Tag Archives: 1984

Decadent Few

I THOUGHT I was quite enlightened in 1984 but apparently not. This ‘vintage’ postal interview is from the pages of Fun & Games, which was very much a one-off zine I did when I moved to Darlington for a year.

Anyone for a leading question? Can I interest you in a chauvinist worldview then? And the less said about Gary the bassist, the better. To their credit, the band gave him the boot when he went off the deep end.

Not my best work – some of Mick’s answers demand follow-up questions, to say the least – but it’s an interesting take on the mid 80s UK anarcho scene, if nothing else. Don’t judge me.


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“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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SHORT but rather sweet little fanzine interview with the Jef Antcliffe from Sheffield drums and vocal duo D&V, one of the few bands who released more than one record on the Crass label in the early Eighties.

As well as interviewing D&V, at the same gig I also talked to Flux and KUKL, an Icelandic band who would later become the Sugarcubes. For some reason, I kept the Flux interview but gave the D&V and KUKL interviews to mates to publish in their zines. Needless to say, I lost my copies soon after they came out.

Actually, come to think of it, did I ever see that KUKL interview?

Either way, I recently rediscovered that long-lost D&V interview in the marvellous Punks Is Hippies zine archive. Big love to them.

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The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (ZTT)

OF COURSE, there were a lot better singles in the pop chart but what can you do? Beige will prevail.

A combination of guilt-tripping peer-pressure and a genuine if naïve and perhaps even misguided desire to make some kind of a difference to the world meant that banal, mindless, oblivious conformity won through in the end.

It wasn’t anything to do with music. It was all about marketing, hype and good, old-fashioned bullshit.

How could we have ever thought that it would be any different? It was a foregone conclusion. Shit floats. Always has, always will. And there are an awful lot of dullards and impressionable kids out there. Thinking about it now, it would have been surprising if the crappy charity protest record didn’t get to the top of the Christmas chart.

Then again, who really gives a fuck about the pop chart at any time of the year, up to and including Christmas? This is not the concern of adults. Teenage girls and people who work in the music industry, I can understand. Anyone else, not so much – and this was just as much the case a quarter of a century ago as it was earlier this week.

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Cream Corn From The Socket Of Davis & Psychic .. Powerless .. Another Man’s Sac by the Butthole Surfers (Fundamental)

I KNOW I make it seem effortless, but pulling this shit together isn’t half as easy as it looks, y’know.

Yes, I could easily spend a couple of lazy days on the internet, max out the credit cards, order a mountain of vinyl and probably just about manage to get hold of every dusty old record that I’ve somehow conned myself into believing I need to buy again.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a bottomless bank account, and in any case buying music online doesn’t really float my boat. Compared to the thrills and spills of buying vinyl in the real world it’s a clinical, sanitised, altogether less satisfying experience. Where is the thrill of the chase?

There is no journey, no endeavour, no striving. No fun.

Having said all that, the journey, the endeavour and the striving can become tedious. Especially when you find yourself yet again looking through endless racks of punk, rock, psychedelia and US alternative tunes in search of the elusive category in which that particular shop has chosen to file the resolutely uncategorisable Butthole Surfers.

If Buttholes records do ever come into shops like Vinyl Exchange and King Bee, they seem to go out again very quickly.

I’ve been trying to get hold of some of the stuff I write about here for decades and okay, I’ll admit it, sometimes I waver in my bloody-minded if more or less entirely pointless off-line fundamentalism (well, pointless apart from keeping the people who work in record shops in employment that is).

It’s a mixture of fixation and compulsion and naked desire versus an abstract point of principle. And unfortunately, sometimes there’s a gap in your life that only a Buttholes Surfers record can fill. Maybe even two Butthole Surfers records. But you have to do it now. Immediately.

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Flux Of Pink Indians*1

THANKS to the wonders of the modern mechanical webnet, I can tell you with some certainty that the following interview took place on Sunday, August 25, 1984 at the Leadmill in Sheffield.

