'Putting a krautrock band together I always wanted this fearlessness.' (Interview Part 2)
11/02/2020, Danil VOLOHOV
photos: © Jon Lichtenberg
When you hear Nicky Garratt’s name the first thing you think about is UK Subs. Nicky joined the band at the very, very beginning of their career. And quickly Nicky’s work with Sub’s vocalist – Charlie Harper, formed the creative core of the band.
After years, I still felt Nicky’s creativity was about the purest form of punk rock, recollecting my memories about the first time I heard his chords – listening to “Another Kinds of Blues”.
So the first thing you should know about Nicky’s current project – Hedersleben: Beware! You’ll change your attitude towards Nicky’s creativity. Hedersleben is not something unexpected. Well before UK Subs and becoming one of the most interesting punk-rock guitarists, Nicky Garratt was a fan of the prog-rock scene. He kept his influences over the years, adding bits and pieces of prog-rock and krautrock components to the music of UK Subs. So it won’t be too difficult for you to listen to Hedersleben. Probably, the most difficult thing is your own perception of Nicky’s playing. And following Henry Rollins’ words: “I remain a fan”.
Listening to Hedersleben you’ll hear absolute freedom of forms, pure melodies and indredible experiments. And with it, there’s a spirit of punk that Nicky Garratt took from the 70's bringing it to his music. He still remains a punk-rock person even though he doesn’t jump on stage, screaming and yelling and playing fast and powerful chords. After two hours of speaking with Nicky I understood the simple truth: Punk rock is not only music but also an attitude. The thing I would always remember and the thing I would always be grateful for.
In the interview for “Peek-A-Boo” magazine Nicky Garratt spoke about the late 70's and punk rock, about UK Subs and being a vegan, about writer’s experience and Hedersleben.
You've been for many years an outspoken advocate for Science and Animal Rights. In 2013 your book “Mango & Mint: Arabian, Indian, and North African Inspired Vegan Cuisine”. While reading it, I found it very personal – because you don't just present a collection of recipes, but you also tell us about our life and the way of life you chose. But how did you get the idea about the book itself ?
I’ve always liked to cook! That goes back to when I was 14 or 15 years old and I became a vegetarian. It would be 1970. My mother was cooking Sunday lunch and she’d cook my food separately. When I was about 17 I was playing in a band in Leicestershire. And we had shows every Friday and Saturday nights. As well as on Sunday dinner time. So I played a show and returned to my house and my mother would, cook roast potato, carrots etc. She cooked them and she put them into a refrigerator for me to eat later. So she cooked my things separately because I didn’t eat meat. And I was the only person in the village that I knew that didn’t eat meat. I came to this on my own as 14-year old kid, when I realized what it was and what the bigger picture about meat was. So I realized that I was just eating what they were eating – minus the meat. And I thought that it was an injustice. I didn’t want to be a vegetarian who eats less variety than the other people. I mean, they have all these different things and I just have what left over that I can eat. I wanted to do the opposite. I wanted to say: “Oh! If you’re vegan or vegetarian – you don’t just have to eat what’s left over.” That was the perception of many people. They were asking: “Oh, what do you eat ?” – so I wanted to chance this perception…I wanted to take the idea that we’re only eating what’s left over from other people’s cooking. I wanted to take that, get rid of that idea and embrace vegetarianism and embrace veganism and say: “No! We eat a cuisine! We not just going to eat potatoes and carrots!” that’s how I felt very early on. Then I met this guy, who built equipment. I mention him in my book. His name is David. This was from…probably 1973. He worked for Marconi Radar. He was an electronics genius and a science-guy. But he was also a vegetarian. The first vegetarian that I met! I had a girlfriend that was a vegetarian…but…One of the first vegetarians I met was this guy – David. I went to his house. It was very lovely, an old school house where a headmaster of the school would live. He had some ground around it and he listened to classical music, he was well-read he knew philosophy, he know music… And he was an older guy – he was in his 60’s probably.
