One of the key bands to emerge from the anarcho punk scene, Flux Of Pink Indians left a lasting legacy that was recently extended with an expanded reissue of their landmark 1982 album Strive To Survive Causing Least Suffering Possible. trakMARX caught up with guitarist Kev Hunter and vocalist Colin Latter to chew the cud:
How did the Strive To Survive reissue come about?
Kev: I sort of punted the idea to Derek at One Little Indian. When we did the reunion gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in November 2007, we were asked if we wanted it filmed and recorded, and we weren’t particularly into the idea – but everyone else was doing it, Steve was doing it, so we thought ‘Fuck it, we’ll do it as well.’ After the gig, we had the sound and the vision and there was somebody who we decided was going to put it out as a separate entity, but that didn’t come to fruition after three years. There was supposed to be work in progress, but it never happened. Basically, we ended up with the gig soundtrack and I thought, ‘this is a shame if this doesn’t come out’. So, realising that Strive was coming up to its 30th anniversary, I just approached Derek because I’d had bits and pieces of contact with him over the past couple of years since we did the reunion gigs – mainly because we hadn’t invited him to play bass. We just thought he wouldn’t want to do it, so we didn’t even ask him. I just sent him an email one day and said, ‘Have you thought about doing anything for a 30th anniversary reissue of Strive, like maybe adding some extra material, maybe even the Shepherd’s Bush set, and he came back straight away and said ‘sounds interesting’ and basically that was that. He said he’d get somebody onto it, and lo and behold, they did. Surprisingly, we haven’t collectively got much more than is now out. I’ve got a couple of live tapes but they’re not very good quality because people just didn’t have the equipment.
Colin: It was more Kevin than me – He’d had a little bit more contact than I had with One Little Indian and Derek. He’d been asking Derek whether he wanted to release the live recording at Shepherd’s Bush Empire and not much really seemed to be coming back. I think one day he just asked and Derek turned around and said it was a good idea, and before you know it One Little Indian were involved and started organising it. It was a bit strange, really because for years we’d never have imagined that we’d do something with them again. I’ve had no contact with them, whatsoever – It’s all been Kevin.
Are you looking forward to getting your hands on the finished article?
Colin: Yeah. But for me, I like the idea of the live recording coming out. It was professionally recorded on the night – everyone was. It seems a shame to have gone and done all that and then not realised it. It’s just taken a few years to get that out and the recordings I’ve heard of that have been excellent. The other way that people have been able to hear the gig if they weren’t there is on You Tube and the quality is dreadful – and it’s a real shame because the actual recording we’ve got is fantastic. So it just would be nice for that to come out – which is happening – and at the same time, it’s a little bit of a strange package because you get Strive again remastered, so it might sound a little bit better, and the demos for the album. So it almost gives people an idea of how the album ended up the way it was, how it originally sounded before we went into the studio to record it.
I was initially surprised that the reissue came out on One Little Indian, because I’d got the impression that the relationship between yourselves and Derek had become rather frosty.
Kev: [Laughs] It had been, in the interim. I left at the end of 1982 – Colin lived in the house with them all in north London. I don’t think they fell out – I don’t think there was an event over which they fell out, I just think they grew apart – Colin was doing Hotalacio and Derek wanted to do other things. I guess we thought that he won’t want to play bass with us at a reunion anyway, because he’s got the label and the business.
So you got Ian Glasper in…
Kev: Yeah, that just came about from a casual remark it was one of those things. Ian contacted us in the course of doing his book. I was still in contact with him and I mentioned the fact that we’d been asked if we wanted to play with Steve at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and basically he said, ‘well, I play bass if you need one’, and we did. It was a good atmosphere, I thought it was amazing. I’m just happy that we seem to have done a good job. It could have been a really bad thing to do , it could have all gone tits up, really. I think we had six rehearsals from about August 2007 until about the end of October. We’d never played with Ian before, I hadn’t picked up a guitar in twenty-odd years, I hadn’t played with Martin. Martin had done a few gigs with Pete in Judas 2, so the fact that it all came together was amazing – although the first couple of rehearsals were shit!
I’m sure there’ll be naysayers who will think, ‘Fucking hell, triple album with demos and a live gig’. That’s not the sort of thing they would expect. I honestly don’t know what people are going to think of this, but for me it was like – given that we’re not going to ever do any gigs – I just think that it was a nice way to mark a period, certainly with the inclusion of the Shepherd’s Bush set. It’s a fitting epitaph if you like. I’m really glad it’s coming out on One Little Indian, it seems strangely apt and a lot of people wouldn’t have put money on that. We’d had very little contact with Derek until the Shepherd’s Bush gig. I can’t remember why, but I did get in contact with him. Colin and I had said things in the press, to fanzine people and even in Ian’s book and we weren’t always that complimentary. It wasn’t personal, it was just the way things had developed. To his credit, he’s pretty much let us have our head on this and he’s pretty much asked us what we wanted to do. Colin and I have talked about it a lot, I went into the studio to mix the live set because we only had the basic recording. He’s been really good about it. I’m really surprised that it came out like this, it was just one of those fleeting ideas that I had and I just wondered because it had been talked about a few years ago – Plastic Head did a limited vinyl version in about 2008. A lot of the original artwork is being reproduced for this reissue. You’re going to get the Strive demos on one disc including the Wargasm version of ‘Tapioca Sunrise’, because we thought that’s pretty much the first Strive recording, because I was back in the band, we had Spider from The System on drums ‘cos Martin hadn’t rejoined. That was like the beginning of it, so we thought that should be included. So you get two different versions – You get the Wargasm version of ‘Tapioca Sunrise’ and then I think we did a demo. It’s been such a big part of the last year – me working with One Little Indian, but this last month I haven’t really done anything about it. When it comes out, I guess that’ll be the end of it, which’ll be a bit strange for me. Colin, because he’s got his own stuff to do, he let me work with everyone, and obviously I’d run things past him, but he said because I’d had the idea I was sort of left in charge of it, which is really nice. It will be anticlimactic because once it’s out – that’s it, there’s nothing else to do. Whereas there’s been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing about sleevenotes and artwork and exactly what tracks are going to go on it, so I’m going to miss that – there’s going to be a void!
How do you view Strive to Survive now, looking back at it from a distance of 30 years?
Kev: I think it still stands up well. That was one of the reasons why we umm-ed and ahh-ed about doing the Shepherd’s Bush gig and three subsequent gigs because we thought ‘are the songs and the lyrics still relevant?’ But because there was no specific mentions of Margaret Thatcher or anything in it, we thought ‘Yeah a lot of it is still relevant’. I still think it sounds pretty good actually.
Colin: It’s coming out, but I don’t think it’s going to change the world. When it first came out, it was something to take out and use to change the world. I remember speaking to Penny a few years in, maybe 1983 or something like that, and in the end thinking, ‘Look, why the hell are we trying to smash our heads against the wall trying to change the world to be like us? Maybe we should just go and have our own little world somewhere else. And I remember saying to him that maybe between Flux and Crass we should go and by some place in the middle of France or whatever, with acres of land, and you basically just live the way you want to live. Rather than fighting the whole to time to try and change every street so that it won’t have a butcher’s shop and all the rest of it. Absolutely impossible – But that was what we were trying to do.
