BREEDING PROGRAMME

In 2019, the urgency of anarcho punk’s message is just as relevant, if not more so, than in 1982. Punks with informed opinions and a ferocity towards the injustices of government and mankind as a whole continue to make their voices heard amid a cultural atmosphere of ignorance and submission. Vive Le Rock caught up with Bad Breeding, who carry the flame of anarcho wrath into the 21st century.

You formed in 2013 in Stevenage, how did you all get together and what’s the journey been like?

We’ve been friends since we were kids and went to the same secondary school. There was a time in the summer of 2013 when we were all at a bit of a loose end in terms of employment and decided to do something in the evenings that would serve as a bit of a release from the slog of labouring shifts and agency work. Bad Breeding has allowed us to contribute to a lot of political and cultural discussions we’ve felt marginalised from growing up in somewhere like Stevenage. It’s given us an outlet of expression that we haven’t been able to construct elsewhere in our working lives.

How long did it take to write and record this album and what do you want people to get out of it?

We wrote the bulk of Exiled in a month or two after getting back from a European tour last October. We had structures and a few songs down before we left, but most of them were finished off in the autumn after spending a month or so travelling around in the van. Exiled further explores the systemic, pernicious con-tricks of neoliberalism that have dogged and punished vast sections of the British working class since Thatcher through Blair and beyond into the sort of ideological contempt that is being played out now under the Conservatives. I think there’s been a trend in mainstream guitar music in recent years to confuse working-class resistance with unshakeable victimhood. Things seems to be put through a patronising or condescending liberal lens. I think you tend to get a lot of virtue signalling and weird class tourism from bands. We wanted to write a record that spelled out the rank injustices experienced on a daily basis as they are in the cold light of day – without pretence or performative gesturing.

Since the first wave of anarcho punk, what did those bands change and achieve?

The thing I always took from that period was the emphasis on a collective effort to push for change – whether that be within immediate music scenes, local community issues or wider constructs within the political landscape. I wouldn’t term myself as an anarchist, I would define myself as a socialist, but those anarcho bands were important in opening up political dialogue within music that wasn’t led by the capitalist class and wasn’t constricted by the overbearing nature of liberal intellectualism. It placed people at the heart of everything and inspired collective politicisation without people being put off by the misdirection of the supposedly complex political realities laid out by late capitalism. Educationally those bands played an important role in offering a route into politics that didn’t have to be defined by a lofty education and were often more aligned with direct action. Through pamphleting, art and organising, they democratised access to radical information, arguments and varying modes of resistance.

What message are you spreading?

The intention is to create records and take part in shows that centre on the spirit of the collective and allow people to take part in political discussions without feeling marginalised or belittled. For me you’ve got to use genuine anger and frustration as a means of bringing people together. Channelling anger and frustration into something that people can relate to at an immediate level has always seemed a positive practice for me. If it can open up doors for people to read up on particular issues or get involved in local, direct work then that’s progress in my mind.


What other bands do you feel are vital to the anarcho scene now and why?

Nicky Rat, who produces most of the band’s artwork, has put together a brilliant band called Subdued. I think they’re pretty crucial at the moment. It sort of takes the best and coldest parts of Amebix and a lot of those early bands on Spiderleg Records and combines them with that deathly smog of stuff like Celtic Frost. There are lots of exciting things happening in the DIY scene both here and in Europe at the moment, which aren’t necessarily defined by anarchism, but are certainly driven by a collective desire to bring people together and give bands a chance to play shows and tour.

What are some influential bands to you and some key albums that inspire you?

Being born in 1990 most of my inspiration started with an inherited record collection and all the literature and artwork that came with it. Flux of Pink Indians and a lot of the bands on Spiderleg  (Amebix, Subhumans, The System, Kronstadt Uprising) are important to us. Crass and some of the bands on Crass Records too (Zounds, Omega Tribe, DIRT, The Mob). The Six-Minute War EPs are some of my favourites and the later Fallout records too. No Trend’s Too Many Humans is a crucial one within the band as a document of progressive nihilism. They had so much commitment to messing with conformity and people’s heads. That band is a standalone art form in its own right. There’s plenty of other stuff too – Icons of Filth, S.A.S, Instigators, Reality Control and the Epileptics.

