Relitics – Interview

Durham punk band Relitics came to my attention earlier this year with the song Anti Fascist. I like bands that proclaim their politics through their lyrics and Relitics are one of these. There’s no fences to sit on with these. I sent singer Carol Nichol on a few questions and here’s the results.

1. Can you tell us a bit about the band and releases.  Any previous bands?
3 releases which includes Vinyl Anti Fascist Do Something and Paying, vinyl split with Australian punk band Myrtle Place. The Relitics formed in 2015 by guitarist Mick Hall who is the main songwriter he had been part of the punk scene in bands such as the nothing which amounted to nothing at the time one member went on to play with Uproar and red london some band members deceased, he also played in other punk bands The horrid lads 79 80 young boys,and ended up with The Kicks for years up until 2015 until he decided he wanted to form an original political band being inspired to write born out of anger and frustration and current state of the country.  Myself I started age 14 original bands first being band Gerbils in Red wine was my first band and we would rehearse at Durhams,fowlers yard home to Toy Dolls and Prefab Sprout we where more post punk inspired by punk post punk, I was big fan of Iggy pop Ian dury, The Damned Bowie etc, I was and  still am a lover of visual front people as  you go to see a band as well, because of my diversity in music I played with many styles of bands but my heart was with making a statement in the music and punk inspired me to join a band at a young age. Our drummer Vince Ward another kid in 1970s into punk attending early gigs  he played with band Mid life crisis up until 2014 a Durham punk band, Vince  hates religion and came up with the name The Relitics meaning Religion/Politics. Our Bass player left after a year I think our vinyl release finished him off liaising with Australian band and the hard work getting it out, he also was a lover of American hardcore and we where more melodic punk.  We where spotted by Steve Hoggart who saw us play The Hop 2016 wknd of rebellion and liked what he heard so joined the band he was inspired by early SLF gig to get into bands and play bass. We have supported many established bands in the two yrs including Uk subs, Chelsea, drongos for Europe, The Vibrators, Gimpfist, 999, MDC and many more also doing charity gigs to raise money for minors memorial for Hetton le Hole home to Bob Paisley Liverpool manager.
2. When did punk rock rock start meaning something to you and what is that meaning?
For me Never mind the bollocks album and New boots and panties album the image appeal first and then the controversy around the queens jubilee my sister painted our tortoise with album cover im afraid my dad was upset with posters going up in box rooms as they where royalists in the 1970s and we wanted to rebel with society. I saw Killing joke The Tube and wanted to be a front singer writing to rebel  to make a statement about how unfair life was in our society young I suppose but exciting times for music, our generation. Mick our  guitarist was jam fan his first live band was boomtown rats who got all bands banned from Sunderland empire as it was destroyed.
3. Does D.I.Y. mean something to you? why/why not?
DIY
All inspired to write, play an instrument, arrange gigs,self release,self promote,no management, we all work DIY is what we are.
4. You “combine political lyrics with driving guitars” How important are lyrics?
Mick writes the lyrics wat he feels what is from his heart, put together with strong hooky arrangements. Lyrics can have different meanings to different people, painting a picture with words, sometimes powerful statements sometimes mystery.
5. You’ve played some decent gigs, What has it been like in the quest for getting to play live?
Played some great gigs with great bands we are not oi oi band and not easy to put us in a box. Played NSleazy last yr when I was called a fucking hippy by two girls who didnt know me and know I was getting up next in band, must been flowers in my hair these two girls where very punk in image and preferred to go and see a tribute band.living in Durham is not great for original bands but all the struggling original venues like us to play I say struggling as venues do struggle. We would like to go further a field with gigs. We playing with lurkers next yr waterloo bar Blackpool. Rebellion was great for us but again its sometimes down to who’s more punk in image who screams the most. We try to be different in creating different styles of punk dont want to be in an obvious box.
6. When i saw you play I was very impressed by your anti fascist band statement.  What gives you the fuel to write such a song and make. e such a statement
 
Mick wrote AF so people know in no uncertain terms where we coming from as there are so many levels in punk scene. I’m not a racist you hear so many times with bands playing with dodgy right wing members.
7. You are from Durham which voted extensively for britain to leave the EU.  Why do you think it voted that way?
there are lots of reasons peolpe voted out of the eu, many are intelligent peolpe who are tired of being ignored and governed by archaic laws from europe. many for the wrong racist  reasons , immigration was obviously an issue for many . The nhs would collapse without its foreign workforce, the leisure industry etc but that seems to be overlooked. thinks its all been said now . the end result is now the tory party has no brakes and are effectively free to cause more suffering / impose or remove laws which are there to protect. .. our song short changed was written about brexit. to be recorded shortly.
8. What is your opinion on the aftermath of the vote?  is it as you were expecting?
A bono fide  shambles the British people systematically lied to again
9.  What would have been your ideal outcome to this years british election?
Labour All the band Corbyn has won many people over especially the young, he has his weaknesses but as the rich get richer, press more manipulated, divide continues to grow. A rich country with food banks used by public service’s, no alternative.
10. Durham is also home of the annual Durham Miners Gala. Do you think trade unions have an important part to play in todays society?
Trade Unions have an important role to play  in today’s society weakened by the defeat of the minors,strike mrs Thatchers the milk snatchers hand the truth is coming out. Unison/Unite to protect from the big businesses tearing the working class to bits what with 0 hour contact s, terms and conditions decimated. HS ignored. Our Bass player is a trade unionist branch Secretary for a college of a 1000 staff. So yes very valid today trade unions.
11. Can you tell me a bit about lo-fi? Why the need to do something completely different to relitics?
Music is my life wrote my first song age 14 after being inspired by live bands I have always performed as a front person and wrote music.  I love music  I love music history, as it goes way back, lyrics can be powerful in all ways.  I have always been diverse in what I listen to and watch. A lover of front people visual, individuality. I  am dyslexic and struggled at school wasn’t the support for visual people back then. Can sometimes be criticised for not just listening to punk but I love to go back to see artists who set the spark. Lo Fi is a project I do at home record produce arrange all styles of songs no style in particular. I work with offenders and have  helped alot of people in life but I would love to write for a living as I am so creative that being in a job that isn’t creative can sometimes destroy you as a person. I dont watch much tv but got inspired to write around the character s of peaky blinders I’m a big nick cave fan and so stated writing the album Pow, however I struggle with the mainstream music industry today I find it bland mundane and shallow.  I go to see bands all the time the smaller the venue the better for me. Lo fi is getting into an occupation I would love to be in as a,songwriter for tv film will probably never happen but I love what I do, and the Relitics is also something I love to do feeling passionate about the band and what it stands for.

niallhope

Pete Holidai Interview


It is important for irish punk to be championed with all the other anniversaries this year. It is 40 years since the release of Ireland’s first punk record, on chiswick records, tv tube heart, The radiators from space were our trailblazers back then.  Chiswick imprint Ace records has just re-released that debut album so I sent guitarist Pete Holidai a few questions.  Pete is now in Trouble Pilgrims who will have a new album out soon.

pic by Paula Geraghty

You went to school in London? When did you come to ireland and how did you get over all the bodies heading in the other direction? How did you all meet and form the Radiators?

I was born in dublin a stone’s throw from Santry where Philip Chevron was born and raised, my family moved to London when I was four years old. I remained there throughout the 60s until the family returned to ireland in 1972. Not long after I returned I met Steve who work in a record shop in liffey street, he approached me when i went into the shop and he asked me if i wanted to be in a band…a few years later in ’75 [ i had returned to london on my own for a few years] we got serious about forming a high energy band and after we met philip, jimmy and mark the band got up and running

The band  moved to London after a couple of years, what was the motivation behind that?

