In their own words
Big John 'Boysey' Battrum
Toured and recorded for many years all over the world.
As well as being a Biscuit Boys since 1999, I’ve played with many varied different artists including: Roy Wood, Tony Christie, The Foundations, Big Jay McNeely, Steel Pulse (with Stevie Wonder), Ginger Pig Band, Tuba Fats, Status Quo, Andy Fairweather-Lowe, Gary Booker, Michael Roach, Mad Professor, Kim Wilde, Bernie Marsden, Clive Bunker, Ian Paice, Peter Grant, Joey DeFrancesco, Rebecca Poole, George Chisholm, and Grace Kennedy
Growing up with a modern jazz/swing loving mother, a Trad loving Father, Jazz loving Uncle and pub piano playing Grandfather certainly made for a massive early influence.
Older sisters having friends who were engineers working in sound and lighting - with such bands as The Who, Genesis, The Police - kept the music bug going and with not only the guest tickets to huge amazing gigs, but listening to the friends amazing record collections.
After initially playing drums and some drumming lessons from Jim Marshall (Marshall amps) I was asked at school if I fancied learning Sax. That was it! End of interest and participation in sports teams and just blowing sax at every possible free moment.
A Charlie Parker record lent by an older cousin, who unfortunately died the next evening, changed all. Grief was dealt with by learning to play the album note for note.
The practising continued with many other influences, eventually finding my niche of ‘honkin n hollerin’ in the style of the great Texas Tenors.
Bullmoose 'K' Shirley
1980: Aged 13, I received my first “real” guitar (…came with a first “real” girlfriend). The neck was as wide as a cricket bat, the body had a very strange shape and the “action” was terrible, …the guitar was ok.
1981: Teeth cutting, never-ending rehearsals in pubs, garages, bedrooms, back-rooms …etc, notably “The Balloon” public house in Bilston (now a fine fish & chip shop, …but not as fine as “The Majors” chip shop down the road a bit). My hands didn’t bleed anymore, I could look people dead in the eye and I could fight! I was ready for the big time.
1982: Disappeared into the Black Country’s “Chitlin” circuit with a wandering minstrel called Ray Humpage and a plan to make a trio, Ray, his alcoholism and me. Had many successful evenings at “The Galaxy Club” in Tipton.
1983: Emerged triumphant as “Johnny Rondo & The Kid” …I was coughing up blood and it burnt when I peed. There was also a slight problem, I was wearing skin-tight denim, Cowboy boots, and an overly high, rhinestone Stetson hat. Johnny was also talking about a sequinned cape for me. Time to go!
1984: A fellow guitarist and mutual friend Royston Jones introduced me to King Pleasure, aka: Scratch, aka: Swerving Skirving, aka: Mark Skirving, aka: Tony, and also fondly referred to in his youth as “Sludge-guts” by his mother. The rest, as they say, …is ongoing.
Mighty Matt Foundling
Joined in 2006
Ever since hearing the opening bars to Ray Charles’ ‘Messaround’ I was hooked on boogie woogie piano. Started tinkling the ivories at the age of 12 and began having lessons from former Biscuit Boy Ivory Dan McCormack. Was introduced to the band via Dan and even stood in for said tutor at Ronnie Scott’s for a two week period at the age of 16.
Turned professional at seventeen and started playing with various blues, jive and swing bands up and down the country. Spent a few years touring the UK and Europe with Otis Grand and his Big Blues Band and was in the Kings of Rhythm House Band at the Rhythm Riot for 5 years. Whilst playing in the house band we backed artists such as Lloyd Price, The Five Keys, Big Jay McNeely, Young Jessie, Clarence Henry, Lil Gizzelle and Nick Curran.
It was at the Rhythm Riot where I once again bumped into King Pleasure who was a compere at the festival and was asked to join the band. After readily accepting I’m now heading into my seventh year as a Biscuit Boy.
As well as playing good old rock n roll I’ve also also been involved in projects of my own, including composing for theatre, arranging, music production, teaching and more recently pop band The Musgraves. The pop band has appeared on national radio and The Graeme Norton Show and has recently signed a deal with an independent label.
Check Matt's website out http://mattfoundling.com/
Shark Van Schtoop
My dad was a rocket scientist.
Played with NYJO at 16 (had a jam with guitarist John Williams) ----- I couldn’t read the music properly so I stopped going and they were all too square anyway.
Went to New York and just turned up at record company offices and played our guitars and bass live to them unannounced and got a record deal with RCA New York with singer songwriter Andy Halsey (played in the studio Elvis used in NY), then when the advance arrived I got paid off!
Bought my own studio and made an ambient house album and got a record deal with Sony in Australia. The album was nominated for the Oz equivalent of a mercury prize ---didn’t win though.
Also had various small record deals with dance music labels producing rave tunes
Did session work for lots of Sony artists, one remix was on a number 1 in Oz! Toured Australia. Did a remix of 'addicted to bass', which went to number 1 in Oz and also did very well in UK too (the tune not the remix that is).
Also did a remix for Bobby McFerrin.
Joined Indie band "The house of Love’ with Guy Chadwick and toured Japan, Europe and the UK, also producing many studio sessions for Chadwick.
Played with Clam Curtis and the foundations, Jimmy James and the Vagabonds, Jocelyn Brown and supported Dionne Warwick
I’ve been the general roadie/dogs body for The Bay City Rollers Les McKeown on a few occasions, then joined KP in 2000.
I enjoy history, especially iron age history.
I like Dub Step, Drum & Bass, Deep Hous , Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Bulgarian folk music, John Coltrain and Murcof to name but a few.
I like Brussels sprouts in curry.
I took my dad to the high court and won. Ha Ha.
I like old buildings.
Don’t believe in god yet (wait till I’m ill!).
I can’t whistle.
I like boats and some aeroplanes.
Once won a Frank Spencer impersonation contest at 7 years old.
Gary 'The Enforcer' Barber
Started gigging at about 18 playing local pubs and clubs with blues rock band Regalia, playing original songs and standard covers, then played with ska/calypso singer Laurel Aitken in clubs locally and further afield, after that I joined a pop covers band, Axis, where we played mainly military bases performing the disco sounds of the day, then a gritty blues band called Flatliner, playing blues tracks in pubs & clubs around the midlands, and into the studio to record an EP.
Moved to London in 97’ joined an originals pop four piece-Pout, doing the popular venues in London for several years, we had management, did some studio recordings, and did a short tour of New York
Joined a gospel band called Inspiration, performed in churches, festivals and the odd Bible school. Moved up north for some fresh air, did function work with Mamaroux, at holiday camps and corporate events etc. also depping for western swing band The Swing Commanders, then onto Tipitina - jazz clubs, festivals etc, recorded album.
Joined KP 2007 where I’m enjoying exploring and recreating the beats of yesteryear!
Previously interspersed with drum teaching/college music workshops and running a wine shop.