London punks HEALTHY JUNKIES have just released a new video for the track 'Some Kind Of Girl' from their latest album Delirious Dream.
The band shot the video with director John Clay back in January before the world was turned upside down. John recently checked up on them to find out how they're keeping mind, body and soul together during these testing times....
How are you passing the time in lockdown?
To start with, being locked down was a bit of a relief as we had been on the road constantly for 10 years, like being on a rollercoaster practically all the time. Even when we came home from a tour or series of gigs we would have to plan for the one which would soon follow. A life of excess takes its toll and after all we are meant to be ‘Healthy’ Junkies. So as a result of not gigging we were able to focus on finishing the recording of our next album which is funnily enough entitled Forever On The Road. It started off as the soundtrack to our USA tour diary but as time went on Nina added more and more vocals, Nina and Phil wrote loads of new lyrics, Dave added more basslines and Phil re-wrote and remixed much of what we had used for the soundtrack to the aforementioned tour diary. This in itself has taken a huge amount of time but it has definitely been worth it. We also have been able to edit the video footage for our new video ‘Some kind of girl’ which was shot back in January with you. Having edited the video and agreed on a final cut we have been full-on with promoting it in accordance with your PR masterplan. And you are certainly no slacker John! Other than that, Nina managed to win an ongoing battle with her neighbours who had decided at the beginning of lockdown to put up a huge fence partitioning off a large part of the shared garden at the back of her flat. I mean, who does that? The temptation was just to rip it down but instead we went through the due process with patience and persistence. It took 6 weeks but in the end the neighbours were forced to remove the fence themselves in accordance with the terms of their contract and the law. A small but necessary victory.
The discrimination spoken about in your new song is details not being believed. Why do victims still face such prejudice?
The office environment is still predominately a patriarchal environment. Abuse of power is still going on and many people still fear for their jobs if they do not comply with what is suggested of them. Particularly young women who are trying to make a good impression at work, fit in as much as possible, not wanting to lose their job for financial reasons. They are vulnerable to such behaviour and it is 2020!! Many people exploit naivety and it has been like that for so long now that it still somehow seems to acceptable to that do it. Things are starting to change now due partly to the ME TOO movement. People are speaking up and aggressors are being called out. Nina – ‘When I arrived in London there was not this kind of support available, things were very different 15 years ago.’
What do you make of Trump's rolling back on Trans rights?
Well this is pretty much what we would expect from Donald Trump. He’s taking away rights from the transgender community, they will no longer have equal rights for healthcare! And during a pandemic! He is clearly targeting a minority group and I suspect he’s doing this to secure votes from his huge middle American contingent. This will supposedly save the USA money too which plays right into the mindset of the many. He so often claims that Obama did nothing in his term and yet here he is rolling back on an Obama instated policy for his own agenda. And for maximum impact he announced this on the same day as the Florida gay club Pride massacre. The mind boggles frankly.
How do you feel about Rowling's remarks in her defence of statements labelled transphobic?
J K Rowling dropped a clanger on twitter and the response was predictably massive. To then respond with what I believe was a huge essay about the abuse she suffered in her first marriage seemed like a bit of a distraction tactic. While not wishing in any way to underplay what was no doubt a horrible experience for her, it does not seem to really address her previous controversial comment. Maybe will choose her words a little more carefully in future. Still love her books of course…. Social media is a great tool when used well but can also be misleading, toxic and have catastrophic consequences if the words we choose are not accurate or sensitive.
Given the recent protests in London, how do you feel about the media's handling of the BLM protests as opposed to the 'counter-protestors'?
The media on the whole only seems interested in sensationalising for a more popular or notorious story. This has always been the case but nowadays with all the online news bulletins, fake news etc it is much worse. The press pick and choose what they think will sell more papers / get more views or whatever other agenda they have in mind. So you really have to cross check information. They seem to thrive on violence and unrest, it’s like they think throwing gasoline onto a fire will help!! As far as I know the proposed BLM march in London on Saturday was called off due to the potential clashes with counter-protesters. Yet we read about coverage of fights breaking out between BLM protesters and counter-protesters. So to answer your question, the media coverage is all too often biased.
Will there be any commentary on current events on your double album?
