A Terribly Awkward Interview With SLAVES [2013]

An interview with Isaac Holman & Laurie Vincent, Slaves

21st December 2013

Paula: So this is Paula Frost backstage at Upside-down festival and we’re here with Slaves!

Isaac & Laurie: Yeh!

Paula: How are you feeling about playing tonight?

Isaac: Yehhhhhhhhhhhh….. Feeling good

Laurie: Great

I heard you guys are influenced by Crass is that true?

Laurie: I am

Isaac: I…. maybe. A little bit, not much.

Paula: Ok well I spoke to Steve Ignorant on Monday.

Laurie: That’s mad, that’s Crazy.

Isaac: Yeh I like Steve Ignorant.

Paula: Yes I spoke to him and he was an absolute legend. Basically I’m writing a piece about them (Crass) so I was quite interested to know you were into them. What is it that you like about them?

Isaac: I just like that when they started they said you don’t have to play an instrument to be in our band. You can just do what you want so one of their guitarists just made noise and I like… they were the first sort of band that I listened to that did it for the music they didn’t do it for anything else and that’s really cool.

Laurie: Their sound is just unrivalled as well. I mean, no one sounds like Crass. And they’ve got hooks that stick in your head but its Anarcho, and I see pop sensibilities there, just – there’s no one else like Crass.

Paula: Do you see any bands around now who could rival a band like Crass?

Laurie: I’m not sure it could be relevant but something could happen that’s different and Crass is more about the time it happened and Crass was a movement, that punk thing was a movement that’s never going to happen again the same. Something else might happen, maybe people will think dub step was that. Hopefully not but…

Isaac: I like dubstep.

Laurie: Penny Rimbaud was a fantastic drummer though, he was good.

Paula: When did you guys start?

Isaac: 5th of January 2012

-End of Interview-

 

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School, Ska and Sweaty Vibes! An Interview with The Skints

Interview with Josh, The Skints

21st September, 2013

CJ: Well this is CJ Dread, Boom and Bass Show, Kane 103.7 FM we’re riding true at the Undercover Festival and low and behold, The Skints are in town!

Josh: What’s good man? Yes Sir, everything’s cool dude. You good?

CJ: Yes A1 my brother it’s very good to see ya!

Josh: Thank you

CJ: I’m looking forward to hearing ya!

Josh: Thank you sir, I appreciate that man.

CJ: Can I get you to introduce yourself to the listeners?

Josh: Yeh man, it’s Josh from The Skints here, were at the very undercover, Undercover Festival!

CJ: Yes man! In Guildford in Sunny Surrey. How does it feel to be back in Guildford? You done a storm at Guilfest man.

Josh: Yeh thank you man, Guildford’s always been good to us like we done Guildfest a couple of times, we done Guildford on our last headline tour and played The Boileroom which was good, it was really good actually, it was sold out, a nice little sweaty vibe!

CJ: It is a nice little sweaty vibe!

Josh: Yeh Man, the people, do you know what? Like Surrey, like, we always had love in South London because we always used to play in like Brixton and stuff back in the day and then when we started playing further south like Kingston, Guildford..

CJ: Love Kingston!

Josh: Yeh all the little festivals around here they always show The Skints love so we appreciate that to the fullest man.

CJ: Ah that’s special man and it’s good that you’re reaching out because I know East London is your roots so that’s your base right?

Josh: Yeh well compared to most of the places we played this is kind of a minor trip for us but we’re from East London yeh.

CJ: Yeh you get about a lot internationally so to speak yeh?

Josh: Yeh man we’re just trying to spread The Skints Vibrations wherever we can kinda thing you know?

CJ: Nice one, nice one Josh. So where about in East London are you actually from?

Josh: We come from all the north East, so the other side of Hackney, Layton, Walthamstow, Woodford, the London boroughs of Waltham borough and red bridge.

CJ: Yes, I know them manors as well, and I thought that was where you were from. I caught you guys down at Boomtown festival.

Josh: Ok, that was a crazy show, man! A crazy show!

CJ: It’s a crazy little venue that innit? It’s a good little place man I like the Boomtown. I like the whole manor, I like the whole area man.

Josh: Cool man.

CJ: So let me ask you a little bit about The Skints, when did you get started and how did you get started?

Josh: Basically it we me and a couple of friends, I was 14 going on 15 and I wanted to make some Trad-Ska music when I was at school and then me Marcia and John was playing together and then we was kinda playing like, Ska and then we stared doing a more ska-punk thing and then Jamie came along and we were only playing like, local because we were still at school, still little kids man, and then Jamie come along 2007 and that’s when we started to play all over London and we started doing more Reggae music. And then kind of, from then really you know it kind of went from doing a few shows, to booking our own tours and then yeh it…

CJ: It just blew up!

Josh: Well yeh, 2008 was when we started touring hard! We finished school and we were like, right!

CJ: It’s so mad to hear you talking about school and getting all of that stuff going, I mean, what were the main influences? What got you to go from ‘I like this music and I like that music’ to ‘Hey, you know what? We’re gunna do this.’?

Josh: Well, I mean I can’t speak on behalf of everyone, because were all friends from school yeh but were all quite different people. But me personally, Reggae was always in my household, my mum and dad are big music listeners but not musicians or anything. They were from the 80’s soul and disco scene.

CJ: Yeh man, big scene.

Josh: Yeh! So they were about their soul and disco vibes but within that obviously, coming from the area they come from there was also a lot of reggae music. So there was a lot of Reggae music in my house from when I was a little kid. I’m not saying that set me off but I think it definitely laid a foundation.

CJ: Yeh yeh, it was in your ears!

Josh: On my musical Pallet! – Like an acquired taste!

CJ: Nicely put brother, yeh!

