Ranking Roger From The Beat

Interview by: Owen Jenkins


The sound of Two Tone in Britain can be summed up with a handful of bands. Of those the names like Jerry Dammers, Pauline Black, Suggs as well as many others who helped orchestrate the history of the Two Tone movement will always be remembered. There is also the unmissable sound of a Saxa’s ska horn or Bradbury’s bass beat,  their has always been one voice that encapsulates the up-beat, horn blowing, shanking, Rock steady beat, that is Ska. And that voice?

It is of course the master of the toast Ranking Roger of The Beat. A voice that Stephen Rodrick in an article for the Rolling stone magazine 1990 said  “creates a sound unheard of before or after”

Starting at the early age, he was only sixteen at his  first appearance on Top of the Pops, Roger soon cemented himself into history of British culture in songs line Mirror in the bathroom, Too nice to talk too and Tears of a clown. As well as being the soundtrack of a skanking youth and showing they had their fingers squarely on the pulse of dispossessed teenage generation by being able to illustrate the issues of the streets with songs like Stand down Margaret.10372234_648792805232153_7912572532112148115_n‘Ranking (which stands for top/high) Roger joined The Beat in the late 70’s. Coming from Birmingham in the Midland, when the Midlands was fast becoming the Catalyst for the expanding youth culture of Ska music.

After the mass immigration of the black families in the 1960’s, mixed with the Jamaica’s thirst for identity after recent independence. The concoction of Reggae and Rock sparked a sound that brought people together and got people of their feet.

The Beat released 3 studio Albums before their break up in 1983. Members went their own way, Dave Wakeling and Roger formed General Public and band mates David Steele and Andy Cox went on to form Fine Young Cannibalise. They came back in a number of forms and partnerships over the years like International Beat and The Special Beat, but with nothing sticking.

2003 they came back to one off sell out show at The Royal Festival Hall, but 2006 saw the rebirth of The Beat in UK featuring Ranking Roger. And now, other than the 7 Compilation albums and 1 Live In London album in 2013,  The Beat Feat Ranking Roger are releasing

their first studio album since 1983

Bounce the new studio album is out on the 30th September 2016 but is now available for pre-order on CD/vinyl and digital download.

HI Roger, How have you guys been doing recently?

Yeah we’ve been doing good. Been busy with the new album but we’re doing alright.

Your new album “Bounce” dropped on the 30th September. What kind of response have you received to far?

Dropped, I like that! Its been good so far, people seem to like it. Its being released on CD and Vinyl so what ever you’re into its there.

Great to see it out on vinyl.

Yea and it not necessarily just my generation that’s buying it. You see DJ’s who are like 22 and they have vinyl cases upon vinyl cases. To them its, its priceless, it like antiquities to us. Its great that its come back in a cycle.  I  thought vinyl was brilliant when you could hold a an album in your hand and open is up and read about the artist and then inside you have all the lyrics and its all made to wow you with a great album.

Walking on the wrong side” has been out for while now as taster of what’s to come. Its has that unmissable ska beat to it. What come first with your writing, the lyrics or sound?

Well for this one the music came first. I wrote the original melody and then I got together with a producer and sat together in my little studio for about 3 days and everything we done was done without electronics. It was all done on acoustics and vocals. It was a very cool way to do it. Very different to the way I normally do it. Normally I just start with the music and when its good enough I start writing to it. But this way we had to come out after 3 days with a song that could be sung with just a voice and guitar and sound brilliant, and we did it, we came out with 4 of them. It was the start of something great I thought. We managed to keep The Beat sound, as it is a Beat album at the end of the day.

There are song’s on this album that really encapsulate The Beat sound but you also have a number of tracks that bring something new to the table. What would you say has changed with album from people would recognise as iconic The Beat sound?

Gosh, its hard to say because when you are part of the musical journey its hard to see, its easier to see from the outside. For me songs  like “close the door” at the end and Ranking Jr’s tracks “My Dream” there kinda of like a new way if you like. Its great for the young heads. Its kind what I like about the album is every track is different. That’s what Beat records are about. They had to sound like singles and thats not an easy thing to do but we managed  to do it. Im so proud I can represent the The Beat in this way.

Listening to the album you can pick up on the ska roots on the tracks but there is hints of other genres, which I guess is kind of what Ska is about. You’ve done a number of other solo albums and these are the same as in every single one is different. Inside my head being one of my favourites.

Yeah that’s one of my favourites to out of the solo stuff.

Do you find exercising your music muscles by doing different sounds help when creating The Beats tracks?

Yeah its great, its healthy, that and working with other people helps. For me its been amazing, its been good and bad, its been up and down. You just keep treading on what you believe in and don’t let anyone get in your way. I believe in The Beat music. Not like a religion but the words that were sang so many years ago were sung with all my heart. They’re of meaning, some of them a political but they are the truth.

The Beat and the Two Tone movement were know for their political views, is there a political vibe on this album?

I do yeah. On “walking on the wrong side” I’m talking about surveillance and people listening to what you are saying and by saying the wrong thing you could end up in jail. Where as 30 years ago you didn’t have that to worry about. You could say what you wanted. If you didn’t like someone you could tell them and it didn’t matter, it was just an opinion. Where as nowadays people are quick to take it to court and you actually get done for it. People say we are meant to be free but I cant see it, where’s you freedom of speech? They’ve taken that away from us. Lyrics these days have to almost be code but you cant stop the language of music. The music tells the story. What I don’t understand to this day, is how you can have an audience smiling and having a great time dancing but the lyrics we are singing are so sad and depressing. For me I think its amazing looking at all these smiling people. Singing songs like “Stand down Margaret” about a possible world war three and unemployment and their all there smiling, grinning and dancing away. Its profound. I noticed that throughout The Beat music. Back then we could say what we wanted, where as now we have to be clever about how we say things. If there is something to be said and if it’s the truth, it’s need to be known. I’ll tell you now the tune “fire burn” was definitely directed at Blair and Bush. If you really listen to the lyric its sad and I’ve know it to make people cry. Songs like “close the door and walk away” is about the united nations basically being this big bully and all these little nations crying out for help and not being able to do anything as they are so small. Their very political but not the whole album, there are few love songs on there as well. Its about finding the right balance and I think we have managed to do that well.

Two Tone was known for being able to illustrate what was going on on the streets and talk about the current times. Do you think we could have that again?  

I don’t know if its Two Tone, but most definitely, every ten years we need to refresh the country. It couldn’t be two tone again because I think that is it has to come from people who are from between 18 and 25. That’s what I’m looking forward to seeing, not all these old men walking around moaning. Our generation knew what was going on but we forgot to reeducate our kids. Something happened in the 60s to the youth and the whole world that made people unify and get together and start to try and change the world. It gave them a voice. Its was protests and it starts from the kids, non violent protest about something they feel passionate about. That was real affective. I would like to see more of that and maybe its out there but its being hidden because now the music business is being swamped with thousands of tracks and different tyres of music and you can go on to iTunes and there are millions to choose from. Where as in the day fashion, has its time to get their voice out there. It could be 8 months or a year but they get their chance to speak. Even though we didn’t know Two Tone would become a massive movement and be so short lived. When it first came out all the BBC and the media people thought it was brilliant but by the time we got to the third or fourth release they started to realise this was going to change the youth. This time is was political.

Like Punk?

Punk got though, punk got thought to me. It made sense to me. I was just like “right this is it, I’m going for it” I’ve been out looking for fairness ever since, searching for justice for people. Its like when punk came in, it was to harsh for the major masses. Then when it started dying out when everyone wanted to be a weekend punk  and then we got new wave. The Specials were very clever when they took new wave and mixed it with ska. They brought this new voice that was actually had something to say. It was the first time since punk that people started to stand up again.

Punk gave that idea that anyone can do it.

Yeah, the thing is in those punk days I was listening to bands that couldn’t play their instruments but the fact the were having fun was all that mattered, people actually went out there and became something because of it. It was amazing. I used to jump on the mic and start MCing and it was great. I used to mention peoples names and make little chants in Jamaican and people loved it. I could see the connection with in the music from the start.

So it’s that how you started to get in to the toasting side of things?

 I was 13 when I first got into toasting. I used to listen to people like Trinity and the like and Clint Eastwood the early stuff. They were really influencing as they wanted to create their own style. With me it was just I was in the wrong place at the right time. Where as I should have been in with the sound system guys doing the MC, I was in with the punks instead. I grew in with that punk crowd and became on of them almost. Until I met up with The Beat and then we were going place.

You had been on stage a number of times before becoming an official member.

Yeah that’s right a few times. I remember one time and it wasn’t meant to of happened, they had invited me to come on stage with them but their show just wasn’t selling. Their was like 6 people in there. It was free entry but you had to buy a beer was the thing. It was a Tuesday night, I went down to a pub on Hill street called The Crown were all the punks used to hang out. This was about 1979, I went there and it was packed with loads of unemployed punks and skinheads. I said “Remember that band who opened up for my band and they blew us off stage, well their playing down the road and its free to get in”. There was between 50 to 100  of us then walking down the road towards to club, we ended up having these police vans following us down the road as they all thought we were going to cause a riot or something. All we were doing was going to The Beat gig, when we got to the pub and every one piled in, the band was like “wow”. I think that was my passport into the band there and then really. I think it was, obviously I went on and did a couple of songs with them and my mates were all pushing me back on stage to do more and the band didn’t mind and everyone seemed to love it. We formed a really good relationship then and it was just what I was looking for. I did a few bits with UB40 a couple of times they loved it, so maybe I could have been with them. I glad I went with the more diverse choice though, I prefer the more jump up music.

You’ve got The Beat with Dave Wakeling and then The Beat featuring Ranking Roger. You have these two bands with the same name doing your own things. Has this caused any issues?

Its weird you say that, I went to see Dave few days ago, and somehow I ended up on stage with him and I made a bit of a speech to the crowd. I said it doesn’t matter how many Beats there are, what matters is the legacy and the message. The crowd went mad for it and I think anybody who heard that would get it. To me it was a big speech and I didn’t mean to say it. They started playing the music and I said “stop” and that me and Dave ain’t 14570319_964484916996272_4665686251640528217_nenemy’s. what I’m saying is we have now found a way that we know we have our differences but we can now get along. Its strange that we’re both doing the same thing. In the US The Beat was known as the English Beat so its only natural that his band would be called the English beat. When we go to America we’ll be known as The English Beat featuring Ranking Roger. Its only right in our eyes that as he uses it when he comes over here. There is no animosity that’s just the way it has to be. Now the album is out, its like we have put our stamp down and he has his album coming out. When his comes out he can put his stamp down and then there will be two Beat albums out there. I hope his album comes out and is good and he makes it as good as ours. Getting where we are now has been excellent. The fans love the new album, so that means we done it right. Im very thankful for it all. There is no swell heads here from Ranking Roger, just thankful I could get it right.  It sounds like The Beat and by golly it is The Beat! And I hope Dave can get it sounding like The Beat and I wish him all the best.

