Last YAZ you shouldve read the Liberty 37 interview. You shouldve cos I spent a lot of time typing it up for you. Since then quite a bit of time has passed, but if we nip back to that sunny day in May in Wolverhampton, only a matter of hours have passed. And were back in the dressing room type thing. And this time were in the company of Stew, the guitarist of Bullyrag, whove just completed their set on the same evening apparently as a free street party was taking part in the middle of Birmingham featuring the All Saints. Which has nothing to do with this interview, but its something to do with literary license, or creative something or others.
But enough of that, lets talk. Its the first Bullyrag headline tour, following God knows how many support slots over the last few months. The album is mere weeks away from finally being released as we talk, and thats all the scene setting that is required.
The bog standard excuses then from me. Ive not written any questions down, but I had a few ideas on the way here. I just hope I can remember some of them now.
Whats your name? Dave. Theres so many people you meet on a daily basis, theres always a good option of Dave, Paul or Steve. Ok, sorry, go on.
Ok, the first time that I saw you was supporting Korn at the Crazyhouse in Liverpool.
Thats a couple of years ago isnt it? Yeah, and then you seemed to disappear for about a year. I was wondering what happened during that time.
To be honest with you, what happened was we got signed to Mercury a little bit after that, and then we went looking for producers and we were working on our album. Then we found a producer after a little while, recorded the album, and started releasing singles. Its taken this amount of time. Because I think it took us about a year to find the right producer. We tried different things and then you get someone, but theyre not available because theyre in the middle of an album. It just takes a long time. So we went and found a producer.
So what makes the right producer for you then?
I think because the album was ambitious in what we were trying to do. I mean, if youre going to go crash bang wallop dead heavy stuff, and thats all its going to be, and youve got a guarrantteed safe gig where everyones going to jump around and theyre all going to be into you because you belong to the league of heavyness, then you just get a few producers that are renowned for doing heavy stuff, and thats kind of easy. And if you do funk music, then thats kind of easy cos you get a producer that does funk music. If you do reggae you go for one famous for doing reggae. Whatever it is. But if youre trying to do a lot of different things you got to find a producer that can do all the different technical requirements. So in our minds it ended up being a collective producer. Someone that knows how to be, someone who was in a band, someone who knows music, someone who was a musician and someone that was able to get all the sounds and programme. You know to deal with the technology. So we ended up with two Gary Langdon and Chris Hughes. Gary Langdon was the engineer for the Art of Noise. And Chris Hughes has been a producer for about 18 years and has a massive CV, bands like Jesus and Mary Chain, and mainstream bands like Tears For Fears. Between the two of them that was our criteria filled.
Ive read a few times with our bands, that they say that the producer points you in the right direction. Is there something like that which you was looking for?
Yeah. Do you play at all? I try to play bass. Bass. When you get in a band, you can take it as a paranoid thing, and like I know what Im doing. And youd be stupid not to take advice from someone. And then you get into a little team and a very insular environment and then you get into like listening, and you trust someone after a while. You know, someone whose done lots of albums and they say at this point heres a good setup. This guitar with this amp gives this sound cos Ive done it and heres an example. So you just use your own vetted system, so that you eventually work out that yeah, he actually knows what the fuck hes talking about.
You were saying onstage tonight that the album is released at the begining of June (yeah I know that was ages ago. These interviews take a little time to get through to this stage, but like a good wine, they get better with age. Believe me. If youd have read this a day after the interview took part, it wouldve tasted like shit). Its been a long time since you started doing the support tours late last year. Was that the labels doing?
Well no. We finished the album in October and immediately released a single which was limited edition, and immediately got touring. We did some TV and got single of the week, and we started the profile that we do. So we just got on with it. And then we wanted to build at least a couple of singles before we released the album. The second single was like the first single cos it wasnt a limited edition. That was Learn To Live in February. And now we just done Jump Up in a Fashion on Monday. And thatll be our second single and well have done what we wanted to do from a marketing point of view. Were not really hoping for the album to go into British Top 40, cos were not a singles band due to the nature of our music. Basically were heavy. But its something that we wanted to build, to build a fanbase and to tour. But it turned out to be an international thing. Weve been swamped with airplay in Australia, and swamped with airplay in Europe. Swamped with MTV airplay in South America. This is all before the album and just with the singles. But England and Britain as you know is a different sort of structure. Im sure every band that you interview will tell you the same.