I think that the remaster has brought out the top end with more clarity
Kev: I’m a lot happier with that version, to be honest.
What are you memories of recording the original album?
Colin: Good – It was definitely a good time. I’ve got a feeling that it was about five days, and we weren’t living in London at the time, so it was an excuse to come up to London just to record an album with penny of Crass producing and all the tracks ready – It certainly was a good time.
Was that with John Loder and Penny?
Kev: Yeah, John was around but it was Penny that was really in the driving seat.
Was It Penny that was responsible for the feedback that continues throughout the album?
Kev: It was – But I don’t think at that stage we knew exactly what it was going to do, I thought it was just going to be this cacophony at the end. It was a surprise to me that it came out like that, but I definitely think it works. In fact, talking about the reissue, One Little Indian wanted to do a vinyl version with extra tracks as well – One of the test pressing CDs I got, they’d stuck ‘Progress’ at the end of side one after ‘Tapioca Sunrise’, and because there’s a break in it, it only works split over an album – ‘Tapioca Sunrise’ is a natural end to one side and ‘Progress’ is the natural opener to the other. So I said, ‘No, I’m not really happy with it like that,’ so then we re-jigged it again. I think it needed to stay as it was on the original vinyl.
How did you first encounter Crass?
Colin: By mid-1978 we had a punk band, which we always presumed was going to be a local thing. We used to go and see whatever bands were playing at a particular venue in Bishops Stortford, not really expecting much. Then one night Crass turned up as a support band for some other band and it was almost like the beginning of punk all over again for us – hadn’t seen anything like it, which was fantastic. We spoke to them afterwards and found out there was a gig they were playing in Holborn – we were booked at the same venue for a different night and we put the two nights together, so that was how we got to know them. Over time we kind of lost contact with them, but then we bumped into them again at some point and ended up becoming quite good friends.
The Epileptics weren’t very political, but Crass played a part in developing that…
Colin: I’m not really sure that any bands in 1977/78 were really that political. They would be in the way that they were having a shout at whatever, or being punk as in songs by the Damned, which were about being stupid. Which is what the Epileptics were about – most of our songs were silly punk songs. Obviously, meeting Crass – they were all a little bit older than us. We were about 16 or 17 and we got very influenced by them, without them I’m sure Flux wouldn’t have happened. We would probably have disappeared in 1979 as an unknown punk band and that would have been it. I don’t mean this in a negative way against them, but in a way they kind of took the fun out of punk – It all became a bit serious, didn’t it? It was just the way punk went. I think had Crass not come along, I guess bands like Vice Squad, Anti-Pasti and that kind of thing would still have happened. But all that kind of new punk from 1979 onwards, it was totally different. Punk from ‘76-77, it was older guys than us obviously – I was 14 or 15 at the time and couldn’t have imagined being in a band – and it was all over quite quickly. Then you got all those bands that came after the new wave in ’79 and onwards, which almost kept going for years and almost kept punk going for a lot longer than the initial punk bands like 999, and groups I used to love like Wire and the Lurkers and all those ’77-78 bands that were only really about for a year or two. If you look at the original punk bands, they were kind of pissed off, and they were basically two fingers up at the world. It was anything to shock and all the rest of it, and Crass came along and it wasn’t really about shocking. It was about taking the whole thing and seeing if something really could be done, which of course can only make things more serious – which is what’s happened. Of course there were different degrees of seriousness out there, weren’t there?
You got the sense that Discharge were just playing at it…
Colin: I kind of liked them, but I did feel like they were a band that we couldn’t really have anything to do with because they were singing the songs , but I don’t know. Crass were prepared to go the whole way and I guess other bands weren’t, but maybe Crass’ situation of being older people, maybe more secure in where they lived, that they were able to do it. They were more set up and more savvy because some of them had been around in the 60s.
It opened up the way for bands like Flux who had a more realised idea of politics than the sloganeering you got from The Clash …
Colin: It’s a bit strange with a band like The Clash, because in a way they’re just a band really, that are saying something. Certainly, if you think about the first album, they’re getting people’s attention and thinking that change was necessary and in the air, but then after that then too may offers of money probably changed that for them. I don’t think what anybody from all those bands did is necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that different people took it in different ways. I’ve not heard, but I would be quite interested to know what those bands thought about Crass and other bands. It’d be interesting to know what Johnny Lydon would have said about Crass in 1979. The interesting thing now is of course that you’ve got a lot of bands like the Damned now play alongside a lot of anarcho bands at a lot of these festivals that are on these days.
You’ve got Chas & Dave alongside the Mob at Rebellion…
Colin: Maybe things have changed a little bit, being in a punk band for me meant that it was there, it was at the time and then that was it, that’s how I always had felt about it, but my brother-in-law was in an Irish folk band and he just carries on playing forever. I used to say to him that because we were in a punk band it seems to be only then, it finishes and you can’t ever play again. He can play his kind of music forever. In a way, I guess a lot of these punk bands now are just doing what he’s doing, and that is, well – they’re in a band, why can’t they? Is it only a bit strange if they’re singing about things that are no longer valid? I don’t know.
Didn’t Anti-Pasti rip off ‘Two Years Too Late’? How did that happen? Did they ever attempt to explain themselves?
Colin: That happened because I went to a Rock Against Racism gig in 1978 and bought a Pistols bootleg. I was walking down the street and this guy a half the size, with the look of Elvis Costello came up to me and started going on about this album in minute detail and I just thought, ‘Really? Who the hell’s this?’ I don’t know how it happened, but we stayed in contact. The Epileptics were still living in Bishop’s Stortford and he had a flat in Stoke Newington, his name was Dave Director – That was his real name, apparently. He kind of became our manager and he used to come down the Triad and buy us drinks afterwards and all this kind of stuff. We kind of fell out with him and when we did, he kind of got friendly with Anti-Pasti, and I think he basically gave them a copy of a demo that we’d done and said, ‘This band doesn’t exist anymore if you want it use any of the songs, just go ahead and do it.’ So they obviously felt like it was OK. So they did their own version of ‘Two Years Too Late’ – The words are a bit strange because they couldn’t quite hear what the words were. It was only then when John Peel played it that Kevin heard it and thought, ‘It’s our song.’ I don’t know why but for quite a while, in all the music papers, they refused to admit that it was one of our songs. Then all of a sudden one day, they turned around and said, ‘Yeah it was, but it was just a shit song that you couldn’t do anything with’, which was a bit of a funny thing to say.
Strive starts with the staged argument – and you were an argumentative group…
Kev: [Laughs] We certainly were – That sort of continued after the reunion gig. Once we’d done Shepherd’s Bush Empire, we got a lot of offers to play gigs and some of us wanted to do it again and some of us didn’t, and that’s never going to make for harmony.
Wasn’t there some kind of incident where Babylon showed up when you were setting up the banners for the album sleeve shoot?
