This interview with the undead was conducted in the bowels of the Mean Fiddler sometime in April 2003. At the time of the interview Send More Paramedics was not a fully fledged band with three (?) of the members still playing in ‘And None of Them Knew they were Robots’. It appeared in Rancid News #2.
RN: Is it weird now that you’ve got two fanbases – one with The Robots, and one with Send More Paramedics?
bass: You’ll have to answer that one Sam because I’m not in The Robots.
vocals: You don’t really notice it. You don’t really know who listens to it and how many people have the records…
drum: The whole kind of fanbase thing doesn’t really become an issue, because it’s a completly seperate thing, because it’s weird when people have got hold of your baby – your CD, and you kind of imagine it… when it goes out into the world just becoming a completly different thing. You just don’t think about it! They’re just two totally seperate things. So much so that even though they’re bands and music – they’re in my head…
bass: I think that it’s weird for you guys because you’re in both, but because I’m only in one the Robots never really crops up, so I don’t really think it clashes at all. I don’t ever get asked about the Robots you know what I mean?!?
guitar: Not that many people know anyway. That’s why we prefer to kind of not talk about the Robots in this kind of context first because it doesn’t actually influence the band much, but also because we’d kind of like to keep people not knowing…
drum: Yeah there’s the whole anonymity issue, not having our name, or our photos on our album… because yeah when we first started, much to Martin’s annoyance we used to get billed as 3/4s of and none of them knew they were Robots…
bass: Or yeah and none of them knew they were slayer…
drum: Yeah or somthing like that! But now, noticeably The Robots aren’t mentioned at all. There’ll come a day when the Robots are billed as ‘3/4s of Send More Paramedics playing emo tinged rock’!!!
bass: Can I just say that when you walked into the room Stu said ‘right I’m not saying anything now’! (laughs)
drum: But I gave a very, very succinct answer there!!!
bass: You did it was brilliant!
drum: Thank you very much! (laughs) Next question! (laughs)
RN: Why Zombies and not Vampires, or something equally undead?!?
vocals: Well umm I don’t know!
guitar: It’s simple in that we just like zombie films! It wasn’t something as contrived as, ‘oh lets choose, lets choose something that will work!’ It was as simple as we happen to love Zombie films, and Zombies, and Slayer and thrash and stuff…
drum: You can analyse it to death… like if we were vampires we’d be goth, and so we’d be goth punk, and there’s a whole kettle of fish that opens up from that, but Zombies, it’s just like from being very young, with like ‘Return of the Living Dead’, Zombies were the punks, and yeah when I was first getting into punk the Ramones were on there, and inherently… I just love Zombies.
vocals: I like them!!!
drum: It wasn’t really a concious desciscion to rule out everything else it was just…
bass: …Well yeah because we were only going to do that one gig weren’t we?!? We didn’t become Zombies because we though ‘oh that’ll sell’, because we were only going to be doing one gig anyway! So…yeah it was just those three came up to me and were like, ‘we all like zombies, and we all like metal, we should do a band together!’ We’ll do a hallowe’en show because it’ll be funny. So it wasn’t really a choice… drum: Yeah and now we go trying to write a second album… flogging the zombie horse, or no flogging the undead zombie horse, one more time…(laughs)
bass: No because that makes us sound bad!
guitar: Yeah that makes it sound like it’s a dead horse!!!
drum: It was a joke!!! But you know what I mean … having said that I don’t think Sam will ever run out of subject matter to write about with zombies.
vocals: Well yeah because there are a million different ways that you can approach the subject matter!
drum: Yeah he just sits there in the room while we write, rehearse and play, just writing things down to himself. I have every faith that he has an almost inexhaustible supply of things to write about Zombies.
bass: You see him in the corner of the room with clenched teeth talking into the microphone…!
drum: But it’s true – there are a million zombie songs, why can’t there be a million zombie albums!?!