I was in a band in Northamptonshire where he lived. It was a progressive rock band. And he built an equipment for the band. From scratch! And it was revolutionary! It was two speakers that hinged in the middle and the amplifier was also in the middle. If you’d fold them – you could carry them in under your arms. It had a frame on the top with a stage light. The bottom was a monitor of what everybody else was playing. The top speaker was what you are playing. He did everything from scratch! He built a mixing board. In night school I used to take a course of electronics so I helped him wire the mixing board. So we became friends. He built equipment for our band. He also built some things for the youth of the village raising money. When I was in his house, there were always incredible projects! He was always doing something incredible! He had gas-powered laser which was the size of washing machine. He opened a trap-door in a ceiling. He’d fire the laser so it would go straight up to the clouds. He built all this stuff! His brother-in-law built an ocean-going yacht from scratch! Just taking car engine and reconfiguring it! So David did all these projects and he was a massive influence on me. At that time he was older than my dad. My dad went to work every day, doing electronics for a fork-lift truck company. He came home and had a bad mood every night. He was a great father, great provider! He would never harm anyone and did everything right! But wasn’t happy himself. That not a role-model…You’re teaching your kids how to not be happy. How just be a servant to your job and your work. And then I met this guy, who lived in extraordinary way. He was a vegetarian, so he would drive to Rugby – 20 minutes drive, just because there were a certain types of parsley at farmers’ market. He would buy it because it needed him for a dish he wanted to make. I went down to David’s house and I saw thing on a window and asked him: “What’s that ?” and he said: “It’s an avocado!” – I’ve never seen an avocado before! Growing up in England where they don’t grow. I’d been eating what would grow in a village. With the exception of bananas and oranges. So it was the first avocado I ever eat! He always was particular about food. I already was a vegetarian but I was eating just what’s left over – carrots, potatoes etc. He was extremely influential on me. Not just because he was a vegetarian and I was already vegetarian. But it was more about…how to live. So when I was touring with UK Subs…I was touring all over the world. And when we played in Slovenia and Slovakia, Croatia and Bosnia, Poland and Hungary – all of these places. It was INCREDIBLY HARD to get a vegetarian food. And I was vegan by then. We got to a club and because most clubs would feed you…so when you’re in Italy or in Germany – they’d feed you, sometimes they’d get you to restaurant. It depends on the club. Often they cook by themselves. When we got there, sometimes there was a roadie with us wHo was a vegetarian or vegan. So when these people asked: “Who’s a vegan ?” – “Me!Me!” of course there was vegan food. But I never was very excited because usually it was awful! We’d sit down and they brought us a plate. And what they did – they put a chopped vegetables in a pot, with coconut milk and curry powder.
When I was living on my own, I was cooking. I wasn’t a good cook back then. But at least, I was making an effort! Because I’d seen this guy and I knew the possible way to cook and eat! And take pride of what you eat. And in these clubs I was in the situation where I had no control anymore. Every night our food was dreadful. So far it would be pasta with some…soggy pasta with bad tomato-sauce. Every night. I was like: “Oh, there is ganna be pasta-salad again ?” a big pot of macaroni and chopped vegetables or whatever. So everynight was the same – terrible, terrible food. And then, when we went to a restaurant and promoter was proud of the local cuisine wherever we are. They’d take us to the best restaurant – to friend of his. We sit down at the table and…first of all, I don’t like to sit at the table when somebody’s eating an animal. I want to use my actions to say: “This is not civilized” buy anyway, that’s another story! We’d get to a restaurant – they’d bring us food. It was one table with different food and only vegetarian food at the end of the table. And they would have smoked salmon with brussel sprouts. It would be beautifully plated…And I had steamed vegetables. Always steamed vegetables. It may sound like I’m being picky. But when you’re 9 weeks on the road and every single night you got this stuff and you watch another people having exactly what they want, and prepared very well while you’re eating steamed vegetables again. So…That’s where the idea for the book came from. To take your power as vegetarians and vegans. I used to have parties at my house. Once a year. Still do. I have a big party here once a year. And I have a party at my house in Germany, once a year. This year, a couple months’ ago in San Francisco there was more than a hundred people in my house. I cooked the whole thing. Interesting vegan food. And I’m not singing my own