Martin Jones 1

Martin Jones 1

Interviewed on 24.05.2011

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[TRACK 1]

 

TONY WRIGHT:

24th of May 2011, Cayn White’s interviewing Martin. (Martin’s dog is in room)

 

CAYN WHITE:

I’m here with Martin, currently front man of a local punk rock band Trauma Unit and we’re going to discuss growing up with the punk scene

 

MARTIN JONES:

We’ll use the words ‘growing up’ very loosely [laughing]

 

CW:

Before we get started, because you’re not originally from Hebden, where were you brought up?

 

MJ:

I was born in Hammersmith in 1966, in West London…..quite a lot of my time was spent in Shepherd’s Bush.  I also lived in a little town called Abingdon, that’s in Oxfordshire before moving up here; I actually met my partner in Norwich which is on the east coast, that’s sixteen years ago.  We moved to Hebden Bridge about five years ago and…..yeah, love it.

 

CW:

What was the growing up like because you were involved with the punk scene early on.  What were the music scene like before punk rock then?

 

MJ:

I don’t really remember; I can remember watching things like The Old Grey Whistle Test on a black and white telly on the end of a bunk bed.  I can remember watching all sorts but I think my biggest memory of music hitting me was not actually music itself – it was walking down the Goldhawk Road in Shepherd’s Bush and it was the time when Bowie was doing Ziggy Stardust and there was a poster, it was next to the Shepherd’s Bush Bingo Hall and it was a big, big poster – Bowie’s face with the red hair and make-up, and then I saw him on The Old Grey Whistle Test – I can’t remember, I think he was doing……Spiders From Mars and stuff like that, and that was…..I must have been about eight or nine then; then I didn’t really take much notice of music until about…..again it wasn’t the music but I can remember sitting down in the basement of my nan and granddad’s house watching a programme called Today which was a local London programme, and a bloke called Bill Grundy, it was his show, and he was……the Sex Pistols were on there, it was their first ever TV appearance

 

CW:

They were filling in for Queen wasn’t it

 

MJ:

That’s the one, yeah

 

CW:

Because they cancelled

 

MJ:

Yeah, and it sort of went downhill from there really

 

CW:

Well going to the Grundy show then, as you watched it, what were your initial reactions when they did the four letter tirade and what was the atmosphere in the house afterwards, cos I know a lot of people got offended.

 

MJ:

Well it was mainly my nan.  My granddad was a manager of a construction company called Roberts around in London at the time and he just giggled a bit and called them bloody yobs and that sort of thing, and my nan, who’s a stern, Cockney battleaxe as you can get, used more bad language against them in front of me than they used on the telly in front of other people –I’ve still got it, it still makes me giggle, it’s one of those things. It was a poignant part in music history, as equal to Elvis first rocking his hips in ’57, as poignant as Woodstock, as poignant as Bowie – it was a massive part of musical history and social history and social change, and changed so many things that sort of…..I suppose it was year zero really for music, you know…. ‘sod it, we’ll start all over again’…..I’m trying not to swear [laughing]

 

CW:

Going from that then, and where you’re going, you’ve just seen the ‘Pistols’ on the Grundy show, when did you start getting involved with punk from then?  Was it with the first bands you were listening to at the time?

 

MJ:

I was eleven years old, we were at the backstairs, the fire exits of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, don’t know what it was called then, I can’t remember now, with my cousins, who were thirteen and fourteen, and we saw The Clash, Subway Sect and Slits…….(Martin starts talking to his dog) that was my first sort of…..it’s almost like looking……it’s weird, I can only remember bits of it, it’s like looking back on an old film, but yeah, that was the spark that lit the fuse sort of thing.

 

CW:

So that’s how, obviously with Bowie you were inspired by the image and the music at the time, and obviously with the Pistols you were inspired by the attitude.  When did….when did the music start hitting you?

 

MJ:

After The Clash….yeah I think it was The Clash – I’d obviously heard ‘Nevermind The Bollocks’ it and ‘Anarchy in the UK,’ but it was The Clash that blew me away – it was just a raw….no-nonsense, not trying to pretend, just…..but they always said they had this Staliness view that would be going back to year zero cos they were all in bands like The 101ers and bands that were influenced by such bands as Mott the Hoople and things like that, but for me that was it – it was new, it was exciting and….yeah, it was just amazing and….

 

CW:

Obviously when these bands first started going they started a scene in their own right, where they had kids everywhere saying ‘I wanna be in a band’ and you even had Mark Perry from Sniffin’ Glue was it?

 

MJ:

Yeah

 

CW:

Saying ‘here’s three chords – now form a band’.  At any point during that did you say ‘yes that’s what I want to do’ and did you?

 

MJ:

No I didn’t, not for years….getting involved in a punk band, playing in bands, I think started in the eighties, the early eighties, it was a good four or five years I was…..probably about eighteen when I played in my first band whose name I can’t actually say on camera cos it’s horrible, but it’s…..I went on to bands called Retch, Kick to Kill, Coma……and ended up playing in a band called Terminal City Ricochet - TCR from Norwich which went down pretty well, couple of albums, and now…. ‘Trauma Unit’ 

 

CW:

Well we’ll come to ‘Trauma Unit’ later on, but with the first band whose name you can’t……can’t say, what were…..how did that come about?