Eamon carr and Jackie Hayden paid for some demoes that were pitched to chiswick records in london, they came over and saw us live and offered us a singles deal with the option of and album which they proceeded with. We went to London to promote the release of tv tube heart [tv screen and enemies had already been released in the uk] we stayed there for five years!!!

How did the first reunion come about? I was at that Hawkins House gig and it was a special event. Do you remember much about it ?

We were approached by gha [gay health action] an aids awareness group and were asked to reform for one night only to raise awareness and funds for the group. the supporting cast included the Real Wild West and Gavin Friday, it was a sold out event. A ltd edition cassette (Dollar for your dreams) was also released by Comet Records

Had you any idea how important and relevant to many people under Clery’s clock was? Or was it just a great song for you?

I think I quickly realised how personal the song was to Philip, so it was a rare occasion he was willing reveal deeper feelings to the public, I always thought of it as a most beautiful love song that just happened to be about same sex relationships. It is a timeless masterpiece [as are most of our songs lol]

So 40 years ago what would young pete holidai make of a band rereleasing an album from 1937?

No problems with that if the content has retained some relevance, in fact I’m a big fan of the great writers from that era such as George Gershwin, Irving Berlin et al, plus being turned on to Brecht and Weill by phil.

How did it all come about? Any chance of a radiators gig to celebrate its release?

Roger armstrong [who produced tvth] is a director at ace, who evolved from chiswick in the eighties, decided he would like to release an expanded 40th ed of the album, steve and i contributed in terms of the artwork and final selection of the additional tracks. There is no chance of a radiators gig without philip [or steve or me]

What’s happening with Trouble Pilgrims? Gig wise and releases?

Trouble pilgrims have just finished recording their debut album “dark shadows and rust” we are currently discussing and negotiating a worldwide manufacturing and distribution deal

After the electric picnic we will be looking towards a high profile launch gig -watch this space-

What’s happening with Loom records? What’s the plan for it?

I will be producing a series of releases over the next few months featuring emerging talent, the plan is to record and album in a day unplugged and solo!!!

You still talk about music daily, play it and are involved. What gives you that inspiration?

It’s such an integral part of my life and I feel I still have things to say and do, I’m writing the best songs of my life at the moment…I’m driven by the world around me life produces a huge range of emotions that fuels inspiration

You can organise your own talk at electric picnic  what 5 people would you ask and why?

Paul McGuinness, Roddy Doyle, Eamon Carr, Abner Brown AND Steve Rapid

SUBJECT: DIGITAL WAS THE DEATH OF REAL MUSIC DISCUSS

niallhope

GRIT interview

pic by David Pujol

Dublin Oi Punk DIY band Grit have been doing the rounds for over a year now.  Their fast snappy tunes almost coming across like an Oi X Ray Spex at times have seen the light of day on vinyl a couple of times on Distro-y-records.  They are a feature of the DIY scene throughout Ireland and have toured Europe too.  I sent their lead singer Clodagh a few questions and here are her words.

Can you give me some history of the band?

The five of us know each other from the Dublin punk scene and have played in bands together before.  Byrneos (bassist), Eric (guitarist) and John (drums) always wanted to do an Oi! style band but it took some years before they got into a room together with instruments in their hands instead of pint glasses!  They had a few casual jams and decided the tunes were worth making public.  Seán came on board with a second guitar and then myself on vocals.  We had our first practise as a 5 piece in June 2016, our first gig on the 1st July in the Grangegorman Squat complex.  Since then we have been busy: released two 7”s and gigged in Ireland, UK, France, Basque Country and Spain with more gigs in U.K. and Germany to come in 2017.

What gives you the fuel to keep wanting to sing and play songs?

The fuel and drive is that I’m still excited about the punk scene and live music.  I want to participate in the Irish scene, I also enjoy travelling and seeing how the punks do things abroad.

I wanted to be in this band because I am partial to the oi! genre – current bands like Bishops Green, Rude Pride, The Jollars, Syndrome 81,  as well as older staples such as Runnin’ Riot and Camera Silens.  In the early days of GRIT there wasn’t any Irish oi!-punk bands playing the particular French-inspired type of music that we do and none with a vocal viewpoint coming from someone other than, ahem, a cis white male, so that was the stimulus that drove me to approach the lads about doing vocals in GRIT – no-one else doing what I was interested in listening to.

(R.A.Z.O.R. with a more uk-inspired sound formed around the same time as us and are worth checking out!)

You’re the front person. Does singing songs give a sense of confidence that otherwise just wouldn’t be there? Why do you think that is?

For me, feeling comfortable or confident in myself was something that instead came with age and learning not to undermine myself with negative thoughts.  If I give the impression that I’m confident on stage it’s because I am at ease with the lads and enjoying myself.

Who writes the words? What are you trying to portray with your lyrics?

Mostly myself and/or Eric, however, Back up Loader is all the boot-iful poetry of John.

Our songs’ subject matter reflects that of the traditional punk and oi! canon but portrayed or interpreted through our individual experiences of living in Ireland.  Some of the topics we have tackled are: austerity politics, class struggle, the decline of the Irish small town, dysfunctional relationships, mental health, friendship.

We try to have a defiant tone, I hope that although some of the subject matter may be bleak you will still feel optimistic about the future when you listen.

Do you think there is a class struggle in the western world?  What do you think the term working class represents in Ireland?

Yeah, I believe there is a class struggle and there will be as long as capitalism exists.  Top-down stuff like austerity politics, zero-hour contracts, gentrification* and bottom-up movements like people mobilising against water charges, going out on strike. *Earlier this Summer on tour with the band, almost everywhere we visited had a version of the scenario… this venue/this neighbourhood/my home won’t be here much longer.

It’s a tricky term to define … the working class doesn’t look the same way as it did, for example, forty years ago because of the changing landscape of employment.  Experiences vary depending on the environment (i.e. city versus rural communities).  A lot of traditional working class people are now long term unemployed or the working poor.  There’s also the consideration of what is economically versus culturally working class, who is middle-class aspirational and who has class consciousness.  I don’t have the terms to answer adequately … it’s more a gut feeling.

GRIT are a lot different in sound to your last band (Burnchurch). Did you purposely set out to form such a band? Any reason?

It was most definitely a conscious decision.  The other members and I have played in heavy bands before and wanted to try our hand at a different style.

All the band have deep roots in the DIY scene and have been for over 20 years. Has this DIY scene achieved much?  Is it a different space now compared to the mid to late 90s?

Although I don’t live there any more, I am still connected mostly to the Dublin DIY scene.  I think it has achieved lots and evolved over time.  The younger generations always seem to improve on what they have inherited,  I am continuously impressed by them.  Two achievements that stand out for me are:

The Karate Club – in existence ten years is a punk run practise space.  I know there are others like it in Dublin too.  A dedicated space enables more and more bands to form and creates a very healthy scene.

Tenterhooks –  were a formidable collective that rented a city centre space, kitted it out for concerts and put on regular events which was a refreshing alternative to pub venues.  It shut it’s doors in 2016.

In international terms,  cheap flights and the Internet has widened the web of the Irish punk scene as bands can hop on a plane and do a weekend tour anywhere in the EU quite easily.  The exchange of ideas and new links formed are a positive influence on us all.

It’s definitely a different space… some changes that jump out at me

– everyone has their own gear, so you don’t have to keep asking the one band who own a backline to play your gig! This can empower more folk to put on their own gigs: all they need is a room.

– as i recall Dublin in the 90s there were two scenes that sometimes merged… now there are several different diy punk scenes.