With this album your son Ranking Jr features heavily, this must have been a proud daddy moment being able to stand with your son doing what you love doing the most.  

Yeah ranking Jr, AKA Murphy. Well the bands been together for like 15 years, we just slowly built it up until now its real great to play live. People come to the show knowing what to expect and wanting to jump right from the off. He has taken to it nicely. We’re both front men, wether he has learnt a lot from me or not his his thing but he is able to hold his own. He carries his own style which shows on the album. He good and what he does, he’s even gone in to singing a bit because that tune “work work work” is one of his. It was the first time I heard him singing properly.

 He was on the Ordinary Boys track “boy will be boys”  

Yeah, well Preston has written a few tunes for the Beat but we have never taken them on. I recon for the next album we’ll grab the tunes he written for The Beat and we’ll have him on as well. He a real nice lad. It’s a shame they didn’t take it further as their was some great song writing with the band. Jr nearly joined them at one stage but they ended up splitting up, which is shame.

I thought their album “brass bound” was a great album. But after the whole big brother thing, things didn’t go their way.

Yeah it’s a shame, that why you’ll never see me on anything like that. No matter how much money they throw at me. They delve in to your private life to much, it can make or break a person.

You obviously brought you son up with the same love for music. Do have have similar tastes when it come to the sound you both want to achieve?

Well yeah, the view on the music comes from me being an original member who was there. But the bass player for instance back with The Beat, I would be lying next to or behind him and could fall asleep. Bob Sargent used to really make the band work, 3 or 4 takes before we got it write. Doing that I would learn all the parts intricately over time. That’s how I managed to lock in that Beat sound. Like when we play live its like “man!” That’s real sound. Its not some cover band sound it’s the real thing. We get the right sound and if we want to add bits here and there we can, but only after have have got the roots of the Beat in first. We have to stick to the original and that’s the grounding and with it flows this new flavour so its not just like the original Beat but its got a new energy and people like it, its organic and friendly.66648_347884005323036_1410893146_n
With the writing for this album has there been a general input? I know with The Beat there was a kind of democratic system in place when writing.

Yeah it was a weird way of writing with The Beat everyone got their look in and everyone  got a say really. With this as I’m fronting it, well me and my son. Really all the decisions have come down to us. My decision is final. The Beat is The Beat and it needs to remain that no matter what the song is. That always been my motto. Everyone has followed that knowing that it’s the right way and it proven to be right now.

So by fronting it you’ve had a lot more say of sticking to The Beat guidelines but getting to add flavour to the recipe in your own way?

Yes, yes exactly that! If Jr want to bring a bit of his grime or something in then we would have to make that work but in a Beat style, and it canwork.

One of the tracks has a real jungly vibe to it but it works so well.

Yeah and that’s what brings us into the modern age. All the stuff that going with the UK hip hop stuff which some of it is amazing. I don’t listen to it that much but my son will show me these track that have like 6 millions views and I’m like “why it not in the charts the?” All these english rapper aren’t getting anywhere here so their all going over to the US and sign with someone and are  getting ripped off basically. It should be here, people should know its come from Britain. We’ve lost something there. We need all these people in charge to let the youth in. We need it bad, if I could open the gate for them I would. We need to hear what these guys have to say. The youth have gone astray with mobile phones and PlayStation, to much distraction.

So what next on the Calendar for yourself and The Beat.

Well with the album out now, we’re gigging from middle of October until Christmas. Really looking forward to it.  You can check the dates and buy the record on www.thebeatofficial.com. The record is out now and in the hands of the gods. All I can say is thank you to everyone who has backed us over the years and are still backing us.

Fantastic, Roger its been a pleasure to chat with you especially considering I’m a big fan.

No thank you it’s been great, hope we get to meet sometime soon. Gimme a txt when we’re in London and I’ll get you on the guest list.

Nice one Roger, see you then!

Well guys that was my interview with Ranking Roger of The Beat. Im sure most of you know their unmistakable sound and this new album is something not to miss. They have the old school ska sound with pinches of new sounds thrown in. Check them on on youtube or iTunes or however you listen and go down and seem them live. I guarantee you you’ll be skanking around within minuets.







The Grandfather of Punk Rock

In 2010 this band won the BBC 6’s world cup of punk, beating The Ramones, Sex Pistols and The Clash, they have been known to perform up to 200 gigs in one year playing their orchestral punk sounds to crowds around the world since 1976. They are fronted by the Grandfather of Punk rock, Mr. Charlie Harper!image

Charlie is turning 72 this year and is still travelling round the UK and Europe delivering the punk riffs of the U.K Subs. They have 7 U.K charting singles and an Album for each letter of the Alphabet, ranging from their 1979 ‘Another kind of Blues’ all the way through to their latest Pledgemusic production ‘Ziezo’.

I got to catch up with Charlie thanks to their drummer Jamie Oliver (Not that one) while they where heading from a gig in Brighton to their next port of call Nottingham.

We talk about traveling Europe, touring with the Ramones and quash a rumour about a certain reported band member.

So Charlie what have you guys been up to?

We heading to Nottingham now, we are on the road. We played Brighton last night, which was great little gig. I say little this club only holds about 250 or something like that so it was great.

So where are you guys playing tonight?

We are playing a place called the Maze, its got like great bar in the front and a live room at the back, which is I deal, its brilliant. The stage is only a step up. Brighton had a barrier up, it kinds needs one down there. We don’t have one tonight, its going to be mad.

What to ask about you latest album ‘Ziezo’ that’s marks the final letter in you alphabet of albums, does that been its going to be the final Album?image

Yeah it is, it will be. We are kind of looking to do just 10’ 6 tracks from now on and maybe a single. We are just waiting till we have really really good songs.

You did the last album via pledgemusic. Lots of people seem to be finding that a viable option at the moment. What made you want to try it?

Well the guy who is driving us right now has worked with the Buzzcocks and Cocksparrer and he done it with them so he thought it would be a good Idea and explained it all to us. We thought its our last album lets do it.

I spoke to Steve from the Buzzcocks and he said it worked really well for him. Have you found that it work and that you would recommend to other bands?

Yeah I mean, it is a gamble but Buzzocks for instants are such an established band already they have a kind of very hard-core fan base, so they cant fail. With us it’s a bit of a gamble, we thought would do it and pay for it but we ended up doing well. We are all going out and buying new gear.

So you’ve got a few UK dates coming up then its back out to Europe. How to you like playing in Europe?

Well we love it, we love it a lot, everything about it, the culture, history and the food. Especially Germany, because you are guaranteed great gear and they take a pride in what they are doing, right down to the lighting guy. It’s a bit like playing in America, every thing is very rock and roll orientated.

After going though the list of European countries you played, is there on you haven’t actually performed in?

Oh wow. Umm…. We only played Portugal twice but well there are places like Estonia and those new countries near Russia. We’ve only played one of those once and it was an amazing gig.

You do seem to have a large following though out Europe.

Yeah, yeah we do. To be honest its bigger there than it is here in England. I think its because we play a lot here in England so people can come and see us, where as we only go over to Europe once a year. We meet people over here that have seen us all over.

I seen it was reported that last year you had done nearly 200 gigs in the year, are still keeping up with that title.image

No we dropped it down to a hundred now.

Only a hundred?

Yeah, only a hundred ha ha. We are comfortable with that. As you can hear its almost the end of our tour and my throat isn’t to sore. Its been good. When you do more you get a really bad throat.

You still enjoying the life on the road?

Year its absolutely brilliant, going from town to town, meeting different people everyday, its great life. I would recommend it to anybody, any new band coming up, go ahead, do it! It’s a very rewarding life. You’re playing to people and making them happy. It’s a great way to live.

What is it about the music that keeps your fire burning to get out on the stage and on the road?

Well I just love music; I love every kind of aspect of it. The instruments, if I go in to a music shop I’m in heaven, amps and everything. Pedals! We don’t really use them in the Subs but I’m a bit of secrete pedal freak. I like to experiment. I hope that will come later in my career.

imageYou started out in London with the R&B 60’s sound. At your heart, if you were going to be sat at home, what would you be listening to?


Well I still love blue, but I love the old blues it’s raw.

Like Howlin Wolf?

Yeah well that he is one of my favorites. I love a guy called Little Walter who plays amazing harmonica. I like Jimmy Reed, he played that very high kind of harmonica. Everyone really, I was watching the Rollin Stones on stage with Muddy Waters. Also the other day I was watching the Rolling Stones playing with AC/DC, it was amazing. I just love all kinds of rock music, well its all rock & roll.

So that’s what you would spend a lazy Sunday afternoon listening to?

Well that and playing my guitar and writing new stuff, maybe I write 20 songs and one will be good enough to go on an album and record, but some are jut out and out silly.

You worked with some of the great bands in the past, like the Ramones, what has been some of your highlight.

Well that was. That was not only a highlight but working with them we learnt so much. From the very early days when we were just coming up we learnt a lot of stagecraft off them. They were absolutely brilliant.

How did it come about you getting to work with them?

Don’t know really, funny enough it was just that we was part of an agency, the agency bought them over and put us on with them. It was kind of luck really. It started off in Amsterdam and when the doors opened 200 U.K Subs fans came bursting though the doors shouting U.K Subs and when we went on stage Nikki was jumping all over the amps and we went down very very well. The Ramones management wants to take us off the tour immediately but they band wouldn’t have it, they liked us, they said “we want to tour with these guys”. Hats off to the Ramones for going against their management. They were good honest people and they wanted to keep us on the tour.

Who are some of your other favorites to have worked with?

The Dammed, they are good fun, lot of bands like. We love there riders, they have amazing riders (Dressing room requests) we have big doggy bags haha, we get Swiss cheeses, bottles whiskey and all sorts. They just leave them in the dressing room to go to the hotel and we raid their room and fill up a big bin liner with goodies. We always carry several swag bags on tour, hahaimage

I’ve seen who’ve had a fair number of members in the bands but this line up seems to have stuck. Do you think this is the tightest the band has been?

It’s the longest any line up has been with us, been over ten years now, so we’re all really happy. Yeah I could say that although we don’t rely on the tightness, like last night the band were amazing, there wasn’t a note wrong.

You’ve had some well know names play in the band, in 2015 the guardian report that Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Pepper played with you guys?