 

MJ:

Boredom.  We’d already seen other people doing it – it was….cos at the time, like you say, every estate had a gang of punks or a gang of skinheads and they mucked about together.  Some of them just wanted to be a social shock, some of them wanted….to be political, some of them wanted to be musical, and it was going through…..so I went to quite a lot of gigs but the ones that inspired me more were the local ones with people I actually knew in the bands – bands in youth centres, we had bands at school, bands that……I could relate to because they were friends….yes, that’s what inspired me, I mean going to see gigs at big places was great, but they were still non-accessible.  From what the anti-rock style thing it was yeah, they were becoming rock stars and leaving….not saying leaving people behind, but becoming…people put them on pedestals and I didn’t like that, and still don’t agree with that, but I was more akin to the DIY bands, squat bands, and bands that are playing youth centres and things like that – people who took their equipment, their own equipment, played badly, had a great time and if they charged anything it was something stupid like fifteen pence at the time to get in, and I still quite….I still agree with that.

 

CW:

A key word you mentioned at the start there was boredom, so I’m just gonna throw this one at you, I should have asked earlier really, but….growing up back then in the area you were in, Shepherd’s Bush and stuff, what were it like – what were the opportunities to do, places to go, I mean you now you have youth centres, you’ve got the parks, you’ve got all that stuff.  What were it like then and what were it like with employment when you grew older?

 

MJ:

Well growing up was…..I grew up in the eighties.  I was made redundant, let go of more jobs than I care to remember, but as for growing up in Shepherd’s Bush, it was great, it was an Irish community, Asian community, large West Indian community, so I was brought up with a lot of different….you know there was a lot of reggae being played at parties, there was a lot of Indian/Bengali music, still gives me a tingle at the back of my neck, I love all that stuff, we all knocked about in the park together cos there was just beyond Loftus Road, I lived on Bloemfontein Road, they were still bomb sites, so we’d go and play on the bomb sites, so it was……it wasn’t particularly deprived or anything like that, it was just life, that’s how it was.

 

CW:

Going round the bomb sites, what was that like, cos obviously that’s a direct reminder of what happened the year previously.  Did that have any impact at all or did you just see as everyday life?

 

MJ:

Everyday life, it wasn’t a case…..it was, it was just somewhere to go and hang out, throw bricks at each other, smash things up, you know, which at thirteen, eleven and thirteen, that’s what you do – you’ve got no political agenda, you don’t like anyone because they’re grown up and…..yeah you just hang around together causing a nuisance to be honest.

 

CW:

Cos I know that you do have a bit of a political opinions here and there.  When did politics start coming in for you personally?

 

MJ:

Well, the word anarchy had been thrown around loads and loads and loads

 

CW:

It were Malcolm McClaren stuff wasn’t it?

 

MJ:

Yeah, that was more to do with the fashion statement and to upset people, whereas the actual……the actual political…..that took a few years….I think it was with Crass, Poisoned Girls, Flux of Pink Indians, it was….you know, it was more a case of when you’re younger you do anarchy smashing things, whereas Crass introduced you to…..I suppose anti….anti-political politics if you know what I mean, it was very…..it still affects me and what I believe in today, and a lot of people, this is why – you go round to most of the people on the travelling sites and squatting, and people that are involved in community things who grew up in that time, Crass were a big influence to ‘em – they still are.  I think they’re a load of tosh now, cos they’re all getting back reforming and doing stuff, but no, they still are, I think now with the climate now, what’s going on with…..civil liberties being taken away and we’re involved in two wars abroad that we can’t afford to be in, it’s based on the fact that we’re being filmed everywhere we go, cards swiping, everything’s traceable, you know, your privacy is being hacked into all the time, and I think the lyrics and what they say, you know, about the environment and what you eat is more prevalent now…..than it was then.

 

CW:

How important do you feel the politics climbing into the song lyrics, by this I mean you had The Clash singing about having a white riot, but then you get bands like Crass who kind of hit home with the politics a lot more in the lyrics.  How important do you think it is for politics and song lyrics to combine?

 

MJ:

I think it’s very important, I think….I think it’s just as important as….I mean in the sixties, you know, late sixties we had loads of political singers – ’68 ’69 you know, singing about Vietnam, Paris riots, you know I think every ten years something comes along, and I think punk was just, you know, because the seventies were just…..now I look back on it you know, I look back on some of it, unemployment, you had rubbish piled up ten feet in the streets, you had bodies that couldn’t be buried because the funeral directors were on strike, councils were……the National Front marching through Croyden with….I think they had ten thousand marching through and they were I think the fourth biggest party in the country at the time, which is horrific when you think about it, but that’s….and the same’s happening now with people getting frustrated and angry and disillusioned with…..the major parties now so that they’re heading towards rubbish like the BNP and the English Defence League, to try and grab on to something and I don’t like it, but I understand it, I understand why they’re doing it; I think it’s a case of disillusionment and ignorance because people can’t relate to the politicians that are there now…..yes, I hate them.