Colin: It was the owner of the land, I think. When we were doing the sleeve we got chased off twice. I’m pretty sure our phones were tapped, because we had arranged it not realising that perhaps they were tapped. We had arranged that we would go near Kelvedon Hatch – there’s a nuclear bunker there – we’d go quite near it, put up all the banners that we used at gigs and we’d take photos and it was part of what would go towards the album sleeve. I think we’d basically turned up there for a minute or two, and before you know it this guy turned up and started following us onto the land, shouting at us that it was his land and to get off and all the rest of it. I don’t know how he could have found out that we were there that quickly, because it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere. We left, drove off and as we were driving off a police car was coming towards us, and then they turned around and started following us and pulled us over and just asked loads of questions really. Nothing heavy really. I think another one was where we were taking photos of Beechams’ Pharmaceuticals. If you’re taking photographs of the factory from the outside, even if you’re on the public right of way, the security guard isn’t going to take too kindly to it. That was weird, because we were then followed away from that place for a couple of miles – whether it was the security guard getting in his car and following us, I’m not sure. Or whether the security company called people up, I don’t know. A lot of these things you didn’t mind happening – you were just winding people up.
Crass used to get weekly visits…
Colin: Have you been to Crass’ house? It’s a fantastic place and totally in the middle of nowhere. They’ve got a little piece of paradise there really. Can you imagine, I think they used to say that they used to get the CID car go past, or the local police would go past and it was all painted blue and white, those old-fashioned 70s police cars. In the middle of nowhere to go through that farmyard to go past that house is a bit strange. I think they said that they had a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook and they thought it was too heavy to keep it there because of what was in it and one day they thought ‘we’re going to just have to burn it in the back garden’. It’d would have been just their bad luck if they’d had been burning it and all of a sudden there was a police raid, but I don’t think there was. I was quite lucky, I gave them a false name – In those days you could get away with it a bit more.
How did you come to not be in the original Flux line-up, having been in the Epileptics?
Kev: In Flux there were definitely two factions, if you like. When I first joined them we were very much a unit – It might sound clichéd, but we were. We just wanted to be a great little band. But once we’d been going for a couple of months, Derek and Colin got more into the Crass side of things, and me and Rich (who was the Epileptics’ drummer), we were more into it just being a band. From my own point of view, I wasn’t as keen to get involved with the heavy, political side as Colin and Derek were, I have to admit. I jumped off because Rich had left. We’d done some gigs where we sort of fell out – as you say, there were a lot of arguments. But it was always the two factions: Colin and Derek wanting to do a gig for whatever reasons – If you like, any reason – and me and Rich saying, ‘Nahh … this isn’t good news’. It happened on a couple of occasions: There was one all-dayer in Deptford, when there was about 25 bands and there was a lot of trouble down there. Rich and I got cold feet about that one because we thought that people aren’t here to see the Epileptics, they just want probably to see a band, have a beer and have a ruck. We weren’t into that, so we basically caused a bit of a split that way – only for a day or so. The second time was when Crass got the Epileptics to play Stonehenge in 1979. Colin and Derek were well into it, but Rich and I just thought, ‘It’s a fucking hippie festival – What’s a punk band doing at a hippie festival?’ There’s always been the two factions and at the end of 1979, after we’d made the single, Rich decided he didn’t want to do it anymore and I guess I felt out on a limb and I thought ‘I can see how this is going to go’ – I’d probably had enough, anyway.
You came back in when there was all that caper with the guys who were in the Insane…
Kev: We’d decided to get back together – the four original members of the Epileptics, to re-record the 1970s EP, because Stortbeat were re-pressing it in the wake of Flux becoming more popular. So we got together to re-record it and at the last minute Rich – even though he’d agreed to do it – said, ‘I’m not doing it’. This was the day before we were going into the studio, which was booked. That didn’t help harmony any. Originally Bambi said he’d be on it. We were at the studio, just waiting for Bambi to turn up, and he didn’t. Colin ‘phoned his mum, who was still up in Wigan or wherever it was, and said, ‘Is he coming down?’ She said, ‘He’s down in London, because he’s playing a gig.’ Colin and Derek sussed out that The Rainbow might be where they were – so they got ejected from the band after that. I was back in the orbit because of the re-recording of the 1970s EP, we then re-recorded the single with Penny on drums and they’d already been asked to do a track for the Wargasm compilation on Marcus Featherby’s Pax label. I think Neil, one of the Flux guitarists (they had two at the time) was going to be on it, but he couldn’t get a day off work. So they said to me ‘Do you want to do it?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it.’ After that, because I had more contact with Colin and Derek and they were looking for replacements for Simon and Bambi, Colin said ‘Do you fancy playing with us again?’ And I thought, ‘Yeah, why not’, because a lot of the Epileptics’ numbers were still in Flux’s set and I thought ‘I already know them – nobody else has got to learn them’.
You’ve got quite an unusual guitar sound – How did you arrive at that?
Kev: I’ve always liked guitarists that were a little bit different, I always really liked a very percussive, rhythmic guitar sound. A bit like Paul Rudolph had in the Pink Fairies.
Did you deliberately develop that?
Kev: No, probably not – I suppose I played as a sort of reflection of what I was listening to and the sort of stuff I was into. I didn’t go with any pre-formed ideas. I probably wasn’t a very good guitarist, I wasn’t taught, I just picked it up and heard things and thought, ‘that sounds good, I wonder if I can do that?’
I notice that Overground has just produced a limited reissue of Epileptics material – were you involved in this at all?
Kev: Yeah I was, John wanted to do a vinyl version of what had originally been called the System Rejects CD and he said, ‘We’re going to have to lose a few tracks off of that.’ So I suggested that he maybe just put the Stortbeat EP, the Last Bus To Debden EP and all the nine demo tracks, because I don’t think three of the Epileptics’ demo tracks had been out before, so it seemed a good idea to stick them on one side of the vinyl. That’s why it was re-titled: So that you didn’t have a vinyl version of the same album – and it is a different album really, I know a lot of it is the same, but there’s three tracks that haven’t been out before on anything.
Crass played a big part in informing the band’s political outlook – how did that develop after your initial encounter with them?
Kev: That was just before I joined. I think there was two gigs that the Epileptics did before I joined. One was at the Triad at Bishops Stortford, the other was in the Basement at Covent Garden – and that was the one where Crass had asked the Epileptics to play and the Epileptics played to Crass, and Crass played to the Epileptics and maybe one man and his dog.
Did you feel connected to the wider anarcho scene?
Kev: Yeah, more because of their sound. I’d known Colin and Richard by sight before I joined the Epileptics, and we’d all seen Crass play down the Triad – I think it was in August 1978. We just thought they were amazing, I mean after our initial reservations – we thought they were fascists because of the way they dressed and the Crass logo. It was more the sound that captured me. I must admit that I probably didn’t really hear many of the lyrics – it was just that whole really aggressive sound. The only thing that I’d known that it sounded like was the Unwanted single ‘Withdrawal’ and ‘1984’ – It sounded like that, and I really like that very harsh sound, which not many people seemed to be doing at that time.
