to be "it " at the moment, but yes there is still a lot of talent out there. I do like Dizzee Rascal--he is trying to make things worth listening to, but I hate to say there is a lot of boring stuff too.

Gina: Right, Jim, if you could go back and do anything differently regarding Dexys, what would it be?

Jim: Not drink as much would be the only thing really. I tried hard not to get drunk before a gig but I found it very hard to pace myself. I know I let the lads down far too often, but I suppose it was just me being me.

Tim: Right then, gigs: Do you have a gig that stands out as being your favourite? Either with Dexys or any other one?

Jim: Ironically, the last one we did, the first band that is, in Zurich. It was one of those moments when everybody just seemed to relax and enjoy it. Although I knew we were splitting up (Kevin told me, on stage , mid song), and I got this huge burst of energy and concentration. A sportsman would call it being in the zone. It is an "awesome" feeling. The only trouble was the next day was such a comedown.

Gina: Oh, what a kick in the teeth!

Tim: blimey-adrenalin rush, can’t imagine how that felt for you

Jim: Yes, but it was better to end on a high before things started to get nasty.

Gina: Yes, this is true! So, Jim, what was it like working with Elvis Costello then?

Jim: Well apparently he didn't really like us. I don't think he realised we didn't have a "session player" attitude. I actually loved playing for him and I thought we got on OK. The 2 month tour of America was a brilliant experience for me so I have to say I enjoyed working with him.

Tim: EC is right up there in my record collection, loved the TKO horns. I am such a creep, sorry, trying not to be starstruck here!

Jim: Get away with you!

Gina: LOL!

Tim: Right, I will TRY and be professional now! With the release of Apples and Oranges this year, The Blue OX babes still appeal to many people, do you think they should have had more success than what they did?

Jim: Absolutely, Kevin Archer was half of a very successful writing partnership and his style was/is commercial enough but it was more complicated than most people realised. I don't know the absolute truth but I guess there were forces working against him at the time, and I don't mean KR.

Gina: Inner demons...

Jim: I think so.

Tim: Yes, he did an interview on YouTube, scary stuff.

Jim: I saw it and was shocked.

Tim: Me too, I didn’t know what to think, my mind has changed several times, posted as much on [the] Delphi [Intense Emotions forum] about it.

Gina: Think we'll never know the full story, to be honest.

Gina: So, Jim, fast forward a few years--were you asked to go on the 2003 To Stop the Burning tour?

Jim: Yes, I only turned it down because I'm stupid. I was still holding a grudge and I also didn't think I could do it (self doubt and all that).

Tim: Did you see any of the gigs Jim?

Jim: No regrettably, I was going to the London gig but for some reason pulled out, I think I would have felt embarrassed. I could have worn a hoodie I suppose.

Tim: LOL!!! Hug a hoodie!

Jim: Yeah, great idea!

Tim: Ok, I have agonised asking this question, just say no comment if you don’t want to answer.

Gina: Deep breath steady now...

Tim: You and Mr. Rowland-Are you in contact these days?

Jim: Yes we are good friends, better than ever. We are both clean/sober. Pete, his brother, died and I carried his coffin from the Chapel to the hearse. We spoke politely that day and it was then that I realised what a prat I'd been. We met up again at his niece’s wedding in Ireland and we got on like the Celtic Brothers should. The Rowland family treated me like one of their own so I am so happy we are friends again.

Tim: You've just made my night!

Gina: Oh that is absolutely fantastic!!!

Tim: We are a patient lot, as I said, I really do wish to hear the "Celtic Soul Brothers" again, and it is relevant and much needed.

Gina: Perhaps one of these days soon--get that trombone out of the attic (loft), Jim!

Jim: Already got it. I tell people I have retired but I'm far too young, fit and handsome!

Gina: Right, Tim asked earlier about your musical heroes; who are your heroes otherwise, outside of music?

Jim: My Dad, he's been through so much and is still going at 91. Anybody who actually does something that helps people. My wife for not giving up on me.

Gina: Awwww, beautiful answer!

Tim: OK-here’s an off the wall question for you Jim! I remember seeing on a show a few years back when Kevin was talking about the "Jocky Wilson" incident on Top of the Pops and him saying the band played a lot of jokes; do you remember any jokes at the time?

Gina: …and not the one about the middle class idiots, please...

Jim: Kevin was quite wicked. If we turned up at a University for instance we would ask somebody directions to the student union. While he was giving directions Kevin would whack him over the head with a rolled up paper and we would drive off leaving the person totally bewildered. One time he used a large road map and almost knocked the bloke out.