No, no, no that was our Flea, that wasn’t the Californian flea. The name Flea is used for a kid or if someone is short. Our bass player flea was a little guy but tough as hell.

You did have Lars Frederiksen (Rancid) play with you for a little while as well?

Yeah he played with us for about a year, he became, well, we are all alcoholics but he became a chronic alcoholic with all the free booze we get when we are playing. So in the end we had to let him go. We’re still good mates and he’s done really well now.image

You’re playing Rebellion festival again this year. You’ve played there nearly every year so far. U must enjoy going back there?

Yeah we do, I mean if wasn’t playing there I would be up there watching. I would go up there from the Wednesday till the Monday. Really enjoy it, because we go all around the world and meet all these people and we all become really good friends. It’s a place where we can all meet up from around the globe, it’s amazing. Every year they think how they can beat it and the next year its even better. We are really looking forward to it.image

Well Charlie that pretty much all I have for you today, I’ll let you get on to your gig. Is there anything you would like to put out there to the Punk Globe readers?

Well yeah, we would like to say a big thank you to everyone that pledged to the album and some people we meet have spent hundreds of pounds or dollars of our stuff and we would just like to thank them all so much. We didn’t expect it to do as well as it did and like I said everything is looking forward to getting some new gear. Which is so needed right now, all our stuff is broken and always in the menders, so time to get some new brand new stuff. There is a things now where they are making lighter amps so we will be getting some light weight stuff, so a big thank you for saving our backs.

Well thank you for your time and enjoy Nottingham tonight!

No, thank you Owen, cheer, bye bye!

Well there you go Punk Glober’s that was the forever-young Charlie Harper giving me a quick chat while racing up the motorway (not driving) to their next gig. So whenever you feel yourself saying “I’m to old for this” remember Charlie is nearly 72 and I’m sure he can still rock better than most!image


Richie Ramone

If there is one name that is synonymous with American punk rock it would be this one. Their names adorn t-shirts would wide and are considered to be the band that defined the punk sound of the USA. Of course it is the Ramones!image

I got a chance to talk to Richie Ramone while he is touring throughout the US before the release of his new album ‘Cellophane’ which comes out in just a couple of months.

Richie first started as a drummer for the Ramones in 1983 and Joey Ramone once said “[Richie] saved the band as far as I’m concerned. He’s the greatest thing to happen to the Ramones, he put the spirit back in the band”.

Not only was did he come and play what has been described as “faster than the eye can see drumming” he also brought a talent for singing and writing. He is the only Ramones drummer to sing lead vocals on a record and also was responsible for writing the song ”somebody put something in my drink” which was part of the Ramones first gold album.

imageRichie is more than just a Ramone though; leaving the band in 1987 he is still performing live around the world and is still writing and playing and is about to release his second album “Cellophane”.

We talk about his new album, touring, playing live at 12, joining the Ramones and touch on a little Trump.

Hey Richie, how things? You guys been busy today?

Yeah we been busy, we’re moving every day, we’re just gigging at the moment.

So what’ve you been up to recently, you’re touring at the moment?

We just did Australia, Japan and came home a couple weeks and now we are six weeks in the states. So we just started that tour and we’ve just done our ninth show and we are out for 45 days. We’re in Texas now.

You’re about the release you latest Album ‘Cellophane’. When and where is the best place to be able to hear and buy it?

Yeah that one won’t come out until August, you’ll all have to wait but you will be able to get it everywhere, in the stores and ITunes. The date for release is August 5th. I actually have copies that I’m selling now on the road so at least people are getting pre-advanced copies when coming to the show.

Are they selling they pretty quickly?

Yeah, it’s going good, the album came out really well and it’s a good record.

How’s the tour going so far?

Good yeah, the west side of the states is a little sleepy with the audiences but we get them going every night. Some of my best audiences have been in the U.K, overseas and Europe.

This is your second solo album coming out; do you still find the writing coming easily?

Na the writing has never come easy for me, I’m too anal, I dissect everything I want to make sure it’s right. So it takes me some time.

With the music on your new album ‘Cellophane’, is this a collection of songs you have written previously or all new stuff?

Yeah, its all-new stuff and I co-wrote with a couple if different people on this record. It’s all new things the only thing I covered was Depeche Modes ‘Enjoy the silence’ and this is record is full of original songs. The record has a song called ‘Pretty poison’ I had back in the Ramones days that never went on a record so we recorded that. That’s the only one that I wrote back in the 80’s

Do you find much inspiration from any modern bands or do you go back to your roots when writing and producing?

Na I its just, well everything comes from inside of me. I mean you may listen to the radio and subconsciously be inspired by things but the hits music isn’t like the aggressive sound that I like. I made this record a little more sing song, more lyric friendly that you can sing along, to which maybe more like the modern music. I don’t know, I only time listen to the radio is in the car but I don’t go “oh I want to do that” or anything like that. Everything just comes from inside but the outside element I’m sure affect a human being anyway, subconsciously.

Has this record been a long time in the making?

Yeah it took about 7 months to write, we were off tour for about 6-7 months before we went to Australia and that when we did the record.

So when the record comes out, are you planning any European tours at well?

Yeah the next time we will be in the UK is after thanks giving around November 28th till December 15th. We being doing the UK and Ireland, it hasn’t been announced yet but its definitely going to happen. I love coming at that time of year, everybody in party mode.

Yeah we close down for Christmas and the drinking starts. So what can people expect to hear in you new record?

I don’t know really, its just life’s stories and things I’ve experience. ‘Cellophane’ is written about touring and coming to the shows every night, stuff like that and finding the energy to play every night. It’s all about the fans, its more a fans song. But I don’t know, there are a lot of good topics on this record. I never really know how to explain my own music its just listen and if you like it you like.

Going back to when you first started out, what was it about the punk scene that drew you in?

Well you know, I say this all the time its rock & roll, I mean its all rock, punk I just a term. Punk is about being true to yourself and being you own person and not being a phoney, that my interpretation of it. Its not about the hair cut or anything like that, I guess if you call it punk, you call it punk, but its just aggressive fast music. When I got in the Ramones I was like 24 before that I was all over the place. I got some kind of guidance of a kind of path I want to go down. Playing this kind of music was for me, I guess that never leaves you.

What was it like first starting out with the Ramones, them being an already established band?

It was easy, Joey and I hit if off like right away by day two. He took me under his wing and it was just a smooth ride from there. We hung out every day for 5 years, well 4 years 10 months. There was no friction, when the new guy gets in the band everyone is on their best behavior, there was non of new blood but new blood bring new energy we became revitalized again.

You being a phenomenal drummer and you are a front man and a writer, where would you rather be, behind the mic or behind the drums?

Well you know I’ve been playing drums for over 50 years so you know, I love being behind the drums. There is no way of doing a whole show singing and being behind the drums, I want to interact with the kids. So that’s why I step up front and Ben [Reagan] plays the drums. It just adds another element of excitement.

Do you still get the same thrill and buzz from being on stage in front of the crowd?

Yeah, it’s all about the crowd. My shows are based on who is in the audience and how crazy they are. Its not right for an audience to be sitting down they are part of the show with out a doubt, fed off of that.

When you were playing back with the Ramones, how much does it differ from touring with them to now?

Well is totally different, now we don’t have sound crews and roadies and all that stuff. Its all bare bones now, we just go out there and make it happen. It’s a whole new board game. It was hard at first but once you get used to you just do it and get it done. I don’t have all the perks of back then. We’re out all the time so you’ve got to take care of yourself its a lot different.

Did you ever regret leaving the band when you did?

No, you think about it but I made a decision and you stick by it. You cant look back and go “I really messed and blah blah blah” you just have to be a man and live by your decision and that’s what I did. I glad I wrote a few more killer songs for them like “somebody put something in my drink”

Do you still play the Joey Ramones birthday bash most years?

I did that about 3 or 4 years but I haven’t done that for a while now. I don’t know why, whether I was invited or not, I don’t know. It’s just that last year I was touring and sometime schedules just conflict.

You do much of everything be it singing, drumming and producing, do you still enjoy spending the time in the studio getting down to the nitty gritty of perfecting each track?

Yeah I do yeah. This album I worked with Paul ???? who produced Iggy and played with a bunch of local punk bands. He was really good; we recorded at Red Bull studios in Los Angeles, which is a huge studio, which is really nice to get a good drum sound. So it was nice, the first song a produced myself was just so much hard work. I need someone behind that glass listening as I’m playing, you cant keep running back and forth. He did a great job at keeping everyone together and all the band suggestions and all that. So you really do need a producer, I probably would never produce my own album again. It was just to much.

You’ve got quite a collection a musicians playing in the band with you,How did you come together?

They all from Los Angeles, they’re all LA based. I have a new guitar player Ronnie [Simmons] he’s from Australia but he lives in Los Angeles. Ben [Reagan] has been with me almost 5 years now and Claire’s [Misstake] been with me 3 years. Its just finding people who are dedicated and like to have fun. It’s a lot of hard work what we go though, but it seems to be working right now.

If you never got into music, where do you think you would be?

I don’t know, there were a lot of opportunity along the way but I started drumming at five years old and then I kind of knew what I wanted to do by the time I was ten or twelve years old. I don’t even know what else I would do, there was never a plan B. I think the world would be a better place is everybody could work and do the thing that want to do but unfortunately that’s no how it goes.

Being a drummer for 50 odd years what advice would you give to young drummer setting out in new bands?

Well I always say for any musician, always listen to all kind of music. You wanna be a punk drummer I want you to listen to the radio, listen to hard rock, listen to country, listen to jazz because you take that all in then you put it in your little machine in your head and it comes out the way you want it. You can apply it to all different kinds of music just don’t get stuck on just one thing because it make you a more well rounded musician knowing different kinds of music. I don’t play country because its to boring for me to play on the drums, I don’t play metal because I don’t like double kick drum stuff, but I know its in the back of my head. Drummers have to practice, practice on pillows so the sticks don’t bounce back and develop your wrist and just practice man, it’s all you can do. Oh and practice live, don’t just do it on your own all the time you have to learn to listen to them play at the same time as well.image

What kind of music were you in to when you first stated drumming at 5?

My brother Lenny who is 5 years older than me so I was 5 years ahead of the curve in the late 60’s/70’s. He was a horn player so I listened to all kinds of horn bands to and then Hendrix and so on. Music changed really fast in the 60’s it evolved and it kept changing with new bands where as no it seems kind of stagnant. My brother would have all the records that were out and I would have all that stuff and then he would be in a band and I was already be playing live by 12 because we had a band that would play wedding and stuff like that. I was playing live at a young age which really helped.

