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Interview

 

Red Alert
21/01/2001



Please give a brief history of the band, including current line up.

The group was formed in Sunderland in the North East of England around May 1979. The original line up was Steve ' Cast Iron' Smith (vocals), Tony Van Frater (Guitar), Gaz Stuart (bass and Dona (drums). After a couple of months of rehearsals we played our first gig at a carnival in Sunderland. We did a mixed set of self penned songs and a couple of Clash and UK Subs songs. We began to play at youth clubs in and around Sunderland on a regular basis. Around this time we recorded our first demo tape. The recording turned out so well that we released it as out first record. It was a four track EP entitled 'Third And Final' and as it was self financed we could only afford to press 250 copies, which we sold outside record shops and at gigs. After the release of this record Mitch replaced Dona on drums. We continued to gig in the North East of England and recorded the 'In Britain' demo. After this we recorded two tracks for the 'Carry On Oi!' album. We recorded 'SPG' and 'We've Got The Power', but only SPG was used. Then on the advise of Gary Bushell we sent the first EP and the two demos to NO Future records and within a week we had signed out first recording contract.

Over the next two years between 1981-83 we released five separate records. These were; -

- In Britain Ep (3 tracks)
- Take No Prisoners EP (3 tracks)
- We've Got The Power LP
- City Invasion (single)
- There's A Guitar Burning 12 inch EP (6 tracks)

Over this period we began touring all around England (Manchester, Leeds, London etc). There was also a steady stream of appearances on compilation albums.

After the 'Guitar Burning' EP Nobby left the band. At the same time our contract with No Future ended. We recruited a new drummer named Matty Forster and recorded some new material with the view of getting another record deal. It was not long after this, that things didn't feel right within the band. Due to family commitments and a basic dissillusionment with the Oi! and Punk scene that we felt was dying off, we decided to split the band.

Over the next couple of years that followed the 1985 split we all went our separate ways. Steve left the music scene altogether and spent most of his time drinking and playing pool. Tony began touring Europe as a second guitarist with Red London. Matty joined Red London also. Gaz went into a band which played old 70's hits at workmen clubs. It wasn't until 1989 that we began regular contact with each other again. A new music club called 'The Kazbah' opened in Sunderland and we just happened to bump into each other every now and then. It was during a conversation with the club's promoter one night that the idea of a comeback gig was first mentioned. We agreed to do it and began to rehearse together for the first time in four years. It was early 1990 that we did the gig with Red London ad Attila The Stockbroker. A full house saw a great gig which inspired us to reform on a permanent basis. Steve, Tony and Matty were happy with this but Gaz had doubts so we replaced him with Tony's cousin Tom Spencer.

In August 1990 we did our first European tour. With Red London we did gigs in France and Switzerland. This went well and led to more tours in Europe. After a couple of these tours Tom left the band and was replaced by Gaz Stoker of Red London. We also began to use a number of different drummers, one of which was Keith 'Stix' Warrington of Angelic Upstarts and Cockney Rejects fame. In 1992 we recorded the 'Blood, Sweat 'N' Beers' album for German label 'Nightmare Records'. A year later we recorded the 'Beyond The Cut' album which was a joint release by Nightmare and Knockout Records. During these periods we were touring in many parts of Europe including Belgium, Spain and Germany as well as the other countries we had already played. In 1994 we had a busy and eventful year which began with a lengthy German tour. For this tour Matty Forster's brother John was on drums. The following month, May, we did our first gigs in the USA. For this tour we took Lainey the drummer of Leatherface as John was unavailable. WE played a few gigs on the East coast including New York and New Jersey. We also did a recording session in Long Island which was released as a split album with the Templars entitled Super Yobs. When we returned we recorded the Street Survivors / Drinkin' With Red Alert double 7" EPs. In August of 1994 our current drummer Ian did his first tour with us, a three week tour in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

In 1995-96 we recorded the 'Breakin' All The Rules' album for Dojo Records. Gaz Stoker had left the band so we recruited our original bassist Gaz Stuart just to play on the album. Shortly after the recording Lainey rejoined the band but this time on bass. With this lineup of Steve, Tony, Ian and Lainey we began touring other countries such as Italy and Canada as well as the countries we previously played. This is still the lineup now. In 1998 we recorded our first album with this lineup, entitled 'Wearside' for PlasticHead Records. This was released in 1999 at the same time as 'Red Alert- The Rarities' which was twenty tracks previously unreleased, this was for Captain Oi! Records.

Over the last few years there have been many compilation and collection albums of Red Alert as well as a handful of singles on various labels. In 1999 we toured Italy and Spain and recorded some new songs which feature Charlie Harper sharing the vocals on one track with Steve. This will be released in the future. At the time of writing we are busy working on new material and organising future tours.

Discography.

