Paranoid Visions talk about Rebellion festival

One of the most-talked about events at the Rebellion festival this year was the collaboration between Steve Ignorant from Crass and Dublin’s punk stalwarts, Paranoid Visions. They took to the stage in front of one of the biggest crowds of the festival. For anyone who has been following Paranoid Visions since their early days this was an unlikely triumph. They struggled to get gigs in their home-town of Dublin when punk was a dirty word and punks bands were barred from just about every Dublin venue. Paranoid Visions persevered though and gained the respect of the international punk community. In fact, the band are largely responsible for the current thriving punk community in Ireland. I asked Peter Jones (P.A. Jesu) from the band some questions about the ‘Blackpool triumph’.

How did it feel playing in front of thousands of people on Saturday?

I was very nervous to be honest. Most of those songs have lived with me for almost 40 years so I know how much they mean to people, not least myself. What made it worse was we had opened a floodgate and the buzz seemed to be quite strong about the show. Steve holds those songs so dearly to his heart that he always wants to do them justice. But hearing the roar as we came out, listening to the “bomb tape” crass used to use live and kicking into Owe us a Living and just hearing the power of the live sound and seeing the delight on people’s faces calmed me within seconds. It was a really special 50 minutes I have to say!!! Those songs are deceptively difficult, crazy structures and dynamics and a very accomplished and original rhythm section!


Did it feel surreal considering how ‘far away’ punk felt when you went to that first Poison Girls gig?

Not really, over the intervening years we / I have grown into it and that initial introduction to the diy, no stars, no barriers approach of true punk is in my blood I suppose. But that being said, afterwards, I was thinking about it and wondering exactly how I had reached this stage!


How did the connection with Steve Ignorant first come about?

Steve always gets asked this too. And the answer is that we just kind of assimilated him! I promoted the Dublin gig for his Last Supper tour and we were supporting him in Manchester. We just kind of hit it off, he liked the clear chaos that surrounds us and we weren’t tongue tied around him so we are easy to get along with. We were asked to support in New York but when their visas fell through we were left high and dry with flights booked and only local gigs to do, so he felt obliged to pay us back with the support at the final show in Shepherds Bush.

After the gig we were chatting and I said we had a song (Split Personality) that needed his delivery style and we were struggling to get it right. So he said “fuck it, I’ll do it if you want”. So we arranged for him to come over and stuck him in a studio to do it and also suggested we did another one, “rock n roll n revolution”, for a single Louder than War records wanted from us. Done and dusted in 2 hours including tea break. Later that night he explained how he really enjoyed working with us like that as it reminded him of recording Stations of the Crass… get in, get it done, get out! And said any time we want to do more he’d be up for it. So then it just steam rolled…..the proposed ep became an album, one off gig at Rebellion led to tons of offers, many of which we turned down and continue to turn down if it doesn’t suit (we turned down a lot of money for Punk Rock Bowling in LA as Steve had 2 Slice of Life gigs already booked…. !). I think the relationship is long-term even after we all retire from live duties we will nestle in studios to create music together!


Can you tell people who missed it what you performed?

The idea was to do songs that encompassed Steve’s 40 years singing in punk bands plus a nod towards the scene he helped create through crass, so we have songs there from Crass, Conflict, Stratford Mercenaries, Schwartzenegger and with ourselves. Plus Poison Girls, Dirt and Flux of Pink Indians songs because we all loved them so much and thought it may increase the party/celebration feel.

Owe us a living
Join the dots
Banned from the roxy
Where is love
Charity begins at home
So what
What a shame
Berkshire cunt
No more running
Persons unknown
Big a little a
Tube disasters



I have seen the audience for P.V. grow every year at Rebellion, what was it liked playing there this year?

