"Gary at the 30th anniversary Quadrophenia Convention in Brighton, April 2008. From left to right: Trevor Laird, Toyah Wilcox, Phil Davies, some bloke that isn't Sting, Phil Daniels, Gary Shail, Garry Cooper, Mark Wingett, John Altman"
Gary, Quadrophenia means so much to so many people. What's it like to be a part of that legacy?
It's not overwhelming because people are just so cool about it, particularly in the UK. It really is a huge thing in a lot of people's lives though.
They even say "were you into scooters BQ or AQ?"; I've got a Quadrophenia tattoo for example.
On my arm.
Let's have a look. Oh, from the album, not the film.
Yeah but still... Some actors resent being linked to one piece of work. Do you ever get fed up with people asking you about it?
No, I mean how can I when they all love it? I got a phone call from Sting one day because he was in London, and he asked if I could come up for lunch with him. So we're sitting in this restaurant having a burger, and this girl comes over to our table and I'm thinking "Oh here we go, she's going to ask Sting about The Police or something", and she goes "I can't believe TWO people from Quadrophenia are sitting having a burger together! That's brilliant!" That's what I mean about people in the UK being cool about it.
The cast of the film were all pretty young in 1978, how did you get into acting, and how did you land the role of Spider?
I was a bit of a child actor and trained at the Arts Educational School. Quadrophenia was my first job when I graduated.
Some first job! Could you already ride a scooter or did you have to learn for the film?
I'd always driven motor bikes as a kid, so scooters were a piece of piss.
Do you know what kind of scooter you had in the film, and can you remember it?
All I knew was that it was GS whatever!! I just liked the fact that it was my initials on the front.
Excellent. If you'd been 18 in 1964 instead of 1978, would you have gone to Brighton for the bank holiday, and which side would you have been on?
I would've been there as a Mod no doubt. It's a style thing isn't it??
It certainly is. Exactly how much fun was filming the beach fight?
It was fucking cold I can tell you that!!! We were all black and blue by the end of the day, but the adrenalinegets you through and I still think it looks authentic to this day. You'd never get past health and safety these days would you?
Have you seen the Spacehopper Quadrophenia on Youtube?
Even Townsend loves it...
How was your recent trip to the States, and are fans of Shock Treatment as obsessive as Quadrophenia fans?
America was great!! I was there for Shock Treatment but everybody wanted to talk about Quadrophenia. Most people asked me about Sting!! I just said he was a wanker. (He'll love that)
Now for the serious stuff. Was there a bloke inside Metal Mickey, or was he remote control?
Metal Mickey was a real robot... how else could he spin from the middle? You'd need very bendy dwarves to make that fucker work!!
Good point. I bumped into Micky Dolenz once in Liverpool. He seemed tall, but I was a kid at the time. Is he as tall as I remember?
He always sat down when he spoke to me!!!
Typical ex-drummer. What's your perfect Sunday? (I nicked this one from Hot Fuzz)
Traditional English, a roast, the papers and walking my dogs.
What's your favourite cheese?
And your least favourite?
Ementhal - it's like rubber!
Heard any decent jokes lately?
What do you say to someone with 10 'O' levels and a degree in mathematics...BIG MAC & FRIES PLEASE!!!!
So no, would be the answer!