Saint Dom & the Sinful
Sinful were originally called Sven-69 & formed in 1983. That came from a name of a sleazy porn shop in Newcastle upon Tyne. The band quickly developed musically and stylistically. A lot of their influences came from 1980’s neo rockabilly bands like, The Stray Cats, Shakin’ Pyramids & The Polecats. They re-christened themselves as – Sinful. This new name suited their image & style of music.
The first line-up was formed whilst at St. Mary’s High School, Longbenton. Newcastle upon Tyne.
Dominic Malia sang and played the acoustic guitar. Dom taught his cousin – Phil Metcalf to play bass guitar. And Stephen (Jacko/Figgy) Jackson played the drums standing up just like Slim Jim Phantom.
Dom remembers Jacko learning drum rolls on the cloakroom bench, whilst Dom strummed on one of the acoustic guitars borrowed from the high school music room. That moment was the spark that ignited the idea to form a band.
Jacko had natural rhythm, & took to the drums easily. In fact his drum rolls and fills really complimented Dom’s guitar riffs & arrangements.
Russell Wright went to watch Sinful play their first ever gig at The Banqueting Hall, Whitley Bay in November 1983. This happened to be Phil Metcalf’ last gig. He was leaving to joining a punk band. Russell had been impressed by Dom’s strong tuneful voice, & their rockabilly style. He had heard they were looking for a new bass player. So he set about asking a mate for a telephone number for Dominic Malia.
Dom, Jacko and Russell all shared the same musical influences. They were all huge fans of the Stray Cats. As the first conversation transpired Dom & Russell had both recently travelled to the Lyceum Ballroom in London see the Stray Cats on their Rant ‘n’ Rave Tour.
Russell was really a guitarist, he didn’t even own a bass. Initially he had to borrow his mates black Vox Bass just to get a start in the band. Russell eventually went out & bought a Fretless Precision Bass. He said it was the closest sounding instrument to a double bass. Dom was still playing a cheap acoustic guitar. He’d painted “Gretsch” on the headstock for a laugh. And when they played live Dom had to mic up his acoustic guitar. This guitar came to a bitter end when Dom got frustrated writing a song. He ended up smashing it to pieces in his bedroom at his parents house. He claims he’s never had a problem writing a song since that occurrence. And that he couldn’t afford to smash up any more guitars.
One of their first gigs with this new line-up was a 3 week residency at a venue called Mingles Night Club, Whitley Bay. Professional glossy Sinful poster were printed. Then band plastered the walls of Whitley Bay with them.
Prior to the gig Sinful rehearsed 2/3 times a week. They used Dom’s Parents house – 59, Rothbury Tce, in Heaton. Or the old damp & cold practice rooms at Desert Sounds in Felling. Failing that they even practiced in Russell’s parents Caravan in the back garden, Whitley Bay. For Dom’s 17th birthday in 1983 his parents bought him his first electric guitar. This was purchased from Backline Music in Whitley Bay, costing £450. A lot of money at the time.
Though bands like the Stray Cats Dom had longed for his ultimate dream guitar. His new guitar was a 1962 Gretsch Double Anniversary. This really complimented the sound Sinful were after.
There was very few teenage guitarists in the North East of England playing a Gretsch guitar. The band now automatically stood out from the other local rockabilly bands.
Now that Dom had his new guitar, the band felt Sinful should record. They booked into – Desert Sounds Recording Studio, Felling, Gateshead. The demo tape consisted of 4 songs written by Dom. The songs were – Get Up & Get Out – Go Cat Go – Phantom Lady, and Slaphouse.
Having a Demo tape helped in securing more gigs in the area. Music Videos were a new concept in the early 1980’s. So the band decided to record one. They got a friend to record them on a Camcorder, miming to
the demo recording of – Phantom Lady. The location was Holywell Dene County Park near Seaton Delaval. The music video featured Doms best mate from School – Freddy Suadwa. (Freddy’s uncle played in the Afrobeat band – Osibisa, & they had a number one hit in 1976 with – Sunshine Day ) . Freddy volunteered to dressed up as a dancing Zulu Warrior. Fred wore a grass skirt, bone necklace, & held a stick with a scull on it. Russell said, ” you’d probably end up in court if you made the same videos these days ”. By the following weeks band practice Dom introduced a new song. This being – Holywell Dene. He said he got inspiration from spending time at the video location.
Local Rockin’ DJ Stew Campbell told me that the band came to his record shop one day in 1984, & gave him their new demo tape. He said, “they were wanting me to get them some bookings”. Stew ran Second Time Around Record Shop in the Tyne dock area of South Shields. He enjoyed the tape & played it to me a couple of times. Unfortunately, he lent the tape out & it went missing. I’ve never been able to locate another tape.
Russell left the band in May 1984. He was more of a guitarist than a bass player. So, he went on to front local bands like The Hangman, then The Rattlesnakes.
In 1982 Joe Guilun a local rockabilly guitarist mentioned to Simon Badminton that he should buy a double bass. Simon took his advice and bought one. He then set out on having a few d/bass lessons. By 1983 he felt ready to play in a band. So, he approached Dominic Malia, & suggested Sinful would sound better with a double bass. Simon became Sinful’ first double bassist.
