'In punk, I found the vehicle for skepticism.' (Interview Part 1)
10/02/2020, 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.
Speaking with very different people about the period of time of 76-77 years I usually hear one particular phrase that these people used to describe the phenomenon of punk-rock: “punk opened the doors”. So could you please tell me, how do you remember that time ?
I think punk-rock opened doors. That’s absolutely correct. But for me, on a personal level it opened doors for lifestyle and the possibilities of doing music, as my main profession, if you like. At the time we didn’t really think about it as a profession. It was just an exciting time. Prior to punk I was a musician playing in Leicestershire. We would play hard-rock and progressive rock. I think I had my first band…maybe in 1970. Then I played in various progressive-rock bands and moved to London in '76 with a band that was…a bit like Soft Machine. It was a progressive rock band. I first went down there in '76, to look for somewhere to live. But the idea was: we would go down south, but… everything changed! Prior to punk, there was a pop-rock thing happening. Radio Stars and things like that. Things had changed…and speaking about progressive rock…I think it kind of killed itself because they were trying to become more American and have a softer sound not sticking to the reasons why people listened to it in the first place. So…when I got to London, it was not possible to find a lot of gigs doing that kind of music. Then punk started to happen and I was just knocked down by it. I just thought that it’s the best thing. It opened doors not only for the possibility of finding the place to play but even to make a record. Which was unthinkable for us! People that made records were backed by large record companies. They had big bands with keyboards, management etc. We were from Leicestershire, from a little village. It was unthinkable to make a record! But in London, there were people who had no money, had no equipment and they were making records with little independent labels. And that to me was so exciting. With the energy of the music, the whole movement, I just got slapped away with it! And it wasn’t like I reluctantly gave up progressive rock and started playing punk. I embraced punk because it was so exciting and progressive rock at that time was passing away, if you like. So yes, it opened doors particularly for venues and for making records. But it also opened doors because there was a circuit of places to play. Not just in England. Nobody I knew had left England, nobody I knew had friends in Germany, being from a little village in the middle of nowhere. So very quickly it opened doors. By 1979 I was getting on a plane going to New York City to open for The Police. This is the kind of doors that would never been opened in any other ways conceivable. Unless I was a sport person…maybe if I was a great soccer player, maybe that would also open doors. I think it was a rare opportunity where people would get energy and could actually get the rewards that other people, rich people, were given as a birthright. We were all of a sudden given the same opportunity to travel to see the world. And travelling, seeing the world, opens up your life, it opens up your way of thinking. Completely! I have friends and acquaintances all over the world. Not many, because I’m not Charlie Harper who gets on with anyone. He’s like a guys' guy, buddy etc and I’m not quite like that. I’m a little bit more reserved than he is, as far as meeting the people but particularly promoters – Christoph in Poland and I became friends, Thomas from Germany…there is guy in Brazil, there is a guy in New Zealand. Without punk I’d never have met people that I met.
Speaking about UK Subs – what lead to the formation of the band ?
