DUNCAN REID AND THE BIG HEADS VIDEO EXCLUSIVE!

DUNCAN REID & THE BIG HEADS are back with a brand new album and video which they’re premiering exclusively with Vive Le Rock!

Tastefully edited for daytime TV consumption, ‘Mother******’ is taken from Don’t Blame Yourself, the ex-Boys bass-player’s band’s fourth album, which follows on from 2017’s critically acclaimed Bombs Away.

Writing about the song in the album’s sleeve-notes, Reid says, “Provoked by a tweet from a young man in Essex, his photo showing full on tattoos, bald head and beer belly, who referred to our most aristocratic Member of Parliament affectionately and with complete approval as ‘the Mogster’. It begged the question: how does someone, who would consider that young man to be an appalling, badly spoken, ignorant oik, evoke such admiration from the object of his disdain? All references to that politician are entirely accidental, of course.”

Don’t Blame Yourself is out now through Cherry Red.

Duncan Reid & The Big Heads on Facebook

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WONKFEST 7: THE MOVIE – WEEK 3!

It’s that time again! In preparation for our World Premiere of the all-singin’ all-dancin’ Wonkfest 7: The Movie on Saturday 25 July, here’s another exclusive clip direct from the cutting room of esteemed director Mark Richards!

This week it’s the turn of rising young Manc whippersnappers AERIAL SALAD!

“Love these boys,” exclaims Wonkfest mainman Alex. “They’d endured two years of relentless whip-cracking from myself to get to this coming of age moment in their career. These boys can play. Huge songs, tons of youthful charm and charisma. I think this was Salad’s day. X”

Aerial Salad on Facebook

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JANUS STARK EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE!

The revitalised JANUS STARK are back with another new video which they’re premiering exclusively with Vive Le Rock!

‘Commodity Awakening’ is taken from the band’s Angel In The Flames album released last year.

After a gap of 20 years during which Gizz Butt played for many celebrated artists such as Steve Ignorant (Crass) and Fields Of The Nephilim, Gizz decided to bring Janus Stark back with a brand new full-length album and the band found a home with Time & Matter Recordings. With a portfolio of high praising reviews and a 70-date UK and European tour the future looked set until Covid 19 hit .

When the lockdown was announced and gig venues closed, Gizz moved his studio to his home and kept recording there, managing to record an entire album, several new songs and number of lockdown videos.

‘Commodity Awakening’ was filmed just weeks before the lockdown at one of the UKs best underground venues, Mama Liz’s in Stamford, Lincolnshire. Directed by Phil Berridge, it is inspired by the Sex Pistols ‘Pretty Vacant’ video and clips from The Old Grey Whistle Test and bursts into life in the middle when the song arrives at the future.

The song title and subject matter are inspired by the last words that the late Keith Flint of The Prodigy spoke to Gizz in a taxi in Brazil.

Although the brakes are still on regarding live performance, Gizz continues to perform live sets on line via streaming performances at the band’s Facebook page.

Janus Stark have an impressive archive of demo material, so to keep everyone happy, Time & Matter Recordings have planned with Gizz to release a series of these with the first two all ready for release. Keep up to date on the band’s website.

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THE HEAT INC. VIDEO EXCLUSIVE!

Hot new London band THE HEAT INC. release their incendiary debut single today and they’re premiering the video exclusively with Vive Le Rock!

‘Raptors’ was recorded by the quartet at RYP Recordings in North-West London with producer Michael smith.

“I love the Black Keys’ ‘Lonely Boy’ video and we have used that concept but our video’s character, the actor Joe Law, his performance is more extreme,” says guitarist Marco Simoncelli. “The video has been shot by This studio production directors on their balcony in Bermondsey. The view over the city is stunning, which is why we picked it as we thought it was a perfect scenario for the video. Joe rehearsed for almost three weeks to deliver a great energetic performance.”

‘Raptors’ is out through Melted Dino Records and is available digitally here!

The Heat Inc. on Facebook

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SONGS FOR THE DEAD!

