Bristol Archive Records Blog

Archive for March, 2010

Interview with Mike Darby for ‘Lights Go Out’

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010



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Bristol Archive Records is a record label dealing in Bristol post punk 1977 onwards.  They aim to showcase music from the diverse Bristol Music scene and provide a historical account / document of all things Bristol that should never be forgotten. Many of the artists and releases are rare, unknown or never before released. The material has been lovingly digitally remastered from vinyl, ¼ inch tape, dat or cassette. The original vinyl releases would generally have been limited to runs of 1000 copies or less.  We caught up with head honcho Mike Darby to chat about the label…

Hi Mike, thanks for chatting to us at Lights Go Out.  So firstly, what made you start up Bristol Archive Records?

2008 was probably the start up period. It all happened quite quickly when a friend of mine, Dave Bateman, Vice Squad’s guitarist, passed away suddenly. It got me thinking about all the other guys who had either died or who would be forgotten if we didn’t create an historical vault of information of all the things that made up the Bristol music scene. Bristol is known for Portishead, Massive Attack, Smith and Mighty, but all these guys found their style, their vision, their confidence in music from the past, and much of this would have stemmed from the punk scene, 1976 onwards, the clubs…and the Bristol vibe.

You obviously release punk bands from days gone by, are these bands all bands you remember seeing years ago?

Yes but mainly from 1978 so I missed the first wave The Cortinas, The Pigs and Social Security. 

Does the label help you find new bands you missed back then?

Good god yes indeed – it’s like a magnet for old recordings, cassettes, demos, dats, recordings which most probably have sat under the bed or rested in the attic forever and a day.

Which Bristol bands have been your favourite and most missed?






Obviously Vice Squad are still playing and packing out venues, are you surprised to see them still so active?

It’s not Vice Squad is it! It’s Becky with three other guys.  Dave is dead and Shane and Mark aren’t in the band so to me it’s not the same.  I come from the same village as Becky and went to Youth Club with her so I will always wish her and the band all the very best.

They feature on your new compilation as well, how easy was it to pick the tracklisting for this release?

Shane Baldwin the original Vice Squad drummer helped me put it together, it was pretty easy as The Archive had most of the recordings.

Is the label more a hobby and a way or remembering bands who run the risk of being lost to the archives or are there some exciting new bands in Bristol that will be on the label?

My other label releases new music. Bristol Archive Records is more than a hobby it’s a mission.

What have you found the hardest things about running the label?

Lack of money, time and energy.

At the end of the 70’s and into the 80’s fanzines were a huge part of punk culture, did you ever put one out yourself?

No sorry, I was in band The Rimshots.

Where there many zines around back then and which ones would you recommend?

If you go to the Fanzine download section of the site you can download full PDF’s of Fanzines from 1977 ‘Loaded’ is great.  Big news today as Bear Hackenbush has just agreed for his fanzines to be downloadable ‘Skate Muties’ and ‘Bugs and Drugs’.

Are there any punk/music fanzines still around Bristol?

Yes but not 100% what they are called I know Shane Baldwin still writes one.

What are your main memories from punk in Bristol in the late 70’s early 80’s?

The fusion of black and white influences. The brilliance of Talisman, Black Roots, Restriction — these great bands helped create and influence where we are today.

The Pop Group: weird, out there, unique, brilliant. Talisman: great songs, the best reggae band in Britain.

The Cortinas: the leaders, the trendsetters…1976 punk.

Andy Fairley: unknown, art, off the wall, out of his head, Mark Stewart [of The Pop Group] and [Portishead's] Geoff Barrow love his music, dead.

The Various Artists: pop, songs, hooks, should have been massive.

Electric Guitars: creative, great look, great songs, different, left field but still strangely commercial.

Shoes For Industry: A theatre company, a record label, art, music, visuals.

Bristol is probably more known for trip-hop bands like Massive Attack and Portishead but it seems like there was a huge punk scene there, is this still the case these days?

There has always been a strong underground Rock scene, problem is NO Rock band from Bristol has ever done anything on a national or international scale so Bristol will always be: MASSIVE ATTACK, PORTISHEAD, SMITH AND MIGHTY, TRICKY & RONI SIZE

Has the internet helped you find bands and people related to the Bristol punk scene?

Yeah, Facebook has been a great help.

I read that you’re doing digital only releases?  Is this because it’s because the bands never really made it out of Bristol and that’s where the fan base is or is it more a sign of the way independent labels need to go these days?  Or maybe both?

Both really, its cost effective to test the water.  We have released ‘Western Stars ‘ The Bands That Built Bristol on CD.  And we have the following release schedule in place on cd and vinyl:







What releases do you have in a pipeline for the rest of 2010?

As above.

How can people get hold of your releases?

All major distribution outlets, Amazon, Play, HMV and Record Shops and

Thanks for chatting with us and finally, what words of wisdom can you leave our readers with?

Be open minded and love Bristol music.


Mr. T

For more info click on the link below:

The Cortinas – New album

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010


 ‘MK 1’

Released on 21st June 2010




Bristol’s first punk band, The Cortinas, formed in March 1976 when Jeremy Valentine (vocals), Nick Sheppard (guitar), Mike Fewins (guitar), Dexter Dalwood (bass) and Daniel Swan were still at school.“Jer put the band together, he definitely had a vision of what he wanted; he was very hip – Dexter and Mike went to the same school as him” remembers Nick. “He found me via Mark Stewart, who I went to school with, and I brought Dan in; we had played in a band together before. We used to practise at the back of Jer’s Dad’s shop”.