I already decided that I wanted to do punk. I’d auditioned for a couple of early punk-bands. I also tried to put a punk-band together and it wasn’t really happening... we were always having trouble finding a drummer. We had a bass-player and a singer. So I auditioned for some other punk bands. One of them was Plummet Airlines. They were an early pub-rock band that tried to morph into punk. At the time they were looking for a guitar player and I went down to little rehearsal room. They were there. All of them had very short crop-bleached blonde hair, plastic trousers…everything! The whole '76-punk cliché! And we started playing – very fast, energetic. They actually asked me: “Oh, play louder!” (laughs) “No-one had ever asked me to play louder before!” So I really enjoyed the experience of that rehearsal! I didn’t get an audition but I was hooked at that point. In '77 I was still looking for somewhere to live. I was squatting in South London and a friend of mine knew somebody who was looking for a guitar-player. It was actually Charlie Harper. UK Subs had already made a demo then the lineup felt apart. So it was basically the bass-player – Steve Slack Charlie and a temporary drummer. They’d not made any records or anything but in 77 I joined them. A friend of mine give me a piece of paper with a phone number and said: “You should call this guy! He’s looking for a guitar-player!” and he said that the band was called – US Jets because he couldn’t remember and it was actually UK Subs. I called him: “Oh, yeah! Come around!” Charlie was always late. He’s not really late so much anymore because he kind of runs things now but back then he was always late. So I got to his apartment and his flat mate let me in and said: “He should be back soon!” so I was waiting in his living room, sitting there. And when he came in, his flat mate said: “I found a guitar-player for you!” and he basically just said: “Ok, we’re gonna gig on Wednesday!” I didn’t play anything for him. He just said it and…the gig was three days later. He had a few songs…five of them. And I wrote two more songs with him the next day when I came with a guitar. One day I said: “I just gotta go to the phone booth and call my girlfriend.’” That was maybe second or third time we ever met. I get to the phone booth – somebody had ripped the wire out. It was broken and money thing was not working. I came back and I guess he said something like: “Did you call your girlfriend ?” – I said: “No! I got there and first of all – money thing was broken. And then, when I picked thing up, there was no dial tone!” – and he was just writing this down! And that became “Telephone Numbers” – song on our first record. Then I had a song called “B.1.C.” which was song that I written with my punk-band in 76. It was called: “Ronald Briggs” Sex Pistols did that later! I didn’t think about Ronald Briggs – the singer wrote the lyrics. So I kept the music of that and it became “B.1.C.” – Charlie rewrote the lyrics. And we were off and running. But the first gig we did – we had 6 or 7 songs. So we had to play all the songs three times. And immediately there was lot of energy…And eventually we had to find another bass-player and drummer because we had these guys temporary from the old band. They were already decided to leave. But, there are recordings with Steve Slack before we got his brother to play. Steve was a great musician! He moved on. But the original “Live at Roxy” from 77 was recorded with Steve.
Listening to your early albums I can’t but notice the influence of blues upon you. And talking honestly, I’ve always been thinking that it became the main component for «Another Kinds Of Blues”. So how did you get to the combination that lately became classical for UK Subs ?
What a good question! Yes, that’s true! Charlie was and is a blues-guy. [He] fundamentally plays harmonica! He writes a lot of 12-bar blues – that’s what he does! I’m actually not the blues-guy. I was more into progressive-rock. And also early hard-rock like Black Sabbath. That’s what I grew up on. So that was the combination! I didn’t write in 12 bars structure, but Charlie often wrote in the 12 bars format. So that was the combination…However, my first band called Piltdown Man was a blues-band so I knew how to play blues stuff. I just didn’t want to really. So it was the combination of Charlie – the blues guy, and me – the rock-guy. It was that combination that made the sound. That’s a very good question because I think after all the years it’s the first time somebody’s really picked up on that and asked what the combination was! An example of it would be a song – “Teenage’ which he wrote for the first album and I said: “There’s too much blues!” – We should have this new punk-sound that rejects the other things happening. You could have an influence but we don’t need to be a blues-band! Let’s be a punk-band!” that was a little bit of conflict between him and me, in the early days. Me, trying not to make it a blues-band. And him, trying to represent a blues stuff-in there. And I don’t think that he had any ideology he just played like that. It’s in his blood.
Was it always easy for you to work together ?
