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Violators Interview


Was it a hard decision to bring the band back together, and who is playing with the band these days?

Actually, it’s occurred purely by chance. About three years ago, I was contacted by Ian Glasper regarding Burning Britain, a book he planed to write about second wave U.K punk. Shortly after Mark Brennan got in touch ‘cos he was about to re-release The Violators’ back catalogue. They both invited me to contribute on these projects & working with a band again got my creative juices flowing once again.

We had a few weeks before the album was to be pressed, so I had to write the tune, get a band together & get in a studio to record it in double quick time. We came up with Everything’s in a State of Decay, as you probably know ‘cos it appears on The No Future Years. Not a bad little ditty, considering I’d not written anything since the Violators imploded. Anyway we’ve continued to write new material, & we’re now in a position where it’s possible to combine the new material with the old tunes & perform live as The Violators. The band at the moment comprises of Stephen Middleton on bass, Andy Hill on guitar &, up until recently, Greg Bolton on drums. We’re hoping to do a few gigs soon, so you’ll be able to hear us perform the old stuff like Gangland, Live Fast, Die Young, Fucked Up, Government Stinks & Life on the Red Line which I haven’t performed live since the early ‘80s.

The 80’s! What a fuckin’ detestable decade. I look back at it, &, try as I may, I can’t muster an ounce of fondness for it. I just felt alienated & it offered me absolutely nothing at all. In contrast to the ‘70s’ post punk period, 80’s Britain was a spiritless, cultural vacuum unable to produce anything of political, social or artistic value or merit!

What has been the high point and lowest point of the bands history?

The high point must have been our initial success. We were really astonished by it at the time. Low point was Helen & Coley choosing to leave the band after the release of our second 7” single.

Obviously, we made an effort to persuade them not to leave, as we’d worked hard to get to the position we had in a short space of time. Also we were just about to release two of the best britpunk (as I’ve recently heard it called) period tracks: Summer of ’81 & Live Fast, Die Young. So we made the effort, yet they’d made their minds up to throw it all away, on whoever’s advice & for whatever reason. We merely thought bloody idiots & there was little we could do. Yeah, while it was quite a shock, we didn’t hold it against them. I suppose the real shock came later on.

We heard through various people that they wanted to take the name with them. I mean, we could quite happily see them depart to get something else together, but for them to think they could take the name of a band they had left, a band that they were drafted into, now that was a real kick in the balls. Obviously at that point, we began to get a bit pissed off with them. Wouldn’t you in that situation? Eventually, & after much thought, we were forced to use the threat of the legal system (an action we didn’t want to take against mates, but they’d left us little choice). Anyway, it curtailed their crass idea & eventually they recorded a three track demo under the name of Taboo. In the interim, however, we’d gone & recorded Life on the Red Line & Crossings of Sangsara. This was the only way, according to our legal advice, that the Violators’ name would remain our property. Yeah, it was a very low point for the band throughout that whole fiasco.

I understand you are looking for a new drummer, what are you looking for? And if you could beg, steal or borrow a drummer from any other band (live or dead) who would you go for?

We seem to have recently solved the problem. Mike Vindice, the owner of H.Q Studio in Manchester, has introduced us to a drummer who shares the same name as Anthony Burgess’ infamous fictional character, Alex. It’s just gotta be a good omen, hasn’t it?

Obviously, if I could choose anyone, alive or dead, I choose our original drummer, Ant - or Ajax as he liked to be known... he had a thing about being clean. Ha! Ha! Yet sadly he didn’t make the journey this far due to having falling victim to leukemia. He was a true diamond of a mate, very supportive & a great laugh to be around.

Will you ever try and replace Helen with another female vocalist and why this decision? Are you still in touch with former members of the band and if so what do they feel about the reformation?

I wouldn’t object to it. Remember she was replaced by Lou in the past! I’ve been a bit busy to think of a female vocalist joining at the moment. Nothing is written off, however, & nothing finalized as yet. I may even do vocals on some of Helen & Lou’s tracks. I really like the dynamics that a female & male vocal affords a band. So ya never know! Thinking about it, punk was an extremely instrumental platform for female artists to become accepted as credible by the male-dominated & patriarchal ‘70’s music industry.

How are the new tracks going? Lyrically and musically what influences Violators today? What can people and expect and when?

There will be a five track e.p. called All Too Human available soon, & more new material is on the way. Of course, punk is our main musical influence, &, lyrically, counter culture seems to be a major theme. Almost everything that ventures away from the mainstream is good in my opinion. It’s the motor of our culture. As a society that motor is part of what makes us who we are as individuals.

You have decided to release your new tracks on the internet, why is that? Will they be available elsewhere? What are your thoughts on the internet revolution?

I think, today’s internet technology has the potential to empower us all. It wouldn’t surprise me if very soon punk’s do it yourself ethos will be fully realised. Most bands now have the opportunity to dictate to record labels now they’re not the only medium for a band to get their material heard, & I can only see this shift of power becoming more of a truism as the internet evolves in the future. At the moment you can download mp3 tracks off our website at www.theviolators.com. We are using that medium to get our new material out there, yet, as I’ve mentioned, we are still planning to use more traditional route of cds too. There’s also free stuff on the site & merchandise for sale. So it’s well worth a visit!

What bands do you hear the Violators influence in? And are there any particularly good or bad Violators covers you have heard over the years? Is there any band you would feel particularly honored if they covered a Violators song? If so, who?

That’s a hard one. Not any band in particular. Yet, I think, diversity is now more apparent, & punk bands are far more inclined to do their own thing nowadays. “Be yourself” was very much part of our philosophy. Covers? The Devotcha’s cover of Live Fast, Die Young is very good, & I like the idea of females using loud & aggressive music to shatter female gender stereotypes. Coincidently, I’ve just received a vinyl copy of Summer of ’81 by NY Rel-x. I’m looking forward to hearing that one, once I’ve got a record player to play it on. I suppose I’d like to hear The Transplants do Gangland &, for afters, what about Marilyn Manson doing a version of Die with Dignity? Ha! Ha! I’d really like to hear that!

Tell the readers five facts about the band / band members they will not

While at New Mills Comprehensive me & Gary Basnett, who later became Attack’s lead singer & guitarist, constantly wagged music lessons together. That was a sign of things to come!

The Violators emerged out of a band called The Dismal Sports, an early anarcho punk band Matchi & I were in.

Paul Hinds AKA Slug, who later joined The Test Department, was also in The Dismal Sports

Ant had only been learning to play the drums a month or so before we recorded Government Stinks, Die with Dignity & Pointless Slaughter.

Any final comments?

Yeah, I’d like to take the opportunity just to say a few words regarding the tragic death of Nidge Miller of The Blitz. I was told, & obviously, I don’t know if it’s altogether true, there had been a party to celebrate the last few gigs of the tour, during which Nidge was knocked down & killed on a freeway. Yet, although his death is tragic, I admire Nidge for still being out there playing live gigs, pursuing something for which he had real passion. Even from the early days of The Rhythm (his punk band prior to The Blitz), you could tell performing live was a life-affirming act for him & dying in the pursuit of that is an example of a life well spent, as far as I’m concerned. Most people die without discovering any life-affirming quality to life. I guess, that’s where real tragedy lies!

Please note that the opinions expressed by band members does not necessarily reflect the views of this website. Punk & Oi in the UK Limited are in no way liable for comments made by interviewees.


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