Colin: Yeah, by then we were living up in London. There was a few squat gigs that had started to happen then. I think we all felt that we needed to be in London to be more involved – If there was a gig the following night you could go there and be involved in it, but you can’t if you’re living 30 or 40 miles out of London. We rented a house – it was about £60 a week between six of us, so it was quite a good deal. We rented a house and then got more involved with things like Stop The City. The thing I remember about the Zigzag squat gig was that the police didn’t really know what was going on. There was notices in the papers that there was going to be a gig somewhere and you had to ring this number – I think it was Southern Studios – and they told you where the gig was. I’m not sure what kind of telephones we had, but for some reason, while the day was being organised and everything was being set up, bands were able to get in, but if the police tried to get in, then you could see who it was. I’ve a feeling that it was quite well organised, so we had an idea of who we could let in and who we didn’t. It used to change month by month – I used to quite like a lot of the gigs organised at the Ambulance Station. How long did that place run? People were living there and everything. For me, that was what it was all about really. The thing about the Zigzag Club, the shame of it is that at the end it got totally trashed by skinheads. A lot of us stayed behind and cleared up – The idea was to leave it just as we’d found it. That gig we did in Dijon about four years ago, there’s an old industrial works on the outskirts of Dijon that’s been squatted for about ten years. I’ve got a feeling that the council there have now allowed them to move further out and have their own building, so they can develop the site. I’ve got a feeling they’ve now done that. That was strange, because that was only four years ago, We went there and it was almost like ‘Crikey, people still do this’ – It was just great. One room for a venue; some people living there, other rooms for whatever – bookshops and free clothes – It was just a great place really.
What do you think that scene’s successes and failings were?
Colin: Successes – A small minority of people had somewhere to go when there was nowhere else for them really. Failure – I don’t know, you could say that nothing really changed. Maybe things did. I really think that in time a lot of things have changed anyway and you can never tell whether or not it was influenced by what we were doing. Look at vegetarianism and green issues, they’re all quite faddy now. It seems the norm now, but I don’t think that’s because of what anarcho punks did in the 1970s and ‘80s. I’m in my early 50s, and you’ve got a lot of people now who are maybe in their late 40s and early 50s and mid-50s and on – where are all those people now? Maybe a lot of them work in advertising or wherever. Maybe that’s how it kind of filters through into normal life, because we’ve all grown up and gone on and done whatever, but we’ve kept some of our viewpoints, or memories of how we used to live and what we were trying to do. Maybe there’s a part of that in the way we live now. I worked for about 10 or 15 years in health food shops and things were kind of alright, but now I see a lot of the stuff that we used to sell as ‘weirdo’ stuff in health food shops is now available in any supermarket.
Kev: This is something that Colin and I will probably disagree about, but I always thought that to a certain extent, Crass and a lot of the other bands in it – maybe us included – were sort of preaching to the converted and I didn’t know if such a stark sound would pick up many new fans, if that doesn’t sound too silly. I just thought that for people already into this stuff, yeah it’s going to be great, but it was a bit too harsh to pull in many people.
Was it frustrating playing to a room containing a fair few people wearing leather jackets, who were seemingly oblivious to the band’s opposition to animal exploitation?
Colin: No, to be honest, I used to wear a leather jacket for quite a while when I was in Flux. Not in the end, when we’d all become vegans, obviously we didn’t. I would have never have had a go at somebody about it. There used to be the whole argument that you were advertising that wearing a leather jacket is alright, but then we used to go out and try to find boots that looked like leather but weren’t, so what would be the difference? It’s like the whole thing where you used to get someone with ‘The Exploited’ on the back of their jacket and ‘Crass’ – it wasn’t supposed to be possible. But looking back – why the hell not? I don’t know how it ever happened, but the Exploited actually came down and recorded at Southern Studios. We only lived about a mile away and Annie Anxiety, who was living with us, got two of them – Wattie and another guy – to come round. He looked really worried – I don’t know what he thought we were going to do. We never played a gig with them – I can’t say we were friends.
Kev: Well, I have to say that certainly for the first period that I was playing with them that Colin and I were probably wearing leather jackets. In our defence, if there is any, Colin and I were still wearing the jackets that we’d worn in the Epileptics. I certainly wouldn’t have bought another one and I don’t think Colin would, but we had them – I think I still had the Epileptics’ logo on the arm – It was just my old leather jacket. I didn’t really think about it. Derek was always very vocal, and saying that we shouldn’t be wearing them, but we already had them.
There were always people who were quick to pull out some kind of notional and counter intuitive ‘anarchist rulebook’…
Kev: I certainly found that. I found that some of it was a bit dictatorial when I thought that wasn’t really supposed to be the idea.
To what extent did you find that anarcho punk became a straightjacket?
Kev: It did – certainly in dress sense and stuff like that, and also because a lot of people had preconceived ideas about what you were going to sound like. Certainly, the later albums that Flux made bear testament to that – people didn’t want anything different. I always found that pretty much you knew what you were going to get with a band in that particular sphere. There was a bit of diversity, but I think the overriding feeling that we had when we did gigs was we knew what the support bands were going to sound like pretty much all of the time.
How did you come to leave Flux?
Kev: It was after we’d recorded Strive, which I think we recorded in May 1982. We had quite a lot of gigs that year and I’d been feeling for a while that once again – a bit like it had been in the Epileptics – that I was very much out of step, or not in step, with Colin, Derek and Martin. They wanted to get a house together, a bit like Crass had done and to be honest that was the one thing that I thought ‘I can’t do this’. That was not what I wanted to do at all. I thought I was really going to be out in the cold if they got a house together, because not living with them, it’s not going to feel like I’m part of the band. So I waited until we had no more gigs booked, I think that would have been November 1982, and after the last gig I played with them in Nottingham, I just rang up Colin the next day and said, ‘I’m not really into getting a house and not very happy about the way this is going, so that’s it.’ I got out when I had really had enough. I couldn’t see where it was going to go, musically. I loved The System, loved the Subhumans, but I didn’t like a lot of the bands we were playing with. A lot of the bands were having a harder, Discharge type thing and I just thought that the music needed to be a bit more hooky. I came from more of a hooky background – I’d always liked bands like Thin Lizzy. I think Colin said at the time that they certainly couldn’t have made another Strive.
I think there was a sense that the music became secondary to the message…
Kev: That was Derek’s rationale – If people couldn’t get into the music, then they’d listen to the words more. I’d always said jokingly that unfortunately, the anarcho scene was never going to break down many barriers because all the bands were too noisy and too ugly.
How did you come to hook up with Adrian Sherwood for Uncarved Block?
Colin: How that connection came about was because Adrian Sherwood used to use Southern Studios, mainly during the night. We used to record at Southern Studios, Sue – Derek’s girlfriend – used to work there. It was only about a mile away from where we lived. That’s how we got to know them, through Annie [Anxiety] knowing them. You can see where things begin to change a bit there, because that’s not punk at all, is it? You can slowly see things changing a bit, and when we did the gig at ULU in 1984, we basically only did songs from Uncarved Block, and I can’t remember seeing one punk there, or anyone shouting for ‘Tube Disaster’ in between the songs.
