Gary Shail Interview

Gary Shail as Oscar Drill in Shock Treatment

    On July 7th, 2005, Gary Shail shared some wonderful insights into the making of Shock Treatment in an interview by Donny O'Bryan of The Shock Treatment Network.  Here's an edited transcript of what he had to say...
Shock Treatment Network: I'm thrilled that I found you, and I look forward to this interview.  Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule.  And thanks for agreeing to do the interview.

Gary Shail:  How brilliant that you contacted me.  Of course I'll do an interview for your "Shock" site.  I found The Shock Treatment Network and I was intrigued.  I'm amazed at all the stuff about the film that is on the web.  It brought back a lot of great memories.

STN:  When did filming begin and end in your memory?  I heard filming lasted 5 weeks, but I'm not sure if that is accurate.  How much of the filming were you there for?

GS:  I'll be honest.  The whole of the 80's are a bit of a blur.  So I'm not sure how long the filming took.  All movies take over your life when you make 'em but on completion, you try to get back to normality as soon as possible.  It seemed longer than 5 weeks but when you are young, everything moves slowly.

STN:  How did you hear about the casting of Shock Treatment?

GS:  I was asked by my agent, of course.  I'd seen "The Rocky Horror Show" and at the time I just wanted to make more movies.

STN:  What was the audition like?

GS:  I had to go to Richard Hartley's house.  I got very drunk and sang "Breakin' Out" at his piano.  I really liked him and had a really good day out.

STN:  So you play piano?   I have wondered if you really played the guitar in Shock Treatment... (referring to "Me of Me" song)

GS:  I do play guitar.  Also piano, bass and drums!!

STN:  Very cool.  Did you really sing or did you lipsinc to another pre-recorded voice...?

GS:  It is me singing.

STN:  So what was the recording process like for the soundtrack?

GS:  I celebrated my 21st birthday on the day that I recorded "Breakin' Out."  Everybody was at the studio and we got really smashed on champagne.  It was really me singing on all the tracks and I was involved in all the aspects of the recording -- believe it or not.

STN:  Yeah, I heard there was a cassette tape with backing tracks, made from your recording session for the soundtrack.

GS:  I still have a cassette tape of the original backing track for "Breakin' Out" -- Recorded on the 10th November 1980 at 145 Wardour St., B.M.S. Studios London.  It is still in the original box.  It also has the music for "Anyhow Anyhow" on it.

STN:  You kept it?!  That is so cool.  You keep anything else from the film, like costumes or props?

GS:  I stole everything I could lay my hands on!!

STN:  Is Shock Treatment's soundtrack the only recording you've made?

GS:  No, I recorded loads of stuff.  My first record was called "Blown It".  It was released on Elton John's "Rocket" label in 1980.

STN:  So do you collect a lot of your career things (videos, records)?

GS:  I don't collect anything at all, but some things just stay with you.  Like the backing tape for "Breakin' Out".  I ahven't seen it in years, but when you mentioned it, I looked in a drawer and there it was.

STN:  Which do you like better: singing or acting?

GS:  I think music will always be my first love -- corny but true.  After acting, I went into advertising and writing music for film and commercials.  And now I'm producing albums.  I just finished recording in Dubai.  I'm recording at the moment.  A lot of soul and funk.  But who knows.  I might go back to acting if the right role came along.

STN:  You've got a few movies on your resume...

GS:  The most famous movie I'm in is Quadrophenia, written by Pete Townsend and The Who.  The last film I made was Jack The Ripper in 1992, starring Michael Caine and Jane Seymore.  I was in Give My Regards To Broadstreet, which was amazing.  I got to meet and work with the best band on the planet.  The list of star players was amazing and I got to hang out with the "who's who of Rock Royalty"...Paul McCartney, John Paul Jones, Ringo, Louis Johnson, Chris Spedding, Dave Edmunds, Shalamar, Etc etc  You can post a picture from it to your site.  It's an extremely rare photo of me and Paul McCartney on the set.

(Editor note: This is the photo that Gary Shail mailed to The Shock Treatment Network.  Thank you Gary!)

STN:  What was your country's reaction to Shock Treatment?

GS:  I don't think this country (U.K) is aware of Shock Treatment at all!!  It always amazes me that there is still so much interest in this movie in America.  I think it flies over British people's heads completely.

STN:  Did you get the chance to see it in the theaters?

GS:  I've never seen the film ever in the cinema and I don't have a video copy.  I gave my copy of the soundtrack to my son Ben.

STN:  Oh, you've got a son?

GS:  One son, Ben, who is 19.  And an ex-wife Lindsey.  We're still friends.

STN:  Have you ever encountered a Shock Treatment fan?

GS:  Not really.