I can’t tell you much else about it though. Flux didn’t like specific quotes being attributed to individual members in their interviews, so who says what will have to remain a mystery – though I do remember that Col Latter and Derek Birkett seemed to do most of the talking.

Flux had just released The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks a few months before and were just about to release a brace of singles in the shape of Fuck Off Thatcher and Taking A Liberty. We spoke midway through their miners’ strike benefit tour alongside Chumbawamba, D&V and KUKL.

Reading it now, like so many of the interviews I did back in fanzine land, it seems like something of a missed opportunity. If I’d spent more time thinking about what Flux were trying to say and less time being deliberately obnoxious, we might have got somewhere – but I didn’t.

Don’t judge me. It was a long time ago.

* * *

DO YOU think Fuck Off Thatcher or anything like it will ever change anyone’s opinion of Thatcher?

“Well, why won’t it? I mean, the way you emphasise the way it’s presented ..”

I’m talking about little old ladies who go down to Conservative Club bridge evenings.
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The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks by Flux Of Pink Indians (Spiderleg Records)

I WATCH the postman wheel his cart down the other side of our road and wonder if eil.com can have got my order to me by today. I get a bit excited all of a sudden.

A few minutes later, he’s coming back down our side of the street. He’s a couple of houses away. I hold my breath. Come on lad, I think, you can do it.

The buzzer goes. “Package for you,” it says in a metallic Mancunian monotone.

Two seconds and three storeys later, I open the front door and take the 12-inch cardboard mailer from the unsuspecting postie. If only you knew what you‘re delivering, I think to myself, idiotically, as I thank him.

I make myself walk back up the stairs at a more sedate pace. It’s a big effort. When I get back in the flat I sit on the settee, open the package and slide the album out of its protective sleeve to reveal the savagely androgynous figures on the cover, still every bit as striking, ugly, perverse and compelling as the first day I saw them.

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DOUG and me interviewed Stig and Aphid (aka the Baron) of Amebix at the Bierkeller in Leeds in December 1983, where they were appearing on a bill which also featured Disorder and Antisect.

amebixWith a rather confrontational interview style – the modus operandi seems to be to get drunk and ask as many awkward, deliberately stupid questions as possible – we collided with a band who were desperate to break out of a punk scene they felt they had little in common with.

This fractious encounter makes up the second part of our February anarcho-punk double whammy.

* * *

WHY are you so obsessed with war?

Aphid: “We’re trying to make people aware that there are certain situations arising that could result in a nuclear war in Europe. There’s not a great deal else happening to write about. So I can’t find any other inspiration”.

Is Britain approaching the beginning of the end?

A: “I can’t say. I’m not a politician”.

Did you start the band to just have a laugh or did you want to achieve something?

A: “Basically, we started just as a piss about. Stig got a little guitar and a little amplifier, a bloke called Clive got a bass and another shitty amp and we had a drummer sitting on a motorbike seat hitting a biscuit tin. We just pissed about, really.

“We used to play a lot in Devon and got ourselves a really bad reputation. One gig we played, out at a place called Milton Abbott, there were about 150 kids there, not punks, mostly ordinary kids. We just said, ‘if you don’t like it, you can fuck off out of the hall’, so everybody left. Except this one kid who was a mate of ours. Everybody else was outside getting pissed”.

So, have you actually changed anything since the band formed?

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Christ The Album by Crass (Crass Records)

MY FIRST Crass gig was in Sheffield, where a group of people with too much time on their hands had cadged resources from the city council – then led by David Blunkett – to create a community-focussed arts and music venue, complete with vegetarian café, in an old factory near the train station.

The Leadmill opened in 1982, in the wake of rioting in St Pauls, Brixton and Toxteth (followed by a series of copycat mini-insurrections around the rest of the country) and – the way I remember it, at least – keen to head off any youth rebellion in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire, the council had sponsored an opening programme of cheap gigs.

In the same situation now, Blunkett would probably just send in the army, but back then he sent Boy George instead.

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