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When you live in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, it's easy to take it for granted that any night of the week there's live music on somewhere, whether it's a covers band playing down the local, or a big tickets-in-advance tour date. But get outside the big cities and it's a different story. The recession doesn't help either. When pure geography's against you as well, you've got to be pretty determined if you're trying to get other places with your music. That's why I'm talking to Falling Apart today. I caught their set & met the guys at the Mudkiss Camden punkfest, & was blown away that they'd driven up from Devon to play for us, & had to get back the same day. That's what I call dedication! They played a storming set, overcame equipment problems, and really got the afternoon going. Sure, there's a few rough edges there (but isn't that what punk's about?) & maybe a cover version or two too many (but that's just my opinion). I'm as guilty as anyone of only thinking of Devon as a great place to go on holiday, so I was keen learn more about what it's like being a punk band so far from the big cities & gig circuits.

Falling Apart are - Greg Schofield - guitar, Mark Roberts - bass, Andy Argyle - drums, Dean Davey - vocals

Den - How did Falling Apart get started? I'd heard about a Vibrators gig...

Greg - Yes, that's right, at the end of 2004. I'd only been living in Devon for about six months & saw that the Vibrators were playing Ilfracombe. It's a small town & rare that such legends play there, so I was pretty excited & went down. I'd joined Ilfracombe Round Table a few months before to try & do some good work in the local community & meet a few good blokes. At the gig I bumped into Julian, one of the guys from Round Table. We got talking & it transpired that he was into a lot of old school punk like me & also that he'd been a drummer in a punk band in his formative years. I'd been a guitarist in a punk band in Blackburn in '81 & had always wanted to get back into a band. As it happened, the Round Table Chairman that year, Mark Roberts (our current bassist) had also liked punk & we put an idea together that we'd form a band together as a "one-off" & play a surprise gig at his Chairman's night at a posh Five Star hotel at Saunton Sands the following March. Anyway, we ended up having to draft in a guest singer & played four songs. I think we were fairly dreadful to be honest, but we absolutely loved playing, so decided to carry on. I think the idea was that we'd do as many gigs as we could on the back of the Round Table charity thing, but it really took off from there. We drafted in another guy from Round Table who was a fairly decent guitarist & singer, & started to write a few of our songs as well & we were playing about 18-20 gigs a year.

Den - What's the Ilfracombe/Devon scene like? Are there many places to play?

Greg - In North Devon there's a lot of good bands about & a lot of good musicians, but there's no real punk scene as such, so we're usually playing to a real mixed audience. Realistically, we seem to go down well with the over 40's, i.e. those people who remember the punk scene first time around & also the younger end from teenagers to the early 20s. There's a lot of people into metal & they're usually sufficiently broad-minded to like the punk aspect as well. We have a local promoter in Ilfracombe, Ray Williams, who bleeds live rock music & it's thanks to him that we've had bands like the Vibrators, UK Subs, Vice Squad, 999, Anti Nowhere League, Rock'n'roll Gypsies & the Duel playing down here, despite fairly small numbers in the audiences & we've also had the opportunity to support quite a few of those bands. Ray organises the bands for Round Table's annual Birdman event on Ilfracombe Pier - you know, where people in silly costumes & homemade flying machines throw themselves into the sea off the Pier. We've played most of the Birdman events over the last five years, & that's where the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, the Wurzels & the Groundhogs come into play. There are a few dedicated rock music clubs in the area, but they seem to constantly struggle along with low crowd numbers - it amazes us that people won't pay £2 or £3 to watch two or three bands - sometimes great bands at that.

Den - Are there other like-minded groups you can play/promote gigs with?

Greg - We have tended not to play with local punk bands very often. There aren't many to begin with, so we've often played with bands or musicians who are actually very different to us, from traditional rock bands to even folk singers, partly to increase the breadth & numbers in the audience, & partly because the audiences seem to appreciate the variety.

(Check the photos on Falling Apart's myspace page for some great gig shots - db)

Nobby - It was great to play at the Mudkiss Punk Party, because as a band we'd never played in London & that's something we wanted to experience. Also the fact that we got to play to an almost exclusively punk audience, which doesn't happen to us that often.

Den - I'm intrigued about some of the people you've played with - any good stories about Arthur Brown? 999? Alvin Stardust?