Sometimes there were…not conflicts, but oppositions of directions. I am younger and he was 11 years older than me. So he had some money – we had no money. He had a woman’s hairdressing salon. He’d make a lot of money! We were based out of the hairdressing saloon. In the back room we had Marshall PA and some equipment. And he’d be cutting somebody’s hair. And as I said – he was always late. Usually, his clients were sitting and waiting for him. While cutting their hair we’d been waiting to get into van and go to a gig. But he had money! And he could said something like: “Oh, we need these cables!” or whatever it was, gave me 5 pounds and said: “Ok! Grab those cables on the way!” which was like: “Wow!” – five pounds it’s nothing now, but at that time…(laughs) He was quite generous with money. It was comfortable writing with him. As I think, Charlie always made the best of things I came up with. So usually I’d have a riff, I’d write a music then bringing it to Charlie saying: “I’ve got this! This is what I’ve been working on!” And he’d always make the best of it!” And to his credit, he’d made honest attempt to make a good piece of music about whatever I brought. I can’t remember where he brought lyrics to me and I wrote a song. It was always me, bringing music and him doing lyrics. Some of the songs on the first album – the songs he wrote before I met him… “Stranglehold”, “Live in A Car” and “C.I.D.” they were written before I joined the band. I came when he’d just written “Tomorrows Girls” so I got my hands on it before anybody else and made it more of a punk song. It was very jangly, folky song. “Living In A Car” was arranged by the band he had before. Particularly by drummer and Steve Slack. And they did a great job arranging it! A really great job! They basically made another blues song into something much more compelling. “C.I.D” was actually written by his old guitar-player and him. And it’s just a blues-song. But these people around him always did good arrangements. So they kind of pulled it away from just being a blues-songs. With “C.I.D” the bass-player…which was probably was Steve Slack put this bass-line on it. “Living in A Car” somebody came along and put the stops. And again, great bass-line! “Tomorrows Girls” – Steve Slack put another great bass-line on it! I did some music, guitar, some arrangements working on it. But…It wasn’t expected to be just another kind of three-chord song because of this very good-arrangement. So I’d say – it was comfortable writing with him! I think he changed later on…
Most of punk-rock has some sort of revolutionary mood in it. These are well-known “Anarchy In UK”, “God Save The Queen”, “White Riot”, “Don’t Cry Wolf” and of course, there was a desire to say something in the basis of these songs. With your songs, what did you want to say to your generation or the generations after, like mine ?
Well, because of Charlie wrote most of the lyrics, most of his songs represented his idea about what the meaning was. So it’s hard for me to say…I mean, I know what he was writing about! Some of them are just characters. Like “C.I.D.” it’s just a character. A cartoon. I don’t think every song was completely serious. “Stranglehold” was about being enticed by a young girl under age. But still, you infatuated with her. And actually that young girl was Joanne, who was the sister of the bass-player. But if we put these outside, I think Charlie’s worked quite well on his lyrics. He didn’t seem to take any overall philosophy. I think, he did too many anti-police songs. He made statements about cops and police and corruption and all those kind of things. I think by the time we got to “Diminished Responsibility” there were a little less of that. But when we did “Endangered Species”, I think the lyrics was more personal. There is many more diverse ideas. And Charlie tends to write about what he sees around him. Whether it’s squatting, whether it’s police brutality, whether it’s corruption in a government. He just tends to write what he sees. He’s more of a mirror, as a writer than he’s a philosopher. And some of my favorite lyrics that he wrote are actually not a protest songs – “Divide by eight, multiply by five” from “Endangered Species” is one of my favorite lyrics he wrote. And it’s just about touring in the band. Because, that’s what he was seeing - people taking pictures with expensive cameras through dirty windows of foreign cars…That’s what he was seeing. I really like it! Because, I was there and I understand it. It maybe Has less meaning to other people. So for me, that’s the way I see Charlie as a writer. Just a mirror of what he was seeing at that time. My issues weren’t really represented in lyrics. Because, I wasn’t writing lyrics. My songs would be probably: animal rights, issues…If not these things, I’d write something more satiric and philosophical stuff. Which Would not be as good as I’m not a good lyricist. Charlie is a good lyric-write. He can tell a story. I think I overthink things and it becomes too…contradictory with too much information instead of putting out a story. And that’s a gift and that’s not really my thing.
At that period you were one of few bands who could save your initial charge of energy and styles. You were interesting and with it, you were honest to yourself. At that point you got to producer’s activity co-producing «Diminished Responsibility» and «Endangered Spices”. But was it hard for you to be yourself and not follow any trends at the peak moment of commercialization of British punk ?