 

CW:

As you’re into….then you are into the anti-fascist scene, how did that come about because you said as you were younger you grew up listening to music from all sorts of cultures, something you mentioned – reggae and stuff like that

 

MJ:

Yeah I just didn’t notice peoples colour, cos at the age of twenty, twenty-one I started hanging around with a load of skinheads who I’d known for years.  They really re-wrote my political views and I started drifting off that way, not even realising it.  It took a friend of mine to say ‘what the hell you doing?’ I think she knew I didn’t realise it was that bad and sort of sat down there and just…. ‘I’ve got to fight it’ because if you can get someone….who’s sort of pretty open-minded, then you can trap loads and loads of people and that’s what it is, it’s a trap, a lie and a con, to put people in power.

 

CW:

Of your early bands what you did form or join, what was the…..what was the atmosphere of the gigs like?  What were it like trying to get a gig as a band?

 

MJ:

At the time it wasn’t that hard.  The actual shock of punk rock had been and gone and the actual

 

CW:

What period are we talking about?

 

MJ:

Early eighties – ’83 ‘84

 

CW:

That’s shortly after the Oi Movement as well, which I’ll come back to asking you about.

 

MJ:

Yeah that was still pretty prevalent at the time, you know, cos everyone thinks it finished in ’81 – it didn’t – it was….it was….I think it was easier to get gigs, it was….Town Hall squat, houses, you know, it seemed……yeah, it just seemed easier cos the thing is, after the fashion statement punk had died down and the shop, it was more like, every town you went to, you went to the Market Square on a Saturday, there was thirty, forty punks out and about, they had their own pub, and there was more labels then in the eighties and possibly even more now with home computers and the net.  I think it was a great time to be growing up and I’d got well into the DIY and Crass scene, and moved away from the….I suppose the mohicany, Kings Road  sort of stuff which I do love, I love all that, but I’m not….then at that time it was….yeah, everything happened, it was anti punk punk, if you like. Yeah, anti everything.

 

CW:

In the punk scene as you just mentioned then, DIY, do you think the punk scene would have survived without the DIY aspect to it, and do you think it’s the DIY that’s actually gone on to influence and become an important part of the music today?

 

MJ:

Yeah I do yeah, I think……the thing is, the DIY thing had been going on since the likes of bands such as Hawkwind and Mott the Hoople were doing gigs and I think it was…I think it was a band called Bong who preceded Crass by putting Pay No More Than This on their record, so a lot of the hippie thing that was going on the sixties and early seventies was happening in the punk scene and the DIY scene which was anti meat, anti-violence, anti-bomb, you know, I think it was Paddy Rimmard said ‘punk’s just stopped wearing colours and started wearing black, so rather than having the actual macho egotistical smash everything up violent punks, and this still goes on today, there’s another side to it which is productive.  DIY takes a lot of political issues on; if it wasn’t for the DIY scene we wouldn’t have had ‘Pulp’ , the Class War, you wouldn’t have had the Poll Tax, you wouldn’t have had the Poll Tax Riots, we wouldn’t have what’s going on in Europe, you know, the anti-fascist stuff that’s going on, so I think, well you would have had it going on but it would have gone on in a different guise.

 

CW:

If I remember from what I’ve read in t’past, one of the things what combined the two aspects – DIY and politicalising people with the Class War magazine… did you follow all of that?

 

MJ:

Yeah I used to go to Conflict gigs and Crass gigs , I wish I still had them, well I think they were actually put together…..I haven’t seen Ian in quite a few years now but it’s…..there’s a lot of……there’s a lot of…..anarchist manifestos – there’s Kropotkin, Neil Jackson, who were anarchists from right in the 1800s, yeah,  and then you get up to people like Bakunin and things like that.  It’s very…..dogmatic; you’ve got to trawl through it and it becomes rhetoric if you know what I mean, you’re believing what’s in it, whereas Class War was just written by people in a bedsit in Cardiff I think, or Swansea, I’m not sure and that’s how it started

 

CW:

Swansea

 

MJ:

Swansea, yeah, and it was just a case of…..them making it easier….it was the anarchist equivalent to The Sun that was what they said, it was for the average bloke sitting down at dinner time – dinner time in a factory on a building site, could read it, read about what’s going on, but still have a laugh at the same time, and that to me makes more sense than giving someone a book on it, which we’ve still got out there and I’ve read ‘em, but which would get left on the side with a coffee stuck on it, you know, I wish I still had mine. 

 

CW:

While we’re on the subject of Class War I’m going to through the famous front cover that you know for ‘The Biggest Cut of All’ I think it were called. 

 

MJ:

What Thatcher said… 

 

CW:

Yeah.  What impact did that have on you?

 

MJ:

Oh I hated the bitch, I still hate her.  I hopes she drowns in shit and hope she knows it; I absolutely loathe her.  One of the funniest things I ever saw was the Brighton bombing, and on telly being carried out, and I was just hoping it’d got her but it didn’t.  I don’t wish harm upon anyone really, but at the time they were evil, nasty people…..only caught up by Blair I think, yeah.