Did you notice a lot of younger people at the reunion gigs?
Kev: Yeah, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Because Colin had done a few gigs in the interim, I think he did a couple of gigs in about 1990 with martin on drums and Simon the previous guitarist. I thought it might just be people who had seen the band the first time and were curious to see what we looked like, or what we sounded like. But no, there was quite an age range.
Would you do it again?
Kev: No, that’s it. I’ll tell you what happened: In between doing the Shepherd’s Bush gig we got asked to do more. When we were originally offered the Shepherd’s Bush gig, I was keen to do it, even though I hadn’t picked up a guitar for 20 years, I hadn’t even had one kicking around the house. I thought it could be quite good, because I’d been in contact with Colin a lot more and he came round to the idea, mainly because it was Steve. I don’t think he’d have done it if Steve hadn’t been involved. I don’t think we’d ever done it. But after that gig we did get offered a lot of other gigs – a lot – and we had differing opinions on whether we should do them or not and Colin and I fell out spectacularly – In fact, we didn’t speak for months because it just got so bad. We agreed to do those three the following year: One in Bradford, one in Dijon and one in Islington, but we didn’t feel like any of them were as enjoyable. Shepherd’s Bush was an amazing one-off, and it was only supposed to be a one-off. We’d never do it again, never. That’s it – That’s yer lot. We were offered Rebellion last November via Ian. We were quite surprised at the offer , in terms of fee and whatnot, but no. Colin had some very good reasons for not doing them and while I disagreed with him a few years ago and that was the cause of our fall out, but we’re fine again now, I can see why he says no more. We haven’t written any new stuff and you don’t want to become an anarcho jukebox. I couldn’t see where we could go, to be honest – We’re all getting on a bit!
I suppose you did come back to haunt the younger generation via that Professor Green track…
Kev: Yeah, that was weird how that came about actually. I think that was via John Esplen. John sent me a very rough version of it and I thought it was really good, Colin thinks it’s really good – I don’t know what everyone else thinks of it.
Colin: How the hell that happens, I don’t know! I just think it was great, it’s just a shame he didn’t really release it properly. I can’t imagine how it happened without speaking to the guy. There’s someone in the studio who is a Flux fan maybe, or the engineer, or his older brother – who the hell knows!
How did you hear of it?
Colin: I think it was via the people that publish our songs. They weren’t asked if they could use it, but I’m sure it must have come through them. I think they just approached the people who own the publishing on the song.
It’s a bit strange that he’s rapping about ogling women and things like that…
Kev: A few people we knew at the time said, ‘That’s not good…’ but the video was quite funny for it. I thought it was great that the bassline from ‘Tube Disaster’, which was the first song that Colin and I ever put together. That’s one of the weird things, that when the Epileptics recorded their demo in March 1979 and Colin and I had been putting stuff together since October ’78, we’d already outgrown ‘Tube Disaster’, that’s why it wasn’t even recorded as a demo. It’s strange how anyone who has an interest in that kind of music knows ‘Tube Disaster’, if they know nothing else, they know ‘Tube Disaster’, it’s really weird. The funny thing is, when that song started out, it wasn’t bass that started that. It used to be me starting that on guitar. It changed after I left. Have you heard the UK Subs version? That’s really weird – I’m probably doing Charlie a disservice, but it doesn’t half sound like Gary Glitter!
What would you say now to yourself of thirty years ago?
Kev: Probably learn to play guitar better [laughs]. I can only go by my own experience, people ask stuff about the band and I suppose that I wish I’d taken more notice at the time, but because you’re doing it and enjoying it at the time, you don’t think it’s anything particularly special, it’s just of the moment and that’s it. If you’d have told us when we recorded Strive that in 30 years time that we’d be doing a re-issue of it, I’d have thought ‘No we won’t’. Longevity was never at the forefront of our minds.
Colin: Don’t put your head in a bass bin. You will have tinnitus for the rest of your life [laughs]. I’d just say, ‘Carry on doing exactly what you’re doing’. If somebody came along to me now and said, ‘You’re going to live for another 40 years, but it’s going to be forty years from you now, or it could be of your choice – 40 years from, say, 15 and on’, I would say that I would rather be my age now and live 40 years. If someone gave me the option, that I could go back to being a teenager, I wouldn’t do it. I’m kind of happy where I am. At the same time, if I bumped into myself at 18, I would say ‘You’re doing everything exactly right.’
By way of introduction to this reflective annus synopsi, it is worth noting that the scribe formally known as Jean Encoule will from this day hence be known as C Encoule Non. Allegedly, it’s all about thinking in new ways, tuning in to new free-quencies – but – it could also be about recent over-exposure to Wire magazine.
In keeping with said nomenclatural alteration, the staff here at trakMARX have been re-evaluating the ‘tMx guide’: a 483-page A4 pamphlet that haunts the tMx office desk, compiling, as it indeed does, editorial edifice on how artists, their art, genres and their incumbent ephemera are represented in the printed form. In the past in these pages, we have tended to refer to genres with capitalized letters: Belgian Techcno Deathgrime, Dub Flanking, DIY HC Shimming, etc. After due consideration, it has been decided that, in acquiescence to the dictates of time fluctuation/fluidity, that such brazen capitalizing is now a thing of the past. Time marches on, genres mutate: get over it.
In many ways, the annus known universally as 2013 has been somewhat of a watershed, in the perceptions of the critical mass, anyway. In the ever over-analytical mind of C Encoule Non, however, it has been a year of conflict: genres, generations, attitudes and perspectives clashing, scrapping in an ungainly manner for that elusive preferred outcome, that play for today. As time marches inexorably onwards, and inevitable annihilation beckons, the temptation to challenge informed opinion smolders, like heartburn, deep in the chest, rising up the left arm, emerging as cultural flatulence.
In the world of DIY hardcore punk, 2013 was ruled by one label: La Vida Es Un Mus. It was responsible for banger after keeper after banger. Glam, Una Bestia Incontrolable, DHK, Voco Protesta, Belgrado, Vixens, Hoax, all dropped through the bomb door to lay waste to the competition below. With an impressive genre-spread taking in everything from psych-hc to punk-noire, LVEUM is one of the greatest record labels of this age, or any other. From the quality of pressing, to the packaging of the vinyl, to the consistency of the recorded sound, there are few out there in global DIY city that can hold a candle to Paco Mus.
Elsewhere, Toxic State have held their edge with the ‘Ground Zero’ comp, the incredible Nomad twelve, and a rather tasty seven from pogo punkers Sad Boys. Cintas Pepe, meanwhile, maintained the pressure with the utterly indispensable Cremalleras twelve, a record that will have the two-piece garage punkers of you out there creaming your Superdry drainpipes. Beach Impediment continued to grow from strength to strength, with a solid twelve from the soon-to-be-defunkt Kremlin, and a massive seven from the soon-to-be-revered Gas Rag. Savage Quality deserve mentioning in dispatches, their Modra twelve confounded as it amazed, whilst the penultimate Pink Reason seven registered heavily with the scorers as one of the greatest records the original grunge era never released. Quality Control HQ had another good season, with a powerful twelve from Violent Reaction, solid sevens from Stab and Shame, and an enticing cassette from Arms Race. Static Shock again performed promisingly, compiling Creem on twelve, and handling their strongest material to date on the ‘Curator’ seven.
