RN: Can you do the boring, semi-obligatory introduction thing?
Kevin: Ok why not? Well Tony and Mike aren’t here because they had to go early, but Tony plays drums and Mike plays guitar, and I’m Kevin and I play bass.
Phil: I’m Phil and I shout.
K: And uhh how did it start?
P: It goes back quite along way. Basically I was in a band called Aside, which was my first ever hardcore band, and I’ve known Tony for years because oddly he plays for my old band’s football team. (laughs) But basically he was saying that he wanted to start up a straight-up eighties hardcore band so we started up Chokeword, which was my side project for Aside, but then Aside split up, and then Chokeword split up, and basically we just got you in.
K: Yeah, I’d been living in Cardiff and had just moved down to Southampton, and I knew Tony did Suspect Device down there so I wrote to him and asked, ‘What gigs are going on?’ And went to a few gigs, and I told him I was interested in finding a band to play bass, and one day he rung up saying that Chokeword had split up do you wanna join a new band?
P: Yeah cause basically it’s exactly the same line-up apart from the fact that I swapped from bass to vocals, and you came in and played bass.
K: When was that? That was September 2001.
P: It was a while back now, yeah about two and a half years.
RN: You’ve only got the one release out right?
K: Yeah, it’s all sort of pending. We have the EP, ‘Silence’, out, and then we’re due to have a 7″ due to come out on Peter Borrer records. We’re due to do some recording to do a split with Biff Tannen, and we’ve got various tracks on a multitude of different compilation albums, but I’ve kind of lost tracks of what songs are where! One comp is a benefit for Sane, which is a mental health charity.
P: There’s a South Coast Hardcore compilation, which is a CDr thing which basically the idea is that people make copies of it and pass it on. I think that’s called ‘Southern Comfort’ and we’re on that, with a bunch of other ones.
RN: Is that the one that Red Crayon put out?
P: Nope that’s another one (laughs) but we’re on that one too.
K: Is that the Millipede one?
P: No that’s something out. Yeah basically we have a whole bunch of tracks on a whole bunch of comps and we don’t know what they are.
RN: How come you don’t tour much?
K: Yeah, that’s something that’s come up recently isn’t it?
P: Yeah we had a fight about this. (laughs)
K: Three of us have families, which makes it a little difficult, so perhaps we’re not as flexible as Phil would sometimes like us to be.
P: I’d like to point out incidently that I’m 22, I’m not in my thirties as most people seem to think. (laughs)
K: But the rest of us are in our thirties so we have a series of other commitments. But it’s come up recently where as a band we’re getting a bit fed up of… we tend to do one gig, on one night, and that’s it. So yeah we’re starting to talk about putting together three, or four, or five nights consecutively together, to do a bit of a tour.
P: It’s basically been family commitments up till now.
K: Yeah, partly. But then the other problem is that gigs only come up as one. We basically haven’t got our act together.
P: We don’t really look for shows.
K: Probably if we looked for them we could get a couple in a row. It’s something we’re hoping to sort out. There’s a band called Intent in Southampton and we’re hoping to get something with them over the summer, four or five shows.
RN: Ok, well a question I was gonna ask, but I’ll just through in here with absolutely no continuity, is do you think there is a difference between South Coast HC and Northern HC?
K: Oh yeah, the Urban HC (laughs)
P: I think if you go back five years then yeah, possibly. I think that we’ve always gone down pretty well up North. I mean we play Leeds a fair bit and I mean we’ve been interviewed for a few fanzines up there so I think we go down OK. I think…
K: Personally I don’t really see a difference. We play gigs up north, we play gigs down south. The only difference is geography, it takes five hours longer to travel to Leeds than to somewhere in the south. (laughs)
P: That said though, I have spoken to friends who were in other hardcore bands who have said that up until recently there was this north, south divide and you had to really prove yourself before you could get shows up north, but I don’t know how true that is, we’ve never found that, so…
RN: There seems to be a bit of a sound difference…
P: Yeah it’s true most of the thrash hardcore bands tend to be up north don’t they.
K: But do you think that’s because of the label’s though?
P: Possibly, I don’t know.
K: I guess the labels perhaps encourage it maybe, and if the people running those labels are looking for that kind of sound then that’s what people are going to associate the northern hardcore bands with.
