Nick Tesco was really nice to me and answered my questions about his old group Members. They have re-released their old stuff now on Captain Oi and I´m sure that it can be a renaissance for the group with songs like Sounds of the Suburbs, GLC and so on. Nick answered these questions via mail in 24 hours in the beginning of june 2006.
When did Members start to play together from the first time?
Did you come from any other bands before?
What happened to the members after the splitup?
-JC still plays music and runs a fashion shop in Nottinghill Gate, Adian Lillywhite has his own business and still drums a bit, Chris Payne has a jewellery stall and plays bass a bit and Nigel Bennett still plays in various bands including, for a while, The Vibrators. Steve Rudi Thompson, sax player and one time member of X-Ray Spex, went back to Australia and now runs the literacy programme for the New South Wales Juvenile Prison Service.
When did you splitup and why?
-Not enough success, too much struggle, stuck together in the same van for a very long tour took its toll on our relationship. Also music had moved on and both JC and I wanted to do different things. Times change.
When you started to play it was more punk rock and then after that you become more and more pop oriented, what happened?
-I don’t know if you could ever call us pop orientated but the fact is as you improve at what you do you can’t stand still musically. Change is good; we were always influenced by music around us, in the beginning it was reggae and later rap and New York punk funk, like Konk and James White.
Did you ever call yourself for a punk band?
-Of course we did. That’s where we came from and that’s how I still define The Members.
What did punk meant to you?
-Freedom and change. It was a way forward. People forget how grey and boring Britain was in the mid/late Seventies; punk influenced music, art, film and attitude. Before punk only old people were allowed to have the ideas, after punk it all changed.
What does punk mean to you today, have been where you are without the punks thoughts and opinions?
-I still think of punk as a huge cleansing wave of ideas that shook a lot of things up. I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today if it hadn’t been for punk. The problem with much of the modern punk ideas is that so many of them only take one aspect of punk and magnify that, playing guitars very fast and wearing leather jackets with Mohawks does not make a punk. That’s just a uniform and if you want to wear a uniform then join the army. This was where it all went wrong for punk; suddenly there were all these cartoon bands around like The Exploited, Rabid, Anti Nowhere League who were just pale imitations who had nothing new to say. The war had moved on and these bands were left fighting over the rubbish left behind.
What kind of music do you listen to today?
-A lot of the new guitar bands, I like The Automatic, The Subways, Franz Ferdinand as well as various rap artists like The Roots, People Under The Stairs and quite a lot of world music like Amadou & mariam from Mali, Manu Chao and Rachid Taha. Rachid is the true heir of The Clash and he’s from Algeria by way of Lyons. He’s awesome.
You work at Musicweek.com , please tell me about it?
-It’s actually Music Week the magazine. We’re the magazine that writes about the UK music industry. I like it here, the people are excellent and I enjoy what I do. It’s like I’m still involved with music without having to go out there and play it!
The name Members was really simple but in the same time genius, how did the name come up?
-Well a member is another name for a knob, penis whatever, and it came up during a very long drinking session. We just thought it was a good name as it has several different meanings.
You were at Virgin at the time, how was it?
-It was OK. What bands need to realise is that a record label is a business; they’re not your friends. Our big fault was that being as we lived close to the label several of us were in there all the time stealing records to sell so that we could eat. On top of that every time I went there someone would take me out for lunch. This was really great at the time but when we got dropped they presented us with an account and every single free lunch that I’d been taken for was on that account; so in fact I’d been buying everyone else lunch. I don’t think we were particularly well treated in the end and since then I believe Virgin records has consistently defrauded us out of our royalties.
And now your albums are re-released by Captain Oi? He does a really good work doesn’t he?
-Yeah Mark does a really great job. In fact I have nothing but admiration for the work he does. All the packaging on his product is excellent and he treats everybody with whom he has dealings with respect.
Which is your favourite Members song (Offshore banking business and GLC is mine)?