What do you think of Crass?

They’ve been a vital entry point for us, especially in understanding the importance of collective power and collaboration, although I wouldn’t say we share the same politics. One of the things that always drew me to Crass was the intention to question and resist without being overbearing or condescending. It didn’t smack of being educationally pious, but more of a group that asked people to question what was around them. Some of their comments on the links between capital, power and the condition of our environment seem to be ringing truer than ever as we become acutely more aware that we’re enduring a vile system that is wholly incompatible with the survival of life on our planet. The use of different elements of media has appealed to us too – the use of video, literature and some of the more direct methods of resistance that came to define a lot of anarcho bands at the time. In terms of artwork we’ve tried to use that idea of writing to help further the points on our records by including essays and other bits of literature with the releases.

Do you go along with the DIY ethic and if so, how?

Stevenage hasn’t got a live scene and licensing issues make it difficult to put on shows. You’d need people wanting to come out too so in that regard building something based around music here has been difficult. We had Bowes Lyon House in the 80s that put on a lot of great anarcho bands but sadly they don’t do shows there anymore. Instead we’ve been involved with different movements across Europe. For example, we did a Rote Hilfe fundraiser in 2017 to help pay the legal costs for those arrested at the G20 protests in Hamburg, while we’ve also taken part in fundraisers for No Tav and a number of other movements in Italy. We get involved wherever we can. Locally our work has been less built around shows and more focused on our community food bank and locally-run group People for People – Stevenage, which encourages the use of direct methods to help alleviate the strain of austerity taking grip in the town.

If Brexit was handed over to you – how would you deal with it?

I can’t answer on behalf of the band unfortunately. We’ve all got differing viewpoints and it’d take a while before we got anywhere near a coherent answer. It’s taken two years to reach this weird impasse so imagine the arguments we’ve had amongst ourselves during that time. Personally I feel the only democratic option is to deliver what people voted for. We risk conceding huge amounts of ground to the right if people’s votes are done away with. There was evidently misdirection on both sides of the debate and I think that was an honest measure of just how much political self-interest governed each campaign. That said, I think it would be dismissive to assume that people were duped or voted solely on ideologically nationalistic lines as opposed to their own economic experiences and material conditions. Some sections of the mainstream press ran with the idea that Brexit purely centred on reactionary nationalism and xenophobia, which may have been true in some cases, but they never really gave space to acute concerns regarding the role of the European Union as a damaging neoliberal cartel. There are important questions to be asked of the EU as a reactionary force of late capitalism and its exploitation of workers both here and in mainland Europe. If we’re striving for revolutionary challenges to the nefarious and exploitative structures that govern our lives then it’s vital we should hold a mirror up to a neoliberal construct backed by corporate banks, big business and imperialistic forces like NATO.

What’s lined up next for the band in 2019?

We’ll be doing some shows with Uniform from New York City at the back end of July – Bristol, Hull, Leeds, Cardiff and London. We should get out to do another European tour in September and hopefully get over to the United States where Iron Lung are releasing the record too.

Exiled by Bad Breeding is out now through One Little Indian.

For fans of: Subhumans, Flux of Pink Indians, Subdued

Bad Breeding are featured in the current issue of Vive Le Rock!

Bad Breeding on Facebook

Pic by Katie Rose

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END GAME!

Chris Cheney, guitar ace with Aussie rockers THE LIVING END, speaks to Vive Le Rock ahead of their dates with the STRAY CATS next month!

We last saw the Living End at Green Day’s Hyde Park concert in 2017. What have you been up to?

Lots! Since then we recorded and released our eighth album called Wunderbar. We recorded it in Berlin, Germany with a producer called Tobias Kuhn and it’s hands down our favourite album. We’ve toured Australia a couple of times and done a bunch of shows in Europe. Unfortunately we haven’t been back to the UK since the Hyde park gig. Apologies up front.

Haven’t you also been touring with Australian rock legend Jimmy Barnes?

We did a tour over here called the ‘Red Hot Summer’ which Jimmy headlined. Joan Jett was also on the bill and killed it every day. Crowd size ranges between 10 and 15,000 people and it’s outdoors in the blaring Aussie heat, super fun though. Gotta keep hydrated if you know what I mean!