It was amazing. I thought our crowd might be compromised as we were technically overlapping with DOA, the Members, the Professionals and Slaves… plus we were playing the following day with Steve. But we jammed the venue to capacity. I don’t really know, but the reaction commercially and critically to the past few records has been better than ever so maybe the new breed of punk rockers are getting into us too or maybe its an audience outside the UK and Ireland that’s finding out about us.

Is this the most stable line-up the bad has had? To me it feels like the most vibrant/powerful.

Absolutely. We’ve always been a bit of a revolving door. We have traditionally had adequate musicians who really understood what we were doing, or great musicians who didn’t, or in some cases musicians who had no concept of what we are about…. But for 5 records and 4 years we have had the perfect combination of terrific musicians who completely understand what being in this band involves and why we do it. They also embrace the musical diversity and have a style of their own which fits really well. It’s the best and most stable line up we have had. And that shows in the records and gigs we’ve done.


What other bands were highlights for you this year?

Interrobang continue to prove they are the best band in the UK. Slaves blew me away. TV Smith, UK Subs and Ruts DC were as astonishing as ever. Bad Religion are amazing and I was so pleased to see them for the first time.


What’s next for Paranoid Visions?

We are writing the next album “Dog Eat God” for 2018 release. Pushing the ante even further with this one. One track, Alphabetti Spaghetti will have 26 guest vocalists. We cut down on gigs this year and will continue this practice next year so everything we do feels like an event. We are also working on plans for a short tour with Steve and are entertaining offers from several territories before deciding which to do!


What’s happening with the new punk bands in Ireland?

Lots of great local bands as always. The Lee Harveys, the Black Pitts and I Am A Carcrash continue momentum and will all likely have releases over the next year. We are also starting a series of singles called “No Romance” (continuation of the Advance Records and Dando Sessions themes). This will consist of a 4 band 4 track split ep to serve as an intro to the individual 3 track ep releases by each band to follow in the wake. Volume 1 will have Audible Joes, the Turn, the Gakk and the Nilz on it. We are talking about a UK bands one afterwards. There will be a common theme throughout for artwork and presentation so they become collectable.


Rebellion 2017 Protex

The pioneering punk/new wave bands of Northern Ireland including the Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers and Rudi didn’t just write great songs, they wrote great pop songs. Of course we didn’t appreciate it at the time but they didn’t just write pop songs for the moment, they wrote songs that stood the test of time.

Protex were one of best of that wave of bands, although the commercial success they’re deserved eluded them.

This is brilliant bouncy pop, ’60s harmonies on songs like Got Johnny, Place In Your Heart, Private Lines and I Can’t Cope have the members of the international punk clans rocking back and forth in their Docs and brother creepers in appreciation. Lots of the crowd can’t have been born when Protex first recorded these songs, but the young Brazilian punks who look they stepped out of Love And Rockets light up and sing along with Don’t Ring Me Up. The tall serious German punks nod along and even crack a smile.

While Protex wrote escapist pop back in the day, new songs like Walking On A Tightrope have a political edge. That represents progress, at the height of the Troubles every utterance from an Ulster band was judged as either too political or not political enough. It was a terrible trap for young bands, so it is heartening to see that for Protex the passing of the decades means greater creative freedom.

Long may their vocal harmonies and ringing pop tunes entertain us.



Rebellion 2017 Petrol Girls

Petrol Girls

The reason why a festival like Rebellion is such a goldmine for me is that you can discover fantastic new bands that deliver on every level. And so it was with the mighty Petrol Girls.

In fact this afternoon’s trio, the Membranes, Interrobang, and Petrol Girls indicate why punk is so interesting, even if it is self-defined and means something different to everyone. Together, the three bands took the festival up a level. It was already great, this made in really great.

It is empowering and inspiring to see the level of honesty that Petrol Girls possess.

8 years ago they were on acoustic stage, now here they are holding their own on the main stage, a thrilling four piece, male-female combo with lots to say. They don’t just entertain – they provoke, and give you lots to think about.