praises as a chef. What I’m saying is this is what’s possible to do. I’m not a cook. I’m not a chef. I just follow the recipe. If you can get a pieces of music as guitar-player and you could read a sheet music – you could read a recipe! And the publisher from PM Press used to come to my parties and he always thought that I was a great chef. And I always say that I’m not a chef. I read recipes…Also, I collected a bunch of recipes from around the world – from India or Pakistan, Syria – all these different places I’ve been to. I just changed them a little bit to be vegan, but I what I kept was the cuisine. So this publisher asked me: “Would you be interesting in writing a cook book?” and I said: “I’m not a chef! Honestly, I’m not a chef!” and after three years I finally said: “Ok! I’ll give it a go!” that’s where that came from. But the theme of it is that we don’t have to eat left-over food from meat table. And we don’t have to eat tofu as well! This is a better solution. Life’s too short! We have a limited amount of days in our life. Life’s too short to eat bad food! Life’s too short to listen to bad music. Life’s too short to live in a place that’s not pleasant surroundings. I don’t care in what city you’re living in. I don’t care if you’re in a really bad neighborhood. If you got one room to live in – at least, make this room your personality. Take some care to make it just as you want to see it! If you’re next to factory and you could smell the waste – that’s smell pollution. If you’re listening to jackhammer – that’s a noise pollution. If you’re eating bad food – that’s taste pollution. Life’s too short to do that. You should elevate all of those things. If not of one of these things not important for you – fine. You know, my brother is not particularly interested in music. I don’t understand that. But his house is the place where he wants to live. A lot of these I got from this guy- David. When I realized that you can create the life you want to live.
I think it would be logically right here to ask you a question about your current project – Hedersleben. Now you’re preparing your new full-lenghth album for release. Listening to your discography I found that it’s quite hard for me to find the words to describe your creativity. So speaking about your coming record – what can you say about it and how can you describe it ?
I’d describe the style as krautrock. Some people take a offense at the word “kraut” which was actually originally coined by a German band. The thing about krautrock scene in late 60’s – early 70’s that due to the disaster of Second World War, the musicians in Germany were looking for new things to do. They didn’t want to look to the West so much. They didn’t wanted to look to the East. They didn’t want to look at traditional music as they didn’t want to be connected with this catastrophe that was the Second World War. So they look upwards to the stars, to space and made that a template doing music. Not only that, but there was a fearlessness of a country that nothing to lose. They’d lost everything! So intellectually, this thing happened there and you had great thinkers in Germany. The country evolved from bad ideas, bad philosophy to good ideas. So they were fearless, because they’d lost everything already. A lot of people had died. A lot of the cities were bombed out. In a way, there was a comparison with krautrock and punk-rock. Because, with punk-rock – the working class invented a music that represented them. And that’s the same with krautrock. In England they’d come out of an uncaring government and that was like – we’ve got nothing to lose! We’ve not being offered good jobs. We didn’t have money. We’ve got nothing to lose! Let’s make this art! The same thing with krautrock – cities being destroyed. They could see corporate type of music…I think it was more philosophical than practical. But philosophically it was: “Let’s make our own music!” – fearless! Absolutely fearless! When you listen to original krautrock. Space-things going on and then everything stops and suddenly you hear the sound of river or something! It’s fearless! It was just: “Let’s do this!” A lot of that was experimental. A lot of it didn’t work. But the stuff that worked, worked fantastically well.
Putting a krautrock band together I always wanted this fearlessness. I think that had a lot to do with the fearlessness that punk had. I’ve been corrupted by already knowing all krautrock bands and the prog-rock bands. So I’m not originating anything. Nevertheless fearless – the things they did and that I’ve already heard. And that of course, affects the way I write. So I’ve always been interested in that kind of music. The music that affects the way I write. And I’ve always been interested in that! All the way through punk! The same as John Laydon. The same as Captain Sensible from The Damned. We’ve all been krautrock fans. All the way through punk. Probably, Johnny Rotten never mention it in interviews. But Captain Sensible, who’s a friend of mine and I – we did mention it. All the way through punk and in all the interviews I’ve done, I talk about bands like Magma, that are very influential on me.