Do you still live in Los Angeles? How’s life out there?

Back and forth a bit at moment. LA is fantastic, always warm, the place is buzzing with energy and I’ve made some dear friends there. I find it a very inspiring place creatively, everyone’s on top of their game and it kind of brings the best out in you.

Supporting the Stray Cats in June must be quite a bit of a dream come true. Didn’t the Living End start out playing Stray Cats covers?

Yep. We were called The Runaway Boys when we were still at school and pretty much knew how to play every Stray Cats song there is. We came from the rockabilly scene where they were undoubtedly the most successful band from that genre. To me, they were the best band I’d ever heard or seen so to be playing with them in the town where they first broke is very surreal. We feel incredibly blessed to have had the career we have and they are partly responsible for that. Their influence on us made us stand out from every other band and they really inspired us to want to be the best musicians we could be.

Have you played with them before?

Yes, in Australia in 2009. I got to play a few songs onstage with them which was quite mental. 15-year-old me was kind of freaking out. They’re all really nice down-to=earth guys though.

Got any surprises lined up for fans on these shows?

Nope! And yep! Just to be playing these UK shows is super exciting. We don’t leave any fuel left in the tank, it’s all or nothing.

What do you like about coming to the U.K?

The pubs! The history! Not so much the weather, haha! No, I love it all. There’s an incredible energy there that I like. Probably for me the historical aspect is so interesting. From the 100 Club to Buckingham Palace to Camden Market, it’s so cool. I’m sounding like a tourist aren’t I? I can not wait!!!

The new Stray Cats special edition of Vive Le Rock is out now!!

The Living End on Facebook

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INSTIGATION FOR THE NATION!

We spoke to Andy ‘Tez’ Turner of Dewsbury’s UKHC legends INSTIGATORS for our Where Are They Now? column in the April edition of Vive Le Rock! He had a lot to say for himself, but due to space restrictions we couldn’t fit it all in. Now, in all its glory, you can read the full unexpurgated interview….

In 1980 Britain was a desolate place for a generation of dismayed working class youth, unemployed and angry. As the first wave of punk fell and gave way to the anarcho punk movement of the 80s, a new voice of protest rose.

The Instigators formed in West Yorkshire and influenced by Crass and UK Subs, they played their first show in 1982 and were soon supporting bands like Subhumans and Flux of Pink Indians. Instigators went on to tour Europe and America many times and no doubt made a big impact on the punk scene. Frontman Andy Turner, also formerly of XPOZES, caught up with Vive Le Rock to talk about then and now.


You were brought up in Huddersfield. What was it like growing up there? What school did you go to and what was your first job?

I went to Honley High School and finished there in the summer of 1979. People now call it graduating but there was nothing really to ‘graduate’ to, as through the 70s and 80s there was mass unemployment, not just across West Yorkshire but whole sways of the country. And this meant areas like Huddersfield were choc full of angry young people which made it quite violent times. The only ‘real’ job I ever had was a few months after leaving school at a basketware importers but by then we’d started a band called Xpozez and what I was earning went into getting that off the ground. By 1980 we were up and running and not long after that we had recorded and released the first Xpozez EP, Systems Kill on our own Retaliation Records.

How did you first get into music? What venues and record shops did you go to and name a few bands you got in to?

Like most kids around that time pre-teen it was all about the radio and Top Of The Pops so when I heard / saw bands like Slade, The Sweet, T Rex and Bowie, that blew my tiny mind although it wasn’t until I started reading about punk and pre-punk bands that I started really getting interested and when those bands actually got stuff recorded it was just as I thought it was gonna be and I got into it big time. My second ever gig was The Clash, TRB, X-Ray Spex, Steel Pulse and more at Victoria Park, London (30.04.78 – and in case you wondered the first was Siouxsie & The Banshees at Huddersfield Polytechnic eight days earlier). I bought every single (it was mostly singles back then) I could get my hands on. There were decent shops in town like Bradley’s Records, Woods, Boston Records (for ex jukebox 7”s) plus even Boots, Woolworth’s and WH Smith’s had record sections. Then there were trips to Leeds, Bradford, and Manchester. We also set up a mail order back in the early 80s and started importing a lot of hard-to-get overseas stuff (Dischord Records etc) and got to hook up with loads of good people doing what we were all over the world. Venues came and went as they do now but initially there were loads of bands doing the college circuit so we got to see tons, plus in late ’79 Cleopatra’s reggae club started putting on punk shows starting with Slaughter And The Dogs (I think it was Mick Rossi’s brother who was booking) and besides a few of the first wave that were still around at the start of the 80s, we got to see the second wave like Cockney Rejects, Exploited, Discharge, Crass even. There was only really a couple of pubs (The Albion, West Riding) and one club (Coach House) you’d be safe in back then. Both put bands on too. Later we’d be making trips to places like The F Club in Leeds and various venues in Bradford, especially when Nick Toczek started booking in regular Gory Details, Fatal Shocks and Natural Disasters shows from around 1982-83.

