King Prawn - The Prawn (doesn’t) sleep tonight


It’s THE PRAWN. There is only one! Well, four actually, and three of them are currently sat at a table in the corner of the pub a couple of hours before they sizzle onstage. Sorry, had to be done. I know, I’m going to have to come up with some better cliches than that. Anyway, to my right we have Babar the bassist, to my left we have Al - yapper (vocals), and between them we have NickSwindonboye - drums. Aryan Devil - guitar, is not here. Because, I guess, he’s somewhere else at the moment. Not much gets past me see! Anyway, Kerrang! have dubbed them this weeks maddest UK band. At the moment they seem perfectly normal, maybe the magazine was wrong again. Or maybe not. We’ll see. So, the Derby Destruction. Part 1. On y’va. (It’s french y’know).

Right, I’ve got some things written down to ask, but it’s all probably wrong and unstructured, but anyway, the first album First Offence was released in, I think, 95, and the new one has only just been released. Why such a long gap?

Nick is first in to answer. It wasn’t intentional. It’s been three years. It takes so long because the budgets are so limited and the organisation that we work with is very small and subjected to loads of setbacks all the time. So initially First Offence was due tocome out a lot earlier than it did. Al takes things up. Yeah, because it is such a low budget it took us three years to get the full mileage out of that album, because all the promotions basically down to us. I mean, up to now it has just been us getting out and playing. Babar speaks. We’ve always had one or two people assisting us, but it’s a difficult shift. It’s like this big truck that you have to push over the hill with just human hands pushing it. There’s no like, mechanical money in there to help push it along. There’s one or two people who really like us and are into us that are supporting us. But they don’t have much financial means, so the only thing is the mass market to intersperse your music through it and get noticed.

And because we took years writing the fucking tunes adds Nick.

We always take a little while to write tunes, but you know, we’ve been touring to Europe and we had a couple of single out which have been equally successful.

Well, I actually just got back from Wales a couple of hours ago, and Fried was in virtually all the major shops down there, even Virgin and HMV. So maybe now more success awaits.

Yeah? I didn’t think it should be out yet.

Well, it’s been everywhere since Monday, cos I saw a copy in Nottingham, and thought, I’ll have some of that then. But with a Cockney accent. At least there was a Cockney accent in my mind.

Ah, things are spreading.The first one they wouldn’t stock, they didn’t want to know. But now we’ve got a bit of a name for ourselves. Cos it came out really early for us. If you’ve got the budget then you can do something that’s really good, but if you haven’t got the means to promote it, then no-ones going to hear it, and now that we’ve got more of a name for ourselves, I mean we’re still pretty unknown but, we were un-unknown. If anything, the really good move would’ve been to sit on First Offence for about a year, but we couldn’t have done it, because we were so desperate to get it out. But really tour it, cos we had a bit of press after the album, but then maybe the shops would’ve stocked it and stuff. So we should’ve waited. But yeah, we did lots of touring then, and it would’ve then only seemed like a 2 year gap which would’ve been lovely.

I only managed to pick up my copy second hand last year.

Yeah! We’ve sold out of them. The first albums all gone. We’re finished mate, finished. Three years of struggling.

So you say that it’s a bit of a struggle because no-one knows you. Is that a bit annoying when there’s some American bands who seem to get a record deal, the label tells all the journalists and magazines and the word is spread.

It’s always been like that though hasn’t it. Bands in this country, it’s always harder to get a look in. Always has been, always will be. But the thing with British bands though, there’s a lot of bands that when they make it, they make it massive though don’t they. U2, Oasis, Beatles. In the sixties it was exactly the same, Britain was considered shit, shit shit! and then you had the Beatles, and then you had the Stones. It’s always massive bands.

Do you think it would be any different for you if you did tailor your music towards what’s trendy at the time, y’know, detune the guitars.

You can always say “what if”, but at the end of the day we’re all doing something that we’re really really happy with. And with living in London, there’s so many bands that are trying to fit in and tailor themselves to “the new sound”, jumping on any bandwagon they think is going to get them there and always missing the bus pipes up Babar. Just three months behind.

It doesn’t work for them y’know. I think what’s good about King Prawn and seperates us, is we’re into so diverse music and listen to different types of music. We don’t listen to any hardcore underground kinds of bands really. What we just listen to is basically what we hear on the street, and what we hear our friends play. And that’s why it’s like a true melting pot of like, especially reggae sounds and rap sounds which we hear. Which is very British I think. That seperates us, cos our stuff is very British and the black culture is very strong in London. That’s why reggae, ragga, jungle, rap is popular. You hear stations of it all the time, so you get influenced by that.

