Mark Kelf


 

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(added April 2006)

INTERVIEW WITH MARK KELF

( LEAD SINGER FROM FIREBALL XL5 AND HEAD OF MARK KELF & THE VALLEY BOYS  )

made by Wildhank

 

 

Fireball XL 5 has blown over more than 20 years ago. But there´s still some steady interest and loyal following for the band and the music. Do you have any explanation for that? What made you guys so very special back then?

 

To be honest I wasn’t actually aware of a great deal of interest in Fireball XL5…But if there is then maybe it’s down to the fact that we weren’t around very long, one minute we were getting a great response from our records and the next we’d split. Many people on the scene at the time probably didn’t even get to see us live…I’d like to think we were remembered for our original songs…

 

 

What about the band name? Is it true that the band name was taken from a TV series?

 

Yep, Fireball XL5 was one of those early puppet shows a bit like The Thunderbirds…I don’t recall ever seeing the show before Johnny came up with the name.

 

 

The band didn´t last very long. I know Jon Bridgwood joined The Sting-rays, but i also read something about musical differences between Bridgwood / Thorne and the rest of the band. Can you tell us why the band finally split up?

 

Johnny joined the Sting-Rays and Thorny went soon after, myself Mustard and Ian recruited Gavin & Robin and we continued as Fireball XL5. Without Johnny & Thorny  the magic wasn’t there and we quit the band after about a year.

 

 Towards the end Johnny & Thorny had strayed away from their Rockabilly roots, Thorny seemed to get into Soul & Motown and Johnny was into the Beatles and sixties music, but that had nothing to do with the actual split Johnny’s decision to join the Sting-Rays was the beginning of the end.

 

 

You gigged with some of the best Psychobilly/ Neorockabilly bands -Deltas, Meteors, Restless and the Guana Batz to name a few-of the early 80´s. Which of them do you personally like the most?

 

The Meteors came along and all of sudden Rockabillies could let their hair down and do something a bit different…They were great times!

I’ve always admired Restless they were top of the tree 20 years ago and they still are today…The Deltas were wild and great live!

 

 

Let´s talk about the sound of Fireball XL 5.Neorockabilly?Psychobilly?Is it true that the band described itself as "Epileptic Hillbilly"?

 

I’d call it Neorockabilly… 

In our early days we used to do a song written by Ian Cooper & Dougie Eastick called Epileptic Fit…This is how we came up with the name Epileptic Hillbilly.

 

 

Your current outfit is Mark Kelf And The Valley Boys, which was formed in 1988. Give us a short history of the band.

  

Mark Kelf & The Valley Boys formed in 1988 as. Myself - Vocals. Richard Howard - Guitar. Simon Wellesley Davis - Bass. Nick Alexander - Drums.

 Perry Williamson of Pink & Black Records gave us our first break when he put us on his Cat’n Around Vol.1 in 2000.

Vampirella released Have Myself A Ball in 2001 and Hot Rod Honey in 2002, they also used tracks on Wild Man Bop 5 & 6.

 Perry again used three tracks on Cat’n Around Vol.2 in 2003.

 

 In 2005 John Newbraugh joined forces with Sonny May owner of Smokehouse Classic Records (Texas) to co-release The Best Of Mark Kelf & The Valley Boys.

 

 

The Valley Boys thing is some sort of these authentic Rockabilly combos with one big difference. You refuse to cover songs. Why do you always do your own stuff? Why don´t you just cover these great songs from the 50´s?

 

We have actually recorded a handful of cover versions over the years including Gene Vincent’s - Race With The Devil, Bob Luman - All Night Long, Tom Moses - It’s A Lonely Road. Unfortunately none have been released.

You can’t beat the buzz you get from writing something new! Covering a great 50’s song is OK, but you will always be compared with the original, so it’s safer to do your own.

Richard and I have written and recorded 200+ songs since 1988. Richard is the most creative guitarist I’ve ever worked with.

 

 

The latest release of Mark Kelf And The Valley Boys was "The Best Of...", dated back to 2005.Do you have any plans for a new releases in 2006?

  

2006 

So far this year NBT Records have released songs on Ride The Train Vol.13 and 14…more are planned.

Kamikaze Records (Germany) will be releasing Havin’ Some Fun on their Rockabilly Nuggets Vol.1 CD May 1st 2006

We are currently working with John at NBT to release a new Valleys Boys CD that will feature all of our compilation tracks on one album, the new CD will be called: Run Like The Devil. The CD cover has been designed by Rock n Roll artist Simon Pritchard.

 

 

How many unissued Fireball XL 5 songs are in the vaults? Is there any hope for more Fireball XL 5 stuff or some of these comeback gigs in the near future?

 

All the Fireball XL5 material has been released, there is nothing left in the vaults other than a couple of live recordings…

 

 

 

Thank you Mark for answering all these questions and good luck for your next releases.

 

 

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