punk from the past
Machines was a group which released one single back in the 70´s and that single is one of the most expensive nowadays from the early punkwave. Up to £180 can you pay for it. Now over 25 years after that single I interviewed one of the members…..
Skrutt Interview – 18 August 2006
Why did you start to play in the first place?
-I started playing when I was 15. I’d been listening to people like The Doors and The Who for a couple of years and it just seemed the natural thing to do. Best decision of my life!
Please tell me a little about every member in the group, how old
where you when you started, what are they doing now?
-The members were myself on guitar/vocals, Duff on bass and John Dee on drums. I was 21 when we started, Duff was 19 and John was a mere 16. These days I work in web development, Duff went on to become a printer and John is not well enough to work (drink/drug/rock n roll lifestyle problems).
Do you have any contact with the other ones now?
-None at all. I haven’t seen Duff since 1978 and John since I saw him in a reggae band called Bushfire 22 years ago.
When you started to play was it because you wanted to play punk or
was it so that you only played and after a while you been called a
-I suppose I got into what would become ‘punk’ in the early 1970s via my love of bands like the Stooges, MC5, Velvet Underground and New York Dolls. My first band, Raw Power, played Dolls songs in 1974 so when punk arrived I was ready and waiting!
You did one Ep, not anymore stuff you recorded(except the songs on
Bored Teenagers)? If it is so why don´t release it on a CD?(Or can you help me getting the songs you did on a CD?)
-The 4 tracks on the True Life EP plus the 2 on the just released Bored Teenagers Vol.4 on Bin Liner Records are the only things we recorded, which is a shame as that means about 14 – 16 of our songs remain unheard (but keep reading for a BIG surprise!).
Your Ep have become a very expensive one, haven´t it? How much have
you heard that people have paid for it?
-Yes, the True Life EP has become a collector’s item and is very sought after. It was recently in ‘Record Collectors’ (popular UK magazine) Top 50 most collectable punk records of all time which was a blast. Copies have sold for £180 plus!
Is it worth that?
-Of course not! I wouldn’t pay that for a record made by Jesus Christ singing the secret of eternal life! Anyone who wants it can get it on CD (which sounds better) from Detour Records, UK for £3.50p which I think is a much better deal!
Your best memories from the Machines-time?
-Getting 6 encores at a London college the week after The Damned got 2! Seeing our EP go into the Alternative charts at No.20 in its first week of release. Playing the famous Roxy and Vortex clubs. Our live gigs, always a riot! Hearing our record on the John Peel show in the back on a van on our way back from a storming sold out gig.
Lots and lots of fond memories.
Do you listen to punk music today? Favourites in music today?
-I didn’t just visit punk for the weekend, it’s for life! I still get the same kick from The Dolls, Stooges, Television, Clash, The Gun Club etc as I did when they first appeared.
Favourites today? Loads! I like The Blood Arm, Towers of London, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, the Wannadies, My Morning Jacket, Larrikin Love and any band with balls!
What did punk meant to you? Have it formed your life to become the
man you are today?
-Punk meant everything to me. It was music, attitude and lifestyle all rolled into one. It was excitement, challenge, danger, experimentation, optimism, rebellion, everything.
The attitudes and values I picked up in punk are very much the core of the person I am today. These values are about being open minded, not easily shocked, acceptance of difference, a willingness to try new things and think outside the box. Not bad values at all!
Or was it so that the punk wasn’t so political then as it became
when groups like Crass, Conflict and those bands came?
-Politics was very much an influence in the early days mostly due to bands like The Clash (the Pistols never showed much interest in politics) and things like the Rock Against Racism movement.
Personally I didn’t like Crass, Conflict and those kind of bands as music was my main concern and I’m sorry but for me those bands just could not rock.
Did you play gigs often?
-We played as many gigs as we could get which was usually about 4 – 6 a month. The town we lived in (Southend on Sea) was also the home to, and very much in the grip of, RnB bands like Dr Feelgood and Eddie and The Hot Rods and we had to fight against that to get gigs. We hated all that RnB crap and didn’t hide that fact either !
Have you made a reunion sometime? Is it anything you want to do?
-Yes! We are playing again. First gig for 28 years is at the Boston Arms, Islington, London, UK on 11 September 2006. It’ll be the first time The Machines will have been heard live for 28yrs! Apart from myself the band now features Tash on bass (ex Raw Power) and former leader and drummer of anarcho punksters Kronstadt Uprising, Steve Pegrum.
Also playing that night are The Ordinarys, The Plague and The Steroid Kiddies. It’s going to be one hell of a night. Can’t wait to get back on stage! Do come!