 

CW:

Well it’s like the anagram I told you about before – Tony Blair MP is an anagram of ‘I’m Tory Plan B’….but backtracking a bit then, the punk scene kind of, as you said, it fizzled out somewhat

 

MJ:

No I don’t think it did

 

CW:

In a mainstream way

 

MH:

Yeah it wasn’t fashionable

 

CW:

Yeah in an underground way it stayed alive

 

MJ:

Absolutely yeah, it was as strong as ever, and still is very very strong today

 

CW:

But then the eighties came in, ’79 ’80 and you had bands like Cockney Rejects who went on to form the Oi Movement and which I also know you……you listen to a lot of stuff by them and you’re into a few of the bands.  What were t’difference between that?

 

MJ:

It was more honest, it was street level…..it was a time when you could listen to Crass and you could listen to ‘The Business’ and no-one cared, there wasn’t a division

 

CW:

The Big Issue came along pretty quickly didn’t it?

 

MJ:

Yeah but it was down to arseholes like Bushell and that, it wasn’t a case of….I think kids still knocked about together, you know, people still hung out together, they just listened to different music and then you had the….then it started, the violence then started, then that’s when the DIY scene went totally its own way…..with such bands as Crass, Subhumans….specially Conflict, I followed Conflict for a long time,  I lost all interest in street punk; I listen to it now, but I’m a lot older, you know what I mean, I do like a lot of it, most of it I’m borrowing off you actually

 

CW:

You are, yeah [laughing]… How about the Oi stage then, were you involved in….you were involved in a band in’83 you were saying wasn’t you?

 

MJ:

Yeah, it was just a…..it was a punk band, it wasn’t a political band……

 

CW:

It were around that time of the racist aspect started, you were at the Southall Riots

 

MJ:

Yeah, you had bands like…

 

CW:

You had … I mean basically

 

MJ:

I mean that only started in the mid eighties, then you had the Rock Against Communism thing going which was sponsored by the National Front – they were on the White Power label or something stupid like that

 

CW:

What did you think of  the extreme, invading the music or the music scene, the punk scene which you loved at the time 

 

MJ:

Well you see I’ve moved away from the street punk scene so it didn’t really bother me

 

CW:

But it was still – there was still people turning up of that persuasion, turning up to stuff like Conflict gigs and Crass gigs

 

MJ:

Yeah

 

CW:

And what were that like, going to a gig and having to look over your shoulder now and again?

 

MJ:

Well, either they got barred and we got barred, it was those…..I think it was…..don’t know, it must have been the time the British movement were prevalent in London and probably round most of the country, that they used to turn up to gigs, I think it was Colin who once said,  you know, all the other bands, you know, they let the gigs get smashed up but Conflict didn’t, you stood your ground, still do today, don’t stand down, no platform, I don’t, there again, you know, I don’t think they’re ever gonna be as prevalent as they were – I think they’re rising in Europe now, but in this country I don’t think they’ll ever get bigger than EDL (English Defence League) the BNP (British National Party) – every time the BNP gets so far they put their foot in their own mouth

 

CW:

Question Time is the more famous one

 

MJ:

Made me chuckle

 

CW:

I never watch – I don’t watch it, I refuse to give them that platform really.  What were your opinion on watching that, because that were pretty much the collapse of the BNP but as they collapsed, that signalled the rise of the EDL and the English Democrats

 

MJ:

Well I think it’s the same as the British Movement, the same as the National Front.  The National Front were as big as they were ever gonna get…..cos you know, however thick skinned the Government are, the Government won’t let it happen again…. It’s the same when they created a smear campaign against people in the National Front and destroyed them, and I think they’d do the same to anyone, you know, any ultra-right wing party, but in France their most ultra-right wing party at the moment in Holland, and in certain parts of Germany the Christian Democrats so I don’t know, I might be totally wrong, I hope I’m not, I hope they don’t get in, never again, I was awe-inspired by The Angelic Upstarts, Afa Mensi who started Antifa, sorry he started them first, and No Platform and I’m quite an admirer of Anti Fur as well, they put their fists where their mouth is, if you know what I mean

 

CW:

Would you say violence in the scene or violence at all, would you say it’s detrimental to certain causes, like you read on the news sometimes you know – such-and-such a person from ‘ let’s say it’s someone from the BNP’s just been attacked, or in Queensbury where they had their windows with bricks thrown through and their car tyres slashed, so stuff like that, when it gets made public, that’s suddenly putting sympathy on ‘em, so is violence always a decent aspect

 

MJ:

With rational human beings, violence is as repugnant as it gets, you know, the thought of hurting yourself, but you’ve got to stand your ground against them because I think what’s happening, if you don’t have a say no more then they’re just gonna keep rising.  It’s the same as Cable Street, in Cable Street people said No

 

CW:

But can’t ignorance hurt and just as fists. Bottles or words… 

 

MJ:

I don’t know to be honest, I think there’s so many ways to look at it.  I think it all comes down to education in schools to start with, but there again if you’ve got racist parents….my parents were racist

 

CW:

My parents were racist even though my dad used to hand out copies of Socialist Worker as a young ‘un

 

MJ:

So it’s a mixed up world you know, I don’t know if there’s any real answer to it.  I think we rely on….

