Peter Bywater‘s scene is not what you expect from a punk rock legend. The Peter & The Test Tube Babies‘ founder and singer prefers something low key on his time off. He states: “I like fishing. Where I live in England I’m 60 metres from the beach. So I’m off doing fishing. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to catch my dinner. I like fishing, I like travelling.” Still, Bywaters continues to “enjoys touring” – and that is punk rock. He states: “We don’t tour like on long tours, so much. We very rarely go away for much more than a week at a time. But that’s mainly because the rest of the guys, well our bass player and our drummer have got work commitments. Me and Derek, we would be away on tour a whole lot more if we could. So, although we tour a lot, it might just be weekends here and there; we don’t generally do much more than a week at a time.”
Sometimes, the tour does not even occur. The legend that Bywater was banned from the US for dressing up as President Donald Trump is not far from the truth.
Bywaters laughs and exclaims: “Maybe I’m banned I don’t know, I was just refused entry a few months ago. Whether i’m banned or not remains to be seen.” He continues: “Yeah we all flew separately, trying to avoid any suspicion and unfortunately on this occasion my luck ran out. I was stopped and the guy was on the case. He was asking me questions, he must have googled my name. And if you google Peter Bywaters, you get a list of websites saying Peter & the Test Tube babies. So then he started asking me about the band and I was giving him vague answers, I didn’t want to let the cat out the bag. Whilst I was answering his questions, he found a poster for the gig and that was it basically. And then during the course of the six hour interrogation they found the videos and pictures of me dressed as Trump. But the reason they gave for me being denied entry was the fact that I had the wrong visa. It may or may not have anything to do with the Trump thing, but I don’t really know.” Bywaters was deported and maybe also banned. He says: No I can’t go back. They told me ‘Should I wish to return …’, at which point I told them they ‘should shove the country up their arse’. I wasn’t the happiest bunny. They said, ‘You guys all say that and you come back’. So if I am to go back I won’t be able to go back on on any electronic visa. I will have to apply for a proper Visa or a work permit.” [pullquote]Bywaters describes the band’s sound in food form as: “Vodka and tangerine Jelly – there is the same amount of alcohol inside and it influences what we do; and I think we are not as slim as what we use to be, so we probably wobble a bit.”[/pullquote] Bywaters may not be keen to go back to the US but he “would love to come to Australia as soon as possible”. Though, it is surprising that past experiences with the “bear club” in Melbourne, as noted in his tour diaries, haven’t discouraged him. Bywaters laughs and states: “I think that was a one off.” Apart from that, his impressions of Australia are much more favourable. “I loved it. I would like to come back as soon as we can.” There are no plans already underway, though he states: “Yeah well we’re just waiting really for somebody to bring us over. we want to come. We’re ready and willing to get on a plane and come and play it’s just that we need someone to arrange a tour for us and to pay for our flights. So if you can help in any way.”
For now, Peter & The Test Tube Babies have just released their 14th studio album, That Shallot. The songs are in true Test Tube Babies’ orm with fast-paced punk rock songs such as C U Next Tuesday, In Yer Face, None of Your F***ing Business, and more. Bywaters states that with this album they set themselves “a little challenge” and the result is now Tramp Killer, and it turned out better than expected. That was the only challenge we set ourselves but the actual making of the album was easy and quick”.
An excellent achievement for a band that came from nowhere in 1978, as 17 year old punks, when Peter Bywaters and Derek “Del” Greening founded the band in the small town of Peacehaven near Brighton. After a couple of rehearsals they made their first recording ‘Elvis Is Dead’ which appeared on the Vaultage ‘78 compilation of Brighton new wave bands. Radio 1 DJ John Peel loved the song instantly and produced a John Peel session with the Test Tube Babies. The band’s success skyrocketed and became one of the hottest unsigned bands in the UK overnight. Of his beginnings, Bywaters states: “I was always very left wing at school, I still am. So politically I always on the left. At one point I even joined the Socialist Workers Party. Musically, before punk came along I was into Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, that sort of stuff. Before that I was very much into The Sweet and Slade and people like that, David Bowie, T-Rex and then as soon as punk came along, I mean I was 16 in 1977 and at that point in time I was a typical teenager. I hated school, I hated work, I hated the police, I hated my parents, and at the time, there was nothing musically that sort of fitted in with how I felt. That’s what really influenced me – punk rock.”
From humble beginnings, the band will celebrate their 40 year anniversary next year, with a Test Tube Babies Festival. Bywaters states: “It is just in the planning stages. We wanted to do something different to celebrate 40 years. So our manager has suggested a festival. And at the moment we’re just discussing different ways, how we are going to do this. If we do go ahead with it, it will probably take place in Germany possibly Berlin or maybe even Hamburg. But at the moment in the planning stages. Quite a few names of bands we were talking about this yesterday. I can’t really tell you who now because we haven’t approached anyone yet. We need to approach people first to see if they are available. Once we have a line up together we can let the world know, but at the moment it’s in the planning stage.” Hopefully the band will bring the tour to Australia where Bywaters promises to give fans: “Some good old fashioned punk rock really. We will try and put in a lot of new stuff. new songs from the album.”
“That Shallot” is out now via Arising Empire / Nuclear Blast