Exiles is a
band which really do music as it should sound. 77-punk at it´s best Heres
an interview with Exiles done in September-2014
me a little bit history of the group?
-The Exiles were first active at the end of the 20th century. We learned to
play instruments as soon as we left school, and we lasted five years. We
released one 7” EP, 'Freaks', on Matchbox Classics, a cult punk label from
our hometown of Carlisle. It was only after we split that good offers
started coming in, like TV, and I heard T in the Park festival were looking
for us to play but we had split up and gone our separate ways. I had moved
to Glasgow by the time we got back together, after over a decade apart. My
father was ill in Carlisle, so I was visiting a lot more and two of the band
were in another band together, they invited me and Tef (drums) to their
rehearsal in 2009 and we jammed. It was so good, they dumped the other band
and The Exiles were back. I might have to travel 100 miles for rehearsals or
to go to gigs, but it's only an hour away on the train.
Please tell me a little about every member in the group right now, age,
family, work, interests and something bad about everyone?
-We're all in our early 40s now – but don't hold that against us – when we
play with other bands, it's us that jump highest, play loudest, sweat the
most, and have the best tunes. I'm Simon, guitarist, I work for a socialist
newspaper in Scotland, and I'm married with two young kids, I'm into Dada
and the situationists, and left-wing politics, and the worst thing about me
is that I stay up all night, drinking and smoking, I don’t´know... I'm bad
to nazis, I suppose. Tef is on drums – he's married with a daughter at
university, he works in a laboratory in a textile company, mixing dyes and
stuff (I think, nobody knows – he has a white coat). Tef likes biking and
hill-walking, and he goes to Spain three or four times a year – the worst
thing about Tef is, apart from coming across as a grumpy fucker (he isn't),
his farts smell like cabbage and sweat. Phil is our singer and bassist – he
lives with his partner Sue and their teenage son James (James is also in two
or three punk bands in Carlisle). Phil isn't interested in anything, and
hates being in a band. But his arse-burps are the worst as well. Mine smell
like flowers and aniseed.
Exiles…wasn´t there an old group who was called that way or was it Exile?
-There are a million bands called The Exiles. We found that out when we
first joined myspace (I've only logged-in to myspace once in the past 5
years). I made friends there with about 30 'Exiles' bands worldwide. I think
we should've changed our name when we got back together... too late now.
You have good 77-sound I think? Is that music which influences most?
-I suppose. The Clash, Sex Pistols and Ramones are the bands me and Phil
listened to most when we were getting into punk, and it was already retro by
the time we came of age and started listening. But my favourite bands now
are Manic Street Preachers and Public Enemy, Tef likes Green Day and Foo
Fighters and stuff. Phil doesn't have many records beyond punk stuff. We all
like The Damned more than we used to.
What´s the best thing with playing live?
-Making a noise, creating an energy, seeing people sing your lyrics back to
you, and going off and starting their own bands. Me and Phil always try to
out-jump each other on stage. We're always pissing with sweat by the end.
And where is best to play?
-We played at Rebellion Festival for the first time this year. We were
expecting less than 10 people to be in our audience but loads of people came
to see us, well over a hundred – that was a fantastic gig, I hope we get on
at Rebellion again next year. King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow is amazing
to play. We played there three times last year, one time supporting The
Godfathers, and we played the Joe Strummer Tribute Night at King Tut's too.
How is it to play this sort of music in England?
-There's loads of punks bands everywhere in England and Scotland. The scene
is massive. But if you play on the wrong night, the audience can look at you
like you're weird. We supported The Beat in Carlisle last year – they had
asked for a local punk band to support them. Their crowd didn't like us too
much, but The Beat asked for us again when they came back this year. The
venue didn't agree though, lol.
How would you describe your music in three words?
-Edgy, political, melodic.
What does punk mean to you, is it only a word or is it a lifestyle?
-Punk was revolutionary to begin with, but there's too many punk sub-genres
to just call it one thing. Take pop-punk... and kill it, please – put it out
of its misery. I don't dress 'punk', I have a few punk t-shirts, of bands
and record labels, but it's more rebellious now to turn up to a punk show in
a suit and geeky glasses. Politics can be more punky than punk.
How do you see on downloading, mp3 and that stuff?
-You can't make a spliff on an mp3. The worst thing about mp3 – I don't mind
the format – but it's too easy to steal, for kids, for anyone. We phoned a
punk venue in Newcastle after we released our album, and the manager said “I
was wondering when you would ring – I've been listening to your album all
week, I stole the mp3s”. We got the gig, but our album cost us loads to
record, more money than we had. I had to sell some of my favourite records
to afford my share of studio costs, cos I was unemployed when we recorded
it. I like to hold cover artwork in my hands when I'm listening to a record.
But I have an iPod with 8000 songs on it, most of them were free but only
the ones I already had on vinyl. I prefer to buy a CD and make an mp3.