Norwegian death punk Hank Von Hell was the frontman of Turbonegro until 2010. He’d been performing since 1989 and eventually the rock and roll lifestyle wore thin and left him needing a break. After getting sober, he got stuck into new creative vents that a life on the road had never allowed. Hank became a presenter at local radio station Moskenesradioen, had a joint #1 hit alongside Maria Solheim in the Norwegian Singles Chart with ‘Rom For Alle’ and in 2011 he was a judge in Norwegian Idol. 2018 saw him return to form with debut solo record Egomania and in 2020, Hank Von Hell is back with second album Dead. He told Vive Le Rock! how he’d fought his record label to keep the title Dead.

What motivated the new record?
I told the label I wanted to make a darker album. Egomania was a resurrection party. After you’ve been fighting monsters and demons for a thousand years you need a party, a lager and a sandwich. As a solo artist I knew I’d have to give some explanation for my weird choices both during my time in Turbo and my exit. It’s a story motivated by darkness, tragedy, anger and sorrow and how to deal with it. It’s like mindfulness but I’ve discovered a new technique called Mind-fucked-ness.

How did you come to the title Dead?
I wanted something death related and we talked through some bad ideas like Death From Above. It just sounded like a Motorhead album even Lemmy wouldn’t make. I decided that if we’re going to do this album and deal with the phenomenon of not living, we’re gunna call it Dead. The label were so freaked out and said it was the worst idea ever. Eventually I told them I’m not changing it. Its where we’re all going and it’s a homage to people’s health. Death’s what happens if you don’t get help with addiction.

The second track is also called ‘Dead’. Are the lyrics ‘You’re already dead’ about people living their lives on autopilot?
Well it’s about mass apathy. It’s a wake-up call, a paradox. People who are living robotically, dumbed down by superficial illusions of life are actually desperately trying to avoid the devastating inevitable truth. It’s also a homage to David Bowie’s ‘My Death’.

You’re a very visual person which makes you a good storyteller. You said before that your song ‘Blood’ is a stadium anthem with the power to make a five-year-old face his bullies. Do you imagine specific fans when writing your songs?
Yes, the writing process is technical and I define the listener and identify their state of mind. I provide a soundscape and lyrical narrative that gives that person an opportunity of relief.

What is your fascination with death?
I had a dramatic overdose in the ‘90s and my heart stopped beating so I experienced death. Since then I’ve had a totally different outlook on being dead. I’ve been walking around with one foot in the grave since that encounter. I’ve had a taste and I have something to say about it. We are all going to the same place but it’s not so bad.

You’ve been open and honest about the impact of drugs on your life and mentioned how paying for drugs fuels crime and terror in places like Mexico. You had an epiphany about your personal accountability and got sober.
It’s a dance with the devil in the pale moonlight. Of course I don’t judge, I’m not God. I’ve met so many people with addiction or mental health issues which leads to drug use and that doesn’t make you a bad person. Usually I’ve done worse! I have not put myself on a moral pedestal. My method is that addiction sucks individually so you have to empathise. If I can help you with my story that’s good. I’d say that if you’re an addict, be aware of it and know it’s not a victimless crime. But is it a crime? I don’t agree with the laws criminalising drug addicts. It creates worse problems. If someone’s hopelessly addicted, try to help them so they can live a life of quality.

Where do you think rock’n’roll stands in 2020?
Rock’n’roll is not dead. It’s the only thing that can save us. A lot of the younger generation are going back and discovering rock and rejecting new music. I think they appreciate physical music and know what they are fans of. Music is a diary to my fans and it’s important these people are still here and still demanding more rock’n’roll.

Hank Von Hell performed a livestream concert from the empty Ullevi Stadum in Sweden on 15 June which you can watch at hankvonhell.com. Dead is out now and he will be rescheduling tour dates for 2021.

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THE COURETTES VIDEO EXCLUSIVE!

Scandinavian garage-punk sensations THE COURETTES have made a video for their latest single which they’re premiering exclusively with Vive Le Rock!

Touting a gloriously lo-fi approximation of Phil Spector’s classic girl-group sound, ‘Want You! Like A Cigarette’ is the first puff of sessions for the duo’s long awaited third album set for release later this year through Damaged Goods.