RN: Is it true that you guys are having some of your songs used for a movie soundtrack?
drums: If it is then I don’t know!
bass: Yeah we don’t know (laughs)
drums: Duncan might know…
guitar: Yeah there’s been this animated cartoon that we’ve been asked to do the theme tune to, and yeah we’ve been on skate videos, and BMX videos… ohh yeah there is actually yeah there’s a zombie movie being made in the future that we’ve said we’ll give our music to, but none of the rest of the band know about it!!! (laughs)
drums: It’s a journey of self discovery today! (laughs)
RN: So what’s the definitive Zombie movie then?
vocals: I think.. I think…
bass: Return of the Living Dead?!?
drum: Yeah in terms of the Paramedics then that’s definetly it! That’s really the kind of … it’s because it kind of shares what we’re trying to get out with the band, it’s got the humour, the gore…
vocals: …the stupidity…
drum: Yeah the stupidity, the punks, the naked dancing girls, just the whole thing! It’s always in our heads and we’re kind of…
bass: Naked dancing girls?!?
vocals: Yeah there is … she’s the one that gets eaten alive by the old men!
drum: The kind of knowing-ness of it all. It’s kind of like the film equivalent of the Paramedics in the way that it’s seen all of Romero’s films and done a kind of … almost a pastiche of them, but done it so well that it stands up as a great film in it’s own right! And the Paramedics, love Romero’s films and are trying to kind of do the same thing, although almost any movie that features a zombie, with the possible exception of Return of the Living Dead part 3, is brilliant!
vocals: Well three’s all right!
drum: There are only four zombies in it!!! (laughs) Four zombies!
bass: And what’s wrong with four zombies?!?
drum: Well you need hoardes of zombies! Four zombies, it’s just, ‘bang! bang! bang! bang!’ and that’s it, ‘end of film’! Rubbish! Sorry, I’m not getting into this – you need an army of zombies, if you’re going to make a zombie movie!
RN: What did you think of 28 Days Later?
drum: I personally really liked it!
guitar: Yeah I thought it was really cool…
vocals: Yeah it was really good! It was quite cleverly put together as well. There were little parallels between the characters and stuff that I quite liked, which I thought was quite smart!
bass: Alot of the cast was quite nice as well, because they came and watched us in Manchester didn’t they!?!
RN: That’s pretty cool!
vocals: Though the goodies get away at the end which is… which breaks all the rules of the zombie films…
guitar: There’s an alternative ending on the DVD though!
vocals: Is there?!? Where they get killed?!?
guitar: Yeah the last third of the film or something is just completly differently done!
drums: It was a bit weird with 28 Days Later though, because we’d been doing the Paramedics for a little while and suddenly I walk into our local newsagents and there’s the Face magazine, with ‘Zombies – 2003… why it’s so cool to be undead in 2003!’ And I was just like, ‘Oh for heaven’s sake, now it just looks like we bought the Face and thought fucking hell we’re on a winner here’!
vocals: Quick yeah lets get on the bandwagon!
drums: But yeah I did enjoy 28 Days Later. I watched it in a cinema with six girls who I work with who’d been drinking cocktails for most of the day, and they just laughed all the way through it! They thought it was the funnies thing they’d ever seen, which kind of put a dampener on my enjoyment of it! But I did think it was a good film!
RN: Oh I had a better experience then, because I went to my Dad, and he completly freaked at the movie!
guitar: But yeah I think they’ve done it very well, but like Resident Evil that we watched the other day and I saw that the other day and I thought that was done really well…
RN: Ohh I really didn’t like that!
guitar: Really! Why not?!?
RN: I just thought it was too hammed up, and there wasn’t really much of a plot either…
drums: I liked it, personally, because there were quite alot of parallels between it and the traditional Zombie genre, the cannon of Zombie movies! Just like there are a lot of things in it when the way they walked, and the way they kind of acted, and stuff as zombies…. you could see that in Dawn of the Dead… they didn’t try and ‘new school’ it! They weren’t making zombies doing karate tricks, or Matrix bullet time or something like that. It was pretty old school.
vocals: Yeah the bits when the zombies were surrounding them, it was pretty…
drums: Yeah it was good – I liked it!
guitar: There was also that semi socio-political comment as well, which…
drums: I just like watching Milla (Jovovich) as well!
RN: So does Send More Paramedics have a deep socio-political message then as well?!?
drums: Oh yes…. oh we’re all really political! Please put, ‘with sarcastic tone’! (laughs)
guitar: That’s not true though. I mean we don’t make politics part of music, it’s about comedy, and fun, but that’s not to say as people that we’re not. We don’t choose to overtly put it in there. I mean there’s a few political themes in a couple of songs, but we choose to kind of keep them seperate!
vocals: Yeah when the lyrics seem political it’s really just a pisstake! It’s really just another reason to write a song…
drums: It’s very much like Romero like that! But yeah the band itself is not trying… well actually we’re trying to change the world, we’re trying to change it into the undead…
vocals: …the kingdom of the undead!