– more active women, openly queer folks, immigrant punks add diversity

One thing that hasn’t changed much is the price of gigs, some people appear to want to maintain door prices at mid to late 90s rates.  I’m not a bread head and no-one is ever going to be rich from playing punk gigs but a decent door price (e.g. €10 or more) would ensure no-one has to take a hit.

You’re driving a group of 10 year olds to their dance class and they ask you about music. What 5 songs do you play to give them an introduction to your world?

You drop them at dance class and have the deck to you and you only.  What 5 songs do you throw on?

Ha ha!! That’s an hilarious premise! And the answer could change daily.

I’m gonna just give you five dance-able punk songs instead.

I actually made a mix CD for my niece of a similar age and put some accessible punk tracks on it.  These were:

  1. Aggressors BC, Tone of the Times – punky ska/dirty reggae with social commentary
  2. Buzzcocks, Ever fallen in love? – bittersweet power-poppy punk
  3. Le Tigre, Let’s Run – positive lyrics about not being afraid to risk failure set to a dance track

To those three I would add:

  1. Hexen, Shame on us – melodic oi from Bilbao, I would cough over the cursing of course. I like the lyrics that warn of “false friendship, false rebellion” which are wise words for the younger generation coming up in ubiquitous social media.
  2. G.L.O.S.S. Outcast Stomp – after the other four songs i think the chisslers will be able to handle something kinda heavy and this is an absolute banger.

You’ve an interview coming up for a blog: What question do you hope you’re going to be asked and why? What question do you dread and why?

I always hope I will be asked questions that can help me promote the good things happening in the scene here because neither I nor GRIT exist in a vacuum.  I like when I’m asked for veggie recipes too because I’m wholesome.

I dread being asked “what’s it like being a woman in punk”.  Yawn.  Punk interviewers are way too intelligent and original to ask that though.

You played GGI festival (not your first time). What is so special about this festival?  Why should people go to it next year?

GGI is the Glasgow Groningen Ireland festival (established 2004), a rotating annual DIY fest that celebrates the friendships and connections between those scenes. This year had a great mix of approximately 40 bands: crust, d-beat, hardcore, kraut-space-punk, noise, ska, etc,. etc., playing over two days drawn from the above mentioned places (and beyond).

It’s unique because it has a completely different character every year depending on the location and the crew involved but always maintaining a DIY punk ethos.

In a sense, the festival’s impetus was a nostalgic one but it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy and now is a permanent fixture on many Irish punk’s calendar.  This year I was pleased to see the demographic widening – alongside the (supervised) toddlers who were pottering about during the afternoon, there were teenagers all the way up to folks in their 60s in attendance ( with bands of all ages too).

It will be in Groningen in 2018, the crew there run a well-organised festival in excellent venues and great after parties in the Crow Bar run by Esther (Fleas & Lice).  You can rent a bike and enjoy the flat bike routes of the city and whatever Dutch specialities you enjoy in the afternoon before the gigs – little beers with big heads and falafel would be mine.

niallhope

 

 

 

 

Bear Trade Interview

 

Anybody who has followed this blog will know of my respect and admiration for uk band Bear Trade. Last week I described as “think Leatherface, the replacements and wedding present getting together to write some songs with northern sensibility” for Thursday Tunes. Or when I reviewed their excellent new album, Silent Unspeakable and described them as “I know none of bear Trade but the beauty of music makes me feel like they are in my community and we all look out for each other. Along the way they are providing part of the soundtrack and it’s such a good one it would be a real shame if you missed out.” In 2014 I described them as my “new favourite band” and nobody has overtaken them since. I thought it only proper, in a blog that documents what is good in diy, that Bear Trade get their deserved space and sent the bass player Lloyd some questions.

For the benefit of people reading can you give me a breakdown of band members and maybe a feel of some of the bands you have been in or indeed still are.

Greg was in 46 Itchy, The Mercury League, Former Cell Mates, Broken Few and also most recently toured with Medictation
Peter was the drummer in Leeds fast punks The Mingers
Callum played in Writhe and with Pure Graft
Lloyd played in Blocko, Ruin You!, Southport and Spines

Greg, Peter and I have known each other for years from our previous bands, and Callum was friends with Greg…when none of us had a band and we all lived relatively close to each other, we were naturally drawn to each other as we are pretty much on the same page musically and personally..

What’s the relationship with Japanese record labels? Have you tried to get the band on any particular label?

I knew Kazu at Waterslide since back when Blocko toured in Japan which was booked by Yoichi at Snuffy Smile who put out our split with Minority Blues Band there to coincide. Kazu had a tie in as a sister label with Boss Tuneage (who Blocko released records with, and Waterslide distributed), so that helped me and Southport get records out there too and a chance to tour. He does a great job and is a great person with a wonderful family, and so it was a no brainer to ask him if he wanted to help out when Bear Trade were recording. He actually helped remix/master our first CDEP there, “Whiskey On A Bluebird” before release. It also worked well in as much as Waterslide do primarily CD only releases, so in terms of formats that ticked that specific box.

My feeling of a bear trade practice or gig is a gang of mates getting together (probably in a bar) and having a chat about life and a sing song. Is that an accurate description

Yeah, pretty much spot on mate! Hahahaha! I guess our band output is a continuation of our collective personalities and likes/dislikes. Three of us are married with children now too, so it gives us a chance to recharge our batteries and simply be mates out together sharing – what we believe is – our special bond.

You’ve a few videos on YouTube, who does them for you? Why the need for this?

Greg pretty much made them all. “Spielgerg” can go a bit left field sometimes, but as he has access to the gear and the skills to mould the visuals around a song we all play a willing part. There is no real “need” I guess, solely provides a fun and different medium for presenting a song and ourselves I guess, and again I would like to believe that these captured the essence of what we are about. My kids star in a couple for example.

Words, are they important to a song?

Very – words and dialect and meaning, and how they can elicit a feeling or emotion in a listener. In my opinion it is certainly a skill that Greg has honed and a lot of people find that they can relate to them, either specifically or in capturing a reflected view of their own daily challenges and struggles in life.

My life is in its fiftieth year so I can relate to many of the words on offer. For those those who haven’t read up on the band can you tell us what you sing about? Death is a reoccurring theme, any reason for this?

The songs are very much around the day to day occurrences in life that getting older throws up, about our relationships with people, with animals, with alcohol…as we get older death becomes more and more a part of living, and so how we deal with those losses is brought more into focus more often. On the flipside, family life is also about nurturing our relationships with our partners, and also creating new life, and how that in turn changes your perception and outlook on the past, present and future. “Sad punk for happy drunks” Drew Millward labelled us. Pretty apt I guess.

I have to talk football. Are you a season ticket holder? What is the ultimate aim for a Bromley fan like yourself?

I was a season ticket holder for a couple of years, but living near York meant for a long while the closest Bromley games in the regionalised south east centric leagues for me were still around the M25. I made the trip a few times a season, but their amazing title win in 2014/15 and elevation to the Conference National (now just The National League) opened up a whole range of games much nearer or more accessible to home. Funnily enough it often takes me longer to get to some of these games than my friends from the South East, but there are a few northern exiles who get together and travel to these, meeting fellow fans there. I would recommend reading Home And Away, by Dave Roberts, which is a best selling tale of that first season in the big boys league and which I feature on the cover and also in some pages. Bear Trade get a mention too, as Dave is a fan and sees us when we play in Leeds.