How did you become part of Instigators and what was your first rehearsal and first gig like?

Xpozez put out a bunch of singles and EP’s and did patches of touring until they ground to a halt in 1985. We’d booked Instigators to play in Huddersfield (November 5, 1982 with Flux Of Pink Indians) and they made an impression on us. Between then and when the first album (Nobody Listens Anymore) came out we played quite a few shows together heading out in a big old bread van together. They started rehearsing at our place and not long after they’d released that record their singer quit and they asked me to join. There was lots of gigs coming in including a European tour but two of the others guys decided to bow out which left things up in the air, but (Simon) Mooney – founder and guitarist – was determined to carry on now things were starting to happen so we got Andrew Turnbull (bass) and Steve Curran (drums) in and rehearsed like crazy right up until we set off on tour. I’m not sure if this was the first show but one of the first I did with Instigators was at the 100 Club, London with Urban Dogs.


You were known as an anarcho punk band – what was the scene all about for you – what bands did you admire and how did you become a vegetarian?

Instigators’ initial releases, including the album we came in on PHOENIX (1986), were released on Bluurg Records (Dick Lucas from Subhumans’ label) and prior to that both Instigators and Xpozez had played a load of shows with a load of bands you’d class as anarcho but also a load of other bands and were a constant on compilation tapes and fanzines around at the time. There really was an alternative underground in the 80s and for a while things looked quite positive outside the old-school-tie mainstream. The vegetarian thing started for me in a massive squat in Milan in 1984 when we are on tour with Xpozez. The people there let us stay a few days and said we could do anything we wanted except no meat. I should say thanks to those folks as I’m still not tempted by gourmet burgers or pulled fucking whatever.

What was the peak of the Instigators like? You toured America – what bands did you tour with and how far did you take the band?

From that first jaunt on the continent at the end of 1985 things just snowballed. We were out on tour virtually non-stop over the next few years only taking time off to record. The Hypegopromo 1&2 double CD that’s just come out on Sanctus Propaganda is a snapshot of what we were about between ’85 and ’88. Back in the day we compiled two C60 cassettes that featured live stuff recorded across Europe and the USA and spliced it together with tons of radio stuff like interviews (including one with Tim Yohannan on Maximum Rock N Roll Radio when we were in San Francisco), radio sessions, adverts for shows and DJs who were playing our stuff. I hadn’t heard it in years and it was a great reminder of just a little of what we were up to back then.

How did the band end?

The final tour was in 1992. We ended in Milan in front of one of the biggest crowds we’d played to as a headliner. It was a bit weird knowing that this would be the last time but was also good knowing what we’d achieved not only as a band but also in growing up and experiencing so much. Most of which we all still carry with us today.

What have you been up to since and what are you doing now?

I’ve been lucky that I’ve managed to do stuff involving music since I was 16 years old and I’m still not cynical and jaded. I’m privileged to have learned at the feet of many masters and mistresses in their field and hopefully taken in what they were teaching me and been able to use that in a positive way. My fellow travellers from that period are all doing things they wanted to do – Simon Mooney is a well respected photographer, Steve Curran is drum teching and tour managing around the world and Andrew Turnbull is a man of mystery. He’s always flying off to exotic places under the guise of fixing stuff. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he was a spy!

Get Instigators Hypegopromo 1&2 double CD on Sanctus Propaganda and check out the band at www.facebook.com/instigatorsUK/

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SCIENTISTS INTERVIEW EXTRA!