STN:  We're really gentle people...I promise!  Sometime you should visit the USA.

GS:  I've been all over the United States.  New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Memphis, etc

STN:  If there were some sort of convention for Shock Treatment, would you consider attending it as a guest?

GS:  That would be real fun, I think.

STN:  When you auditioned for Shock Treatment, did you know it was a sequel of sorts to Rocky Horror?

GS:  Yes, I knew it was going to be some sort of sequel.  I'd never seen the movie but I'd seen the show live on stage.  All my friends at the time couldn't believe that I'd been asked to be in such a "classic" but to be honest, at the time, it really wasn't a big deal for me at all.  I was far too concerned with being the perfect "punk rocker".

STN:  What specific memories do you have about making the film that fans might find interesting...?

GS:  It was such a bizarre set up that to single out one specific moment of craziness is just too hard to put into one sound bite.  Something crazy happened on a daily basis.

STN:  Were you particularly close to anyone on the set?

GS:  Oh yes!!!  I met Sinitta...

STN:  How did you and the remaining "Bits" get along?

GS:  We were like a real band anyway.  Dave John, who played the drums, was in my real band at the time and all the others -- Gary Martin, Donald Waugh, Claire Toeman and Sinitta Renet fitted perfectly as "The Bits".  We nicknamed Gary Martin "Hunky" 'cos he had so much muscle!

STN:  Do you still stay in touch with them?

GS:  I haven't seen anybody in years now.  Gary Martin doing voice overs.  Sinitta got married.  And Dave, who I was at school with, is now living in Hollywood.  However, I have had the odd "mad night out" with Richard O'Brien.

STN:  What's your favorite Shock Treatment song?

GS:  Looking for Trade !!!  --Great song.

STN:  Since you were so involved in the film, do you remember anything that might have been filmed but landed on the cutting room floor?

GS:  A lot of stuff was cut.  But that always happens.  I'm just glad it wasn't all my stuff.

STN:  Did you get to talk much with costume designer, Sue Blane?

GS:  Yes.  Me and Sue were great pals.  And I loved all my costumes ... and stole the lot !!!!

STN:  Who is the uncredited make-up artist that applied powder to Bert Schnick's face and walked around with the wardrobe mistress (portrayed by Imogen Claire, who recently passed away)?  I've asked several people involved with the film, but nobody seems to know her name.

GS:  She was a real make up artist from the crew.  And we dragged her into every scene that we could.  It was a bit of a joke at the time.  I'm sure she'd love to know that she is now such a big star...!  I'm sorry, I can't remember her name.

STN:  At the end of the film, you and the bits open the bay door to let Brad's car drive away.  But before the car exits, I noticed that you jumped onto the hood of the car.  It was more like a flip.  Was that you or a stunt double?

GS:  It was me.  I used to jump on loads of cars when I was 21.  So it was no problem.

STN:  What were the rehearsals like for your scenes?  I imagine there were some blocking or choreography for some numbers.

GS:  I did all my own choreography, I seem to remember.  I'm sure someone was supposed to do it but I think it all came natural at the time.

STN:  So that makes me wanna ask you: which one of your scenes was your favorite to do?

GS:  Without a doubt, the "Breakin' Out" song.  The audience really got into it and loved it when I had to back-flip over and over again to get the shot right.  Those were the days!

STN:  And now I'd like to end with a few general questions about you and your life.  Okay?

GS:  Sure.

STN:  Have you done any theater?

GS:  Yes, loads of theatre work up and down the country.  It's the only real training you get.

STN:  You said you recorded the Shock Treatment soundtrack in the studio on your 21st birthday.  Care to reveal your age or birthdate?

GS:  God, I just realized how old I am.  I was born on the 10th November, 1959.  So work it out for yourself.

STN:  (laughing) No problem.  Did you have any difficult roles? Or was every role fun?

GS:  I don't really remember any role giving me any difficulty.  But I did find learning lots of lines boring.

STN:  What actors or directors have you worked with that are among your favorites?  Was there any that you were actually star-struck to work with?

GS:  Everybody in "Give My Regards To Broadstreet".  And I wrote the music for a Ken Russell movie once and that was a bit daunting, to say the least.

STN:  Is there anything that you haven't done that you would LOVE to do?

GS:  I wish I'd learned to fly a plane.

STN:  What do you do in your downtime?

GS:  Read, paint and party...!

STN:  How have you been these days?

GS:  I've been feeling quite calm and cool at the moment, dispite all the bombs and trouble in the world.  We just get on with life, don't we?

STN:  One last thing.  Could you mail me an autograph for my collection?

GS:  No problem.

STN:  Thanks for the interview, Gary.

GS:  Good luck with everything and stay in touch...