A lot of the American bands you’re on about. I bet we haven’t heard a single album by them between us. Their version of reggae is too clinical. Not on the reggae side, I was on about the rock side Nick informs Babar. And now you of course. It’s still contrived reckons the Babar.

It just seems to me, that whenever anything “new” comes through, bands are just going to be told “change your sound”. Ok, that maybe naive of me, but there’s occassion where it’s “what comes across” from somewhere. And that impression can ultimately be just as damaging. Just my opinion of course. Anyway, back to the pub.

Well I don’t really see it like that, an American band doing well here is at the expense of a British band. I don’t see it like that. That’s just petty jealousy. Everyone makes their own chances in this life, and some people get lucky and some people don’t. There’s something shit about someone trying to bad mouth a band. In this business, whatever money you can make, good luck to ya. I don’t give a fuck if you suck as many cocks as you can, so what y’know. The thing is, you’ve got to sleep with yourself in the end, you go to bed on your own and think about it, so doesn’t matter if you did this or did that to get there ,just be honest about it. Fucking hell, so what. There’s so much masses of money out there, if you just grab on with some of it, then good luck to you.

Earlier you mentioned that everyone in the band has different influences. Is there a point in writing a song where someone is depserate to get one style of music in, and someone else is pushing for another. Is there any compromise.

You just have to be patient and wait for the next song. Like, if you want a skanky number and the one that your writing just isn’t going to work out that way. It’s just on the vibe of the song isn’t it. Sometimes if you play something and someone comes at you with something that’s totally the opposite it can work really well. The fact that it doesn’t fit, means that it fits really well. But other times, well, it just does not happen ....

It’s just if you feel that it fits in with the vibe. It’s regulating yourself innit, regulating your ego. There’s many ways to making a good song, sometimes it’s just better for someone to step back and just let it come, cos there’s a million ways to get to a good song. That’s often the case with people wanting to shut up. LESS IS MORE Nick decides to coin a phrase Less and less is more, or else just one person takes control.

So, I don’t know if you read the review in the K! the other week, where it was saying that there was too much going on. (See, there is sometimes a point or a reason to some of the stuff I ask. Good things come to those that wait.)

That’s it though, we’re the TV flicking generation, you get bored watching one thing, so you’ve got to swap it around to make it interesting. It’s that attitude, that mental attitude we have. And I know like for my friends, they listen to such a diverse type of music. Just flipping the radio constantly is Nick’s further media induced reply. That’s what I was saying about our music being full of styles that contradict each other, that’s what makes it challenging. Instead of just using decks and stuff, just do it ourselves man, just slip it in. That’s a challenge innit. If your quick and up to the trends and up to the fashions, up to the modern style, which is everything just so much together now. You hear songs on the radio with thousands of different bits, and the bands just get criticised. One of my favourite bands that got criticised for all those types of reasons was like Fishbone. Always getting slagged off all the time. Especially the records. “You can’t go skanking to a heavy metal tune”. It’s the same thing. It’s just in your mind and if you’re open to it you’re open, and if you’re not, you’re not.

It’s all damn well going on about the context of the song, but you can go wanking for ages, have middle eights that go on for five different styles and stuff like that. But I mean, we’re not overly technical musicians.

The Fishbone Truth and Soul album (ok, time for me to pull out the soapboax again. Climb on board and go. “BUY FISHBONE’S TRUTH AND SOUL ALBUM”. It’s amazing. It really really is. Some of the other albums lost the plot, but that one is simply a wonderful blend of punk, rock, ska, reggae etc. One of the pioneers in all this stuff.)

Anyway, the band then proceed to have a bit of a discussion about the album. As the pub is getting crowded, and the guys are all talking at once, things become hectic on the tape. Let’s just say Nick is saying one thing, Babar another and Al something else. Which is moving towards technicality, and technical musicians, and that is where we’re going to pick things up again.

It’s so easy to learn now, thousands of videos, everyones just technically efficient now. Americans always have that, that sort of competitiveness, you know, that having to be technically good at everything. That’s another difference, Americans tend to go to College a lot and learn music properly, whereas there’s a lot of DIY here. I mean, none of us have ever been tutored or whatever.

No, it’s not that easy to learn. Sorry but it’s not. If it was, I’d be in a band instead of writing about them. Ok, if I had the guts to get on stage. And could get along with people kong enough to complete a set and not want to kill them. But that’s another story.

Dedication,that’s what you need, ... Babar sings the Record Breakers theme. Good tip.

Right, I saw you the other week in Nottingham with Therapy? Died didn’t we laughs Nick. (Well, no, they didn’t die, but they didn’t win as many as they should.) I was going to ask how that tour went in general.

