Wow, it's Bow Wow Wow
By Linda Laban
Friday, July 16, 2004

When Bow Wow Wow plays the Middle East in Cambridge tomorrow, the veteran (and hitherto pretty much defunct) '80s English band will have a new drummer in tow.

cw-1Nothing astounding there, given that the band's original drummer Dave Barbarossa has commitments in England with his band Chicane.

However, the replacement is notable: As soon as Adrian Young finishes the current No Doubt tour (which is rumored to be the band's last), he joins Bow Wow Wow's original singer Annabella Lwin and bassist Leigh Gorman for the band's first tour in six years - only the second since its split in 1983.

Despite Young's long tenure manning the ska/punk/rock sound of No Doubt, he had to knuckle down over a five-week period while Gorman taught him Bow Wow Wow's integral Burundi and Latin drum sound.

``We had a bit of a jam to show him the trick of the Bow Wow Wow drum technique,'' Gorman said.

``Dave, the original drummer, would call it `building a shed,' '' Gorman said of the band's polyrhythmic pummel. ``That's just Dave putting himself down; he's a brilliant musician. It's really Afro-Latin drumming but played harder, with bigger sticks. Adrian picked it up straight away. He's a total pro and a good laugh.''

The genesis of Bow Wow Wow's sound dates back to Gorman,Barbarossa and late guitarist Matthew Ashman's tenure in Adam and the Ants. Like many musical endeavors in London during the late '70s and early '80s, Bow Wow Wow was the result of Malcolm McLaren's intervention.

``Malcolm came along one day just after I joined the band,'' Gorman said, referring to his time as an Ant. ``He said, `Adam, you're rubbish; your music's rubbish. You're known as the fag end of punk rock.' ''

Under McLaren's advice, the three split from Adam Ant, who became briefly famous, and formed Bow Wow Wow with the teenaged Lwin.

By 1983, McLaren was out of the picture, and Bow Wow Wow was heading for disaster after a rough recording and touring schedule.

``Matthew was going blind with diabetes and didn't know it,'' Gorman said. ``We did the last show in upstate New York, and he walked off the front of the stage, fell 20 feet onto concrete and fractured his arm. He had to go to hospital; we had no insurance. The tour was canceled; we lost money. The doctor said that, had we continued, Matthew would have been dead within three weeks.''

Ashman survived until the diabetes eventually killed him in 1995.

cw-4``When you're 23 or 24, you don't know any better,'' Gorman said. ``I got glandular fever mononucleosis, and Matthew became diabetic, and we both ended up in hospital at the same time. Our last gig, we were both carried onstage by people who didn't care about our welfare. It was too much for us physically.''

Gorman managed to continue making a living through music, notably as a producer in the '90s, helming hits such as Soho's ``Hippie Chick,'' and scoring movies, the latest of which is this fall's ``Wimbledon,'' starring Kirsten Dunst.

Speaking of tennis: On a recent trip to No Doubt's production rehearsal, Gorman said that his new drummer, Young, who is notorious for getting naked on stage, was wearing a tiny tennis skirt.

``He's confident in his sexuality, and he doesn't care what people think,'' Gorman said.

``He's a pretty wild character, and that's why we like him. It's just that he gets incredibly hot on stage. Especially in the small clubs that we will be playing. You've just got to take your clothes off.''