Look out! Who's that behind you? Watch your pockets....Because you are entering the Dickensian hiphop world of The Rotten Hill Gang, with its tales of old and new London - stories as putrid as decaying vegetables at the end of a day in Portobello Road market and as uplifting and elevating as the sun rising over the Westway.
This Rotten collective of creatives cleverly fuse rap with rock, funk and reggae into an exciting mix of classic tunes, each with a modern and diverse twist.
The bassmaster general is Gary McPherson, formerly of Big Audio Dynamite II who created the band with front man Reds Kin. As the band ripened, they embroiled drummer Mallett (Transvision Vamp), with Gus Robertson (Razorlight) and Jim Dobson on guitars. On keys, is the amazingly diverse Fjokra and additional vocals are provided by the beautiful and incredibly talented ladies, Hollie Cook & Annie Bea.
Live shows can be wild! Always full of maximum energy but also with a cheeky side helping of humour which has drawn great industry attention. A number of vastly talented ‘substitutes’ make ad hoc appearances at live shows, including Mick Jones, Glen Matlock, Paul Cook and Richard Archer.
We caught up with Gary McPherson and had a good chat about their love of 'The Brits', appearing on Obama's iPod and an alternative use for Gary Glitter LP's, here's how we got on....
Please introduce the band and your music in one sentence...
A bit all over the place but perfect timing when it comes to the music
You’re called The Rotten Hill Gang, how did you come to choose this name?
It’s just word play on the area we live in. There’s posh Notting Hill and then there’s the Grove, which we call Rotten Hill
Being Dickensian Hip Hop, who are the influences that have given you the pleasure to write and play your music?
Our influences range from Duke Ellington to Ennio Morricone, Howlin’ Wolf to Public Enemy, Anthony Newly to Prince, Johnny Cash to Lionel Bart. The list is endless. We called it Dickensian because i’m as old as Fagan and know all l the Shabbean’s and bolt holes in West London. Mallet is like Mr Grimwig an eccentric who has good people skills. Hollie and Annie sing as sweet as Nancy and probably know more tricks than Nancy. Red’s is the Dodger, stealing and selling on any street corner. Gus is as horrible as Bill Sikes, a total mercenary, loves the excitement of being in a gang. Jim is like Charlie Bates (Dodgers mate), Who knows he’s in the wrong place at the right time, but can’t get out. Fi is like Monks, the callous Irish drinker who hates Oliver more than Bill Sikes does. Hammi is Mr Brownlow, the guy that loves everyone. Becky is Mrs Maylie, taking in any questionable orphan. We kicked Oliver out of the band because he was a grass and couldn’t sing. Finally, Mick is Charles Dickens, always coming up with a good story and plan.
‘The Brits’ has recently been on, what is your opinion on the show? Music Industry nonsense or a worthy event?
The ‘Shits’ you mean.. It seems to pour out of every orifice of every person involved with that fake bake bullshit…Its more like X Craptor. No Feeling for what is real. That’s why I love it. (jokes)
What is the best advice you ever received and who was it from?
From my music teacher at school, He told me I had no rhythm, a crude style, and my lyric’s were nonsense . It turns out he was the nonce with no sense…
What does music mean to you?
As Steve Marriott famously put it “All or Nothing” or was it “Nothing at All”?
Who designed your debut album cover?
A guy called ‘D Face’. A. Fantastic artist. People should check out his work. He got involved with us through Stephen Webster our then manager.. If u look closely at the cover you can see the evolution of life since the dinosaur times. I love the way he also mashed up the Notting Hill Gate tube station logo and made it ours
In your opinion, what is the BEST album/record ever released and why?
It really depends on what mood i’m in. Dr Dre’s the Chronic is one, Electric Ladyland is another, London Calling, Transformer, Grand Master Flash, Never mind the Bollocks, Pills Thrills and Bellyaches, Hansworth Revolution (Steel Pulse)… The list is endless. All these albums were generation changers. I could go on. It's impossible for me to have a Best Album.
Tell me a fascinating fact about you or one of your band members?
Red’s and Annie are great cooks. Becky the Manager is a great Floral artist. I played football for Southampton under 14 and under 15, until I saw a band called Strate Jacket who converted me to music.
If you had a chance to put together your own ‘supergroup’ with people only called Bob or Carol who would be in it? (alive, dead or fictional)
Paul Cook has played on your debut album, what was that experience like and is there anything he was able to teach you?
Paul’s great !!! He’s easy going with a dry wit, What I did learn from him was his humbleness and a certain understanding, Which a lot of musicians today could learn from…
Do you own a record that you wouldn’t like to admit you have?
Is there something you would like to tell each of the band members that you haven’t told them before?
Yeah, “You're Sacked !”
How would you describe a Rotten Hill Gang live show?
Where did you record your debut album and what made you choose that studio?
In my living room and at the Bunker, Mick J’s studio.
Name three people (alive, dead or fictional) that you would like as party guests?
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
Who would you like to know has your music on their iPod, MP3 or cassette walkman?
Obama, Putin, Xi Jinping, Merkel, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Netanyahu, Goodluck Jonathan, Kim Jongun, Mammon Hussain, Mahmoud Abbas, Salman, Tayyip Erdogan, Cameron and any other war mongering leaders.. Because if they all listened to our album, they wouldn’t be thinking about ruling the world and destroying it with bullshit greed and power hungry dominance. It’s our world, not theirs. People should know that. All we can do is vote and keep fighting the system until it’s fair for the majority of the people, not the minority!!
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
God. Because some people are not quite sure whether it’s real or not…
Do you think we can ever live in a world where a chicken can cross the road without having its motives questioned?
YES !! Because if you're questioning a chicken about its motives, you’re really on some strong shit or as crazy as fuck!!
What are your plans for 2015?
To survive and move on to the next phase, another album, Rotten Hill TV, there's a Rotten Hill Film Being made which will hopefully be ready by the end of the summer.
Being the awful people we are, there was no way that they were getting away without going through our quickfire question round, we buckled them up and launched them into it....
Coffee or Tea?
Coke or Pepsi?
Drum machine or the real deal?
a drummer machine
Mac or PC?
Fry up or Sunday roast?
Lemmy (Motorhead) or Ozzy (Black Sabbath)?
CD or Vinyl?
Car or Motorbike?
Acoustic or electric?
Shower or Bath?
depends on who i’m with!
Tattoos or Piercings?
Robert de Niro or Al Pacino?
God or Google?
We'd like to say a massive thank you to Gary McPherson for taking time out of his schedule to sit and answer our questions, I've listed some of their social media sites below, please take a few minutes to take a look, I'm sure there'll be something for everyone, young, old and even the infirm. We look forward to catching the band live one day, until then.....
Interview by Mark Wincott