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Dragster are a sensation waiting to happen. Lovingly assembled by hand in the middle of the noughties. Dragster have been delivering their unique brand of hellfire rock n roll to a growing cult of devoted fans.  Though Dragster have nailed their colours very firmly to the mask of punk rock, a cursory listen to their new album ‘Here Come The Meat Robots’ instantly reveals that the music this band makes could resonate as powerfully with any number of genres. Central to the appeal is raven-haired chanteuse Fiona Jayne Friel, whose undeniably powerful vocals luxuriate in the raw aggression of co-pilots Diesel and AC Speeds electric guitars. However, good as the new album is, it’s on the stage that this band really take flight. Any band can learn how to play hard rock, but only the best bands know it takes time and effort to unlock the secret of how to rock hard. And boy do Dragster want to share that secret with you!

We caught up with a hot and sweaty post gig Fiona (Fi to her fans and friends) to hear what other secrets she had to reveal.  

PHIL: When did you start listening to music?

FI: I grew up in a house where my mum was singing constantly. She did the Northern club scene in the late fifties and sixties, and when she was eighteen years old a record label in London wanted  to pick her up but her mother said no you’re not going to London.  She was my early inspiration because she was such a powerful vocalist; she’d sing Shirley Bassey and Petula Clarke songs. Fifties rock n roll was playing all the time and she’d play the crooners as well.

PHIL: What was the first music you decided was your own?

FI: Without a shadow of a doubt the catalyst in my life was seeing Siouxsie and the Banshees on Top of the Pops.  Not an album, not anything like that, just visually that woman changed my world.  And I have to say Adam Ant as well. As a little girl I had stirrings but didn’t know what they were!  Both of them were so flamboyant and unique in their own way.  You had Blondie, and I thought you had to be blond to be noticed, but when I saw Siouxsie she totally blew me away.  That’s what punk is all about; it’s all about the attitude. It’s not caring about how many chords you know or what your bloody hair looks like or what you’re wearing, it’s about the attitude.

PHIL: What does Punk Rock means to you?

FI: To me it’s just an attitude; it’s not a particular genre of music particularly. A lot of people get wrapped up in the whole ‘you’ve got to look this way, you’ve got to sound this way, and if you haven’t got a Mohican or a safety pin through your fucking nose…  Sorry, can I swear?


FI: Well I have (laughs) … if you haven’t got a Mohican or a safety pin through your fucking nose, you know, you’re not punk.

SHAY: That’s how punk was the first time around for about eighteen months before the shops got wise and started selling punk clothes and stuff. Then suddenly it became ‘What do you mean you haven’t got a pair of bondage pants’   

FI: In the beginning there were a few bands that defined the genre and so for some people if you’re not that definition of punk, then you’re not punk. But more importantly for me, they defined the attitude and it’s the attitude that’s the thing for me.

PHIL: What’s it like being a girl in a punk rock band?

FI: You never know how it’s going to go. There are a lot of people turned off by the thought of a female-fronted band because they think it’s going to be a bit weak and lame. When you play Rebellion there are a lot of hard core die-hard punks who will not go and watch a female-fronted band, especially if its rock n roll.

Phil: Why’s that?

FI: I don’t know you’ll have to ask them. I think they just assume it’s going to be too weak for their tastes. I think Dragster rock hard; I’ve certainly got the bruises to show for it. 

PHIL: Is that the way you normally dress

FI: D’you know what; I have my days when I feel like putting a sack on. But if I’m feeling good I’ll put something like this on. Today it a case of it’s fucking hot on stage so I’m going to wear cotton. I’m not skinny but I have my days when I feel bloated, I feel fat and I feel gross, but I am who I am and I wear what I wear because it’s make me feel comfortable, and if I’m comfortable on stage it’s going to be a good show.  If I’m not comfortable on stage, then I’m not going to have a good show and the punters aren’t going to enjoy it if I’m feeling shit.

SHAY: I think anyone who opens their eyes properly will see that it’s not just you, it’s the guys in Dragster who dress to impress as well.

FI: Exactly! Everyone’s putting their heart and soul into it and d’you know what, what’s wrong with making an effort when people pay money to come and watch you.

PHIL: You also have a touch of Bettie Page about you

FI: Bettie Page, God rest her beautiful soul, an absolutely diamond woman. I read an autobiography which said that all the photos Bunny Yeager took of her; she never paid Bettie for them. Yeager made so much money and Bettie never made a dime out of her own image. So they wrote this autobiography and gave Bettie some of the royalties to help keep her in her old age. (She was) such a beautiful soul.

