Underclass UK sent me a lot of records and they all sounded very well and very punkish. I really liked them so here is an interview done in October 2014.
Please tell me a little bit history of the group?
-Well here’s the blurb from our Facebook site, originally written by Ryan
Cooper for About.com:
This release was a mere three years after ‘Gratuitous’ and as the first album took decades to come to fruition, we're talking about a band that's now reaching lightning speed!
So history aside, who are Underclass UK?
The original article is here: http://punkmusic.about.com/od/reviews/fr/Underclass-Uk-Kill-The-Poor.htm
Please tell me a little about every member in the group right now, age, family, work, interests and something bad about everyone?
-Let’s just say everyone’s late 40’s, all our kids are grown up, our work lives are not as bleak, fruitless or negative as they were as teenagers, and we’ve all Graduated from the University of Life and all that bollocks.
Three quarters of the band are in long term, ahem, recovery for Drink or Drug problems. We were all fucked up. And sometimes still are. I’m nearly 8 years sober after 25 years abuse. So our band is a little different from most. It’s not a glorified drinking club. Some will see that as boring. It will scare others as it might make them have to face their own Demons…
Underclass UK. That´s a name which shows us where you stand…is it important to have a good name? Which is the best band name you know??
-Well, names can be deceiving and I wouldn’t want anyone to think we’re all still living in one room and running around with banners all day, far from it, but I had to come up with a name for the first album (we never named the original project) and pretty much anything I came up with had been used, including The Underclass, so I dropped the The and added a UK.
Best names? Oh so many… But for the type of Punk I grew up on both Conflict and The Exploited’s names carried a lot of weight, image and gravitas.
You have good 77-sound mixed with 80´s punk I think? Is that music which influences most?
-Personally, and certainly for the first two releases which was basically me driving everything, it’s an early 80’s UK Punk thing (Angelic Upstarts and Cockney Rejects meets The Exploited and GBH) being chased down a dark alley by some of the better mid 80’s American Glam Rock bands (Twisted Sister, WASP, LA Guns, Faster Pussycat).
Since Clem and Andy have been around again, there’s a much darker vibe going on, and whilst everything we do will sound angry by default, it’s trying to be original and finding it’s own niche.
What´s the best thing with playing live?
-Getting it over and done with, I’m not a great lover of gigging. Too much hanging around.
And where is best to play?
-We’re not a prolific live band, you can count the amount of gigs we’ve done on your fingers and toes! So I’m a bit limited on answering this one! Pumpy has gigged quite prolifically though!
How is it to play this sort of music in England?
-Hard work. As a Punk band. Either not enough promoters or too many doing the same town and night! And crowds are thin for new acts. I can’t think of anywhere in Central London which is free to get in and has regular new Punk bands on over the weekend?
I guess the 12 Bar is the nearest to that… It’s a strange time at the moment. Going to a DIY Punk show in London is a totally different experience than going to a Club show for a bigger names band.
How would you describe your music in three words?
-Tough ‘n Tasty.
What does punk mean to you, is it only a word or is it a lifestyle?
-It was an ideology and lifestyle as a teenager, which indoctrinated me and became almost religion like! I ended up having more rules than a policeman! Lol… Thankfully I busted my head out of that zone before it consumed me. I guess you need to go somewhere before you decide you don’t want to live there?! And you grow up and find balance in life…
Now days, Punk is an existential escape. That’s an observation, not a criticism.
How do you see on downloading, mp3 and that stuff?
-We’re an MP3 only band – our albums are FREE to download and any CD’s are only for promotion and review!
I can fully sympathise with musicians who’ve had their living stripped away from them. As someone put their case to me, ‘raped by the industry for decades and now raped by you bastard giving your music away’. Harsh. But I had to point out that when those musicians were getting their royalty cheques and buying cars, houses, fast women and lots of Charlie, I did not notice any of them shed a tear for the bedroom bands, musicians and producers who did not have a recording contract and couldn’t even afford a studio demo! They did not set up funds to ensure anyone who had a band could get themselves recorded for posterity. So when the tables turned and home recording became professional quality, and distribution via the internet made record companies lose sleep, bedroom bands and producers began saturating the market with their product.