Depends if theyre American or British. The Americans seem to get the reaction.
Well yeah, but its also the same with us in America. Weve just released the album to the label in America as a precursor to release, and their flying someone to the gig on Monday to sort out the plot for release, cos they love the album so much. So its the same, but in reverse. So you cant moan too much. I dont actually mind, cos I know the album, weve just done a set here, 9 songs, 8 of which are on the album and the other is a b-side. And theyre quite powerful songs, but theyre not just in the league of heavyness continually. The rhythmical structure is not in the league of rocks, and the drums arent rock all the time, and the vocals definitely arent rock. Some of my guitar tone is maybe. But there is definitely a rock energy though. But theres stuff on the album, that we just cant play until the album is out because it would be too diverse for the audience.
Even up to now, having seen the band maybe 8 or 9 times, it took me maybe about 5 times to actually get my head around things. The first time it was like, this is different, and I was thinking Dub War. Do you think people will take that bit of time to absorb it when they do get the album.
You know, its a good question, but its a bit difficult, because Im never going to be most people, which is a problem. I mean, having an eclectic musical taste, which is a journalistic term, no-one thinks like that, I find it a curse in the immediate response. If we were going to go on and go duh duh de de de duh, and the next song go de duh de de duh duh (you try typing someone singing two similar guitar riffs!) its easy and you can get a great response, but its actually boring as fuck for me. So being into all different types of music, melody and structure and different types of guitar playing, just being into stuff I think is a problem for immediacy. I think thats a fair point. But at the same time, once youve listened to a piece of music once or twice, you can make each individual subjective. The difficulty is getting the attention span, you know, you need to have some angle. As far as Im concerned, Id really like to be liked. You know, when Im in a band I like gigs with a lot of people there, I like the shared energy. Thats my feedback. But as far as the aspect of the album goes, I kinda dont really mind whether it takes them a long time or they dont get into it. Because theres so many fucking people out there, I cant even begin. I mean, we just done a gig, and if you were to line each of the people up and ask them what were you into. And its like well I was into that Rob broke his zip on the first song or I was into your guitar, or I liked your hair, or I fancied your singer. You know, everyones got their own different gig on whats good. I believe in the album and the band believes in the album that weve done. All our songs that weve done weve tried to be as ambitious as we can. So I think its something now that has fuck all to do with us as to how long it may take people.
Its just that I find myself now at the gigs recognising a part of a song, and I want to hear everything now to be able to put it all together.
Theres a song on the album called Plague, which goes from like American RnB, and you know, you cant go and do that when no-ones jumping around. Then it goes through a Pink Floyd musical kind of ambience stage, and its all about AIDS and then it builds up into this fucking crescendo of a riff. Once the albums there, people will probably go, oh, theres that tune, but otherwise, if they havent heard the album, theyd go what the fucking hell was that?. And its fair comments. The last song on the album, weve condensed. On there its 13 minutes long, and its a hidden track, well, its not advertised, it just comes up 3 minutes after the end. And weve decided, instead of representing the bit where your stoned where it goes into this movement where your stoned and it goes very ambient and reflective. We cant really ask for people to pay attention to that when youre supporting some nutter heavy metal band. So weve kinda been known for the songs off the album which are more immediate, which are the energy tracks. Tonight we played a couple, You Can Have Me, and Summerdaze, which are more melodic. And that contains half the album, but we havent played any of that live yet. So were looking forward to gigs when the albums out, cos then the people that come to see us will know the songs by nature of the album
Youve said a few times, its very eclectic. And theres you with a guitar style, the rhythm section with a different style, Dave with the samplers. Is there a point where you write a song where someone wants to get one part in, and someone wants another?
