Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: May 2007
This is a great story and I am proud of it… In my youth, during the time I lived Kearny, New Jersey, I use to trek my butt over to New York City to visit a record store called St. Marks Sound. This record store was one of the best in the city and you could buy albums for 50 cents to a few bucks. So once a month I would go there with a friend and buy $20-$30.00 worth of records. A lot of the bands I bought were purchased because I liked the cover art and many of them were promos.
On one of those trips, I picked up an album by a band called BROKEN HOME, which was produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange who worked with DEF LEPPARD, AC/DC, THE CARS and many others. I figured this must be pretty good. The self-titled album came out in 1980 and to this day is still one of my favorite albums of all time and the kicker is Dicken (Jeff Pain) is my favorite all time vocalist. Imagine after all those years, speaking with one of your childhood icons.
Rockeyez would like to present to you Mr. Dicken.
Brian Rademacher: Hello Dicken and Welcome to Rockeyez…You released some albums back in the late Seventies in a band called MR BIG (different MR BIG than Bill Sheehan’s band). Did you ever think your music career would carry over into 21st century?
Dicken: Well I was not planning to die young and I could not see myself retiring by choice from making music… So yes despite having our name pinched by Mr Sheehan and his lot, I was always intending to carry on with Mr Big at some point too because of “Romeo” our first hit so it was in the cards that we would use "OUR" name again just like a lot of other bands who had hits in the 70s.
Brian Rademacher: On the MR BIG album “Seppuku” (Ian Hunter producing), you got the chance to play with Ian Hunter, tell me the experience working with him?
Dicken: Ian is a very talented guy so it was an exciting time for us to work with him. I got on well with him, very relaxed. Mick Ronson came over a couple of times to the studio so that was nice. Ian was very strict about drugs and things he did not tolerate any of that in the studio, which was ok as far as I was concerned, very much a pro and a great writer too.
Brian Rademacher: You also got to work with Simon Phillips, for a young band you must have had some good connections to get to work with all this talent.
Dicken: Wow, dare I say it, but I think Simon is younger than I; yes it was great to play with him an amazing drummer. I have been very lucky to have played with and jammed with many top drummers, apart from my own drummer Simon Saunders who is great. I’ve jammed with Nick McBain, Barrymore Barlow, Clive Bunker, Jerry Conway and then Jim Keltner who as it happens played drums on “Romeo”. It was Val Garay, the producer of “Romeo,” who was responsible for getting Simon as well as Jim Keltner and others involved on our album.
Brian Rademacher: The BROKEN HOME album really didn’t have one bad track on that release. Did you think BROKEN HOME was much different from MR. BIG?
Dicken: Thank you, yes it was a different band, in some ways a lot more competent but still I think the vocals with Eddie Carter and myself in MR Big had the edge. Having said that though I think the songs I wrote for BROKEN HOME got more mature and working with the main man Mutt Lange helped a bit~Wink~it has been said it was Mutt Lange’s last weak album before the real big stuff he has done... sure. However, I think had we had the money and time that say DEF LEPPARD had, we too could have made a top class album, but sadly time ran out.
Brian Rademacher: What is your favorite BROKEN HOME song?
Dicken: Wow not easy... are you talking Mutt Lange’s album? I like them all for different reasons... but I will say from that album I think “Shotover Hill” from the 2nd album I think “Nobody (shot down)”. I wrote that on the day Lennon died sort of my little tribute thing.
Brian Rademacher: Tell me one of the great experiences being in music?
Dicken: MMMMMMMMMM can I say 2?? For me, supporting QUEEN on The Night Of The Opera Tour... travelling with them and being there in the hotel room watching Top of the Pops with them as “Bohemian Rhapsody” hit number one spot, that was special yes... and of course watching our single “Romeo” rush up the charts... that was nice to experience too.
Brian Rademacher: Who are some of the musicians that you admire?
Dicken: Well I loved Jimi Hendrix an amazing talent. Steve Marriot’s vocals WOW! Loved QUEEN, THE EAGLES, FLEETWOOD MAC hmmmmmmmm let me think, I admire Eric Clapton, Take That for having the balls to come back without the man, I’m not a big fan of McCartney in WINGS, but I have to say he has written some good tunes hey... loved George Harrison’s guitar playing, too many others I could mention I think...
Brian Rademacher: At this time if you could work with another musician who would that be?
Dicken: Actually, I am working with them. Paul Gibbons who writes and sings with me, I’ve known him for 25 years and Eddie Carter from MR BIG, we recorded “Something Special” together at the end of last year.