The ultimate aim in the 2015/16 season was to not get relegated. Most of the people I go to the match with I have known for approaching 30 years, and there were times when if it wasn’t for that kinship there would have been little reason to go. The club was on its backside, and very nearly slid into oblivion. So those old school heads remain realistic and grateful for what we are currently enjoying. Lot of us have sons now so we’re passing the bug on to them! Going forwards, the club has a phenomenal owner (and ex player) who saved us…we now have sensible investors and are building the infrastructure including a new stand with facilities, developing a huge Academy system and we now have a 3G pitch which is a valuable asset, along with our 3G training facilities. The aim is to try and build a club where the finance is self generated from not only match days, but throughout the week, with a core of youngsters brought through from a child to the ultimate aim of the 1st team. So I’m just enjoying the ride just now J

I often wonder for fans of teams in the conference as it seems like they are the “real” football fans. If their team gets promoted to the football league do they loose their grip on reality? What is it with football and it’s completely incredible sums of money? I find it so difficult to even read about it these days as huge businesses take over clubs and community seems to be less of a thing.

Yeah, I fell out of love with football like that 30 years ago, mainly because football fans were solely treated as a commodity and the police seemed solely interested in making your day as sterile and controlled as possible. Funnily enough, there has always been a similar pecking order in non league circles, and currently Billericay Town are making national headlines as they have a new testosteroned to the max Essex millionaire pumping insane amounts of money in and signing ex league players (e.g. Jamie O’Hara, Jermaine Pennant), as well as deciding he will be the manager too. He is trying to play the “community” card here but you can’t pay for that, only attract sycophants and hangers on and glory hunters. Of course, it would be naïve to not accept that money will always have an influence, but what is happening there is being done in a manner which is both vulgar and classless…two words which describe much of the Sky Sports/Premier League/Champions League world of today.

Water slide ask you to put together lloydfest with an unlimited budget as they have unearthed a footballer with unlimited talent. They give you free reign on 6 bands to ask who would they be?

The Wedding Present (George Best era line up)
Broccoli
Hot Water Music
Jawbreaker
Strike Anywhere
The Cure

You’re on the guestlist Niall


You’re a family man, what gives you the urge to leave the family and go play a gig 200 miles away to 50 people?

I have always felt drawn to music and the feeling that music evokes in me. It has also provided me with the opportunity to travel a lot around the world, and being able to bump into friends and visit old haunts, as well as discovering new acquaintances in towns and cities I’ve never visited is a big part of my life. In the last couple of years I have been fortunate enough to tour with Strike Anywhere around Europe again, and the camaraderie which I have always shared with them is something I treasure and hold dear. When it comes to playing – and it may seem like a cliché – but when I was first in a band I always thought that if you play to a people, there may be just one person who hasn’t heard you who might have just had their ears opened to something new, and every time I play, I think of that one person that I might be connecting with. Also, I find Bear Trade are a part of my family, and when we are together and away we are feeding off each other, making us better people, happier people. Without that, I truly believe that as an individual I would not have what I have to offer to my family at home, to share the experiences and energy and passion that I have that money or TV or Facebook can’t buy. To show my children who their dad really is.

All the band have “form” in the diy, independent music scene. Is that by design or chance and why?

I first started watching bands regularly in 1987 and then worked for bands from 1990. The independent music scene has always been in my blood and always will be. I feel strongly that whatever you put in, you will get back, either directly or indirectly. We looked after our own then, and still do now to a certain degree. To me, it has always revolved around people, and (especially in the early days) the trust and confidence that you have in individuals you have probably never met or even spoken to. I remember going on European tours with a piece of paper with an address and the promoters home phone number on and you rolled up 400 miles from home and that was all you had! You and I are probably a good example of this, having first met in 1991 (I think!) in Dublin when I travelled over with Drive and slept on top of the bass cab in their van for a fiver a day. I try to explain to people who ask that it worked just like Facebook in many ways, except with real people and real places and real situations. But I guess that would just make me old, right?

I’ve got to ask about Brexit as it’s referenced in one of your songs. Do you know anyone who voted for it and what is their reason? I ask because I can see the virtue in splitting the European Union but amn’t sure that’s why Brexit was so popular.

My parents voted for Brexit. We had a bit of a bust up last time I stayed with them after a few drinks. The suggestion was that they did it for their grandchildren…did what exactly, I’m unsure. It is very much indicative of the small town England mentality which still prevails, but this gave it a voice. The greatest despair is that people are so ignorant that they completely bypassed the realities of what Brexit would actually mean and simply voted out…as you say, the vote was not based on the pros and cons of leaving the EU, but more about our insecurities as a nation and an opportunity to sing Rule Brittania whilst waving a flag. I live in a small village in East Yorkshire now, and there were posters put up spreading the unsubstantiated claims and the underlying (at best) xenophobia and at worst straight up racism which this vote has given a voice to is depressing and worrying in equal measure. Humanity and compassion go out of the window, and it is the “foreigner” blamed for the failings of the very Government that these ignorant masses have continued to vote in. If I could emigrate I would seriously consider it.

Do you get a chance to play many gigs? Any chance you can get over to Ireland at some stage?

No. But yes.

No – because we all have family and responsibilities and sometimes these take priority for a period of time until we can work it all out.

Yes – because we all have family and responsibilities and sometimes we need to take priority for a period of time before we need to return to them.

niallhope

The Future of Punk: Heavy Drapes Interview

Has punk lost its energy and direction after 40 years?
Has it become a formula?
Can you combine influences as diverse as Crass, the Damned, Hanoi Rocks and Morrissey?

The new Scottish rockers, Heavy Drapes, combine a punky energy and style with a brash attitude and songs that pack a mighty punch. Live, as I watched them in front of a large crowd from the punk community in Blackpool, I was moved by their great songs, great sound and absolute commitment. I wanted to know more about them, and the band’s singer, De, was decent enough to answer some questions from me. I was impressed with his honesty. He wasn’t trying to be a ‘spokesman for a generation’, he was just trying to make music for his mates. Music with integrity and fire and passion. No compromises. No rock and roll fantasy. And that’s refreshing in 2017.

Michael: What are Heavy Drapes trying to achieve?

De: Short term, to write a set of songs that make people sit up and take notice. To record those songs and deliver an album which is viewed as something special. That’s where we are at the moment, playing the songs live to the people who want to hear them and then recording them.
We’ve achieved all the stuff needed to get us to this point, like grabbing people’s attention by being bloody good at what we do, shouting about it, reminding people that rock music doesn’t need to be dull, it can be dangerous, glamorous and fun.

Long term, as above with some cash behind us and on an international level.

It’s all about the music, nothing will be achieved with a shit album.
What other front-men/women have inspired you?
Very few to be honest. Iggy, Rotten and I’m struggling after that. There’s a number I’m interested in coz they deliver good chat, like Morrisey, Liam Gallagher, Ian Brown. They talk about stuff I can relate to.
I wanted to be a front-man because learning an instrument wasn’t for me but it was an attractive outlet to express myself.

What career highlights so far are you happiest with?

De: That changes week on week. Right now, it’s the success of the Rebellion show, the actual gig and the mountain of good stuff which has come on the back of it. To go from opening for 999 in front of 80 people (which was a great gig) to pulling over 2000 in the Empress Ballroom, all in 18 months with only a 4 track EP under our belt, is astonishing. How did that happen?

Punk was about style and politics as well as music…has style always been important to you personally?

Yes, more so than the politics. I was only a boy when punk grabbed me, it was the visual aspect mixed with high energy rock that got me hooked. Yeah, I was much more interested in a nice pair of trousers than I was with what ‘Anarchy’ actually meant. That wasn’t any different from my mates. We got into punk coz the bands poked fun at the stuff our big brothers liked. We loved the Damned too, the first album. The Clash were never big round my way. No one sounded as dangerous as Sex Pistols or the Damned; I wasn’t aware of Iggy & the Stooges until later.
All said and done. I got well into a bit of Crass; they nailed it visually and musically for me on the Stations of the Cross album.