No, because the songs are written by me and Robbie. To be honest with you the album and all the singles and b-sides apart from 2 songs, which me, Robbie and Mike wrote. The bands input is, you basically take a back step from that. Youve got a drumkit, a bass guitar, guitar, vocal and X noises whatever you want to call it stuff. Dave isnt necessarily triggering technical stuff, hes triggering guitar, vocals, stuff that you cant do live. So in thats sense, its not a technical role, its a role after the event of the song. Its more of a live role. Its like youve got an introductory guitar part, and Ive got the main one, but you really need that guitar part, so its on its own pad and it comes across more. So there isnt a big fight of I want my reggae bit in and I want my heavy bit in. Weve been doing this since 1990 me and Robbie. Eight years and its still not fucking understood he laughs.
Its around about this time that people are sticking their heads around the door and saying all the goodbyes, so we should say goodbye to them. Liberty 37 and The Beekeepers have now left the building. And normal service is now resumed .....
You said there that its still not understood. Youve done tours with bands like Tura Satana, and Pitchshifter, Prodigy etc. A huge range of styles. Has there been one particular audience where you think this is the one that has tapped in.
Bit like girls, I think I like the ones that like me he grins. I appreciate the ones that dont but I really like the ones that do. And I think with audience, any fucker that likes me, I like. I dont like playing to people who are not interested, thats honest. I dont like it. I know a lot of people say they dont care, but I actually dont like it. I dont look at it as a big ritual that I have to do. If they dont like, I dont mind not playing. Im there for a reason selfishly. The bands there to enjoy itself, to enjoy its music that it believes in. And I dont expect every fucker in the world to like us, I dont expect everyone in the audience to like us, but as long as theres a few that Im focussed on. It is a very intimate thing if you believe in music, and I do believe in it. I can get a bit sensitive sometimes, just personally, not so that anyone would know, but becuase this is an interview thats my personal view.
Do you actually get the feedback on stage, cos sometimes you see bands who say things from the stage, but you just dont get any emotion from them when theyre saying it.
I dont have a microphone on stage, I think if I did Id communicate a bit more, but you sometimes feel fucking daft. Just briefly yknow, briefly and awkward and stupid.
I feel that in the crowd.
Oh yeah, and its a shared experience. Sometimes you feel utterly invincible and sometimes you just know youre going to pull your lead out and its going to go off. And I think its beautifully varied, and I think were trying to learn how to do it, and I think once we have then thatll be the end of it, because what do you do then? I think theres a craft to playing live. And its not easy, weve set ourselves up with a hard task with the type of stuff weve done. 10 songs, crash bang wallop is a piece of piss live, you just plug in and go, but if youre trying to go up and down, trying to be ambitious with no-one knowing you, then thats hard.
If its not happening, it should be shit yknow. People look as though theyre playing to 1000 people when theres only 8. Shouldnt have done it, dont you think so? To me it looks false.
Well, for example, I saw a few bands a couple of weeks ago in Derby, say 50 people there. And the bands got pissed off with the crowd. In that instance, should the band be pissed off with the people who have actual gong to the gig, or with those that havent bothered.
I think you should play a gig relative to whats there. The whole over gestation of performance, people hide behind that a lot. People like whatever band, X band for example. If their guitarist or singer looks as though hes playing to a rammed out show thats kicking on, to me thats ignoring the people that are there. Cos I think if youve got a small crowd and it happens everywhere until you establish, that you should play to them people. But if youre at a party, and the clubs kicking and theres 300 people and youre sheltered in that environment and its dark, youre kind of more used to it. But if theres only 8 people in the room, its different, and I think you should reflect that. I dont think you should just play the gig regardless of the audience, you should play that gig and be honest with what you feel, cos I think its more insulting to fucking lie than say well fucking hell, lets have a bit of a laugh here cos this is shit.
We had a gig up in Edinburgh two nights ago, it was a really small place. And theres a few people, say 80 % full, a little bit of space for people to move. So when we finished the show, we just decided to see if theyd like all fit on the stage. Now that was relative to the gig being not sold out. So you do show it relative to the place. See tonights was good, that had a lot of energy which was good.