Brian Rademacher: Who are some of the artists you like right now?
Dicken: Tell you the truth I don’t know their names and I am not an anorak for it, some stuff on the radio is very good, much bores me though... so samey... and RADIO 1 in the UK is like musical torture, so I listen to Radio 2 and classical.
Brian Rademacher: Read that you’re a Christian and would like to record or have already record some Christian songs?
Dicken: Yes, I believe in the Almighty and his son Jesus Christ I am happy to say that openly although might get into trouble soon for saying that here in this fast becoming mad country I live in. But yes I do have some songs and will do an album soon given the chance.
Brian Rademacher: You also own Oxford Rocks, which is a Dicken history website that also offers CD’s of all Dicken bands, Right?
Dicken: No. Oxford Rocks is owned by Sven Gusevik he does it on his own, so fair play to him he is one gem of a guy, Also Satoshi in Japan too. CD’s can be ordered through 70s Rock Music Oxford also from ANGEL AIR RECORDS...
Brian Rademacher: You also have a new MR BIG CD in the works and one of the tracks called “Something Special” is on the MR BIG MySpace site. Can you tell me anything about the upcoming release?
Dicken: Well we have a compilation of songs taken from 1977-2007 called “From Mr Big to BROKEN HOME and back" I chose with the help of my brother Dave and his business partner Ben McCabe twenty-seven songs taken from those years including “Romeo”, “Something Special” which we did at the end of last year 2006 and others, it will be released on ANGEL AIR RECORDS in early August anyone can order it from them at their website: www.angelair.co.uk
Brian Rademacher: You are also an artist and have some amazing painting on your Oxford site. Tell me a little about your religious paintings. What comes to mind when you start a painting and on an average how long does one take?
Dicken: Have not painted for 8 years now… but I painted by imagination rarely from a real model; so a lot came from what I saw in my head... and felt in my heart... one of the paintings called "The body of Christ” took 3 years to paint and the body from the waist is made up of people, walking up steps towards his right hand side.
Brian Rademacher: Can people purchase your original artwork?
Dicken: I have never sold one, someone wanted to buy a painting once but how can I put a price on them, some took me years to finish, so I felt that as I don’t paint anymore then why sell them, unless of course someone twists my heart and mind with a massive cheque book. However, I did give "The body of Christ" away to one of my dear friends Chris Harrington and his wife.
Brian Rademacher: It seems to me you’re into world affairs, do you support any causes?
Dicken: Not really... I have my own views about the world and where it will end up, that is another story and I could debate for hours about it. Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar I say. I try to live peacefully in where I find myself these days.
Brian Rademacher: What are your feelings toward all the chaos in the world with the hanging of Saddam, The War in Iraq and the recent shooting in the US at Virginia Tech.?
Dicken: Well taking that backwards. I felt so angry that some spineless person would take other people's lives like that because of his anger! Wow such sadness and tragedy for all involved, unspeakable hurt. I do happen to believe that things won’t get better for the world although most leaders of the western world claim that they will sort it out, bullshit!...They will just line their pockets and enjoy a nice retirement. As for Iraq, well… well, how bad was Saddam? I think they will find that democracy will not work and that it will fall into more and more fragmented violence... terrible waste of life and money. Had Saddam been left alone what would have happened to us all? WMD and all that, well who knows... one thing is for sure... a good 600,000 plus people would still be alive to find out.
Brian Rademacher: If you could donate a large sum of money to anything, to solve a problem what would it be?
Dicken: Pay my next-door neighbours mortgage off. Hmmmm, seriously not sure. The problem would have to stare me in the face so to speak. I am a spontaneous person.
Brian Rademacher: When you e-mailed me awhile back you told me you written an new song called “Matchbook Crosses”, because as a child your mother put matchsticks in the shape of crosses in your pockets to keep you safe. Do you feel being brought up in a religious household it had an effect on you music?
Dicken: Oh yes. My mums’ family were Greek Orthodox. I watched my gran die in front of me; she lived with us for 14 years. Alive one minute talking to me then slowly sliding away, Wow I was 18, it broke my heart… But she believed in God and that helped me through losing her and later my mum too, I believed and still do believe we will meet again, so yes it has always had an affect on my music and still does.
Brian Rademacher: Truthfully don’t you think BROKEN HOME should have been bigger than they actually were, even thou you did play the Reading Festival?
