I heard about The Spittin’ Vicars online and was keen to interview their guitarist, a genuinely nice bloke with real punk attitude. He’s written his own fab intro’ so read on to discover gems about the
Erm... um...right...been one of those punk-rocker types since I was a wee bairn back in
I came here to the
Shelley- How did you get into punk music?
Steve- Oh that's a memory that never fades... when I was about 10 or 11 there was a kid a coupla years older who lived in our street. He used to teach us swearing and sometimes we'd see him on his way home from
Shelley- What was the
Steve- Being a young pup, I missed out on the early days... never even knew there was anything going on, and even if I did I was too young to take part. Things like all ages shows were unheard of back then. However,
There was a pub in the city centre, The Old 29 that was as rough as arseholes, carpeted with broken glass and staffed by nasty bouncers. There were always gigs there, such as the Upstarts, Red Alert and Red London. Other pubs had gigs too over the years, but the 29, now demolished, has legendary status. Then the SMC (Sunderland Musicians Collective) really got things going by opening first a practice place and then a venue in the centre of town. The venue was christened The Bunker and played host to most of the anarcho bands of the era, such as Poison Girls, D.I.R.T., Rubella Ballet and Conflict. After a year or two the venue moved to a larger premises, sharing the building with a vegetarian cafe, a gym, an actors workshop, a record shop, a barbers etc, etc. The gigs continued with Steve Ignorant, Flux, Antisect, Chumbawamba et al.
When the keyholders got fed-up, for whatever reasons, I and three other lads took over. We continued the anarcho theme and continued to book bands from that camp, as well as other strands of punk like DOA, the Exploited,
Shelley- Favourite gigs from the past?
Steve- The Spizzles & Dept. S at the Sunderland Mayfair (my first ever gig)
The Banned at the Bunker (Steve Ignorant & Conflict)
The ‘So What’ tour (The Defects, Chelsea, Chron Gen, ANWL)
DOA at the Bunker
The Damned in
Iggy Pop ... any time
This year, in
Shelley- I believe you were in the audience for The Tube (80’s music show presented by Paula Yates & Jools
Steve- Give your researcher a bonus... how do you find out these things?!! ;-)
Back then, loads of us 'pineapple chunks' drank in a student bar, The Langham Towers, cos it was only 50p a pint!! One night, in swanned a bunch of hipster types, squaring their fingers and looking at everyone as though through a camera. They picked out anyone they thought looked interesting and asked us to go to The Tube for an audition???
When we arrived, the idea was that the best dancers would get a pass to come and be in the audience every week. We just went up to the head hipster and told her we wouldn't be dancing and could we have our pass now so we could go out drinking instead. Jools was a decent bloke and Paula came off as a snobby cow. Saw some great bands though... Pepsi n Shirley, The Communards,
Shelley- How did you get together with the other Spittin’ Vicars and how long have the band been going?
Steve- We started August 2003. I hadn't lived in
Monday- John turned up here and we wrote the basics of two songs, ‘
Shelley- Any memorable shows or interesting stories while gigging?
Steve- I like to think they're all memorable... we each put our heart 'n' soul into making it a good gig, there's no weak links in the Vicars, you get 5 wild men, rather successfully nailing every punk cliché in the book for 60 - 75 minutes. Erm... but we've had our off-days!!
We were booked for a festival once which ended up cancelled when the promoter disappeared. Rather than have a day off, we advertised ourselves on e-bay. The winning bidder, Tim, who is now a good friend of ours, knocked down loads of walls in his house, put a new floor in and had us play in what was left of his living room. People came from all over
Shelley- When were the Dog-Ends formed?
Steve- Around the start of 2007, I think... formed from the ashes of two good Dutch bands, The Shaggable Sluts and Last To Go... but we still haven't started gigging though!! The set's just about ready but we lost our rehearsal space recently... hopefully we'll be treading the boards from spring ’09 and it'll be worth the wait.... if you happen to like Oi! tinted, Clash-inspired, sing-along punk.
Shelley- You also make your own music under the name of Redhead Virgo- care to elaborate on that?
Steve- Yeah, it's badly recorded hahaha...but if you can get past that, it's basically me messing about on speed. When I first got into using a computer for recording I'd no idea how to go about it. A complete mystery, so I'd get pepped up, switch it all on and put together a drumbeat in the pc... next I'd jam over it with the bass, then spend hours experimenting with different ways of recording guitars. Everything was 100% organic. I never knew how the end result was gonna sound.
Eventually, I had a few recordings that weren't too bad and I put them on a MySpace page. Redhead Virgo is actually nothing more than that and it's probably never going to evolve into an actual band.
Redhead Virgo is actually nothing more than that and it's probably never going to evolve into an actual band.
That's ok though... at least I'm the boss!! Future wee projects... I've got a few acoustic songs, some reggae stuff, plus a handful of covers that I wanna do punk versions of (Squeeze, The Waterboys, Joan Jett).
Shelley- Can you tell us more about your home studio (sorry, I’m clueless about equipment myself)?
Steve- Oh, I could talk all day about it ;-) I spent the last 8 months hoarding gear and learning the basics. Started doing a few test recordings in August and now, November, I'm finally able to produce some decent sounding results so I'm looking forward to starting some serious recording. Learning it was a daunting task, and I fear, a never ending one... but I'm totally bitten by the bug... have been since the first time I pushed record. Much to the chagrin of the missus, who is fed up of hearing about compressors, mics, gates, EQs and the like.
Shelley- Do you get to many gigs these days? What’s the current music scene like in
Steve- No, I'm always too skint. I think the recent surge in the popularity of punk might be on the wane.... the venues in my neck of the woods are turning more and more to metal and rockabilly.
Shelley- Finally, any plans to bring The Spittin’ Vicars to the
Steve- We'd love to.... you don't know how much we'd love to!! Going home and playing for all our mates would be class. The thing is, we haven't done anything for almost two years... thankfully, we start gigging again in Feb, first show in our adopted hometown of
Oh, are we finished? I was enjoying that!!
Thanks for taking an interest in my ramblings.... gizza hug ;-)
Many thanks to YOU Steve- what a brilliant story teller!
Check out The Spittin’ Vicars/Redhead Virgo here:
All photo’s courtesy of the sites above.
Interview by Shelley Guild 13/11/08