Based in Denmark, The Courettes comprise Brazilian singer/guitarist Flávia Couri and Danish drummer Martin Couri. Releasing their debut album Here Are The Courettes in 2015, they’ve racked up a super-impressive 250+ gigs in fifteen countries, sharing stages with the likes of The Sonics, Pretty Things, The Bellrays, Jon Spencer, B52s, Stray Cats and loads more.

“Once we got a review saying The Courettes was ‘the real deal, the most authentic 60s inspired garage rock since the Milkshakes were around’ (Lee Cotterell, Vive Le Rock!),” they chirrup. “This is our first single for Damaged Goods Records, the Godfather label of British garage punk. We grew up listening to these records, so we’re proud of being on their roster together with some of our heroes. “

‘Want You! Like I Cigarette’ sold out of its initial limited edition red vinyl pressing in a week, but a second pressing of 500 copies on pink vinyl is available to order here.

The Courettes on Facebook

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WONKFEST 7: THE MOVIE – WEEK 2!

The build-up to the grand premiere of Wonkfest 7: The Movie on Saturday 25 July continues this week with this exclusive non-movie clip of the great Frankie Stubbs of LEATHERFACE performing the band’s anthemic ‘Springtime’.

Says Alex Wonk, “To have a whole genre spawned from the sound of your own voice, that is something to lie in bed at night thinking about, eh! ‘Springtime’ is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Thank you for playing mate xxx”

Leatherface on Facebook

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CASANOVAS ARE HOT TO TROT!

Aussie rockers THE CASANOVAS have just dropped a new single as a taster for their new album.

The ‘TNT’-channelling ‘Red Hot’ is the second single to be taken from the forthcoming Reptilian Overlord, following on from last Autumn’s ‘Hollywood Riot’. The new album itself is the Melbourne trio’s first full-length since 2015’s Terra Casanova.

Formed in 1999 and still fronted by founder and guitarist Tommy Boyce, the band have toured at home and abroad with the likes of The Living End, Motorhead, The White Stripes and The Datsuns, with whom they made their UK debut in 2003.

The new album finds them working with legendary Aussie producer Mark Opitz, whose CV – AC/DC, The Angels, Cold Chisel, Hoodoo Gurus, Divynyls, Hitmen, Rose Tattoo etc – reads like a Who’s Who of Aussie rock.

“Mark is the master at miking for great guitar tones,” says bassist Damo Campbell. “He definitely brought some of those techniques into our sessions… It was also pretty inspiring to be in the studio hearing some of Mark’s stories of some of the great rock bands he has worked with over his career.”

Stream/download ‘Red Hot’

Set for release on 28 August through Rubber Records on limited edition reptilian green vinyl and CD, Reptilian Overlord is available to pre-order here.

The Casanovas on Facebook

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WONKFEST 7: THE MOVIE!

Well for obvious reasons there won’t be a Wonkfest this year. But save the tears as Wonkfest 7: The Movie! is on its way.

Vive Le Rock! will, as usual, be premiering the cinematic record of last year’s occurrence of the world’s number one DIY punk festival! But this year will be a bit special…

Thanks to director Mark Richards, in the run-up to the premiere on Saturday 25 July, we’ll be posting FOUR exclusive non-movie clips of bands that performed at Wonkfest 7.

So what better way to kick off than with Wonkfest favourites PIZZATRAMP?

“Wonkfest wouldn’t be Wonkfest without pizzatramp,” says Alex Wonk. “They are furniture, they are party, they are the Pwosion’s of Wales. Thrashers.” 

Pizzatramp on Facebook

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CULTURE ABUSE DELIVER THE SHIT!

Genre-defying San Francisco punks CULTURE ABUSE attempt to make up for their enforced lockdown lay-off with a new digital-only compilation album.

Spanning the band’s seven-year career, the 29-track Good Shit, Bad Shit, Who Gives a Shit?! compiles demos, alternate versions, fan tapes, live recordings – including excerpts from their now legendary show at Hackney’s Moth Club last year – and fun covers from the likes of the Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks and The Clash.

