Wock this way! Ridiculous frontman’s rock ’n’ roll odyssey
The man behind Hampstead Village Voice reveals how all-star band featuring Culture Club drummer Jon Moss, bassist Pete Noone and Erran Baron Cohen came together
04 May, 2018 — By Róisín Gadelrab
Sebastian Wocker and Ridiculous will play the Dublin Castle on June 13
READERS may recognise the name of Sebastian – or Basti – Wocker as the man behind satirical quarterly Hampstead Village Voice.
They may be less familiar with his rock ’n’ roll past as frontman of ’90s band Yeah – and particularly his latest venture into the Camden music scene with all-star band Ridiculous, whose first-ever gig proper will be at the Dublin Castle on June 13.
Wocker has teamed up with long-time friend and former bandmate Jon Moss, better known as the drummer for Culture Club, bassist extraordinaire Pete Noone, and keyboardist and trumpeter Erran Baron Cohen (brother of Sacha) to form this indie band.
Wocker grew up in Well Walk, Hampstead, the son of two German journalists.
“When dad left home, there were all these Irish hippies moving in,” he said. “Mum would let rooms out for £10 a week and she took in all the waifs and strays. We had a whole hippie scene, the neighbours were more posh and conservative. We were a bit wild for them, had a lot of parties which, I don’t know how good that was for me, as a child I saw adults doing things – drink and drugs – that I ended up doing.
“The Dubliners played in the living room, amazing Irish bands would come over, there was always music around. Dad was a German music critic. You just sort of get dragged into it.”
Wocker’s big attraction to rock ’n’ roll came at age of 14 when visiting Amsterdam with his mother and some friends.
“We were staying in this one-star hotel and these four or five guys stumbled through the door with American accents,” he said. “They looked like a cross between New York Dolls and Rolling Stones. I thought, that’s a rock band, so I started singing a Beatles song in the reception and they started doing harmonies and we hit it off. Then one guy, Chris Robertson, said ‘we’re doing a gig, come and see us’, so we went and it turned out they were supporting The Hollies.
“They said, ‘come with us [on tour]’. I think my mum had a thing with the lead singer so we went with them to Hamburg and Berlin and started hanging out.”
He added: “Then I really got into rock and roll. I dropped out of school. We went to New York, mum was having a thing with Chris and I loved him, he was like a dad I didn’t have. I was 15 and girls would come up to me and say, ‘you’re so cute’. I was more used to Hampstead Comprehensive.”
Wocker later became frontman of Yeah, which had some success in Germany but never quite broke into the big time. An old friend then offered him a contract songwriting for Chrysalis in Germany. Sadly, it was not renewed and he wound up back in Hampstead where he started Hampstead Village Voice.
On one recent Spanish sojourn, Jon Moss called him: “He said, ‘I’ve been talking to Peter Noone about you and your songs and thought about getting a band together’,” said Wocker. Like all good fledgling bands, they headed off to rehearse in Jon’s garage. Satisfied with an early session, a strange encounter outside Mani’s Café in Perrin’s Walk, Hampstead, transformed the three-piece into a foursome.
“We were larking around, enthusiastic about being in a band after a good rehearsal. There was a guy sitting at another table giving us what I thought were serious looks, but it turns out were inquisitive looks.”
The man asked if they were in a band and handed over his card saying he wanted to join a band. The card gave his name as Erran Baron Cohen. “‘Are you Borat’s brother?, I asked’,” said Wocker. “‘Actually I am, he said…’”
Soon Erran was playing keys and trumpet in Ridiculous. The band play The Dublin Castle for their first gig.