 

When did you start going to gigs…..what gigs stand out for you?

Gigs in my early teens happened but when you don’t have your own cash, you need to be choosey. Possibly the most painful moments for me as a teenager were the times I didn’t have the cash for a show or being too young to get in.
The first time seeing the Damned was pretty exciting. It was absolutely believable to me that Vanian could jump off stage and suck my blood. They looked like a bunch of nutters, it was really appealing. These nutters delivered a perfect first album.

Brigandage, Boys Wonder, Sid Presley Experience, Hanoi Rocks, they’re all in my head at the moment, so they must be special. Public Image Limited the first time they toured; buzzing I was. And Oasis back in 1995 when they played Irvine Beach in a circus tent, there was something special happening, you could feel it.

Sex Pistols 1996 Glasgow, they looked and sounded like a big, fuck off rock band. Sex Pistols again at Crystal Palace, Birmingham, Brixton, Loch Lomond and Hammersmith. I’m a sucker for the big tunes.

5 favourite singles

Easy and without hesitation. Anarchy In The UK, God Save The Queen, Pretty Vacant (Sex Pistols), Problem Child (The Damned), Sheena Is A Punk Rocker (Ramones).

5 favourite albums

I only have 3 albums where every single track gives me goosebumps; Never Mind The Bollocks, Damned Damned Damned and [Iggy and the Stooges] Raw Power.
The other 2 would have to be, ummmmm! Ramones 1st and Stooges/Fun House.

Why has punk remained so vital to people?

I don’t have the answer to that. The punk that’s out there at the moment isn’t vital to me, I’d rather listen to nothing. We formed Heavy Drapes to give our mates a band to come and see coz they were moaning about everything being a bit dull. The more shows we did, the more people were telling us the same thing. We’re 4 guys in a rock band who like a bit of early punk rock and we’re stirring things up because we’ve taken the time to think about what we’re actually doing. It’s vital to the people who like us that we do well and don’t self-destruct, they’ve bought into us but that’s not a punk thing, that’s a music thing. Nope, lost with that one.

How are you carrying on the punk ‘tradition’?

By stealing the bits we like and moving forward. I’ve never thought of it as tradition, I just think if you’re going to use bits and pieces from the past to create something fresh then why not the good bits? I’m not going to be inspired by Rancid, then try and sneak a beard into punk. I’d rather have the awareness to know that Stiv Bators with a beard would have been laughed at. It’s like, punk has become so far removed from what it was. It’s like the hippies have taken over. We exist to show that it doesn’t need to be like that, it can have a bit of style and swagger.

So there you have it. Heavy Drapes, a new band with roots in punk. With songs full of sinew and muscle, blood and guts. And if their roots are in punk, they are not just wallowing in nostalgia, looking at the punk past, in fact, they may be the future of punk.

Even better, they have just enlisted Paul Research. Many of remember the brilliant but short-lived band, Scars. In my opinion, Paul was one of the best of the post-punk guitar players, with a distinctive sound, full of electricity and imagination. Scars played a diverse, daring style of New Pop and played a brilliant set in the Dublin’s Project Arts Centre with The Atrix in 1981. A gig that lives in the memory.

Michael

I Am A Carcrash Interview

 

The couple of times I’ve seen I am a car crash live have been challenging experiences. Definitely more post thank punk and angular rhythms aplenty but tunes sneaking in the back door. Once or twice I have been rocked from my comfort zone, unsure of where John is going with his lyrics. In anticipation of their new record coming out before the end of the year I sent him a few questions

For those interested can you give us a bit of history to band and some of the other bands you’ve played in?

Myself and j have been long time band mates after our last band lebowski disintegrated, I thought I’d never play again hated all of it and had nothing in me to say. But after few years I just started to write again. Felt the compulsion. Called jay and together we formed I am a Car Crash. Jay is the director. Shane is the keeper of my focus and together it’s a sound we love.

What is the connection with foad?

Peter jones saw us play early on and was instantly on board and a gigantic support. We’ve a lot of thanks owed to him

How many times have you played rebellion? What are your honest impressions of it? Did your opinion change after attending the festival?

This year was our second rebellion. We loved the whole thing. Last year was great too but this year we have the right people and got to play a bigger stage and I felt we lost ourselves in the set and did ourselves very proud. I’m no massive punk guy but there’s lots of artists there who I have huge respect for, paranoid visions, I had some good chats with Steve ignorant and what a fucking lyricist he is also our good buddies Protex and Lee Harvey’s are great company. I think my onstage self and our vibe is what the punk audience latch onto and I’ve no issue there. I’m ridiculously ethical when it comes to music so there that too.
But rebellion I loved the community of the punk crowd. That’s thing I’ve been struck by most, a love for music and for community

You’ve also done rocking Road festival. How did that come about?

Rocking road is a great cause that’s why we do that. My son goes to that school and to help in anyway is a privilege, the drummer dad David runs it everywhere and is a special guy so it’s a total pleasure.

If you had a limitless budget for your own rocking road festival what would be the line up (6 bands if you can)

Cure.
Gang of Four
Future of the left
Xtc
Whipping boy
Kaisier Chiefs cause they’d probably get onto the bill anyway somehow, they always do

Can you tell me your favourite gig a) to play and b) to see ?

Favourite gig? Well, I’d love to see future of the left live but I’d probably have to say sonic youth at electric picnic or pavement, a toss up. Favourite place to play? lots of great places round Dublin, fibbers can be great, Thomas house is nifty, Whelans.  But I’m looking forward to getting our album out and hitting far more stages.

What made you pick up an instrument to begin with and decide yes I can be in a band? What makes you keep doing it?

I always wanted a guitar. Before that I was just dancing round like a sap with a tennis racket in my room. Brothers and sisters used to catch me, now that’s embarrassing, I’d rather of got caught masturbating which I never did and don’t don’t do anyway cause I’m a born again catholic.
Started to jot words in sixth class just did. Never been able to explain it and it morphed. Got guitar at twelve and slowly slowly got better. Now it’s the same. I’m writing at various stages. I think I’m just a writer who happens to be in s band using a guitar I could put it down and use some other instrument which I’ve always thought would be interesting. It’s always unconscious what comes out there is. So yeah we don’t really sit down and say it needs to be this or that. We change structure about. Each one is its own thing so we never know what’s next. This album is I dunno dark, funny, loud, post punk, pixies smacking into talking heads but I’m told I’m bad at referencing us by the other two. But when this album is out we’ve no idea what they next thing we do will sound like.

We love doing it. Creating is the fun. We wanna up our output and this album is just the beginning. Everyone is writing and is everyone feels peak and it’s just a great fun outlet. I love playing live and I love being in the studio with this band.

Your sound is more based on angular rhythms rather than straightforward punk rock. Do you sit down and think, yes this has to sound a certain way or is it just the way it all flows

Again. The lads will tell ya. I know nothing of time signatures and beats and middle 8ths and all that. So ye the music just flows with the words. I may try throw a subject in but once it starts I’m not even in the equation then suddenly there’s a song and we hone it. That’s really it. We only have comparison to make with last ep ‘white people problems’ and it’s a million miles from that in a lot of ways. So we are just really really excited to finish and share it cause it hits everything in its nose. We are thinking of calling it Them Not Us but no definite yet.