Individually, sevens that stuck out from the crowd included Quango’s Crisis-tastic ‘Fatality’, Bloodkrow Butcher’s resolutely solid ‘Anti-War’ EP, and the irresistibly loveable Skizophrenia’s ‘Don’t Give Up’, their reissued ‘Freedomland’ demo, and their masterful split with Impalers. Moving leftfield of common-or-garden DIY punk, two twelves dropped this year that made unashamed reference to the 80s uk independent underground, namely Irreparables ‘s/t’ and Shopping’s ‘Consumer Complaints’. The former mined seams traditionally associated with the Desperate Bicycles, Television Personalities and O-Level to mesmerizing effect, uniting critics and fans alike in praise of their demo-turned-twelve that was hailed by many as one of the greatest records ever made! The latter assembled parts reclaimed from the Au Pairs, Girls At Our Best and Delta 5 in pursuit of the kind of damn-fine, funky-arsed, punk-junk not heard this side of C86. Both twelves are mandatory, and cannot be lauded loudly enough.
For C Encoule Non, 2013 has been a year of constant flux. I have pondered greatly the implications of age, and its impact on the appropriateness of continuing to proffer cultural commentary on anything approaching a regular basis. To be frank, I was irrevocably distressed by the Iceage affair back in the early months of this year. At the time, I was devastated that a band whose music I adored so unconditionally could be tainted ideologically. Caught up in the furore, the moral panic invoked by a phalanx of ex-professional journalists cynically promoting their website at the expense of one of the best bands of the current era, I mistakenly took sides, and retreated behind the barricades of pseudo-concern, issuing a proclamation condemning the band and their intentions as fascist. I have retrospectively decided that that stance was rash, misguided, and no better, in many respects, than the uninformed, jealous and spiteful perspectives that informed it in the first place. I have since removed that post, having found no supporting evidence in the interim for the allegations it echoed. The hypocrisy of a generation that found it acceptable to revere Joy Division, New Order, Throbbing Gristle, Current 93 or Death In June, amongst others, is manifest in its calls to outlaw Iceage. I will not stoop so low as to name names, the guilty know who they are. Thankfully, the innocent have never heard of them, and doubtless never will.
In conclusion, you will have noted that I have provided no links to any of the materials discussed above, or illustrated below. Doing your primary research for you is one thing, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to do the secondary yourselves if you feel the need to pursue any of this further. In the meantime, for those of you who dig lists:
C Encoule Non’s Top-7 Artyfacts Of The Year: 2013
(in alphabetical order)
Iceage – ‘Ecstasy’ (Escho)
Iceage/Lower – ‘Burning Hand’ / ‘Arrows’ (Escho)
Frustros – ‘A l’Attaque du Rien’ (self-released)
Lower – ‘Someone’s Got It In For Me’ (Escho)
Metro Cult – ‘New Space’ (Adult Crash)
Quango – ‘Fatality’ (FWP)
Taulard – ‘Frankreich Katastrophe’ (self-released)
Iceage – ‘You’re Nothing’ (Escho)
Lust For Youth – ‘Perfect View’ (Sacred Bones)
Pharmakon – ‘Abandon’ (Sacred Bones)
Puce Mary – ‘Success’ (Posh Isolation)
Var – ‘No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers’ (Sacred Bones)
War – ‘More Days’ (Death Shadow)
-Y- – ‘Horizonte de Sucesos’ (Burka For Everybody)
Survival – ‘Civil War’
Relatively new discoveries:
C Encoule Non – www.trakMARX.com – Nov 2013
Midnite Snaxxx (album, Red Lounge)
Here’s an album that has been thoroughly worth the wait. Recorded in 2011, released the following year, and here we are reviewing it as 2013 limps home – don’t let anyone ever tell you that trakMARX isn’t a hotbed of temporal flexibility. Such indolence isn’t entirely our fault – the Oakland trio’s debut album is quite evidently so good that their German label aren’t keen on letting go of copies. Even sending hard cash failed to shift their determination to keep Midnite Snaxxx all to themselves. Ultimately, resolute determination ensured that one was finally pressed into our hot hands. Don’t thank us – we’re just doing our job, citizen.
Locating the chase and cutting immediately to it; the record’s a stormer. Twelve tracks that tap unerringly into the doomed allure and fatal sweetness of the Ronettes and Shagri-Las and accelerates through Ramonic velocity via supercharged infusions of the Snaxxx’s own devising. This, of course, has been done before. But rarely this well – it’s a matter of assimilation and projection that Joey Ramone understood, Johnny Thuders understood, and Mindite Snaxxx understand.
Heralded by Renee Leal’s bass, ‘Can’t Win Your Heart’ thunders in, adding the sheer joyous abandon of early Undertones to the menu of mouth-watering ingredients. ‘SOS’ reinforces the band’s station in the girl-group/Ramones lineage. Adorned by Dulcinea Gonzalez’s unfussy/sumptuous vocals, the track can barely contain its own fizzing momentum.
The band’s second single, ‘Guy Like That’, emerges as a sugar-rush escapade, wherein teenagers get kicks, give head, and ultimately become lobotomized, while ‘Here And Now’ crashes in as a buzzsaw extension of the ‘Teenager In Love’ narrative. This is primal rock’n’roll, coated in caramel and flambéed to perfection. ‘In Your Eyes’ climb’s upwards through successive gears, gathering momentum through Tina Lucchesi’s stomping rhythms and superb vocal interplay, which also features heavily amid the blitzkrieg bake-off of ‘October Nights’.
Sweet and jagged, the unstoppably infectious ‘Turn Off The Radio’ gets the flip off to a Rezillo-esque start, before ‘Bayside Baby’ distils the girl-group death trip to a crystal of simple perfection. ‘Spend The Night’ features more pneumatic mortars from Tina, while Dulcinea juxtaposes a savage guitar solo with the song’s lovelorn lyric. ‘Like Lightning’ (the band’s 2010 debut single) makes a welcome return here – it’s a track that encapsulates everything that is great about the Snaxxx’s influences, reconfiguring them in ways that raise small hairs on the back of the neck.
The breakneck ‘Heart Full Of Doubt’ exultantly slams the album into its final track, ‘Goin’ To The Zooooo’. Gloriously unhinged, the song presents comparison with the Dickies, blasting along in a madcap manner before exiting via the primate enclosure. And then they’re gone. It’s a brief album, but when the job gets done this effectively, there’s little need to hang around. The band also released a third single, ‘You Kill Me’ in 2012, but there’s been nothing since. We can only hope for another helping – in the meantime, get your pith helmet on and track down a copy of this outstanding set.