Computers break, iPods can be lost, so with a CD, you can get it all back
How is it to live in England now? Politically?
-You should ask that again on 19 September. Scotland is close to breaking
away from the UK, and the English are only just waking up to that. For
years, the working class in the UK have been trampled upon by the
Westminster parliament in London. The Conservative Party is in power again,
but Scotland only has one Conservative member of parliament. Scotland hates
the Conservatives – there are more pandas in Scotland than Conservative
politicians. Scotland is way more left-wing than England. We've even had
revolutionary socialists elected to the Scottish Parliament, but England
hasn't followed suit. The latest opinion poll on the Scottish independence
referendum says that the pro-independence forces will win a historic victory
next Thursday. But even if it doesn't, the left (most of the
pro-independence forces are left-wing, including the Greens, the far-left
Scottish Socialist Party, of which I'm a member, and the Radical
Independence Campaign) plans to unite and change Scottish politics forever.
Sleepy England didn't even realize this could happen until the last poll
said the pro-indies were ahead. Now they're shitting themselves, and every
argument they're bringing up has already been debated and sorted out long
ago. They're way behind the times, and they're only just coming to realize
that. You can taste the air of social change on the streets of Glasgow, with
independence or without.
Is there any good bands from England?
-Beyond the classic English punk rock bands, there's No Thrills and The
Girls from Penrith, and State Control and the Meltdownz from Carlisle, all
great bands. The Zips and The Jackhammmers from Glasgow too are pretty hot.
Pins from Manchester I'm listening to a lot recently, they're all female. I
get bored listening to guys all the time. Women are where it's at,
culturally, politically, in every way. Women are the way forward. Patti
Smith was there before The Ramones. I miss Poly Styrene and Ari Up.
What do you know about Sweden? / Have you heard any good bands from Sweden?
-Sorry if this offends but beyond Abba and Ace of Base, no. And we all like
Abba. I'm really sorry. “Treat him well, he is your brother...”
Your lyrics, who does them and what influences you?
-I do the majority of the lyrics, Phil does some also. I write about what I
see going on around me, so most songs are anti-apathy and anti-government. I
hate racism, sexism and homophobia, so some of my lyrics try to reflect
that. I read a great book about Muhammad Ali, so I wrote a song about his
stance against the Vietnam War, and I made sure the Muslim thing was brought
up in a positive way the lyrics – politicians and the media in the UK have
tried to paint all Muslims as evil since 9/11, but not everyone falls for
that crap, thankfully. Sympathy For Dying Dolls is about the way that TV,
magazines and films use women for their looks when they're young, then cast
them aside as they get a little bit older. We say FUCK THAT SHIT!
Do you do any covers when you play live, which(if you do) ?
-We covered The Harder They Come on our album – we'd been playing it live
for years and not too many punk bands have covered it. Lately, we've been
doing a punked-up version of Bob Marley's Redemption Song, which is
definitely going on the next album. It's always a crowd-pleaser. We can
throw in a Ramones cover anytime, and we know a few Clash songs to play
Politics and musics, does it goes hand in hand?
-It does and it should. One thing I hate about the punk 'scene' is that a
few racist bands always slip through. We don't mix well with those idiots.
Best political band/artist?
-The Clash, Manic Street Preachers, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Public
Enemy, Dead Prez, the former Dead Kennedys (what's the point without
Jello?), oh yeah, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, the
MC5, Rage Against The Machine. But The Clash and Manic Street Preachers
Do you think that music(lyrics and so on) can change anyones life)I mean
people who listens to music)?
-Sure, music, films and books, even art movements like Dada, Surrealism...
look at May 1968 – people remember situationist posters and slogans as much
as the sit-ins and riots.
Have you done anything more than Universal Suffering? If you have how can I
-Yeah, our 7” 'Freaks' EP – we found a box of them last month and
took them to Rebellion. They sold out in a minute. If we find more, we'll
put them on sale on our website. Skrutt can have a free copy, obviously. If
you see them on eBay, they're always overpriced. Wait until we get them
online. Oh, and Freaks mp3s are not available.
Is it important to release your records as “real” records??
-I think so. The easiest way is to sell them at gigs – you can't sell mp3s
at gigs. Our album is on iTunes, Amazon mp3, Google Play, etc, but the big
problem is getting publicity, letting people know it's out there. We can
support any indie band, but cos our image is punk, and it's not 1977
anymore, no corporate media outlet wants to know. So we're available
worldwide, but that can come to nothing. We're lucky some big magazines,
like Germany's Ox-Fanzine and the UK's Vive Le Rock and Big Cheese, all gave
our debut album 8/10. I sent hundreds of CDs out when it was released. We
had about 5 or 6 reviews. All great, but that won't scratch the surface.
It's a good job we're not in this for the money but also, it would be nice
to be heard by the masses.