P: I was also going to say that maybe if people organise those kind of shows then those are the bands that people are seeing…
K: And they eventually end up ‘representing the north’ whether it’s true or not. There may be plenty of bands that do completely different sounds it’s just you don’t hear about them… maybe, I don’t know! (laughs)
P: There’s a lot of eighties style hardcore and thrash style bands down south, there used to be Parade of Enemies, Minute Manifesto and now there’s us and Biff Tannen, because they’re just totally like the Teen Idles or something! (laughs) They are, they’re fucking amazing.
K: There’s no substance as well.
RN: Is it a fairly healthy scene in Southampton then?
K: Yeah it is actually. I think …
P: It’s not just Southampton though is it. It’s Southampton, Basingstoke, Hampshire, Isle of Wight… yeah, there are some good bands.
K: It’s doing alright. I’m not from that area so like people like Phil, Tony and Mike will have a much better idea of the history of it all, but for me it seems to be really healthy. There’s always the danger that people take that for granted and starting whinging about it, when actually it’s brilliant.
P: There’s always shows to go to. There’s always two or three a month if you’re willing to travel a little bit. There’s bands like No Substance, Biff Tannen, Jets Vs Sharks, Chillerton, all those bands are really, really fucking good. You can put them up against any other bands around the country and they can hold their own, so… it’s cool!
RN: Have you found, because you’ve got a lot more political content than a lot of hardcore bands at the moment…
K: Don’t look at me (laughs)
RN: Have you had any reaction either way, good or bad?
P: Neither really, actually, I think because of the political lyrics we tend to maybe cross over to other people who possibly wouldn’t like us as much musically but you know dig what I’m shouting about. No one’s ever really come up to me and said, ‘Man I wish you’d just shut up’ (laughs) or… you know what I mean, it’s never really happened. It’s normally cause I’m being drowned out by those fuckers anyway. (laughs) I’ll try and go off on a ten minute rant and Mike will just start playing anyway!
K: I think your style of lyrics sort of suits that kind of shouty soap box approach, I guess the other three of us leave it to you really in terms of lyrical content. That doesn’t mean that I’m not interested in the lyrics, I’m perfectly happy to be associated with what Phil’s shouting about. It’s just that the interest for me is playing my guitar and listening to Mike and Tony rattling along so…
P: For me it’s kind of the opposite. Because it’s like this is my space and I can what I want here and I can make big political statements without being compromised by other things, whether that’s a party structure or whatever. It’s my thirty seconds in between each song saying, ‘Right, this is what’s the fucking score. This is what I believe…’ I don’t know, that might sound pretty trite because you’re not putting that into action particularly, but then again I’m kind of a bit like if someone goes away thinking about something that I’ve sung, or spoken about, then that’s more important to me than whether someone likes us musically. It’s more… it’s more on that level for me.
Bar man: Guys just to say you’ve got ten minutes before we close, just to warn you!
RN: Do you think that punk and hardcore is a way to get ideas across? Hardcore’s communication and all that?
P: I think music is communication.
K: Yeah that’s an odd one because I think that you’re mostly preaching to the converted, and god knows how you take it to a new audience.
P: I think that’s bollocks man. (laughs) To be honest!
K: Justify your argument then. (laughs)
P: I really disagree with that, I think within certain sectors within the scene there’s an acceptance that say for example veganism or anarchism or whatever you want to talk about is acceptable. But there are always kids that maybe haven’t been exposed to that or maybe… do you know what I’m saying? There are kids that we play to every day that still eat meat, that are still fairly pro-war and patriotic. I think it’s still worthwhile doing.
K: Yeah, but there’s a huge section of the audience that already holds those opinions. You’re not going to get… you never get, like you said, coming up to contradict us as a band and I don’t know… I think that it’s really difficult to find an audience that are going to say, ‘Well come on convince me otherwise, I think this, but you say in the lyrics this, and I want you to convince me otherwise’. I don’t know whether that happens. It’s difficult. I think… I think you’re right music is a communicator, and that draws people in, but I don’t whether… I don’t how easy it is to take your message elsewhere. I think Tony’s idea of doing gigs at the youth club…
P: I was going to say what about the youth club?
K: Well that’s a different story, because that’s a new audience, that’s an audience that wouldn’t normally come to see you.
P: What about the maybe the Overton shows or something like that?
K: I mean Overton’s a bit of an exception because it’s a younger audience, but I think the normal gigs that we do in bars, clubs and wherever, you get people that just want to hear loud guitars, or you get people who on the whole agree with what you’re shouting about. I feel!