Dicken: At the start I thought we were heading for the big time, we had it all going for us, Tony Smith who was Phil Collins’ manager was looking after us, Mutt Lange was our producer... major record deal... and we were good together... all the right ingredients it seemed... but we did not have the luck. If the record was liked, then we were the last to be told and because we felt it had bombed we all became disheartened and eventually after Reading Festival we gave up, although Pete Crowther and myself stayed together to do one more BROKEN HOME album.
Brian Rademacher: Is it true that there could be another BROKEN HOME release in the future?
Dicken: Depends if I get the call asking for one ha. ha. I am thinking more in terms of making albums, but what to call it as in a band name? I’m really not sure yet, I do like the kind of stuff BROKEN HOME played.
Brian Rademacher: Are you working on anything else as we speak?
Dicken: Yes always working bits and pieces and doing different songs, some new ideas.
Brian Rademacher: If Dicken could be remembered for one thing that he accomplished, what would that be?
Dicken: Well I am not a glory hunter, and I certainly don’t believe these people who want to be remembered for their so-called wonderful achievements are anything more than just that… GLORY HUNTERS.
Life for me so far has played out like this…
There we are all stood around and the boss guy comes to pick the team to play, and he looks at me and he says “Hey Dick, I’d love to play you kid, you’re good! But those guys are big and your not big enough” so he put me on the subs bench. I am gagging to play even for a few minutes. I will eat those minutes when they come, but if they don’t and I don’t have the chance to play then I’ll live with it. I think it may sound bad, but I learnt to live with failure and it brought great success at the end... in my head…and I see what real success is. So if when and they lay me to rest they say “Dick was a real nice guy” then great, I did it…
Brian Rademacher: Back in the day, what were some of the things you would ask for on your rider?
Dicken: I did not do much asking myself, but I did make sure there was a bottle of whiskey in there somewhere.
Brian Rademacher: What is a typical day for you now?
Dicken: Well now I wake up around 7am drag myself out of bed, kiss my kids and help get them up (all 5 of them)... then coffee... Monday thru Thursday I work with my brother building flats... some are from scratch and that can be hard work, we do all kinds of work, getting tired now though. Then on Friday, I normally spend the day on music in my studio working on songs. Some nights I rehearse with Eddie and Paul going through songs together. Sometimes I go online for a while or work on my songs before going to bed at around 1am.
Brian Rademacher: What was the first record you ever owned?
Dicken: I am not sure I can remember that it may have been an early BEATLES single. But I do remember my Dads records, Buddy Holly, Tommy Steele and Lonnie Donnigan.
Brian Rademacher: Do you remember the first concert you attended?
Dicken: Yes it was Tommy Steele at the London Palladium which was amazing!! And to see this star in a white suit wow such a great looking kid he was too.
Brian Rademacher: What kind of kid were you in school?
Dicken: In love most of the time, that did not help my concentration but I was shy with the girls. I felt a bit different because I believed things my friends didn’t understand or believe or want to talk about, that was frustrating for me. But apart from that, just lots of fighting and getting into trouble and I had the cane a few times too. I loved football and was in the school team, all in all I think I was Ok.
Brian Rademacher: Were you in school chorus or church choir?
Dicken: School choir yes I loved it, always sang loud at the back of the class.
Brian Rademacher: Did you take guitar lessons as a youth?
Dicken: Nope. I am left-handed too, so it was very hard to learn playing the other way... but never knew better in 1959 when I got my first right-handed guitar... but I was determined to make a go of it.
Brian Rademacher: What was the worst thing you did that your parents were not happy with?
Dicken: Blimey... Our Dad left us in 1960 never saw him again for years, so I kind of went off the rails a bit as a young teenager and was on conditional discharge when I was a juvenile, NOT a good thing. One day my brother, a friend and me were walking in our village past the then British Legion club and our friend said that there was some lemonade in crates over this fence. So over he went and after a while started passing them over to us, but kept passing orange and lemonade, I shouted for him to find Cherryade, then someone caught hold of my ear, it was the Landlord of the club who heard me shouting. Not Good! We went to court for pinching 14 bottles.
Brian Rademacher: What was the thing that you did your parents were the most proud of?
Dicken: Well my mum was real proud when we had our first hit record “Romeo”, my Dad was too; he is living in the USA.
Brian Rademacher: Dicken this has been a great pleasure for me and I really hope that people check out some of that great BROKEN HOME albums and other recordings you made. Would you like to say anything in conclusion?
Dicken: Sure I’d like to thank you and everyone else who has enjoyed and supported our music over the years... it’s great to know that some people get pleasure out of it. Hope we can please in the future too.