Rise Up / There’s Nothing You’ve Got I Want
(7” single, All The Madmen Records)
The needle drops onto the vinyl and finds its niche. This has been such a long time coming; 30 years since ‘The Mirror Breaks’ brought light and warmth to bear upon the permafrost of Thatcher’s clampdown. A lifetime. For some of us, the ideas and outlook espoused by bands such as The Mob have become fundamental, impressed upon us when we were more impressionable and subsequently analysed and re-evaluated, to be found valid at every appraisal. And here we are again, with a new record from one of the very few groups of musicians whose impact was such that they inspired love. This is a dynamic that transcends rock’n’roll and becomes part of life. This is why The Mob were loved. And treasured. And then missed.
But we are older now, and hopefully wiser for experience. The memories of those nights in squatted venues, or afternoons in Meanwhile Gardens – tower blocks backdropping the group far more effectively than any canvas – have become synaptic keepsakes. The anticipation for a mere disc of flattened plastic seems superficially ridiculous – but it represents a connection with the people we were, and by extension the people we have become. Here is a record that has much to live up to.
‘Rise Up’ pours from the speakers, waves of familiarity filling the room. Graham’s rhythms announce that this is unmistakably The Mob, punching across the still air, colliding with Mark and Curtis’ web of supple steel. Mark sings; his voice is courser now – this only enhances its ability to be plaintive without undue pathos. The lyrics present a universal perspective, a statement of intent as first person narrative tapping into an oral tradition as old as the desire for freedom.
It is a song that would fit seamlessly on ‘Let The Tribe Increase’ – the music evokes the same sense of impending dread that punctuates many of the tracks on that one, perfect, album. But there are new elements; aside from Mark’s maturing timbre, Curtis’ supplies some glistening high end bass runs of unfussy excellence. This is The Mob as we have imagined them.
‘There’s Nothing You’ve Got I Want’ showcases a different, but perhaps not totally unexpected, Mob. This is a gentler facet, suffused with a quiet strength that evokes experience and reflection. It is the embers of rebellion still glowing bright in the dawn, ready to re-ignite, as it does, into an exultant, hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck raising peak. Where it connects The Mob past to the Mob present is through its honest and humanity.
This is a record that has been worth the wait. Human nature being what it is, the desire for more is almost instant. I play it again. A jacket from the past painted with The Mob’s name hangs on the door, while their songs from the present bridge a notional chasm in time. As the wonderful man depicted on the lyric sheet so often said, ‘We love you, The Mob’.
Rum, Sodomy and The Clash
“A long time ago,” noted Joe Strummer, “there were pirates.” Today, they again walk among us; bringing the rum, the fun and the best time you’ll have with your own clothes on. Since their formation at the end of 2011, the swashbuckling sextet has been laying waste to large sections of the south west with their unstoppable live performances, (captain) hook laden choons, and the cutty rich contents of their pirate chest. The summer brought forth their debut EP ‘The Shape Of Piracy To Come’ and a landmark performance at the 3 Chords Festival, where they were comfortably the best band on the bill. Ever intrepid, trakMARX climbed aboard their black freighter for a few words in Cap’n Tom’s cabin:
How did it all begin?
We all knew each other, or at least a couple of the others, for years before starting the band. The initial idea was born from the ashes of mine and Dave’s old band 100% Lemur Free, and the original line-up was pretty much the same just with Pricey in as a replacement bassist. We met up and pitched a few ideas, and someone hit upon the idea of a pirate folk-punk band, which was lucky because until then we were heading towards being a David Icke tribute band with songs like ‘The Royal Family Are Space Lizards’. We lost both our guitarists in quick succession (one to London, one to Sweden), and their places were quickly filled by Hodge and Mason. Tash was added to the band to provide a folkier sound about 5 months in, and that pretty much cemented the line-up!
Tell us about the individual crew members
Myself – Cap’n Kernow, a former farmer forced off his land by the bank during the recession, now turned to piracy The Admiral – Former Captain of the Costa Concordia, and our weapons specialist – the only man who can be entrusted with the mighty power of the Bass Cannon Johnny ‘Danger’ Danger – Myths abound about his origins, but he’s known for his prowess with the weapons in both his hands and his pants Ashtiki The Caveman – A tribal drummer we found buried in the sands of a long-forgotten island. We cleaned him up, and now he communicates through banging on things, shouting, and hitting people through walls. Scareltt van Dyke – The Pirates’ femme fatale – she joined the crew as a man, but no-one really noticed when she took the costume off. The only woman aboard ship, and also the biggest womaniser. Finally there’s Finger The Cabin Boy – So called due to his speedy finger work on the guitar. He sleeps in the bumming barrel.
What concept came first, the Pirates or the folk – and why pirates?
The two actually came hand-in-hand. Cornwall has a great deal of piracy, smuggling, and wrecking in its history, and so combining that theme with a more traditional style of music felt perfectly natural. There were actually a range of reasons for going down the piratical route with the band – on one hand we felt that Cornwall has a strong (although not totally historically accurate) claim to being the home of piracy, and it was something unique about our heritage we could celebrate as a band. And on the other hand, pirates are fun, and we realised it was a great excuse to drink rum a lot.
Rum’s important, isn’t it – what would be your recommendations?
Rum is vitally important to pirates, and is the glue that holds the whole operation together. We do have a strong recommendation for you when it comes to rum – if you must mix it, we suggest combining it with the finest of South West scrumpies to make yourself a cider-rum, or Crum as it’s known. Johnny Danger has even compiled an instructive video on preparing the perfect Crum.
And obviously there’s a punk element to it all – how did that become assimilated into the mix and do you perceive a connection between punk rock and folk?
There’s a very broad range of musical influences in the band, but the most prevalent of those is definitely punk rock. At the core, it was always a punk band we were looking to start – the piracy and folk elements were just the twist we chose to put on that.
Punk rock and folk are two genres of music that seem worlds apart on the face of it, but there is substantial common ground. By definition, Folk is music by the people for the people. It comes straight from the heart and conveys both message and emotion. In my mind, those are all core feature of punk rock too. A slightly less abstract answer would be that artists like Billy Bragg have been making the link between folk and punk for decades, so I guess I’ve grown up thinking of the two genres as being at least vaguely connected.
One of the key aspects about Pirate Copy is that you put on a proper show – How did that develop?
The show really is quite a fluid thing. We never sat down and talked about how we could make our live performances more of show, people would just stumble on ideas and say “Wouldn’t it be cool if we did this…” and if it was a good idea it would get picked up and worked into the show. Other elements have come from something spontaneous that simply happened naturally in the course of a gig, and plenty of things have been tried once before quickly realising it wasn’t going to work. At the moment we’re experimenting during gigs with blindfolding Mason during a guitar solo.
How many gigs have you done so far? Which particularly stand out?
We’ve now done around 40 gigs, and the majority of them have been great! There’s certainly a few stand-outs though:
Leopallooza – We were opening the stage that day, but managed to draw a great turnout thanks to doing our wandering minstrels bit in the campsite the night before, and they got really involved considering how early it was!
Our EP launch at Clipper Bar in Camborne was a storming night – we managed to pack the place out, and even got our first few crowd surfers in at that one!