Well, again. That’s a great question. Because, what happened in the early days we were just SO happy to be playing live! So excited! We’d be playing at Roxy. And…maybe Pistols would be playing at 100 Club. Which is just around the corner. Charlie talks about the day when we played at Marquee or at the Roxy and The Pistols were playing at 100 Club. We left the gig and they get the gig. And we passed them on a street. I don’t remember that but Charlie always talks about it. He says that it was him and I. So we were just so happy to be in the middle of this explosion. You can imagine. I’d been a musician for five years…Or more…Six years! We played in places like local village hall – things like that. Now, all of a sudden we’ve been playing in Vortex, Marquee. All these famous clubs in London! So I was just happy to be there and to be doing it. And the writing was basically reflected the energy of everything. The change you’re talking about, when punk got a lot bigger…The Pistols broke up, The Clash became a pop-band…My thing was – I wanted to consolidate all punk fans around our band. I didn’t wanna change. I didn’t want to be a pop-band. I wanted to get all these fans that used to be into The Clash, or The Pistols…I wanted them to follow us. I wanted to be the punk-band! And, to a certain degree by 1979…I think we achieved that. There were three bands that still pulled big crowds of pure punk-people. And they were, us, Adam and The Ants before they became pop-band and The Damned. All of the other bands…I don’t want to use words: “sold out”. Because people do things for different reasons. The Clash wanted to break America. So they were spending more time in America. The Pistols had broken up. A lot of the early punk-bands had broken up or changed their sound. Alvin Gibs at that time had a punk-band called The Users. They made two singles and then they wanted to be a mod-band because mod revival was coming. I didn’t want to do that! I said: “We’re punk band! We started as a punk-band! We have a really hardcore-punk following! Let’s be the premium punk-band in England!” – and I think, in a way we did that. By 79-80. If people talk about hardcore-punk they talk about UK Subs at that time. Then what happened – bands like Discharge, GBH. Those bands came up and they were influenced by us. It became a race to see who can play faster and harder. I wanted to take us out of the race! That’s what happened in the end! So by «Diminished Responsibility» I said to guys: “Now, we’re in the middle of the whole bunch of bands doing the same thing!” – I wanted us to be a premium punk-band but I didn’t see the point in just trying to play faster and faster and harder and harder. There was a point when I said: “Well, these young guys could play faster than us!” ( laughs ). But it was just shouting. It’s like when you’re arguing. And at certain point you don’t agree with that point so they just start shouting and saying it louder. I didn’t want to do that. So that affected «Diminished Responsibility». But “Endangered Species” was really my album! I said to the guys: “I want to make statement like we’d done before. But the statement this time is: “We’re not like all these new punk bands, trying to play faster and harder!” – that was a deliberate thing. Particularly B-side which originally was gonna be the A-side. I said: “I want people to buy this record and say: “Wow! Is this the UK Subs ?” – not so sell out, but to make a statement that we’re just not a production-like-type punk-band doing what everybody else’s doing. So that was a deliberate move.
Subsequently your style changed quite a lot. Starting from quite soft “Killing Time” and finishing with one of the heaviest albums in the discography of UK Subs - «Quintessentials».
The problem with “Killing Time” was that we did that album in three days. We’d done a couple of singles prior to that as a reunion. Charlie and I. We did a split single with Swingin' Utters, then we did a single called “Betrayal”. It started when Charlie and I were talking. He was on tour with his band. I wasn’t in the band at that time. And we decided we’d do reunion – he and I. We did those singles. At that time I said: “Shall we do an album ?” – I was living in New York at that time. And he said: “Well, I’m gonna be in New York and I’ll have some days off!” so originally, it was gonna be: Steve Roberts, Alvin Gibbs, Charlie and me. The lineup from “Endangered Species”. But Steve Roberts didn’t want to stay after the tour. He went home. So firstly we had a drummer that didn’t really fit in. We only have three days to do it…Oh, actually Alvin wasn’t in the UK Subs at that time! He was touring with Iggy Pop. But he was going to be in New York, Charlie is gonna be in New York at the same time, I was gonna be in New York. And Steve Roberts was playing drums in that lineup of the UK Subs. So all the members of that lineup were going to be in New York. Charlie had a few songs. And I’ve got some songs that I wrote for a different band in New York which were never used because we didn’t make a second album. So I changed some of them. They actually weren’t done for UK Subs. In some ways I regret for “Killing Time”. I think it doesn’t represent UK Subs very well. There are a couple of tracks I like. I like: “Yellowman” and…maybe some others. But it’s not whether the songs are good. We didn’t have enough time to do it properly. We had the wrong drummer. And a lot of the songs