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Interview

Menace
01/12/1999



Please give a brief history of the band, including current line up.

We formed together with Morgan, Steve, Charlie and myself at The Hope and Anchor in 1976, just after we saw people like the Pistols doing the various things they were doing at the time on TV. We thought it look like great fun, so we got together and here we are still. Having split up in the meantime for a good 20 years, but I will come onto that later.

Discography.

Screwed Up - Illegal Records (with Kim Turner and Miles Copeland)

I Need Nothing - Illegal Records/Step Forward (actually reordered at the same time as Screwed Up, but put out much later - produced by John Cale)

GLC/I'm Civilised - Small Wonder

The Young Ones - Final Vinyl (a fun record meant as a tribute to the fans, released as the band was splitting up) -

New Stuff

Society's Still Insane EP- Vinyl Japan (record label wanted them to do 4 of the old songs, but band wanted to include new stuff - ep actually features re-recordings of the old tracks, plus new track)

C&A/*Punk Rocker/It's Not Unusual/Last Years Youth - Knock Out Records (3 new tracks, one old - Due out NOW!!!)
Live album - Vinyl Japan (Due out Feb 2000)

Studio album planned for middle/end 2000

* Punk Rocker was actually one of the old original Menace Songs, but never recorded.

What are the main differences from doing gigs when you first started, to doing them now? And is it the same audience, but now middle age or a new audience?

In the old days it was really manic, we were all young whippersnappers diving about the place, being sick and drinking and the rest of it - a fabulous time. Nowadays, we are a bit heavier and a bit older, but we still enjoy gigs the same as we did. We have a really great time at gigs and we just love to up there playing. The audience is an odd mix, there are a lot of young kids coming to the gigs, some that would not have been born '77. Some who got into punk with Special Duties and people like that later on in the 80's. And there are some of the original old punks that say we saw you here, we saw you there and we think fucking hell, people are still out there, around watching gigs. We really lost ourselves after we split up, we didn't know that it all still existed, so it was a real surprise to see all these people coming to see us again - fantastic really.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you whilst touring?

All the funniest tour related things happen to be drink related. We lost Morgan one night after we had played, couldn't find him of ages, we hunted high and low, upstairs, downstairs, behind the bar - every place. We thought 'where has this guy gone?'. Then half-way through the evening, suddenly Morgan rises like a dead man from behind one of the speaker cabinets on stage, from where he had collapsed at the end of the gig, and hadn't known he was still there. Another time we were coming back from a gig (probably JB's in Dudley) and we had a van full of people, as you did in those days sitting on the speaker cabinet's etc. Everyone in the back had been drinking snakebites for the best part of the evening, and it was half way down the motorway and one of them said 'I feel a bit sick, you'll have to stop the van'. The van didn't stop so he was sick in the van, and with him wretching and being sick it meant that everyone else in the van was just sick as well. The whole van was covered in chunder, we had to stop for about an hour to just clean this thing out. It stunk like a shit factory - it was really, really, really bad.

If Menace could play live with any band, either of the past or present who would it be?

This would probably be The Clash in the early days, before they released their album. Their gigs just seemed to be full of energy and life, no real controversy like the Sex Pistols (I can't imagine trying to play with them as the whole night would just be fucked up with ego's and everything else). It seems to me that The Clash went along and played a gig pretty much like we do, and the audience came to see a band that played music and not necessary being controversial. I also quite like The Jam, but I'm not sure if they could have suited us with the music they played. With the bands we play with now, smaller and bigger bands, we just enjoy meeting the people and seeing what they are up to.

Do you think street music will rise again?

I can't see that it will ever become really popular again, like it was with everyone into it. I think you might have some peaks, there may be a band some place that release a single that gets fairly well played. I think Madness coming back together now, although they are fairly poppy, they are still quite interesting to listen to and their songs are all pretty chanting and oi!'sh in a way and I think there is a lot of people who will go and see them. I don't know if it will fit under the banner of 'street music'. Anyway, I think it is pretty healthy as it is, if it gets too big then the problems reoccur that we had the first time round, with the mixing of the different cultures and everything. It is pretty good the way it is. There quite a few thousand into it, and there is a fairly good, healthy amount of people that come to the gigs. Anything to 100, to 350 come to see to gigs, maybe a few more. That's good as you get to know the people fairly well that come, although it is different people at every show - it is fairly healthy, and if it got bigger, we could loose sight of it again. The fact that it is this size it becomes 'ours', where as if it becomes bigger, it moves away from being 'ours' - something can get lost in it being too popular. I vote that we should keep it at the size it is, or maybe a bit bigger without it getting ridiculously big again. That way it will go on for a lot longer, because as you know anything that comes up as a trend, dissapears again fairly quickly.