-I really still love Solitary Confinement, my son Ned loves We The People. Also Don’t Push should be up there. Most of my old girlfriends love Love In A Lift.
Which was the song always wanted to hear?
-Sound of The Suburbs obviously – that’s if you mean what song do people always want to hear.
Politics and music, does it goes hand in hand?
-Of course, and so it should. Real bands should have something to say about the world around them, politics is both personal and universal.
Good political band?
-The Clash, Rachid Taha, Manu Chao,.
You were involved in the movement Rock Against Racism then? Have it been better with racism now or how have it become?
-We could do with a revival of the RAR spirit to be honest. There is a real danger of right-wingers gaining ground again. All the hysteria about immigration only helps to fuel violence and fear.
What shall we do about the racists?
What do you know about Sweden?
-Quite a bit to be honest. When I was producing records for a while I worked on an album by an awful group called Trance Dance, the front guy dressed like Bon Jovi but made music like Jason Donovan. I had a great time in Stockholm but not such a great time in the studio. The funny thing was he didn’t like the way I was mixing the material but the only hit he had off that album was the track I mixed. He didn’t like the modern sound, unlike the audience in Sweden. I also spent a lot of time working with a Finnish outfit called the Leningrad Cowboys.
Have you heard any good Swedish bands?
-Yeah loads. I don’t really need to make a list do I?
Are you interested in football, what about England chances in World Championship?
-I think we stand a good chance. My teenage daughter Lucy is a big fan of football so it’s over to the sofa for beer and crisps.
You´re going to meet Sweden again, how is it going?
-3-1 to England
Please rank your five favourite records, five favourite concerts and five most important things in life?
-Today my choice of records:
The Clash – London Calling
Manu Chao – Clandestino
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
The Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street
The Mighty Diamonds – Bodyguard
The Adverts – Gary Gilmore’s Eyes
The Damned – New Rose
Material feat Nona Hendrix – Bustin’ Out
Tapper Zukie – MPLA
Primal Scream – Loaded
Rachid Taha – Meltdown 2005
Patti Smith – Meltdown 2005
The Ramones – Oakland 1982
Amadou & Mariam – La Cigalle 2005
Rolling Stone – 100 Club 1980 (?)
Most important things in life:
Sense of justice
First, last and most embarrassing record in your collection?
-The first record I actually bought was the first Rolling Stones album; my big brother made me buy it with my Christmas money and then “borrowed” it for a very long time (25 years). The last album I actually bought was 3+3 by The Isley Brothers, a brilliant album.
Most embarrassing record in your collection?
-Probably something by Kylie.
You have never been together and played after the split up, have you got the question to do that many times?
-Funnily enough I got on stage with JC and the other guys at JC’s 50th birthday party in February. It was the first time in 23 years we’d been on the same stage. We’re thinking of doing a final gig for our kids but at the moment we can’t make up our mind how, where or when. The usual story.
Is it many interviews? Is it boring?
-Depends; interviews are a bit more interesting these days as they don’t come along that often and the questions tend to be a lot more intelligent.
Which is the question you never get but you want to have, please ask it and answer it?
-To be honest I think I’ve been asked most of the questions that are relevant to my musical life. Here’s one: Any regrets? Too many too go into I guess, but not as many as you’d think.
Futureplans for yourself?
-I’m a father now so I plan on trying to do the best I can do for my kids. They’re smart, funny and know their own minds and I reckon that’s the most I can hope for in this life.
-Live life to the full. When you’re young you don’t have to decide what the rest of your life is going to be like before you’ve lived any of it. Always be sure that whatever you do, the way you treat people, you can live with yourself and the outcome after the event. As you get older you find yourself picking up baggage that you won’t be able to put down so before you have that baggage run; if you want to travel do it, if you want to form a band do it and if you just want to get fucked up for a while do it. Never be scared of change.
Something more to add?
-Five pages of rubbish from Tesco is enough I think!