“With the state of the live music industry in limbo, we thought now is a better time than any to open ourselves up and give the listener a different take on some of our past work,” they declare. “We take the groovy mid-tempo songs off Bay Dream (2018) and give you our aggressive live set atmosphere. We re-imagined the faster, more upbeat songs from Peach (2016) and slowed them down into an acoustic, stripped-down set. Cover songs from iconic bands like the Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks and the Equals, we tear ‘em up and piece ‘em back together the way we do when we sit down together and make ‘zines, tour posters and show flyers. Some of our original songs are covered by our close friends within this collection. We’re presenting this release through digital outlets so the songs are at their most accessible. So whatever’s happening in your life, here are some songs to help you take it all on: the good shit and the bad shit.”

Check out ‘Heavy Love’

Released digitally through Epitaph on 24 July, Good Shit, Bad Shit, Who Gives a Shit?! is available to pre-order here.

Culture Abuse on Facebook

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SMELLS LIKE QUARANTINE SPIRIT!

Can’t say it hasn’t been a trial all this self-isolation and social distancing. Vive Le Rock! photographer Tina Korhonen took her camera round to London to check up on some of our punk and rock community to see how they’re coping….

“During the lockdown I wanted to photograph some musicians and performers on their doorsteps, windows and gardens, mainly for my own sanity,” she says. “All images were taken while practising social distancing, and apart from one shoot in North London, all photos were taken during May and early June.”

Knox, main singer and songwriter for The Vibrators, although no longer touring with them. Please check out his music charity shop Rock ‘N’ Roll Rescue in Camden Town, now open again.

The Smeg, lead singer of King Kurt and Swannee Lucifera Vranckx, creative photographer, model and performer.

Ben Ward, singer of heavy metal band Orange Goblin and Sandie Soriano Ward / Sandistik, jeweller and model.

Jen Brown aka Jenny Drag, singer and songwriter of The Priscillas. If you haven’t yet, please check them out.

The Rock and Roll barber Mr Ducktail has been unwillingly stuck getting into gardening at his new home, and can’t wait to get back to work next week. For the wildest cuts in town, book here.

Napalm Beth and  Djamel Abina from The Blue Carpet Band on their hideaway rooftop of their flat on Holloway Road. 

Chrys Columbine, burlesque star, pianist and martial artist, training in her back garden. She is the only burlesque performer who combines classical piano with the art of striptease.

Glen Matlock and Earl Slick were quarantining together in London, until recently when Earl went back to NYC. Their live sets from the lockdown are still here.

All photos by Tina Korhonen, 2020. All rights reserved.

www.tina-k.com / https://www.instagram.com/tinak_photography/

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IT’S ONLY SNOT’N’ROLL!

Multi-national garage rockers are back with a new lockdown video which they’re premiering exclusively with Vive Le Rock!

We premiered their first video ‘Sa-Ni-Ti-Zin” back in April, just as lockdown had begun. Now ‘Sneeze In Your Sleeve’ offers more sage advice as we prepare for the pubs to open…

Say the band, “Lockdown is easing, and THE SANITIZERS are back to talk to you about sneezing – in your sleeve! That’s right ladies and gentlemen, your
favourite quarantine super-group featuring members of King Salami & The
Cumberland 3, MFC Chicken, The Fuzillis, Los Torontos, Barrence Whitfield & The Savages, The Thanes, The Sensation Seekers and Lyres are back with
another rock & roll pandemic public service announcement: don’t be a fool,
you know it’s cool to Sneeze In Your Sleeve…blow you nose in your clothes, daddy-o!”


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THE GODFATHERS PART 2

Last week we premiered the video for one half of THE GODFATHERS’ storming new double A-side single. Now it’s time for the other half!

‘I’m Not Your Slave’ is coupled with ‘Wild And Free’, which is available on CD and limited edition 7″ vinyl exclusively from the band’s website.