The Cortinas soon built up a big local following, and a break came when the band supported The Stranglers at the fabled Roxy Club in Covent Garden on 22 January 1977. Nick recalls how it came to be: “Hugh Cornwell was staying at a friend of his’ flat near the university, on holiday, and me and my girlfriend met him in the street. This would have been in the summer of 76. We started talking to him because we recognized him from seeing The Stranglers and hung out for the afternoon. I told him about the band. Later on, in January 77, he sent us a postcard asking us to play at the Roxy, so we rang up and said yes! I remember my mum telling me not to be too disappointed if people didn’t like us…”.Things then moved quickly for the band. Miles Copeland and Mark Perry’s Step Forward label released the classic singles ‘Fascist Dictator’ in June and ‘Defiant Pose’ in December, the band recorded a fine Peel session, and they appeared on the front cover of the April/May issue of Sniffin’ Glue. Heady stuff, but sadly, it was over all too soon.


The following year, after a poorly received album, the band were no more, but in 1977 they were unstoppable – simply one of the best first wave punk bands around.

This album contains all four tracks from those two great singles, plus ten rare early demo tracks, all newly remastered.



LABEL / DISTRIBUTION: Bristol Archive Records / Shellshock


FORMAT: Limited Edition 500 copies Vinyl Only


Record Collector Interview on the label

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

‘Label of Love’ – questions from Record Collector


Why start a label?


I’ve run Sugar Shack Records since 1985 primarily concentrating on New Rock music. Music is like a drug having been in a band in 1980, to managing acts in the mid 80’s, a label seemed a natural progression. Bristol Archive Records is a subsidiary label of Sugar Shack started with one purpose – We aim to showcase music from the diverse Bristol Music scene and provide a historical account / document of all things Bristol that should never be forgotten. Many of the artists and releases are rare, unknown or never before released. The material has been lovingly digitally remastered from vinyl, ¼ inch tape, dat or cassette. The original vinyl releases would generally have been limited to runs of 1000 copies or less.

We would like to thank the original label owners and/or the artists for allowing us to share with you their forgotten works and provide a statement of how brilliant bands have always been from the city of Bristol and the surrounding areas.


Enjoy and never forget the talented ones from the past, they deserve to be recognised & remembered.


When and how did it start?


The Archive started in 2001 when we released ‘Western Stars the Bands That Built Bristol’ on cd, featuring acts form 1978-1981. The record didn’t sell very well so there was no follow up until a friend of mine Dave Bateman, Vice Squads guitarist died two years ago .It started me thinking that somehow there ought to be an historical account, library of all the people that have made up the Bristol music scene. Bristol is known quite rightly for the success of Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky, Smith and Mighty and Roni Size.

If you live in Bristol you will know that there is a giant web or jigsaw of people who were in very bands throughout the post punk period and many of these people are still very active as the musicians who make up these huge bands as listed above.

To me Punk or Post Punk was the starting point and therefore there must be a record of how it all started and who was influential at the time.


Was it a financial struggle?


Running a record label is a labour of love; you only ever make any money if you get very lucky. For me it’s always cost me loads of money and there are no signs that will ever change. Fortunately I have a great team working with me these days on the Archive which means that we have kept costs to a minimum and all of us have the same objective – to remember and make people aware.


What other labels influenced you?


Heartbeat Records and Simon Edwards

Wavelength Records and Thomas Brooman CBE

Recreational  Records and Lloyd Harris

Shoc Wave Records and Gene Walsh

Nubian Records and Black Roots

Fried Egg Records and Andy Leighton



Who are your competitors?


There is no competition as Bristol Archive Records is unique. There can’t be another city in the world which is rereleasing this entire back catalogue with the support of the artists and the original label owners. Bristol is not known for great Teams but at the moment we are certainly achieving huge success by Team Work and working together.


Why the name?


Obviously the label is all about Archive material and all the material comes from Bristol or the immediate surrounding areas or suburbs. There are a few rereleases from Bath and Cheltenham as these artists crossed over into the Bristol scene.


What’s your guiding principle?


It’s all about history, great, good or bad it’s about recording history. Yes the music is vitally important but it’s about the people as much as the songs, hence you’ll find stories in the people section of the website from individuals that weren’t in bands but were part of the scene. There are full downloadable PDF Fanzines again because they were part of the scene. The label is all about Bristol and the people who helped create the music scene, enjoyed the scene and figured in the culture.


Can you sum up your label’s output?


155 digital releases in two years

Two cd releases to date – Western Stars the Bands That Built Bristol and The Best of Fried Egg Records (Bristol 1979-1980)


New cd releases scheduled or in production:

Bristol the Punk Explosion

Avon Calling 2

The Best of Heartbeat Records

The Best of the Bristol Recorder and Wavelength Records

The Best of the Private Dicks


Limited edition vinyl album from:

THE CORTINAS ‘MK 1’ – without them the label would not have got the kick start it needed and therefore I am indebted to the band and Nick Sheppard in particular



How do you find new acts?