Gina: :O Y'all WERE bad! Nowadays you'd have filmed it on a camera phone and uploaded to YouTube!

Jim: I think that particular bloke was the Dean of St Andrews. We would have been arrested if caught!

Gina: Speaking of nowadays, have you heard any Dexys tribute bands?

Jim: Yes, the band from Glasgow, It is such a thrill knowing that people are willing to do that. I have been in contact with Gavin Paterson of course as we are the same clan.

Tim: Good ol' Gavin!! He is a top man. I’ve only seen the clips on MySpace but they are very good, very committed to the sound.

Jim: I don't like the trombone player cause he sounds better than me.



Jim: Will try and get to see them one day.

Tim: Right, Pride-- 2 part question: 1-Proudest moment in music and 2-Proudest moment in your life in general?

Jim: Anyway, my proudest moment in music was doing TOTPs for the first time even though it is actually boring doing it. My proudest moment in life was not losing it at my Mam's funeral a couple of years ago and heading for the pub. She was so proud of me; I could never let her down again.

Tim: Having lost both of my parents, I know exactly what you mean.

Gina: :) I'm sure she's looking down and is still proud of you, Jim.

Gina: So, onto more mundane the music business better now than it was back in the glory days of Dexys?

Jim: Maybe. I never liked the "business" or at least all the bullshit but I'm here now because of it so I can only appreciate my own experiences.

Gina: Jim, what keeps you busy these days? Fishing, gardening, collecting antique thimbles...?

Jim: Thimbles, how did you know? I go to the gym four mornings a week, I do some writing of my own and Pete [Rowland]'s stuff. I promised him I would get some songs finished and heard at least. I do some housework because my wife goes out to work, and I definitely don't watch Scottish football. Luckily I haven't got Sky.

Tim: Pete was well known to the rest of the Delphi Dexys lot, he went to the Dexys convention a few years ago, a really nice man. I'm a bit of an outsider and never turn up for anything, Neil Warburton told me that (he ran the Dexys Keep on running fanzine back in the day)

Jim: He was a special man.

Tim: We didn’t really know Pete Rowland that well Jim; what was he like?

Jim: He was lovely man with a great sense of humour, was a great husband and father and son, nearly the whole school where he taught turned out at his funeral, which says a lot.

Tim: I remember hearing about it, Kev was due at some "do" in Cardiff and I got told about it and had to let the people here know he wouldn’t be performing. Well, what a wonderful gift to his memory in having those songs done. Great stuff Jim.

Jim: If I get them finished.

Tim: Yeah, you will.

Gina: *has faith*

Tim: We still believe in the soul.

Tim: God, that was corny.

Gina: LOL! Any excuse to quote a Dexys lyric, Tim!

Tim: One question left Jim!!!

Jim: OK.

Tim: …and it goes to Gina!!!

Tim: Go Gina!

Gina: Right, Jim, what did you think of the Bureau reformation?

Jim: I thought it was the right thing to do, but I couldn't see any long term thing happening as they are scattered all over the place and some were more into it than others. It was great to see my old mates, but think there was too much time between then and now.

Tim: Well, that's about it Jim--thank you ever so much for this, you were fantastic.

Jim: I have really enjoyed it, thank you both for giving me this chance.

Gina: Thank you again for agreeing to it, Jim! It does mean the world to us!


(c)Webb/Hepler 2009 All rights reserved.

Note: This content is exclusive to the Intense Emotions Delphi forum. Please ask Tim or Gina for permission before using it elsewhere.





Well, we enjoyed the interview so much that we opened it up to the members of the Intense Emotions Forum to ask Jimmy some more questions, here is Big Jim interview..part 2!!

Tim:Hello, and welcome to The Big Jimmy Paterson interview, Part 2, featuring questions submitted by users of The Intense Emotions Forum.

Tim: and with that, it's over to our lovely American interrogat..I mean interviewer!!

Jim: Give it your best shot.

Gina: Such a sweet introduction...and away we go! So, Jim, first things first--any stories to share from your early days? First bands, first gigs, etc?

Jim: I started in brass bands, school bands and county orchestra so played in concert halls and churches for the first few years. Didn't really do a proper "gig" till I joined Dexy's.

Tim: Wow! Natural talent then, eh, Jim?
Gina: Wow--that's incredible! No one else snapped you up first!
Jim: I was the youngest player to have played for National Youth Brass band of Scotland (brag brag).
Gina: how old were you?
Jim: 26. Only joking, just turned 13 I think but may have been usurped by now.
Gina: We'll have to check the record books!
Jim: They were destroyed in a great fire.
Tim: LOL!