Says frontman and band founder Peter Coyne, “Our bass player Jon Priestley (previously in The Damned) wrote the tune to ‘I’m Not Your Slave’ as well producing and engineering it, and I wrote the lyrics, concerning a political relationship rather than a personal one. Everyone in The Godfathers now (guitarists Richie and Wayne and drummer Billy) writes material or contributes toward numbers and we’re determined that our next album will be ultra-special.”

The Godfathers on Facebook

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JAZ COLEMAN VIDEO PREMIERE!

KILLING JOKE’s Jaz Coleman has announced a brand new project BLACK & RED, a collaboration with Czech musician Ondrej Smeykal, and they’re launching the video for their first single exclusively with Vive Le Rock!

“The Black and Red project was born in Australia in 2010 when I set out to find the greatest virtuoso of the didgeridoo only to find the maestro of the instrument resided in Prague where I lived,” explains Jaz. “Upon my return to Czech Rep, I was introduced to Ondrej Smeykal. We ended up not just developing an ancient instrument * but recording the Black and Red project (adding only Indian Harmonium) and an explosive duo was formed which could recreate the recording live perfectly. The funny thing is Black and Red only made sense after lockdown.”

The pulsing, apocalyptic near 8-minute ‘On The Day The Earth Went Mad’ is out today digitally here and at all the usual suspects as well as on a numbered limited edition red vinyl 10-inch through Cadiz Music available from jazcoleman.com

Jaz Coleman on Facebook

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SYKES-ADELIC WARLORDS!

Fusing glam, space-rock, dub and a groovy psych organ, unstoppable Essex pop maverick ED SYKES is back with a brand new video.

The single ‘I’m Forever Losing You’ is a taster for Sky Seed, Sykes’ debut album with his new band THE SONIC OSCILLATORS and follows on from 2018’s glam anthem ‘Whiplashed’.

Produced by Oscillators guitarist Nathan Wacey, the song was recorded at Rebellion Studios, Marks Tey on a 1968 3M tape machine previously used by The Beatles at Abbey Road, through a former BBC mixing desk once used by the great John Peel.

As well as completing Sky Seed, Sykes has recently collaborated with Future Sound Of London / Amorphous Androgynous mastermind Gaz Cobain as well as producing sessions for The Pretty Things’ keyboardist John Povey’s debut solo album.

Released through CO6 Records, the single’s available here.

Read our 16-page 50 Years Of Glam spectacular in the new edition of Vive Le Rock! out now!

Ed Sykes on Facebook

Pic by Maryann Morris

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ALEX NOVAK: UNTRAPPED!

Like Public Image Ltd and Killing Joke, Alex Novak is an artist in constant flux and metamorphosis. To commemorate four decades of musical exploration Glass Modern release Mercurial 1978-2018, a career-spanning retrospective that encompasses his early forays into music with Northampton ‘77 punks, the Isaws, to his most recent release with darkwave duo The Venus Fly Trap.

In between those two bands came the post-punk of Religious Overdose, the sci-fi leanings of The Tempest, a stint with Attrition and some dark, dystopian electronica in the shape of Spore and Nova State Conspiracy.

Alex Novak spoke to Peter Dennis to give us an overview of a kaleidoscopic career that’s taken on many different guises. Here Alex untangles the web and shines a light on the individual tracks.

As a genre, punk was an important incubator for you. How did it influence you?

At the time the distance between audience and bands was quite great, not physically but psychologically, and I think punk broke that barrier down. I was at the right place at the right time, I was at art school and punk happened while I was there and being involved with creativity it sparked something. At the time, my fellow students were getting into bands: Kevin Haskins and Danny Ash and David J, who after being in various student bands ended up being in Bauhaus. Finding people who were into the same thing as well: my brother [John Novak] and the other members of the Isaws were still at school so… we were quite young. We didn’t actually release any records at the time but we released two cassettes (which were later compiled on CD as ‘Burnt Offering’) the earliest track I picked for the upcoming CD is ‘Standens’ which is a place where we used to rehearse in the eastern district of Northampton, it was a youth centre, it wasn’t too far from where we lived, and the song is a tribute to that place. They allowed bands and other activities to happen: it’s quite hard to find somewhere to rehearse, I think there were a lot less rehearsal studios so you had to make do with pub back rooms and youth centres, if they’d let you in.