weren’t written for UK Subs. So that album is an anomaly. But, when you talk about “Quintessentials” and “Riot” It was all recorded in one big session in San Francisco. That time we had more time. We had Alvin Gibbs. We had a good drummer. The drummer from Samiam [ note. David Ayer ] who subsequently died. And we did those albums like we did our early albums. Like we did “Another Kinds Of Blues” and “Brand New Age” so we didn’t have lots of songs written. And I said: “Let’s do two albums!” – That’s how we used to do this! We used to write songs like “Telephone Numbers” right then and there. Immediately! No time to be cliché. It was just what was happening right there. So I have a couple of weeks and I wrote a bunch of music. Alvin Gibbs writes on his own. So he wrote completed songs. He maybe had 3-4 completed songs. Charlie had 3-4…I had maybe a dozen of pieces of music with no-lyrics. We recorded them. We had 34 of album and we needed 4-5 more songs. In San Francisco, on the other side of Golden Gate to my house in the Richmond area was Wally Sound studios. That was literally across the park. So while Charlie was recording vocals, Alvin and I came to my house. We were writing songs. He had his bass and I had my guitar and we’d been talking: “Oh, what about this ?!” and then I played a riff. He played along and said: “Oh, yeah! Ok!Ok!” we had temporary titles so we knew which was which. And the titles we used were like “Clutching At Straws”. A lot of the songs on that album were very short, fast songs. And I really like it! I like the way we got energy back, like with our early stuff. But the problem there – the production could have been better because it was a small cheap studio. We didn’t have a money to go to big studio, use expensive mics and everything. So it’s ok! I think those albums are interesting…After that we did, when I rejoined in 96’s, another 15 years playing. But it was almost all touring around the world. We didn’t really make a lot of records at that time. We rerecorded all the hit songs on various labels, did an EP…And I wasn’t interested in re-recording songs. I actually was interesting in doing another album! Proper album. But Charlie just wanted to tour. So it was great 15 years touring South America, Japan and all the places we didn’t tour the first time round. Australia, New Zealand. Just on a selfish personal level it was great to see all these countries. But on artistic level I wasn’t that happy without recording. When we broke up for the first time - after “Endangered Species”, Alvin and I and the drummer at that time – John Towe, also known as Kim Wylie came back from Poland…We’d been playing in Poland under communism. And we got back to England and Charlie had booked the band into a pub. And he had a tendency to do that. We were interested in making a great record that is going to be around forever. You made a record – it’s there and people are listening to it for decades after it. We wanted to do a follow up to “Endangered Species” and made a really good record at that time – that would have an impact. And I had a concept for this album. It’s gonna be called “Speed”. And it was going to be in a way opposite of “Endangered Species” – the hardest thing for punk-band. I wanted to take everybody by surprise again. After “Endangered Species” everybody said: “Oh…!” – It’s a very popular album now. A lot of people listen to “Endangered Species”. But at that time, not with the hardcore-punk kids…We had a number of fans that accepted it. But we weren’t giving them what they were looking for. So I wanted to do album called “Speed” which was just crushing…Not just really fast songs. But that would actually have songs with structure. High energy album! That was my idea. I said to Charlie: “Let’s make this album – “Speed”!” But he was kind of reluctant…I don’t think he wanted to make that album. I think he wanted to make more poppy album, more singer-songwriter album. So that album never got made. But I did write title track – “Speed”. Somewhere on my computer I have my demo of it. But we broke up instead. Because Charlie wanted to just keep playing all the time. And this is what happened in 15 years, when I was back. He just wanted to tour all the time. And we didn’t put any time aside to do an album. And that’s what Charlie loves. If Charlie was not on the road, playing – he’d be in a bar, watching a band and drinking! That’s what he’s been doing his whole life – in a bar or club, watching bands, drinking…That’s great! That’s fine! But he wanted to do that for free by playing if you like ( laughs ). If he was going to be in a bar anyway, he might as well be playing, get paid for it and would have an opening bands to watch. And I’m not interested in that! I’m not interested in doing the same thing over and over and over again. I wanted to make a really good record, tour promoting it with something new. Making people around the band understand that it’s something that we really put our hearts into…That was big disagreement between the rest of the band and Charlie. When we finished Polish tour we wanted to make a really good record! Charlie just wanted to carry on touring. And that’s was a major dispute between us. That’s why we broke up…
In 1987 you founded the record-label – “New Red Archives”. Seven years ago you’ve successfully sold it. Could you please tell me, how everything started and how hard it was for you to close this chapter of your life ?