Singles and EPs (7"):
Third And Final Ep (Guardian Records) 1980
In Britain EP (No Future Records) 1982
Take No Prisoners EP(No Future Records) 1982
City Invasion (single) (No Future Records) 1983
We've Got The Power EP Live In Mondreagon (Capita Swing Records) 1992
Border Guards EP (Combat Rock Records) 1994
- this was a re-release of the 'Third & Final' EP. It is the same recording with a different title
Drinkin' With Red Alert / Street Survivors (double) EP (Nightmare Records / Knockout Records) 1994
Visca El Barca (single) (Plastic Disk Records) 1996

12" EP
There's A Guitar Burning EP (No Future Records) 1983

LPs (Vinyl)
We've Got The Power (No Future Records) 1983
Blood, Sweat 'N' Beers (Nightmare Records) 1992
Beyond The Cut (Nightmare Records / Knockout Records) 1993

CDs (Albums)
Blood, Sweat 'N' Beers (Nightmare Records) 1992
We've Got The Power and bonus tracks (Captain Oi! Records) 1992
Drinkin' With Red Alert / Street Survivors and Beyond The Cut (Nightmare Records / Knockout Records) 1994
Red Alert Oi Singles Collection (Captain Oi! Records) 1995
Breakin' All The Rules (Dojo Records) 1996
Rebels In Society (Get Back Records) 1997
Red Alert (The Rarities) (Captain Oi! Records) 1999
Wearside (Plastic Head Records) 1999
Best Of (Captain Oi! Records) 2000

Compilation Albums on Vinyl and CD
Compilation on NEI (Guardian Records) 1981
Punk And Disorderly (Abstract Records) 1981
Carry On Oi! (Secret Records) 1981
Kid On The Streets (Bird Records) 1993
Super Yobs (split with the Templars) (Vulture Records) 1994
LA Compilation (Combat Rock Records) 1995
Knock Out In The 1st Round (Knockout Records) 1995
Oi! The Rarities Vol 1 (Captain Oi! Records) 1995
No Future Collection Vol 2 (Anagram Records) 1995
Oi! Against Racism (Havin' A Laugh Records) 1996
War is Insanity (Knockout / Banda Bonnot Records) 1996
On The Streets (We Bite Records) 1997
We Are The Firm (Cockney Rejects tribute) (1,2,3,4 Records) 1998
We Are The People (Angelic Upstarts tribute) (Knockout Records) 1998
Voice Of A New Generation (Blitz tribute) (Plastichead Records) 1999

Red Alert have appeared on many more compilations but this is just some of them

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you whilst touring.

There's may funny things happened on tour, most of which could get us locked up so I'll keep them to myself. The 'spaghetti incident' in Germany was a good one though. Two members of the Red Alert party decided to piss and shite in a big pan of spaghetti bolognase It would've worked if some German bird hadn't walked in as this deed was being finished off. The best part was when she told this bloke who went bezerk. He grabs the pan, runs through into the room where the gig was, screaming and shouting. No, apart from the two culprits, no one else knew what was going on. Everyone else was on stage taking down the equipment as the gig was over. The bloke with the doctored spaghetti runs up on stage and throws the pan down. Every bit of the pan, shit, piss and spaghetti files up in the air and the wholelot rains down on our drummer Ian. He was unaware of what it was, or what was actually happening. He laughed about it later and we never did get asked back there. We got a good song out of it though.

What is the favourite song (and what band is it by) of each member of the band?

Cast Iron - Anarchy In The UK
Tony Van - Safe European Home
Gaz - The Prisoner
Ian - Holidays In The Sun

What is your favourite compilation album Red Alert have appeared on?

Oi! Against Racism

What is the punk / oi scene like in your area?

The last couple of years it is definitely picking up. There seems to be a new scene growing with bands such as The Pits and Loudmouth coming along, and also the old bands such as ourselves and Red London still going strong.

If Red Alert were a type of alcohol, what drink would they be and why?

That would have to be Becks, 'cos it's the greatest drink in the world (the dumb cunts out there might have to thing about that one).

What bands would you recommend checking out?

The bands I mentioned earlier, The Pits and Loudmoth. Outside of England Reazione (Italy), Bitter Grin (Canada), The Generators (USA), Streetbastards (Spain), The Dropkick Murphys (USA) and B.O. L. (Yugoslavia).

Plans, gigs and releases planned for 2001.

2000 has been a bit of a busy year gig wise. We did the three HITS gigs (Morecambe, Berlin and Basque). We did a few gigs around England and tours of Germany and the USA. There was one major release which we had on Captain Oi!, which was the 'Best Of Red Alert'. There was also a book on the band written by Kid Stoker called 'Red Alert - The Story So Far'.

2001 plans up until now includes tours of Italy, Germany and the HITS gig. We'll also be recording a new album. There will be more happening but that's it at the moment.

Any final comments?

The last 21 drunken years we've been lucky enough to attend the greatest part ever. To everyone out there who's joined the part at some stage or other we'd just like to say a special thanks, but it's not over yet! Come and join us again some time, the best is yet to come. Lots of love, Red Alert .


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