 

CW:

Well obviously you get racist parents, you get racist teachers even.  A teacher were famously sacked for being a BNP member and you still get racism in politics, you know, politicians doing racist strokes for that party, so do you think there’s ever gonna be a point where there is no racism?

 

MJ:

No I think that’s just…..there’ll always be racism, there’ll always be hate, because it’s human nature.  Human nature is…..is what it is you know, some people are good and some people are just crap yeah.  I think the Racist Movement is born out of fear; not fear of the people, but fear of having your community and your jobs taken away, but that’s you know, people in the East End are in an oasis.  The East End is a classic example of being a brilliant place, there’s the Huguenots, the Jews and then the West Indians and then the Asians and now Polish and Irish, and that can only be good for the country, you’re always bringing something new, someone else’s culture you know, and just by shutting it up and saying ‘we’re British’ is just a load of nonsense.

 

CW:

Going back after the early eighties then, the scene is still like a bit of the hardcore punk scene.  What were it like after….roundabout the ’85 stage when a lot of the Oi bands and punk bands by then were just…..I mean Crass had already petered out in ’94 – they’d have gone – what were it like then cos you

 

MJ:

Well I saw The Clash at their last gig in London….think it was The Academy……[to dog] lay down – I’m not speaking to Tony, I’m speaking to the dog…..saw Clash at their last gig and it was it was absolutely rammed and everyone slates that album, but the actual gig itself

 

CW:

Was that the Cut the Crap album?

 

MJ:

Yeah I like that, I like it cos it’s different 

 

CW:

You can have my copy.

 

MJ:

I’ve got two!  Yeah it was just a good….I think I was still going to gigs in ’87 ’88, it was still quite….again, the hardcore scene had started up from the likes of Doom and things like that, and things were on the change; it was getting harder and faster, more dirty certainly, you know, the squat scene was getting massive….started getting involved in – that was about the time I was getting involved in hunt sabotaging and things like that which

 

CW:

Do you wanna tell us about your involvement with that – how you got involved with that stuff – obviously you don’t need to go through all the bloody names of things you’ve done, we won’t tread on that territory

 

MJ:

…..for me going sabbing was more a class issue.  It wasn’t till…..you know, I think sixteen, seventeen years ago me and Sam got together and started to go out sabbing three times a week doing the anti-vivisection stuff…..sort of took over your life really and…….yeah the punk scene had gone, well the bands had gone, I’m not into politics, it’s just fencing and it’s a load of rubbish, you know, the hardcore scene went off….. with the Doom, it also brought in the straight edge scene which was punk bands that sort of gave up….no drinking, no smoking

 

CW:

I know you enjoy your drink as much as I do.  What do you think of the straight edge thing?

 

MJ:

I did it for eighteen months.  I quite admire it actually, because it’s ultimately one of the dirt-free DIY things it’s very focused, it’s very politically focused on such things as veganism, vegetarianism, squatting, anti-globalisation, hunt sab, it’s very…..it’s also….it’s absolutely no fun at all, cos you’re that determined in doing it, where I like going out and having a pint with me mates….or I go and see a band, and I think that’s…..that’s the history of rock ‘n’ roll isn’t it, it’s about having a drink, watching bands and having a laugh with your mates……

 

CW:

Coming through…..coming through now to the nineties in the story, 1991 Thatcher left, Major got in, at which point – at what point were you in your life at this point, you know, with work, with bands, music, family

 

MJ:

I got married, I had a son that was involved with the Class War stuff, that was just after the Poll Tax Riots, go out maybe a year, got married and…..just wasn’t me, just….dunno…..yeah it was a weird time…..cos the Class War was more prevalent then than the Poll Tax Riots and we’d just had the Strangeways Riot in Manchester, and there was very very…….a feeling of….people knew that the Tory rule was coming to an end and in ‘97 it did, and everybody was happy-clappy about it, but it was just the same, if anything, worse, but as far as me personally, I was…I was involved in the hardcore scene……really like the idea of doing DIY gigs, I liked the fact that punk was…..although it was still prevalent and….a heavy under current, it was very unfashionable so it was a highly introverted little scene if you know what I mean – a lot of DIY records being done, a lot of DIY bands, and it seemed to be, with the onset of MTV and all that nonsense, it seemed to be very fashionable then to be a punk, but then again you see, kids walking round with piercings and blue hair and Doctor Martin’s and I quite like that because they’re not gonna get beaten up for it; I quite like that fact that kids can go and dress up and have fun…..and discover who they are without the threat of being attacked by skinheads or the police, or whatever, or their mum

 

CW:

With the fashion, remembering a previous conversation, you liked all the first edition of his stuff.  What were people’s reaction to you when you were walking round wearing things like that?

