This interview with Breakout was done in October 2023. The band was called Intensified Chaos before and I got their compilation LP some months ago. Really good punkrock.



When did you start up Breakout again?

Rat:  We got together just before Covid.  Late Summer 2019.

Mike:  3 or maybe 4 rehearsals, then the pandemic hit.

Matt:  We were rehearsing for the Janus Stark gig in 2020.  But that was cancelled due to Covid.

Rat:  So it was a while before we could get together again.

Ed:  We didn’t waste the time though.  We used it to work up new songs.


Why did you quit playing when you did?

Ed:  There was never an end point, it just fizzled out.  Really, we never quit as such, it was more of an extended break. 

Mike:  Very extended (laughs).

Ed:  True.

Rat:  Various people left at various times and were replaced.  Nick left in the Summer of 83, not long after we’d recorded “Waste Away”. Like the song, he was frustrated by his life, his future so he joined the army to learn a trade. Joined the Engineers. 

Mike:  Became a Brickie – that’s a bricklayer.

Ed:  We recruited “Thatcher” on bass.  Rob Trott, he was a roof thatcher by trade.

Rat:  I left end of 83.  To travel.

Ed:  Dave Johnson joined on guitar.

Mike:  Thatcher had a motorbike accident and never returned.  Glyn joined on bass and later left to join a kibbutz.  Eventually after Glyn left in 84 it just fizzled out.

Ed:  We all felt that we’d done our bit.  Done well.  Achieved a lot in a short space of time.  But also probably done as much as we ever would.  It was difficult to see what to do next.  The whole punk scene had peaked a bit and seemed to be winding down.

Mike:  There was no animosity.  We stayed mates.


Why was the name changed from Intensified Chaos to Breakout?

Mike:  There were some other bands with “Chaos” as part of their names, we probably just liked that part and added our own bit and became Intensified Chaos at first.  But later it felt a bit dated and perhaps a bit too much like other names.  So we changed to ‘Breakout’.

Ed:  Locally we’re usually remembered as ‘Intensified Chaos’.  But the only track that went on vinyl was “Waste Away” which was under the ‘Breakout’ name.  The album was well distributed so the reality is more people know us by that name.  And we’re Breakout again now.


Tell me about today’s members? Age, bands before and on the side and something about what you do when you don’t play?

Ed:  We’re all in our late 50s – except Matt, he’s still in his 40s, just. 

Rat:  Worked in the drinks business more or less since then.  Have a young family.  Music’s still my main hobby.  My eldest son has recently taken up the guitar and is motoring along.  He’ll be better than me soon. 

Mike:  Not that the bar is that high, mind!

Rat:  That is true, but then this is Punk mate!

Mike:  Engineer.  Did an apprenticeship and still essentially an engineer and drummer.

Ed:  Didn’t do anything musically. Followed my dad Into decorating first, then installed pop up sprinkler systems on golf courses, stuff like that. then went back into decorating, still hard at it now.  Football is my other love.

Mike:  I’ve drummed in a number of bands over the years.  Rat and me played together for about 14 years in 1 band.  I still play in a covers band. 

Matt:  I’ve played in a number of bands, guitar as well as bass.  I run.  A lot.


Are you playing a lot nowadays.  You said you played with GBH recently?

Matt:  We all have busy lives.  Mike and me play in another band too, so we don’t have a prolific Breakout gig or rehearsal schedule.  That said, we all pull together when there’s a gig planned.

Mike:  We like to pick and choose.  Playing gigs alongside our heroes – like GBH.  The Subs is our dream…although that’s looking increasingly unlikely.

Ed:  You never know!

Mike:  We’re open to offers if anyone has connections with the right band.

Rat:  We’re working on a local gig for the end of October.  DIY job – we’re putting it together ourselves like we used to.

Ed:  ‘Maisies’ – that’s The Kings Head, High Ham.  It’s near Langport, where we come from.  28 October.  Everyone welcome.


Is it that the type of band you like playing with?

Mike:  Yes.  GBH were up there on our bucket list. 

Ed:  Any of those early 80s punk bands would be great.  We previously shared a stage with Vice Squad, Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Blitz.  So that kindof stuff. 


What is the most odd band you have split scene with?

Ed:  Lots of characters.  Scum from Bath, maybe.  The bassist only had 1 string on his bass

Rat: Of course!  I think Derek on guitar didn’t have a full set of strings either.  Couldn’t afford them, I guess.  When I first met them, Spider – their drummer – was rehearsing on suitcases instead of drums.  But they sounded great.

Ed:  Full of snot, attitude and enthusiasm.  It’s what counts.


If you compare when you started the band back in the 80s and played live then, what´s the biggest difference nowadays?