I had a girlfriend in Germany, in Rostock and we met in Hamburg, at UK Subs’ concert. She’s a punk fan. She’s a school teacher. And we went out for 12 years. And I decided to buy property in Germany. I’ve always liked Germany. Property there is very cheap. So I bought a farm in Germany, in the village of Hedersleben, in Germany. I use this place to have a party every summer and also for doing music. I play there with Klaus [Henatsch] from the band – Nektar. We jam every summer. Sometimes Kristiana Voss plays flute, as well as some other people. And we just take a few weeks in a summer to hang out in a countryside and play music. So when I started my krautrock band, I decided: “I’m ganna name it after the village where my farm is! It’s a mysterious-sounding name! It’s a krautrock-sounding name!” and Uve Müllrich came there as well. And he jammed with us as well. That’s how early krautrock started! People jamming in farms and places. It’s kind of organic and authentic way of starting a band. But it ended up being an American band with musicians from the U.S. I wanted it to be a real band where’s one lineup and we explore this music together. But everybody’s got to make money, everybody’s got to pay their rent. People started coming and going so I’ve been the only consistent member all the way through. I have kind of come to terms with that now – it’s not what I really wanted.
I’m friends with Henry Rollins. We’re good friends. And also, we’re friends with Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi…We’ve been friends for years! We don’t talk very often but every now I get an email from Henry…Not so much from Ian but it happens. However, Ian told me that somebody left Fugazi – he’d finished it! When somebody left Minor Threat – he finished it! To him that was the band and If you’d take away an element of the band – you’d done with it! And I really admire that! I think that’s really fantastic! I’ve let the practicality of getting anything done trump a stable line-up. I don’t know whether it’s the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do. When somebody’s left and you start a new band, you try to find a new name ingratiating it to the public. So people would know who it is. You’re gonna start from scratch again ( laughs ). At my age, I don’t think I have a time to do that! So I just kept the name and replaced people that left. The first album we did is quite a krautrock album. It has it’s faults, It’s a little bit more experimental. Some stuff on it works ok. Some stuff didn’t work. That’s what krautrock always was. Second album [Die Neuen Welten] – I think it’s most coherent. The production is good. I think it’s probably the best album! The third album [The Fall of Chronopolis] I think has the best songwriting on it. It was a concept album I came up with the whole thing because it’s one of my favorite books and I got digital rights to the book. And made some audio-books – science fiction audio-books. I own the rights to that book so I wanted to do that…And I think it’s most coherent writing. I think…the production was ok, the recording was ok. But the mixing…it was mixed by Jürgen Engler who’s a very good friend of mine. He was in the first German punk-band Male. He lives in Austin, Texas now and works as producer. And I’m not happy with it. Usually, I like his production a lot. But at that point, we had a limited time. There was the whole bunch of things that were going with our drummer. Jason Willer. Who played with Jello Biafra and with the Subs’ for a while. He did a good job on the early albums. But he got stressed out with a lot of anxiety and everything. I like what he did on the first two albums. We also worked together with the same musicians for Nik Turner. So we’ve done three albums with Nik Turner and double album with Brainticket and four albums with Hedersleaben. So I think third album has the best writing. The production and drumming are not quite as I wanted them to be. On the forth album Orbit the production is great! It’s done by Jai Young Kim who’s still in a band. He’s a keyboard-player. He and I produced it. André Previn’s daughter Alicia sang and played violin. I’d played with her before in Ten Bright Spikes. Our singer/violin player Ariana Jade had quit. So I needed a really good musician that could step it. She wasn’t really right for it. The rhythm section were great musicians! But they weren’t really krautrock-people.