If you where to be sat at home what would you be listening to at the moment?

What now? Like I said I mainly listen more in the car that I do at home. I like to listen while I drive, I’ll turn on the radio to see what’s on the radio and it’s kind of disappointing. I like bands like Teenage bottle rockets that are friends of mine and I think they are really good, there a few good bands out there. I get to see them, is aw like 2 or 3 great bands in Texas already that have opened up for us. There are a lot of bands out there now, a lot of them are good but none of them can get ahead it hard to get to the top of five million bands. They work at it and saw a lot of talent, which I was happy to see but its just the radio has to get going again and I don’t know if it ever will. I

Do you think that the way music is made and sold these days had a detrimental effect on this?

Yeah, its very hard to get you music heard in the mass’s, well in America I don’t know what its like else where but here its really really tough. All the radio stations are owned by corporations now, they have their own format and its sad but what are you going to?

I think the distribution plays a role but its good to see vinyl backing a come back, well it is in the UK anyway.

Yeah it been doing that here too, I’ll probably put Cellophane out on vinyl around Christmas time, just want to get the CD out first and then do a new release on vinyl.

You been getting good backing to get the album out?

Yeah im still with DC-Jam records we just got a new distribution deal so, we got a good guy over there who takes care of all that business for me.

How is the live music is the scene going over in the U.S, you still getting plenty of people coming out to watch?

Yeah some, I think its slipped I think a lot more kids just want to just go out a dance instead of seeing live music. But whatever, you know? There are still people who want to come out and enjoy live music; I don’t think it’s as much any more. It’s terrible but you cant let it effect you, you just have to break though the wall and keep going.

The Ramones where know for holding their own political views, what’s you opinion on the whole Trump situation?

Its all kind of scary, he seems to be doing real good over here but I’m not sure he’ll make it to the finish line. Its pretty scary that me has managed to get this far, he just pries on peoples fears and stuff like that. That’s how he has got all these lower class people following him around because they want change and they think that oh because he is a billionaire he wont take money but he is a cowboy, and American cowboy, it could get scary, he is fighter. The whole thing is I don’t want him going to war a putting these kids on the ground to lose their lives or legs.

Who are you backing?

Well I’m a liberal so we like Bernie Sanders but if he don’t make it its going to be Clinton.

Well that’s all from me Richie, its been an absolute pleasure and a honor to get the chance to talk to you.

Sure its been great, so make sure when we come there you get in touch with me.

I will do, I’ll be there.

Ok great, talk to you later.

Well there you go Punk fans that was Richie Ramone talking to me from is hotel in Texas where they are currently touring. Check out his new album Cellophane, it’s been the only things bursting out my headphones for the past few days. Some great tracks on there with fast beat sounds that reverb the sounds of Riches past mixing in with new material and his unmistakably captivating punk rock voice. If you want to go and see the legends himself on tour doing his thing or just want to find out more check out http://www.richieramone.com for band info, tour dates and more!image


Tara Rez from The Dual

I got a chance to speak to The Duel’s punk rocker of a front woman Tara Rez. The band is about to release their 6th album in July, written by Tara and fellow band member Andy Thierum as well as a host of special guest, including one name you all might know.image

Based out of Camden, London the home of the British punk scene, Tara had a quick chat with me to update all you Punk Globe fans on what the band has been up to and what to expect from them in the future.

We chat about writing, band related bad time, getting to play at the famous CBGB’s before its demise and a little message from Iggy.
Hi Tara, so you known to the Punk Globes fans as this is I believe the third interview with us, what have you guys been up to since to last graced the pages of the Punk Globe.

Hi, yeah its been a few, I was surprised I was asked again.

Well the readers must love you!

Arrr thank you!. Well not sure how much you know but we ve been very active on the gigging scene since 2003 We’ve luckily done loads of shows and tours. Every year we’ve just done as many gigs as possible. Some times its just we outlived band members, not as in death but just on the money side, you cant always make it work. But ,we’ve carried on and on AND on. We’ve done some really amazing things as a band while touring and on my own too. Special memory in resurrecting the Punk By The Sea Festival with friends John Lamb & Bubba, which was pure magic that everyone there felt. Then the FFRUK weekly nights were the best fun with The Duel playing every week. There has been hell of a lot of stuff that’s happened really. Then, when Andy’s undiagnosed MS started getting worse it all kind of went a bit funny. We all felt something was wrong with him. We would be like walking and carrying amps and stuff and he would be complaining and at first we all just thought he was being lazy. But really he had real problems. Its been a bit crazy at times but its great now to look back and see that we managed to keep doing the band anyway despite all the tough times. I guess cos we really believed in our message and sound.

So are you both still writing together?

We just did a Christmas song, so that’s cool, it’s great to work on that. Yeah we still work well together. Basically we met and within half an hour we wrote an epic song. Ever since then we literally have turned our lives upside down to keep writing songs.image

How many years have you been working together now?

Way too long! Ah man I hate to say it but we were in a kind of techno punk band in 98″ and that how we met. We were doing that and it was just way too crazy for the journalists. They could not understand what we were doing.

Just couldn’t categories you?

Yeah, they couldn’t categorise us , basically making our own version of punk. It was a new sound and really excited us to be making it. It was fast and angry but it was still really really good. Then we had a big bust up as a band and afterwards people kept telling us they d heard our song on the radio . Apparently one of our songs in the clubs charts had gone to number one… but ,it wasn’t us, it was someone else who had kinda copied it! After a year we started talking again and that’s when then we formed The Duel, we wrote six songs in one day and that was back in 2001. So we’ve been at it a long time now. The reason why we are in the punk scene is because its all about doing exactly what you feel. Both Andy and I both had opportunity to get signed individually but we were never happy with the kind of thing they wanted us to do. So we’ve always been in it just for the music. So we like the scene and music because of that. Every one can do their own unique things; you could do your own thing, which was so exciting. That was and still is the main thing about punk rock that gets my heart.

You play a lot in and around Camden, is the scene still just as alive round there as it always was?

The thing is, its different. I don’t think its shrunk, theres lots going on. The punk look and clothes is everywhere and fashionable when once it wasn’t. In the old days, well not even that long ago back in 2007 anyone who was into punk used to go and hang around on the bridge. Those in bands or just those who wanted to be, hung round on the bridge.

Like the punk Mecca?

Yeah that’s it, but they don’t do it anymore, they’ve all been moved on by the cops. So the scene is different London’s changed fast! Plus loads of venues have closed down.. But few new ones are springing up tho, albeit more scattered. Some decent nights around. And of course there are so many new bands sounds that are coming up and cross fertilising that its really cool to hear whats going on!

So you were saying things with the band have kind of slowed down at bit?

imageWell it’s slowed down yeah and I was fucked, as a human being. It’s in that way that punk saved me. I had to deal with heroin problems with people in my family that affected my life. Because of that I’ve ended up having a bit of a crazy life because of my own misconceptions of people. When the MS thing happened – it all kind of fucked me in the head – all the crankiness within the band was largely his UN-diagnosed MS and brain problems. Basically I went in to a depression/ break down and he was having his own major challenges dealing with and coming to terms with it too. So we just had a year or so off .The album ‘Waging War’, when we tried to release it, was just at the time when it all kicked off. That’s the problems with DIY music, when Andy got officially diagnosed with MS and I’m doing the bands things like PR, Booking/tour manager and everything – At that point I felt lost. I Just needed someone to step in and tell me what I needed to do. It was hard. I could see Andy deteriorating and there was nothing I could do about it. So the album ‘Waging War’ was meant to come out in 2014 but with all this crap happening it all got a bit hazy. Then we just weren’t happy with it. Then Segs from The Ruts really liked what we were doing, he had been DJ’ing at some of the FFRUK events I had been doing. So he came and co-produced the album. It’s more like we wanted it. As we all did it in my home studio and towards the ends I had no money, I was more or less bankrupt. Segs came along and got us in to bigger and better studios, which helped a lot and really improved the album. ‘Waging War:Hold To Love’ will now be out in July 2016 and am just booking shows all over the country for it.

So have you got any big dates line up?

We got some big shows lined up for the summer around the UK that we are pulling together with promoters who are helping us with that. We are going back to Berlin and there should be some more European dates. Plus theres is exciting news in the pipeline for FFR UK as a label coming up real soon !!

Which festivals you playing?

Whatever we did this year we wanted to play our favourite, Rebellion Festivals. It’s there 20th Anniversary and our 10th time to play. Looking forward to this and hopefully we’ll get some bigger shows as the year goes on as we have just started out again. From my point of view I’m really excited to get our new live shows out there. We got some great tunes to play with.

Have you played much in America?

Not enough really.

I know you got to play CBGB’s which must have been good.image

Yeah we got to play CBGB’s on full moon, it was amazing!
How did that come about?

Well we was going to get signed by some US label and they invited us over to play. It was called British Invasion, they had loads of British bands to come play a festival in LA, and it was really exciting. We were at the bottom of the bill but it was just so exciting to be liked and the punk scene loved our songs. We got a lot of support and it was just amazing to get the chance. When we went, it was great, we got to do our set but there was a massive riot. It was total chaos. Apparently one of the bands made a comment at the front of the stage and it wound of up one of the kids and then one of the punks stabbed a skinhead in the back of the neck. It kicked off and the cops came and pepper sprayed the crowd and then beat the people up and as they left the festival. So the kids got so angry they smashed up the streets. We didn’t get our label deal because I think they had to pay for all the damages. Won’t go to into it but the booking agent then left us at the riot and just fucked off. So it was just me and my band and half another band, we just left in one of those removal vans and went to Hollywood. I had like 10 dollars in my pocket and was saved by a porn star and a witch, but that’s another story. From there we got to CBGBs which was amazing.

Where the toilets just as bad as the rumours say?

Oh yeah it was wickedly grimy.

As a female lead punk band, do you get a lot more female fans?

These days, yeah definitely. When I first started in punk rock, it did feel harder doing it as a girl, there were less of us and at one point if you were pretty it was harder to get punk gigs . I was classed as pretty and I have one of those faces that look confident but I just look like that, I’m not really. Its not really like that anymore. Its more of the older crowd that keeping going out these days so its about the music more.image

Is music and being in a band something you always wanted to do?

I always knew I was into it. I started writing young. As a kid I used to spend a lot of time in my room on my own as I was growing up. It was quite a volatile household, so I would just hide away and write, then I would write songs. I would write without knowing what I was doing. I would hear a song and try to write one like it. I just did it to amuse myself rather than something I knew I wanted to do. It was something I did early on and really enjoyed it. . There was no “oh you want to be a singer, lets get you off to stage school, I’ll help you all the way”. I got loads of shit, then I had to survive loads of shit and eventually I got into music and bands and it just felt right. I found someone I could make the sounds with that I could hear in my head. Being in a band to me was the excitement that I was doing something by making a new sound and expressing my words. I’ve always written and I know its special. What happens with albums is I would write words and in some way they would come true. I have a relationship with the words.