Rat:  The internet and social media in particular.  The ability to see, connect and engage with like-minded people.

Mike:  In the 80s it was about meeting people at gigs, spotting ads in ‘Sounds’ (music paper) and the telephone!  We’d turn up for a gig on the back of a single phone call.  Never had a problem.

Ed:  Nick spotted the ad in ‘Sounds’ that led to ‘Waste Away’ being included on the Wet Dreams compilation album.  Just popped a demo in the post.  Couldn’t email back then.  No such thing.

Rat:  There weren’t many places to play locally, certainly at the beginning.  Often we had to DIY (Do It Yourself) our gigs.  Doing everything ourselves.  We had to book the venue, the bands, the PA, security, everything really.

Mike:  There’s one we had to book as a “folk band”.  It was a Church Hall and it was the only way to get under the radar, to get the booking.

Rat:  That’s right.  But now you can contact everyone digitally one way or another, venues, fans and followers, for example, and that’s a great step forward for sure.

Matt:  And our next gig is DIY.  So we’ve come full circle


How does punk live on in England nowadays?

Rat:  Vibrant.  A lot of ‘retro punk’, like us, but also new stuff too. 

Mike:  Lots of festivals and opportunities for older punk bands and newer ones to play alongside.

Ed:  The first Plymouth gig was like that:  Acid Attack, No Robell, Butt Plug Babies, us and originally the Mau Maus.  A good mix

Mike:  The whole Social Media thing helps.  We said it before, but it’s so much easier to connect with people, bands and venues.  That’s a good thing.  Helps keep everything alive.


Any good new bands which you like? Any of the old ones still playing you think are really good today too?

Mike:  Well the Subs…of course

Rat:  I’d love to see the Partisans – but they don’t seem to gig much.  Amyl & the Sniffers are very good. 

Matt:  Bob Vylan.

Ed:  The thing is, once you start naming new bands it can get controversial:  they are/aren’t punk.  But there are loads we like, Idles, Hot Flab, Chaos 8, Menstrual Cramps.  All good.


How is it to live in England nowadays? Politcs, Brexit etc?

Rat:  There’s a great track by Tinseltown Rebellion called “Shit” which was released for the UK 2019 General Election.  Summed politics up back then and pretty much now too.  Have a listen.

Matt:  It’s timeless.

Rat:  As for Brexit, well whatever your point of view there doesn’t seem to be any sign of a sunny upland yet.  Although with Covid, inflation & a series of dodgy Prime Ministers it’s hard to unpick what’s had the worst impact.  Musically Brexit certainly makes European gigs & tours much trickier.  Then again, Covid lost us our original come-back gig supporting Janus Stark.

Matt:  But then, our come-back gig supporting the Mau-Maus turned into a headline gig when they unluckily caught Covid.

Mike:  It was a baptism of fire.  We hadn’t gigged for 38 years and only heard we were headliners 24 hours before.

Ed:  Fuck politics, they’re all fucking corrupt!


You have changed prime minister so often lately so I don´t really know who is in charge now….What would you do if you got the chance to have that power in England say for a week?

Ed:  Is someone in charge?

Mike:  Compulsory drum lessons at Primary School, I reckon.

Matt:  Abolish the House of Lords.  So many useless tossers!

Ed:  Where to start?  Where to start?  Um, Social Care.  Especially for the old folk and those with dementia and the like. By all accounts Social Care & Health Care are things Sweden does well.  Maybe we could learn from you

Rat:  It’s hard to top any of those suggestions.  A week’s not long – I think something involving oranges and auto-asphyxiation.  I’m very inspired by Tory tradition, you see.


Your lyrics on the LP you sent me included some about Punk and Skins uniting, is that a problem now?

Mike:  No I don’t think so, certainly not with our generation and at our recent gigs.  Everyone ‘s just there for the music.

Ed:  Actually songs like ‘Unite & Fight’ aren’t just about Skins & Punks working together, they’re about racism and fascism.  When we wrote that it was specifically about the National Front who were recruiting skins.  S.H.A.R.P. (Skinheads against Racial Prejudice) didn’t exist back then.  Most of these issues still exist today though to some extent or another. 

Matt:  One of our new songs, ‘Hands Up Don’t Shoot’, is about racism today.  We wouldn’t have written that if we didn’t think it was still a problem with some people.


What are your lyrics about otherwise?

Ed:  Stuff that affected us or our friends or about stuff in the news.  Inequality.  Racism.  Thatcher.  Drug abuse.  Punks & Skinheads fighting each other.  Lack of job opportunities.  Extremist politics – of any kind.  Frustration.  Disillusion. That kind of stuff.

Rat:  Mostly the same things that bother us today.

Ed: Except Thatcher of course!

Rat:  That one’s gone away – now substitute Trump or Boris or any other of those political twats.