So…the direction was a bit different on that album. Production’s good! The label…Cleopatra actually really like that album. But I think it’s probably the one I like the least. The new album is going to be an album called “The Great Hydration” which again is concept album by the same writer as “The Fall of Chronopolis” album. I wrote a huge piece for it. Jay Young wrote a piece for it. We have a few smaller pieces. The whole album is written. But we didn’t have a singer again. So…even though it’s all written – I put it aside to be the sixth’ album and we started working on this album which is going to be more of a krautrock-album. It’s more improvised. It’s just naturally playing in studio. Like the early-punk days. Like the early krautrock-bands. So I’ve got young 20-year old drummer Cole Baley who’s trained in jazz. I got this crazy professor-type guy – Jordan Levantine who’s built his own modal synthesizer. Very DIY. He’s also music college graduate. He’s played bass and synthesizer. Jai Young Kim’s still on kayboards and production. He and I are producing and I play guitar. We don’t have a singer! So we’re doing mostly an instrumental album. And we may have some singers guest on it. And the working title, which may end up being a title is “New Ocean”. We’ve got new people and I’m really happy with this lineup! I was not happy with last lineup. Even though everybody could read the music very well…The mix wasn’t right. These guys are also accomplished musicians but mix is right! We’re writing SO FAST! Sometimes we’re coming with songs we’ve written. Sometimes nothing…And drummer and I just sit there and say: “Let’s improvise something!” – I’d just play a riff and he’d add krautrock drumming to it. That’s the thing! And then Jordan would put his crazy homemade synthesizer stuff on the top of it. Jay would add some keyboards. Jordan would play bass on it. And then something that wasn’t there the day before is born. Nothing existed! And now it’s a piece of music. I don’t wanna make every album like that. But I so enjoyed doing this album! Everytime we got to the studio we recorded two or three backing tracks that didn’t existed the day before. And I enjoy working with these guys SO MUCH! The night before last we did the whole night. We’ve been recording during the whole night. And we actually recorded a song by Jai Young for the next album ( laughs ). So we’ve been recording this song for Hedersleben 6th. Because, now I really want to do our sixth’ record with these guys. So I’m gonna find the singer and we all already have some of the stuff. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s a wonderful thing to be excited about music. I’m sure nobody’s gonna buy it. Cleopatra did great! They allowed me to do whatever I like. They’re incredibly supportive. So I don’t wanna change it to something that’d gonna sell. I’m just pleased doing stuff that’s making me happy! I don’t wanna end up being in by bedroom, writing and doing stuff on my own on computer. I want to get out making real records with the real band. I’m not interested in doing it as a hobby. When it comes to a point where it’s a hobby – I’m gonna do something else.
Writing a song that is based on your feelings, how hard is it to transform everything with things you feel youself ? Like how you want this song to sound ? Or you’re just searching for something – drum-pattern or chord-combination until you’ll find something that would resonate with your soul ?
It’s interesting, because like I said – I’m not really a lyricist! I wrote a lot of the lyrics on last couple of [Hedersleben] albums. I wrote the whole lyrics for “The Fall of Chronopolis”. But it was based on the book. So I’ve already had a story. I just needed to take the things from the story turning them into lyrics. So I did all the words. And I did “Orbit” the album after it. The idea of that was…a very-very big elliptical orbit of an asteroid going around the sun. Analogy of that album was your life being one orbit. This orbit would take 100 years. And the analogy is one orbit – your life. The things you see and do. All the songs on “Orbit” album were somewhere on the orbit of that thing. There’s some tracks for it we wrote that we’ve never used. I wrote track called “Where Sebastian lies ?” That was the orbit of asteroid comes very close to the Earth…And I wanted to write a song about one of the greatest achievements of this planet. For me it’s Johann Sebastian Bach.
I know that you’re a big fan!