Or should I say OLD ACTS! Word of mouth, friends of friends, I’ve got a good memory. Lots of detective work tracking people down to ask them to look in the loft or under their bed for recordings they made 30 years ago. Virtually everyone is thrilled that I’m interested and virtually everyone is incredibly positive and wants to be part of the archive.


How important is the look and packaging of your records?


Most are digital only releases so there is only ever a front cover image so the answer would be not important. With the cds and vinyl its a different ball game as we’ve tried to maintain a look and feel from the time, using old images, pics, posters etc etc. Recently we’ve got Sam Giles on board who is a brilliant designer.  


What are your future plans for expanding the label? (not touching upon releases)


We have a series of books in the pipeline in partnership with Tangent Books. These will be picture/photo based rather than word based from photographers from the scene.

More Vinyl Records

An ever expanding website.


Mike Darby March 2010




Claytown Troupe Release Rare Recordings

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Bristol Archive Records

This is interesting, being early pre-majors demos, and it’s the ‘coming soon’ netherworld over at the brilliant Bristol Archive Records site, but I imagine it’s any day now. (I’ll have to leave my review of Temple’s ‘Seduction’ until they have the details up there as I know nothing at all about them, including the song titles of the CD I was sent.) It shows the band fermenting in both froth and attitude.

The first thing that strikes you about ‘Patience’ is the fact it’s almost a mixture of Southern Death Cult poise and Simple Minds prettiness. The vocals howl stylishly and jabber, the drums gnash, the guitar gleams, and there’s a catchy synth hook. ‘A Good Day To Die’ then features some Native American vocal intro acrobatics, and as that rolls out the bass marches on the spot, the guitar trails off delicately. It’s dramatic bollocks, which sounds great and has a wonderfully itchy passage. ‘Smile 4’ veers back into the wobbly gait of ‘Waterfront’-era Simple Minds though, too slick and measured. ‘Take It On Up’ is an aggravated, occasionally frantic look at drugs, an ambitiously packed song well handled, indicating why they got the big deal eventually. They actually have a few too many things going on here, and it’s too long. ‘Part Of Me Now’ is some sentimental sounding slop, but it’s frisky as well, so you don’t turn away, your face disfigured by loathing, you find yourself bobbing along.

Taken from Label Feature

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010





British post-punk lore is full of tales about the bands bursting out of places like Manchester, Liverpool, and London, and the scenes that nurtured those artists. But while it didn’t make as many headlines, the Bristol music scene of the late ’70s/early ’80s was a vital, vibrant one, just as worthy of attention. Decades later, great Bristol bands like Electric Guitars, The Cortinas, and many more are being given a new lease on life with the work of the Bristol Archive label, which is making the music available to a whole new generation of listeners, not to mention those who missed it the first time around. We talked EXCLUSIVELY with label head Mike Darby about the legacy he’s helping to keep alive through Bristol Archive.

What’s your background in the music business in general and the Bristol scene in particular?

Mike Darby: I have run Sugar Shack Records since 1985, which has primarily concentrated on the rock genre. I was in a band in 1980 called The Rimshots — white-reggae/ska/mod/pop kinda thing. We are just about to release our second single via 1977 in Japan.

How did Bristol Archive get started?

2008 was probably the startup period. It all happened quite quickly when a friend of mine, Dave Bateman, Vice Squad’s guitarist, passed away suddenly. It got me thinking about all the other guys who had either died or who would be forgotten if we didn’t create an historical vault of information of all the things that made up the Bristol music scene. Bristol is known for Portishead, Massive Attack, Smith and Mighty, but all these guys found their style, their vision, their confidence in music from the past, and much of this would have stemmed from the punk scene, 1976 onwards, the clubs…and the Bristol vibe.

What made you decide to concentrate on digital-only releases?

The vast majority are digital-only because many of the artists are unknown outside of Bristol and therefore potentially will have limited appeal. The digital era has meant that releasing records is cost-effective against manufacturing CDs or vinyl. Having said that, we have released on CD The Best of Fried Egg Records (Bristol 1979-1980) and Western Stars (The Bands that Built Bristol). We are also in the process of releasing a vinyl album from The Cortinas.

What would you describe as the defining characteristics of the late-’70s/early-’80s Bristol scene that set it apart from, say, Manchester or London?

The fusion of black and white influences. The brilliance of Talisman, Black Roots, Restriction — these great bands helped create and influence where we are today.
Can you describe a few of those you consider the key bands of the scene, and what their sound was like?

The Pop Group: weird, out there, unique, brilliant. Talisman: great songs, the best reggae band in Britain. The Cortinas: the leaders, the trendsetters…1976 punk. Andy Fairley: unknown, art, off the wall, out of his head, Mark Stewart [of The Pop Group] and [Portishead's] Geoff Barrow love his music, dead. The Various Artists: pop, songs, hooks, should have been massive. Electric Guitars: creative, great look, great songs, different, left field but still strangely commercial. Shoes For Industry: A theatre company, a record label, art, music, visuals.

In later years, Bristol would come to be known for trip-hop with the success of Portishead and Massive Attack. Do you think any of the groundwork for what they did was laid down by the post-punk scene?