Mike:  ‘Waste Away’ was largely written by Nick. Semi-autobiographical.  It was about how he felt his life might turn out if he didn’t get a grip on it.

Matt:  One of our new ones is called “NHS” and it expresses our total despair at the state of the UK’s National Health Service but also our love of it.

Mike:  ‘Maniac’ is about our experience with gig violence which was pretty common. 

Rat:  It’s specifically about one of our gigs in Bridgwater Arts Centre.  We were supporting, Peter & the Test Tube Babies or it could’ve been Vice Squad.  The violence came backstage when a crowd came bursting into the room fists flying. 

Ed:  Happened all the time.  The Oppressed, Trinity Hall gig in Bristol in 84 was another one.  The Oppressed, us and 3 other bands.  All full-on skinhead bands except us.  The Bristol and Welsh skins were taunting each other. Then came chants of “kill the punks” directed at us. The 3rd band finished and we were due to go on.  Then the audience split down the middle.  Welsh one side, Bristol the other.  Then “Bam” they just went for each other. Full on.  We thought we were done for!  Luckily we managed to collect our gear & make our escape.

Rat:  It’s much calmer these days.

Ed:  There’s a new one we are rehearsing called ‘Insomnia’.  That’s something I’ve suffered from since I was 15.  So it’s personal.  But lots suffer from it.

Matt:  So then and now, we write about what affects us and what makes us angry.


Have you done any new songs?

Ed:  Oh yes.  As long as we’re angry, we’ll keep writing.

Rat:  Nearly half our current set-list is new.

Matt:  ‘NHS’, ‘Hands Up Don’t Shoot’ and ‘Emotional Flick Knife’ are the new ones.   We played them at the Plymouth gig – you can see most of them our YouTube channel or Facebook page.

Mike:  We’ve just finished rehearsing ‘Insomnia’, ‘Posers’ and ‘No Platform’ too.  I suppose ‘Posers’ is technically a very old one, I can’t actually remember when we last played it.  It was part of some of our earliest gigs, but then replaced with new stuff.   But it’s had a total overhaul.


Is there a new record on it´s way?

Matt:  Eventually.  When we’ve built up a reasonable set of new numbers.  No point in just re-recording all the oldies again.

Ed:  Yup new.  But maybe could throw in a couple of oldies as bonus tracks.  A lot of the earlier stuff was recorded in a 2-track studio and would fill out nicely in a proper, modern studio.  Just a thought.

Mike:  We’d all like to do it at some point.  But gigs are more fun than studios.


Is the recordings on Breakout aka Intensified Chaos the only songs which have been released?  Have you been on any famous compilations through the times?

Mike:  Well ‘Waste Away’ went on the ‘Wet Dreams’ compilation album and that was very well distributed.  Not just the UK – we know it was sold across Europe and Australia for example.

Ed:  We also had a track on the compilation cassette which was issued with the Alternative South West fanzine:  ‘No Rights’.

Rat:  Then nothing else until VPR records offered to release all our demos. 

Ed: Actually that’s not 100% true, from time-to-time we’ve been asked to contribute to other compilation albums.  For free (of course). 

Rat:  Oh yeah.  That’s true.  Last year there was one called “Rise of the Honk” released by Angry Goose – “Waste Away” is on that.  Plus there’s a compilation due out from “Punks Not Dead But I’m Not Far Off”.  We submitted 3 tracks.

Ed:  That was quite some time back though.  It’s gone quiet so not sure when or if that will happen.  And there’s another one, released in the US a year or two back but can’t remember the details.

Mike:  Back in the day we did our best to get on one of the Oi! albums and some of the Riot City comps and the like.  Never got selected though we got a reply from Bushell once.


How come you released this compilation?

Rat:  In 2017 or 2018, we uploaded our demos onto YouTube.  Not long after a punk called “Warboots”, from the US, got in touch.  Said he remembered us on the ‘Wet Dreams’ album, always wanted to find out if we’d recorded anything else.  But he could never find anything online about ‘Breakout’.  Then he bought the ‘Here Comes The New Punk’ book and found a good half-page or so about us.  In the book it mentions both names: ‘Breakout’ and ‘Intensified Chaos’.  Through that & YouTube he managed to track us down.

Ed:  The YouTube page was titled “Intensified Chaos” back then – because, that’s the name we mostly associated ourselves with.

Rat:  We decided to change that because of how many people listened to the ‘Wet Dreams’ album where we were “Breakout”.  You’ll sometime see both names, as in ‘Breakout aka Intensified Chaos’, that’s because some of our audience know us under one name and some under the other.

Mike:  We’re ‘Breakout’ now, though.