The line-up that I remember seeing was- Dominic Malia on guitar & Vocals. Simon(Spook)Badminton on D/bass, and Stephen Jackson on Drums. This was in 1984. They were a really tight unit & individually very good at playing their instruments.
There is YouTube footage of Sinful playing their own song – Holywell Dene. They are performing on a Tyne Tees TV program called – The Works. Dom recently told me that they got payed £200. After leaving the TV studio they celebrated with a few beers. The band finally felt that they had cracked the big time. It did raise the bands profile locally. And with the exposure it created a buzz on the scene, producing a solid following.
Dom remembers no one in the band had use of a car or even drove. So sometimes if they couldn’t get a lift to gigs they had to take all the bands gear by Metro (Train). On one occasion they’d been booked to play at The Jockey in Felling. This took 2 Metro’s to get their from Heaton. Dom said “it took 3 trips to transport the gear there, and then the next day we had to go back & hump it all home again”, Lol 😂.
Sinful were also featured on another TV program in 84. This time on the local news – Look North. The short clip has never surfaced. It featured only Dom & Jacko playing on a flatbed truck, & being driven down Blackett St, Newcastle. They were advertising the annual Oxfam charity event held outdoors at the Panama Dip in Whitley Bay. Me & my rockabilly school mates turned up to watch this free concert. Thankfully it was a lovely summers day. We even secretly recorded the audio on a small portable tape machine. That tape was listened to until the cassette tape snapped.
Sinful disbanded around 1987. Double bassist – Simon went on to form Spook and the Ghouls, recording an album on Nervous Records .
Dom formed The Wildcats with Hylton Valentine (ex. Animals). And Jacko gave up playing all together to become a fireman.
Jacko was the bands unofficial poster designer. He drew fantastic caricatures of the band. My friends and I would steal them off the walls of Record Shops in Newcastle. We’d then put them up on our bedroom walls amongst our Stray Cats and Jets posters.
One hand drawn poster had Spook sat with his arms and legs crossed on his Cello looking double bass. He was dressed as an American Red Indian Chief with War paint and a Mohawk Hair style. Dom & Jacko were pulling him along as if he was sat on a bogey. It would have made a great album cover.
My name is Peter Turner. I played double bass with Deacon Jones & the Sinners – The Sureshots – Hiccup Riot – Johnny & the Roccos etc.
I was, and still am a big fan of the songs Dom wrote for Sinful. I have played double bass with Dominic Malia in various rock and roll bands. 1992 onwards – The Dom-inoes – The Rusty Bullets – The Swillbillys . And now : Saint Dom and the Sinful.
I was 16yrs old the I first time I saw them play. This was in the summer of 1984. The gig was held at The Buddle Arts Centre, Wallsend. There were 3 rockabilly bands playing. Sinful were the headlining band. And rightly so, they blew me and everyone away.
Other venues Sinful played during the 80’s were:
The Riverside, Melbourne St, Newcastle. They often supported bands like Restless – Guana Batz & King Kurt.
The Edwards Bar, Newcastle. The Redhouse, Newcastle. The Barley Mow, Newcastle. The Cooperage, The Jockey Felling, Alletsa Ballroom,
Whitley Bay, The Broken Doll, Newcastle
The last time I saw Sinful was in 1986. They were playing at the Seaton Delaval Community Centre. They were raising money for a guy who had lost his leg in a motorbike accident. By 1985 they had recruited a sax player. I remember thinking that it sounded better without sax. As it turned
out they were thinking the same. The band didn’t last much longer after that. Dom said ” the Saxophone was the nail in the coffin for Sinful”.
Their tunes stuck with me from the first time I heard them. It was great to see a local band playing their own material with an original image and sound. It’s a shame they didn’t get the chance to record an album at that time.
Dom was approached by Gerber who is the world’s biggest Sinful fan. He asked if Dom would put Sinful back together for a one-off gig that he
was arranging. I was asked to play bass and Mark Coppin ( ex. Sureshots/Sugarpuff Demons/Swillbillys/Deadrocks) was to play drums. We practice once a week for 5 months. It had been 24yrs since Dom had played his own songs. We had no recordings to use as a reference. It was a lot
of fun piecing the arrangements and lyrics together.
The gig was held at The Rose hill Social Club, Howdon on 02/07/11. I have a live tape, and listening back we played well. Because we’d learned Dom’s songs we thought it would be a good idea to record as many Sinful songs as we could. We recorded 8 songs at Colin Mee’s Skip Records
Studio in Darlington. I contributed the song-Jumpin’ Jamboree. This was done in October 2011. This session can he heard on the bands
Dom is a prolific song writer , I’ve spent years going around to his house to work on his newest songs. We’ve done occasional appropriate gigs.
Mark Coppin has been involved on Drums since 2011.
We decided we should recorded everything Dom has written. In January 2016 we started that process. This time we used 1st Avenue Studio,
Heaton, Newcastle. After 2 years we ended up with enough recorded material for two albums .
We self-released our first 12 track debut album – Holywell Dene in November 2017. It’s available as a digital download from Google Play Store, Amazon Music , iTunes etc. We also have the CD available from Saintdomandthesinful@outlook.com
The CD comes with a 16 page booklet, and features the lyrics to all the 12 songs . It also has photos relating to each individual song.
And pays homage to all the past and present members that helped establish – Sinful.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. You now have the bigger picture.
All the best
Saint Dom and the sinful