What is the Punk/Oi scene like in your area?

In my area local to me Muswell Hill/Crouch End places like that, the oi scene is a bit like watching a tumble weed through the desert - it really isn't happening. I know Charlie Harper comes from Finsbury Park/Crouch End way, but there aren't really any gigs to speak of. The nearest being Camden and Islington which seem to be fairly healthy because if the Garage and Hope and Anchor and loads of other places in Camden. But around here, there's very little, you are starting to get into the outskirts of Barnnet and there are no gigs, never mind Oi gigs. You can't get to see any gigs up in this area except maybe if you went to Alexandra Palace to see some really big band. You see the odd punk in the street, which is strangely enough unusual as you did not see them a few years back and now you see the odd coloured hair, odd mohichian - but whether they are surf punks, or what, I don't really know. I haven't gone up to them and said 'oi mate, what bands do you like?', but they seem to be fairly punky looking. So I think it is around some place, but I haven't found it in my street.

What is the favourite song (and what band is it by) of each member of the band?

Noel:
London's Calling - The Clash
Bodies - Sex Pistols
Babylon's Burning - The Ruts (now there is a band I would like to play with again, if they were around)

John:
How Much Longer? - ATV

Charlie:
Jam/Clash/maybe The Who

Andrew:
Everything

Plans, gigs and releases planned for 99.

We hope to stay together for as long people allow us to. Charlie is moving down to Plymouth because of his circumstances, but we will still be doing gigs as we do most gigs at the weekend anyway as we work. We rarely do Monday/Tuesday night gigs, but we could it's not impossible, but generally speaking it easier for the people who want to see us to get to gigs at the weekend. We have the FREE gig on the 4th December, dedicated to Rebecca and her 'Punk & Oi in the UK website' down at the Goldsmiths Tavern, which will be our end of year gig. Next year we will look at the States, a slightly longer tour of Germany and the Czech Republic. We have just come back from a successful German tour and may make the Czech Republic at the end of December. So more gigs, and probably a single and then an album, which I have already mentioned that includes songs off some of the singles & new songs, maybe a couple of covers, might do a ska track. The ska track would obviously be quite hard to do live as a three musician outfit (John only sings, does not play an instrument), but I would not mind doing it on an album. We have the live album in February. We will look at recording a new album August/September which may not be out on vinyl until 2001 - same formula, we want loads and loads of people to come down to the studio, live or not we like load of people to come in and join in on the album. We don't want to over produce things, we think that sounds really naff. So really in a nutshell, what we intend to do next year and in years to come is to keep the band going, keep gigging, we are not going to do huge tours or hundreds of gigs. Two, maybe three gigs a month, a couple of tours abroad - maybe Japan, maybe the States, defiantly Germany. And I think we will continue to have a good time, because for us it is a real buzz to come back after 20 years and almost, but not quite pick up where we left off. I think the bands sounds as good as it ever did, if not better. There is plenty of energy there, even more energy than before, because the energy used to be misdirected now it is focused. The sound of the band is good, the live recording is as it was, there are no overdubs, we got around 40-50 people into a small studio, we set the studio up like a gig and we played. We did the set two times, the first time was more or less a warm-up, we got loads of beer in, so the time we did the second set people treated it like they forgot it was a recording and they were jumping up onto our side of the tape as it were and jumping on Andrew's guitar, pedal booster and bumping into the cymbals, getting on the microphone - so it was just like a gig. We will continue to do stuff like that, and as long as people still like Mencae we will play.

Any final comments?

These days with the Internet etc, we have never had as much coverage. In the old days Menace, people who ran fanzines/news papers really didn't take much notice of Menace. Not sure why, perhaps there were too many bands to take in, or maybe it was 'cos we weren't fashionable. Nowadays, we are getting a lot of good reviews in magazines, apart from one guy who didn't bother to come to see us, but wrote 'that we were boring old gits, who were only in it for the money', which I still kind of resent a little bit, although he since sys that he made a mistake, but I have not seen anything to counteract that particular statement. I think now with things like 'Punk & Oi in the UK' and people like Stuart from Kontrol, means there is a wealth of things for people to get involved in and to really get the message out there to other people all over the world. I'll always write to people, or at least drop them a few lines if they say for example 'hi, I'm from ----- there are no punks down my manner' and I will drop them a note and say I'm in the same boat, but we're on the net so we are just down the road from each other. I think you are doing a great service to the world, by keeping the music alive on the internet - and that's brilliant, you can pack yourself on the back, and when I see you, I will buy you a pint. One day you will come down to London, or we will get up to Leeds and we would be quite interested if you could come up with a gig at the weekend, we'll come up, have a laugh and come home again.


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