I completely get that, I started writing while I was serving in Afghanistan and my outlet was writing, sometimes the worst situations can bring the best words out of someone.

Its funny you should say that, I was in a really shitty situation and I had no one around me to talk to. So I went on to MySpace and the only person I wanted to talk to was Iggy. So I knew he looked at his MySpace, so I poured my heart out to him, then forgot all about it. Then a week later I got a reply and he said “sometimes time when we feel our shittiest, that’s when we write our best songs” I couldn’t believe it.

Is there anything else you want to add for the readers?

Yeah just a quick thing. At the beginning of the year I worked with Angie Bowie. She came to the UK to do Celebrity Big Brother, she always wants to promote new talent and we’ve been friends for a while. Then David died and it turned in to something else that we never thought. It was very sad and tragic timing. Bit of a major finale life event after everything! At the moment I’m writing a book about the journey of my life in punk rock. Having time out of doing everything, I took the time to look at all the amazing things I’ve been involved in and how beautiful they were. I started out writing it all out and at the end it just happened to be when David died, it was like it was an end of an era. So hopefully I’ll finish that soon. We also have the album out in July. We are pleased to have Ginger Coyote featured on the album, she wrote a beautiful poem. There’s also Angie Bowie and Segs Jennings from the Ruts as well as a local poet we know called Dennis just Dennis on there. We are going to make some videos with them, which is exciting.

Well thank you very much Tara, been an absolute pleasure talking with you and best of luck for the rest of the year, I’m sure I’ll get across to come see you guys play.

No problem, gimme a shout we’ll go to a gig or come see one of ours. Thank you.

Well there you go Punk Globe fans that was Tara Rez from The Duel. Fans of theirs will know but if you’ve not heard these guys sound, I fully recommend heading over to YouTube to check them out or hunt down their Facebook page to find out what their up to.image


Steve Diggle of the legendary Buzzcocks

imageI got a chance to speak to a member of Punk royalty, the Manchester-born Steve Diggle.

The Buzzcocks are now 40 and embarking on a world tour, starting in Australia next month.
The name Buzzcocks is synonymous with the Punk movement in Britain in the 1970s; they brought the Sex Pistols to Manchester to play at the Lesser Free Trade Hall, which was a gig that sparked and inspired many careers. Although the crowd numbers and participants who claim they were there are debated, the fact remains that the Buzzcocks were part of the ignition for the Punk explosion.
We talk about that famous night, the fortunate meeting of three lads, record labels and writing music…plus why the loss of a scooter was so important!

How were rehearsals today?

Yeah, I just finished. Just sat with Paul Gallagher in a pub. Liam’s just gone home, so it’s all good here.

So how are the preparations for the 40th anniversary tour coming on?

Yeah, all good, we are going next week, we leave on the 7th. All the rehearsals are now done, we have picked the set list and all that, we are all revved up and ready to go.

first performance?First night is on the 10th in Australia, are you looking forward to your

Yeah, yeah we’ve always had a lot of good support over in Australia or New Zealand. It always feels like we are going back to a place where people are in to us. It’s always a pleasure.

It’s the Buzzcocks’ 40th anniversary tour, 40-plus nights around the world. Did you ever dream back then you would still be doing this 40 years down the line?



Not really no, didn’t even plan 40 days in the beginning. Even a day was a long time in those days. It was like we just kind of just got on with it and then things evolved and here we are 40 years later. It’s been the longest life in the shortest time. To be honest it still feels like we’re just starting in some ways, even though we got this long legacy and this kind of history and we have put a lot of records out over the years. Its still feels fresh as ever to me.

You have quite a following around the world.

Yeah and the thing is, it’s like it’s within the nature of music – it always works well live. Even on the records really it was kind of recorded in a live way. Those records, even the old ones, sound like they were recorded last week. Of course you realise after all this time we had quite a distinctive sound, in that we influence a lot of bands now. Dare I say U2 were into us – they supported us when they were 17 – R.E.M were into us, and Nirvana and Pearl jam.

And the whole Manchester scene?

Yeah the Manchester scene. There is a lot of history there when you start looking back at it. A lot of things on the way. We made our first record as well, the first independent record which kind of got us off the blocks. So there is a lot of history and here we are 40 years later about to embark on a world tour. We are looking forward to it.

So what or who was it that first got you into music?

Well I ummm.. I lost my scooter so just started playing my guitar more.

I love that, I ride a scooter myself.

Do you? Lovely! Well the thing was it was all progressive rock bands playing but even they had run their course, so the landscape was barren and nothing was really happening, and we were coming up to 20 and we needed some excitement and I remember thinking at home, and they were playing 2 minute songs and smashing guitars up like the Who and this and that. But also there was a lot on influence from society, it was all grey and miserable. You want some poetry and beauty in your life or some directness, not singing about mushrooms in the sky, something a bit more direct. That’s what kind of got me into it. I met the other two guys and the other two met me and we had a lot of magic between us really.

When you started out you were on the bass. Did you play guitar prior to that or was the bass your first?

I played guitar before that but I also had a bass. I phoned some guy up from the paper and said I would meet him outside the Lesser Free Trade Hall because the Sex Pistols were playing. I was stood outside and Malcolm McLaren introduced me to Pete [Shelley] and Howard [Devoto] and I thought “hold on a minute“. I forget what the guy was called who I imagewas supposed to meet but he had arranged to meet somebody as well, who was probably stood outside the Free Trade Hall waiting along with the guy I was supposed to meet. We all met instead. It was a kind of farcical thing really. When we were talking we it was like ˜I don’t remember saying that, but I do remember saying about starting a band with our own songs” so the next day we all plugged into one tiny amp and that was one terrible beauty, more than that it was magical.

And the rest is history as they say. What was it about the Punk sound that started you all out?

I mean when we plugged in it was all really fast, we had heard the [Sex] Pistols and saw them early on and there was Iggy and the Stooges and the Velvet Underground, and all that kind of stuff. We were trying to find our own way in with it too. They were there and we knew about them, so knew it was that kind of music. Knowing about the Sex Pistols and thinking ˜fuck, they turned it all on its head“. It was also what we was all into as well. We had our own sound.

With the Sex Pistols and Malcolm McLaren it was all about the fashion as well. One thing you always maintained was that kind of sharp Mod look rather than go down the line of torn clothes and safety pins.

Well this is it; I was a kind of Mod really before all that. It was all about the attitude with us more than the clothes. It was that I connected with it more when I could stand on stage and put two fingers up to the crowd and not care what people thought of us. We were just making a statement. That was the important thing to make at the start; I liked it for that really. Somebody said about my new album that I brought my Mod influences out on that, so it’s there. So it was like we suddenly found ourselves, as we were looking around wondering what we were going to do, you have to remember, this was all new at the time, there were the Sex Pistols who had done a couple of gigs. We started two days before The Clash and there were The Damned and The Jam and that was the nucleus of how it all started. For me personally I thought I had found the attitude there, well, had the attitude long before the Sex Pistols anyway, they didn’t need to tell me that again that we were all getting pissed off with society or whatever. We all needed some kind of scene for everybody to grasp on to, something to relate to. When we did our first gig I realised we where on a magical journey somewhere here. So I found my place in life.

What was the message then that the Buzzcocks were first putting out there?

Well if you could say that the Sex Pistols were nihilistic and The Clash were trying to make you aware of politics and stuff, we were very aware of our social surroundings and even influenced by a number of books sometimes. I would be reading my books and trying to figure everything out and we brought a bit of that into it, being a bit existentialist. We realised the world was fragmented, it seemed a bit to dumb to just to do finger pointing songs about the government all being wrong. But we knew about that – my first song “Fast Cars” was about the people driving fast cars and that was the first song on the first album that I wrote for the Buzzcocks. Howard and Pete put the first verses in, but I said I had my own verse that was a bit more political. Then of course Howard left and when we recorded “Fast Cars” we also recorded “Autonomy” which Joe Stummer once came to me and said ˜’Ere you wrote Autonomy, that’s our favourite song on the album” and so did Tony Wilson actually. They were all good songs on the album but the thing with “Autonomy” – I realised “Fast Cars” was like a linear fast song whereas “Autonomy“, well, I had been listening to “Cans” and I thought it was weird a German trying to sing English, so I’ll pretend to try and be an English guy trying to be a German singing English, and that how I got to that song. Interesting looking back, I haven’t done it since with any songs. It gave an experimental side to the band and also on the first album we had “Moving Away from the Pulsebeat” which is also a bit more experimental for that time. Because if you look at the [Sex] Pistols or The Clash albums they were all straightforward, it started giving us a bit of uniqueness to it really, we were taking it to different places. It gave us that angular guitar sound which, after the initial explosion, meant we all came under the umbrella of the Punk attitude. We all started to get identities. The Buzzcocks became the Buzzcocks and The Clash became The Clash and the Sex Pistols the Sex Pistols, albeit on that one album, and The Jam and The Damned also. We all had to find our identities, it wasn’t really a conscious thing – it was like we had done that kind of song, so lets move on to the next one.

Do you think with the modern bands we have, that the attitude has been lost compared to the likes of Buzzcocks or The Clash?

It does seem like that yes. I don’t understand why there’s not more confrontation with it anymore. A lot of the bands that came after us had a lot of attitude but like I always say “we wrote the script and they’re acting out the play”. They don’t seem to have the consciousness that we had of what we were doing really, they didn’t have the class or the style that we all had. Alright for a bit of fun but I can’t understand these days how it has lost its way. They other key thing about that, when we made our own record and when all the old bands started, it pulled the carpet out from under the record labels’ feet. They were in disarray going “what is this punk stuff?” because normally people get a record deal and then they tell you you’ve got to be doing this and that and telling you how to walk and talk or whatever, when you are doing it on their terms. With us they didn’t do that, we had already set our own thing up on the streets


Being the first Punk band to establish your own label to push your first EP “Spiral Scratch“, how was that to start with?  image

We had six record labels after us, after releasing that. We made it for the people who were coming to see us. It had suddenly got loads of really good reviews, before that we thought
there was no point going to a record company, they’d laugh us out the building. They thought we were making the most uncommercial music going

Was it Martin Hannett that you had producing on Spiral Scratch?