We are hoping for the album to be out by the end of the year. It’s 80% there.  This album is just inspired by what I see around, everyone losing their humanity while speaking online, ridiculous presidents, identify politics, love, the limits being put on free speech, people’s belief in magic and conspiracies, unemployment all things I’ve seen and have got to me in someway or make me think we must be in a simulation cause this shit would only be happening if someone was just having a laugh. I hate left I hate right it’s hard to tell the difference some of the songs poke at that sad truth how they’ve both gone extreme and then meet, the horse shoe affect. Everything is a team, everything is worth digging in for, there’s many wars on but there’s definitely one on intelligence and reason taking place. Then the next song will be about a gym bunny or “what about building 7” which is one of my favourites cause it just hammers at the silliness of it all.

I’ve seeen you a couple of times and each times it seems like you are about to say something controversial. Is this done on purpose?

Nope. It’s the listener who decides if it’s controversial.
I just have fun and switch off it’s the same as writing. But I think most bands are so sterile now so we stand out but that’s more there thing. Outspoken I don’t even know what that means. We are just a band having fun it’s no big deal I think the majority at gigs get it and see what’s being done, thought it’s not always instantly obvious but isn’t there bigger pay off in that. I challenge and poke st subjects I care about but it’s always more fun to me to joke with it cause I always find that’s the best way.
But it depends on the mood some gigs I’d be very quiet ya never know with us

Do you use music to entertain or challenge?

Both I guess. Predominantly it’s us saying we like this so. So I would say I never think oh I’m gonna try challenge it’s more just a natural occurrence if that does happen but we don’t look for that, that’s easy and ultimately pointless I reckon. No matter what you do or say or don’t say or do, someone somewhere will be upset and all good music should upset some people that’s the point of any meaningful art, blandness offends me and there’s plenty of that.

Entertain is also just an offshoot but never the point. The point is only to make music and to share it with others. Some we entertain some we bore as long as we aren’t referred to as nice band with nice songs, I’m ok. We can switch to most rock bands dressed in black pretending to be something important for the nice but packaged as unrulely hard rock.

Just out of interest were you going to punk gigs before playing in the band? Had you come across the diy scene in Dublin?

DIY never belonged to punk all the bands we were round when we started were putting out their own music. We played with many a punk band and we’ve played with many a band who call themselves some other descriptor. I’ve never felt the need to call us a punk band or a alternative band or a slow dance group that was the point of the band name I AM ACar Crash doesn’t make you think of a genre, The main reason I liked it. But for now we are 3 with guitars and drums so we are a rock band and then it’s up to everyone else to name us and I always enjoy hearing what people think, I hear a million different things after gigs always usually lovely even though I’m not the most comfortable person post show
So when we were younger there was that whole treasure island thing which was the pop punk thing I was aware of that I was aware of hating it to its core. I’ve never been a network guy or a click lover. If I really wanted I’d be out at gigs every night telling some little eager beaver scene band how great they are and trying to get an opener by use of felatio cause that’s what happens but I couldn’t be making eye contact with myself then. or we could water down our sound and try tick as many boxes most bands do that stuff. It’s very much business over art with most now. It’s like football, you look at some players and think, wait does that guy even like football at all.

Old band was called levowski so j and stu from that band went on to form Liz is evil our bassist works at golden plec and I just sunk into a bad state for a year or two I’d say doing nothing and love for nothing I always remember j telling me he thought I was done for overweight and in a mental crisis but one day it left or subsided and the need to write returned and hasn’t left since, it could do but there’s no point worrying about something. I will never understand. But you’d hope people find our brand of lark entertaining, we certainly do.

niallhope

Interrobang‽ Interview

 

How do you follow up on the most unlikely global hit pop song ever?

A song, perhaps best known for the infectious chorus, ‘I get knocked down, but I get up again’, scorched across the global pop charts some years ago. Its title was Tubthumbping and the collective responsible for it were Chumbawamba previously known only to the DIY music community.

Interrobang‽ are the new band from two members of Chumbawamba, Dunstan and Harry, yet the sound couldn’t be more different. That’s says a lot about a commitment to be creative, innovative and experimental. Onstage they are dynamic and thrilling, combining just the sounds of guitar and drums with Dunstan’s vibrant, expressive talk-songs.

Because the guitar is such a vital part of the band’s sound, yet avoids most of the clichés and limitations of rock guitar, I wanted to know more about it. It reminded me of the intensity of Fugazi and even the Ruts or the interesting bits of Bauhaus in places, so I asked the Interrobang‽ guitar-person Griff and here’s what he had to say.

 

 

 

Michael: For me, Interrobang‽ came as a complete surprise. I’d seen two-piece bands with a drummer before, going back to House of Freaks circa 1989, yet Interrobang‽ was captivating, even revolutionary. Musically speaking, can you recall any acts that gave you a similar feeling, overwhelming you by being original without feeling like a gimmick?

Griff: I love that feeling when you discover a new band that makes you throw out everything you previously understood, and makes you want to set sail on a new course. I felt like that when I first heard Public Enemy in the 80s. A friend leant me It Takes A Nation Of Millions on cassette and it was all I listened to for about a month, it blew my teenage mind. The noise, the words, it was something totally new to me and it seemed to make so much other music I was listening to at the time redundant.

 

How difficult is it for you as a musician to compose for a lyricist/performer who seems to have a very strong sense of how to perform his lyrics?

Griff: Our process for writing the Interrobang‽ material was very much a collaborative effort. The initial batch of 4 songs were created in a room as a live band, using improvisation as the main way to generate sounds. Dunstan would start reciting/shouting the lyrics at a tempo and vocal pitch that was right for him and I would respond with whatever felt right in the spur of the moment. We recorded what we did so that we could pick and choose the things that were working after the event. Even so, quite a few of the songs just came out fully formed that way. I think Curmudgeon and Billingham just happened without us having to change very much, we just used the recordings to learn exactly what we had played on the initial attempt. Obviously slight improvements and tweaks to the guitar parts happened as the songs all found their space over time, but the structure and essence of those two songs just arrived fully formed.

Geographical limitations meant that we had to find other ways of writing as the project started becoming more serious as I was in Leeds, and Dunstan in Brighton. After the initial batch of songs we moved to a process where I would record improvised guitar parts and ideas in isolation and add them to a Dropbox folder. Dunstan would then pick and choose the ideas that he felt best suited the mood and tempo for songs as he generally had a good idea of how he wanted to deliver the lyrics he had. He would then chop up my guitar ideas and put rough vocal takes on top using garage band i think? I would then get those Garage Band versions from Dropbox and then try and play his arrangements again as a song, maybe changing a few things here and there. This would then go back in the Dropbox and Dunstan would then add his vocal again, maybe moving guitars around again. We’d go back and forth like this until we had a finished song of guitars and vocals. i was always keeping an eye on the parts to make sure that it was something I could recreate live using the loop pedal, as we were very much focused on the live presentation of the songs for the first couple of years. The idea of how to record them came much later. We deliberately made the decision not to think about the recordings until we had played as many live shows as possible. We wrote 12 songs in this way before Harry joined the band on drums.

 

Can you tell us a little about how you actually create your sounds in the live shows?

Griff: My technical set up is very simple as far as the sounds I create, as I don’t use any pedals to influence the personality of the sound in any way, it’s just the Les Paul plugged into the amp, well… 2 amps 🙂

In the initial rehearsals I tried to do everything using a single guitar amp. I’d start looping and then would play live guitar lines over the top of the loop but it was immediately apparent that that wasn’t going to work as the drums had to follow the loop rather than the other way around. It was impossible to do that with the live guitar playing over the top, we kept losing track of where the loop was and things would fall apart.