Rat:  Anyhow, Warboots suggested putting out an album of demos. We didn’t think anyone would be interested.  He offered to connect us with a couple of labels.  Within days Victor from VPR made contact.  And we just rolled with it from there.  Victor made it easy. Top guy.  Down to earth.

Mike:  It was luck, really.  None of us have ever been in contact with the guys who wrote ‘Here Comes The New Punk’.  But they researched well.  It was really accurate.  They noted both names.  They even mentioned The Oppressed gig at Trinity Hall.


You have been both a four and five piece band, which is optimal number of members for the band?

Mike:  Dual drummers looked really good visually and certainly gave us a lot of power live.  But that was only for a relatively short period.  What we have now is as close to the original line-up as you can get.

Rat:  Right, so Mike likes drums, then.  Me, I’m not much for lead guitar and a second guitar to do any twiddly bits could deliver a great wall of sound too.  But that’s not gonna happen and I probably wouldn’t like the competition if it did!

Ed:  4 piece is our original line-up and we don’t need anything more to do what we do best.  Mike’s a great drummer and plenty loud enough too and who needs twiddly bits in punk for fuck’s sake!

Matt:  Agree.  We’d never align rehearsal diaries across more people either.  Less is definitely more.


Have you ever been to Sweden? What do you know about Sweden?

Rat:  I’ve been to Stockholm and Malmö.  Great cities.  Nice people.  Great shared sense of humour with us Brits.  Everyone spoke perfect English, which was useful.  Expensive booze though.

Ed: Never been there.  It’s where Abba’s from isn’t it.

Mike: Yes, they eat a lot of fish and their Volvo car industry created the largest concentration of slow car drivers in the UK.

Matt:  Nope.  There’s the Swedish chef in the Muppet Show and everyone’s blonde & beautiful.  Oh and IKEA and meatballs.

Rat:  There you have it.  A well-travelled band of little Englanders, that’s us. 


Have you heard any good Swedish bands?

Ed:  Anti Climex, Mob 47, Viagra Boys.  All good.


Have you had many interviews through the times? Is it boring?

Rat:  Nothing for 38 years or so!  Maybe 2-3 a year, a year since.  For Fanzines like Skrutt.

Ed:  We did one for Ian Glasper just recently – for his new book, out Spring next year.

Mike:  It’s never boring.  We’re chuffed to be asked.  We appreciate the interest and there are always new questions.


What is the most odd question you have ever had?

Mike:  Don't understand the question, I'm a drummer after all.

Ed:  I don’t think there have been any questions we would define as ‘odd’.  But we’re been asked  about details on gigs that were a long time ago and those do require a lot of reflection as its sometimes a bit hazy and we can’t always agree on what exactly happened where or even when!

Mike:  We played with Peter and the Test Tube Babies in Bridgewater.  Well some of us thought we did.  Others not.  And then we found a photo with a poster with both band names on it.  How the hell did we forget that one?!


Please rank your five favourite records, five favourite concerts and five most important things in life?

Rat:  We’re a group of individuals.  That diversity makes us stronger too, but I’m pretty sure we won’t agree on all of those – some crossovers perhaps.  For me, if I had to choose records:  The Clash - The Clash, the Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks, SLF - Inflammable Material and then in general records from The Business, The Partisans, One Way System.

Ed: Pistols - NMTB, Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables, UK Subs - Another Kind Of Blues and Brand New Age, Subhumans - The Day The Country Died and Cockney Rejects - Greatest Hits Vol 1

Matt:  Prodigy, System of a Down, Carter USM, Slaves.  Start with their debut albums.  Simple as that.

Mike:  Remember, he’s the youngster.  For me, UK Subs - Another Kind of Blues, the Ruts -The Crack, Anti-Pasti - The Last Call, and then, well, albums by Chelsea, Vice Squad, Chron Gen, SLF and so on.

Ed:  We all have our favourite personal gig experiences.  But for this line-up and ourselves as a band, then I think we’d all agree that the last gig supporting GBH was the best.  It was a great line-up all round, great audience and we definitely played better than the first time and as well as we ever have before, if not better.

Rat:  Most important things in life:  be yourself, be true to yourself and laugh a lot.

Ed:  Be happy and listen to punk rock !

Mike:  JFDI – just fucking do it!

Matt:  My advice is not to listen to my advice.

Ed:  Oh and we can’t count!


Future plans for the band?

Ed:  We’re rehearsing for that gig at the end of October currently. Details on our Facebook page.

Mike:  And keeping the feelers out for another great support band slot.  Calling all our heroes, get in touch.


Futureplans for yourself?

Ed:  Keep on keeping on


Wisdom word?

Ed:  If you like us, please follow us on Facebook (@breakoutakaintensifiedchaos), come and watch us oh, and don’t let the bastards grind you down.


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