Certainly for Massive Attack, as they were into punk, and around at the start of things in Bristol when punk started moving down the M4 from London. Geoff [Barrow] from Portishead is younger, but has a great sense of history, and in particular Bristol history and culture.

One of the great things about the label is that it brings to light a lot of great music that might have been lost otherwise, but who were the bands on Bristol Archive that came the closest to “breaking through?”

Claytown Troupe, The Seers, Electric Guitars, Talisman, The Cortinas, Glaxo Babies.

Your website is an amazing source of information about the Bristol scene, can you describe what people will find on it, and how all that info was put together?

I was around from 1978, watching bands, from 1980 in bands, and from 1985 releasing records, so I’m a bit of a dinosaur and a Bristol Music buff. All the bands felt it appropriate to tell their story, have the opportunity to put their music out there again, or for the first time, and be part of something — something which, through the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, never happened in Bristol. [There was] a real sense of teamwork, pulling together, being part of the same team, creating a historical account of how it started, why it started, and who was involved. Some are now key players, some never got past first base, but all deserve to be remembered for being there and being involved. There can’t be another city in the world which has pulled something like this together. If only our football teams could do something similar — oops, shouldn’t have said that!

Do you hear echoes of the old Bristol sounds in any of today’s bands? What’s coming out of Bristol nowadays?

I hear Electric Guitars, Art Objects, Fishfood, in some new music on the radio. Nowadays I like Cars On Fire, Left Side Brain, Darkhorse.

Tell us about what you’ve got coming up that you’re most excited about.

Releasing The Cortinas on vinyl is really exciting, as I’m hoping it will lead to loads of other similar projects. There will be 200 special albums which will include pics, posters, and stories, from people who are players, were players, people who would say that the Cortinas had an influence on their life and why maybe they got into bands. Can’t wait. I must thank Nick, Dan, Dexter, Mike, and Jeremy because without The Cortinas’ support and help, Bristol Archive would not have grown so quickly, and you would not be asking me questions.

By Darren Ressler

Mark Stewart Interview – The Pop Group

Thursday, March 18th, 2010


Mark Stewart/The Pop Group Interview

The Bristol Band The Pop Group with Singer Mark Stewart was founded in 1976 and lasted until 1980. They released the two landmark albums Y and For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder plus a couple of seven inches during their time, the most famous was called We Are All Prostitutes, with Amnesty International Report On British Army Torture Of Irish Prisoners on the flips. Their musical styles borrowed from funk to reggae to jazz to freeform, controversy and provocation was intended along punk movement went down it’s decline. This following Interview was taped in November 2005 in Berlin, where Mark Stewart And The Maffia came to play a show at Festsaal Kreuzberg to introduce a new compilation of historical plus recent tracks on Vinyl/CD called Kiss The Future on Soul Jazz Records/cargo.

Mark. How did you come to meet the dub-producer Dennis “Blackbeard” Bovell?

When we were young in Bristol, before punk, our gang, our friends were going to Funk Clubs dressing in 1950s dot-clothes dancing to B.T. Express, A Higher Place, Ultra Funk, early Fatback Band. My music was always going up with heavy bassline. And from that gang in Bristol, the boys and girls and maybe their elder brothers, the black and white gang from our posse became Massive Attack and Tricky, out of 40 people. We just danced to this stupid Funk.
By the time of 1977/78 we were as support doing concerts with Pere Ubu and Patti Smith. We were looking for a producer. And there was a conversation with John Cale. He came to Bristol and I liked his work with the Stooges. I was trying to make a connection with King Tubby. I was sixteen, still being in school. But as of the background of my mothers house it was very easy to connect with Jamaican people. We came to make a record and everybody like the company and my elder brothers were saying: you need a producer. I said: we don´t want no fucking producer. They said, na, na, you can´t do without a producer. I said: fuck off! We can do it ourselves. It´s about me. We do the graphics – we do everything, so fuck off! (laughs).

They asked again, and suggested the reggae producer Vivian Jackson (& The Defenders) and also Norman Whitfield (Motown, The Temptations, Rose Royce »Car Wash«) and I said: King Tubby! But we couldn´t get King Tubby. Then I heard two dub-records Dennis Bovell had done, one was Elizabeth Archer & The Equators »Feel Like Making Love«. But it was the flips, the dub-side I liked, but the two of them were brilliant. So I saw the name and knew his work a bit and said: I want to work with this guy, with Dennis Bovell. But by then the white English companies were very separate, they didn´t know the people. I found Dennis immediately sympathetic. We went to some residential studio and we just related. We cut the first Pop Group single »She Is Beyond Good And Evil« in a few hours.

Watching The Pop Group live at their primetime was like witnessing the performers exploding into chaos. The release of the debut »Y« (Radarscope Records) was a huge statement in 1978, delivering all that extreme and tense energy. Two years later, by the time of the follow up »For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder« (Y Records), the freeform spirit of »Y« had vanished and the band broke up. What happened?