So, I did a bit of research and bought a Radial Tonebone Twin-City Active ABY Switcher pedal. This let me send the guitar to 2 separate outputs. You can send to output A, or to output B, or A AND B at the same time. I sent output A to the loop pedal and then the loop pedal could have its own dedicated amp. Then when i played my live lines on top I could switch to output B going to a second amp and that way the loop amp was playing LOUD right next to the drums, with no live guitar obscuring the loop. Now it was possible for Harry to follow the loop without things getting out of synch. It still wasn’t easy to do, and it required a great deal of skill form Harry, especially as we drop the loop out in sections and need to maintain tempos so that when the loop comes back in things don’t fall over, but Harry managed to do it with some practice.

It wasn’t until we got all of this working that I realised that I could voice the amps in a way that would sound amazing when both amps are playing the same sounds (ie. when the loop drops out). I make sure the loop amp is quite clean, with a lot of attack, to make it easy for Harry to hear and follow, but the live amp has a bit more gain like a traditional rock sound. The result when you play power chords through both of the amps is a big part of the Interrobang‽ sound.

 

How did you come to fall in love with the guitar in the first place?

Griff: I was always very musical as a kid and was playing violin from the age of about 7 in primary school. My friends were always surprised how I could pick up an instrument and play any tune that they named, it was like a party trick. I started playing guitar when I was about 11 when a guitar playing friend of mine asked me to help him work out the chords for ACDC Back in Black. Once I’d worked it out I couldn’t put his guitar down, and ended up getting my own £60 Kay’s guitar a few months later for Christmas from a second-hand shop at the end of my street. I never put it down from the day I got it. I spent a lot of time working out guitar parts from cassettes I had of The Buzzcocks, SLF, Sex Pistols, The Damned and plenty of others.

 

I’ve read a bit about your ‘mood boards’ (I am a teacher and this is very exciting to me, as lots of my students aren’t rewarded by the standardised education system). Can you tell us more about how you use the mood boards as a road map?

Griff: The mood board was the idea we had on the night that we formed Interrobang‽
Dunstan told me that he had all these lyrics ready, and when he told me what they were about I immediately wanted to help him put something together to deliver them to an audience. I didn’t want to push my musical ideas onto him, as i knew he would have strong opinions about how he was expecting it to sound, so I suggested to him that he make a compilation CD of songs and bands that he thought we should be referencing. It was so useful for me as it was a very coherent compilation and I was inspired by it instantly, having lots of ideas about what to do. The keystone of the mood board for me was the Gang of Four and Wire songs. I knew it had to be anti-rock, brittle, insistent, and intense.

The other very important influence on there, and the one that pretty much dictated, and helped me to develop, a specific guitar style for the project was Dr Feelgood. To be honest I have stolen Wilko’s approach and style on the guitar, and then added a few inflections of my own. I decided to put a few rules in place for my parts, to try and spell out the anti-rock thing. Self-imposed rules included; NO bending of the strings, NO hammer ons, NO pull offs, NO solos, EVERY note was of equal importance so I took Wilko’s relentless up/down strumming pattern and applied it to single notes on single strings. I tried to make it as robotic as possible to emphasise the motorik nature of the sound that you get when using loops.

There were other things on the mood board which didn’t influence my playing style as much but were more influential in an atmospheric aspect. Things like Beefheart and Tom Waits.
The mood board was a great way to start the project and it was good to communicate with actual sounds and songs rather than dialogue which can leave too much room for mis-understandings and conflicting assumptions. I really think that this helped us get to the interrobang‽ sound quickly and without too many wrong turnings.

 

Not everyone is familiar with your past history, what parts of your music career have shaped you, and what you bring to Interrobang‽

Griff: I’ve played in a wide range of musical projects throughout my life, and it would be hard to find a consistent musical approach or thread through them all. I’ve usually been a facilitator of other people’s ideas though.

The musical project I was working on directly before the Interrobang‽ project was an improvised psych rock 3 piece that was all about the loop pedal. I’d just come out of a singer-songwriter band before that and I was sick of spending rehearsals discussing what should happen when, rather than actually playing. We were called The Other Things and we would play for 4 hours solid once a week. We’d record the entire 4 hours and then edit it into a 40-minute album, and stick it on Bandcamp. I was exploring what I could do with the loop pedal in that project, so when Interrobang‽ started I knew I wanted to put some of those techniques to use in a different context.

 

To me, Interrobang‽ is a form of mash-up, with music meeting a dramatic vocal performance. Can you think of any other cultural mash-ups that you admire/appreciate?

Griff: Hah, that’s funny that you use the word “mash-up” because the only other musical collaboration the I’d had with Dunstan was in the early 00s when we worked together to put out a white label of a mash up that I had created. I was in London at the time and I’d made a bunch of tracks where you take accapellas or instrumentals of popular songs and mash them together to make new songs. I’d made one that mashed together Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” with Happy Monday’s “24 Hour Party People”, basically it was Sean Ryder doing his thing on top of the Kylie groove, with Kylie singing the chorus’. Dunstan loved it and set up a little label and we made 1000 white labels of it, and then drove round London record shops selling them to shops out of the boot of a car. It was a lot of fun.

I think we also tried to do something similar using lots of post punk 7” singles that Dunstan had, but tried to add his vocals on top, a bit like the early Sleaford Mods stuff that Jason did before Andrew Fearn was on board. I can’t remember why we didn’t get very far with that project, but it didn’t really come to fruition. I think I have some recordings on a hard drive somewhere of that stuff. I might have to go and dig it out to see what’s there!

 

Did any punk records/groups/statements make an impression on you? Any punk records or acts that stand out for you?

Griff: I was born in 71 so was too young to get any of the first wave of the punk thing as it happened. But I did go digging through the punk sections in local record shops as a teenager in the mid 80s and loved all the big names that were available there. The first gig I ever went to was Public Image Ltd at Manchester Apollo, it was quite a daunting experience as I was about 15. Most of my friends at the time were either into indie stuff like The Smiths and The Cure or into Led Zepellin and Pink Floyd. I loved all that stuff too.

One record that made a big impact on me was Rudimentary Peni’s Death Church. When I saw the hand drawn cover in a shop in Affleck’s Palace in Manchester I was intrigued and bought it straight away. I didn’t really understand the context of that record, knew nothing about the anarcho punk scene, but it totally engulfed me. It was so dark and was like nothing else I had ever heard. Quite psychedelic in a way.

When I was older at the end of the 80s I moved to Newcastle and met a new crowd who were all into American hardcore stuff. Minor Threat totally blew my mind because of their straight edge stance and total commitment to their message. I shaved my head and tried to adopt some of their approach for a while, but struggled with the straight edge thing, haha.

One of my favourite bands that I discovered around that time, and one that I think has a huge influence on how I approach the Interrobang‽ songs was NoMeansNo. The “Wrong” album was, and still is, one of my favourite albums.

https://www.facebook.com/intrrbng/?ref=br_rs

 

Lee Harvey’s Interview

Dublin band the Lee Harvey’s have been on the go 8 years and in that time have released 3 albums on foad. I’ve seen them only a handful occasions but have always been impressed. Their sound has a feel not unlike those northern Irish bands on good vibrations but where good vibes had a lot of pop going on Lee Harvey’s are more rooted in clash and punk, lots of great melodies though. I’m sitting here listening to their Still Angry album on a plane journey back from Spain. I spend 7 days there on a family holiday and this was a perfect accompaniment for heading home. As I pondered going back to the real world and wondered what was going on in the world I had bitzy’s observations on the states in my ears. This album was written before the current President made claims for most powerful man in the world. No doubt that will provide fuel for rainforests of lyrics but the observation of

“It’s what you do that makes you count
Not who you serve”

is as deliberate as ever in the week white supremacists felt it was ok to March and then commit a terror attack. What will happen will become the history books of our children’s children, let’s hope it doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the past.