And if there is any doubt that they can entertain, their ‘ahh ahh aah’s’ are a welcome sonic addition to punk’s song language.

There’s certainly no doubt about their aim to provoke……the set began with an angry declaration that they stand against ‘punks replicating the forms of authority that we stand against’. Forms of authority that Include sexist, racist, homophobic attitudes.

I can only admire a singer who addresses recent suicides in the music community and urges the audience individuals to ‘try and fucking talk about this shit….to friends, family, mental health professionals.’ She went even further and spoke about her personal experience with ‘dynamic therapy, online cognitive behaviour resources….all during a set of powerful, captivating, intense and creative hard music.

This was not some narcissistic ‘look-at-me’ drama either, the meaningful words were combined with a nurturing sensitivity. Onlookers were advised that in four songs time sexual violence was going to be addressed from the stage, giving people who weren’t prepared for such a discussion the choice to avoid it.

Petrol Girls remind me of the type of community solidarity that the early hardcore bands, most notably 7 Seconds sang about. Yet this seems to be an evolution, instead of communicating ‘we are all together – that’s great’, the new enlightened punks like Petrol Girls are saying ‘we are all together – and if thing’s aren’t great, let’s figure out ways collectively to make them better’. And that includes refusing unwanted advances, rejecting gender norms that don’t fit and the ‘bullshit society expects of us’. Now that’s what I call punk rock!

A big personal highlight was the song, No One Reacts, and another one was seeing the merch desk that included a music, patches, their own fanzine as well as a book endorsed by Margaret Atwood, no less, about women’s first-hand experiences of being undermined by attitudes and physical assaults. Naturally, Petrol Girls contributed to it.


Rebellion 2017 Heavy Drapes

Heavy Drapes

Another band I hadn’t seen before, Heavy Drapes had the ’77 style with shades and Vivienne Westwood DIY designer punk gear.

They also had infectious melodies, the sound that brought sixties dream pop/rock into the punk scene in the first place. The tunefulness and power of bands like the Small Faces, as well as the Kinks and the Who, gave a solid gold foundation for the early wave in ’76/’77 to forge singalong punky pop music. And that’s why Heavy Drapes call to mind bands like the Jam.

The stand out track for me today was ‘Do You Want To Hang Out All Night’ and I suspect that with the right production their records could be well worth checking out.


Rebellion 2017 The Membranes and the Choir of Choirs

The Membranes and the choir

Just when you think that it’s all been done, that punk/DIY/independent music can be placed into a nice, neat category alongside comes a ‘happening’ that is inspiring, creative, funny and life-affirming.

I don’t want to say too much about the Membranes and the choir…because if you missed it, well, you really MISSED it.

It was surprising, unexpected, dare I say it, very risky, yet brilliant and funny and original.

This was space rock with a sense of humour. A piece of art and also proof that we humans have an infinity capacity for doing things that inspire other people and bring them joy.

I still have a smile on my face from seeing the Membranes in a big ugly industrial car-park with a modern choir dressed in black who sang in an avant grade style with grins on their faces.

If this is what space is like, if what the future is like…..then sign me up captain.


Rebellion 2017 The Sophie Lancaster Conversation: Dead for Being Different

Some things in life are difficult to think about, you’d prefer they weren’t there, that you could turn your head away.

But life isn’t simple, it isn’t right, it certainly isn’t fair.

It might seem like an odd thing to have at a festival, but it says so much about the punk community that space was given to a heart-breaking conversation between John Robb and the mother of Sophie Lancaster, who was brutally killed for doing nothing wrong. She was killed for ‘being different’.

This can’t have been an easy conversation, so I have a lot of respect for both John Robb and Sophie’s mother for doing it, and being so sensitive.

We’ll put a link up on the site with more information about this tragic case. One of the positive outcomes is that people are being educated about hate crimes. As Sophie’s mother pointed out, as a society we have made great strides towards tackling racism and sexism but it is still easy to slip into lazy ways of thinking, of taking things for granted. How easily we make human beings who we don’t see as ‘being like us’ into OTHERS. And that’s a narrow way of looking at the world, and as Sophie’s death proves, the consequences can be tragic.