When we started, the idea was to be a pop group. The ultimate pop group with interesting limits. We had this idea of an explosion, as you mentioned. We had many tags and I took lots of ideas from these early activism and these german art and fluxus and the whole idea was to become an political act of explosion right into the very heart into the commodity. To dress, to pretend to be a pop group, to get a massive contract, right, get onto television in England and the American, get on the front cover of NME, which we achieved, and then to start coming strong saying exactly the opposite but in a position, not in the extremes, not moaning to your friends in a little squall… We wanted to go into the middle and say it. We got to the front covers of the English music magazines, doing very well in America and Japan, everything, you know. Very quickly we took a position because the thing is – I still like my music now, I put the work in – the thing is there is cool people inside the structure. In all different structures there is some really nice people. With my stands I find travelling around the world that good people respect – not exactly totally agree with my opinion – but respect the independent stands. You know, they respect the fact that I don´t change. They are very pleased that somebody is trying to do something a little bit correct. Trying, trying… And the older journalists kept saying – it´s brilliant, brilliant -, but didn´t realise the fact that we couldn´t play. The people wanted something with argue, something to achieve to, something cool. Shall we say it´s an energy. Last night in vienna kids from young bands came to me and saying we take an energy from your music and from your band from your thing, and it gives us the energy to do something ourselves. To have a stand up and have a go, right? The same energy I remember when I was was watching the The Clash very early at the RCA and the attitude and the pose of them on the base, they couldn´t really play but they had stickers on its base and they had the arrogance. Now I got a quote which is saying: There is the arrogance of power which is the people in control, but we have the power of arrogance. Now who is going to stop us?

But this was a only sign of the times…

It still is!
So, answering your question. What was happening was we couldn´t play when we started, right. We were trying to be funky like Cool And The Gang or these P-Funk stuff, but all the time were wrong. We couln´t keep, we couln´t play. Journalists were saying oh, this is experimental, this is like Captain Beefheart they are deliberately changing the song and will soon try to come. But then, as the musicians learned to play a little bit, they started to become more and more drawn to like extreme Free Jazz like Albert Ayler and you know crazy Free Jazz and Tristan Honzinger and the like, because for them they are expressing themselves through their instruments. For me, I only could express myself through the lyrics. Like the lyrics becoming more and more brisk and stronger, stronger, stronger! And that was my vehicle, right. For the musicians, they were starting to learn their instruments and they were being more and more drawing to experimenting and coming more and more to crazy Free Jazz and become a chaos, right. And that is very, very difficult to sing. Lyrics over Free Jazz makes you a crazy Yoko Ono yodelling, you know what I mean. I think that is the problem. I mean, we would be jamming and jamming and jamming. It was fantastic music. But it was difficult just to make slogans over, you know. I think that was the division. The Pop Group musicians became more and more drawn towards Jazz which is impossible to sing over. And I wanted to work with Reggae musicians and Funk musicians.

How did Jazzman Tristan Honsinger came to play the cello part on »We Are Prostitutes« ?

I just been with Gareth to see one of Tristans Concerts like two or three days before recording »Amnesty Report«. And we loved the energy straight away. I´ve been listening to a lot of crazy experimental weird noise and Free Jazz stuff at that time. We said just to Tristan, can you please come and jam with us for one take? And again, we had the control of the rhythm, only because the bass and the drums were so strong you could put that craziness in and spin it.

Tell me about the origin of »Thief Of Fire«

That is a little bit mystical. It´s about Ikarus coming too close to the sun. I have a punk attitude towards everything. Nothing is forbidden. Nobody controls the truth.

What level of brisance could develop a band like The Pop Group or Throbbing Gristle?

I think it´s more the interviews. Because when you read an interview with TG there is some very interesting philosophical links like passwords. For example Genesis did an interview during the week and he called himself an eso-terrorist, like esoteric, like a link between magic and terror, he coupled it up as eso-terrorist, which I thought is a lovely line in England, because as in journals, you´ve got lines that fit, you know. And the good thing about the Throbbing Gristle context was just after punk – punk was coming in quite straight. But also punk was going back to the pub-rock. You know, punk was not very experimental, the music was becoming more and more rock´n roll, more and more »normal«. With the Pop Group we thought, if we were punk, we would have to change the music as well as everything else – the theory, the politics, the style. You have to question the music, right? We were very young, and we started just in punk, but we didn´t want to play punk, because we thought it as a repetition to just play punk. It would be more punk to play funk. Because that would be questioning everything. But the good thing about Throbbing Gristle was not particulary their music, it was more their ideas. And I would always argue with Genesis P. Orrige about some concepts, abbut a Throbbing Gristle concept, but I think nowadays maybe, all concepts may be all about consense. People come to talk to other people, it´s more like a open salon, you know, there´s gonna be more interesting friends and music to find– it´s a bit like a getting together.

So nowadays the discussion is mainly about inspiration or ideas?

Excactly. But I don´t know about this reformation idea. Because, people are offering me stupid money. To do one cabaret-pop-group-thing. It´s stupid, stupid, stupid money. And personally, I don´t really even look at yesterday. For example, if there was nobody here from the music business – I´m in Berlin for five days – I would have just switched and gone back into normal mode, just gone to the shops and switched immediately back into normality. While we´ve got some old friends from Bristol here to work on the boats I would just say: bye! And have disappeared again, right? And I wouldn´t even analyse the concept, because it is done. So I don´t look at the past, I´m not interested in retro-phelia. I like old Doo-Wop music, I like some old, very old Jamaican music, I like things from the 17th century. But I´m looking for tomorrow. I have to rest and then new ideas will come. But to join in making the compilation for Soul Jazz that was the first time I´ve listened to my very early songs for the first time in years. Because I thought, lot´s of record companies wanted to do some compilations, because now they are saying, you are a legend and you started the punk-funk and all this – krrchhh! Ka-ka, right? And I knew, if I wasn´t involved, a company in Japan or in America would licence the tracks with no involvment from me or anyone of my bands, right? And the »classics« would be ka-ka, and it would be one track from each record label. I wanted to make a good compilation with some new tracks included.