With Australian punk icons THE SCIENTISTS set to play a one-off show in London this week, Vive Le Rock spoke to Kim Salmon and Tony Thewlis from the band for our Rough Guide feature in the latest edition of the mag. As a special online-only bonus, here are the rest of their responses….

How did the reissue deal with Numero Group come about? Did they approach you? Had you been seeking a back catalogue reissue initially?

KIM: My manager Andrew got that one. I’m always open to these things but as an artist who is still producing work I find that doing that takes up most of my energy.

What can we expect from the Scientists’ set?

KIM: We’ve been discussing doing stuff from Blood Red River and things like ‘Murderess…’ and ‘Leadfoot’. We might look at some obscurities like ‘Perpetual Motion’… but essentially expect – dare I say it? – classic Mach 2 Scientists.

TONY: The Scientists playing a selection of Scientists songs that we imagine people would expect us to play, plus a few obscure old songs and possibly a couple of old covers that we used to play, just to keep it fresh and interesting to us and hopefully exciting for everybody else.

I understand it was a request from Mudhoney that sparked the 2006 reunion. How easy was it to accept?

KIM: Not difficult at all as we had already reformed 4 years earlier for an Australian national tour in 2002 to promote some of our CD reissues.

TONY: We actually did a reunion tour of Australia in 2001 when I happened to go back there for a holiday. The last gig was in Adelaide and that was supposed to be our last ever show. It didn’t really occur to us that anyone would want us to do anything again, but the tour (and a show we did for Australian TV) was fun and we all enjoyed playing together again, so when we were asked to do some ATP gigs by Mudhoney it was no hardship to say yes.

Robert Coyne, who’s currently on drums, has played in the band previously. When was this and how did you recruit him?

KIM: He played a show in 1985 when Brett Rixon first left. He was great, and all of 16 years old, but when we asked him if he’d join he said he couldn’t because of his loyalty to him and his brother’s band ‘Sliver Chapter.

TONY: Robert was playing bass and keyboards in a band called Silver Chapter who used to come to Scientists gigs as soon as we landed in London. In 1985 we needed someone to take over from Brett and we considered asking Silver Chapter’s drummer, but then Kim helped them with a recording session and realised that Robert was a Brian Jones type of whizz-kid who could play any instrument he touched, and his style was very much like ours. He drummed with us at a few gigs in London but we didn’t ask him to join permanently because: a) we didn’t want to be responsible for ruining Silver Chapter by stealing one of their members, and b) Robert was only 15 and too young to be legally allowed in most of the places we played!

In 1987 Kim did some gigs as a duo with Nick Combe, playing some new songs he’d written, and I did some demos of my songs with Robert on bass and Kevin Rooney on drums. When we recorded The Human Jukebox we used a combination of those songs and personnel (which is why Rob is playing bass on It Must Be Nice). I think Kim’s left-over songs went to the Surrealists, and most of mine went to The Interstellar Villains.

When I moved back to London in 1992 Robert kindly let me sleep in his living room for a few weeks and eventually we started talking about forming a band which became The Scoundrelles. We both also played together in Venus Ray and Chris Wilson’s Groovin’ Flames. And to balance things out I play in Roberts own band, The Robert Coyne Outfit.

So it is very fitting that we have him back on the Scientists’ drum stool seeing as Leanne isn’t available for these shows.

What are your memories of you spell in London during the 80s. Do Australian bands who’ve spent a prolonged period over here ever compare stories?

KIM: I think I’ve talked about those times with Dave Graney and Clare Moore but to be honest, the Scientists distanced themselves from other Australian bands…in fact other bands generally. I remember being poor but I got to like London a lot and was actually homesick for it when I went home to Perth in 1987.

TONY: We didn’t hang around with any Australian bands in London. Although we didn’t really hang around with any Australian bands (apart from the Hoodoo Gurus) in Australia, either!

What are your thoughts on a new record from The Scientists?

