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Chelsea
24/03/2004 (interview with Gene October @ Punk Aid)



When you started all those years ago I bet you didn't think you would be going this long - what keeps you together after all these years and what inspires you still?

I think we have never ever lost it. If you get the chance to play, you play. If the place is right, if the atmosphere is right, if everything is right you play.

How have you seen the audience change over the years?

We are all getting older aren't we. We've all got kids, we've all got wives, we've all got houses, we all move on. But what is brilliant about that is that on our website we have 12 / 13 year old kids loggin on asking where they can get the new album. The young kids today on punk, well the yester year as they call it from 77 is incredible. Kids are getting more inspirational. They see the Damned and say blimey that's how you play a guitar. They are actually great musicians, you know you have got Captain Sensible from the Damned and people like that. The guys who play in my band, you have Tony Barber who plays for the Buzzcocks - these guys are all shit hot musicians. The kids come and watch them and they go 'my God, these bands can actually play', they learn off them.

Do you prefer live on stage or in the studio?

Well both. There is the realisation that both have to be done. Obviously I do prefer to play live, but you also have to make records because you can't go to their front room to play for them every night - so let them have their own gig in their home every night by putting it on record. I like them both because when you are recording in the studio there is so much you can do. Where as live you are warts an' all.

And how many Punk Aid's have you done now. I saw you at the Garage and whatever happened there, but have you done more that that?

We did the Brixham one and that was great.

What bands are you looking forward to this weekend?

I am really looking forward to the Damned. I have just seen the band who have just been on now, Toxic Slut and they were fantastic. I saw the Beat last night they were great. And it is great to have bands like the Beat involved in this. It would be good to have more reggae based bands, they were part of the 77 era. Without reggae, without Bernie Steal, and Portabello Road, without all that black inspiration and reggae I don't think we would be around today. Those guys welcomed us. They did not mind the way we looked. They did not look down on us. They were down trodden, we were down trodden. We were in the struggle of life together.

 

Out of all your releases what have you enjoyed recording the most and what have you struggled with?

Mmmm, I really did enjoy the earlier period of the 77, 78, 79, 80. Cos we were on a roll, it was easy. We were just flowing writing wise and there was so much inspiration around anyway. You could just write about the things you were doing and that was a laugh. I'm afraid these days like more of a sophisticated things music wise, but they can insist on it all they like but the next album we are going to do is much more back to the roots. Hardcore punk rock.


And when is that coming out then?

We are hoping to to it in a couple of months time and put it out at the end of August. It's all written and ready to go.

And what is your favourite track on there, what is it called?

'Future Of Life'. It's about people who walk around who think they have no future, that they are bored. Can't get involved in anything. It's very difficult for people these days to get involved in things - life runs very fast these days. We were very lucky because people were more involved in community and friends. It's very said people want it all and they want it now and they don't want to wait. I think it is a very lonely world we live in today. People are treated like treat and then carry on treating others like shit. Dismissing each other so easily and it's a bad thing. You've got to believe in life, life chucks up some amazing things. When you have got to a stage you are bored, life will suddenly chuck something at you and you've just got to be aware and in ore of that.

Would you allow one of your tracks to appear in a commercial?

Of course I would allow one of my tracks to be used, a) cos of the bloody money. I would like it to be for Urban Kids, because one day I want to get a lot of young people and call them Urban Kids and put them out as a punk band. Of course I would allow a commercial as it would give the money to allow us to do other projects - where we could use that money for good.


What is the strangest rumour or misconception you have heard about the band?

Misconception; well people think they know me. That they have heard this that or the other about me, am sorry you don't know nothing about me, know one will so keep on fishing.

Can you tell me 5 facts about the band that no one will know?

You will have to ask Chris that, the drummer.

Chris: Good question, we all support the football team Chelsea and ended up in a band called Chelsea. And the name doesn't come from the team.


Gene: The name comes from the atmosphere, the whole thing that was happening around Chelsea 75 / 76 where I was bumming around going to these rich hippies parties. There was a lot of us living of these rich hippies. Smoking their dope, going to their parties, staying at their houses for weeks on end. We were all just bums and had the same attitude, I don't want to work, what are we going to do. The Stones had gone to America, there was nothing around. Pink Flyod had reared their ugly head - all you had got was progressive rock, maaaaaaaaan. And I thought, tell you what why not start our own band cos there is fuck all else out there.


Chris: It's a small world, James Stevenson one of the the original guitarist for Chelsea, I have actually known him for 42 years. When we got back together and reformed Chelsea this time, we got together and was talking about our past and it turns out that his Mum, was best mates with my Mum's best mate. And then I actually remembered visiting his house as a kid.

And here is another one.... James, Dave Martin and Geoff Myles were all at the same Led Zeppelin gig with their older siblings.

How we met again when we reformed was I hadn't even picked up a pair of drumsticks for around 18 years. And I got a phone call out of the blue from the guitarist James Stevenson. He had tracked me down, he had tracked down Gene who was working at a pub in the West Country. Dave Martin was a motorcycle messenger and Geoff Miles was working as a video cameraman and I am a sign writer. At the first rehearsals we thought what are we going to do. So we did Right To work and it was almost right straight away.


Gene: One good thing when you work with people over the years, well I would not even call it work. When you go and have a laugh with people you can all get together and it can work. And what is fantastic about these events you get to meet people you have not seen for years, the other bands and this that and the other. That is why I am still doing it.

Plans, gigs and releases planned for 2004.

We are doing the Punk Aid in Prague I believe.We are doing some dates in Germany and we are doing the new album in August.

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