But if I do it with Soul Jazz I can select the tracks, I can bring in some new tracks, I can work on the graphics. With the original pressings there is some really good art: postcards, have some of the prints, right? So, I am happy with me. To have a compilation on Soul Jazz is an honor. Because before, no single new artist has had this compilation, it´s always been from legends, like Studio One, Brazilian Music, Jamaican Classic. I´m the only young person that’s not dead they are treating with some respect. For me, it´s fantastic, and I know the journalists and critics across the world, if a record arrives in the post from Soul Jazz, you know, they are going to give it a listen. So it´s fantastic.

How did you meet the musicians from Sugarhill label, that later joined in Mark Stewart & The Maffia?

Basicly, The Pop Group went to New York in the early 80s, just when this No Wave thing happened. But the scene was already devided. We were playing Danceteria and all that common No Wave clubs. I mean, I was interested in Funk before I knew that Hip Hop was starting. I already knew Africa Bambaata and Zulu Nation, then there was a Radio Show in New York on Kiss FM. There, me and some friends of our gang would copying this Radio Show, this early Hip Hop things. So this copy of a radio show would come to Bristol with this tape duplicated by 40, 50 times. My friends of Massive Attack had copies, we were just switching Hip Hop tapes in the beginning. Bristol was very strong on Funk and Hip Hop, more than London or anywhere. The Funky Four or Grandmaster Flash was just going around by that time. On one of these tapes was a mix of a very heavy drum machine, an (Roland) 808, with a sampled tape of a rocket going off, counting 5, 4, 3, 2, – (hiss). And I was in the studio working with Jamaican musicians, the classic Jamaican Rasta line-up, doing »Learning To Cope With Cowardice«.

And there was no samplers yet, there was just an AMF-Machine with no bass. We won jackpot, I felt. I always tried to copy this thing but it went complete ka-ka. But I loved this sound, I thought it´s fantastic. Just by chance a musician was saying, I want to work with this guy Keith Le Blanc. And I just said, nnnngh! (rolling his eyeballs). A couple of month later Adrian Sherwood with On-U-Sound went to a music conference called the Midem and he was quite bored. But just across the hall there was this American guy, and we started a conversation about music and everything. And this guy says his name is Tommy Silverman. And he runs a Hip Hop Label in America called Tommy Boy. Later I found out that Adrian knew this guy, and I said, please, ask this Tommy Boy Silverman about the phone number of Keith Le Blanc. So the next day Tommy is coming to Adrian who is playing him some of his tapes. And Tommy didn´t know anything about dub-music, but said: this is crazy!
Suddenly, Tommy Silverman, who is now the Chief of Tommy Boy way up to Def Jam, is a massive On-U-Sound fan just by chance. He gave us the numbers of Keith LeBlanc, Doug Wimbush and Skip Macdonald, the Sugarhill Gang. I spoke to this guys a couple of times on the phone saying please come to England, I would love to do a collaboration. Later they arrived in England, all dressed up in the Shugarhill Gang outfit with Spandex and stuff. Right off their plane I see them and said: no! Fuck off! I`m not going to play with you! (laughs). At their first concert in London I took a bag of second hand Levis and ripped punk-clothes and made them wear this because there were in this really bad Spandex. It was like an extreme crossover.

But playing with them was just fantastic and we keep experimenting since ever then. The first song we did was »Hypnotised«, recorded in New York for a complilation. And »The Veneer Of Democracy« was the first album we started working with them.

The new songs on Kiss The Future seem to fit in perfectly.