P: Maybe, maybe you’re right. I was thinking specifically on occasions when we have played to you know maybe younger audiences, or…
K: But that’s only because we’ve gone out of our way to organise those gigs. I mean Daz [Cat N Cakey Records] in Overton is a bit of an exception, but we had to go out of our way to find a different, like a younger audience, who might be turned on by the things that we shout about or play about. But we had to make an effort to do that.
P: I still maybe think that there are aspects of what we sing about that people might not have thought about though.
K: Yeah potentially.
P: I don’t know. Maybe I’m being defensive here…
K: It’s good that you’ve got me and Phil isn’t it. (laughs) Just for the record Tony is very moderate, and diplomatic, whilst Mike just raises his eye-brows now and again. Me and Phil just…
P: …fight. (laughs)
K: You’ve got the good pairing. The thing that gets me, it’s funny when you read a lot of the fanzines, they print that idea that this fanzine will not print anything homophobic, racist, whatever, whatever and sometimes, there’s a bit of me that says, ‘I wish they fucking would to gauge the readers reactions.’ To start an argument, to provoke something, and get people to justify their arguments and to get people to think about why they think the opposite you know? I think it’s sometimes like that with a band. You can shout about various politics from whatever range of the spectrum, and I don’t think that you’re always called to question on it, with the audiences that you generally play.
P: I still think that a song like ‘Sadistic Show’, which is about basically about the abuse and violence that happens in a retail environment, because I worked in a shop for fucking years. I think there’s things like that that you can sing about that maybe people haven’t thought about and haven’t gone, ‘Oh hang on…’
K: Yeah, maybe…
P: I think with broad statements then maybe I agree with you outside of those youth club gigs, but I still think that you can sing songs about more specific subjects and get a reaction.
K: Yeah, fair enough. Perhaps you give it more thought than some other people who write lyrics then. That’s a fair point. Sorry we rambled on a bit then.
RN: No that’s ok, So I mean the other three of you who don’t write the lyrics, do you all agree with them?
K: Yeah, as I say, I’m happy to be associated. I don’t mind playing in a band with these lyrics, if I did I wouldn’t be here. So yeah that’s just not a problem. That’s no problem whatsoever. I mean, I’ve got to say that there are lots of causes that I don’t necessarily agree with 100% that feature regularly in punk rock lyrics or punk rock shows or this, that or the other. Me, personally I don’t always agree totally. Tony and Mike… I’m just trying to think… they’re both vegetarian, and try to do their best at work, and that kind of thing. Then Tony’s been doing his zine for years so he’s always keen to do things for bands and to promote Southampton music. But yeah there’s no problem with what Phil writes. If there was then we wouldn’t be a band anymore.
RN: Talking of zines, do you think they’re still important, especially with the internet getting bigger the whole time?
K: Yeah I do actually.
P: Yeah I do as well.
K: But then you write one, I don’t.
P: Yeah, I’m not online for a start, so it’s still through zines that I find out about a lot of things. I think as well… I mean I’d rather read something that’s in my hands, like printed material, than try to be reading something that’s on the screen, and I think that zines in general, in a printed form, anyway, are one of the things that sets us apart from the more mainstream music scene. It’s the ability to write and publish your own material and express yourself in the same way that you go off and form a band, put on DIY hardcore shows and put out your own record.
K: I really enjoy that in the 21st century you can still pick up and A5 fanzine for 30p or 50p or whatever. I think that’s brilliant. As Phil says it’s just nice having it in your back pocket if you’re on a train, or lunch break, or work, or whatever. You just pull out the zine and read someone’s opinion. I think it’s brilliant. I think it’s very important, yeah.
RN: Do you think that less people are perhaps considering them to be important? Have you found that with your zine?
P: Not really, you know. I mean I do a personal zine so it’s not really the same as doing a music zine. I mean it’s a really small print run. I mean the last one was 50, this one is 100, but it’s a split, so I’ve only got 50 zines. The majority of them I’ll give to people that I write to, or people that I’m friends with, so I’m not sure that I have quite the same perspective that say Tony would with Suspect Device. I think, I think within the scene, I think people understand what it’s there for, and why we do it, and I think that the majority of people, if given the opportunity they’ll contribute to zines and help out and stuff like that. I mean like Suspect Device has a massive columns section doesn’t it? So…
K: I think it’s still really important. I mean I’d feel really disappointed if people felt that they couldn’t spend 50p, 70p of even a quid on a zine. They’d happily go out and charge up the mobile phone, or buy the latest CD from HMV for £15. It’d be a real shame if people felt that they couldn’t pay 50p for a little fanzine. I’m never really sure whether it’s dwindling… that was the original question wasn’t it? I think that’s really difficult to judge.