Josh: So like soul and reggae was always in my house and then I was, kind of like late primary school going into secondary school I was really into hip hop and garage and stuff, because that was what was popular and what was around. And then I started skating and I got into punk. At 12-13 my uncle got me into The Specials because he said ‘You’re into punk yeh? Well check out The Clash and The Specials’. So Then I found out about that world. And then I get a little older and all my friends got me into Jungle and Raga and I started going to parties from where we’re from and like, Beany Man’s playing!

CJ: (Laughs) Yeh!

Josh: So growing up, all these little steps kind of led me to the point where I had a vision of the kind of music I wanted to hear from a band, which is all these little things along the way.

CJ: Yes man, just run them things off, a little itemised list, how would you describe them? I mean, how important would you say is punk for example?

Josh: Well punk rock to me, not only to my listening pallet, because I mean I would say what The Skint’s do now musically, isn’t exactly the most punk sound, but we still carry that ethic. As a young teenage mind and a young thinker, punk was very very important to me.

CJ: It is crucial brother.

Josh: Growing up in the area I grew up in, and I still see today, a lot of problems socially and a lot of problems around you, that I think when you come at it with an attitude that is given to you by what the media want you to have about it, it can be very negative and detrimental, but punk to me, I was getting used and Punk gave me my own view point that wasn’t being fed to me like it was being fed to everyone else.

CJ: That’s so important.

Josh: So maybe I don’t go round with boots and a Mohawk and I don’t necessarily dress like a punk but within me, it opened my mind to think for myself, but it wasn’t a rebellion against the way I was raised, my parents were always open minded people and taught me to be open minded, but in terms of what you hear yourself as a young adult, punk was very important to me man.

CJ: Yeh I like the way you described that, the way it breaks down the understanding that is pushed on you by the media and gives you that space to be able to think for yourself, is that a good way to put it?

Josh: Yeh you know, thinking for yourself is something that the punk scene encouraged which is why I rate it highly. But I’m nothing special theirs thousands of people with other oppinions.

CJ: No no no no! Listen, to me you’re special, to our listeners you’re special, that’s why we’re talking.

Josh: Respect man, but I think obviously Punk wasn’t especially popular in the area I grew up in, it wasn’t particularly the cool thing. It spoke to me more because what was around at that time, I wasn’t really down with. So the punk thing was kinda cool for that.

CJ: Yeh man, I’m feeling that. So there’s all these influences, there is the ska, the punk, the reggae, all these things through the family. How would you describe you’re own sound, The Skints sound? People describe you in different ways, they try to put these different elements in and say it’s a bit of this or a bit of that but how would you personally describe it?

Josh: For other people they say The Skints is a bit this or that but to me its reality music, because we speak about the reality of ourselves, you know, some people have tried to put on some of our songs – ‘oh are you a political band because of this?’ I don’t necessarily and would never try to be like ‘we’re gunna say these things’ but it’s just about the reality of our surroundings.

CJ: Safe brother, the reality of our surroundings man.

Josh: For instance, we might sing a love song, because that’s the reality of our surroundings.

CJ: Because that’s life! Yeh I like that.

Josh: All the sounds as well, it’s because that’s what we like. You know, we’re not playing a sound that we think ‘these people are gunna like it’ or ‘this radio station are gunna like it’. If other people like it, brilliant! But it should only be a bi product of us!

CJ: That’s beautiful, so what we’re saying here is its not a question of ‘these people like cheese burgers with X amount of onions so lets make cheese burgers with X amount of onions’

Josh: Yeh man.

CJ: It’s a case of this is what we like and that’s what we’re gunna do! Artistic authenticity and integrity, I respect that a lot my brother.

CJ: How did the name come about?

Josh: I made it up when I was 15, I thought it was a cool name for a band because when you start a band and you do it full time you’re living off the breadline so The Skints is aptly put. I think now, I’m 23 now and I look at The Skints and I think it’s kind of a bad name!

CJ: Ah it’s a wicked name!

Josh: Do you recon? I don’t really like it now! But yeh it is what it is and we have to stay true to that.

CJ: I like it! And it kind of, to me when I heard about the way you use grass roots funding and the way you dealt with your fans, I mean that really appealed to me on the tip of the name as well.

Josh: Ok

CJ: Can you tell us a bit about the innovative ways that you raised finances and used the grass roots fan base that you had?

Josh: Yeh I will do, one thing I will say about the name though is that The Skints, the word ‘skint’ is a very British word and it doesn’t translate in other languages. When we go to France and Germany and that, they ask us what its means and think we’re skin heads! And we’re like ‘no no no, it means we ain’t got no money!’

Josh: But for our second album ‘Part and Parcel’ we took the fan funded root through ‘pledge music’ because we were in a position where we didn’t have enough money to make another record and we didn’t really want to go begging to labels to give us the money to have to be in their pockets. So it was our managers idea to give the pledge music website a go and luckily for us it paid off, for some people it doesn’t so we got very lucky.

CJ: Tell me a bit about that, how did you raise the money through the fan base?

Josh: Well basically Pledge Music – you give them a target of the amount you need to record your album and then write a list of pledges which the band will give back for the money that people give you. So say like, £8 was the minimum which was the album downloaded when it’s finished and then we did limited edition T-Shirts, we did a one off show for people, limited edition posters.

CJ: Nice!

Josh: Check this out man, we’re music nerds yeh? I was a geek about records and music even though I’m growing up in a time where the music industry is dying, I still find the records I’ve been looking for and I get excited.

CJ: Wicked man, is vinyl really important to you?

Josh: Yeh, so we wanted to do stuff like the limited edition posters where if I was a music fan, I was into this band and that was available, that sort of stuff would have got me so excited!

CJ: Wicked! Yeh man, that’s a beautiful way about doing things and it’s also giving something back to the fans.

CJ: How important are your fans to the work that The Skints do?

Josh: I wouldn’t be able to do this right now for a living, without fans backing it so I’m really grateful. I hope and I think they know that too because when we have a show we go out and talk to people and meet people you know? And get to know people and we become friends with people who have been coming to see us for years. We don’t really try to put ourselves on a pedistool. I see a lot of bands doing it where they think that encouraging their separation between the band and audience is a good thing because it makes them look more important!