»Radio Freedom« is one of the best new ones. It´s a collaboration with a guy called The Bug, with whom I´m working on the new album. The Bug is one of my favorite outfits in England at the moment. This guy is called Kevin Martin, he´s really into classic stuff like hard Ragga, Punk-Reggae. There is another song called »The Lunatics Are Taking Over The Asylum«. And the third one »The Puppet Master« is a collaboration with Asian Dub Foundation. I´ve always done the artwork back to the Pop Group. I´ve always done the graphics – I haven´t got my name on it – the Pop Group posters, the newspapers, the physicle stuff, right? And origninally I wanted to do a book, a little booklet with some graphics and slogans inside. But then it came down like to include this cards. You know, I like xerox-art, to mail on with xerox-art. With the postcards the people can mail that and use them as free graphics. It was supposed to include a series of six to ten cards. But I don´t really know because, as you were saying, at the moment while doing this compilation I had to go back into the archives and listen to decide what was going to be on the compilation. I was talking to these other members of the Pop Group and other ragga-members of the original Maffia and the producers and they get crazy, but okay, this is democracy, I just ask: do you mind if I use those tracks or images for my own thing? And I was listening to some very early Pop Group things when we were 15 or 16 playing in the garage of my mothers house which never will be available. And one or two lines were coming to me again, these very stupid lines, that maybe I wrote to one girl I had a liaison with, really like a cliché. But now in the age of clichés I think you could play anything with clichés. I was thinking it might be fun to sing these lines in a really funny way again, and play these things again, right. And in that festival space last weekend, I was talking to one of the boys from the The Stooges who loves our stuff. But, by chance and another whole, Bruce, the drummer of the Pop Group was there too. And I had already been talking to Gareth the guitarist and a couple of other people and I said: look – I have to tell you this, cause it would be rude if I didn´t. Lot´s of people are saying, would you like to do some concerts as The Pop Group in Japan and da, da, da. And since 20 years I said, no! I´m not interested. But recently I heard these early songs when we were very small and had a high pitch like Bronski Beat or someone. Imagine, this was like being in front of a mirror when you were acting like a young David Bowie for a laugh. But Bruce said: I don´t play anything like that! Gareth says, the main problem is Bruce, who lives in America, and he is working very, very hard with other bands. And as I met Bruce we were friends again straight away. And just in the end he was saying: No! – this would be a complete disrespect to play all the old songs, it´s not punk, fuck off, you know, the classic Pop Group attitude. I said, yeh, yeh, stay cool, cools right? And he says there is many people, American companies like A&M who are offering me a lot of money, the head of Sony Pictures. And he always says no, because that’s a time you can never catch. And I said to him, it might be interesting for me to do a completely different bunch of new songs, as I am seeing the Stooges doing Fun House and even Sly and the Family Stone doing something. But for a whole new album I said to Bruce, why not do a complete opera piece, a commission of new work. At that stage it wasn´t about reforming the Pop Group, it was about me, Matt, Mike from Underground Restistance, Keith Levene whom I m playing with, and maybe Ari Up from The Slits. And we could make a whole set of a new piece and send it to the opera houses around the world.

What happened?

I don´t know what´s going to happen. There is talk. We could reform The Pop Group in a minute if we wanted to, because we are still friends. It would be very easy for us to go into a room and just do some more, do the next stage. It´s not a problem. As said, if we wanted to.

That one could easily slide into self-parody.

I like cliché. I love cliché. Cliché is my trade. I love flipping cliché. I take my lyrics from advertising. I take slogans from clichés. There is a hundred slogans at the moment, the power of dreams. Like if you say, cli-Ché Guevara.

The media will turn it around and against you.

But you can turn it around again!

The Pop Group lyrics always played with slogans, they dealt with a heavy political message.

No, that wasn´t heavy political. You want some heavy political? It wasn´t heavy.

Forces Of Opression, Rob A Bank?

Oh, oh, oh! I don´t know… (pause). But still, this wasn´t heavy.

You mean, thats nothing though…

To me, that’s not heavy. That’s middle.
Even the musicians I´m working with with now, the american boys, they don´t know the punk tradition. They don´t come from the the anarchist/socialist culture that we come from. They know nothing about it. They love meeting the people like my stuff they find you sympathetic and find you cool people because this is position. They don´t really know, they are American or whatever. For instance, Keith (Le Blanc) the drummer, he is telling me these completely bizzare conspiracy theories of white wing christians, he´s talking more crazy ideas than me.

What do you think about being part of that post-punk revival?

We played in Rome two days ago. The last time I was in Rome was in 1980 with The Pop Group and The Slits. After our concert the whole went into a discotheque. And in that discotheque they played exactly the same records as when I went there 25 years ago. I think it´s crazy. Must be a time warp.

What´s been left?

I can´t really say. People keep saying to me I´m like a mug pipe. I keep things from the 16th Century, some arabic magic from before christ. Time is not linear. A few days ago people in Vienna were saying to me now is the time for neo-liberals, saying wasn´t it more important singing protest songs on tour? I just said: neo-? neo-? neo-? One chief in Japan was asking me about my opinion about the neo-conservative government in Japan. I replied: ask Billy Bragg. For me, all this is a question of economics. Exactly the same people are still in control about what is happening. There is just an illusion of liberality.
Maybe it´s good for the schools and health service and maybe it´s good for our culture. But it´s from the expense of Africa. We can only live with this position because of the expense of taking everything from the rest of the world. You know, wait till China comes in. And I don´t see it as politics, people keep saying your music is politics, I think Bruce Springsteen is more political than me. I just report, I use slogans from advertisements and turn them into something else. I´m just seeing the world. If you open your eyes, you see the world. If you close your eyes, that is political.

Are you able to make a living from your music?

Yes! I get massive advances (sneers).

Okay thanks. That might be enough for a first conversation…

Now you´ve got it, boy. (Sneers) Yes! That´s enough for a year!

Text taken from:

Bristol The Punk Explosion – Press Release

Sunday, March 14th, 2010





Released worldwide on 14th June 2010


The Cortinas were the first. They played the Roxy Club, released two singles on Mark Perry and Miles Copeland’s Step Forward label, graced the front cover of Sniffin’ Glue and recorded a Peel Session. Guitarist Nick Sheppard remembers the night it all slotted into place: “I think a real turning point for us was seeing the Ramones at the Roundhouse on July 4 1976 – we definitely started to write our own songs after that gig. We had been playing and doing gigs for about a year by then – all covers apart from one song, Tokyo Joe as I remember. After that gig we started writing stuff like Television Families. I think we saw people like us in the audience at that gig, and it must have given us confidence.”