Ok, now Im going to have a crack (no pun intended, but if you laughed, well, just put it down to me being a comedian or you having a dodgy sense of humour) at a bit of the drug angle. So to put the record straight, I dont do illegal drugs. But I think they should be legalised. My argument is like that argument many use. The war on drugs is not being won. Theyre more readily available. Its a business, prices are dropping which indicates the supply is there. You can potentially cut out the middle man, and do something to protect the users from impure cuts, shared needles and the associated problems. Ultimately, its a situation which to my mind isnt going to get better just because some people think its wrong. So something should be done to address the reality of the situation as opposed to the ideal of ooh, drugs are bad. If they are legalised, more people will die. More people will die anyway. Its a problem, and it isnt going away. Legalisation gives scope for some monitoring and control, and you can use some of the money to educate against, give better rehab facilities. I dont know that it would work, but one thing is for certain, NOT LEGALISING isnt going to cure it either.
Boom Boom Marijuana. I guess asking whether you think cannabis should be legalised is a bit pointless ....
I dont think it should no. I think it should stay the same. It all works.
Not the answer I was anticipating, so lets probe further shall we.
It works. People who want spliffs can get it, people that dont dont have to.
As I was anticipating you saying yes, Id been wondering whether you though harder drugs should be legalised.
That works as well though doesnt it. People who want harder drugs can get them, and the people who dont want them dont have to. Its not legalised, and its not formalised and its not advertised and its good. It works. Cos it wont go away. Thats just my opinion on it by the way.
Yeah, it wont go away and thats why I think it should be legalised. The people who are selling the drugs you could say are making money which may be used for better purposes.
Well I dont know. I mean I know a lot of beautiful people who have had a life through selling drugs, and I dont think that you should take that away from them. Cos its fucking shit and hard to survive on the dole for the rest of your life. I think it all works meself, your opinion is not mine and I understand it, and I think it works. And my reasoning is that if you change it you advertise it. The debate advertises it and increases it. The novelty will wear off. It will still return to a fucking nutter situation with legalisation, unless you take cigarrettes or beer. Now if you become brewerified, the infiltration of beweries or clubs in the society in the hard drugs way, youve fucking seriously got a society with nothing but getting off your head at its centre. Alcohol itself, no matter where you go. If you had spliff shops everywhere you go, where you could get charlie, speed from, lsd from. What would be left? Probably have a couple of Sainsburys left, and pubs and drug centres. So I think theres enough places to get off your head. Anyone that wants to, they can. The economic infrastructure allows people that are otherwise fucked to have a bit of money. And I dont believe the myth that everyone that sells drugs is an evil fucker. Cos thats the hypocrisy of everybody that wants drugs is an evil fucker. Not true, its a part of society. But it should remain in its proper place, it shouldnt be society.
But dont you believe it will end up like that regardless.
It is like that yeah, thats why I say it works. Everyone thats been in this room has smoked a spliff, everyone thats been up there has been on wine, beer or spirits. It is yeah, but what Im saying it works. To me its not broken, so dont fix it.
But thats my point of view. Im not a spokesperson for the whole band. And Im not spokesperson for that issue itself, cos its just me. My answer is to not ask the question in the first place. It works to me. So the answer to me is dont ask. Cos the debate to me is the joke. Cos its usually debated by people who dont have enough power to turn on the electricity, let alone legalise drugs. Till the people at the top start debating it, its a pointless debate.
Some might say though that it needs movement from the bottom to wake those up at the top.
Yeah but thats because theyre ignoring the real issue which is the money. As soon as that kicks in, and the money to be made and controlled is there, it wont have fuck all to do with whether you want it or not. Itll be done. Simple as that. It would be done for money and nothing else.
Well, its a debate that could run. Like Stew says, should it be debated? You decide. I have my views, he has his, you form your own. You could say that singing about anything that is illegal is in itself generating debate, simply by the illegality of the subject matter. So if you dont want to advertise it, no bands shouldnt sing about it, or authors write about it. But I dont believe in that, and I dont think its going to happen. If you do want an alternative viewpoint on this, one place to start might be one of the Jello Biafra spoken word albums. Have a read of some Huxley, or Burroughs. Its part of the wonders of being a part of a supposedly free society. We move on to less stormy waters now methinks ..... theres a relief.