Yeah, when the engineers were doing their thing, making it sound alright while recording and mixing it, Martin would come in and start pulling things and moving things and giving it that weird sound that only Martin Hannett does. He kind of became the Phil Spector of Manchester. He was a bit off his head at the time, so when the engineer made it nice, Martin Hannett got in switching things on the desk and gave it that sound. We had done the punk song and it was after that that we had six companies after us and we said we wanted to do a song called “Orgasm Addict” and they said “Oh you can’t do that, it’s offensive”. Eventually we signed to United Artists and then “Orgasm Addict” was put back three weeks as the press called it disgusting filth but we had artistic control for a bit and then we got on the journey of writing songs. I moved over to guitar quickly and that‘s where the dual guitar sound comes from with the riffs.

With the writing, Manchester spawned one of my all time heroes John Cooper Clarke. Songs that you wrote like “Harmony in my Head” were rather poetic; did writing always come easily to you?

Yeah, the writing came easy really. It was realised we could make our own tunes and songs. You had the likes of Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols we realised that are not us. We started making songs, we used a bit of life’s poetry. If you look at the words of the Buzzcocks songs, there are loads of things going on in them that are important. A few existentially clever bits as well and throw a few book influences in as well. I was influenced by James Joyce when it came to “Harmony in my Head”. I thought we had done Top of the Pops and some nice songs, we have our foot in the door now we want to go in like a fucking steamroller in there. It felt like when I sang “Harmony in my Head” the producer said “you want to sing the verse”. I said “no, I want to shout the verse“, like John Lennon who smoked 20 cigarettes and sang “Twist and Shout” and I wanted that. I was always influenced by Little Richard and stuff with that kind of vibe, which was the important thing.

You have 9 studio albums out now, are there plans for a 10th? image

We did “The Way” two years ago, which got some really good reviews and I think it’s as good as anything we ever done. I think its great to look back at the things we have done, people need to look at that one. There probably will be another one in a few years. I’m proud of “people are strange machines” on there and ˜Third dimension”, things like that. Because you couldn’t have written “People are strange machines” back then because there were no computers or machines taking over our lives. I was just writing it from the point of that we are all addicted to our phones or computers, now we have to work with machines a lot, with them telling us what to do. I think it’s a great title. I came up with it when I was talking to this girl, she was saying to me that she had some problems and I just said “well people are strange machines“. I just thought it was a great title; it was one of these magic moments (haha). Putting that in the lyrics still makes it feel you are making a current statement.

Going back on the to albums, you’ve used Plegemusic (www.pledgemusic.com) in the past, what made you go down that route and did it work well for you?

Well yeah, we could have got a record company but someone mentioned this as the latest thing, because all the record labels are disappearing. They want to put compilations out and they don’t want to do that much, they just want to put out the new Beyonce or whoever, and they are all crumbling or disappearing. You have to sell like 15 million at a time really. We got to try it this way; it’s almost come a full circle. Its like when people want the album, it’s not that they have to put a billboard up or advertise it. The people that go on the pledge want to buy the album, they are already into it, they are your fans who want to get the album. It’s kind of the modern way because record companies who deal with rock or punk aren’t equipped to deal with it anymore. They just want to make the X factor band or Adele, and that’s not our business. We are still rock, which is opposite to all of that. Its kind of heartening that we put it up and people are still coming to pledge for it, so we made the album. Its like it’s their record company and their album, so they are part of it, as they are the ones paying for it. So we didn’t have to deal with record companies telling us what we should be doing on it and all that stuff. Not that we ever had much problems with that, as we used to have battles with them about stuff like that.

You ever have many arguments with labels over that?

Well they would be looking for hits all the time, while we are trying to make a piece of art here.

They wanted the next Beatlemania.image

Yeah, we want to make the music we want to make, not keep making them hits. We already had like 8 hits on Top of the Pops. They only became hits because people voted with their feet for them. It wasn’t like we sat down and said lets make a top 20 hit. Them songs went into the charts because people like them and bought them and were into the band. You’ve got all these one hit wonders, it’s a catchy song but still be meaning less. What we were doing was from the heart and soul, people were picking up on that and getting into the Buzzcocks’ world. It was one of the greatest things to get into a band and follow their journey.

Going back to the show at the Lesser Free Trade Hall, which has gone down in Punk history, do you remember much from that first night?

I remember I finished the gig, jumped off the stage and ran to the bar (haha).

What was it like when you first started making it big with the atmosphere down in London or playing with other big name bands?

When we came to London we done the 100 Club and couple of weeks later we did the Screen on the Green where for a pound you could see the Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks and The Clash all in one night. It was a cinema in Islington and I remember walking in, thinking it was the moment when it all crystallised as the Punk movement. Everybody was dressed up and the atmosphere was electric. It was the first time really that all the bands came together, that we thought the punk thing was getting really big, it was getting exciting. It really felt that at that particular gig something was really happening. Then of course we started hitting the country like a carpet bomb, the word of mouth was faster than email. Everybody seemed to know about everything already, and that was without this entire social media, every town became alive, it was amazing. It was a big thing if a band was coming to town. Be it Middlesborough, Glasgow or Manchester, you name it, we saw all over. It was extra special then, you would be playing somewhere and nothing would be happening then once the bands came to town, little punk clubs would start opening up, people became alive.

What is it about touring and performing that keeps your fire still burning 40 years on?image

It’s the human contact, and that like, OK we’ve made records ands stuff, but every time you play it’s a different thing and a different room. It’s up to the band and the people to make it an experience and it always is. Particularly when the Buzzcocks got on stage, people knew what they were getting and it’s exciting and enlightening. It’s like you’ve those two juxtaposed things, the band and the crowd and in the middle that’s where you see God, the Devil and everything else. It’s a moment of realisation for everybody, that’s what keeps me going and every night is different. I mean when I play now I’m more in to the crowd whereas we used to be about the message.


Do you find that more with your solo stuff then?

Yeah, my solo stuff is a different thing – it’s still lively. I take on different areas then, I’ve done three solo albums and the first one was meant to be a bit more internal. Because it’s not the Buzzcocks sound, I’m doing something different, so the first one ˜Some reality” was like that really. Then “Serious Contender” was like getting into life’s existential boxing ring and fighting it out with the world. Then the third one “Air conditioning” was imagemore political – about the political inhalation we are breathing in and when that one came out the students were all on strike in London. I thought my antenna was right then, the input of what was happening to me then I realised was reflecting the world and I’m proud that I made that album. The trilogy of those three albums is a journey itself which is what I wanted to take people on. That’s what I’m doing now on Pledgemusic ( http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/stevediggle )We are nearly up to our pledge amount, and this will be our fourth one now. This is going into a few weird directions with piano sounds. It’s got a lot of good tunes on there, I’m creating a new sound, still lively though.

Well Steve this is one of my last ones but if you could go back and change anything what would it be?

No not really, its all been a magical thing. I wouldn’t change anything, even if you changed it you would miss the things you changed. Life is always like that you can’t have a regret really, what happened happened.

Is there any moment or one gig you would want to relive one more time?

Every gig has magic moments, we’ve done 40 years of gigs and they are all magical. There are millions of them and they are all special in their own way. The thing is it still gives you hope in life. That’s why I get on stage to pass a bit of hope and inspiration to people, to inspire people just like they inspire me.

Well thank you very much for that Steve, it’s been an honour.

Been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for some interesting questions, cheers mate.


That was my chat with Steve Diggle, guitarist of the Buzzcocks and all round top bloke. If that has got you in the mood for some Buzzcocks beats then check them via the links below. Also checks out Steve’s solo work via the link to his pledge music and a couple videos of his work are below as well.

Buzzcocks with “Ever fallen in love” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bif2q_Zo3-4

“Harmony in head” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrafPlgQlME

Steve Diggle solo with “In the air” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qv8AHT-ulg

Steve with “Worlds spinning round” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2w8zyHd29


Words by Owen Jenkins


Catch up with Ian”Buck”Murdock front man of The Defects

In 1978, while the streets of Belfast were the scene for bombings and shootings, Punk music was alive and well. Undeterred by the violence, it was still producing some the most well known punk names of the movement.
One of these such bands were The Defects, who 37 years on are still fronted by their lead singer Buck Defect. In the DIY style that punk was known for, they came from the unknown and took it upon themselves, to create their own record label ‘Casualty image

records’ to issue their debut 7” Dance (until you drop) which went on to sell all 2000 copies made. It was this and fortunate contacts made, that got them signed to WXYZ records, who they released their first album ‘Defective Breakdown’ with.
They are still performing and making records to this day with their latest album ’45 minutes’. With Buck still on the vocals, their original drummer Glenn Kingsmore, on bass is Aidy “fudge” Dunlop and Guitar is Roy McAllister.image

They are touring Germany at the end of this month and will be appearing at a number of festivals this year including America in July and the 20th anniversary of the Rebellion in Blackpool in August.
I was able to catch up with their front man Ian ‘Buck Defect’ Murdock to talk about what they are currently up to, starting out in Belfast and supporting The Clash at the Ulster hall.

I spoke to you on Saturday while you was in the studio, what you working on at the moment?

Ummm… various things, I’m helping a friend out at the moment, just recording stuff, you know.

Is that working with the Defects or another project?

Ay, No I’ve done defects recording, just finished it and got it out, but we are going to do another one soon hopefully.

Your latest album was ’45 minutes’.

Yeah it was ay.

Where’s the best place for people to be able to get hold of it?

Umm. I’ll send you one.

I’ll hold you that (haha), what about for your other fans to be able to get a copy?

You can get them at http://www.thedefects.co.uk, we’ve a website where you can buy them.

Just to note, you can also get the full collection of The Defects, 4 studio albums and their live at the Ulster Hall Belfast 2014 on iTunes.

Talking about selling albums, you guys actually formed your own label ‘Casualty records’ to release your first single Dance (until you drop). How difficult was that to start off with?

Yeah, it was difficult enough; we just had to get some backing to bring it out ourselves. No one would sign us and we were only young, sixteen or something but no one would sign us, not even Terry Hooley (haha). So we just kept sending stuff off and sending stuff off and it just kept coming back, with no, no, no. So we just done it ourselves, you know.

It went on to sell all 2000 copies made

We borrowed the money and ended up selling them all on tour, it came out just before Christmas 1981, and there was 2000 and we just sold them round Belfast by hand (haha) to all the punks and then we took them to the shop and by then the interest had grew a bit. So then we ended up going on tour with Anti Nowhere league and we sold the rest the rest while on tour, for a pound each, so we got the money back that way.

Doing it that way really goes with the DIY punk style, going out there and doing it on your own.