An unexpected favourite was actually the Railway Inn in Pool – We were getting yelled at by burly punters during set up and soundcheck because they couldn’t hear Taylor Swift on the jukebox, and half the pub were having rap battles in the corner when we took to the stage, but we managed to win them over in a big way in the end, and one guy even ended up eating his pirate hat he got so overexcited…
In terms of bad gigs, the winner has to be the night we played The Croft in Bristol. After the incredible honour of getting to play at such a historic venue, we ended up playing half an hour before doors were even supposed to open because the venue decided they wanted to do a club night afterwards and shifted all the times around! I also managed to lose my wallet, half my costume and two bottles of rum, before we embarked on a seriously heavy night of drinking and mischief that saw us barred from more than a couple of establishments.
What would you say are the advantages and disadvantages of being a group with a clearly defined theme and image?
It’s definitely a doubled edged sword (see what I did there) being in a pirate-themed band. There’s a lot of positives to it – being a bit unique is definitely something that makes people remember and talk about you, and it gets the attention of people who normally wouldn’t look twice at a punk rock band – we get a lot of people come up and tell us it’s made them a lot more open minded to the kind of music that we play, which we love. The biggest positive though just has to be the fact that it’s just a lot of fun. We’ve all played in at least one other band, but this is just a totally different experience – it’s a license to drink rum and raise hell – what’s not to love!
The main downside though tends to be getting typecast by some people as being a comedy act or something similar. We definitely throw in a good dose of humour, but our influences are more NOFX and The Vandals than Tenacious D or Green Jello. There’s definitely some people out there who feel that having fun is the same thing as selling out your values.
Quite evidently, you have an affinity with punk rock in general – in what respects would you say that influences Pirate Copy?
I guess punk rock is pretty much the core of the band. We draw on a lot of influences, but punk rock is definitely at the heart of everything we do. Whenever we sit down to write a new song it always starts as a few simple chords forming the skeleton of a punk rock tune and builds up from there. I think the general attitude is a big part of who we are too, our approach to the band has always been ‘we want to have fun with it and fuck anyone who has a problem with that’ because this is what we want to do and we’re not going to change it.
So as somebody who is a generation or two down the line from the initial detonation of punk, how do you perceive what went on during the late 70s and early 80s?
I certainly have the impression of early punk making a lot more of a statement than it does now, both on a political and personal level. Obviously we’re not in a position to say much, but the early days certainly seem to be much more politically driven than things are now, especially in opposing the far right. And as it was such a radical thing at the time, it seems like being seen as a ‘punk’ back then made a much bigger statement about who you were as a person than it does now.
Do you think that there’s any bands doing that now?
Punk as a concept is so hard to define or quantify in any way because what ‘punk’ is is so subjective, but personally, I think there’s still plenty of bands around who take the punk ethos on board in a real way – most of biggest modern punk rock bands tend to be pretty credible – Rise Against, Anti-Flag, NOFX, Rancid and the like. And there’s certainly still a definitely feel that the real old school punk sound still has an influence on newer bands coming out today – we were lucky enough to play at the 3 Chords festival down Penzance this year, and a lot of the big up and coming bands like Dischord and Crackshot are clearly taking a big influence from the early days of punk – it’s awesome to see that, and they’re both cracking bands as well.
Of course, you have the weekly punk show on Redruth Radio, too. Is that a means of exploring the wider interpretation of the genre – what extremes are represented there?
Yup, I present the show along with our bassist The Admiral. We definitely take a very wide interpretation of the genre, playing everything from old school and oi to ska and pop punk. It wasn’t really intended for that though – the original purpose of the show was simply because we thought it would be good fun, and it gave us a platform to play some great tunes and tear apart bands we don’t like. Or bands we like who put out albums we don’t like… Because of the abstract nature of punk it’s always kind of hard to try and say what’s an extreme variation of punk rock, and what’s morphed into something else entirely, but we try to cover a little bit of everything, going from bands melding punk with genres like rap and drum and bass, like Sonic Boom Six, up stuff like the new Gallows material which has merged a big metal influence with their hardcore sound.
Getting back to Pirate Copy – You’ve released your first EP now ‘The Shape of Piracy To Come’. Are you pleased with how it turned out and the way in which it went over? How was the recording experience?
Yeah, ‘The Shape Of Piracy To Come’ was our first release, and we’re pretty chuffed with both how it turned out and how it went over. We recorded the three studio tracks down at VIP Studios in Penzance with Dare Mason who’s a pretty well renowned producer, and he really pushed us to try and get the best out. The other two tracks were recorded live and mixed by our guitarist, Finger the Cabin Boy, who did a cracking job with them. The recording experience itself was great fun – stressful obviously, but I think that’s the case for everyone, but we did manage to find the time to watch Starship Troopers again, and spent a lot of time berating Finger and Scarlett as usual, so that’s always a plus.
The release was a huge night for us – we packed out Clipper Bar in Camborne and the place was jumping for it. Since then it’s gone up on Bandcamp as a free download, and has been getting pretty good responses from a lot of blogs, and we were even picked to be the first band featured in On The House – a new blog reviewing music which is offered for free by the bands. We’re still trying to push it and get it some more exposure because there’s still a lot of people that we think would dig it who haven’t heard it yet, but it’s definitely opened up some great opportunities for us already.
You’ve also shot a couple of videos – Would you tell us a little about those?
Our first video, for ‘Sail For Adventure’, came out about a month ago. We put a huge amount of effort in to get it organised and managed to pull it off on a shoestring budget thanks to a lot of friends helping us out! We were able to get some time on a full sized replica of Sir Francis Drake’s ship, The Golden Hind, and took along 18th Century pirate re-enactment group The Pirates of St Piran, and a couple of top-notch punk authors to play our adversaries! It turned out great thanks to our director, Ben Fullman, and we got a great response to it as well. It was viewed online over 1000 times within three days of release, and has been played on Sky TV’s Cornwall Channel.
We’ve also recently shot a video for ‘#bringtherum’ down at Studio Bar, Penzance. That was more a live shoot where we tried to capture at least a bit of the energy we get out of our live shows. It’s currently in editing and we hope to release it around Christmas time.
What else do you have lined up? Where would you like the crew to be a year from now?
We’ve got quite a bit coming up – we’re in the process of organising a few exciting gigs around Christmas, and we’re already booked to play at next year’s Pirate World Record attempt down in Penzance, along with the Brixham Pirate Festival, which means we’ll get to play in front some huge crowds. We got to play at quite a few little festival this year, so a year from now I hope we’ll be looking back on a summer of playing a lot more – we always have the best time at festivals.
As a mariner, should you be required to hit someone with a fish, which variety would you opt for?
If I were to hit someone with a fish it’d have to be a pollock for the pure, bad-pun joy of being able to say, ‘I gave them a pollocking’.
- trakMARX: ROCK AND ROLL, GARAGE PUNK, PSYCHE, HEAVY METAL, PROTO PUNK, KRAUTROCK, JAP ROCK, PUNK ROCK, POST PUNK, INDUSTRIAL, BLACK METAL, DOOM/DRONE, POST ROCK, NOISE, AVANT ET L'ART DE L'ETRANGER