Tim: Now, we know of Dexys, and the Blue Ox Babes, and Costello, but have you performed on any other artists’ songs that maybe we were not aware of?
Jim: Madness, Paul Young, Squeeze, Fixx, quite a few more, The Neighbourhood…can't remember them all now.
Gina: (The Fixx? One Thing Leads to Another?)
Jim: Honestly can't remember but Jamie West and I were at music college together.

Gina: Jim, apart from Kevin Rowland, are you in contact with any other former Dexys members?
Jim: Brian Brummit (Maurice) I saw Mick Billingham playing with the Beat a couple of months ago, and I have Kevin Adams as a friend on FaceBook as well as Pete Williams, and of course Geoff Blythe comes over with the Bureau so see him and Mick Talbot.
Jim: May have left somebody out.
Tim: Do you hear from Helen Bevington at all, Jim?
Jim: No, but Kevin and I used to bump into her quite often and we went to a party at her house when she got engaged or married.

Tim: Well, this sort of slides neatly to my next question. The Internet, as you have said you use Facebook and Myspace: were you aware of Dexys’ presence on the 'net and how many sites there are out there?
Jim: Mine too, to be honest, I'm not a huge fan but I feel I need to try and keep up. I was aware that there were still plenty of fans so it's good for people to have a site to swap stories etc.

Gina: Any future ambitions (apart from building the addition to house the Madonna fridge magnets)?
Jim: LOL. The truth is, I have never been happy with my playing since my college days, due to an excessive lifestyle, so my ambition is to prove to myself that I can play properly.

Tim: Right, these next questions come from the lovely members of the Intense Emotions forum, and I thank them very much for sending them either on site or to me directly.

Gina: First one: "I remember seeing the video for Geno back in 1980 and I was just blown away by the band - the way they looked and performed and the way they sounded. I became a fan there and then on the spot. I wonder if you could tell us a little about the video for Geno because it's a classic and one I enjoy watching to this day."
Jim: God, 29 years ago, I remember being excited, videos meant so much more then. There was New Street Station of course, The Apollonia Cafe on Broad Street, and the scene where we walk up the slight hill at night time was in Brierly Hill or Black Heath, all in Birmingham. It really was exciting because you knew that people were going to see you and what you were all about.
Tim: I think a lot of the venues were revisited by the Dexys convention crew a few years back, think the caff was still there?
Jim: Did a great beef stew which I had nearly every day.
Tim: mmm!! beef stew!!!!! *gurgle*
Tim: I likes me food! Should call me Fatty Buster Soulrebel!
Jim: It really warmed you up on a cold Winter’s day. (Don't forget, we were rehearsing in derelict warehouses.)

Tim: This from Stuart on the forum: Ask him if he remembers signing a paper plate for me at the Geno/Young Bucks gig at the 100 Club! Still have it!
Jim: Of course I do, we were sitting down at the far (bar) end and you showed me your tattoos. I think that you thought that I thought you were a crazy stalker but believe me I was just as obsessed with Alice Cooper, so we are just the same.
Tim: hee hee!!

Jim: Enough AC references!

Gina: It's been more than a quarter of a century since Too-Rye-Ay; how do you feel about that period of the band, especially the way the sound changed by adding the violins and the worldwide success you had with Come On Eileen, especially as the horn section left not long after?
Jim: I was miffed at the time; anybody who feels like they are being shoved out of their job has a right to be, but now I see it was a natural progression for the band. I still think the brass was the original and best sound, but every group changes otherwise people get bored.
Tim: And I agree with you Jim, nothing like it has been heard since in my opinion.
Gina: Think quite a few of us actually do prefer the bold brassy sound to the subsequent changes.
Jim: That is why it was so immediate--people listened.

Tim: Was there an intention to carry the look and sound of Dexys mark 2 beyond 1981 if there had been greater singles success, or was the intention always to look for ways of adapting and evolving?
Jim: Kevin was always looking for new ideas, he is creative in fashion as well as music. I don't know if he was ever satisfied or if it was a natural "wanderlust". You really need to ask him that question.

Gina: Moving right along....what music was the young Jim Paterson into when he was growing up?
Jim: There were no records shops. Aberdeen was a 5 hour round trip bus journey so could only listen to wireless and TV. My dad was into country and Scottish but on a Sunday afternoon we could listen to the Light programme or something. Anyway, we heard all the current stuff like The Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Supremes etc .When I was old enough to go to Aberdeen on my own, I would buy Led Zepplin, Slade, Alice [Cooper] of course.
Gina: What was your first record, Jim?
Jim: My parents bought us a Dansette for my two elder sisters and me.
Gina: Dansette?
Jim: Sorry, a little record player along with Baby Love, Help, Get Off Of My Cloud, and All the Day and All of The Night by the Kinks.