Yeah, we are still doing on our own, the only time we didn’t was when we signed with WXYZ records, where we released our first album the Defective Breakdown on that label.

Do you think going down that route of self producing is a viable way for young bands to get albums out there or with the way music is made it would be to difficult?

Well these days’ its really easy to get your music out there, is it not? With the Internet and stuff, it’s a Godsend for people in bands. Not like back in our day when we had to actually do it by hand and put posters up in shops. You don’t have to do any of that, don’t even have to get of your arse these days, you know.

Can all be done from your bedroom now.

Yeah it can all be done in your bedroom, and recorded in your bedroom, you know, on a laptop and then just get it out there, that’s the way it seems to be done these days. But its still DIY isn’t it?

You started nearly 37 years ago in Belfast, what was it about the punk sound that drew you to play.

I think it was because it was easy to play (haha). I suppose before that we was listening to Led Zeppelin, and you haven’t a chance in hell to be able to play like that. We started playing the first Clash album because we were into it at the time and stuff. It was all new, with them and the Sex Pistols. It was that, that kind of attracted us to it, with the songs that they was playing like Anarchy in the UK and Jimmy Jazz by The Clash and then teenage kicks came out by the undertones, and that was real easy to play, 3 chords you know, its just easy. I think that was the main reason, because you couldn’t have done it other wise, it would have took years and years. we done it when we was sixteen or seventeen, it would have taken years to get to the quality of Led Zeppelin. It was just the punk thing, we loved the punk thing with the rebellion side of things, it appealed to us all.

Especially in Belfast at the time, I’ve heard there were a few rivalries between the local bands, is that still going or are you all friends now?

Oh Ay, we were all friends, everybody was always friends. Everyone just had their own wee gang, every band had their mates hanging about and it was basically all separate gangs really. We were never really bothered fighting each other or anything like that, just a bit or rivalry. Like when certain bands got gigs and we didn’t, it was that kind of thing, but it never meant anything you know.

So you first started out playing in Belfast and then you moved across to London, how did you find the crowds compare to back home?

We were playing at home in the town, in places that held like a hundred odd people and you know everybody. So we went from there to the big stage, it was definitely different. Because most of the gigs we did when we left Belfast were all bigger, we were on tour or we were supporting other bands and going festivals. It was a big difference, we actually ended up being bigger in England that over here [Belfast], were we would still only be pulling in a couple of hundred people but over there was a different thing altogether. It has always been better over the water for us but our roots are here.

How would you describe The Defects sound and do you think its changed much since you first started out?

Well it has, yeah, it definitely changed its, sort of well, we split up for a lot of years. We didn’t do anything for years and then we just got back together simply because some guy called Dave over in Australia offered us a tour, so I said yeah before the band was even together, just so we could go to Australia. So we just practiced and practiced and then in the mean time once we were practicing, I sent a message to Darren from Rebellion [Rebellion Festival http://www.rebellionfestivals.com%5D and he said “Yes, no problem come along and play” so we did and we haven’t looked back since.

That’s the Rebellions Festival in Blackpool?

Yeah that’s it.

You’re playing again this year in August; it’s their 20th Anniversary this year.

Yeah, yep then we are playing at the 40 years of punk as well, so it should be a real good night, there are lots of people from Belfast coming over.

That’s the Blank Generation – 40 years of punk in 3 days festival at the Tottenham Chances Club in May? [http://blankgeneration.info]

Do you think with punk being what it as and even with the bands we have now, do you think we’ve lost some of the “FUCK YOU” spirit there was with some of the new bands coming through?

I think, I suppose you do, it depends on the times, it depends on how things are, when I was fifteen or sixteen, everybody seemed to be on the dole. I don’t know what its like to be that age now but I mean everybody rebels against their parents and their government eventually so it catches on along the road.

Other than artists like Plan B, there isn’t other artists in Britain that really hit out at political movements or against the government.

No, it’s just Anti political, anti politics more than anything. They all really fucking fucked the country up here, big style. No one of really liked them so it didn’t matter what side you were on from here.

So what brought people together, was the music?

Yeah, I’d say so. It still brings people together even more now, you see it with Facebook it has brought lots and lots of people from the other side to the other side, all mingling along, which you wouldn’t have seen, its good to see again, it didn’t happen for a while

Are there still plenty of local bands in Belfast that are coming up though.

Yeah there are loads of bands, loads of them. Defiantly, There a band called No Matter [https://www.facebook.com/nomatterband] young band, their very young and well into want the are doing, very professional. There are a few others, there is a band called By Any Means [http://www.facebook.com/byanymeanshc], who are a older and they are a bit full on heavy hardcore kind of thing, they are absolutely superb. For bands you just have to just go out and find them.

There is a lot of support over here, to go and get people to support local bands because so many of the places are closing down.

I know, that’s the thing. I help run a club in Belfast called VOODOO, they do live gigs if possible but even they are starting to do the DJ thing there as well as it’s a lot less hassle.

Its one thing with young lads and ladies, which Is why we have ‘wanna be DJs’ rather than kids with guitars, is it easier to learn the basic on a set of decks.


One thing I do want to ask, as Ska it one of my first loves and you are in another Ska band called ‘Doghouse’.

Yeah, yeah I am.

At home are you more likely to put on a specials album or pick up the Clash?

I love listening to reggae, it’s just I love the vibes. If I had to chose, I would play Ska. I’m in the cover band [https://www.facebook.com/doghouse.belfastska.com ] There’s 10 of us, it’s a really big band and its just so happy and everybody dancing around and having fun, there’s no saying “fuck you” and “fuck this all” the time, its just all happy and everybody’s having a really good time. It’s not violent or anything. Where as when you play punk it is sometimes, well all the time. That’s what I recon anyway. It’s a happy, happy, happy music and just makes everybody just want to dance.

Do you find that working with both bands, you get influences from both genres?

Well yeah but it doesn’t go into The Defects at all. Glenn our drummer writes all the songs, he is really into the Ruts and stuff, and all of our first one influence would be the Ruts and The Clash or something like, mainly the Ruts, because he leaned to drum listening to the Ruts and the reggae, that’s where it all comes from.

As I said before, you’ve been performing 37 years, what is it that keeps you going touring and performing?

Well I don’t really know anything else. We don’t really tour and perform as The Defects, we just pick and choose. We’re not really fit enough for big tours; I don’t know how half the bands do it to be honest. We can do a weekend here and there. We are doing Germany next week for 5 or 6 days and doing 4 nights, that’s enough.

You’re off to America in Oklahoma in July as well this year.

Year we are, we haven got the tickets yet so i’ll believe it when we have landed and across the border. When we are on the ground I’ll believe it

Have you played in America before?

No we were meant to play in 1982 with the Professionals. But something happened, as we didn’t get out visa or something at the time. The Angelic Upstarts ended up playing with them, it was in New York. It ended up being a big riot, so I’m glad I stayed at home. It was all skin heads who turned up to see the Angelic upstarts.

Have you played in America before?

Highlights, we supported the Stiff Little Fingers that has been a real good highlight, these past few years we played with them 4 times now. Oh and the Ulster Hall, you really cant beat it, we played with The Clash. Playing with such big bands in you own home town and we would get a free night out of it (haha), it’s a good night and you get a T shirt if your luckily. Playing with The Clash was fantastic. That was the last gig I did with the original line up.

That was when you released ‘suspicious minds’.

Yeah we then split up and then we got offered The Clash, so we got back together.

You also did a one off in the Bath Pavilions.

Yeah that was with a band I was playing with at the time. We just called ourselves the Defects and done all the Defects songs. We called it the Continuity Defects (haha) as a joke, rather than the real Defects. Like Continuity IRA and the real IRA, it was a bit of a fun to call ourselves the Continuity Defects, just one of those jokes.

Got to ask as well, the name ‘Buck Defect’ where did it come from originally?

I’ve always been called Buck since school, well from primary school. Then Defect came from the band when we went on Facebook. It’s just stuck from there.

My last one really for you Ian, if you could go back and give your younger self just starting out or any new wannabe musician now, what advice would you give?

Grab it while you can (haha), that said opportunities arise, you don’t want to regret not doing them. Better trying something that not. That’s all I can say, I mean its hard enough getting big gigs for any wee bands these days, any opportunely at all just take it. Just play, its never been about the money, to be honest. Its just about playing your music and having a good time, and do what you want to do!

Thank you very much for you time Ian.
Well that was my chat with the front man of The Defects, go check them out on YouTube or go get their albums from their website or iTunes. I thoroughly recommend them! They are the DIY punk band from Belfast, who was moulded when Belfast was the place to be for punk music.

And as Terry Hooley put it:

When it comes to punk, New York has the hair cuts, London has the trousers but Belfast has the reason!!”



Interview with the Stiff Little Fingers front man Jake Burns

On the 37th anniversary of the their 1979 debut album inflammable material. I got the chance to speak to the Stiff Little Fingers front man Jake Burns. Speaking from his home in Chicago, we talk about their up and coming UK tour, playing in France just days after the Paris attacks and discuss their nearly 4 decade career.

Stiff Little Fingers sprung from Belfast in the late 70s when the troubles were at their highest. It was a time when punk was growing throughout the UK and youth culture would be forever changed. They now have an impressive 25 albums under their belt with songs like Suspect device and Alternative Ulster that will go down in punk history.

They are about to embark on their UK tour starting at the Oxford O2 and finishing 24 days later at the Ritz in Manchester.

Your tour is starting on the 25th in Oxford at the O2, this will be the first of 18 gigs in 24 days, and how do you prepare for that?

Ummm… it’s actually not that many really, we’ve been doing it for that long now it’s kind of like a well oiled machine. We got a routine we stick to, because we are all scattered to the four winds as well. We all live all over the place. We all email each other set lists of what we want to play and what we kind of need to play. So we spend the next couple of weeks at home learning your own part and then we get all together a few days before hand in London, book ourselves in a recording studio and knock the whole thing in to shape. So that’s about as much preparation we need as a band and obviously the crew are doing other stuff in the interim, hotels have to be booked and stuff like transport and making sure we got enough string and drum sticks to get round, you know.

Do you find it much different touring now compared to the old days?

It a lot less frantic than it used to be, like I said we settled in to a routine and we all know what we are doing, umm… You know back in the day it all seemed a bit helter-skelter, plus everything was new then you know, you kind of wanted to do everything when you got to town because you had never been there before, you didn’t know what it had to offer. These days we kind of, not saying we’ve been there done that but we’ve kind of been there done that. It’s a much easier thing to do now you know, we’ve all grown up and you don’t rely on each other so much, back in the day it was like we hung out together, it was like if one person was going out, then everybody had to go out. Now we are all much more relaxed, on the day, for example, on the day I sort of just lock myself in my hotel room and watch television and don’t go out, basically try and rest a bit more. That’s because we are all getting to be old geezers now.

