“The Who were big time regulars so much so that Keith Moon was (of course) barred from HERE”
Tell us about your background?
Way to start with a long question! I've lived all over the world throughout my life. Dad is British Mums a Kiwi, I've a brother that's three years older than me and a sister that's 9 years younger than me, and we all have different accents. We are pretty tight-knit for a family that is spread so far apart. I was born in the middle east but spent most of my younger years in New Zealand, but when I was 14 my parents immigrated to Texas where I lived until I was 22. It was there that I discovered counter culture and fell in love with the music that I love. I don't like to pigeon hole myself into any one genre but by and large loud, fast and angry pretty much sums up my music tastes (although still not exclusively). When I was 22 I moved here and fell into the pub trade as many people did, however I fell in love with it and haven't looked back since. I also met my wife in one of Soho's iconic venues which sadly closed its doors last week, and we have a two year old daughter.
How long have you been landlord of The Ship?
September the 3rd will be 1 wonderful, crazy year
Why do you think visitors in England and especially London are enamoured with the great British traditional pub?
It's what we are known for as a society and rightly so. Not many other countries, and I've been to a few, have this sort of social and community gathering point where they can meet for what ever reason they see fit. I know other places have bars and whatever but there is just something so earthy and real about the pub that it's quite hard to nail down succincntly. It's short for public house which in my mind says it all perfectly.
What does hospitality mean to you?
Simply put its all about making someone's day better. You don't win with everbody as I'm sure those of you that don't know from actual experience can probably guess. Specifically the pub trade should be about making everyone feel like they belong in that pub, in that specific moment, whether they have been there everyday for 50 years or stumbling upon your place for the first time, if they leave feeling better than they did when they came in you've won!
I know that this industry requires 90% of your time but what do you like to do when you do get some spare time?
You ain't wrong there it does take up a lot of time but if you didn't know that, you find out pretty quick. There's three things that mean more to me than anything, my wife, my daughter and music so I'd have to say either kicking it with my girls or making a dick of myself in the pit.
What is the best and worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My Old man once said to me 'The day you stop learning lessons in life boy, your toes will be pointed at the sky' I must have been like 15 or 16, so around half my life ago. Still learning lessons, still alive. The worst: and i hear it a lot: 'You're the boss you can do what you want'
Past or present who would you like to bust through The Ships doors and share a pint with?
Man, this is the definition of a tough question. I would like to say so many different people and their names whirring around my head. I recon I'd have to say Sid Viscious I'd like to see into his actual persona. He lived a serious punk rock life and it caught up to him at the ripe old age of 22. I reckon stories would come out of that encounter.
The Ship has a huge history with some very famous names gracing it, could you please tell us about it?
Yeah like you say the history is huge and really important and it would take for ever to tell you about it all but I'll have a crack. So back in the day there were two massively important buildings in the history of Soho super close to us. The first was the Marquee club which was at number 90 Wardour street, and through the decades you name a rock band, metal band or a punk band, they played there!. The Marquee (allegedly) lost their liquor licence for serving minors and so were not allowed to sell alcohol. Which was great for us and the Intrepid Fox (RIP) because it meant poeple needed to go the pub to get a drink before , after and in intervals. It also meant that the musicians would drink in the pub. One of the rooms in my flat above the pub was supposedly used as an extension of the Marquee dressing room, hence the story about Jimmy Hendrix falling down the stairs, or maybe even being helped to fall down the stairs. The Who were big time regulars so much so that Keith Moon was (of course) barred from here, but the reasons are shrouded in mystery and I've heard about 5 different versions of why so I'll let you do your research on that. The boys from the Clash drank in here during the punk era. Complete control was written either in the pub or in the alley just outside, depending again on who you believe. The other building was Trident studios, which still exists to be fair, although I think they mainly do voice overs in there now. Trident was THE place to record back in the day and I guess the biggest impact to our pub was David Bowie recording two of his albums there and of course drinking in the ship. The greatest thing for me is that the tradition lives on, Suggs From Madness still comes in a bit, Dennis Stratoon from Maiden has been in more than once in my time here and the list goes on.
What are your visions for The Ship going forward?
The ship has always been a haven to musicans and music lovers alike and the true vision is to capitalise on that. I haven't created anything here and I think it's important that I keep telling myself that. I am only here to bring the best out of an amazingly historical pub and enjoy the fact that a lot of my personal hero's drank here, but of course stay tuned for some exciting things in the next couple of years. I've already managed to put a four piece band on in a tiny little pub so there is going to be more of that coming, other than that I'll be bringing in some nice new beers ect and constantly working on what we can offer people, from the most traditional of lagers to the craziest haziest IPAS in order to have a beer that appeals to everyone.
More images below from Danny Woodstock Photographer