Adrian Edmondson: The Bad Shepherd Speaks

The comic turned musician spills the beans on his own punk roots and middle class wankery

Feature by Erin McElhinney | 22 Oct 2008
  • Adrian Edmondson

Hello, thanks for doing this interview!
My pleasure. Well, it might be, I don't know, we'll see.

Well you can rate me at the end, mark me out of five stars?
Right, well, you're losing stars now, come on! [giggles inanely]

What was the inspiration for Vyvyan (Edmondson's character in The Young Ones), were you a bit of a punk?
It came from the fact that The Sex Pistols are my ultimate band; truly and sincerely I think it's the most exciting music that's ever been created. My one sadness is I know Johnny Lydon would think I'm a complete middle class wanker. It's horrible when you know that one of your idols wouldn't actually like you.

What do you think he'd make of The Bad Shepherds (Edmondson's new band)?
I think he'd actually quite like them, we do a version of Rise by PiL and it's a very folky tune in its way; it's got those lyrics in the middle...”May the road rise with you”. I know for a fact that he likes folk music, as a member of our band, Troy, used to play with Maddy Pryor, and Johnny once rushed across the room just to hug her.

I heard that you answered questions about The Sex Pistols on Mastermind Yes. For charidee. I answered everything but one, I heard the wrong date for that.

Did you study beforehand?
Of course I studied beforehand. I'm a middle class wanker.

You've done a fair bit of music in your life, but this is the first time that you've fronted your own band. Has it been a bit of a life long dream? Is it a case of 'now or never?'
Yes. I don't know any boy who hasn't always wanted to be in a band; I've been in one since I was 14 and yet had never been in one that was a proper band. It was actually a happy accident; I've always played this stuff at home on the guitar, and then I'd go out at Christmas with my chums – cos I'm a middle class wanker - and get a bit drunk and we generally end up in Denmark Street (in London) which is full of music equipment shops and because you're drunk you buy the wrong instrument. I bought a mandolin. I got home and thought I may as well try and started playing the same punk songs and it sounded really good.

Where does the name The Bad Shepherds come from?
Well 'bad' comes from the fact that all good bands should have bad in their title, like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and the 'shepherds' is kind of a rural thing, cos we're folksy. We're bad, though, we can't look after the countryside. Plus it gives it a nice biblical ring. Although we're not a bit like Jesus.

Is there any comedy in the show?
[coyly] There are moments of comedy that I have planned....a couple of psalms that I've rewritten from the perspective of a bad shepherd.

So do your band mates mind that you get all the attention?
You know I don't know if they mind or not, I'll have to ask them. I imagine not, as they don't have to deal with the press!

When you were doing Bottom and such things, did you ever get tired of being hit in the face?
Yes. It gets very tiresome, especially when it goes wrong and it really hurts, it always used to be very funny and the audience would always get pretty scared, it would take about 5 or 10 minutes to warm them up again. They'd be genuinely concerned; “Is he alright?” “There'll be a terror attack any minute!”

Do you ever get fed up of people asking when you're coming back to stand up, or when you're going to do Bottom again?
No, not really. [laughs] They've been saying that since the start, and it doesnt make a blind bit of difference.

You've been a comedian, a musician, a writer, and a film director; what's been your favourite role?
Ah you missed out promo director, I did a lot of pop promos in '87-88. [proudly] I won the MTV award for Best Video for Hourglass by Squeeze. It was like doing Art O Level. It was easy for a year and then it peetered out, but that was my favourite job, cos I was mixing with people I really liked. I was almost in the band... I WAS THE 12TH POGUE!

Did you know that your book, How To Be A Complete Bastard, was made into computer game for the Spectrum?
Was it? Bloody hell! I've never seen it, but then they also made a computer game out of the peperami sausage, so.... [giggles a lot]

So how would you rate this interview?
I'll give you 4 and a half out of 5 stars!