Last night I was watching TFI Friday ( ok, shoot if you want), and what attracted me more than anything was the Bullyrag posters that were next to the Evans bloke. So the question has to be, TFI Friday or Top of the Pops, which one do you want to do?
TFI Friday first to get us in the charts and then Top of the Pops. Its PR advertisment, and I dont have a problem with that. I think theres so much mainstream shite, that its time to have a go. And I dont mind being first in line. And subjectively Im not saying were better than all these bands, cos I think the lack of competition in the psyche of being a band, allows you to enjoy being in a band. Im not in a competition with all these bands, and I dont really compete. But as far as mainstream stuff, these are mainstream forums. And if you want a debate, and you believe in debate, then you should put some other bands on to give the mainstream masses a choice. And if TFI Friday, which are coming down to the show on Monday, put us on next Friday or the one after, or the next single, then Ill play it. Cos I want to advertise this band. And if that gets into the Top 40 and they ask us if we want to play Top of the Pops, Ill play that. Im doing the Ozone on Wednesday with the band. Thats predominantly full of Boyzone stuff, but it wont be, because were on it. See what I mean. So Im proud of it.
I thought maybe you were going to be on it (TFI) cos of the posters.
Maybe next week, I dont know. Theyre coming down to watch the show, so theyll make a decision. I dont know. Obviously theyre into us, if they put the posters up. Theres like 400 grand of advertisments on Channel 4 for us. I actually heard about it, cos my sister phoned me up to say the same thing. It was like all she could see, the poster of the band. I think actually its a very good poster anyway, very colourful and very Chris Evans.
The brains frying, Im running out of questions.
Well thanks for the time, its conversation. It gets read as well. I mean, Ive done a couple and actually theres a certain amount of verbatim reproduction thats not journalistic. Thats journalistic in its negative sense of trying to make the scene, trying to quote the quote, trying to be the fucking top journalist to discover the next top groove, blah blah blah.
Right then, to finish up, plans for the rest of the year?
No, thats interesting. Weve got to finish this tour, its our first headline tour, so its doing that kind of business which is fine by us. Go to Germany to do a skate festival, Suicidal Tendancies and some other bands. Thats until middle of June, then we come back and play Switzerland festival, Austria, Italy. Shitload of festivals, main stages. Then cos were getting about 300 plays a week on Triple J in Australia for Frantic, so its basically a hit there. The Americans are coming over, we may be doing a Lenny Kravitz tour of Europe in the Autumn. And the album will be out and well see what territories are doing well and go and play them. Then come back to England and keep playing England and Britain. And I think September through December we should be in America. So all good stuff.
So basically touring.
Yeah, thats what weve basically decided on doing the next 5 or 10 years really. We love PR as well, I just love this job. The whole thing. Im having a fucking whale of a time. And dont forget Im not the spokesperson for the whole band, theres another 4 people with views and opinions, which makes it a beautiful band. And an annoying band he laughs.
So do you differ much then.
I hope so yeah. But on a basic human level we respect and we have a perspective that will always get us out of trouble. But we do differ, and I think thats how it should be. Otherwise it would be boring. Somedays its joyous, somedays its a nightmare. Me and Dave are at loggerheads some nights, some days were best of mates. Me and Robbie ignoring each other for three days and then were having a scream. Its human life you know, and its great. Im just trying to be honest about it, you know, cos I know everyones having a good time, bad time, shit time. And I think if you represent that, you communicate to people that way. That horrible term of our fans. What an absolutely fucking disgusting term. Our fans. As if you own them, and they are lower than yourself. They are the people who appreciate your music and dont ever fucking forget it.
And with that thought, we bring another interview to a close, and my fingers can now take a rest again from the typing. Of course since this took place, the album is out, and many of the festival dates around Europe will have been and gone. No reason for saying that, other than I couldnt think of a different end, and that seems to do it nicely. The End.
Yes, I know the pictures are nicked from the CD booklet. Its all I had!