Tell us about the new Sham 69 album Tim?
“Well that’s a loaded question… well the new album or the ‘bloody’ album as its become know is in effect 1 year over due. The problem for us all in the band is that we wanted this to be a good album on all fronts really, but as many bands know there is know such thing and as such it will either be loved or hated in equal measures. This album is one that we have argued over and at times it has torn us apart and brought us back together. We wanted it to be an album whose songs were real and not the syrupy and insincere rants of someone who’s fallen out of a tree. We want all the songs to not only tell a story but also reflect what’s ‘really’ happening around us. Now many may think FUCK what was they thinking and ‘we don’t wanna be depressed and listen to struggle and angst’…so if you’re one of those who don’t then try fucking living where I am!! The point of US… YOU… THEM the fans is that we have had enough… what’s fucking changed in 30 years NOTHING. The album does in a way reflect what we see and I think more so with this band, that it should not be packaged and just shoved out as ‘another’ SHAM 69 album or any other punk oi album. The point is we don’t want it to appeal to a zero generation market anymore, we want it to appeal to the Old SHAM fans who still come to the shows and still wanna kick some shit…we want this album to appeal to Kids that have realised they have been window shopping amongst what the Corporates who’ve been force feeding them, but above all we want this to say to people that yes we are fucking real and the songs reflect this. We have songs like HALL OF FAME that is more to make a light hearted scrutiny of the shit we see everyday on the TV and in the papers and songs like PUBLIC ENEMY and WHO KILLED JOE PUBLIC the title track that say it the way it is. I’m sure there will be many who will be plucking a dagger out of their heart, but many who will say fucking right or if your American fuck yeah. The thing is we have worked hard on this and though some may say well it ain’t SHAM 69 well. OK explain to me what SHAM 69 album over the last 30 years has been the same… none that’s the answer… but what I see and the other guys in the band is that we must get real and reflect what’s going on around us.”
And this is the second album without Jimmy Pursey – a legendary member of Sham. It must have been a huge hill to climb with the new line-up and huge shoes to fill.
TIM V: “Well I always thought that this question would die the death… but over the years I have come full circle on the whys and wherefors. So yes I would be lying if I didn’t say it wasn’t hard, but it’s the same with any band in a situation like ours. The thing is I have found that since the start 1,000s of fans have never really been on the ball as they would like to have us believe and this is mainly due to them being let down and forgotten. The band has literally picked itself up from nowhere and though some would have us believe that it was the greatest travesty in the world, there are many who have thought it was the greatest thing since D-DAY. The thing that had been forgotten, even by myself was that despite the reasons Jimmy left and the subsequent mountain of crap we’ve had to deal with…he Jimmy Pursey has had his own life and ambitions to get on with. Unfortunately many fans out there feel that when someone leaves, then it is they who will preside over the future of the band. Yet at no point do they ever put themselves out to one find out why it happened and two what the band wants and feels. My take on it for sceptical fans is be brave and at least check us out then you have like all free men and women a thing called ‘the freedom of choice’…come see the band again or stay at home and play your old albums…simple!”
“The thing is when we started off despite the rest of the guys and myself having vast experience, not only in SHAM 69 but in other tense situations, we were all very green..almost reborn..but like the lit wood beneath Joan Of Arc you start to realise the reality when the flames are licking your arse. After our first gig I said to the guys that the only way this will work is to restore the bands credibility amongst its fans and the industry which at that point it was rock bottom. So I said we must structure the set and give the fans some beef and so we did. It was also important to take the band out of the cul de sac to which it had embedded itself and PLAY!!!!…and not do 20 minute sets!!!”
“My personal emotions have been through Hell and Back over this, be it through respect for the old and the new but one thing that has always remained and that’s the logic of right and wrong. I have had fans slag me off I’ve had fans saying I’m brilliant…I’ve had those that have slagged me off praising me months down the line forgetting they’ve slagged me off…I’ve had people retract criticism of this band after seeing us…and of course those who just don’t care and stay at home. But overall one thing that I have learnt is take it for what it is and I say this following a review of the Western Culture album in the Independent newspaper years back and it read that “it was a farce and a SHAM due to them sadly missing Jimmy Pursey’s lyrics… now despite us laughing our heads off we thought..did you even listen to it… more so for the point that Jimmy had written them. So I have learnt that a lot of criticism we get is sheer bollocks and spite and very sad. I do however have a little giggle with people who don’t even know what’s going on and it would break their hearts if they knew all what this band has gone though internally… and as such a guy who came up to me with the looks of a spy and said ere ere… tapping me on the shoulder…ere ere… Jimmy you ain’t ‘ad that plastic surgery lark…you know that botox stuff..’ave yer……….what do you say to people like that???? So that’s what happened..4 years on we have toured 3/4s of the world released 3 albums and now have a feature film coming out as well as bringing many old fans back… won many over and converted 1000s more…and as that geezer on the Everest ad’s says YOU DIDNT THINK WE’D BE DOING THAT..DID YOU!”
But is this still really Sham 69?
“Well I will let Dave chuck his bit in….Dave Parsons..Is the new Pope still Catholic? Of course this is still Sham 69, what people have to remember is, that from the day I formed Sham 69 there have been constant line-up changes, half way through making our first single “I don’t wanna” we had a bass player change, by the start of our third album we changed drummers, in 1986 we had a new drummer and again a bass player. In the eyes of most people at the time, including ATV and SniffinGlue man Mark P Sham 69 was the only true Punk band, what we believed in and our approach to what we did was unique, these qualities still remain with the band to this day – this is not a sham, it’s the real thing. If anything, during the nineties I think we had drifted away from our fan base, with Mr Pursey becoming more and more out of touch with the people who were coming to see us, but with the arrival of Tim V who came with all the right credentials we’re firmly back on course, as can be wittnessed at any Sham gig.”