It seems that in writing about your locality, in true punk style, ‘Standens’ was the complete antithesis of prog rock. At your tender ages how aware were you of punks ‘rules’?

I think early on we were capable of writing about other things because I think initially you draw on your experiences, but I think the DIY ethic was very important, that you did things and sorted things yourself and you also wrote about things that you knew as opposed to things you didn’t.

Then you moved onto your next band Religious Overdose. The first track from them is ‘Control Addicts’. It followed ‘Standens’ by a year but the difference in music and lyrics seems like a quantum leap.

The whole idea of punk was it opened the door to do what you wanted to do, there wasn’t a strict idea of what you should be like, although I did think punk became something of a uniform than idea. So a lot of people who were in punk bands quickly outgrew that and went off in loads of different directs so I ended up in Religious Overdose which was more like The Fall and Cabaret Voltaire and Joy Division so we were heading more into post-punk, that’s quite a wide term but it developed out of punk.

And it seems that post-punk was far more true to the revolutionary spirit of punk than punk was itself.

Yes, you could do anything, there was no boundaries. There was electronic bands, bands who were more avant-garde, it all fitted in that genre. I met the members of Religious Overdose via art school. Richard Formby was studying art so I knew him from there. He was originally from Leeds where a lot of interesting bands were coming from.

Also around that time you made another important connection. This CD is going to be released via Glass Records and you originally met the owner Dave Henderson.

Yes, with ‘Control Addicts’ we got involved in the burgeoning tape scene and Dave Henderson wrote a column for the NME about the DIY tape scene, so I happened to see Glass Records mentioned, I sent our tape to Dave Henderson, and we ended up releasing our debut single on Glass Records.

And you played with some amazing bands like The Fall…

We organised a gig in Northampton with The Fall and we did a lot of gigs with bands in a similar genre: English Subtitles and people like that, and we performed with Attrition in their earlier days as well.

Around the time of Religious Overdose was a period when you could use your art school education. The singles came in very striking sleeves which subverted religious imagery. I wonder can you expand on what aesthetics you drew upon?

Both Richard and I came from a graphics background so the visual aspect is quite important. The name itself talks about how there’s too much religion, how it’s being shoved down people’s throats. So we used religious imagery on the sleeves and gig posters.

And you also used images of old cabaret stars…

Yes, that was used on the second single ‘I Said Go’, I like the very early days of black and white film which suited the subject matter.

Why did Religious Overdose come to an end?

We did two singles after ‘Control Addicts’: ‘I Said Go’ and ‘In This Century’. Basically Richard had done his time at art school so he decided to go back to Leeds. He went on to be involved with Jazz Butcher and also The Telescopes and Sonic Boom. His main interest was setting up a recording studio in Leeds so that made it a lot more difficult for Religious Overdose to function so we went our separate ways. We did compile all the material for a compilation CD called ‘Glass Hymns’ that came out a couple of years ago so all that material has been compiled.

After Religious Overdoes came The Tempest which was another seismic shift in terms of music, lyrics and imagery.

I hooked up with people in other bands who wanted to do stuff. It seemed in those days people always seemed to be in more than one band: they all had about three bands on the go depending on what was happening. So I hooked up with Mark Refoy (who ended up in Spaceman 3 and Spiritualized and more recently live with the Pet Shop Boys) and we ended up doing a band called The Tempest, so obviously we got in touch with Dave Henderson again and he released the first single ‘Lady Left This’ which seemed to get attention straight away. We got a lot of airplay on Radio 1 with John Peel and ‘Kid’ Jensen which brought us to the attention of Anagram Records (which was part of Cherry Red) and they put out the second single ‘Montezuma’ and the album ‘5 Against The House’, which was reissued a few years ago by Optic Nerve. We also did a lot of gigs with people like the Alien Sex Fiend all around the country. We got a lot of attention but it fizzled out very quickly because people were involved in other bands and attention was being drawn in other directions. So that didn’t last very long either but that seems a kind of formula for that period we were constantly changing and moving on and ideas were being formed very quickly.

