Gypsy’s Kiss / Steve Harris, David Smith And The Cart & Horses

Gypsy’s Kiss, at the top of the Iron Maiden family tree, celebrates their 50th anniversary in 2024. This is a band that is an essential cog in the Iron Maiden lineage wheel. Yesterday, MetalTalk covered the history of the Gypsy’s Kiss, with some details new to even the most die-hard fans. Today, we speak with band founder David Smith about the early days, along with guitarists Jonathan Morley and Fraser Marr, about the historical impact of the band.

And what better place to do this than the historic Cart & Horses, one of our MetalTalk supported venues where Gyspy’s Kiss will host a celebration party on 27 April 2024.

“We are standing on the old stage from the early ’70s,” David Smith said. “It was always an iconic music pub. I first came in here in 1971 as a child. It was bands Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and it was the place to go.

“The Cart & Horses was the place where Steve [Harris] and I went to watch other bands. We would think, wow, we wish we could play there one day, and we did 50 years ago. Where have all those years gone? It has always been a music pub in a very music area. It’s great to be back and great to be playing here again.”

David Smith, Gypsy's Kiss and MetalTalk's Monty Sewell
David Smith, Gypsy’s Kiss and MetalTalk’s Monty Sewell. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

MetalTalk were here with David Smith, Jonathan Morley and Fraser Marr to talk about the band’s history and the plans for their 50th anniversary celebrations. The band play a special show at The Cart & Horses on 27 April.

After a big refurbishment, The Cart & Horses has been revitalised. “It was a little bit more spit and sawdust in those days,” David said of the time he first played there. “Five deep at the bar trying to get a light and bitter. The pub has done a fantastic job of resurrecting those years and building a great venue downstairs. They not only put on bands that are old and have been around but young bands, too. It’s fantastic for the area. Huge praise to Kastro and his team.”

Johnathan talks about Gypsy’s Kiss playing The Cart & Horse more recently, upstairs before the big refurbish. “That’s our signed drum skin up there,” he says, “taking pride of place.”

In the formative time of Gypsy’s Kiss, there have always been rumblings of the band rehearsing at the Cart & Horses. “Steve, the band, and I lived really close to here,” David says. “It was the place we wanted to play. When we had a gig here, we would get here as early as we could so we could do a bit of last-minute rehearsal. Primarily, our rehearsals were in arches under railway bridges. It was not the sort of sophistication you might expect now.”

The Cart & Horses, Birthplace Of Iron Maiden.
The Cart & Horses, Birthplace Of Iron Maiden.

Over the last 50 years, the music industry has shape-shifted into something quite different. “I guess classic rock has always been classic rock,” David says. “What we try to do is take classic rock from our ’70s root and update it as much as we and our audience can bear. Great music is still great music, and we try to keep that tradition alive. That’s our mantra, in a way.

“When this band got together again, we were still playing some songs that we wrote in the ’70s. We put them in our set, but we’ve modernised them for sure. But we still think they stand up.”

“The best way I can describe it,” Fraser Marr says, “is that we played a festival last year, and there were two people that I met in the hotel the morning after. They said they didn’t like rock music. But they came along because their friend was in another band, and the first band they saw was Gypsy’s Kiss.

“They said they loved this. They loved the music because the songs Gypsy’s Kiss do now, there’s a twist. It’s not just a classic one. There is a twist, and I think that’s the hooks. It was catchy, and they could sing along straight away, and they loved that.

“I think that’s part of it from ’70s rock. It’s that kind of generic sort of thing, but I think we changed it a little bit.”

Gypsy's Kiss, Top Of The Iron Maiden Family Tree
Gypsy’s Kiss, Top Of The Iron Maiden Family Tree. Photo: Kinga Hendzel

“Audiences now expect entertainment, not just music,” David says. “So, what we try to do is to put on a show and entertain the audience. Play up a bit to what we are and where we come from. It’s about entertainment, not just music. The audiences are very selective.”

“There’s a bunch of people of our age in the audience,” Jonathan says of the festival show, “and then there’s a bunch of 20-year-olds down the front head banging as well. They came up to me afterwards and said, it’s like seeing a stadium rock band in a small venue.

“We’ve been playing for a long, long time in different guises. So, we’re used to entertaining the audiences. This band is where, hopefully, it all comes together after all those years. If you add up our number of years on stage, it’s probably 150 years worth of experience. I know it’s a lot, and it all comes out in this band.”

Gypsy’s Kiss released the album 74 in May 2023, which was seen as an important part of the whole story of Iron Maiden and the vision that David and Steve had in 1974. “The original Gypsy’s Kiss songs we still play are the essence of the old song,” David says. “But they sound very different because these guys have modernised them. They are different because an audience helps you change them, and music evolves.