KIM: It’ll never happen again! Why would I want to throw away perfectly good songs when they won’t have a hope in hell in any comparison with the ‘legend’. It’s the same with any reformed band. No one is EVER EVER really interested in new stuff from them. Also the Scientists ran their course back in the day. A reformation can only exist in a controlled environment if you’ll pardon the ‘scientific’ pun. If you bring a band back to life it’ll pretty quickly find its way back to the point when it imploded. Even when people have matured they tend to revert back to their old modes of behavior in a familiar old situation. And who’d want a band like the Scientists to be a bunch of psychologically ‘mature’ blokes anyway ha ha!

TONY: People seem to like our “legacy” so it would have to be something very extraordinary in order to not sully what we did before. There aren’t many bands that can pull that off, including bands that we admire like Big Star or The New York Dolls, who obviously thought they could pull it off. Their reformation albums have had some ok moments, but nothing that touches what they did originally. And if they can’t deliver what we expect from them, what chance have we got? That said, though, I just recalled that The Pirates made some entertaining and rocking “new” records, post-Johnny Kidd, so if Kim or Boris came up with something that they thought needed “The Scientists” on it I’d be happy to oblige. Although it would probably be better to call it something else and have people think “Wow. This sounds a bit like The Scientists…”.

It’s similar to how I think about remakes of TV shows – it would be much better to have a new show that you enjoy and then suddenly realise why – “Wow. This new show is great, it’s a bit like a modern, Jeremy Brett-era Sherlock Holmes!” rather than being bombarded by a load of hype and then discover – “Oh dear, this is actually supposed to be Sherlock Holmes? It’s nothing like Sherlock Holmes! Why didn’t they just leave it alone?”

Kim, you’re quite a prolific songwriter. What situation do you find most conducive to writing?

KIM: A deadline. I actually don’t ever write unless I have to. Generally its for some musical project eg Kim and Leanne, or the Runaways record I did with Spencer P Jones or my new one My Script. I think the only difference with My Script was that I had been feeling guilty over the last few years about my slackness with writing and had put the odd sketch on my iPhone memo to make myself feel better – so when producer Myles Mumford approached me about making a record I had something to start with. I still had to write them once we got into the studio however. So…. a deadline and being guilt-ridden are the two situations most conducive to writing songs for me.

The 80s, seen from overseas, was an unusually creative wellspring for Australian underground music. Discuss.

KIM: I’ve always said that Rock and Roll since it started, has had its epicenter somewhere in the world, be it Memphis, London, Manchester or Sweden. For The 1980s I’d argue that it was Australia. In those post punk times England got too caught up in fads and it was assumed that punk had been just one of those. Therefore rock became passé. Naturally a whole generation of Australians had gotten excited about the punk thing and then didn’t want to be told that it was passé. In the 80s the touring circuit of Europe was dominated by US and Australian punk. Younger US bands were actually looking to Australia for inspiration. Then of course once those younger US bands started blossoming it was the end for us and our European touring circuit gravy train. I knew something was up when reading the name Mudhoney on bandroom walls on a Beasts Of Bourbon tour in Groningen or somewhere.

TONY: A lot of Australian bands from that time seem to really strike a chord with rock-and-roll loving Spain. I’m not sure there was anything special about Australia, maybe that was just the place you happened to look and happily found exactly what you were looking for! There was stuff coming out of America at the same time (The Gun Club, The Cramps, Alex Chilton, The Panther Burns, The dBs, etc), and slightly later a flurry of stuff like the Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, The Oblivions, The Reigning Sound, etc. Has anyone checked to see if perhaps there is currently a similar (and as yet undiscovered) wellspring in Croatia?

Of all Kim Salmon projects, what has been the most rewarding, or unrewarding, if you like?

KIM: They’ve all had their rewards. Actually I think my career has been amazingly rewarding for me. I’m really lucky! Some projects have had higher levels of toxicity than others, but I’ve weathered it or walked away before I got too damaged.

thescientist

The Scientists play The Lexington, London on Saturday 25 June, with support from BLACK MEKON. Tickets are available here.

The retrospective A Place Called Bad is available to pre-order through The Numero Group.

Read the Rough Guide To The Scientists feature in the latest edition of Vive Le Rock!

Check out ‘Solid Gold Hell’ on YouTube.

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DAVE THE GRAVE! DAMNED EXCLUSIVE!