Taking their cue, bands like Social Security (the first band on Heartbeat Records), The Pigs (whose Youthanasia single was released by Miles Copeland’s New Bristol Records), The Primates, The Media, The Posers and The Verdict gave Bristol one of the strongest provincial early punk scenes, mainly centred around the Clifton area of Bristol and Barton Hill Youth Club.


Barton Hill also gave us The X-Certs, who by 1978 could already pull audiences of 500 into Trinity Church, without the aid of a safety net or record contract. Though we didn’t realise it at the time, they effectively bridged the gap between the late 70s Bristol scene and what our American cousins like to term the UK82 bands.


Vice Squad and Heartbeat Records boss Simon Edwards formed Riot City Records toward the end of 1980, releasing the band’s first single Last Rockers in January 1981. It sold well and after a second Vice Squad single the label recruited other Bristol bands like Portishead lunatics Chaos UK, Court Martial and The Undead, while Disorder recorded for their own label, all achieving impressive sales. The less said about Chaotic Dischord, the better.


Lunatic Fringe, with the mighty Bear Hackenbush on vocals, recorded their first single on the short-lived Resurrection Records label.


The Bristol Punk Explosion brings you all these bands, and closes with a track from Death Metal Monsters Onslaught. Before all this “Spitting blood in the face of Gaaaahd!” malarky, Onslaught were a Discharge-style hardcore punk band, and here we include the snapilly-titled Thermo Nuclear Devastation Of The Planet Earth from their first demo.

In short, this is the history of Bristol punk, from its very beginnings, through the early 80s, and up to the point when hardcore began to morph into thrash, metal, and, um, thrash metal.


(Sleeve notes by Shane Baldwin – Vice Squads Drummer and Record Collector / Big Cheese Journalist)


TITLE: Bristol The Punk Explosion

LABEL / DISTRIBUTION: Bristol Archive Records / Shellshock


FORMAT: CD plus digital download


PRESS CONTACT: Garry Hutchinson / SaN PR.  - T / 01429280582.


S-a-N Agency Ltd | Booking Agency | Record label | PR | Registered in England No. 5171652


Bristol The Punk Explosion

Saturday, March 13th, 2010


Bristol The Punk Explosion is now mastered, press release written and release date set for June 14th – Just got to get the sleeve designed now and Shane to finish the sleeve notes.

Pigbag – New Record

Saturday, March 13th, 2010


Pigbag – Volume 1 First in a set of lush reissues from Fire Records, comes Pigbag’s debut album “Dr Heckle & Mr Jive” with bonus CD of singles and twelve inches. Including the infamous “Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag”.Part of Fire Embers. A Classic record.

Check out

Freied Egg German Review –

Thursday, March 4th, 2010


V.A.: “THE BEST OF FRIED EGG records (Bristol 1979-1980)” ”
(Bristol archive of records /, release date: 01.) February 2010)
The label “” fried egg records “was 1979 by Andy Leighton, administrator of Bristoler” “Crystal Theatre” established.”” First release was a single Theatre house band SHOES FOR INDUSTRY. The only two-year existence of the label at least saturated 13 singles and 2 albums came in around. Record suspected! 1980 already a first summary was concluded and it appeared which is completely to hear sampler „E(gg)clectic”, with a total of 12 tracks, which originated primarily from said singles and now on this CD in a re-mastered version. During even a limited 7 appeared “inch EP (on white vinyl) named” fried alive 1980 World Tour “”, which was sold to gigs with participation of “FriedEgg”-Bands. “” This EP are bonus track part listen some songs, where the song “” Angels in the rain “was published by THE VICEROYS really just on this EP.” The remaining songs taken from the official singles of the label. When I hear such sampler einfing former atmosphere with all their different styles of music I must think automatically of JOHN PEEL, who was known for extensively to devote particular output of small labels. With him I heard for the first time the WILD BEASTS and their fantastic “” minimum maximum “, what I some years later also on single saw me.” I think I too remember played the FANS because of them I bought their first single “” giving me that look in your eye”.” me sometime These are also the single songs I have detected immediately. What song away has impressed me directly from the place was “” original mixed up kid “of VARIOUS ARTITS (ingenious tape name, by the way!).” A hyper melodischer power pop/ModPunker, whose Refrain without simply in my brain has milled itself and was typical of this time. Bloed, I only find that it simply away has failed to durchzunummerieren the title. The Durchzaehlen nervt a little until then finally has the correct title. Another highlight is certainly “” Johnny runs for Paregoric”by EXPLODING SEAGULLS.” A completely independent “post punk”-style. “” The STINGRAYS can be with “” exceptions ‘the’ C ‘ mon everybody “Bass in a completely different context alive.” “” So easy and yet so great! With, “” Countdown”there will be a further power pop/climax of ModPunk to plague. “” Fit Of Pique”ART OBJECTS skin away from also once one.” At that time at sound new wave electro punk as it had. Impulsive and somewhat come from the track. With the einsA reggae “” Sheepdog trial Inna Babylon”of SHOES FOR INDUSTRY sounds 20 track CD beautiful relaxed from.
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