I sent Bitzy a few questions after their successful appearance at Rebellion and here is what he had to say.

For those interested can you give us a bit of history to a) the lee Harvey’s and b) some of the other bands you’ve played in? What do you do outside the band?

I formed The Lee Harveys in 2009 with Mike a guy from work who has gone back to New Zealand. I wanted it to be a sounding board about all things good and bad with the USA. It is a country full of contradictions…plenty of subject matter forever.

We did our first gig in Thomas House. Paul joined after that.

I was in The Strougers back in the 70’s and played the Dandelion market etc, Paul was in thee amazing colossal men, guernica and firewater creed. Tony was in jobseekers. We were a 3 piece for a long time until Rory joined on lead guitar

I work as an outreach worker with homeless drug users and people with alcohol issues

How did the three albums on FOAD come about? Who asked first and what does the process involve?

We recorded the first 2 albums in ashtown studios. PA and Whelo from the dubtones guested on guitar. basically PA said he would put the records out on FOAD which we were happy to do. Our current album is also on FOAD and fair play to them for helping us immensely. we sell cds at gigs basically. gun city is sold out and still angry is almost sold out so several hundred sales there.

how many times have you played rebellion? What are your honest impressions of it? Did your opinion change after attending the festival?

We’ve played rebellion 4 times. The first time is now part of folklore., too long to go into but I still have nightmares bout it. My impressions of rebellion are a very well oiled rock n roll machine. Its good to be rubbing shoulders with some of the punk rock legends, but there are some of the older bands from back in the day who seem happy to just play the circuit and not release anything new. Its a great festival run by great people.

can you tell me your favourite gig a) to play and b) to see ?

I loved playing with buzzcocks a few years back. rebellion, as i said, is great coz the sound ya get is second to none. Seeing the clash in TCD and Ramones 4 times was the ultimate.

what made you pick up an instrument to begin with and decide yes I can be in a band? What makes you keep doing it?

Punk happened at the right time for me, 1976, hearing new rose and seeing the radiators from space told me that anyone could do it, they were a great irish band. i do it for the love of music, not for money coz theres fuck all money in it and coz ive still got something to say.

we ain’t gonna ever play jazz, put it that way.

niallhope

Interview: Kim Clark Champniss. “Joy Division Changed My Life.” Canadian author talks about punk, interview techniques, music and life. And shows what to do when John Lydon walks out of a Sex Pistols interview!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6FLkt9gD7I


9781459739239[1]

One of Canada’s most celebrated music experts, KCC is probably best known as a broadcaster, both on radio and TV. Yet beyond the music there is the man, and his autobiography is a gripping account of a life lived at times in the margins of society where music is a constant companion and driving force. Although it is not a music book per se, it sparkles with particular brightness when Champniss is recounting his teenage dalliances with bikers and skinheads, punks and new wavers as well as night club citizens. In fact, youth subcultures seem to be the signposts on the forgotten byways along which he travelled intrepidly. His enthusiasm for his beloved Fulham FC has evidently never diminished.


 The enthusiasm he had for great disco and soul records throbs in the early part of the book, while his Damascene moment when he encounters Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ reminds us that this was an Englishman in the New World with a box of records under his arm; a man on a mission to play music that inspired and consoled people, or just made them want to dance.


 His razor sharp observations make the characters brim-full of energy, his encounter with a successful academic book seller is Charles Dickens meets Hunter Thompson. Who knew the world of traveling salesmen was more rock and roll than rock and roll itself?




 Naturally, the book made me want to know even more about the man and the music. He was generous enough to answer some questions about his life and work.



KCC Q+A

Music seems to be a guiding, sometimes chaotic, hand in your life why do you think you were captivated by music so deeply and for so long?


 Pop music captured me very early. It never let go. It was a combination of not only the power of song, but of the culture that grows up around it: rebellion, sex, individuality (and, paradoxically, tribal), energy, and the love of dance. To be knowledgeable about pop/rock gave you entre into a new world, valuable currency as a teenager.


 You mention the advent of punk in London, what was it like to sense this new wave of youth culture gathering?


 I had returned to London just after the famous Sex Pistols interview with Bill Grundy in December 1976. My family, and English friend, asked me, the music guy, what my thoughts were on this new thing. At the time I was immersed in disco, and dismissive of what I thought was an extreme element in music. But then I began to see the influences in not only music, but fashion, design, and attitude. Within a year the repetitive nature of disco weighed on me. “What this town needs is an enema” comes to mind. I began to welcome the radical change.


 Punk quickly splintered into ‘new wave’, do you have any particular fond memories of that new soundtrack to the early 1980s?


 As a successful night club DJ in the late 70s I became bored with the repetitive nature of the 4/4 beat. Soings such as “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” (Ian Dury), “Ca Plane Pour Moi”(Plastic Bertrand), “Money” (Flying Lizards), and “Planet Claire” (B-52s) began to creep into my music set. The Vancouver Sun came to the club I worked at – took a photo of the small group of new wavers who took the floor when I played those tunes, and then printed a story about Disco on its last legs. Under the photo they had the caption “New Wave punk rockers take over Pharaohs in Gastown”. I lost my job. But New Wave pointed me in a new direction. Joy Division changed my life.


 You are remembered for your excellent documenting of punk rock on TV, can you tell us more about how that came about?


 I was working for the TV show “The NewMusic” in the early 90s. My boss, the late John Martin, when he started the show in 1979, documented the early Toronto punk scene, and the punk bands playing Toronto. (There is the famous 1979 Clash interview at the O’Keefe Centre. The Undertones opened). John wanted me to go through the archives and tell the story of punk utilizing all those great early interviews, plus update them with new ones, which I did. The result was ‘Punk 76-79”. I was surprised by the incredible response. It hit at just the right time.


 What did you learn about punk when doing that?


 I learned just how important Toronto was to the Punk scene in North America. New York, Boston and Toronto were the epicentres.


 Do you recall any punk records/gigs that stand out?


 “Homicide”/999. “London Calling”/The Clash...and of course Joy Division’s music.


 What do you think punk’s legacy was?


 Punk changed the world...not as a musical legacy, but as the D.I.Y. attitude. It de-mystified the music industry. It empowered the creative urge. It empowered the person. It shook up society.


 You have interviewed some of the most legendary, as well as lesser-known acts (I recall you as one of the first people to sense that Alanis Morisette would go the distance…) what do you think makes for a ‘great artist’?


 Talent, luck, right timing, right team, commitment. Context. Things are best understood by the context in which they find themselves. The same applies to artists.


 What makes a great interview?


 Do your homework. Listen. Listen. Listen. Provided the subject is willing to talk, the interviewer can feed off the answers, and then ask fresh questions. Break the media mould.  Hopefully, something fresh is revealed, not just to the audience, but maybe to the subject themselves.


 How did you prepare for them and do any stand out in particular?


 I research as much as I can. I listen to as much music as I can. Here are the interviews that stand out for various different reasons:
 1) Joni Mitchell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oqUYMkOp4M
 2) U2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I7zibFNrF4
 3) Sex Pistols: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6FLkt9gD7I



What advice would you give to anyone considered a music industry career?


 Don’t do it. But if you must, commit to it with all your heart...and be prepared. “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.” Hunter S Thompson.

Michael

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

 

Yikes…..

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.

Michael