Tim: In the album notes to SFTYSR, it says that you got word of a big one going on down south. How did you first hear about/get involved with the band?
Jim: An advert in Melody Maker. It said "trumpet and trombone player wanted for new wave soul group". Didn't have a clue what that was, but phoned up and went down for an audition the following weekend. I was so blown away that I was buzzing all the next week. When they phoned back, I packed my bags, quit my job at the mill where I was working, and that all happened within two weeks.
Gina: WOW!
Jim: I know, I'm just a crazy guy.

Gina: How important to you was the way you dressed and appeared when performing? I loved the look with the dark glasses.
Jim: The donkey jackets and woolly hats I loved, but were very hot; I could wring out my jacket sometimes. Before that, I wore a suit which I also loved. The glasses were very important to me because of my bloodshot eyes. I even liked the hooded jackets and boxing boots. I only wore the dungarees once and have to say that was my least favourite look, but it complemented the music.
Tim: My bruv Andy is a big dexys fan, he got married in a black woolly hat he had hidden from my parents! LOL!
Jim: Mad as a hatter, geddit?
Gina: LOL!!!

Tim: It does run in the family! OK, next forum question: How do feel about your work with Dexys now that it has been more than 30 years since the original formation of the band?
Jim: How do you describe something life-changing? It was an honour to be in a group that made a difference to the music scene and to people personally. As I said before, I'm not satisfied with my own performances, especially my solos, but being part of a great band, it's more than special.
Gina: We are always our own worst critics, Jim.
Tim: I am mine deffo

Gina: What do you think about the fact that people are still passionate about the band and its music after all this time?
Jim: Gobsmacked in one respect but not surprised in another. It's still out there to be listened to; I hope there is a new young audience for it, as it is still exciting and fresh to me, and not a sample in sight.

Tim: Do you feel as though the bands’ legacy is the three studio albums, the fantastic live performances, and the great memories, or is there more to come?
Jim: OK. Knowing Kevin, there is more to come, as long as he still has the passion he will continue I'm sure. Future live performances would only be tempered by creaking bones and the need for zimmer frames
Gina: I can actually see that--Dexys Midnight Walkers!
Tim: well, there's the sponsor worked out, Walkers Crisps!
Jim: Yes, with an ambulance waiting instead of a tour bus.
Tim: hahaha!

Gina: I think the story of Dexys Midnight Runners would make a fantastic film. Who would you like to see in it if such a film were ever made, and has anyone ever considered making a film of the band?
Jim: I wouldn't be surprised If Kevin hasn't thought about it at some time. Ewan MacGregor is too short to play me, [and] DeNiro is too old to play Kevin, so it would have to be a new bunch.

Tim: OK, the last of the forum members questions
Tim: and it's a toughy.
Gina: Brace yourself Jim...
Tim: Do you like The Editors?
Jim: Who? Only joking, are they from Brum? I think I remember the singer having a strange but quite exciting voice which I wasn't sure about at first, but different is good. The songs seem to be well crafted but they are another guitar band with not much else going on, unless they have changed. I would say they are above average for a band of that ilk.
Tim: Only stuff i listen to is the old stuff and maybe Belle and Sebastian and the Rumble Strips, now they do remind me of a band, can’t quite remember who?
Gina: Well, there you go for an endorsement!
Jim: B and S I like; must listen to some Rumble Strips.

Tim: We do have a late breaking email question, the final one for this interview!
Gina: This just in...
Tim: …and it comes from a certain Vic Ferrari aka Kendo aka Ian: 'when the first band split, how close did you come to leaving Dexys and joining the Bureau, and what in the end made you stay with Dexys?'.
Tim: Corker of a question!
Jim: Very good question and it deserves a good answer. It was simply down to Kevin coming round to my flat and persuading me that he needed me more than they did. Up to that point I hadn't even given it a thought, I was in the Bureau. Looking back, I don't see myself as a traitor in any way, it was business and I was friends with everybody, so somebody had to do without me. The Bureau got a great trombone player so not having me didn't deter them in any way. I actually just think it was a shame the band split up in the first place.
Tim: Superbly answered.

Tim: Well thankyou very much for agreeing to answer the forum's questions, Really enjoyable and a real pleasure to do.
Jim: Thanks once more for asking me to do this, you only have about another 50 members of Dexys to interview. My brain is frazzled so I don't know what yours will be like if you find everybody. Keep on running.
Gina: Thanks for agreeing to join us again!
Tim: ..and that's a wrap!!

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