THE Undertones have been getting Teenage Kicks for almost 40 years.

They hear it everywhere they go from the radio to football grounds and they are asked about their signature tune, which famously became John Peel’s favourite song, every time they do an interview.

But despite everything they do being dominated by having one of the UK’s most iconic songs the Northern Ireland band have never got sick of it.

Mickey Bradley, Undertones’ original bassist, said: “There’s a guy called John Robb who’s in a punk band called The Membranes. He’s great but he’s also a really good writer. He’s almost like a historian of punk and he was interviewed a couple of weeks ago and said something great about us.

“He said: ‘The Undertones have Teenage Kicks. That is like a secret weapon. Any band would kill for a record that is played at weddings up and down the country every week and they have this to play in the middle of a set. They’re so lucky’.

“I never get sick of it. I appreciate what it has done for us as a band.

“It’s one of those songs that people love and it’s still kind of underground.

“It was never a hit. Obviously One Direction had a bit of success with it but the original record got to number 31. It’s sort of grown. That’s not just down to John Peel. It’s down to guys like James Nesbitt. He’s a huge fan of it and it appears in Cold Feet every so often.”

Teenage Kicks was the Undertones’ response to the punk rock movement which began in 1976.

Mickey added: “We started trying to be in a band in 1974 and 75 then at the start of 1976 someone loaned John O’Neill (rhythm guitarist) the first Ramones LP and that had a huge impact on us.

“That very fast, very simple, very direct sound we hadn’t heard ever before and that became a model for us.”

But Mickey admitted they were far removed from the sex, drugs and rock and roll of the edgy punk scene.

He said: “We didn’t really drink. We weren’t hell raisers. There weren’t parties but on the good side it meant we weren’t naked and tied to a trailer being driven around the streets of Derry.”

In fact their first gig was at a Scout hut in Creggan where former lead singer, Feargal Sharkey, was a Scout leader.

Mickey added: “We were due to play at a school and Feargal thought we should try and play in front of an audience before that to see what it’s like so he got his Cubs to sit there and we played five or six songs. We even had a stage invasion. They were relatively well behaved though and if it turned nasty we could have taken them!

“We only got a version of punk through John Peel and NME. We didn’t see any of the bands which was good in a way because it meant we didn’t see any bad bands.

“We heard the records which were by and large always great so we heard a great version of what was happening in London.

“We wanted to try and be as good as the bands who made the records that we loved.

“We also wanted to do something that was different for Derry. The idea of a band who played in the pubs of Derry appearing on Top of the Pops to us was a miracle.

‘We weren’t hell raisers but on the good side it meant we weren’t naked and tied to a trailer being driven around the streets of Derry’

“When that happened you had to keep reminding yourself every day: ‘This is real’. Our teenage dreams were real.”

All this might not have been if it was not for BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel who was famously so smitten with Teenage Kicks he played it twice back-to-back.

Seymour Stein, the president of Sire Records – in London on business – happened to be listening to the radio at the time which led to their record deal.

But what if that never happened?

Mickey said: “If John Peel had preferred something else or if Seymour Stein hadn’t heard him play it who knows. Maybe no one would have signed us.

“Sometimes it’s the toss of a coin. If he hadn’t liked it I’d be perfectly willing to believe we would have been a minor blip.

“Possibly the song could have been one of those lost punk records that ended up on the Gary Crowley box set which is out at the moment.

Weekend asked Mickey to imagine what his alternative universe might look like if Teenage Kicks was left undiscovered and the Undertones parted ways.

He added: “I’d just failed my A-Levels so I might have gone back and done them again.

“I was a bicycle courier in London for a while and when I came back home I applied to join the fire service.

“I passed the written test but I failed the practical. I think I ran up the ladder too quickly. They didn’t like that. I also couldn’t assemble a fire hydrant hose. I couldn’t even get one bit connected to the other.

“So in a parallel universe where Peel didn’t like Teenage Kicks I don’t know what I’d be. Maybe I’d work on the radio.”

The Undertones will be at the Parr Hall on November 11 and they will be joined on stage by Warrington’s folk punk favourites Roughneck Riot.

Forty years after the first wave of artists, Mickey is glad to see that punk lives on but he cannot put his finger on why it has had such longevity.

Mickey said: “If I could get in a time machine and travel from 1978 to 2017 I would find it very strange that punk music is featured in adverts, ordinary non-music fans in the street have heard of the Sex Pistols and Teenage Kicks is being played at football grounds and weddings around the country.

“How come the musical movement before us – let’s say progressive bands – aren’t as widespread as punk bands nowadays? I don’t know why that is. The original basis of punk rock was that anyone could do it and I think that always appealed to teenagers up until today.

“It’s kind of like skiffle. You can just pick up a couple of instruments, you can hang around with your friends, you can learn a couple of songs and it can work. We’re a prime example of that.

“We started with a passing knowledge of guitar chords but we stuck at it and it really worked for us. We forget sometimes that it was quite unusual back then. Nowadays people are used to creating stuff in the privacy of their own bedrooms thanks to technology.

“But back then it was quite a new thing for young people who hadn’t been in other bands, who weren’t professional musicians and who weren’t trained guitar players.

“There are 10 times more great bands now than there were in 1978.

“There were great bands then but there are bands now that suffer just because the competition is so fierce.”

But despite technology and the music scene moving forward, are teenagers still after the same kicks?

Mickey added: “There’s still unrequited love and embarrassment and shyness and all that. It’ll never go away because it’s an important part of life – and teenage dreams are so hard to beat.”

The Undertones perform at the Parr Hall on November 11. Visit or call 442345