Sound of the Suburb are a high-energy bunch of rock veterans from East Finchley and Hampstead Garden Suburb who have just released their self-titled debut album, a mix of rock, psychedelia, folk ballads, easy listening, not-so-easy listening and rockabilly. Rosy Moorhead sits down with lead guitarist Chris Berlingieri and talks dancing on the table, pork scratchings and The Partridge Family.

Who’s in the band?

I’m 51 and originally from New York, Rafael Landicho is also 51 and comes from Manila in the Philippines, he’s on lead vocals, Steve Phillips, bass, is 53, and originally from Melbourne, Martin Ross, on acoustic rhythm guitar, is from Leeds and South Africa, he’s 51. And Mike Solomon, on drums, is 46. But don’t let our ages fool you – we’re exceptionally lively when we play gigs!

When and where did you meet?

We met in 2005. Our kids were all going to the same school and the music teacher there wanted to start a band with parents who were musicians. No-one thought we’d still be going strong eight years later, but here we are.

What’s the story behind the sound?

When we originally started we were playing only cover songs but, as some of us had written original songs in previous bands, we eventually started writing our own songs for this band, and eventually recorded an album. The sound is a mix of our diverse influences –’50s rockabilly, ‘70s glam and punk, ‘80s US bands like The Replacements, ‘90s British bands like Suede, pop, R’n’B, more current bands like Muse, folk, and hard rock.

What’s your current favourite song to perform live?

Probably Radar Love by Golden Earring. It’s a great song but not many bands play it, so when we start the song off the people who know it are surprised and thrilled to hear it.

What are your fans like?

They’re mostly of similar ages to us and living in north London, as that’s where we play most of our gigs. However, our music is really high energy so when we play live we also get young kids and teenagers really getting into it. We played a particularly hot gig at Madden’s pub in East Finchley one time where the place was packed – people dancing on the tables, dancing with the band members on stage, and one rather large fellow who nearly had a heart attack at the end of the set. He was fine after a few pints to calm him down.

How do you write your songs?

For me it usually starts with a guitar riff or chord pattern, and the feel of the music helps to determine the lyrics. My songs are either fun rockers or slightly bittersweet ones about missed opportunities or the passing of time.

When did you take up the guitar?

I never played growing up. I bought my first guitar for $12 at a garage sale the day before I went to university. It was a piece of junk, but I persisted and taught myself the basics and really enjoyed it. I’ve still never taken a lesson – hopefully that’s not too obvious! I thought it would be a good way to meet girls.

What was the first album you ever bought?

I’d like to say something cool, but it was probably something by The Partridge Family!

What’s on your rider at gigs?

Pints and pork scratchings.

What is the most rock and roll thing you’d like to do or buy?

Getting a roadie would be a nice luxury – those amps are bloody heavy!

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