The Tempest had a very unique sound. What musical influences did you draw on?

Joy Division and The Cure and some more obscure bands, touching into gothic as well, just before goth was starting. In fact we did support Bauhaus at the Hammersmith Palais. If you can imagine there’s five people in a band and they all bring their own influences. Definitely. For The Tempest I drew upon sci-fi, which is a big thing as we go along, a lot of sci-fi from the 50’s and 60’s, a lot of pulp books and comics, things like that.

After The Tempest you took another turn and hooked up with Martin Bowes from Attrition…

Yes, I knew Martin from Attrition and also he was involved in a Coventry fanzine called ‘Alternative Sounds’ so I’d been in contact sending stuff over the years. I joined Attrition which had been active for a while. I was in the band for a couple of years and I ended being on the ‘Smiling, at the Hypogonder Club’ LP and doing a tour of Holland with them. That was my first tour abroad so that opened my eyes to the possibility of getting out of the UK as well. It was a backing track, three vocalists and keyboards because it was entirely electronic so it was opening my eyes to a completely different area again. Attrition at that time probably wasn’t as dark as it is now but the ‘Smiling, at the Hypogonder Club’ is more like bands such as Propaganda. It was dark but it still had a pop edge.

Why did you leave Attrition?

When you join someone else’s project, it’s their band, it’s their baby so I had my own ideas about what I wanted to do, so I decided to form Venus Fly Trap. In that period I was living in London when I was in Attrition so that was a great experience, meeting people and getting around the place but I think sometimes that’s a distraction to getting things done so I went back to Northampton and hooked up with my brother John, who was in the Isaws, and Tony Booker, whom I knew from art school, so that was the original line up of Venus Fly Trap, we recorded the original version of ‘Morphine’. Later, when John left, we rerecorded ‘Morphine’ and the one thing with Venus Fly Trap is keeping track of all the members. The line up changed very quickly, John was out of the band after nine months so on the first single there was myself, Tony Booker moved to guitar and we got Chris Evans on bass so the first single was even different from the demo. ‘Morphine’ ended up on Tuesday Records then the Danceteria label but the guy who ran Tuesday, I was in contact with because of Attrition. They did the first two singles, ‘Morphine’ and ‘Desolation Railway’, and after that we ended up on Danceteria, both labels based in France. We were taken over to France pretty quickly, we were playing French tours in the late 80s and early 90s.

Venus Fly Trap’s debut ‘Mars’ rode high in the French national charts.

Yeah, it got into the French top 40. All the singles did pretty well; ‘Rocket USA’, the Suicide track, did well, it was totally reworked, you probably wouldn’t recognise it. We did a few full albums with Danceteria, ‘Totem’ and ‘Pandora’s Box’ and the single ‘Europa’.

Venus Fly Trap were very successful on the continent. Did it annoy you that Europeans got your sound straight away yet you were largely ignored in the UK?

That’s quite strange but sometimes you have to go where the interest is and that’s what we did, we just followed the interest. We did a lot of dates in France and Belgium and then Germany. You could play the UK any weekend you like but it’s nice to go somewhere different. When we headed into the early 90s, once ‘Achilles Heel’ had come out we ended up going to France, Belgium, Holland, Germany then Czechoslovakia for the first time in 91 and that really opened your eyes because when we first went there it was like being in the 1970s: the roads and what was in the shops and the fact that you couldn’t take money out of the country. You had to spend the money before you left the country because it had no value but it was a great experience.

Venus Fly Trap has featured a long list of characters. Each album has its unique sound. Do you attribute this to the constantly rotating line up?

Obviously everyone who’s involved brings in their own influences and ‘Mars’ I’d say is a collection as opposed to being a full album. The period I’d say that was consistent was between ‘Totem’ and ‘Pandora’s Box’. Most of the personnel was the same during that period, although it did flux.

‘Moscow Menagerie’ followed from the ‘Luna Tide’ album, a record which saw you returning to your rock roots.

With ‘Pandora’s Box’ that line up imploded so it had to be rebuilt. I’d certainly say that ‘Luna Tide’ was a transitory album. So there’s a transition between that and the next stage which the next single ‘Pulp Sister’ represents.