CJ: Yeh I hear that!

Josh: But really and truly, we’re just people who like music too. We just play it and other people come and see it.

CJ: I know that feet on the ground vibe is really important to you and I respect that a lot.

Josh: Yeh, yeh, yeh.

CJ: Can you say a bit about the struggles facing people in East London, in the inner city struggle and the pressures bearing down on the youths at this time?

Josh: Yeh, we’re from the outer boroughs but it really is the same problems, but for east London in particular, which is tower Hamlets, Newham, hackney, red bridge, Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham, East London has always had its fair share of problems financially, to me personally, maybe not to other people, but I kind of feel that the Olympics was kind of a kick in the face to the people who live and struggle off nothing in East London because of the amount of money they were being told, off their tax payers money that was supposed to come back into the boroughs. Dude, we didn’t need an Olympics that cost loads of money. They need more estates, more hospitals, people need the education to understand how to get themselves out of the situation they’re in. The kids need places to go and stuff to do that isn’t just available to those who have money. It’s a shame to say and its across the whole of London, not just east but the poorer people need to understand that no one really in the houses of parliament are there to help them or show them the way to get out.

CJ: That’s word brother I hear that.

Josh: You really have to educate yourself. I see the institutional classism, the institutional racism on a daily basis and its nothing they’re ever going to tell you to get out off or fix. It’s a real shame because doing this work, doing The Skints, hasn’t always been my full time thing. I used to work for my granddads removal firm in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and in Newham and I spent a lot of time in the houses and around people. In London a lot of people have nothing. Our bands called The Skints because we talk about being poor. But there are people in London that are living in poverty, that have nothing, with no escape and they’re living in estates opposite million pound houses – it’s not in a good place at all.

Last weekend, talking about East London, my sister was in Tower Hamlets on a counter protest to the EDL. They’re an organisation that are basically preying on the low income areas of London and across the UK really and telling them that this person and this person and this person – its their fault that they’re in the position they’re in. When really and truly it’s the complete opposite. It’s the was the system is telling them that its their neighbour’s fault that they’re in a position but all they really need to do is look up.

CJ: Nicely put brother I’m right there with you on that soapbox. It’s the same set divide and rule, its scandalous.

Josh: Divide and conquer! That’s the way that… I mean we’re talking about England, were talking about London, we’re talking about Britain?

CJ: Yeh

Josh: That’s what Britain has been built on!

CJ: Yeh

Josh: Do you understand? And they own the media that will demonise the youth, demonise even more the so called immigrant youth and say yeh its their fault but really and truly all you have to do is have a little bit of knowledge and realise just what they’re feeding us. It is absolute madness!

CJ: I couldn’t agree more!

Josh: Well the people I’ve grown up with and always associated with will tell you the same thing but we have to watch out man.

CJ: Solid respect, solid vibrations coming from East London, coming from The Skints. Princess Paula, Baby Boss I know you’ve got a question coming in!

Paula: Ok so in the vein of politics and sociology, ‘Live East die young’, youre talking about violence, gangs, East London – what was the inspiration for that? Was int to do with your background and upbringing?

Josh: Well ‘Live Ease Die Young’ is actually talking about two different instances of people I knew, the names and the situations have been made into a song in a kind of theatrical representation of the story but see the first verse is about a young girl that gets pregnant and has a child and her life goes one way and the other one is about a boy that purely through deprivation and not being shown any other way, gets caught up in the drug game and sent to Jail. The song isn’t a solution for anything its just a question of ‘Why is it the same story every time?’ because we see in every single borough, all across the country, we see those situations happen so much and I think why? You know it’s a question of asking why, its not cool man.

Paula: Definitely. On a larger spectrum people say you’re ska, reggae, dub, you’ve got a bit of hip hop going on but that punk ethos that you talked about earlier, would you say that theres a punk musicality behind you or more of an ethos in the music, as in, you’re not putting out punk music but that you’re message is of anarchy or against the state?

Josh: Well I wouldn’t necessarily say we’re an anarchy band, were not the kind of band that thinks that everyone should just eat vegan food and drive around on bicycles. We’re not those guys.

Paula: No course.

Josh: I’ve got no problem saying that making money or having nice things is not the biggest problem in the world. We’re not necessarily gunna go out there and start burning buildings and rioting. The punk thing for me wasn’t necessarily about music. Don’t get me wrong its cool for me, I enjoy certain bands where there’s a guy screaming and people running around and its bad music. Steal Pulse or Public Enemy is more punk then a lot of ‘punk bands’ if you know what I mean.

Paula: So would you say, from the first wave punk of 77’ or second wave punk 78’ -82’ – Crass, Sex Pistols, The Clash – Would you say you’re influenced by any of them?

I’d say yes, as a listener sure I like the pistols ad stuff, especially when I was younger. I’d say musically now I’m probably not gunna do a song and say yeh lets try and make it sound like the Sex Pistols or Crass but in the same way its just kind of what we like. One of my biggest musical influences is Woo Tang Clan but we’re not gunna try and make a song that sounds like The Wo. Maybe subconsciously some of that does slip in but were not trying to sound like anyone, we’re trying to sound like The Skints and all the little things that you take on play a part.

Paula: I mean, that’s the best thing you can do, when you look back you can see that every band that has paved the way for other bands has been individual and unique and has made their own sound, so what you’re doing now is admirably and brilliant really.

Josh: Ah thank you very much.

Paula: No thanks for that!

Josh: Cheers, nice one.

CJ: Right while we still got you because I know you’re running on to stage right?

Josh: Yeh man.

CJ: Can you tell me about some of the highlights of your career to date?

Josh: Wow, ok! I mean, we’ve done some amazing things that I never thought we’d do but we put so much work in to be able to say this is our lives now that everything we do is a highlight to me of being able to say ‘I do this’. Obviously theres personal things like bands that I grew up listening to that we played with.

