The Streetwalkers are a relatively new band as bands go these days, but buried beneath the name lies a wealth of experience, stretching back into the middle to late Sixties. Roger Chapman (vocals extraordinaire) and Charlie Whitney (guitars) are veterans of Family, a British prog-rock band that never quite clicked in the States, while Bob Tench first came to light as the lead singer with the Jeff Beck Group II. These three, together with Jon Plotel (bass) and Nicko (drums and percussion), became The Streetwalkers in 1975 after Chappo and Whitney had released a studio Streetwalkers album in late 1974 with lots of friends. Their second album “Red Card” has just been released and reaction to both the 1p and the live show has been increasingly enthusiastic.
RATW recently spent some time with Roger Chapman after the Streetwalker’s final gig of their first U.S. tour; Chappo’s never been known for his quiet deportment on stage, as he seems to favor tambourine destruction on a large scale (for a further description of some of Roger’s deviant behavior on stage, check out the New York section of ‘The Word Around Rock’ on page 5). Surprisingly, though, we found Roger to be a thoughtful, quiet man off-stage, a singer who knows both his limitations and, perhaps more importantly, his strengths.
RATW: Roger, what would you do if you didn’t have a whole stage to work with?
ROGER: I don’t know, I’d carry on regardless, you know? It never really worries me that much because everything in its way becomes like a prop, even if you haven’t got any room .. . there isn’t really that much forethought anyway. I react very strangely to the surroundings; I still get off in one way or another, unless we have a bad night .. .
RATW: Is music a way for you to work out your frustrations as the world’s oldest delinquent?
ROGER: Yeah, yeah, I’m sure it is, you know . . . when we stopped workin’ in Family, I was at home, not really doin’ anything like bein’ on stage. You get a bit tense and frustrated, and you give your old lady a bad time . . . you give everybody else a bad time (laughs) .. .
RATW: Do you think Family ever got a fair shake as
far as this country was concerned?
ROGER: No, not at all, but that’s not from my own point of view nor the public’s. That’s from the people who control the business in between who really stepped on us, you know, so no, no we never had a fair shake because there were certain people who never let us have a fair shake.
RATW: How important is the audience to you as a singer when you’re performing? Do you rely on them for your inspiration?
ROGER: I don’t rely on them ‘cuz basically I rely on myself, but in a way I rely on them every night; you know, like tonight, we started off and it was nice and we got that nice warm response from the audience. Then you warm to them and you get better and better . . . I like talkin’ to an audience, and I like reactin’ to an audience . . . but I think it works the same for them as well. I realize I must be pretty strong on stage, and if they get off on me and vice versa, then we’re just bouncin’ it backwards and forwards.
RATW: Does having a second vocalist of the stature of
a Bob Tench affect the way you sing?
ROGER: Oh, yeah, I mean it helps you not just on stage, it helps you to learn about singin’. It’s like we can bounce off each other, and you learn different techniques, because he’ll do something an’ I’ll go “Oooay”, and I do things and he’s the same. It’s great—I’ve always liked singers in the band; through Family, I’ve always liked other singers, and there was a period through Family where I really got pissed off because I was the only singer in