P: I don’t think it is. Not on the South Coast at any rate.
K: Did anyone buy your zine tonight?
P: Yup, they did!
K: I good, I’m glad you said that. (laughs)
P: But also it’s like I do a zine, Ben does a zine, Russ is got one to come out… you know what I mean, there’s loads of news zines happening, and starting up?
RN: Yeah it seems that maybe a couple of years ago that there weren’t as many. Maybe I just wasn’t so aware of them?
K: I think there’s always been lots there. I think you’re right, I think it’s about an awareness, and sometimes ones catch your eye, or you go to a certain gig where they’re selling them, or you go to a gig where they’re not, so that you miss them. I just think that it’s important that they’re there.
RN: Another obligatory question…. are you guys vegetarian or vegan?
P: Well I’m vegan and Mike and Tony are vegetarian…
K: And I’m a meat eater, which is what I mean about punk rock. I try, I guess I eat less meat than I ever have done, and I’m much more discerning, and don’t eat it everyday or whatever. But I’ve made that deciscion, and I think that that sits comfortably with playing with these guys. If they weren’t happy with it I think they’d kick me out.
P: Force you to go vegan. Drink that fucking soya milk (laughs) Give you a beating if you show up at a practice eating a cheese sandwich.
K: But why did you ask that question so specifically?
RN: I suppose it’s largely because I’m vegan so I often ask it because I personally think that the more aware of the issue’s people are the more likely that people will stop and think and maybe decide to go vegetarian. Like I don’t want to try force it down people’s throat with a ‘Go Vegan’ article or something because I think that’s slightly counter-productive.
K: So you talk about it to try and maybe make people evaluate why they do, or don’t do it?
RN: Yeah, something like that. I just want people to think about it.
K: Of course. Like, me and my girlfriend we try and buy organic meat… I mean I feel that it’s important to have a balanced diet, for me… I’m sure you have many a vegan argument against it, but for me meat is part of that diet. But I do try to buy organic food where we can because we feel that that’s a compromise in terms of mass-produced meat. I mean a friend was telling me the other day that from the laying of an egg, to that chicken appearing on Tesco’s shelves is something daft like six weeks. So food production is just daft.
P: I think this kind of goes back to an earlier question where you’re preaching to the converted, because we do ‘Think’, which is about not eating meat don’t we, and you were saying that like we’re singing songs to people who probably agreeing to what we’re saying, but not everyone in the audience is vegan or vegetarian, because no offence you’re not. (laughs) I think that proves the validity of singing those songs.
K: But even if they’re not I still think they’re aware of the issues.
Bar man: Sorry guys, but we’re locking the door so you’re going to have to leave.
K: Perhaps converted was the wrong word but I think that you’re already singing to people that are aware, even if they choose not to act on them.
RN: I mean I’m not sure. I sometimes assume that most people are vegetarian, especially at these kind of shows, but then you actually realise that a lot of people aren’t.
K: I mean you might be right. They might not have considered it. They’re mum may have always served them bacon and eggs in the morning (laughs) and for the first time they’re having to reconsider it, be it an article in a fanzine or a song like ‘Think’.
RN: This’ll be a bit of an anti-climax if we came all the way out here and I don’t have anymore questions. (laughs) Well what do you hope to achieve with the band?
K: I must say that I really enjoy it. I’ve played in bands before, but nothing this productive, and nothing this exciting to be honest. If it meant getting occasional CDs and 7″s out, and doing gigs, and little tours here and there, that’s brilliant. That’s what I wanted to achieve.
[drunk man walks past]
K: Did you see him walk into that post. He smacked right into that post. (laughs) But yeah that’s good for me, that’s what I wanted to do.
P: Yeah, I think I agree with that. Just play out as much as possible, have a good time, spread positive political ideas and just meet new people really. We just do it because we enjoy it really.
K: It’s great when people come up to us… and one of the things that I’d like to achieve is for people to enjoy. It’s great when people come up and say, ‘That was a fucking good gig’. You think, ‘Yeah, thanks very much, we enjoyed it to.’ I think that’s about as far as it go. Don’t think there are any plans for world domination.
P: What about signing to that major label. (laughs)
K: Sign up to Warner.
P: (laughs) Maybe not.