CJ: That’s nice, tell me some of them!

Josh: Yeh, The Slackers and The Aggrolites, and we got to go to Thiland last year with Tippa Irie.

CJ: NOOO! Our very own Tippa! Yeh! Tippa works on the show, Paula produces Tippa’s shw on the radio! That’s beautiful!

Josh: Yes big up my uncle Tippa Irie, original Brixton, saxon sound to the fullest. But obviously the music we write I’m very proud of, also things like Boom Town, we played 3 years ago, and to come back this year and play to the crowd we played to was crazy and we’ve done Reading and Leeds festivals. Also back in London our home town, we sold out Koko back in may which was a big deal for us man.

CJ: I hear that yes, it’s a big deal for anyone man, respect!

Josh: So yeh theres been loads of highlights man.

CJ: Alright well what goes up must come down, what about the lows? Have you had any challenging events?

Josh: Yes. One or two! Well, I’d say the worst that we had was last year on a day off between gigs our tour managers van had all our equipment and all our stuff in it, and got robbed outside my yard last year.

CJ: Noo!

Josh: Yeh, we really thought for a little bit, are we gunna be able to come back from this?

CJ: I hear that yeh.

Josh: But, through the generosity of people we know, other bands, record shops, banquet records in Kingston, they let us put on a show and take the door and the generosity of our fans and stuff saying ‘please take this money’, that was a very inspiring thing to come from such a terrible thing to happen to us. It showed us that for every bad guy in the world, there’s ten good guys.

CJ: Respect! That’s beautiful man because I know that’s scary to have that hit you like that. Rough.

Josh: When that happens to you yeh, you just think

(– can I swear on this show?)

CJ: Yeh.

Josh: You just kinda think, what’s the fucking point man? You know what I mean? Like why? Doing all this and then someone just comes along and takes everything from you. But then the people that matter, who you’re doing it for, show you, no keep going.

CJ: Now that’s a blessed thing brother. What kind of advice would you give to upcoming artists today?

Josh: Don’t start, do something that will make you real money!

No, 100% yeh, you’ve got to feel your own tunes. For me, that would be it. That’s the only way that if you’re planning to do it for a long time and you know, if people are saying they’re serious about music, they should be committing to it for a long time. If you genuinely think in your heart that its sick, what you’re doing, then other people will come on board because you know what else as well yeh? Another important thing, a good bit of advice actually, a man called Babar Luck, who used to play in a band called King Prawn. We played with him when I was 17 and I’m 23 now, we’ve been doing this for 5 or 6 years and it’s the best bit of advice anyone in the industry has given me. In the music business yeh, he goes ‘you worry about the music and let them worry about the business’. Its true. Make sure that what you’re doing is amazing and then the business will come to you. Don’t go chasing and don’t beg to anyone because you think you need them. If you’re good enough, they’ll need you.

CJ: I like that a lot! On that trajectory what are your plans for the future?

Josh: Well right now were actually going to a crazy country next week, we’re going to reunion island in the middle of the Indian ocean, were doing a festival out there call Kaloo Bang with Sean Paul and a few others. Then we’re finishing off an EP we’ve been working on in North London and hopefully that will be coming out November time. We’ve got a French tour in December.

CJ: Wow, how do you go down in France?

Josh: Man, France is so close to where we are in England now its really crazy, they’re wicked man.

CJ: Any who would you most like to work with, have you got people you’d like to see yourself on stage with or collaborating with?

Josh: There’s a few producers I’d like to work with but I’ve been chatting to Tippa Irie about doing a tune but we’ve both been a bit lazy!

CJ: Right come on, its Kane 103.7 were gunna force you into it now!

Josh: Fingers crossed 2014, were gunna do a Skints/ Tippa tune.

CJ: Alright brother we’re looking forward to that. Ok, do you have any shouts you’d like to give out?

Josh: Shout out Kane FM, keep listening to The Skints, we’ve got a new EP coming, its so far untitled but we’ll hit you with that. Do the right thing – as Spike Lee said!

CJ: Respect my brother!

-End of Interview-

Nick Cash, 999 talks Ian Dury, Generation X, 77′ Jubilee at Undercover Festival

An interview with Nick Cash, 999

22nd September 2013

Paula: Hey Nick, how are you and how does it feel to be at Undercover festival?

Nick: We’ve been going for a long time, its great to be here and it’s a great show here at Undercover festival!

CJ: Lets wind back to that Jubilee year! Wind back to the formation of your musical trajectory.

Nick: That was the beginning of Punk really and we used to put adverts in the back of the melody maker: ‘Wanted: Punk Musicians for a band’ and all these great people turned up like Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders) turned up and John Moss from Culture Club, Tony James (Generation X) and Dolphin from Stiff Little Fingers. All sorts of people came to the audition and it was a big melting pot.

Lots of people who were interested at the time. We all started rehearsing together and various bands got formed and everybody went off and did it you know? Some of them fell by the way side and others have done very well, but some of them have kept going like us. Here tonight we’ve got TV Smith, 999, Chelsea and its great, it’s a good atmosphere! But it’s a melting pot we’ve got reggae here as well!

Paula: No doubt about it, great atmosphere! I love the ethos of that 77’ time, I love the idea that certain magazines would have adverts in the back of them and certain people like the ones you’re talking about would come in, jam together and find that trajectory. 

Paula: When Exactly did 999 form and how did that come about?

Nick: Well I was playing with Ian Dury and Kilburn and the High Roads and that was like a pub rock thing and that style was coming to its end. Dr. Feelgood approached me and asked me if I wanted to play guitar for him to replace Wilco Johnson because he’d left. I didn’t really wanted to step in and do that because there was a new buzz and a new thing happening. So I played with people like Brinsley Schwarz and Chicken Shack, but I wanted to do something new so I started 999. From there we went on and played all over the world.

Paula: Tell us about the rest of the band?

