People from the era tell their stories.
» Gary Clail
For a while I grew up in the Bristol Eastville area and my mother had an off-licence on Stapleton Road. I was 13 years of age when I used to creep out on the weekend and go to the illegal blues parties... I was kind of looked after as I used to babysit for some of the prostitutes who used to come to the off-licence... but that’s another story, I could write a book I think.
I was fascinated by the guys on the microphone toasting over these heavy dub rhythms … I think I was hooked straight away. As I grew into my late teens I was frequently seen throughout the St Paul’s area, and slowly but surely started going on the microphone. To this day I can’t really explain why, I just guess I loved it.
There seemed to be that whole period, the Dugout, Wild Bunch, Smith and Mighty, Blue Aeroplanes etc. etc. and of course Mark Stewart and the Pop Group and my dear friend Andy Fairly. Through Mark I met Adrian Sherwood.
I am not sure how I ended up making records with him but I think it’s because I put together the Tack Head sound system. I used to record everything on cassettes, and had live sessions with Dub Syndicate African Charge Bim Sherman, Lee scratch Perry and countless others. Adrian mixing everything on the mixing desk… and I spent hours trying to work out how I can put sound system together from cassette but I managed. Later it became known as the On U Sound System.
Just 10 years, but it was the most interesting and the happiest time of my life, and when I met some of the greatest people I’ve ever known.
What am I doing now? … Well for the last 10 years I have been working with the homeless on and off. I spent five years at Julian House’s the homeless shelter in Bath, that was a hard-core job, but rewarding. I lived Brittany for a couple of years and also in Austria, then Cornwall, I’m currently working in supported housing in Wiltshire.
Then out of the blue I met a guy who was a manager of Toshiba and I ended up making a new album which is out on Monday by the name of Nail it to the Mask, so let the Carnival begin, the story goes on...
I hope this is okay for you … good luck with the book,,, if you have a launch of the book,,, I’m more than happy to do a small sound system for you. All the best Gary.
Interview with Jillo Wisternoff
Words © Gary Clail