“Great bands out there take their old material, and they make it sound the same, but they somehow improve upon it. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

How was the process of taking those songs and putting them out now?

“With the songs that I wrote in the ’70s, these guys, were very kind. They didn’t say it’s not going to work. It was a bizarre process to take these 40/46 year-old songs, give them to other guys and say, what do you think about this? And then turn them into things I’m really proud of.”

Endless Pitt was on the album, and three earlier Gypsy’s Kiss songs were released as singles. “The first song we did, we did it here,” Jonathan says. “We are talking about the history. David put the band back together for a festival called Burr Fest, which was a tribute for a fundraiser for Clive Burr. Influence was the first one. It’s not got a lot of chords to it.”

“That’s a bit harsh,” David laughs. “That’s all I knew.”

How does it feel to you to play that song live now? Does David have a moment where he steps back and goes, Wow? “Absolutely,” he says. “I still remember the writing process of it the first time that it was in full. It’s a different song now. But I still think, wow. Who would have thought standing where we are, 50 years on, and to be playing that again here? A great moment.

“The first time we played in here in 1974, the fee for the four-piece band was £8, and we thought we did well. It was a reasonably busy night. Would I come back 50 years later and earn £8? I don’t know.”

On 27 April, David and the boys will be back at The Cart & Horses, and MetalTalk will be there, too. “This is to me as a homecoming gig,” David says. “Every time we walk in here, it’s like coming home. I love it here. Let’s do it again any time.

The evening will not just be Gypsy’s Kiss. “We have assembled a guest list and some other musicians from the Iron Maiden family to work with them. So it’s going to be a great night.”

We can’t underestimate how nice it will feel. It must be quite monumental. “It is,” David smiles. “I was born and lived a mile up the road from here. I used to walk to this pub to watch bands and thought about playing here. Here I am back again after 50 years. It’s a very iconic venue and makes me feel very emotional whenever I come in here. So I can’t wait.

“This place has a special place in my heart, and I think it does for these guys here. I love it.”

Gypsy's Kiss, Top Of The Iron Maiden Family Tree
Gypsy’s Kiss, Top Of The Iron Maiden Family Tree

For the others, with just six years in the band, they still feel that energy when Gypsy’s Kiss plays. It must be fantastic to be a part of that. “It was overwhelming from day one,” Fraser said. “You really sense that. I didn’t really know what I was getting into. Jonathan said to David, get me in. I thought, hang on a minute. This is something big with the Maiden connection. So, yes, it is, as you said, monumental.”

“Burr Fest, the first gig we did, you could see there were a lot of Iron Maiden connections there,” Jonathan said. “But for some reason, people really looked after us and wanted us to play. But then coming here, which wasn’t too long after that, and seeing all the photographs and things like that, it’s a really historic place. I’m so glad it stayed open because I think it’s quite difficult to run a live music venue. We wish them all the best.

“If you’re going to get any photos, if this place is full, it’s dark, and it’s sweaty. It’s fantastic. It’s just what you want.”

That’s how we like our venues at MetalTalk. The nitty gritty right up close

“Because we remember the old Marquee,” Fraser says, “which was the classic. That was like the template for clubs to come where you stand too long in one spot and you’re stuck to the floor. Dark, and it smelled, and it was horrible. Lemmy was always by the bar. It was awesome.”

“Just for the record,” David says, “The Cart & Horses isn’t dark or smelly. The toilets are very clean here.”:

“The marquee wasn’t like that,” Fraser says. “But yeah, what they’ve done here is amazing.”

That is where the roots of rock and roll lay in those dark, dingy, dirty places. This was where it spawned from. “Absolutely,” David says. “Your feet don’t stick to the floor anymore. But the beer is still nice.”

27apr7:00 pm11:00 pmGypsy's Kiss 50th Anniversary Plus Very Special Guests | The Cart & HorsesThe Cart & Horses

Talking to the three here from Gypsy’s Kiss, you sense the music is in their bones and in their blood. There’s no losing the music.

“I speak for the whole band,” David says. “We’re as enthusiastic about live performance and recording good music as I’ve ever been, as we’ve ever been. We are passionate about bringing good music to people, and we just hope they like it. That’s all we can do. Hope they like it. And so far, it’s gone OK.”

“I stood on this stage as a 19-year-old wondering if I’ll be back here in 50 years time doing it again,” David says. “I did doubt it. But here we are.”

Tickets for 27 April at The Cart & Horses are available from here. You can read more about The Cart & Horses, visit here.

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