A short e-chat with Giuseppe "Joe" de Biase from TAXI.
(Via several e-mails Jan./Feb. 2014)
I came up with the name TAXI, ‘cause we had one hour to decide between Dingo or Platipuss. I think TAXI is a lot better, don’t you? Didn't get a penny for that either...
How did you guys ever become involved with the Mueller/Hunt/Frechter trinity?
Mueller was part of the MCA company, he ploughed money into the band. And the other guys were part of the package, we had no choice. We were just interested in recording records and playing live shows, for us it was heaven (and) we didn’t take any notice about the financial side. It was a big mistake, but what to expect from seventeen and eighteen year old lads who have just got a recording contract? It was great fun for us, but the music buissnes has a real bad side to it. You never get a good slice of the cake. I remember my first pay cheque from the records we sold; it cost more to change the bloody thing. (I) think that explains quite a lot..
Were you allowed to play on the records?
Yes, we were allowed to play on the records, apart from some dubbing of violins and other added instruments which we didn’t like. But like I said, we had no choice. We did get ripped off good and proper, but we were kids. It’s a shame because you get used in a real bad way.
I think the first few bars of “Gonna be a Star” sound a lot like the beginning of “Holidays in the Sun” by the Sex Pistols. Was that intentional?
No, I don’t think so, ‘cause I don’t even know the Sex Pistols song.
I saw an early photo of the band playing a Polish pub with an accordion (!) player. Is that how you guys startet out?
Yes, that’s how we started many years ago. I was nine or ten when my brother wanted to learn to play guitar and my dad wanted me to play the squeeze box (acordion). It took off from there. We did (play) a lot of the clubs later up and down England, British legions, labour clubs. I was thinking of writing a book. You never know, I may do (that).
I was wondering why your records weren't released in England...or elsewhere (except for Germany, that is)? I think for instance Japan would've loved TAXI.
Yes, it would have been great to go to Japan, I think things would have taken off. Also if we would have gone to Italy, being all Italian decents it would have created interest. I really think that the management were very mediocre. All I can say it was a real shame. We had our hearts set on making it. When we were gigging up and down England that's all we ever talked about, tours, making records, fans. No talk about money, just playing. Like all bands, it’s just the same old story. At the end you get it where it hurts most. (I’ve) seen many weird goings on while in Germany after the concerts. Sometimes I’d just get a taxi and go back to the hotel. Some nice experiences as well. When you would see a dedicated fan turn up to quite a lot of the concerts and have no money to get back home I would help with money so she could get the train, bus or whatever to get back home.
Like so many teen bands at the time (Kenny, Buster, Slik, Rosetta Stone, etc.) TAXI was clearly touted as the "Next Bay City Rollers". Did that ever bug you?
Yes, there was talk about us being the next Bay City Rollers, (but) like I said before we didn’t think much of what the press or whoever had to say. All we wanted to do was play on stage.
Am I maybe confusing you with another band from circa '77, but didn't Linda McCartney photograph TAXI for the German teen magazine Pop?
Yes, Linda McCartney did photograph us at De Lane Lea Studios, Wembley. We were recording and Paul McCartney was recording (there) too. I actually got to see Paul and got his autograph. (It was a) great experience.
By the last album, “I’m the One” (1979), the Polcaro brothers and Ross Burgess had left the band and Steve Clarke (Bass) and an unknown (His name?) drummer had joined. This left only you and your brother Paul/Paolo as the only remaining original members of the band. Was that the beginning of the end for TAXI?
When Phil and Pasquale left, yes, I can honestly say it was the end. There was a lot of friction with the band, no money, not getting anywhere. I don’t want to talk about the other guys who replaced Phil, Pasquale and Ross.
I would love to see other pictures of the band. Any ideas how to go about finding them?
So if anyone out there happens to have any photographs/magazine clippings of TAXI, please do write in and share them with us. Many thanks!
See also: TAXI