Really good, that was probably the lamest one (take a bow Nottingham “Rock” centre of the UK. Hmmmm) I don’t know, some crowds just don’t understand us sometimes. But audiences are just different at expressing themselves. I think we came across really well at most of the gigs, and even the ones where it didn’t really happen, and they weren’t really vocal, there were people coming up after and talking and saying “I thought you were really good”. That was the ... I mean it wasn’t a terrible gig, but it was the worst one for us. Even if we’re playing really well, and the heads up in the ceiling,, if the crowds not responding there’s nothing more you can really do finishes Al. The rock audiences are quite open minded a lot of the time but some nights it just doesn’t happen.

Well, I was watching, and at the end of the songs there were people applauding, and there was a couple of punks who seemed to like it, and I thought my have been really up for it, but they just stood there. And they were the sort of people I thought may have got it more readily.

The first couple of nights, the first night was really good a lot of people getting into it. I’d say about 70% of the time was really good. It was a really good experience for us. They weren’t expecting The Prawn Inquisition.

Do you have any expectations then, when you’re say outside of London. What it’s going to be like, and what happens if it doesn’t live up to expectations? What if a crowd just stands there.

There are some times when I don’t expect nothing, and if something happens then its great. It’s a bonus really. You just play as well as you can and if people ain’t up for that, then you can’t force people. We’re basically at the stage now where, when we used to play outside London, we used to really on local support bands a lot, but now, even if there’s no local support, there’s maybe 20, 30 kids there. It’s a bit more organised than it maybe used to be.

I mean, I think we’re still relatively unknown even though we have had a fair bit of press. You’ve got to get it in perspective. So you don’t expect like hordes of crowds to come. I mean, I think that the majority of people that will have heard about us, or read about us, haven’t seen us gig wise.

The album, Fried in London, has a track on there Racist Copper. I was wondering, that with what seems to be the sentiments of the song, how far the band would take something like this. For example, would they go as far as The Crucifucks, who featured the image of a dead policeman on an album, and who subsequently ended up in a lawsuit, along with their record label, Alternative Tentacles.

Right. I dunno, I mean our songs about addressing the balance of society, of positive policing. Every American film that or show that you ever see, the police always win, the criminals are caught or always lose. The police are always portrayed as the good guys, and very rarely, in every police department or police series are there the crooked cops or the nasty cops.

That particular song, Racist Copper, was written quite a while back when Condon made those remarks. The song was written about that.

And that’s also the classic where many people don’t understand politics and don’t understand big world issues, but they realise that the police are more often linked with the government and any time the government want to put down an uprising of any kind, or protest, it’s just their own personal gang. So, the police are just like another gang but with the government backing them up. So it’s classic for teenage, or subversive mind, to question what they do.

The policeman that’s helping the old granny across the road today right, if there was martial law in this country it would be the same person who would be beating peoples heads in, or keeping them in the houses stoping them from travelling about. It’s the same person. In any nation, any government, the police are always the representatives of the government. They’re often similar to what the governments image and pledges are.

Going back to the the Therapy? gig, but staying on a slightly political note, you said there, that even if you signed a record deal, you’d still be signing on.

Yeah, that’s right says Al as the rest of the guys laugh. I’ll take it as far as it goes. They’re going to have to cut off my legs to stop me from signing on.

So with all the new ideas of the government, do you think its going to have a knock on effect for you as a band.

Well, we’re a bit older mate. But I’m sure that it will affect some. But it’s all like a load of bollocks. There are all these laws, and it’s like to try and keep people at home. Now what they’re trying to do is force young people to stay and live with their parents. To move out, they cut off their housing benefit. They’re basically trying to make it like it is in most places in Europe, where teenagers and people in their early twenties live with their parents. They see the way society is going as well, and they’re trying to get a family structure to solidify it all the way it was like 50 years ago, but it’s too late for that. It’s just trying to keep people at home, and people in jobs that they don’t want to do so that they don’t get up to no good. They force people to get training in avenues they’re not interested in. And no matter how well you structure it, or force people into doing it, the end result is going to be people doing what they don’t want to do.

As ever, just as things get interesting, the tape is approaching the end, and I’ve taken up way too much of their time, so, the end draws nigh. So, with the album having now been released, what are the plans for the rest of the year.

We’ll just see what happens. I don’t EXPECT anything to happen. I just want us to spread the Prawn message really, and get people to enjoy and come be entertained. We’d like to play some summer festivals.

Any sign of major support slots coming up?

Difficult to say really. The Maiden. Yeah, we’d love to support Maiden

Now there is a concept I would love to see. And it seems to be about the best place that I can think of to end. A quick chat to Al follows about bands such as Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains. Great bands one and all. And then it’s time for me to go in search of the next victims. For you it’s easy. You just turn the page to the one headed Cynical Smile. See you over there!