Nick: Well, the Drummer Pablo Britain he also writes some of the songs. He was the original drummer in The Clash who went to school with Joe Strummer and he’s just recently been in a film about his life. But they have stayed very good friends and Pablo has contributed a lot to Joe Strummers book and he’s in a film about his life now.

But obviously he didn’t want to capitalise on that to form 999. It was about getting up there in front of those kids and playing and proving yourself. We’re still doing that today!

Paula: I want to ask you about the fan base, how important is the audience? How important is it to be able to achieve that live status?

Nick: Well its very important, I suppose really we’ve always been more of a live band really, we used to survive by doing it. We were luckier then a lot of the bands at that time because we got to play a lot of shows we played every night of the week and we did massive tours in the states, 56-70 dates on the trot so we could learn exactly what we were doing. We weren’t just some over manufactured thing, we learnt to connect with an audience and we learnt what that meant. And that’s one of the best things in the world, if you can get through to an audience and then take off and go somewhere else where you can’t always go.

Paula: Yes well it’s such a different vibe that’s created today then the money making that goes on behind the scenes and the creations that they think will sell to people. But the 999 ethos is to take it to the people.

Nick: I think it’s a shame what’s happening when you’ve got all these talent shows I mean alright God bless those people but you’ve got other acts out there – there’s bands, there’s an underground but that will always be there because there will always be an alternative scene. Not everybody just believes what they’re fed on the television man and that’s what happens so that’s what we’ve gone for and we’re glad we went there and stayed there. Because its 36 years later and here’s to the next 36 years!

(laughs)

Paula: I’m totally with you! How would you describe the secret to that longevity?

Nick: I mean just playing the best you can and if you enjoy what yore doing you can go all round the world and do it! This music hits it on the head, I mean I was speaking to someone the other day and said where did you come from man? And he said well I come from Venezuela to see you.’ You know, I said ‘that’s a long way!’ he said ‘yeh but its been worth it you know?’ and its great to see you can touch somebody in Venezuela the same as you can touch someone in bisley. Not saying one is more important then the other, but its fantastic you know?

And they like it because of the music. What it is, the underground, the power of it, they know all that. They’ve studied it, they like it.

Paula: That’s an interesting point you’ve touched on there, the fact that people are studying the foundations these days. What do you think about the studying of it?

Nick: Perhaps the people who listened to it initially have grown a bit older. But their young kids and new people listen to it and say ‘that’s for me’ that’s different that’s alternative so therefore that’s what I like. That’s the nicest way for something to go on. For people to like it at the grass roots and go on. You’ve only got to look at the people here and what it is, culturally it’s a good blend We were one of the first bands to play rock against racism you know?

CJ Dread: Respect, respect! I have to salute you on that my brother that’s solid!

Nick: We played that, it was a wonderful thing to do. Hard times, we needed to break that and after that we could go anywhere and meet anybody, you know what I mean? Music breaks down the barriers and the more barriers it breaks down the better and that’s the best thing I’ve done with my life is to break down, perhaps a few barriers and just to play and to get off on that.

Paula: My dad and me are both big fans.

Nick: (Laughs) That’s the thing normally people hate what their parents hate!

Paula: Punk taught me that although society tells us we are not supposed to get along with our parents – music unites us and tells us that there are bigger things to conflict against.

Nick: I think you’re absolutely right you know what punk did was say ‘stand up for yourself and have your own ideals’. Dress how you like, Do what you want, free your mind. People always say what an evil thing it is, or it was a fly by night that was only gonna last ten minutes…

CJ: Yeh 36 years later people! Live and hardcore!

Paula: Here we all are!

Nick: You liked your music from your dad and that’s the best way for it to go on because if your daughter likes it that’s fantastic!

Paula: Yeh its wonderful

CJ: BIG UP DAD

Paula: If you take yourself back to your first gig how old were you?

Nick: Well my first gig I played with a band called Pentagon, in Molton so I was about 14 years old.

Paula: Wow yeah, that’s brave!

So I got together with these Maltese people and we used to go around and play covers and things like that and I ended up on a comeno hotel playing to Roger Moore in Blackburn

Paula: Standard!

Nick: And they were making a bomb film at the time you know? So that was my first thing you know and that was pretty good! They liked it and they were dancing about down the front you know. So obviously that was a good time.

Paula: So if you take yourself back to when 999 first formed you’ve got the first gigs and the punk scene fully thriving. How did that feel?

Nick: That was fantastic! We were one of the first ones on the scene you know? It really exploded quickly you know? I had Micky Most calling us asking to sign us tomorrow. We said ‘Well Micky we’re really not sure what we wana do… Chin and Chapman you know? We feel like you’ve done for music what MFI have done for furniture. No offence but we want to do it on our own. We want to produce our own music and we want it to sound like we want it to sound not like you want it to sound like.

Paula: There were always fakes on the scene I loved the way the punks dressed, a lot wore torn clothes because it was all they had.

Nick: The punk dress was such a good fashion there was no better street fashion then that. It said so much and its influenced fashion to this day. Somehow when you see it copied by some people and now you see people dressing up like punks to take money from the Japanese tourists to take photos – that’s not what it was about it was much deeper – much broader appeal and it goes through everything you know; rockabilly, psychobilly, right through every type of clothes it sold stacks of absolutely everything. And the real good people who do it have got all those types of influences you know?

Nick: Theres a bright side and a dark side. I always preferred the darker side of things that’s why I wrote songs like nasty nasty.

Paula: Ok so with everything that you’ve been through, can I just ask, to you – What is punk?

Nick: It’s the freedom to be able to do what you want, when you want. The freedom of choice to be able to break away from what society was and what people thought and to live your life how you want to live it – which is what I’ve done and I’m lucky, I’m one of the lucky ones you know.

Paula: Yeh, it’s a good life.