PHIL: Have you ever thought about whipping the audience?

FI: I often think about whipping the band: constantly! (laughs)

PHIL: How does the DragSTER’s creative process work?

FI: Well Diesel is the major driving force in DragSTER, he’s the main songwriter. Then the other members bring it. Diesel has an idea then we jam it out. Sometimes he has a complete song written, drums, bass, guitars, vocals, how exactly he wants it to sound. And then other songs he can be struggling so the band gets some basslines and drums and lyrics going on and it happens that way. 

SHAY: So DragSTER won’t run without Diesel?

FI: No (laughs)

PHIL: Do DragSTER have a political stance?

FI: This is a funny question because I always say we’re not that political but then people quote lyrics back to me and I say ‘oh yeah there’s that’ (laughs). I think we get pissed off with the whole X-Factor thing; we get pissed off with the media. Our album ‘Here Comes The Meat Robots’ is all about human beings being fed through the TV, what the media wants them to hear, what they want them to think, what they want them to buy, what they want them to sell.  It’s this whole thing where people are being told what to do, where to go, how to behave, it’s Big Brother watching you all the time. DragSTER come from Coventry and Coventry has the most CCTV cameras in the whole of the world.

SHAY: It’s probably a play-off with Manchester because we’re absolutely riddled with them.

FI: Latest statistics say Coventry’s got the most.

PHIL: Is there a big punk scene in Coventry?

FI: No. Coventry sucks. Birmingham’s not so bad, there’s a few punk gigs going on in Birmingham. Manchester’s great. Coventry’s rubbish, absolutely rubbish.  London’s good but you get those scene people who only say you’re alright because they’ve seen so many bands.

PHIL: What about Europe?

FI: We’re going there in September so I’ll let you know. I’m really looking forward to it.

PHIL: Have you played in America?

FI: Yes I played with Martin Atkins who was in Public Image and also worked with Ministry and Revolting Cocks, all that industrial thing. I toured with him as a guest vocalist with his band Pigface. He’s actually doing a show in Chicago this November and he says if the figures work out he’s bringing me over, he’ll play for the flights and whatever.  So please, please let the figures work out!

PHIL: Is that secondary to DragSTER?

FI: Oh yes it’s just the one show.  Martin heard DragSTER’s EP back in 2003 and he invited me to do the tour, and we did a five week tour all over America.  We played a track called ‘Redneck’ every night and I had people like J.S. Clayton out of Pitchshifter and Esch, who was in KMFDM, singing it with me. It was mad.

PHIL: Which bands would you recommend at the moment?

FI: I’m missing Rust! (Rust are playing on stage during the interview) I totally recommend Rust, they’re great guys. I bought one of their tee-shirts and they bought one of ours. Maximum RNR obviously, in fact all the bands that have played today.  Texas Teri.  Drongos For Europe, they’re just amazing. Great band, absolutely love them.

PHIL: Would DragSTER’s attitude ever prevent them becoming successful?

FI: We are what we are. See what we’re doing here today, and the tour, and Rebellion might make us a few quid, but even if we only break even, we’d still be happy. If we don’t make any money, we had a good time. And that’s what it’s all about for me. We’ve got people like Stu (Taylor of STP Records) and Steve (Iles, punk fan extraordinaire) who does some driving for us, people like that make it for us.  And that’s the thing about punk it’s about everyone; it’s not just about bands, it’s about people like Stu who loves punk, it’s about Steve who travels everywhere, it’s a whole community of people that are making it happen.  The bands come along, and these people help us achieve what we want to achieve.


14th Sept DNA Café, Brussels, Belgium
15th Sept Wild At Heart, Berlin, Germany
16th Sept TBC, Leipzig, Germany
17th Sept Subway To Peter, Chemnitz, Germany
19th Sept Sonic Ballroom, Germany
21st Sept TBC, Italy
22nd Sept TBC, Italy
23rd Sept TBC, Italy
24th Sept TBC, Italy
8th Oct – 9th Oct Lost Weekend Derby and Nottingham with Vice Squad & Girlfixer
28th Oct Nambucca, London
8th Oct Punks Alive, Old Wharf, Birmingham with Devilish Presley
15th Oct Spanky Van Dykes, Nottingham
3oth Oct Halloween Special, The Fleece, Bristol with King Kurt
21st Dec Punks By The See with UK Subs & The Lurkers

Interview by Phil & Shay 24/08/11
Photos by Shay

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