 

MJ:

I don’t know really, I’d like to think we were outrageous, but I think it had been done a couple of years before, but it still was, because it got more severe…..the hair cuts were bigger and there were more piercings……it was a contrived look that had been done before but it was fun.  I still collect it now….but it was a really good….I wish I was around….I wish I was sixteen in 1977 instead of eleven; I’d have loved to have been in that scene and been there and done it.  I think I’d have turned out a completely different person to what I am now, but…..yeah I dunno

 

CW:

Do you think fashion still plays an important part really in the scene?

 

MJ:

No not at all, well it is a fashion – it’s all black, it’s a uniform the same as every other uniform, some say everyone’s got to have a uniform.  I think that’s as true today as it is…..when we’ve been and gone there’ll be people selling uniforms to other kids, to treat them as individuals

 

CW:

Isn’t it hard to preach, as some bands do, isn’t it hard to preach non-conformity when you’re all wearing the same stuff and singing the same songs?

 

MJ:

Yeah I think it is, yeah, I think, you know…well we were saying ‘oh we’re not gonna do it’ – we’re not going to spread any message and then it just gets worse [noise in background] it’s Tony walking my dog [laughing] I think it’s……I think it might be….we all dress in black, we all wear trainers, and try to wear stuff that is as ethical as possible….try to buy second-hand stuff from charity shops as much as possible, but I certainly don’t go to high street stores…..because being a strict vegan, I don’t wear leather and all that sort of stuff

 

CW:

Hippie! [laughing]…..the nineties as well…..were you in any bands back then or…..

 

MJ:

I was in a band called Retch for a while, then I got into the nineties…

CW:

How did that come about?

 

MJ:

Just got talking to people…..we lived in Great Yarmouth at the time, drinking in a pub…..you notice pubs have played a large part in my life……and got talking to a guy who said I play guitar…. We just came together and recorded our one and only session tape at Tome the Gnome, out of,  support the bands, home studio, I haven’t got a copy of it…..dunno what happened to it and we didn’t go very far and didn’t really get involved in anything till I moved to Norwich and met up with people in the tattoo shop…..Sue used to be in a band called PMT which was a quite well-known DIY all female band that at that time split up.  We had about a five year go at TCR going down really well but you reach a point where you think ‘we’re going down really well?  Let’s destroy this and get on with something new’…..and that’s what I did…..released one album and one EP, there again very DIY because DIY was getting very political…..we played quite a few gigs, supported Veruca, Discharge….. Poison Idea, Stiff Little Fingers…….so you know, nice to say I’ve done that, but….

 

CW:

Obviously bands like Stiff Little Fingers have since reformed.  What do you think of all these bands that are coming back, sometimes just for the money?

 

MJ:

I don’t. Don’t care.  Some of them have just…..oh I went to see for a ridiculous amount of money when it was my birthday, not last year but the year before; I went to see Public Image in Manchester, we used to follow them about.  I think I had eighty pounds, over eighty quid for two tickets with…..I can’t really knock people who want to go and see bands for fifteen quid and stuff like that you know, I was as big a hypocrite as anyone then but I don’t really care if people reform; if people enjoy going to see music, that’s up to them.

 

CW:

One of the bands you mentioned, Stiff Little Fingers – they did a few political stuff songwise.  Do you think if they reform and you go and see them, is the energy and urgency still there as it was first time round, or do you think it’s just more play acting?

 

MJ:

I think they still write some really good songs, and I think the stuff when they were writing in Ulster when they were actually living in Northern Ireland with conditions in the mid seventies, early eighties

 

CW:

They were down in London, by the second album

 

MJ:

They were….you know, if you’ve been brought up in that, you have a right to write political stuff [dog coming in]  Go!… Don’t let Tony in anymore, if you….yeah I think they’ve got more of the right to write about situations [phone ringing]

 

CW:

Intermission. Can I grab a beer please.

 

MJ:

Of course you can.

 

CW:

So…..yeah with the reformations and stuff…do you think it’s important for bands?

 

MJ:

What getting back together?

 

CW:

Yeah……wouldn’t it be better if they got back together for the right reasons rather than someone throwing a cheque in front of ‘em

 

MJ:

Oh but that’s what’s gonna happen I think.  For me, a lot of the bands such as the Subs and the Upstarts and the Upstarts and Buzzcocks you know, are bands that have come straight the way through and I’ve got a lot of respect for them

 

CW:

Buzzcocks? They split. 

 

MJ:

Yeah but only for a little while

 

CW:

Couple of years

 

MJ:

Flight of convenience, yeah, but that was….that was back in the eighties wasn’t it?

 

CW:

Yeah.  It were ‘87ish when bands started reforming

 

MJ:

But for me it’s……I don’t really care because you’ve got bands like Subhumans getting back together and throwing out all the political stuff, you’ve got Conflict getting back together and for me…..for them the opposite end swept out, in was dead in the water, I went to see them five or six times at gatherings and….I thought ‘you’re just doing this for the pose and the money…..I think, you know, Sabians got back together and that was great, I still go and see them.

 

CW:

I were remembering interviewing…well chatting to a lass in t’pub really and she made a….what I consider a misguided comment really, cos she said ‘I can’t see the point in forty year olds still thinking they’re preaching on behalf of the youth’ or summat like that.  Do you think bands doing – still doing the early stuff with the same message – do you think they can still get away with that, do you think it’s still relevant?