Nick: And in this generation I’ve been round the world, I’ve seen things, I never regret, I’ve met so many brilliant people Paula, all sorts of people from all countries and to be able to play music with them and share a feeling – get off on a theme – that’s the music, that’s hitting hard, bang bang bang bang – lets go with it you know and you find something in one another. Where else do you get that? You don’t get it from buying a Louis Vitton jacket! You can’t buy it!

CJ: It’s not commoditised is it? You can’t download it you gotta turn up man you gotta be here!!

Nick: The things you can’t buy are the best things in life. I’ve got to go on stage!

Paula: That’s right!

CJ and Paula: (Laugh) 

-End of Interview-

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Anarcho Punk, Vegetarianism & Protest

An interview with Punk Fans

Paula: Can you tell me a bit about how the first wave of punk ended and what it was like when Crass emerged?

Paul: The Sex Pistols signed to Virgin before splitting, The Clash signed to CBS and The Damned went their way, and it seemed like everyone was getting signed. Crass brought it back to what it should have been and that kicked off with their first release which was Feeding of the 5000.

It got more serious you know? For that age, for me being a rebel anyway I thought why not go full rebel and anarchist and that’s when I started being a vegetarian and I was very anti-government. And it did change everything totally but for me it got totally more political. It was anarchy and peace as Crass used to say but they were really politically motivated but they also had the hard-core music of punk it was the real hard core, which was 3 chords and not mega produced but it still sounded good.

Paula: What was Anarcho-Punk?

Paul: In short, AN-OK stood for Anarchy OK.

Paula: What was the movement that started vegetarianism and brought in the politics?

Paul: Basically it all stemmed from Crass because all the bands that followed Crass, there was Conflict and Zounds and Poison Girls, Flux of Pink Indians and it became a real political movement and it changed me because I became really anti government. I think punk originally, there was a shock aspect of everything and the bringing together of small bands and all the rest of it, small venues and groups but where Crass come in, it reinvigorated punk in fact it was probably what punk should have been in the first place – that’s the way we looked at it and it changed us as people, there was loads – especially from Crass – loads of statements, propaganda and it made you look at other things. You’d read a record sleeve from Crass, then you’d go get a book out and find out about something. That’s why I became a vegetarian because it made me investigate what happened to animals in laboratories, in the cosmetic industry, wearing leather shoes, wearing leather jackets – all that. I became a vegetarian because of it.

Paula: How long have you been a vegetarian and when did you become a vegetarian?

Paul: Now I’ve been a vegetarian for just over 35 years and I think I was about 18 when I turned vegetarian and that was because of Crass and Conflict. Because I knew Conflict in the early days and we did some protests for the Animal Liberation Front and it was politically motivated then.

Paula: Did you do a lot of campaigning then?

Paul: Yeh well we’d write to our MP’s, we’d distribute lots of literature about how we felt about things – it was all about being proactive then.

Paula: What do you think went wrong with first wave punk?

It became commercial. It became a money maker. Well The Clash had a line in a song ‘turning rebellion into money’ and you can’t get a more accurate description then that. Even The Clash signed to a major record label. Then you had all these other sort of punkish bands coming up the rear just trying to make money. It wasn’t about the kids anymore, even the clothes weren’t ‘Do It Yourself’, it was all being sold and manufactured. It just became manufactured music again. For the good of Crass that’s what changed it back again.

Paula: Can you name some bands who were alongside Crass?

Quite a few bands adopted Crass’ ethic with ‘don’t pay no more then’ record sleeves and record shops at that time used to rip people off and always charge over the odds, they always did. So Crass used to print the price on the sleeve so you couldn’t dispute the price or pay more then you should do. A load of bands afterwards did that.

Beany: I’m a big Crass fan and Conflict, but not a vegetarian. What you notice is that their fans will have stencilled logos sprayed on their jackets. I saw at Rebellion Festival the Nazis and Anti-Nazis shaking hands, I think there’s a lot of confusion in music as well. I’d say my favourite were Conflict. I’m more of a modern day punk so I’m still learning. But without Sex Pistols you wouldn’t have the rest. The Sex Pistols are the ones that kicked it right up the arse and got it into gear.

Do you think its changed things within politics?

Paul: (Sighs) In politics, no. But I think its made people more aware of what politicians get up to. I think without the punk movement then and without the questions that were raised – because Crass had questions raised in parliament and it got in the paper and everything over that. I think it gave people more of an insight into what to do or where to go – whereas people would just vote labour or vote conservative, or even question the people in charge. It was about questioning and that’s what punk brought about because we started questioning everything.

Have people moved away from trusting in religion and politics, higher powers and people?

I think the systems moved away from that, if you just look at society it’s all moved away from that anyway because of the mass entertainment we have now. But going back to the punk roots that’s what stemmed loads of independent record labels. At one time we didn’t have independent record labels it was all major and now any band can release something of their own accord. I think that only really came about because of the punk scene. It wasn’t there before. Punk, especially the youth of that generation who as people have got older, they continue to question things.

Crass didn’t want to make money they just wanted to cover costs and have enough to fund other bands and further projects. A lot of independent labels try to work to the same ethic today.

Paula: What does punk mean to you?

Paul: It was one of the best times of my life, it has stuck with me and will stick with me for the rest of my life.

Beany: I think if you have a lot of aggression marry punk rock you’ll never divorce it.

-End of Interview-

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WAY OUT ZINE

Hey guys, as you know this is an online fanzine but we do actually print physical fanzines too and distribute them as far and wide as we can. Starting out in Margate, they’ve already reached as far as London, Blackpool, Amsterdam and even the shores of Tenerife. If you’ve taken your fanzine somewhere cool for a read, make sure you share a pic on our twitter @wayoutradio or Facebook.com/wayoutzine

If you haven’t got a copy yet we can post them to you for £1 (UK). If you’d like to become a distributor, thats awesome too. Just email us at paula@wayoutradio.com

Thanks 🙂 x

WAY OUT MUSIC ZINE is now available to pick up at:

Vinyl Head, Ramsgate

Tom Thumb Theatre, Margate

PLINTH, Margate

Hardedge, Reading

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A Conversation of Crass

An interview with Mick Howes, Crass Fans

Paula: Can you tell me a bit about your experience of Anarcho- Punk?