Greg - It's been a dream to support the bands that we remember from the early punk days like the Vibrators & Vice Squad, that's just something I never thought would ever happen. I remember sorting out the bio for Arthur Brown in the Birdman programme three or four years ago & being stunned to find that he sold something like seven million records in a five month period back in the late 60's. It's really over to Andy, our drummer, for the really interesting stuff as he's seen & done it all.

Andy - Playing glam with Alvin Stardust was awesome, playing to thousands of screaming young things. Unfortunately my original punk experience was dark & forgettable, drink & drug fuelled boredom filled with violence, racism, dirty dives etc. My one abiding memory is HATE written in shite on a toilet wall in some dump of a club somewhere in the East End.

Greg - I've played/worked with or met many - i.e. Ken Dodd (funny guy), Roy Castle (nice guy), Noddy Holder (ok), John Inman (funny chap), Jimmy Saville (no comment), the Real Thing (good guys), Liverpool Express (good chaps) & many more. However they all pale to nothing compared to Chas McDevitt. I was lucky when he turned up to a gig somewhere up North in the '80's at a club we were also playing. Anyway, Chas' drummer failed to arrive, so he asked me to stand in & do his set with him. Just awesome - this guy is an icon of British popular music, had hits in the UK & America, appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, and so on. I got to drum to "Freight Train". So when Cats Eyes broke up, I joined the G Strings Skiffle Band (G because every song we played was in G). The G Strings appeared on "Surprise Surprise" & many other TV shows. I went on to play in about 15 or 16 other bands before joining Falling Apart.

Den - Have you ever come across TV Smith? He's from Bideford I think...

Greg - I've seen TV Smith perform on numerous occasions & he's one of my favourite artists. I actually sing & play "Lord's Prayer" in our longer sets. I believe that Tim originated from South or mid-Devon, but Gaye Advert hailed from nearby Westward Ho! I used to have a massive poster of her on my wall as a teenager & it's great to see her with Tim Smith at many of his gigs, she's still a fine looking lady.

Dick from the Subhumans/Citizen Fish lives near Bideford I think, & it was a few years ago that we saw them play a gig in a village hall in sleepy Littleham. At the time, the village was dead & we drove into the car park of this little village hall thinking we'd got the wrong place & opened the door to be hit by a wall of heat & smoke. There were about 300 punks crammed in there with the band playing on this little stage - fantastic!

Den - I really liked "Nanny State" - are you hoping to get towards using more of your own material? Any recording plans?

Dean - Thanks for that, we think it's a really pertinent record, given what's happened over the last ten years. We do have a number of our own songs in addition to our versions of other people's stuff & the classics, but we're conscious that most of the audiences we play to want to hear stuff that they've heard before, so it's a case of sliding in our material where we can.  We usually get to play our full repertoire in a longer set, when we're the headline band. As Greg says, we're never going to be on Top of the Pops (largely because it's not on any more!).

We released our four track EP "Give us your name, give us your life" earlier this year & we'll probably get back & record some more stuff at the end of next year. We're just finalising a song called "I wanna go", which we really like, so listen out on myspace.

Den - You're clearly influenced by classic punk - anything happening now that you like?

Greg - It's great that we can still get to see a loyt of the original punk bands, but in terms of now, we're big fans of Goldblade & the Rabble. On the big stage, we like Green Day, but we've seen quite a few "unknown" bands who are really good - the Tommys come to mind. Dean has a list of bands as long as his arm who he really rates including the Gallows, the King Blues, Civit, Rise Against - to name but a few!

Den - And finally - what do you do when you're not Falling Apart (haha)?

Greg - Ha! As a matter of interest, we actually decided on that name for the band as we were all suffering some sort of physical malady at the time. As you'll see from our Myspace, we're a mixed bunch from a work point of view, we're pretty family orientated & a couple of us have an interest in Round Table & helping out the local Sea Cadet unit. Nobby's a keen biker & Dean goes to as many gigs as he can, whilst regularly courting lovely young ladies...

Falling Apart - keeping the faith out West, & a really sound bunch of guys, remember the name!
Find Falling Apart on myspace -

Live action:December 18th - Castle Inn, Combe Martin
December 19th - The Bunch of Grapes, Ilfracombe

Interview by Den 22/1109
Photos by Mel (Taken @ The Mudkiss Punk Party)

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