RN: So the secret track is secretly not a harsh critique of the CIA?
vocals: Umm no it’s just something that got leaked to me that we thought that people should know! (laughs) We thought that people should know the truth!
drums: Don’t shoot the messanger we’re just putting it out there.
vocals: Yeah they didn’t want people to know the truth…
RN: So is the cover up is as big as Roswell?
vocals: Well potentially it’s bigger, because with Roswell you’re just dealing with the cover up of just a couple dead grey men, but with this you’ve actually got some sort of condition – whatever it is – breaking out and potentially engulfing the whole of the US, and then the world!!!
drums: You’re looking at apocalypse aren’t you!
vocals: Yeah you’re looking at everyone turing into mindless brain eating zombies, and the extinction of the human race!
RN: But surely if you have a couple of little aliens there might be more little aliens, who could potentially take over the world?!?
vocals: No but they were dead as well. They were killed in the crash weren’t they?!?
drums: But don’t you think there could be more…?
RN: Yeah I mean they could be beaming back information, or it could have all been an elaborate trick, and they weren’t really dead!
bass: This is the kind of question that he wrestles with every day which is why he’s taking so long with the answers!
vocals: I see what you mean.. but I still think that the zombie threat is worse, because it can just convert a normally human being into a raving, rabbling, homocidal maniac really.
RN: So whereas aliens would just kill us, zombies convert people into muderers!?!
vocals: I think that the only ever time that I’ve seen anything about Roswell they’ve seemed like quite peaceful little guys with bug eyes.
bass: And yeah we don’t know that the aliens were going to kill anyone! They could have been dead nice and we killed them!
drums: Yeah they might have taken a wrong turn…
vocals: But we know that zombies are nasty!
RN: But couldn’t zombies, potentially, be misunderstood!!!
bass: Well we can’t misunderstand that they eat brains and that’s not nice!
RN: Right more zombie questions! (laughs)
drums: Oh god! (laughs)
bass: Who would win between the zombie and the…
RN: Ohh no wait lets talk scene politics!
drums: Oh no I’m going to go get a drink because I’ll only say something stupid that I don’t mean!
RN: So what do you think of the UK scene at the moment?
vocals: Yeah it’s really good!
bass: I think it’s absolutely amazing… I don’t know why but all of a sudden now there are just all these good bands…
vocals: Yeah it’s like because there have been lots of good bands that have already existed and now they’ve all been helped by all these new bands coming along! And yeah they all do lots of different things, and they all just do it so well! And it’s just like…
bass: I mean because there are bands like Beecher or D-Rail, and they’re not mainstream – far from it, but they’re just leaking out of the underground, and they’re getting the bigger shows, and I’d much prefer bands like that to be getting support slots than other bands who I’m not going to name, so I think that some really cool underground bands are getting some recognition now and that – I think that’s quite healthy.
RN: So why do you think the scene’s doing so well at the moment?
vocals: There’s kind of cycles isn’t there!?! Like back in ‘96 when Green Day was big, and punk got big back then, I don’t know it’s just… every so often the underground stuff leaks through.
bass: I mean I think it’s good – I’d prefer to see New Found Glory up on my telly than to see So Solid Crew!
bass: You know what I mean…
guitar: But it’s also like, you can’t really predict what fashion is as well, like it’s this bizarre unintentional….
vocals: Yeah I mean something will be big in a couple of months, and then punk will be back again in a couple of years!
bass: But yeah I don’t see the harm in New Found Glory being on the TV, because I mean there’s always going to be the underground, so even if punk is big, there’s always going to be the underground, and that’s never going to be dead.
guitar: If anything you could say that it pushes the underground to do new and different things…
drums: Yeah I mean you don’t get many pop-punk bands around in the underground anymore though you might have done a couple of years ago!
guitar: Yeah I mean it’s all going in full circle, because I mean you’ll be an underground band because of the style you’re playing, but then that style will get massive, so that band will take a more progressive approach just so that it sounds fresh! And then some of the bands that went into the mainstream because of ther style will come back into the underground, so the other band will revert back to perhaps what they were doing before!