The new double album began as a soundtrack to our USA tour diary (available on DVD on our website) in autumn 2018 and was a musical description of that journey and all that came with it. There are 33 tunes in all, some are just over a minute long and the styles range from horror film soundtrack to trash grunge to piano and cello duets to psychedelic mayhem etc etc. While putting it together we used songs in a few cases (5) that were written before the tour simply because we thought they fitted. One of them was inspired by the mass exodus of people in the Africas and Middle East taking their perilous journey in search of a new life, it relates to a particular story that marked us about a boy called David who was one of the ‘Lost boys of Sudan’ (there were about 20,000 such kids). He fled his war-torn village in Sudan at the age of about 5 years old, separated from his mother, to Ethiopia where he spent many years in a refugee camp, then civil war forced him to Kenya, until he managed with UN help to make his way to the USA, get a university degree and start that sought-after new life. Despite the story being from the past, the displacement of people due to war or extreme poverty is still very much happening. The song is called 'Underground City'. Another song written at around the same is about equality and it basically states that whoever we are, whatever we’ve done or not done we all up in paradise in the end. The French word for heaven is paradise, paradise sounded better! Some might use the term 6 feet under! It documents the life of a struggling person who battles for rights and seeks change. It is called 'Stairs Of Life'. Sometimes it feels like you’re basically pissing in the wind, trying to do anything of worth or make a difference in such a huge monstrosity of a world that we now live in, but we are not quitters so we carry on striving.
What was it like working with Aaron from A Void during the video shoot?
Aaron, the super talented bass player and debonair of the rage machine that is the band A Void, was an absolute pleasure to work with and have on the set. He played a character that was so opposite to his own. A sinister-looking office predator. The required facial expressions and creepy mannerisms for the shots he was in have been nailed to a tee. He has a crazy energy about him that is infectious and we would not be surprised at all to see him in more roles as an actor in the future. We must also mention that the other 3 actors - Isabella Barter (who appeared in an episode of Black Mirror), Vicki Totten (from the band Dirty Ol’ Crow) and the one and only Stevie Bray also all gave stunning performances.
This is your third time being filmed by myself. Feel free to share any anecdotes from the past, near past and the latest shoot.
Every video we have done with you has been quite different. One of them was a live recording/video. But on all 3 shoots you have inspired us to give that little bit extra, put us in such a mind that we are able to free ourselves of anything outside of our performance. Your directing is planned out and executed with precision. Even when it isn’t planned it appears that it was. One of your tricks that stood out was the repositioning of each member of the band by, say, 10 feet each time (it was a very large room) for each shot. Difficult to explain but it certainly played tricks with the eye in the final cut. I (Phil) particularly appreciated you helping me up 3 flights of stairs with a heavy office desk (a prop) at 1.30 AM at the end of the shoot when pretty much everyone else was on the verge of passing out in a state of well-earned inebriation. We also remember filming the ‘I Can’t Stand Anyone’ video in an alleyway in Borough which was the location of a terrorist attack that happened a matter of days after. That gave an added lilt of sinister to the video.
When can we hope to see you live again and will there be more single/video releases from the album?
As it stands we do not know for sure when we will be allowed to play again. There are of course so many mixed messages from scientists and politicians about what the plan is and what we should and should not do. Our annual Punk and Roll Rendezvous festival at The Unicorn on 4-6 September will go ahead we hope. But nothing is certain. Second wave of the pandemic is predicted by most people so that would no doubt delay things. We are also due to go on another Lips Can Kill tour with our friends Tokyo Taboo, Yur Mum and Pollypickpocketz. That is scheduled for late October into November so we cross our fingers and toes and hope that we can get back out playing before all the remaining venues go bust due to inactivity. The venues are under threat, it is worrying. However, I must mention a couple of acoustic live streams that we are very excited to be playing: the Rebellion Festival on 5-8 August and also SORM (School Of Rock and Media) festival on 28 June.
As for new videos we will start putting another one together this week for a song called Last day in L.A. Dave is planning on filming himself in a skate park doing various stunts. Maybe we should get him a stunt double! Any offers? It will be the first single from the new album. We are very excited about getting this song out, it reminds us of the good times we’ve had on the road and about the many excellent folks we have met along the way. It’s a sunny song. We also filmed a video for the song ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’ while we were in Hollywood. It needs a little more editing then it will be ready to go ! Plenty to get on with…
It’s been good chatting with you again John.