DAMNED frontman Dave Vanian’s spell working as a gravedigger added to the vocalist’s dark mystique and passed into the punk rock mythos. In an exclusive add-on to our 40th Anniversary feature, he tells Vive Le Rock‘s Dick Porter how he got the job…

 

“I was trying to be a commercial artist of some kind. This was from late 1973/74 up to ’75, I was basically drifting around trying to get work as a commercial artist. At that time it was a very cutthroat business and there were plenty more artists than I, even though I think I had the talent, which I was told a few times, I just didn’t have the qualifications that were needed to get the jobs. I couldn’t even get into the bottom end of it and just start in a small way, and it became quite obvious that that wasn’t going to happen. I was always going into London all the time, because you’re young and you’re looking for something that’s happening. Things were changing; the sixties were dead, but then you had all that great music that came out of Roxy Music and all that kind of stuff. There was lots of things happening but it was a transitional time and I somehow wandered into it.

“I actually had to plead for a job as a gravedigger because they thought that I couldn’t do the job. It wasn’t just grave digging, I used to dig huge beds, it was a gardening job as well – I used to do the whole thing. It was hard work, but I chose it. Before the Damned, I was in lots of odd jobs, I couldn’t get the job I wanted and the work was drying up. I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to sign on’, but I didn’t want to sign on. I went down there once or twice, and when I walked down there from where I lived, it was down a hill past an old cemetery. One day I was walking by and I saw this older chap on his own in the middle of it, digging away. I thought, ‘If I was to do that job, it occupies no brain capacity whatsoever – You do the work, get out and get to London, get things done’. So, I basically went into the office and said, ‘Do you need somebody?’ And they did; two fellas who were completely useless had just left, so they were short. So I talked my way into the job, and then ironically, when I did leave, they didn’t want me to go – they offered me loads of incentives to stay. It served its purpose perfectly, to bridge the gap between what I had been doing and getting into London and meeting people and trying to work out what the hell I was doing with my life.”

Read our mammoth 14-page Damned 40th Anniversary feature in the latest edition of Vive Le Rock!

 

 

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VIBRATORS 40th ANNIVERSARY THIS WEEKEND!

As THE VIBRATORS gear up for a tour-de-force show celebrating 40 years of the band, including appearances from the classic line ups, original guitarist John Ellis takes Vive Le Rock back to his formative days as an aspiring musician.

“I was a lover of music, the thing is probably my mum actually, she was a big Lonnie Donegan fan; every time we were on holiday, in places like Great Yarmouth, at that time bands used to play those kind of gigs, summer residences, on the pier. Cliff and the Shadows had been around a long time as well, so I saw Cliff and The Shadows do pantomime, so I was well into the twangy guitars! And also the Beatles were coming through when I was eleven or twelve, and that was pretty amazing. But prior to that I’d seen Lonnie Donegan live a few times.

“Now I teach blues guitar workshops and I’m a massive fan of the blues, it’s one of the main musics for me; but what I didn’t realise when I was a young man, eight or nine years old – and why would I have done – but I was actually witnessing the birth of the British blues boom. Lonnie Donegan was almost single handedly responsible for creating what you could call that blues revival, him and Alexis Corner, and those few people were responsible for bringing over those blues greats. And out of those little bands, you’ve got your Eric Claptons and your Jeff Becks and your Jimmy Pages. You’ve got your burgeoning birth of the British blues. And of course British blues went on to become rock music and then went on to become, eventually, punk and everything else.

“That was my background as a musician and I’d fiddled around with a guitar – my gran had bought me a guitar and everything. But I never really got into guitar (until) I started Bazooka Joe with my friend Daniel. You’re probably talking about ‘68, we were probably doing those Hampstead Town Hall gigs. After I left (Daniel) carried it on, so he’d have much more understanding of the history of the band, and of course Adam Ant became a member of Bazooka Joe – and the first ever Sex Pistols gig was supporting Bazooka Joe!”

The Vibrators play the O2 Academy Islington on February 27th.

