The Keytones

For years, I’m a fan of the English band The Keytones. I’ve followed them closely in the eighties (a groupie I wouldn’t say so), but I was pretty fanatic.
The Keytones formed in 1983: Jim Knowler, Cliff Marshall and Jarrod Coombes.
Jim and Jarrod had been playing together for just over a year with Jim’s cousin Andy Knowler; they started out rehearsing at Andy’s house as Jim and Andy had already been playing together for a few years.
They used to play lots of early Elvis, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran songs and were called The Rocking Trio.
They began playing in small pubs and the first time they went abroad was to France, to play as a last minute, stand in band. At this time in the 1980s there were a lot of rockers and the music was quite heavy and no one had heard of them.
After they played that day, they met some Dutch people who became their closest friends, still are to this day – and were invited to play in Holland, then Germany and proceeded to have a nine year career playing many, many gigs in these and other countries.
After Cliff left The Keytones they searched for a new drummer and found Peter Bowers who was with them for a couple of years, after which they invited Shaun O’Keeffe to join them. Shaun had been playing for many years in the Rock and Roll group Red Hot but made the move to The Keytones and was to stay with them from then on.
After about nine years Jim and Shaun found they wanted to do something new and this suited Jarrod too. Jim and Shaun went on to gain good musical knowledge with their new band, while Jarrod joined a jazz band for six years which really helped him playing and musical awareness.
They are all now in a group called Hullabaloo which is a bit more jazz orientated – they now have a sax player and enjoy playing swing and vocal harmony. You can check them out at
Jim and Jarrod also have a passion for the music of Django Reinhardt and early jazz. They have a band called The Jazz Police that you can see at
Since 2006 they’ve decided it would be good to play some gigs as The Keytones as it’s been about 25 years since Jim and Jarrod first started playing music together and they would like to have some fun playing some of those great songs; playing great music for music’s sake.
Jim was so kind to answer a few questions:

Do you have any plans in 2011; it is after all your 25th anniversary.
Well our 25th anniversary was officially 2008 as The Keytones started in 1984….but we did play a concert at The Cruise Inn in 2007 to celebrate me and Jarrod playing together for 25 years….wow! now I feel really old!!!…or should I say ‘echt oud’….;-)

You’ve been touring all around the word; which audience do you like the most?
I think the audiences in Europe have always been tremendously enthusiastic and supportive of us….and we really appreciate that.

Me and Jarrod

Is there a different between the audience back in the 80’s and the audience today?
In the 80’s the rock n’ roll and rockabilly revival was fresh and new so there were a lot more people into it….the scene was a lot bigger…I think with the commercial success of bands like The Stray Cats, Matchbox, The Jets it really helped to get people into the style of music that they might not have heard otherwise. So what we need now is for a new rock n’ roll/rockabilly band to have commercial success and then it would really boost the interest again.

Are you still enjoy playing after all this time?
We all still really enjoy playing music….and we feel very lucky and privileged that we can do it professionally… We have a working band ‘Hullabaloo’ to play parties, wedding…also Jarrod and I play a jazz duo ‘The Jazz Police’….and then we can go back to our roots and play rock n’ roll/rockabilly with The Keytones….so you see we have every style of music that we like covered.

What’s your most favourite song to play?
It’s very difficult to pick one song because we play many different styles…I love to play the vocal songs because of the harmony sound…and I love to play rockabilly because of the energy or power….If I had to pick one song I’d say ‘Mr Sandman’…because for me it is really fun to jam over the chord changes on guitar..

Is there any place you would really like to play?
We would love to play in USA or Austrailia….but really anywhere is fun, we just love to travel…and you just can’t beat travelling and playing music…On 15th November 2010 we are going to tour Japan, so we are really looking forward to that!

Is there a chance we can expect another new CD?
I’m not sure when we will record a new CD, we’re so busy….but I hope so.

Do you remember an funny incident during a performance?
I couldn’t think of a very funny incident right now…but maybe I’ll think of one later

Who are you’re favourite artists?
For me it has mainly been guitar players, Cliff Gallup, Jimmy Bryant…and of course Django Reinhardt….We all like Elvis Presley of course….who doesn’t..? 😉

Do you have a tip for new coming artists?
We were in Spain recently at the High Rockabilly and we saw a band called The Caezers. They are all really young around 18 years old, with a lot of energy in their live show…I think they will do well….reminded us of the Keytones…a long time ago! 😉

How do you see yourself in 10 years?
Well as long as we’re still healthy and people still want to come to see us play, then I hope that we will still be playing music….I can’t imagine us doing anything else…

What’s your greatest wish for the future?
Same as the last question really…I just wish that we can carry on playing music, visiting new countries meeting new people and having fun!

Is there anything you would like to tell?
We would like to thank our fans for being so supportive of us over the years….and for remembering us (those that do) from the 80’s and still enjoying the music…we really appreciate it thank you….here’s to the next 25 years!..Cheers Jim xx