Record Mirror - August 1979 & Interview

'Packed their jobs in'

The Purple Hearts are one of the forceful young mod bands who grew out of the punk movement. Their pushy vocalist Bob Manton says: "We played our first gig as The Purple Hearts in May '78 at a local youth club playing mostly old sixties numbers which we'd always been into.".

However, the band had been together since June '77 with different line ups, calling themselves The Sockets. They played their last gig at the Roxy in January '77, but as Bob is quick to point out: "Even in those days we included 'Can't Explain' and 'My Generation' in the set. Now the only non original composition we play is David Bowie and The Lower Thirds 'Can't Help Thinking About Me'."

Today the Hearts are in the vanguard of the mod movement. They are Bob Manton on vocals, Simon Stebbings on guitar, Jeff Shadbolt on bass and Gary Sparks on drums. The March Of The Mods Tour will be their first experience of gigs outside London, apart from the odd gig in Southend! "I was so excited the night before the Scarborough gig that i couldn't sleep." says Bob.

When i saw them earlier this year i called them "a blatantly progressive punk band." I probably went over the top due to the bad equipment the band was using at the time, which distorted their attacking pop songs. Bob says: "We're not really more punk influenced than any of the other mod bands. I think our songs are more original than the songs the rest of the mod bands play. We have got the aggression and energy of punk but we're close to The Byrds 'Mr Tambourine Man' than to 'London's Burning'. But then compared to the Merton Parka's we're the Angelic Upstarts."

Bob possesses a fine line in soulful vocals and says that he has always been influenced by Steve Marriot. The bands first single, 'Millions Like Us', is released on Fiction Records next month, and is one of the most commercial songs in their set.

"We play dance music with a bit of thought on the side." say Bob. The band are all from Romford, and have all packed in their jobs, apart from Gary who's had to carry on his apprenticeship as a carpenter. He says: "It brings in a bit of money and i just go in when i feel like it. Anyway, after the tour, when our single's number one we should have more money so i can forget about the job then.".

The Hearts are all confident that success will soon come their way. As Bob says: "We realised right from the start that mod was gonna be big. So it's a bit defeatist now to worry about it becoming commercial. I don't care how long it takes for us to succeed. The Hearts will never go away.".

From Record Mirror - August 79

Interview by Philip Hall

More Interviews in the Purple Hearts Scrapbook