Interview: Michael Bradley, a key member of punk era legends The Undertones who are playing on North Yorkshire next month.
Born normal lads with abnormal musical talents, The Undertones may be a veteran band now but fans will see that their most famous song Teenage Kicks never grows old when they headline Willowman Festival in North Yorkshire in June.
Talking to bass player Michael Bradley, I suggest that this legendary Irish group were never as dumb as they sometimes liked to make out in their heyday in an era of The Troubles and punk rock.
Michael said: “We were all working class lads in a small town where nothing much happened. We were a bit cheeky but naïve. Coming from Derry, I would have been very aware of trying not to sound pretentious.”
Any fans wanting to get the whole story of one of Britain’s best-ever guitar pop bands is advised to seek out Michael’s new autobiography called Teenage Kicks: My Life As An Undertone published by Omnibus Press.
It’s the first book written by any of the band’s original members whose famous numbers include Here Comes The Summer, Get Over You, My Perfect Cousin, You've Got My Number, Jimmy, Jimmy, It’s Going To Happen and Teenage Kicks.
If you’re surprised the man doing it is the bass player rather than the lead singer, there’s two simple reasons.
Firstly, Feargal Sharkey give up all involvement in the music industry three years ago. Secondly, Michael Bradley actually co-wrote The Undertones’ two biggest hit singles – My Perfect Cousin and It’s Going To Happen.
Michael said: “Damien and myself always like to remind John, who did a lot of the writing, that My Perfect Cousin was one of our’s.
“We never liked the idea that only one person in The Undertones would do all the writing.”
In a way, the band never got past the instant popularity of Teenage Kicks which was famously backed by BBC radio DJ John Peel.
Perhaps their own modesty meant they were never cut out for the rock n roll big time?
Michael said: “There’s plenty of rock n roll in the story of The Undertones but very little sex and no drugs. Our road crew did more of that than us.”
With current lead singer Paul McLoone the only non-original member in the band these days, their forthcoming appearance in the Willowman Festival near Thirsk in June will see The Undertones back at the top of their game.