 

MJ:

I think in the political climate, with some of them, no, no I don’t think so.  I think in some respects she’s right but in other respects she’s wrong….but that’s my opinion, it doesn’t make her wrong, it’s just my opinion.  I think you’ve got to…..you’ve got a political climate at the moment which is being glossed over…..it is as bad as the seventies and early eighties; it’s not just the country that’s in trouble, it’s a global thing, you know…..there’s certain messages can be…..I think you can get across and I think a lot of young kids are getting into the older bands and it doesn’t matter how old you are, if you’re talking common sense you’re talking common sense, what you’ve got to say, you know, get involved in this because it’s gonna…..it’s gonna help people around you, that’s the pretty good message and if you’re saying ‘oh I’ll go and beat someone up and smash something up’ when you’re forty years old, get a life – that’s pointless…..no I suppose it’s each individual person and each band, I don’t think…..you’re all entitled to your opinion and if you wanna do that, do that, I don’t care, but….going back to Stiff Little Fingers – we played with them in Norwich and Bruce Foxton was playing bass for ‘em, and I liked The Jam, I thought they were a good band, and we had the what they call it – changing room – that room next to ‘em and I recall they were all in tracksuits warming up [laughing] so we nicked their beer – it wasn’t ours – we give’em it back and got drunk, I was,  disillusionment…….[dealing with dog] I’m going to have to lock him out, aren’t I. Lay down

 

CW:

He’s right. He’s only running round a bit.

 

MJ”

Lay down, lay down, lay down.

 

CW:

After that, after t’nineties we had two thousand, the new millennium.  By that point we’re way out of the Tory rule and we’re into the grips of Blairism really.  What stage in life were you in then?

 

MJ:

I was still in punk bands and TCR….to me I don’t look on it as Blair and Liberal-Labour.  There’ll all the same shit in different wrappers as far as I’m concerned.  I think it was my old man who said to me, ‘you’ve got to look at Government like a really really good table, sort of one that lasts for hundreds of years, supported by…..four strong legs – the Army, Navy, Secret Service, Police, whatever you want to call it then you’ve got a thick table, yeah….and then you’ve got a sheen on it and every so often that sheen gets worn down and you’re sick of it, so you take it off, underneath it’s still the same table…..until you destroy that table you’re never gonna get rid of it’ and that’s just how I’ve always felt.  I don’t care what you call yourself, I don’t care what they say to the public because what they say to the public, the public will hear, because the public’s too dumb to think, most of ‘em, so for me it’s…..I’ve no interest in them.  Blair was as bad as Thatcher, and will as bad as Cameron and whatever….they’re all the same……don’t like them.

 

CW:

Would you say then….you know when you got politicalised in that area and you were pretty much just an angry young punk really,

 

MJ:

Now, I’m an angry old man…

 

 CW:

do you still think….has that angst stayed with you or has it mellowed, or are you just as angry as before?

 

MJ:

……no I think I’m going into the political wing of Age Concern, as long as I can chuck a brick I’ll chuck one, but I’m as angry now – I think there’s more……the last thing that made me really angry, me and Sam went to New York for two weeks earlier this year and it’s a very very polished, beautiful city.  We’d done the Ground Zero thing which was…..when you think cos people died there but it’s been exploited for what it is…..then we went to get a drink one night and I wasn’t drinking at the time so we got two orange juices and a glass of wine, and it came to twenty-five dollars which is a lot of money.  We walked round the corner and there’s a…..walked round the corner and there was a…..people in firemans’ uniforms and nurses uniforms and families queuing up to get food handouts outside a park, Tompkins Square Park, cos Mayor Gullianno kicked all the homeless people out of in the early eighties, and I saw guys with….with their suitcases who’d finished work and gone to this park and lost their houses, and that was their home and I just thought to myself….it was heartbreaking and happening in every city, just…..the amount of guilt I felt for myself, going and spending that much money on three drinks and then walking round the corner and seeing just decent people, ordinary people having to queue up for food and sleep in parks when they’re working, and just over the road you’ve got people living in penthouses, and that to me has never struck right, and that goes on in every country, in every town, in every city, in every village, there’s always those who have more through screwing other people over, so….yeah I’m as angry now as I was then, if not worse – I just can’t run as fast

 

CW:

I’ll bring you back up to date then.  You’re currently in a band now – ‘Trauma Unit’ –

 

MJ:

Tuns Ukip, yeah, yeah [laughing]

 

CW:

How did that come about – how did you join that?  Who formed that?