I would also love us to get back into regular gigging and of course making more records!
Back in those days it wasn´t so hard to shock your parents, people
around and so on with becoming a punk, what shall today’s youth do to
-Walk around naked? Become accountants? Join a weird religious sect? Have a sex change? Loads of ways, they just need imagination!
Which is the most important punk song ever?
-Well after True Life (he he!) it has to be either Anarchy in the UK (it was THE call to arms punks had been waiting for!) or New Rose by The Damned (the first punk release that set the way for many that followed).
What do you think of the old ones who plays punk still as Charlie
Harper(UK subs), TV Smith(Adverts) and so on. Are they pathetique or what do you think?
-I don’t think their age is what they should be judged against but whether they can still deliver the goods. I saw the Adverts in 1977 and if TV Smith is still that good I’d go and see him. Charlie Harper must be 65 so good luck to him for just being alive!
Last year I saw Television sell out a 2,500 seater two nights in a row and put on a staggering good show. Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd are both 57, nuff said?
What do you know about Sweden?
-It’s where the Wannadies and Abba come from! It’s big on metal of all varieties (black/death/heavy etc). It’s a country where the government gives grants to bands to make records – respect! Population is about 9 million. Capital is Stockholm. The fishing is very good. You have a Christmas gnome called Tomte who lives under the floor boards and best of all you have sauna’s then roll around in the snow thrashing each other with twigs - cool! I think I want to move there!
Have you heard any Swedish bands worth to mention?
-In addition to the above aren’t Bettie Servert, the Cardigans and the Hives Swedish? To be honest, as a poorly informed Brit, I get confused with which bands are Swedish and which are Icelandic/Norwegian/Finnish! Sorry!
You don´t play music now or and did you do that after the Machines
-After the Machines I formed the Collectors which had a single called ‘Different World’ on Central Collection in 1980. It is also a collector’s item now. John Peel described us as ‘The Sound of young Acton’ (a region of London). We played together for nearly 20 years and got to play some good venues like Dingwalls around London.
What do you think about records like Bored Teenagers and similar
-Until Detour Records contacted me and asked me to be on Bored Teenagers Vol. 4 the only punk compilations I had heard since the ‘Farewell to the Roxy’ album were ones that had used my songs without asking e.g. Killed by Death Vol.2, Bloodstains across the UK, Break the Rules Vol.7 and Every one a classic Vol.6 etc.
As a concept I like them but again I’m only interested if they contain something worth listening to. I’ve heard a couple of rock compilations from the 1960s and was impressed by the variety on them so maybe kids get that now from today’s punk compilations?
Do you buy much records today?
-Of course! There is still a wealth of good music, both old and new. This week I got the new New York Dolls CD (the one with the free DVD) and an excellent double of unreleased Stooges material from the classic Raw Power line up. Last week I bought The Stands and the Kings of Leon. It’s all out there!
Please rank your five favourite records, five favourite concerts and five most important things in life?
1. Marquee Moon by Television
2. TThe 1st Velvet Underground album
3. RRaw Power by the Stooges
4. TThe first New York Dolls album
5. BBack in the USA by the MC5
1. TThe Sex Pistols and Clash at the 100 Club Punk festival in Sept 1976.
2. JJohnny Thunders Heartbreakers first appearance at The Roxy Club in late 1976.
3. TThe Clash and Tom Robinson band at the Rock Against Racism free gig in Victoria Park London 1978.
4. TThe Ramones at The Rainbow, Finsbury Square, London in 1977.
5. TThe Clash supported by the Jam and the Buzzcocks at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1977.
5 most important things?
1. TTo be happy.
2. TTo be healthy.
3. TTo have good partners and good friends.
4. TTo have enough to live on.
5. TTo have good times and fun!!!
First, last and most expensive record ever bought?
-First record was Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble by Uriah Heep – ugh!
Last was the Stooges double the other day. Most expensive? Don’t think I’ve ever spent more than shop price on anything.
Most embarrassing record in your collection?
-Barry White’s Greatest Hits, bought for 10p because I like the drums and bass on ‘Can’t get enough of your love’ – he he!
Something more to add?
-If you want to know more about The Machines check out www.myspace.com/77machines (it has all 4 songs on the EP available to listen to FREE) and www.southendpunk.com (an excellent site giving the full history of punk in the area we live!).
There is also more information about us on the excellent www.Punk77.com and details of Bored Teenagers Vol.4 and our forthcoming gig are at http://www.detour-records.co.uk/bored_teenagers.htm
Finally, a big hello to all you big butch blonde Vikings and Vikingnesses out there!