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NO PEACE FOR THE WICKED: THE RETURN OF PETER PERRETT

Peter Perrett Only Ones

With a short series of live solo dates scheduled over the next couple of months, ONLY ONES frontman PETER PERRETT revealed to Vive Le Rock his intentions for some forthcoming new material:

“The tentative plan is to get an album recorded, hopefully ready to release for February/March. All I’ve done so far is one day in the studio with the band (STRANGEFRUIT) doing backing tracks; five backing tracks and then three or four days doing overdubs and vocals. And there was two songs that I was happy with, to release. Since then, the bass player – Peter, my son – and the drummer (Jake Woodward), who are both at college doing a music degree, they both finished their finals half way through June. It’s really intensive, music degrees, they really work you hard, they’re having to play, every night, things in 9/8 and things, it really is intense – I couldn’t really call on them! So, after they finished, we had four days rehearsal before going to Amsterdam.

“And so, every day it went up a level, the way we were playing. Although I’m happy with the two songs I thought I was going to (release), I was going to go back into the studio and mix them… but, part of me enjoyed playing the other new songs that I did, so much that I thought, ‘If we have a few more days rehearsal…’ – although they’re great musicians, it doesn’t give the songs enough time to develop. I just felt it went up a level, so… Jamie (Peter’s younger son, guitar) was a bit upset, because he spent loads of time editing everything ready to go in and mix it, and I said to him ‘Ah, I want to redo it!'”

While further Only Ones activity is by no means out of the question, Peter will be backed up by Strangefruit for his upcoming shows. Fans can expect a balance of old and new material on the night:

“The band are a really tight band, cos they play together as Strangefruit, but we haven’t had that much rehearsal time doing my new songs. We did a gig in Hebden Bridge where we had some rehearsal time, but that was mainly learning Only Ones songs, because that’s what the audience expects. In the nineties, I had a band (The One) and I wanted to not trade on my past, I wanted my new songs to stand out, so to begin with I did a third Only Ones songs, two thirds new songs. But the last gig (The One) did, it was in the Roadhouse Manchester, and someone put the setlist on line, and first song, ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’, get that out the way, and all the other songs were new songs; that’s the way I used to be then.”

“Now I understand, from a fan’s point of view, because I’ve been in the audience since then, seen people, and I quite like it when I recognise the song. From a fan’s point of view, especially people that’ve never seen you play the old songs, you’ve got to be a bit more giving. I used to think it was like taking the easy way out, playing the songs that everyone knew and wanted to hear, I always cared more passionately about new songs, and thought maybe it was playing the game too much, being a bit more like a cabaret or a nostalgia trip, or a heritage band or whatever they call it… I used to think that that was somehow selling out.

“Now I realise that maybe I’m a bit too radical in my ideas as to what a performance and a gig should be, and they should be a bit more give and take. There’s nothing wrong with playing old songs. So to begin with they had to learn the Only Ones songs so I could function giving the people the songs they’ve liked over the years. But really my passion is about getting them to learn the new songs as soon as possible.

“Really all I want to do is record. To begin with, I thought it would be a distraction doing gigs; but it’s been good, because when you’ve got a gig it forces you, ‘Oh I’ve got a gig next week, I’d better rehearse’; so four rehearsals in a row, I actually started feeling like a musician, and so I wrote four songs over the three week period. Without feeling like a musician, I don’t want to write new songs, because I’ve got a bunch of new songs that aren’t recorded yet, ones that were played over the Only Ones (reunion) time, and other ones as well, and I’ve got this dread that I’ve got these great songs that I’m proud of that’ll never get recorded… and so it’s a deterrent to writing!

“The thing of having a gig to do is you think ‘I’d better get into musician mode, I’ve got to walk out and be a musician’, and so feeling like a musician, rather than someone who used to be a musician a long time ago, I’ve actually started enjoying writing again. And the feeling of writing a song and three days later playing it with a band, and it happens… sometimes songs take a while, but occasionally there’s a song that is just so simple, and that’s why I did this new song ‘Living In My Head’ in Amsterdam, cos as soon as I started playing it with the group, it just sounded amazing.

“And it just gave me a buzz, and inspired me to write more songs, so since I got back from Amsterdam I’ve written two and a half songs. Which is quite a lot for me, after going years and years without…”

See next month’s edition of Vive Le Rock for more from Peter. The revised edition of Nina Antonia’s The One And Only biography is available now through Thin Man Press. Peter will be playing live on:

24 July, Garage, London

8 August, Rebellion Festival, Blackpool

15 August, Ruby Lounge, Manchester

29 August, The Fleece, Bristol

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