Yes! So I wrote a song about the planet where Johann Sebastian Bach’s body lies. That was the idea. But I wrote it for vocals and church organ. Then, at the end it goes into almost a Bach like piece. But we recorded it and the singer just couldn’t get it! She’d just couldn’t get the feeling of it. The only person who could get the feeling of it was me. And I did the demo. But I’m not a singer. I don’t like a sound of my voice. I don’t like the way I sang it. I may kind of resurrected some time because I like it. But I’m getting away from your question! How I transform my thoughts into something musical ? Well…I’m a hugely motivated. Emotionally from music. Before I am by lyrics. There’s some exceptions where I like a lyrics and say: “That’s are fantastic lyrics!” But a certain chord that’s coming from chord-progression a certain type I’m not expecting…For instance. The chord that changed everything – that’s the chord on the forth. The major chord. In the sixties people substituted a minor chord to chord of the four. For instance, The Beatles – “Nowhere Man”. Forth’ chord is both major in one place of the song and minor in the other. People usually say that: “It’s the chord that changed everything in pop-music!” it’s such a unexpected chord. The major chord fits so easily in the family of chords. But the minor forth chord takes you out! We used to hear it now, so it’s not such a big thing. When I hear something like that…I listen to it. I really don’t like stuff that derivative. That’s why I’m not a blues-fan! You know where’s the next chord come in…And I often messed with Charlie’s blues-songs by putting chords into it. It’s not that obvious but take “Teenage” – just straight twelve bar-song. And if you’d noticed – I put an extra-bar to it. I also put two passing chords. Two and three chords in that song. Just to mess with it so it wasn’t just a twelve bar. When I hear the chord that’s just so perfectly fits there. I’m just…I wasn’t expected it! It’s just so thrilling! In the process of creating something, I usually relate it to what I’m thinking. And that’s when the journey comes in. It’s not often like it was with concept “New Ocean”. Yes, that was the concept for an album! But it wasn’t for individual song in there! I’ve started by just: “Oh, that sounds interesting! And following where it goes!” and guiding it towards the concept. You know…this sounds like a water…Like if your’re a potter and you find a peice of clay with interesting clay colour. And you think: “You know what ? This must be for plant! I’m gonna make a pot!” that’s how I work with music. I got an idea. Chord sequence and riff and melody. And I think: “That reminds me water!” then I put vibes on it…like drops of water. I mold it in that direction. I think it’s the essence of what krautrock was. They just throwing it out there. “Wow! This sound interesting! Let’s see where it goes!” so certainly, on this album – that’s what we’re doing! On “The Great Hydration” it’s gonna be composed and I know where it’s going already! When I compose these pieces – they were composed for the story. So concept albums are different. But these albums…There is a concept. But these are not concept albums!
In one of your recent interviews speaking about Hedersleben and this current stage of your career you said that your current creativity is more calm. And you, yourself don’t want to jump on stage at the age of 60. But I hope you’d agree that punk is not only style and esthetics. As for me it’s such a unique way of thinking. In this connection let me ask you, do you still feel punk ?