Mick: The gig scene was almost ever night, it was about two or three times a week and you various anarchy centres that were started up with the one it Wapping, which was the one that released the Crass/Poison Girl single, ‘bloody revolution’ but I don’t know why they never lasted very long in one place they moved around and there were hippy aspects and punk aspects of the younger and older if you like. And it moved so it moved from Wapping, which I went to once, because that was like 1980 you know we were young then and then it moved to Westbourne park and that’s where I fist saw Conflict and The Mob and it was kind of every week and that was like a meeting place as well and they used to meet and sell stuff. It was just a meet up of likeminded people you know. And then it moved to Rosebery Avenue and I don’t think it had a name there. And yes it was just a place basically to see bands, Crass never played there as far as I know but all the bands that came into being because of Crass they all used to play these venues and it was just something different and instead of just talking the talk these people were actually getting up and doing things – setting up gigs, setting up organisations and it all started with the Crass single with the poison girls. And what impressed me about it because I was going to other gigs at the time, I was still into other punk bands but it was like ‘wow this is different’ you know? There’s an entire subculture here who kind of means what it says and there’s more to it then three chords and a load of shouting you know? And Crass did some squat gigs as well which kind of took off because of their background in festival movement it was kind of like the start of a free party movement – which later on became something completely different but it was like people getting up and doing things. Because Crass, they squatted the Rainbow theatre which is a long lost big music venue, the police turfed them out of there and they suddenly went to this place called the zig zag club and they put on a gig and about fifteen bands must have played, they played all day and there was free food and free drink and it was wow you know I really felt part of something different.

That’s quite an important part because the music press –I’m talking about NME and Sounds at the time basically they didn’t really like the bands and used to criticise them and slag them off all the time basically but this kind of made people sit up and listen they thought ‘well hang on a minute these bands aren’t just saying something they’re actually doing something as well.’ And yes my experiences at Stonehenge as well – if you want the classic kind of hippy punk crossover well the Stonehenge festivals of the early 80s are the best example of that because you have crusty anarchist band playing but also bands like Hawkwind playing as well. And I didn’t realise then but it was actually the people at Dial house who organised the first Stonehenge festival in 1974/5 so it all kind of links in. Kindred spirits. It made me think as much as I love punk music this was more then music. It was a lifestyle choice a political choice. Because at the time vegetarianism was kind of new to a lot of young people, certainly me and a lot of other punks too. Animal rights became a big deal.

Paula: Are you a vegetarian now?

Mick: I am yes, since those days, since 1982 yes and I wouldn’t say it was a particular band that did it but it was being part of that kind of movement and you had the animal liberation front as well which Conflict got heavily involved in and they were always doing benefits and that kind of thing and that’s what made me feel it was much more then a bunch of geezers playing to mad punk rock.

Paula: … It was like a whole ideology…

Mick: A way of life, yes and although I didn’t go to Dial house, because a lot of people went there but I just thought I didn’t want to just turn up and say hello because I thought if I went there it would be better to interview them for a fanzine or whatever but because I didn’t have one I left it. But a lot of people just went up and stayed with them but I was probably a bit shy to be honest.

Paula: So you never went to Dial House?

Mick: I never went to Dial house, no but I went to the anarchy centres because that was gigs and mates you know. Its funny though because back in the 80’s everybody called it the Crass Commune including the music press because they used to kind of make fun of the fact it was a ‘commune’ – I mean it wasn’t really but it was kind of a free living bunch of hippies. I knew where it was it’s the extreme line of the central line on the tube. I met Colin and Steve before and I had some friends who were in bands but much smaller bands really. But yes as a movement it was far different to anything I’d seen before but I can’t have been the only one who was bored with bog standard punk rock for punk rock’s sake but this became everything from eco warriors to paving the way of vegetarianism to serious far left and anarchist politics and all that. Before long I was reading things and getting into things I’d never have dreamed of doing, as were so many other people. I was lucky – right place right time really, living in London and going to gigs and all the gigs were cheap and we were skint either on the dole or doing shit jobs and all the gigs were either 50p or £1 to get in and other gigs were £4 or £5 which may not sound like much now but back then that was a massive difference. A fiver was a night out.

You’d get violence as well because you’d get skinheads and fascists who used to turn up. I’m not saying it was a utopia because there was trouble as well – I was terrified of skinheads. But on the whole there was a level of acceptance, it didn’t matter what you looked like so much either. You didn’t have to tow a party line to look the part. It didn’t matter.

Paula: What kind of person would you say you were before punk and what was the turning point where you changed?

Mick: Well before I was just a very shy schoolboy really who although I kind of had mildly left wing parents, normal labour voters and I didn’t know or really care that much at 15- 16. It turned me into an environmentalist, a vegetarian, I used to say anarchist but I have voted in the past. I was extremely shy and introvert as well and meeting people and getting into it kind of let me come out of my shell.

Paula: Where about were you based?

Mick: Lewisham so conflict were the local band I guess. There was more happening in north London to be honest and we used to go to North London, two, three times a week for gigs or just to meet up with people.

Mick: There was a lot going on and a lot of people were into it, I mean the gigs were in small places but if they’d have gone with the mainstream they could have been playing big places like Brixton Academy but they didn’t, they shunned the mainstream.

Mick: There were a lot of DIY releases. People were just getting together pressing records and doing it.

Paula: You say you were passionate about animal rights; did you ever get involved in any of the protests?

Mick: Yes I did a few things, a bit of sabotage as well, I went out with the ALF and I applied for a job in an animal testing laboratory so I could go there and report back what was going on but they sussed me! Going undercover appealed to me at the time because I was about seventeen. I though I could take pictures and find out what was going on. It felt like an individual could do something to effect social change. But it did take direct action to do it.

