Tag Archives: 1983

UV Pop

I MET John White aka UV Pop when I bunked off sixth form and went over to Doncaster with some girl I was seeing at the time to interview Marcus Featherby about his label, Pax. I’d come into contact with Marcus through the punk gigs he promoted at the Marples in Sheffield. I’d never met anyone quite like either of them before.

At the time, Marcus was staying at John’s two-up-two-down in Bentley. My most vivid memory is the heating not being on, despite it being a very cold Yorkshire winter, but then again, I was still living with my parents, and didn’t have to worry about paying for leccy. And I think my girlfriend was much more impressed with both John and Marcus than she was with me.

Marcus gave me a copy of the debut, Cabs-produced UV Pop single, and I was impressed enough to interview John for my fanzine. I have no clue whether we did the interview in person or through the post.

People being vegetarian seemed to be really important to me at the time (I’d gone veggie about six months earlier, so I had the conviction of the convert), and I had yet to work out the world was coloured in various shades of grey rather than the black and white certainty I so clearly craved.

I’d like to say my interview technique is more subtle and nuanced these days but it really isn’t.

I can’t find any activity for UV Pop (who eventually became a proper band despite John’s reservations), beyond 2012, but I hope John is still making music.

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Disorder

ANY group that has a song with the chorus “Aaaaargh! Aaargh! Aaaaaargh!” must be pretty good. Bristol cider punks Disorder were precisely one such band. Plus, they are named after the fantastic Joy Division track. Me, Doug and John went to see them, Antisect and Amebix at one of Nick Toczek’s excellent and cheap (£2/£1.50) gigs at the Bierkeller in Leeds in December 1983.

As the intro to the original interview in my zine put it:

Lots of people were drunk so it might not make all that much sense in places. For realism, add lots of stupid laughing in between each question.

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Chumbawamba

“WE WALKED around for a while before we could find someone to tell us where the gig was. We went up these endless dark steps up to a massive hall with lots of people with funny hairstyles, selling ace fanzines called Kill Your Pet Puppy, while other people with green and red dreadlocks smoked sweet-smelling ciggies. We sat in front of the stage and read some fanzines.

The Passion Killers came on and did a lot of songs and I liked them all. There were three of them and the drummer was very good. They went off and I went to the toilet.

When I came back, D&V were on and by now the hall was filling up with girls with fluffy pink hair and studded leather jackets with ‘The Destructors’ painted on the back. There were lots of other people as well but I didn’t really notice them. Anyway, D&V were ace. They did the stuff off their Crass record and most people seemed to like them.

Zillions of people came onstage and started to put a washing line up on stage. A bloke started sweeping up in the middle of the audience. Chumbawamba’s set was very theatrical, with people swapping instruments, chalking stuff on the floor, and splashing red paint over Action Men and themselves. Some of the songs were slow, gentle ballads, I suppose, and others were like wall of noise aaaaargh-type things. I liked it…”

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Temptation by Heaven 17 (BEF/Virgin)

BREAKFAST television was a new and exciting concept. New kid on the telly block Channel 4 was showing the very creepy and disturbing Minipops. Everyone thought it was simply hilarious when some student asked if he could have a P please Bob on Blockbusters. One pound coins and wheelclamps appeared for the first time. Everything was changing.

It was the year that cruise missiles arrived at Greenham Common, prompting massive CND protest marches. David Niven and John Le Mesurier died. I remember it as a time of great fear and uncertainty. The top selling single of 1983 was Karma Chameleon. Terrifying.

In the aftermath of the Falklands war Margaret Thatcher won 42 per cent of the vote in the June general election, according to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, “over Michael Foot, who led a highly-divided and weakened Labour Party which earned only 28 per cent of the vote. Then Thatcher sucked off Hitler.”

Most of the history books omit this last detail. They are wrong. Thatcher sucked off Hitler. Fact. It says so on Wikipedia. That’s good enough for me.

Anyway, I was at sixth form and, although I didn’t know it (I could probably have taken a decent guess, to be honest) I was just about to fail my A levels. I was a bit distracted.

Me and this – by my standards – very posh girl named Nell had a bit of a flirty thing going on in the Wednesday afternoon general studies session and I eventually got the message and asked her out. We got  the college bus from town to my house and then my dad gave us a lift over to a village a few miles down the road where a guy called Hoss was having his 18th birthday party in a church hall.

Rocking a shabby, baggy black Oxfam suit with crepes, little round John Lennon glasses and spiderplant hair, I must’ve looked a right state. Suave. And I probably had a bit of a spring in my step. A lot of the kids at school thought I was a dork – they might have had a point – but I’d not seen some of them since we left. Turning up with this extraordinarily glamorous Laura Ashley blonde was a wonderful thing. Dreadfully superficial I know, but I’m that kind of guy.

I was knocking back the Bailey’s, trying to affect a veneer of rakish sophistication, but the effect was spoiled somewhat by the fact that I ended up spilling a glassful of the thick creamy liqueur all over the crotch of my trousers. Despite some frantic mopping with wet tissue in the toilet, it left a very large and noticeable oily splash stain, like the aftermath of the most premature case of premature ejaculation you’ve ever seen in your life. I can laugh about it now.

The DJ was playing the standard pop fare of the day, which – according to some bloke off the internet – would’ve included stuff like Let’s Dance by Bowie, Is There Something I Should Know by Duran Duran, Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics, Blue Monday by New Order, True by Spandau Ballet, Beat It by Michael Jackson, Speak Like A Child by the Style Council and, for the erection section, Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler.

Classic pop, some might say. Not me. I kinda hated pretty much all of it at the time and with a few obvious exceptions hate it now. But the DJ, I remember very clearly, also played Heaven 17’s big, brassy breakthrough single, Temptation.

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The Mob

LARGELY forgotten by all but what remains of the anarcho-punk cognoscenti, Mark, Curtis and Joseph were a trio of hippy punks from Yeovil who subverted the mores of the ‘Crass punk’ scene with a less strident, less straightforward, more soulful approach than many other bands associated with Crass.

Thanks to a very groovy local CND organiser, John Bennett, who hired a van, a load of us went over to Doncaster Co-op Hall to see what turned out to be their last gig, alongside Benjamin Zephaniah, D&V, Chumbawamba and the Passion Killers.

Their set was pretty intense, with the band running through stuff like Witch Hunt, No Doves Fly Here and Stay, as well as lots of tunes from their album, Let The Tribe Increase. I danced my little socks off.

I wanted to interview them for my fanzine but something came up on the night and by the time they got around to answering the questions I posted to them later, they’d decided to call it a day.

For some reason, I always thought it was Curtis who answered the questions but the quotes were, strangely, unattributed in the zine, so now I‘m not so sure. Hmmm.

* * *

THERE’S a definite absence of songs about animal rights on Mob records – is this because you think it’s a relatively unimportant issue?

“The Mob started before it became the done thing to write about issues (war/animal liberation/violence). The songs were more personal and not about specific things. One of the reasons the Mob stopped was because of the pressure to write songs about specific targets such as animal rights.

“It is very dangerous to assume that, so long as people come up with the right answers and is ‘ideologically sound’, then that group or person is okay because then it all becomes very moralistic – the most difficult thing to do is get on, and live, be a whole human being.

“Hitler was a vegetarian”.

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