I moved to New York and I was playing in a band in New York. And I decided to start this record label. I was working in Caroline Records. I wanted to learn about music industry. So I worked for them. I was lucky as they asked me to do some work. I just got to New York and a friend of mine who was a promoter from Switzerland – she used to promote Subs’ shows in Switzerland. She had an office in New York. And she’d contacted me asking: “Do you know somebody who can do some carpentry work ?” – I said: “Well, I’m here! I don’t have a band. I’m in New York. I’m not a carpenter but I can do some work!” So went down there and I helped build her office. And on the same floor in New York was this record label. One of the guys from there came to me. I looked at him and said: “Do I know you ? You look very familiar!” – cause he was English. He said: “Oh, I don’t think you know me” – I said: “Where are you from ?” – “I’m from London!” – “You was born in London ?” – “No, I was born in Leicestershire! In a little village.” – I said: “Tell me!” and he said: “Village’s called “Cosby”. – I said: “I’m from Cosby!” His mother and my mother were best friends and lived about 6 or 7 houses away from each other. And that was in New York city! So he said: “Wow! What are you doing in New York ?” – as he worked for this record label, he asked if could do some jobs for him. And I went there and did some carpentry. Just a couple of days’ work. And afterwards he offered me a job. So I thought – “This is an opportunity for me to really learn about how music distribution work. So I work there picking records for distribution and everything. And at the same time at night I was starting my own record-label. And the reason I started it is because we had an unreleased seven inch of UK Subs. And another seven inch that was released! I got the rights to them. I put them together with some extra-material and put that record out myself. Because a lot of stuff was out of print and Nems records were out of business so “Endangered Species” was out of print. And this was two or three years after it was released and it was already out of print! So I thought: ‘Well, I’d like to see some of this stuff back in print!” so I started a label and “Archives” means that I was taking things out of archives. I was taking old master-tapes and reissued them. So the word “New” is because I was making a new artwork and trying to make a new look to these old tapes, that’d been forgotten. That’s where “Archives” came. It was originally going to be called “New Punk Archives”. I was going to go into achieves of punk records and reissue them. Last minute I thought: “Well, if it’s called “punk” and it’s a “hardcore” record. Or different kinds of punk!” – I wanted it to be not quite as narrow as punk. I knew I wanted to be “punk” label but I didn’t want to be completely narrow. There were some hardcore bands too. So it would have been contradictory to call the label “New Punk Archives”. People used to think “Oh, “red” meant communism!” but it actually meant “danger”. So it was “New Red Achieves” – these were tapes from archives. Dangerous tapes. Red, warning. A certain danger in making them.