Crass started an independent label at a time when major labels were extremely powerful, did that inspire you to feel like you could do things and not just accept what you were given?

Mick: Absolutely yes, it made you think there was more then major labels, Crass Records began and then Conflict started a label as a direct result and they started springing up everywhere yes and it gave you a sense of you didn’t have to go through the mainstream. You may not sell as much but in some cases you did sell as many as you would have done if you were in a mainstream set up. Certainly the DIY ethic you know, making your own T-Shirts and things. Basically not going down the same old route because the punk fashion used to embarrass me a bit. Everyone’s trying to look the best or a bit cooler or whatever. But this changed all that. It was an eye opener.

Paula: What were the fanzines like? Were they important to you?

Mick: The fanzines yes gosh I’ve still got a box full of them! They were just cheap and at the time that was when everyone used to read the music press. Everyone read NME every week and Sounds – it was the only way to find out about gigs and bands back then. Me and my mate did start a fanzine and we interviewed Charlie Harper out of UK Subs at a bar and it was all a bit drunken really and never really saw the light of day. We did our own stencils as well and started doing graffiti and collages. It did inspire me. I suppose after a while something had to give and I ended up drifting away from it but its still there with me and I’m a changed person because of it.

Paula: How much would you say Crass influenced other bands like Conflict?

Mick: Starting with Conflict yes when their first single came out, I think in 1981, I thought they were just a carbon copy because they had a symbol which was a bit like Crass’ and they had a female singer as well as male and they sounded a bit like Crass. When I first heard them I thought this is a bit of a rip off almost. But then after that first single I realised they were their own band and they became as big as Crass, certainly on the underground scene. But they weren’t my favourite band I mean I love the Poison Girls and they don’t get as much credit probably because their music wasn’t hard and fast punk rock but the politics and the attitude and everything and the scene they were in as well was as important in a lot of ways. I got into Amega Tribe and Rudimentary Peni who’s art work was so obscure and mental. Check out his work his name is Nick Blinko. Their first single was blow away punk and they were an Anarcho-Punk band. I’d never seen bands do their own artwork before, you didn’t get that when you bought a UK Subs album. Also Hagar The Womb.

Paula: Do you think anyone is doing anything close to what Crass did, now?

Mick: No. I’m sure there are many worthy bands out there but nothing like the way that spiralled.

Paula: What was it like back then to buy a Crass record with posters and patches in them, had that been done before or was that pretty original?

Mick: That was so original, the sleeves then, you used to buy your LP, it was quite cheap as well. You’d get this big fold around cover and it would fold out into this big poster/piece of art. As far as I’m aware I don’t know anyone who was doing fold out sleeves. They did it with 7’ singles as well, they used to produce leaflets and booklets as well on everything from political theory to recipes. But when you bought an album, and this was when vinyl was king obviously. You weren’t just buying an album you were buying a piece of art as well. And the poster would be – Vaucher as well was a brilliant artist and she’s now being recognised in her own right as an artist as apposed to just a member of a band. But it took a long time for the recognition to come around.

You’d buy something and be sat on the bus with it reading an essay. It was something else it really was.

Paula: Did you feel personally you’d been kept in the dark by the government?

Mick: Yes I did and it made me angrier. My dad was kind of politically aware and used to tell me stuff but not on the level of this so I wasn’t completely naïve but it did open my eyes to the lies and corruption and everything else that was going on. I got arrested three times on demos because of it and it made me angrier. I felt things had been hidden to a certain extent but I wasn’t completely in the dark.

Paula: Were you badly treated by the police?

Mick: Yes. It was bad, I was strip searched I was kept in and refused phone calls I was kept for hours and hours, treated like shit basically. This was for the Stop the City Marches in the 80’s it was unofficial and unannounced on the spot demonstrations to try to halt the war machine and money machine of the city of London and of course the police took a dim view of this as did many other people and it got ugly and it got violent at time and then it got controlled because basically they just stopped anyone dressed a bit scruffy from getting the tube to bank or anything you just weren’t allowed to do it! It was so effective that unless you had an obvious job in the city or were in a suit then if there was more then a couple of you at least then you would be stopped and then the police learnt how to control it and contain it. That was certainly an influence of the Anarcho-Punk movement at the time, especially the one in 1984.

Paula: Can you name one song, which you think encapsulated the entire movement?

Mick: Do They Owe Us a Living – By Crass. Because its swearing but its making a point as well. As a teenage hearing that, it ticked all the boxes really.

Paula: There’s a song called ‘Big A, Little A’. What did you think of that?

Mick: That’s a good question because the other side of the single was Nagasaki Nightmare, which was kind of different, almost a departure musically and a lot of people didn’t like that. But after the intro part that goes off on its own tangent too. It made me think they were progressing musically and the characters Steve Ignorant did I just thought they were funny. He does the Queen’s voice (laughs). You know it’s like a musical departure for them because its not like hard fast punk all the way through is it? It’s quite a long song as well. But that whole single, when I first heard it I wasn’t sure but over time I liked it. Now I think its up there with one of their finest songs.

This was the first time I heard Crass have a guitar intro like rock songs have guitar intros. They hadn’t done that before it was a break with what they’d done before. A saucepan is used as a bit of percussion as well. It was great. The bass line is kind of rocky and funky.

Paula: Finally, what is Anarcho-Punk to you? Would you be different if the band (Crass) never existed?

Mick: Yes I would be different. It made me think politically, it made me think environmentally, it made me think about right wing fascism because Nazis at the time, the International Front were getting big. We had to think about politics and serious things. It changed me politically.

Paula: Are you still quite heavily involved in music?

Mick: Yes I go to a lot of gigs and a lot of Anarcho-Gig too. I have tickets for Hagar The Womb and I have seen Conflict in recent years and Steve Ignorant. Yes I still have a guitar and I still go to see a lot of gigs. It has certainly influenced me and I still wear a Crass T-Shirt from time to time.

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