Please tell me a funny thing which have happened during your career and
under some gig?
-There's probably tons of stuff, I can't remember, all we do is take the
piss out of each other in the band. Our second ever gig was supporting GBH
in Edinburgh, it was our furthest away gig at the time, and Tef was driving
back in the middle of the night and nearly fell asleep at the wheel. Another
time we drove off without shutting the back doors of our van, and our old
rhythm guitarist fell out of the back doors – he didn't think it was funny
but we were on the floor laughing. We played a festival a couple of years
back and some guy was throwing mud at Phil, so after the song he scooped up
a big handful and threw it back in the guys face – security told Phil off
and he went up to his microphone, which still had delay effects switched on,
and he told security to “FUCK OFF-Off-off-off-(off)!”
How does your audience look like? Which people do you miss on your
-Our audience is totally mixed, there are kids that are still in school who
come to see us, and there are retired people there. We made some t-shirts
last month and it was all the small and medium sizes that sold out at first
– there's only one XL and one XXL left. We're getting more done in smaller
sizes, cos it's the skinny-ass kids that are buying them all up. Which is
nice. But generally, it's a good mix. More women would be good – don't take
that in a misogynist way, like I said, women are where it's at. All my
favourite bass players are women.
Please rank your five favorite records, five favorite concerts and five most
important things in -life?
These are personal choices, and off the top of my head, since Tef's in Spain
right now, and Phil's still asleep (well it IS mid-afternoon)...
1. The Holy Bible, Manic Street Preachers;
2. Bad Brains, Bad Brains;
3. Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death, Dead Kennedys;
4. Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts, The Adverts;
5. It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, Public Enemy
1. The Who/Joe Strummer, Glasgow SECC, 2000 (I met Joe while The Who were
2. Manic Street Preachers, Newcastle Riverside, 1991 (raw early Manics, like
watching the rebirth of punk rock);
3. Rebellion Festival, Blackpool Winter Gardens, 2014 (The Exiles played,
and we got to see and meet so many great artists – including TV Smith from
The Adverts, who called our album “a great rock'n'roll record” – The Lurkers
gave us a shout-out on stage too);
4. OFF!, Glasgow King Tut's, 2012 (the whole band loves OFF!, so we all went
to this gig);
5. Sex Pistols, Glasgow SECC, 2007 (I'd never seen them till the night
before in Manchester, but they took the roof off at the Glasgow show, and I
got Steve Jones's plectrum)
IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE:
5. Punk rock
I compare you a little too Jam and also “newer” bands like Red Letter Day,
Price, Red London, how about that? Any other bands you´ve being compared
-One of my latest songs sounds a little like That's Entertainment, the vocal
melody anyway, and the music reminds me of Generation X and The Clash. It's
not too fast, and Tef can't do slow, so we might do it as an acoustic song.
The words are a reaction to a TV show in the UK called 'Benefits Street', a
'documentary' set in a street where there's a large number of unemployed
people. 'Documentary' can mean anything, directors and TV companies always
have set agendas, and their obvious agenda in this case was to deflect
attention away from the rich bankers and politicians that caused the recent
financial crisis. It wasn't unemployed people that crashed the banks, but
they're being blamed anyway. I fucking hate super-rich motherfuckers that
can't take some responsibility. So in this song, called 'Kitchen Sink', I
take a walk down Parasite Street – where the rich people live – and I say
what I think of them. We've got some songs that sound like DK, some like The
Clash but they're all Exiles songs. I don't hear The Jam in us, but others
do. That's fine. It's usually people that like The Jam that compare, so
that's a compliment.
Do you understand that reviewers always compare bands to other bands? Is
that disturbing when you try to something own?
-No, because it's the written word, how else are you gonna get it across?
Some people say it's lazy but I write so I understand, and I have to write
biographies and descriptions about the band – I know what it's like trying
not to mention other bands, and it can come across as what working class
Scots would call “utter pish”, all these descriptive nouns, written
narratives describing chord changes and solos. We make it easier by listing
our influences in our publicity. I'd prefer reviewers to talk about our
lyrics more and namecheck a couple of bands that we sounds like. Our lyrics
matter – we don't do love songs.
Future plans for the band?
-Make another album, definitely. We've got 10 or 11 tracks that could
definitely go on it. I'm half-hoping some label picks us up and puts out
maybe the best 3 or 4 off the first album with 8 or 9 new ones, cos our new
stuff is totally shit-hot, musically, politically, lyrically – the tunes are
all killer. We'd like to get on at Rebellion again next year, and more
festivals in general.
-Raise a people's army and seize control of the state.
-“Punk rock means exemplary manners to your fellow human beings.” – Joe
Something to add?
-Yes. Find us online at http://theExiles.co.uk/ and
facebook.com/theExiles – buy our CD, learn the lyrics, see you
down the front!