Well, I’m a post punk. I was an adult before punk came in. So I think my formative years were before punk came in. During my years in punk I met people, and I suspect you as one of these people, who’d came through punk and have a thoughtful approach to life and brought from punk the things that were valid and interesting and incorporated them in your life. That’s what I suspect about you! And I suspect it with the other people like Ian MacKaye, like Henry [Rollins]. Henry started with State Of Alert. With this anger. And it was not necessarily completely guided…But he’s a smart guy. And he’s taking that anger and those feelings. And taking other things in his life. About being strong. He’s thoughtful guy! We can talk about art! We can talk about music of the punk. We can talk about life. Ethics, politics, philosophy. As well as with Ian MacKaye. These are thoughtful intelligent people. And there are some people out of punk who I treasure, like that. Captain Sensible is another one. When we get together – we don’t talk about punk. We talk about krautrock and progressive-rock and vegetarianism. He’s a vegetarian too! We had these kind of conversations too! These are a few videos of Hedersleben where I’m playing with Captain Sensible. He came and…cause I know you already knew he likes krautrock and prog-rock. And he spent two days in a studio learning this stuff which is not punk! So I’d say that one of the traits that punk taught me was that there’s other things possible. Prior to that I could see that there were possibilities to do this or that. But getting back to your original question, where you said it opened doors. The people I admire most in punk are the ones who walked through that door. The doors opened and they walked through it and got better life! And learnt. There was kid. He was drunk all the time. He used to show up every time UK Subs’ played in 77. Every show he used to get drunk and jump off a stage. And then he’d sleep in a barn And then he would be at the next show. We had about 15 fans that followed us at every show. They’d sleep in abandoned buildings and hitchhike to the next show. And he followed us for…maybe a year or nine months. He was at every show in the UK. And one day our crew said: “If you’re going to the next next show – you might as well ride in a track with us. And help us to set up a gear and get in for free!” so he did that! For few mouths’ he had to set up a gear. And he didn’t drink as much because he had to set the gear up and he had to be responsible. And then we offered him a job! And we paid him! Then he was in the crew, as roadie setting up the gear for UK Subs which is his favorite band in the world. And then, when the band broke up he took his heavy goods driving license so he could drive a big truck. And he got a job, driving for Robbie Williams – the pop star. And doing some follow spotlight stuff. The door opened for him, through punk. He walked through! I have to say that he used punk as a learning experience. And the door opened for him, he walked through it and he became a better person! He won’t be so drunk anymore. All of the people from punk – people whom I admire, are the people who walked through that door. And I’m not saying that after it, you don’t do punk anymore. But you do become an intelligent person, who’s interesting in the World, interested in things. So obviously, you made that choice. Now you’re a writer. And I must say that out of all interviews I’ve done you’re in the top! The other side of that point is when the door opened they didn’t walk through it! They stayed where they were. They did drugs or drag themselves into illness. I don’t use “profanity” because it bores me. That’s the part of punk that bores me. I see it on Facebook. A lot of people say: “I wanna be your friend on Facebook!” – I say: “Ok!” – I accept them as a friend on Facebook and then you seem them posting things saying like: “F**k you!” – That’s other side of the coin. The door opened. They didn’t go through it. They stand where they were; they did drugs…whatever and became a nobody…So there is no good with opening doors if you don’t walk through the door. That’s the other side of the coin. And many people used this opportunity – I know some of them. Some interesting people. People who went on to be artists, the guitar-player from Corrupted Ideals – Los-Angeles band…He came into the office one time and I was playing Bach on classical guitar. He said to me: “What’s that ?!” I said: “It’s Bach!” – he had no idea and said: “That’s amazing – what you’re doing with the bass line and a melody!” and I said: “It’s written by him!” – he said: “I’m gonna try do that!” so it took some classical-guitar lessons. Back in the days when there were fax machines he sent me a fax saying that he has some troubles reading some part of music. I tried to help him. I’m not a great classical guitar-player but that’s how I started. I started on classical guitar. So he took advanced classes, he went to university and took a degree in classical guitar. Now he’s professional classical-guitar player who tours all over the country playing in a duo with a flute-player. He’s specialized in Argentinean tango and things like that. And that’s somebody who saw the door open and went through it! Now became a better person! He still loves punk, he still got his own records. But his world opened up and he became somebody. That’s is the biggest thing about punk for me! People through punk…who got this energy and “We can do!”