Out of all the places you’ve played, which has been your favourite?

Well again it’s a standard answer to this, but its defiantly Glasgow, just simply because I think there is a lot of similarity’s between folk on the west of Scotland and those from Northern Ireland, so we had a lot in common when we first started. The Glasgow audience kind of adopted us almost from day one, much more fervently than everywhere else. We got pretty good reception else where but Glasgow was always that little bit more fervent, as I said. Also this year it’s our 25th year of playing Barrowland on St Patrick’s night. So that’s kind of special. So we are filming and recording. Just to give us two more things to worry about on the night.

That’s going to be some gig then?

It should be yeah, it sold out very quickly, I mean it always sells out, but this year it was particularly fast. I think because people realised it was the 25th anniversary and they recon they we are probably going to do something special. So yeah it should be a really good night, as long as everything works, that’s the trouble with having done it so long, you know when you are 18 or 19, although you get slight stage nerves, you don’t have that many because you know, at that age you think you can conquer the world and rightly so, but you also don’t know what the hell can go wrong but having done it for this long, I know everything that can go wrong. So I’m always petrified something’s going to fucking break before we get half way though the show.

I seen in the news that you played in France a couple of days after the attacks, how was that?

To be honest with you Owen, it was just another show. We never really thought about it, I mean our own concern was once the atrocities happened, the French government put the whole country on a kind of public lock down. So much as public gatherings weren’t allowed. So our only concern was whether we were going to actually be allowed to play or not or whether the venue wanted to go ahead. We obviously didn’t want to be seen as disrespectful but by the same token, having grown up in Northern Ireland, I was of a mind that, well we all were, that anything that’s seen as a return to a normality as soon after something like that, can only be a good thing, we are very lucky, that the three day ban on public events stopped on the day we got there. Also the venue, we contacted them, make no mistake, If the venue had said they didn’t want to do it, we wouldn’t have gone but they said they very much wanted the show to go ahead. So we just went ahead and did it. I mean if anything the audience deserves more credit than we do because obviously they must have been more shaken up and the thought of going out to another show after what had just happened. So it was certainly an emotional evening but we tried to make it as normal as possible.

The French people showed Great Spirit in the days following the atrocities and I think, even going back with the Charlie Hebdo attacks, French people seem to really rally around each other in hard times.

Well I think most people do, its one of those things, it’s your life, well it’s more than that, it’s your way of life. I think most people believe that you can’t be dictated to by outside forces.

No definitely, almost showing that they can’t win by disrupting our way of life. On a happier note it’s the 37th Birthday of your first album Inflammable Material.

Yeah it’s a long time, I just saw that today on Facebook, I was like ‘really’? Its one of those weird things, obviously some times it feels like it was just yesterday and other times it feels like it happened to somebody else, it was so long ago.

If someone told you back then you would still be playing music in the same band 37 years later, would you have believed them?

Probably not, I mean I think once we released the record and once we saw the impact it had, we knew that it wasn’t going to be something we were just going to stop doing in 6 months. You know when we made the record we didn’t have a record deal. Rough trade had never made an album before and we had never made an album before and it was kind of like, ‘well lets do it together’ which was great, it was incredibly brave thing for them to do, to make us their first album release. We had been turned down by every major record company, so we almost thought we would go in and record the songs and at least, if nothing else in years to come, we would have something to play to our grandkids and say ‘ I made this record once’. So no, we never thought that it would go on for this length of time but once the record came out and did so well, we realised that we are certainly going to be doing this for the next few years. At the time we thought like most bands, we didn’t think like it was a career but if we do get 5 years out of this, we are doing well. So to still be doing it like you said 37 years as well. As a band this is our 39th year, next year, well assuming we get through this year with out killing each other, then next year will be our 40th anniversary, which is just incredible, again it really does seem like a blink of an eye that I was in my bedroom in my mum and dads house, writing those first songs. So to be here this much later is just astonishing, and very humbling and an audience has stuck with us so long.

Yeah, you do seem to have a very loyal fan base.

They are, I mean again something I’ve often said, they are more like a football crowd and a rock crowd. Its like we are their team and they’re going to stick with us though think and thin you know. It’s very flattering.

What kind of songs can the fans expect to hear on the coming tour, some old stuff and new?

A bit of both, I mean to be honest I’ve never been a fan of going to see a band with a new album out and they play the whole dammed thing. You know, everybody wants to hear the new songs but you don’t need to play it to death, 3 or 4 off the new record is enough really. So I’m also like, as we were just saying, we had such a long career really we have got to reflect that in the set list, we try and hit as many of what we consider to be the best songs, songs that the audience consider to be your best songs as well. At the end of the day we are there to entertain people. We try to play as much or as many bits and pieces of our whole career as we can. We only get 75 minutes but we stretch it out to about 90 before the crew start yelling at us and looking at their watches.

Out of all the songs which is your song is your favourite to play?

That’s a really hard question. It kind of changes, if you ask some people they will say it the most recent thing they have writing, just because it freshest in their mind and its the thing they are most excited about. The benefit of hindsight, I couldn’t put my finger on one to tell the truth Owen. The song that will follow me to my grave will always be Alternative Ulster, that’s the song the band is most commonly identified with. I don’t have a problem with that, I think it’s a decent song, certainly to have written it when I was 19 or 20 years old I look back on it and think ‘yeah that’s pretty good for a 19 year old to have written’.

Do you think your writing techniques have changed a lot over the years?

Yeah, any songwriter will tell you there are song-writing tricks to use that make anything exciting. I remember seeing years ago, Elton John being interviewed by Michel Parkinson, he was asked ‘could you actually sing the phone book’ he said ‘yeah sure’ and they got a phone book and sang the phone book and every one was really impressed. I remember watching it saying ‘how’s is he doing that?’ but of course, now I know the easy tricks you get so everybody could sing the phone book if you know what your doing. So over the years at first you think the song is great but then you realise that they are tricks and everybody knows them so if anything its become, not harder to write, but I think its more about trying to avoid the obvious tricks and throw something in that surprises people. With actually making it sound like its not supposed to be there.

On your latest album the song My dark places is one of my favourites.

Again it was a song I wrote because I went through a long period of depression myself and I had finally come out the end and I basically wrote down everything that had happened to me and how I had dealt with it. It was more of an exercise for myself, I never really meant for the song to be published. If I hadn’t been a songwriter, it would have just been written as a poem or a shopping list almost. Just something I could refer back to whenever I could feel myself depressed again, I could say ‘hang on a minute, you know how this works, you know how to deal with this’. Being a songwriter, I put it to music, I never wanted it to be released but the band heard it. It was actually Ali who turned and sat me down and said ‘we got to record this’ I said ‘its just kind of me moaning on about being depressed, who wants to listen to that’ and he said ‘the bottom line is your not the only person in the world that get depressed’ so I’m really glad we did record it because of all the other songs I’ve written including ‘Alternative ulster’ its one song that most people have come up to me and thanked me for writing and said its helped them and they are glad some one is talking about it out in the open. Because somehow there is this stigma to do with what is perceived as mental illness, has this weird stigma to it like your not allowed to talk about it or its something to be ashamed of almost. It seen as a weakness and its not and realistically talking about it really is the first step in getting better.

It really is a great song.

Well thank you.

Being one of the major punk bands in the late 70s and early 80s, the genre of punk was such a revolution in music, fashion and youth culture. Do you think we will or could see anything like that again?

I would imagine so; I imagine there are just as many bored, disaffected kids about today as there were when we were kids. I don’t see any reason why not, I think it expresses itself in form of rap music but unfortunately thats just became much like punk rock did, it became distilled down to some sort of basic common denominator. In rap music it’s become about gangster rap misogynist nonsense, in punk rocks case it seems to be, you’ve got to have the right hair cut, the right leather jacket, write songs about drinking and fighting. Which is like ‘ok fair enough, if that’s your thing’. It used to be so much more, you know.

With the way music is made, produced and sold these days, do you think it affects the new teenage bands, actual musicians rather than X-factor rubbish from making it big?

Yeah, I mean it’s a weird thing; there was a period before the real complete rise of the Internet when I would have hated being in a band starting out. Because live music was dying on its arse and unless you were an established band, people weren’t getting booked. No one was taking the chance going to see an unknown band. The record companies were just signing up like x-factor acts. It really did look for a long time that the music industry was going to die. It’s a strange economy that because of the rise of the Internet and the fact that the kids can afford to fairly cheaply make records in their bedroom, where as when I was a kid it was just writing the songs was as much as you could manage. You needed a recording studio to do these things, now they can be put out on the internet with millions of followers on YouTube, they can build a following, so when they do finally go play live, should they want to, they have a ready made audience. Of course the downside to that, is that there is so much illegal downloading and stuff going on that really the incentive to write new music is taken away. Particularly if it’s what you do for a living, everyone has to pay bills at the end of the day. If you’re spending years working, writing, making a record and then basically putting it on the Internet and people just steal it, then your incentive disappears. Its kind of harder for younger bands to make money but much easier to be heard.

What kind of modern day music grabs you now, that packs the same punch of Stiff Little Fingers? 

I always dread this question because I’m the worlds worst for going out and watching bands and stuff. I know the minute I hang up the phone on you, I’ll think of about 4 bands, but right now I can’t think of any. I know they are out there. Soon as I hang up I think ‘dam I should have mentioned them’. We’ve done a few festival tours and stuff now and there you see bands, again I would probably never have heard of and while watching on the side of the stage you would think ‘god these guys are good’. So there are acts out there certainly, its not the desert that a lot of people have you believe there is.

What kind of genre of music to do listen to the most?

Basically I’ll listen to just about anything apart from jazz, I cant get on with is jazz at all. It never made any sense to me what so ever. At home I’m just as much likely to out on an old Howin’ wolf album as I am to put on the newest Elvis Costello. People I grew up with, and by that I mean people who are contemporaries at the time just ahead of us. Like Costello, I’m always really interested in. I like to see what he is likely to come up with because he has changed direction so many times. A lot of his stuff he has done hasn’t been as successful as you would hope it terms of, not by the record sales but on how it worked. Equally there are some chance’s that he has taken that have come off brilliantly well. I think it started when he made a country and western album in 1980. The Clash are putting London calling and he is putting out Good year for the roses. It was like where the hell did that come from.

That’s all I got for you Jake, thank you very much for the interview


Absolutely my pleasure, thank you for taking the time to call.



Full list of Stiff Little Fingers UK tour dates below

Version 2