Of course the idea that you self record and release across the globe with profits going direct to you, I fantastic. But it’s not quite as simple as that and as things like Spotify and You Tube began to conquer the market, the Musicians began to feel cheated….. The big moan is that Streaming pays a pittance, but a million listeners heard a track on Radio 1 at £36 per minute, where as only 1 or two does when listening to a Spotify or You Tube stream – it’s a false economy. Spotify actually play us and pay us (not a lot mind), Radio One don’t – so fuck the old way.
That said, I do agree that music has been devalued by being given away free. Even U2 are giving it away now! Nice to see they’ve copied us! J
How is it to live in England now? Politically?
-Fucking Dire. Two Parties who basically have the same policies to appease Middle England, fighting it out. Giving Big Business a break and trying to take away all State assets from the people and privatise them. It’s horrible. There are a few alternatives but mostly even worse or complete nutters. There’s no true political party for the Working man anymore.
Last week was the biggest week in UK politics for a long time with the Scottish referendum. I’d liked to have see David Cameron explain to the Queen how he lost a large part of her Garden!
Is there any good bands from England now?
-Yeah, of course, new bands forming, splitting and becoming something else all the time. Some recent bands who I saw live quite recently and was impressed were The Ligaments, Death Owls and Shocks of Mighty. Left for Dead are a bit older but probably one of the great unsung UK Punk bands. And of course most of the old guard are still about in one form or another….
What do you know about Sweden?
-Oh dear…It’s show my ignorance time. Ulrika Johnson, Ikea, Meatballs, that England manager Sven something and ABBA! My general consensus of Sweden and all of your Scandanavian neighbours is that it’s a cleaner, healthier less capitalistic society than the UK or the US? A good place to live and have a family. If it wasn’t for the language (and maybe the weather) I’d consider moving there!
Have you heard any good bands from Sweden?
-Thomas from The Pipeline venue in Liverpool Street, London, where a mate of mine promotes Punk gigs is Swedish and he regularly has Swedish nights there and brings over the likes of SATOR and The Nomads. I did know of a few more back in the days when I ran Control! Zine, but that was a long time back now.
Your lyrics, who does them and what influences you?
-Mostly me, but Clem and Andy have pitched in some too, and will be doing more so I’m sure.
Personally, I’m of the old adage about ‘having a say…’ It’s the only chance in life I have where someone may listen to what I’ve said, so I’ve tried to vent all the things in life that piss me off, in songs. Thankfully I had the 25 year gap between writing and recording the first album so had time to rectify some of the lyrics, which I’d have felt a fraud singing at 40! But most of my frustration comes from personal issues or politics (with a small p). Nothing is just black and white. Life is a lot deeper, the older you get. Well it should be if you’ve grown and progressed as a person. You shouldn’t occupy the same headspace when you’re 40 as when you’re 14!! I think there are still some people who haven’t grown since the 80’s and are stuck living yesterday’s lives. That’s what our song, ‘Hold On’ is about on the last album.
If a kid wants to shock his parents nowadays to be a punk(for us it was enough with spiky hair and a badge) what shall they do if they want to shock them?
-I never really spiked my hair to shock my parents. I had issues! Lol. And like a lot of Teens was searching for my identity. I just wanted peace really so somehow thought that by dressing aggressively I’d be left alone. Of course the opposite happened!!
Politics and music, does it goes hand in hand?
-Only in Punk it seems. Nothing wrong with politics in music per se, so long as its personal opinion or ideology, and not promoting political parties and agendas of Organisations. Indoctrinating Youth through music was something that happened with elements of Punk. It’s a dangerous game. Give people the facts and let them think for themselves.
Best political band/artist?
-Some artists became household names. I guess Crass were probably the most effective. Not my favourite though. I find anything preachy boring as fuck now. I don’t need people telling me how it is, because that’s just their opinion! I like music that challenges me to think from a new perspective.
