New Musical Express, December 14, 1974

Tooth decay in faeces fjord



Is this the end, asks PETE ERSKINE, talking to MIKE PATTO...

UNUSUALLY enough, it appears that the last remains of the once-cultist Spooky Tooth are again firmly landlocked in faeces fjord – despite the fact that their current album "The Mirror" (an untypical hardrock collection in Montrose vein) is cutting a neat swathe through the U.S. charts.

The cause appears to have been some kind of clash of ideologies between Gary Wright – the only founder member left in the band – and recently-recruited vocalist Mike Patto, late of his own band of the same name.

After Mike Harrison, the only other original, split from the Tooth, along with bassist Chrissy Stewart, Wright had called Patto from the States and invited him over to work with the band and set up house.

"I was sittin’ at home pickin’ me toenails, man, freatenin’ the kids," reports Patto, "so I said yeah. I asked Nigel who advised against it. But I thought it’s be nice for the ole lady and the kids."

Nigel is Nigel Thomas, Patto’s manager. Spooky Tooth having broken up and re-formed so many times and having, perhaps, gotten something of a reputation for the secondhand in the process, Thomas figured that the association mightn’t be overly beneficial for his boy’s reputation.

"But me being what I am," rejoins Patto, "I fancied a bleedin' knees up."

Bryson Graham rejoined the band on drums; Micky Jones remained from the original reformed line up; and Chrissy Stewart was replaced by a young black bassist called Val Moore.

"So out of it all, we formed a gassy rockin’ little band. And that was the first thing that me and Gary came to blows over.

"It was like me working out something and being full of enthusiasm and coming up and saying ‘lissen man, I got a great tune’ and he’d say ‘It’s not Spooky Tooth’. And I’d say, ‘You’re wrong, man, it’s not the old Spooky Tooth, it’s the Spooky Tooth you’ve just reformed. I’m not in to sing just what you ask me to sing. This is my song so help me play it, man, and I’ll help you play yours’.

"And it was like that. The explanation he gave was that we can’t go away from what Spooky Tooth was because that is where we earn our money.

"And I’m saying ‘Well look, man, I think Jonesy’s great and now we’ve got Bryson back in and Val Moore, we don’t have to worry about the old Spooky Tooth. It’s a good name in the States, you can earn bread, but we’re gonna rock on from here...’

"And then Gary started to get the horrors. He had always said it was a co-op band, but he, basically, runs everything...does all the raps, helps on the management side and so on. "It got to the point," claims Patto, "where he was having little meetings with the band suggesting that they get rid of me. But they only said, ‘Why? You must be jokin’.

"It did get a bit nasty. I’ve never been in that sort of atmosphere and I can’t work in it. In Patto we used to be able to say: ‘Your breath smells. I don’t wanna talk to you today.’

"It was as honest and blunt as that. I mean all this thing of ‘I must have sensitive people around me’ – well, cool man, but you’re in rock’n’roll to get somethin’ outta yourself."

HOWEVER, the last laugh appears to remain with Wright.

He left just after the album was completed and reportedly laid claim to the right to exclusive use of name Spooky Tooth. He then split to the States.

The current band, therefore, appears to be in limbo.

Patto himself has his own album to do – probably with Spenner and Hubbard etc – and guitarist Micky Jones has split for the U.S. as A&R rep for Nigel Thomas’ record label, Good Ear.

Sources for comment from Gary Wright were unavailable at press time. However, Charlie McCutcheon, a spokesman for Warner Brothers, confirmed that Wright has just signed a solo contract with them – "as just Gary Wright" – which would seem to confirm the fact that Spooky Tooth are nae more.


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