. And I’ve said this in many-many interviews. There are lots of things I said to you I haven’t said before. For me, personally, punk was a skeptical movement. Being a skeptic and a science guy that’s another reason that punk appealed to me. And the reason why it’s skeptical movement – take an early punk. 1976. Look at the songs. “Career Opportunities” by The Clash. I’m skeptical about every job you’re offering me. I’m skeptical of your church and your religion. I don’t believe! I’m skeptical! I’m skeptical of music being pumped into our lives on radio and on television that produces easy listening crap…I’m skeptical of that! I’m skeptical the way meat industry works. Cruelty to animals and factory-farms. I’m skeptical of that. And In punk, I found the vehicle for skepticism! It is skeptical of all of those things that wrong in society. And that’s the great power of punk. And in the early punk-days we took that skepticism and we built something constructive from it. The doors opened – we took out of punk what was constructive and what was skeptical to build something better. Could you imagine my life if punk hadn’t come along ? I would probably be in couple of bands and probably would have been doing it for hobby playing at a local bar and having a day-job, living in council house with no money…Now, money doesn’t interest me. I’m extremely conservative with money. Never done drugs in my life! Never smoked in my life! Never…any kind of drugs at all. Even pot and stuff like that. I tried it, just to see what’s it tastes like. One or two little things. But I’ve never done drugs! Because it doesn’t interest me. Take the things that interest me and punk was just the best vehicle to that. And what it does – it opens up and exposes the person that you are. If you’re a smart person, if you’re a person who’s interested in the world, and interested in what’s going on. We have a different backgrounds. You’re Russian – I’m English. Society would tell you that we’re enemies. Particularly through cold-war. That’s what governments tell you…You’re smarter than that. I’m smarter than that. And potentially, we’re people who could become friends. Who could talk honestly about things, we could have a disagreement. So if somebody says to me “You’re wrong about that!” – and this is why I can look at it and go: “You know what ? I’m wrong! You’re right! I’m ganna chance my mind and change my behavior accordingly. That’s what the skepticism is. That’s what science is! You know, religion is having your beliefs already and trying to make things fit to it. Science is saying: “I don’t know – let’s find out!” and then, you’re looking at the facts and see where it goes. Because we’ve evolved it doesn’t mean that we have to have this silly idea of Social Darwinism and Richard Dawkins said: “We want to know how we got there! But it doesn’t mean that you have a method of government based on that!” these are two different things. So this vehicle of punk has led me to have friends who’re thinking people, who’ve taken opportunities. As punk opened the doors, they opened the clubs. They started putting out music they like. They started magazines and like you to become a writer or a journalist. Somebody else’s a photographer and went on to be a professional photographer. These people are successful because they do, what they love. The other side – the dark side are people that stayed where they were. Wear the uniform of punk…Which is not the uniform of punk of 1976. It’s the uniform of 1980 where everybody had a leather jacket, blue hair, green hair…I had a leather jacket until 1980 when I became a vegan. And, in CBGB’s I just gave it to somebody saying: ‘Here’s my leather jacket! Take it!” because, I’ve been persuaded by the science and by humans that haven’t been wearing the leather. That’s was the last time I got any leather. There are those people who get the wrong message out of punk. And looking at it in 1976, the messages I’d get as I said – skeptical message. For instance “Identity” by X-Ray Spex. They want my face to look like the people in a magazine look. Well, that’s to me is not important! All of these skeptical issues. The way we look, the way we behave. Church, philosophy. These were all questions of a punk. That’s why it makes punk the most skeptical movement.
NICKY GARRATT (UK SUBS, HEDERSLEBEN): PART II • 'In punk, I found the vehicle for skepticism.' (Interview Part 1)
MARK PLATI • 'I always felt that I should keep moving!'
PETER 'BUDGIE' CLARKE (SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES, THE CREATURES) • 'I have more anxiety from the students then I ever on stage!'
JUDE • 'On top of that I also wanted to create a sound that no one's ever heard before, a sound that combines elements from the past with modern pop.'
JG THIRLWELL (FOETUS, CLINT RUIN, MANOREXIA, FRANK WANT, STEROID MAXIMUS) • 'I’m still an avid listener!'
DAMO SUZUKI • 'When I’m on stage I feel myself as the happiest person in this world.'
SEAN YSEULT (WHITE ZOMBIE) • 'These images actually came to me in dreams!'
MARK DEUTROM (CLOWN ALLEY/THE MELVINS) • ' I felt like I needed to make a solo-record at that time!'
STEVE DIGGLE (BUZZCOCKS) • 'We were writing from the heart and soul!'
ROB SHERIDAN (HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS) • 'How To Destroy Angels contributed my vision more than any other projects'