RN: So what’s the Leeds scene like?
guitar: Yeah really good!
bass: That’s the thing, I think it’s always been really healthy though. People say that it’s too cliquey and stuff but I don’t think that it is!
drums: I don’t think that it’s cliquey…
guitar: All it is is that people will see groups of really good friends and they’ll go to a gig and they’ll see everyone getting on really well, and if you were new, if it was kind of your first Leeds gig, and if you saw a whole bunch of people who were just really good mates you might be a little intimidated! But yeah everyone is really friendly and really nice.
drums: Yeah everyone is really, really supportive. Yeah people will always come out and see new bands and support bands that they like, even if they see them every week, you still go and see the same bands!
guitar: There’s a lot going on, we’re lucky because we’ve got lots of decent promotors, a good selection of nice venues…
bass: There’s also a really wide spectrum of all this good music, you’ve got your metal, hardcore, and old school. Everything’s covered, you go to Leeds… the bills are so varied…
drum: Yeah you don’t get a hardcore gig and an emo gig, and the pop-punk gig…
guitar: Which is a great thing in a big scene, in a big city! Because I think what often happens is that the scene’s fracture off into different, there’s the hardcore scene and there’s the emo scene, and whatever! And yeah that’s a really self-destructive thing, once it get’s to that stage, I don’t know – I don’t like it! But you get lots of varied bills in Leeds which is a really positive thing.
drums: The other thing is that alot of the muscians in Leeds play alot of completly different styles. I mean just for example you’ve got someone like John Sutcliffe who sang in Canvas, played drums in the Autumn Year, and now’s guitar playing in the Human Flys, so yeah just across the board, and there’s a whole load of different people doing that, I don’t know why I just picked him! People’s musical tastes in Leeds are pretty varied, and wide!
RN: So have you had any backlash from playing cheesy metal? vocals: Well we played another show in london a while ago, and I think there were more general rock and metal fans, who would actually go to those kind of shows you know what I mean? There weren’t really any punks…
drums: They didn’t quite see the humour in it!
bass: Tell him about the guy in the toilet!
vocals: Oh yeah this guy – I was washing my face of my make up – and this guy came up to me, he had plastic wheels on his face, and ummm he was like, ‘I’m a talent scout and I think I need to give you some advice! You’re going to have to change your act it’s shit!’ (laughs) And I’m like, ‘Oh really’, and he’s like, ‘Yeah if you really wanna get anywhere with this band you’re going to have to change it because you’re not being yourself you’re trying to be someone else, and people don’t get it!’… really! (laughs) So I said, ‘thank you very much’, and then this other guy who had also been washing his hand started to have a go at the guy for being an arse which was quite funny. And also… you know when you’re doing the show and someone comes up to the front and you think, ’shit maybe they know the words’, so I handed the mic to this girl and she’s like, ‘fuck off, get off!’… (laughs)… ‘alright I’ll have that back now thank you’!!!
drums: Yeah I think that it’s pretty much the only time we’ve had a serious backlash is with the rock and metal community!
bass: I don’t know whether it’s just the metal community…
drums: Maybe it was just that crowd that we were playing to that night weren’t into what we were doing!
bass: Yeah cause I’m mean it’s gone good elsewhere…
drums: Oh yeah like when we supported Franky Stubbs on his solo tour and I thought, ‘OK we’re going to go down like a lead balloon here!’ But everyone was just, after the first song, was really into it!
vocals: I wasn’t worried.
drums: Yeah but you were pissed!
RN: So OK the $20 question if Slayer asked you to support them would you?
bass: Noooo! (laughs)
RN: So how do you think you’d go down with the crowd?
drums: They’d probably knife us…
guitar: I think Slayer crowds, whoever you are, you’re going to get it!
vocals: Yeah definetly because you’re just not Slayer…
drums: but heaven forbid if you were some Slayer rip off band!!!
bass: Yeah but we’re not that close to Slayer!
guitar: No we’re not that close it’s true.
bass: I mean obviously the intro’s a slayer homage, not a ripoff homage!
drums: If we got offered to play with Hatebreed I think we’d say no!
drums: No not really I’m just saying that to piss him off! (laughs)
RN: Ok then the one band in the world you’d want to support.
drums: Wait you wouldn’t want to support metallica?
bass: Well yeah I would but it’s not that…
guitar: AFI, Misfits…
vocals: You’re just thinking for the horror thing!
RN: Wouldn’t you wanna support Danzig rather than the Misfits?
vocals: Well we’d still play with the Mistfits bu yeah…
bass: Yeah cause doesn’t it have that guy from Black Flag?!?
drums: As long as they are called the Misfits, I am having the Misfits…. at least in regards to us supporting them!
bass: Ignoring the perfect band that’d I like to support the perfect band for the Paramedics… I don’t know!
guitar: The thing is it doesn’t really work when you support the band that you would assume would work… because I mean you often have people saying oh well wouldn’t you want to support that band because they’re really similar to you? ….
bass: I’m going with Pantera!
guitar: Yeah but if we did that we’d get blown away!
bass: But yeah that’s the challenge… In Texas as well…
drums: Oh bloody hell!