I think with Punk, it can be so aggressive musically, that when you add sensitive political lyrics, it becomes so heartfelt for people, that it can irrationalize their point of view!
Do you think that music(lyrics and so on) can change anyones life (I mean people who listens to music)?
-Yes. For good, and for bad! A lot of people out there are damaged, and looking for answers. They find it in music. Sometimes. And Religion. But especially Punk music. But really there should be no answers in Music, only questions. Who is anyone to tell you what the answers are? Work it out for yourself, don’t blindly accept what someone tells you on a record… With the benefit of 30 years hindsight, I think that whilst ultimately a lot of us who got into the second wave of Punk have really gained positively from it, I think the reasons we got into it were wrong. Lemming like, we all ended up looking the same! Acting the same. Clones.
It seems that you´re really interested in football….any favoruite team?
-I think that’s just me. I lost football from my early teens to mid 30’s then rediscovered the love when my kids were growing up and would take them to see our local (then Non-League) team, Dagenham & Redbridge. A very cheap afternoon of blood and thunder football with a family friendly attitude on the terrace. I’ve still got a season ticket many years later and tonight have actually just got back from a rare away game at Portsmouth – where we got stuffed 3-0, so lets move on from football please….
Can you imagine yourself doing a tribute song to a special football team, animal rights or any political party? Or have you already done this?
-We did do a cover of the Frankie Vallie/Slaughter & The Dogs track, ‘You’re ready now, Daggers’ as an unofficial song for the Daggers Wembley play off final a few years back. The band was off the road at the time – it was only me and a drummer in the band, so not really a band effort, but credited as one of course.
I hope we will never support a political party! Unless an honest one appears at some point!
Please tell me a funny thing which have happened?
-Last week, I was riding my motorbike down to rehearsal after work. I had been reading about warming up your voice before ‘singing’ to not fuck your throat. So there I was making ‘brruuuuuugghhhh’ type noises under my crash helmet and I pulled up at the traffic lights. When I looked to my left there was a load of people on push bikes, staring at me, thinking I’m making motorbike noises! Talk about feeling daft!
How does your audience look like? Which people do you miss on your concerts?
-We’re an opening band. A support act. So our audience will look like what ever band we’re playing with. I don’t miss the Morons. It’s nice now that people have grown up and the testosterone level has dropped, so there’s much less trouble at gigs now. That’s great. Even people who never used to get on pretty much tolerate each other now.
Please rank your five favorite bands and most important things in life?
-Erm, my favourite band? That’s so hard as it changes, but I’m never too far away from listening to something by UK Subs, The Exploited, WASP, LA Guns or The Specials. Strange mix, huh? Most important things? For me, Sobriety (or I’d be dead!), family, integrity, honesty and humour. I can live without pretty much anything else.
Is it boring with interviews? Which is the most stupid question you ever have got??
-No, we just copy and past from the last one and adapt it! Lol… This question ranks quite high up that chart! J
Do you understand that reviewers always compare bands to other bands? Is that disturbing when you try to something own?
-No. I ran Control ‘Zine for years and reviewed hundreds if not thousands of records. A lot of the time you don’t have much room, so need to use an analogy to another band to get the point to the reader. If it’s lazy journalism, then no, but its fine being compared to other bands. Of course that can be negative or positive depending on who you’re compared to. One of our albums was reviewed as, “The really doesn’t sound like any other band” – which I thought was great, but the drummer at the time said, “If they said we sounded like UK Subs, UK Subs fans would buy it, but we sound like nobody, so nobody will buy it!” He had a point!
Futureplans for the band?
-Some gigs and some new recordings, and another video. We like our videos.
-Anyone who’s still reading (Hello Mum) feel free to check out our Bandcamp page as we have our entire catalogue on there to download or stream for free!
Thanks to you, Peter, for your interest in the band, and if any one has any questions or requests, drop us a line.
-Everything in moderation. Nothing is forever. And if you have nothing good to say, then say nothing.
Something to add?
-I’m done… Thanks Peter.