‘Pulp Sister’ was very cinematic and I’d say that’s a common theme that unites much of your work.

Yes, I’m certainly a big fan of film and especially sci-fi but ‘Pulp Sister’ is a very tongue-in-cheek homage to Tarantino, but underlying all that there’s a shift in line up as the sound goes more electronic. Less live drummer and more and more electronics and that’s the beginning of another period.

There was a seven year gap between Venus Fly Trap albums and you had these more electronic projects including Nova State Conspiracy.

That would certainly fit in with that transition from ‘Luna Tide’ to ‘Dark Amour’. Filling in that period and moving it into a more electronic direction. Nova State Conspiracy was with a friend who was a comic book illustrator, Simon Colby, who had a big interest in electronic bands so we decided to do a project together, completely studio based and that ended up on a German record label. We only did one EP and that was it.

Also around this time you were involved in other electronic projects: The Den and Spore. They’re three projects, that although different, seem united like a triptych. What was your reasoning for changing the name?

It was different people. The Den was myself and Tim Perkins who worked with Alan Moore and people like that and that gave it a different edge. Again we just released tracks on compilations, that didn’t develop because Tim moved away from Northampton. Spore was another ‘try out’ project.

Also during the Venus Fly Trap hiatus you went to Coventry University to study photography.

Yes, which again provided me with plenty of material to use in future albums. After ‘Dark Amour’ there was a break then we kind of re-jigged it with Andy Denton moving from drums to guitar and that kind of starts another period with guitars and electronics being the main thing. And those albums ‘Zenith’, ‘Nemesis’ and more recently ‘Icon’ I think all fit together because they featured the same line up.

Then after the hiatus your next single was ‘Metropolis’ which also has that sci-fi/cinematic/dystopian feel.

Obviously influenced by the film. All of those three albums had a strong sci-fi and film basis. Some obvious and some less so.

And then you covered The Cramps’ ‘Human Fly’…

We formerly covered Suicide who are not the most known band in the world. With The Cramps’ ‘Human Fly’ we thought we could do something with it. The original is more sparse rockabilly song but we made our version a full track. I think it works on that basis. We don’t do lots of covers but when we do we try to put our own stamp on them.

And that brings us up to the most recent single ‘Vitesse’ from the ‘Icon’ album.

With ‘Vitesse’ we’re continuing into a more electro direction. A modern darkwave that’s heavy on the electronics and that’s where we are at the moment.

We’ve talked about your musical past where do you think it will move in the future?

I don’t think they’ll be any more Venus Fly Trap albums. It’s a lot of work and it takes a long time. I think it will be single tracks. I’d like to go back and remix some tracks. There’s quite a lot of stuff to be reissued first so I’m in the process of trying to reissue the Venus Fly Trap albums and then the other projects so it’s out there and available.

And how would you like history to remember your work and for it to be evaluated?

That’s a difficult question because that’s really out of your hands. Hopefully I’ll be alive when people appreciate it. There’s so many bands and musicians who are appreciated after they’re gone. That’s too late and those people need to be appreciated while they’re here. These things need to be acknowledged at the time, there’s so many bands and artists who’re not appreciated when they’re around and when they’re gone… people suddenly realised what they’ve lost.

Mercurial 1978 – 2018 is available here. Read a review in the latest edition of Vive Le Rock!

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THE DeRELLAS HIT THE CITY!

Everyone’s favourite glam-punks THE DeRELLAS are back with a brand new single and video.

The urgent, street-fightin’ ‘Inner City Rock’n’Roll’ was put together by the pre-lockdown at South London’s Perry Vale with ex-Vibrator Pat Collier manning the desk and, we’re sure you’ll agree, it does exactly what it says on the tin.

A taster for their forthcoming new album Something’s Got To Give which is due at the end of the year, ‘Inner City Rock’n’Roll’ is available now from Bandcamp, Spotify and all the usual suspects…

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HEALTHY JUNKIES UNVEIL NEW VIDEO!

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.

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