“Sham 69 was always prominently a live band, a band that needed to be out in front of its audience, and as I’ve said before, throughout the nineties up till 2006 we were barely playing six gigs a year, for the last four years we’ve hardly stopped, playing many countries and continents we never played before including being the first ever major UK punk band to tour China. So in answer to your question, Yes, Sham 69 cannot get any more real than it is now. Tim V: Well again like I said its all about how people deal with reality…for me there have been 100s of bands like us and have had many changes both in personnel and styles of music. But the biggest bollocks I want to correct and drive home to people is….if you consider yourself to be judge and jury for the Court Of Punk and enforce the laws, then lets get one thing straight. Punk was an attitude, it was about smashing down the apathetic stereotypes… trashing the old ways and destroying the statutes of leadership and idolism… to continuously evolve. So why on earth should we… YOU… place so much into keeping hold of the past and creating an idol, a god…do you value yourselves as fans so low…? Have you all this time just been blindly following a leader because you’re such scum a lower form of life that you don’t have the intelligence to think for yourselves?! Well my friends many have woken up and many left, disillusioned and destroyed. Many realised that they ‘are’ worthy and proud…at that’s the way it should fucking be now. The SHAM 69 fans now young or old are the fucking elite in my books and I am proud and honoured to see them at every gig..they, us.. and the music are like a fucking army kicking out the shit and not acting like downtrodden serfs!”
Since the new line-up formed you have played all over the world. What sort of reaction are you getting?
TIM V: “Reaction…..? Well ‘christ they’ve turned up’ is one reaction…..and…after 20 mins its ‘wow more songs’…LOL…no I think after all this time, that we have been able to judge peoples reaction 10 times over having done that many shows. I think in the first wave the reaction was of hmmm errr..yea great. Some were bewildered as to what the line up was and you’d see out of the corner of your eye the occasional couple of fans pointing out whose the old guys and whose the new…but like it is 4 years on nobody points anymore. It then went through a phase where people’s reaction would be mixed from ‘where’s Jimmy’? to ‘Jimmy you’ve still got it’…then it was at that point that I judge the reaction with scepticism…Then it was, as is today total mayhem.. people go mad and more so when they realise they are free to show their emotions without seeing strops onstage and the band walking off..or doing short sets. However, needless to say we do have to keep a eye on things but mostly its all good fun. The reactions have been more animated abroad and especially in countries where the band has never been before. Most who have never seen the band the first time round dont give a shit, they respect what they see there and then and have that engraved on their minds…some who did but emigrated or caught the band in Germany or such like, have welcomed the change…but as with most things if they dont like it they dont come. But having played 100s of shows now to packed out venues I cant say that the no shows have effected us. Places like Oz and Japan were brilliant and it was a blast to see so many screaming faces.”
“I think reactions now are more sincere as the news of this line up has reached the furthest regions and we get mails from all over the world where they either say they were sad at shows that were due to happen ‘pre-me’ that never happened…or you’ve restored my faith blah blah. Of course I get mails calling me a cunt or on You Tube..who’s the fat poof etc etc…but I know that its easier to criticise, when your unseen and sad. Id rather react by putting on a great show and above all respecting my audience…Its been way better since Al Campbell joined the band as I saw him as the missing link, because he brought so much with him with his experience with the UK SUBS. He has almost balanced to performance onstage and with the 2 war horses like Ian on the drums and the Vicar on guitar its great for the fans…after all it is they who matter most.”
And tell me about the forthcoming Sham 69 film?
TIM V: “Aaaah the film..hmm well that is getting scary as its nearly finished and ready for the TV and Cinema. Currently its being fought over by C4/Filmfour and Sky for the TV and the Cinema is being scheduled for the UK and USA….Europe to follow. The film was to be honest something I had lined up in my 5 year plan….yes 5 year plan!!! So please don’t send me any Left wing applications…or Right wing for that matter!! I wanted to get the bands human politics exposed on the screen in full view of everyone. There’s one thing that always bugged me about this bloody band and that’s how it allowed itself to be viewed through eyes of one person. When that happens you get dictatorship and egotistical leaders, who then lose their way. What you then see, is a band that is only recognised by its singer or Guitarist etc …not for the fucking band or its music. The fans have been used to so much bollocks over the years and its hard to look at old footage and sit there think yeah right we was all taken in by that…so when that happens the hurt you’ve had for 30 odd gets worse. I think its important that if there are stronger characters in a band, that people see that because theyve seen everyone else too, not just one person. So this film is a warts n all film. It was an idea that I had of filming our tour of China. I knew that there was many parts of China that hadnt even seen a fucking band, let alone a Punk band…and from England. I also wanked off at the prospect of a major reaction to the 2 most alien concepts PUNK and Chinese Communism…what would they do and how will they react. The thing was, we wasnt ready for it and it was crushingly sad at times and to be honest hard. I had in effect created a monster, but one this time that had to win and not be destroyed by some Hollywood hero. I wanted to see this band destroyed on film in order for us to face ourselves and our weakness’s….and it did. I feel that since we did it we are more stornger than we have ever been as is the band SHAM 69. The film ended up being more than the tour of China, as it follows us all back in blighty and what we are like off the stage. You will see tears and punch ups, but what you will see most of all is 4 guys who in all intents and purposes being members of one of the most fucked up and powerful bands the world is ever likely to see….and above all honest enough to not be pretend rockers. I feel the fans are owed it and so is ‘SHAM 69’!!!!”