Rebellion 2017 Interrobang


A plush theatre in the North West of England. A new band, an audience of punks in a room full of history.
There is a sense of excitement. I certainly don’t know what to expect, except that Dunstan from Chumbawamba is involved.

Naturally, being creatures of habit, we look at the stage……then from behind us comes a voice, through a megaphone, it seems to say: I’m so taciturn I got to answer a question on the radio!

Odd, and it makes me want to know more. It’s good when you don’t get all the answers immediately.

Interrobang are amazing, a beat group for the beaten generation. Sharp suits and talk songs with a great two-piece backing band……this is the true spirit of punk…..vibrant, creative, entertaining and thought-provoking.

The sound contains The surprising elements of Gang of Four and Wire…..even a bit of the intro to Staring at the Rude Boys was smuggled into the mix. They represent a fantastic transition from Chumbawamba….who will never be forgotten in the Dublin DIY community for their brilliant eccentric, and pointed performances most notably in the SFX with Fugazi.

The set ended with a mantra of: I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this any more.

Personally, I can’t wait for more from them.


Rebellion 2017 Youth Man

Youth Man

They were promoted, quite rightly, from new band stage last year. Youth Man are a Birmingham three-piece who play fast and furious rock with a mighty girl guitarist who trades vocals with a male vocalist who played bass and wore a Smiths t-shirt…how cool is that!

An absolute highlight of the festival for me. This is what punk rock is all about, unexpected, surprising, energetic and inspiring. They don’t fit neatly into any of the punk rock tribes, and personally that’s one of the reasons they are a favourite new band of mine. They are harder to categorise because they are original.

Their songs were full of tight tension and coruscating release, a bit reminiscent of moments of Sonic Youth but are genuinely genre-defying. Maybe that’s why they feeling like something new stirring in the punk universe…

One of the best bands at the festival.


Rebellion 2017 Matilda’s Scoundrels

Matilda’s Scoundrels

Celtic punk is alive and well and full of energy…..that makes me realise just long ago I first saw the Pogues opening for the Shillelagh Sisters in Camden’s Irish Centre.
I am old, and that’s OK… the t-shirt says: ‘I’m Old But I Got to See All The Good Bands’ well almost most of them.

Matilda’s Scoundrels are a six-piece including mandolin, banjo and accordion. I still think that Celtic Punk brings a great sense of colour and diversity to the punk scene. The singer had a gravelly maritime voice; think Slade’s Noddy Holder after spending a decade on a pirate ship.
The band played sea shanties for the Blackpool rockers and announced a new album coming out on September 8.

If you like the idea of a more grizzled The Men They Couldn’t Hang high on the high seas or shipwrecked off the coast of Newfoundland, the Scoundrels are the band for you.


Rebellion 2017 Brain’s All Gone

Brain’s All Gone

Sometimes you come across a band that stop you in your tracks and make you go: “how come I didn’t know about them before?’
That’s what I felt watching Brian’s All Gone a rockin’ female three piece. I think they are from Poland…but I could be wrong.

They had great changes in tempo and rhythm, and we’re certainly not indentikit punk. They could appeal to the rockers just as much. They reminded me of Babes in Toyland and L7, and how much those bands brought to the punk scene by injecting a dose of female energy.

Brain’s All Gone have a really solid musical foundation with a strong front-woman who was also a fine bass-player.

Their CDs were sold out, no surprise there, they’ll impress music fans anywhere.
They even took a bow towards the end of their set…..and it was well deserved.
Their lyric, You Seem to Love your Enemies, made me think.

Despite their name these are serious young women, confident and capable despite their singer saying ‘we don’t have anything to say’..that’s ok they let the music do the talking for them.