As the ’80s pop landscape was being dominated by the New Romantics, the brothers went back to basics by forming the Sid Presley Experience.
“The only bands that were halfway decent rock ’n’ roll groups, at that time, would be The Ramones and The Cramps,” says Peter. “But Britain didn’t have rock’n’roll bands until the Sid Presley Experience came along, because that sort of thing was dying out. It was all synth bands, all that kind of music, you know, electronic sort of stuff. And the Sid Presley Experience was gritty rock’n’roll music.”
Two singles and much in-fighting later, the Coynes formed The Godfathers in 1985, named after the movie and adopting a similarly sharp-suited image. However, there was no attempt to soften their sound: a second guitarist was added to the template they had set with the Sid Presley Experience, and they drafted in Vic Maile, a producer whose production credits included Motorhead, Dr Feelgood and The Screaming Blue Messiahs. While the UK ignored The Godfathers, the band’s early singles, ‘Lonely Man’, ‘This Damn Nation’ and ‘I Want Everything’, started to gain traction in The States, embraced by college radio.
Spat out by Peter in sharp couplets, the band’s darkly humorous lyrics spoke of being working class in Thatcher’s Britain and the blight of heroin.
Suggesting that certain major labels in the UK were afraid to touch them, The Godfathers were signed in the United States by Sony/Epic.
“It was great. We were signed up in New York by Epic Records and practically every record label in the UK had turned us down. You know, they told us the same thing as what they told the Beatles, that the guitar bands were out,” he says. “And that was it. It was ‘electronic groups are in now’. But we were playing gritty rock’n’roll music.”
There was further triumph: the title track to their 1988 album, Birth, School, Work, Death crashed into the US Billboard top 40. “Loads of bands, even bands like Robbie Williams or the Sex Pistols, they don’t even get a look-in in America. They don’t even crack the top 100, let alone the top 40, but we did. But it wasn’t just America, it was all around the world as well,” says Peter.
The success continued with their next two albums, More Songs About Love and Hate and Unreal World. The band took a break in 2000, but reformed in 2008 with the original line-up. Last year, they released their seventh studio album, Jukebox Fury, but members left due to in-fighting. “We want people in this group who want to graft and who enjoy playing music,” says Chris. “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”
The Godfathers play the Trinity Ball, Dublin, on Friday, April 4, and Cyprus Avenue, Cork, on Saturday April 5.