After putting UK Subs’ record out, I met the guys from KRAUT in New York. And they said: “Well, our record is out of print!” – “An Adjustment to Society”. They have the guitar-player from Sex Pistols on it…so I put it out! I had two records! I think “A.W.O.L” was “NRA05” something like that. So NRA01 through 4 were not out. The reason was – I was in negotiations for reissue of the first four UK Subs’ albums. So “Another Kinds Of Blues” is gonna be NRA01, “Brand New Age” – “02”, “Crash Course” – “03”, “Diminished Responsibility” – “04”. But they didn’t license the stuff – I couldn’t get my own records! Even though they were out of print! So I went back and used those catalogue numbers with other bands. With Crucial Youth and KRAUT. So that’s how I started! I moved to California, to Los Angeles and restarted it. We were doing quite well and at that time I was signing new bands as well – No Use For A Name and bands like that. It became a real record-label. I never really intended for that to be my job! I always intended to carry on playing. But because it was successful I suddenly found myself running a record-label and not being a musician. I didn’t wanna be a businessman. I was talking to Fat Mike from Fat [Wreck] Records. And Brett Gurewitz from Epitaph… Brett and Mike and I were all friends down in L.A. Brett’s office and my office were very close to each other and I used to play chess with him. I saw his life and Fat Mike’s life and I decided that that’s not really what I want my life to be. Fat Mike carried on playing – he did very well. Brett at that time carried on playing with Bad Religion. But most of the time he was running a record label. I moved up to San Francisco because I was playing in a band called “Ten Bright Spikes” with singer from Social Unrest. I bought a house up here and carried on with the label. We were doing very well because I bought the rights for Reagan Youth stuff. And that was really-really taking off and really-really selling well. And we signed Anti-Flag and they were really taking off. So the label was doing very well…And then…it must have been it about 97-98. I did a reunion tour with UK Subs with Anti-Flag opening. Then I was playing more and more with UK Subs doing tours. I had a general manager who run the label. So I wasn’t running it as much anymore – she was running it. She’d run the label when I was touring and I would sign the bands. She signed a couple of them but mostly I signed bands. I was happy with that! But then music industry started to change and downloads came in…And a lot of distribution companies were having problems. I’d been working with Caroline Records and they were moving large amounts of records. But when one of these companies went out of business – I lost of a lot of money. So I moved to Mordam. And I was very-very happy with them. Ruth Schwartz was a great figure in alternative music. They were very-very ethical distribution company. They distributed most of Green Day records. So they had money. She did everything right! And I really think she was one of the heroes of the punk-era and DIY-era. And eventually, she decided to get out of music business…again, because the music business was changing. It was very difficult to sell records anymore. So I went to distributers of independent labels called “ILC”. These were some people who used to work with Mordam. And they used to run their distribution the way they did it before. There was one guy who was one of co-founders…I think he had some problems with drugs or something. I think he was pulling out money from label and doing something else with them so they got in financial difficulties. And they went out of business and I lost a bunch of money with them. So I organized a group of the labels from that. We got together – seven of us. Seven labels. We were looking for a new distribution company. One of the women, Tracy, who worked at “ILC” represented us. We were going to bring these seven labels to another distribution company as a package deal, with her in charge of these seven labels. And…We had some offers but it never really happened. So I didn’t really have a good distribution. I eventually got a distributor. But times had changed…And I didn’t really want to do it anymore. I didn’t want to struggle looking for distribution. And I’d been working a lot of Cleopatra Records…And Cleopatra records made me an offer for the label. It was a reasonable offer. And I like them! I like the guy there! They were trying to change the label and make it more current. I like him, he was a friend of mine. And another long-time friend of mine was working there so I said to them: “You know what ?! Life’s too short to sit at a desk trying to make deals with distribution and trying to make something work when the world has changed!” – and I wanted to get back to playing. I didn’t want to have this sack of rocks around my neck. I wanted to live again! And get back to playing. So I thought: “If I’m going to do that, if I’m going to re-invent myself and be playing again. I’ve done punk! I’ve done so much. I’ll never have a punk band that’s going to be as big as UK Subs were in 1979. That’s never gonna happen!” All over the world there is a DIY culture. I could have gone back and start a new punk band with some people from back them. And I would have spent some decades just playing around the clubs I played before. Or smaller with less interest. So I reinvented myself and by playing progressive rock as I used to do in 71 or 72. I think that was a more honest choice. I think if I’d formed another punk-band I would then felt dishonest to myself. Because I would have felt that I was doing it for money. And not because I was trying to make an artistic choice playing and using the name that I’ve got. That doesn’t feel right to me. However, and I haven’t said this to anybody! Lately, I had feeling that I might want to do something in punk again because of what was happening in the world with the rise of far right all over the Europe and Trump administration…I got that anger again! And there is something in me…The only thing that if you’re a school pupil and you see 60 year-old punk-guy ( laughs ). So I don’t know if I’ll get on stage and be angry…It wouldn’t be punk like I did it before. It would have to have something new. Some new kind of energy…Take that energy of punk and have something new in it. So I wouldn’t rule out that possibility. I’m 64 and I’m still in good health. I didn’t have any health issues. So If I’d ever gonna do it – it should be quite soon, you know.
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'
0KONTROL • We Apply The Old Soviet Tradition Where Lyrics Are Taking More Importance, Than The Music