 

MJ:

When I moved up here….the main thing about being up here, not only for it being a beautiful place, Hebden Bridge, the One in Twelve Club was in Bradford which is run on anarchist principles; it’s not just drinking, it’s got recording studios, printing places…..gig floor, a library, computer rooms that’s all been financed by us, so once you join it you own it, you’re part of it, and it’s up to different co-operatives in the place to keep it going, to keep it functioning, to put stuff on, to keep it……that’s what we’ve got, but it really inspired me, that fact that people weren’t doing stuff out of greed, they were doing it to help each other, which is…..you can put political messages in, whatever you want, but if your next door neighbour’s in trouble you help ‘em, you know, if your friend needs help you help ‘em, that’s….surely if everyone had done that and didn’t try to screw everyone over, not that it’s ever gonna happen…..the world would be a better place, you know, and for me it was a case of….getting involved.  I’ve been a member for about five years now, sort of pretty much every since I moved up to Hebden Bridge….there’s some good people there, there’s some arseholes there, but that’s the same all over, not saying it’s perfect but it’s happening to meet the right people at the right time and start a band…..and we’ve recorded two EPs there, both political, and I like that, but not preachy.  I think it was Crass who said – didn’t actually say it but it was done in a later interview – rather than give people opinions, you just bung loads of questions on to ‘em and it’s up to them to question what’s going on and make their own opinions on what’s happening…..because people….will go along with the status quo….they will, I’ve seen all the shit,  but they will go along with…..doing what they’re told and they actually said ‘why are you doing this?  Why are you fitting into this box?  You’re better than that.  You’re fitting into this box to make their people rich, who pay these people to keep you in line’ and that’s……what I’m angry about and that’s what the band is trying to say also, we’re all vegans, we’re very into the animal rights scene…..which again I suppose is…..it’s more an information network, I view music now, and punk is, I don’t really view it for the music.  I’d rather listen to raggae to be honest…..or……I dunno…..my ears can’t take it as much as they used to and I think of it’s a load of crap, just noise for noise sake, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just what people happen to be in to doesn’t make it right or wrong but it’s just not for me…..as a band at the moment we’re…..yeah we’re doing well, we’re supporting on Frank’s, can I advertise,  yeah we’ve got various bands, various gigs all over the country…..we’ve got a drummer from Brazil, Diana she obviously has to go back six months of the year, we’ve got a friend Trev, who drummed for a band called Active Slaughter, so he’s now drumming for us and it’s working out quite nicely…..

 

CW:

Okay.  Looking through all your years involved with music, listening to music and obviously growing up through all the stages of it, if you had to pick one song as the soundtrack of your life……which would it be?

 

MJ:

You bastard [laughing]….I don’t know

 

CW:

 I’ve had that loaded for about an hour.

 

MJ:

I don’t really know mate – I could pick an album or two – I don’t think I could put it down to a song

 

CW:

Well a couple of albums then

 

MJ:

For me, Feeding the Five Thousand which is essentially a twelve inch but it’s Crass – it’s got to be Never Mind the Bollocks by The Pistols and The Clash and The Damned and Stiff Little Fingers and Discharge and Napalm Death and `UK Subs and Kron Gen, and it could go on forever, I think it also depends what sort of mood you’re in.  I think cos I own about fifteen different copies of Never Mind the Bollocks that would be one of the main ones…..my favourite bit of music is Gorecki’s ‘Song Full of Sorrow,’, – it’s classical and opera – that’s what I’d take to a desert island with me,  because it’s beautiful.

 

CW:

Over t’years now, well ever since punk started we’ve seen the deaths of so many people, I mean from Sid Vicious through to Malcolm Qwen through to Stuart Adamson through to Stig, stuff like that….through to Joe Strummer, through to…..Poly Styrene just the other week, any of these bands you wish you could have seen one more time?

 

MJ:

I saw the Ramones – I saw The Clash…I never saw The Dead Boys with Stiff Baydiss – I’m a big Dead Boys fan……I’d love to have seen Generation X with Poly Styrene

 

CW:

Was she with them, ‘Generation X’?

 

MJ:

Sorry, X-Ray Specs - rewind…..yeah so I’d love to have seen them when they played The Roundhouse – I assume she knew what was going on inside her body – that was why she played – and I said ‘oh I’ll go and see her next time’ – I did the same for Joe Strummer as well – he played Norwich – Norwich Uni and I said ‘I’ll catch him next time and he passed away,  but that’s life……

 

CW:

Any regrets?

 

MJ:

…..oh fuck it [laughing]

 

CW:

Well you’ve done so well without t’swearing through most of it

 

MJ:

It was there – it was gonna come out, it was gonna come out some time!  No, I’ve got no regrets…..if you’ve got regrets in your life – they are certain things that I’ve done which I’m not proud of, but I’ve done them and it’s turned me into the person that I am

 

CW:

Would you do it all again then?

 

MJ:

Yeah, too right, yeah…..yeah, I’ve done….I do miss the chaos 

 

CW:

Anything you want to add, any messages?

 

MJ:

No..buy our album!

 

CW:

Well thanks for your time Martin

 

MJ:

Thank you very much.  Can we hand to our Tony now?

 

[END OF TRACK ONE]

About Us

Wild Rose Heritage and Arts is a community group which takes it's name from the area in which we are located - the valley ("den") of the wild rose ("Heb") -  Hebden Bridge which is in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

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Pennine Heritage Ltd.
The Birchcliffe Centre
Hebden Bridge
HX7 8DG

Phone: 01422 844450
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