......The Apostles were one of the more unique and uncompromising bands associated with the anarcho punk scene, heres 3 questions with Andy Martin who is now peddling his wares in UNIT, he's such a gobshite this has to strung out over 3 blogs! always confrontational, interesting and perplexing, i think he's after winding people up, or he's a fucking madman... you decide...
1: So I heard BBP is putting out all The Apostles stuff on CD's? Not that Cartography release I hope, even you must admit that was a pile of gash? It’s hard to tell whether the Apostles music has stood the test of time seeing as most of it was shit when it was released! If anything though the Apostles were unique in sound and outlook, I once saw your split LP with Statement in a shop and someone had stickered it warning people that the content was 'nazi bullshit’' and telling people not to buy it! Did you get a strong reaction like that a lot? I bet the bomb making advice on the Joys Of Living split single raised a few eyebrows in the days when pacifism was the latest punk trend?! Academy 23 were in a pretty similar vein to the Apostles but I must admit, I've not heard anything by UNIT! Have you bought a distortion pedal yet?
I was born near Glasgow in 1966. My parents moved to London when I was 5 months old. In addition to being extremely physically ugly, I was born with severe dyspraxia which means I had extremely limited limb co-ordination (the affliction is also unkindly known as ‘clumsy child syndrome’ but is inaccurate because its effects often endure well into middle age). I was expelled from school at 15 with no qualifications and, to be honest, I was barely literate or numerate. When I was 16 I realised I was also queer and, unable to tolerate such a discovery, I made an unsuccessful suicide attempt which resulted in my incarceration for nearly 2 years in Springfield psychiatric hospital. After my discharge I taught myself most of the useful subjects at which I failed miserably at school and I also became the second youngest fully qualified youth worker in Britain. All of this means I am neither a simpleton nor naive – certainly not naive enough to be provoked into the kind of defensive response I assume you sought to generate from your insulting remarks above.
There were 2 people in The Apostles who were not technically competent musicians – myself and Sean Stokes. However, most of us were genuinely from poor working class origins and therefore simply could not afford to purchase the kind of equipment possessed by most other rock groups and punk bands. (Remember that punk was a purely a phenomenon initially invented by middle class art school types and fashion designers, especially Vivian Westwood and Malcolm MacLaren. It was utterly irrelevant to people such as myself.) Also we certainly could never afford to book expensive commercial recording studios or professional record producers. This accounts partly for the often excessively amateur sound of most Apostles recordings. I admit I must shoulder much of the blame for many of the inept performances for 2 reasons: firstly, I insisted on playing guitar and drums on certain tracks occasionally because I sought to prove that I was not going to be limited by my disability, even though this meant that the pieces concerned were wrecked and became scarcely tolerable to listeners unfortunate enough to hear them! Secondly, I was deeply ashamed of and embarrassed by my parents (both of whom were total racist bigots) – to the extent that I adopted the notoriously (and obviously) fake London accent that has so often been the cause of ridicule and mirth. I also erroneously believed that nobody would take the group seriously if I sung in my own accent which in any case tended to sound more like a BBC Radio 3 announcer than Billy Conolly. I offer no defence and this temporary rejection of my own culture is an insult to Scottish people everywhere. Deek Allan of the group Oi Polloi does a far more convincing London accent than do I!
I possess not a single track by The Apostles in my CD collection – not because the lyrics or music is below standard but because the equipment we used, the performances and the production are all dire. Thus my finely crafted pop songs and the powerful rock anthems of Dave Fanning were utterly ruined. Not until UNIT (called Academy 23 at the time) released Kämpfbereit in 1996 were we or anyone else able to hear those old Apostles works performed properly, on decent equipment and with the production they deserved. We have since recorded virtually the entire Apostles back catalogue with UNIT and the extremely enthusiastic audience response utterly vindicates my original confidence in the works I composed all those years ago, despite some occasionally naive lyrics. Academy 23 bore no relation to The Apostles except that myself and Dave formed part of its personnel.
Cartography was a solo project by Dave Fanning – a collection of posters drawn, painted or created through the use of collage, accompanied by a free audio cassette which featured works written and performed by Dave alone. I am absolutely inept as an artist so I perhaps I am more easily impressed by even the slightest display of artistic skill but I really cannot think of a single one of Daves’ art posters that warrant your frankly bizarre comment. He has since been acknowledged as a highly competent artist, so much so that he has been commissioned to draw and paint works for fanzines, magazines and record covers since the early 1990s. I suggest that fact alone shoots your odious little comment down in flames.
Due to my disability I had to struggle for years in order to perform even the most basic functions – learning a sport or a musical instrument was, in theory, beyond my ability. Well, nobody (not even a doctor) is going to tell me that I shall never be able to do this or that. I was determined to be as normal as everyone else or at least come as close as possible. For that reason I remained totally celibate and avoided the company of the homosexual scene whose contents were in any case of highly dubious value. I lived the life of a normal man (except that I never slept with girls of course – probably to the immense relief of young women everywhere). I forced myself to be able to play musical instruments even if the results were hardly laudable. Therefore, when I encountered punk bands whose members (usually from wealthy families) simply couldn’t be bothered to learn how to play their instruments or sing properly, how could I respond but with withering contempt? So, when everyone and their mother fell over themselves to ridicule my attempts (as happened during the entire period The Apostles and early UNIT were in operation), I had to conclude that independent pop music in Britain was reserved strictly for wealthy, able bodied white boys (plus the occasional girl if she was pretty). Lessons I learned very quickly: rock music (including – perhaps especially – the punk scene) was not for ugly girls, queers, spastics and very poor people. That I was not a girl came as only a meagre recompense for the crap I had to endure during this time! So you see, even though mother nature, curse her, elected to make me a spastic and a freak, I never surrendered to it – I beat it! I never attended a school for disabled children and I never tick the box marked ‘disability’ on any application forms. As for being queer, listen, the only time I ever touch another man is to hit him. I’m a winner – I am a bad loser and I make no apology for it. Show me someone who claims to be a ‘good loser’ and I’ll show you someone who is simply a loser.
I also discovered that punks were the most conservative people in the world. Your own comments about our work sound just like my dad. But consider this: just because you don’t personally like the look or sound of a work of art or literature, does that automatically mean it is rubbish? I cannot stand the music of Mozart, Verdi or Wagner, for example; yet I acknowledge their technical brilliance and their supreme ability as masters of their art...just so long as I don’t have to listen to it. I loathe and detest Queen (to give another example) but I admit (albeit grudgingly) that the musical competence and technical prowess of the instrumentalists vastly exceeds our own. We were often plagued by people who criticised us for being what we were not – i.e. a punk band. ‘That’s one of the worst punk records I’ve ever heard.’ That was written in a letter to Dave Fanning about the album How Much Longer. The point this fellow missed is that nobody in The Apostles were punks. Dave lived with a bunch of festival type hippies and his favourite groups at the time were King Crimson, The Mahavishnu Orchestra and The Pop Group. Chris Low was a Class War anarchist who liked Throbbing Gristle and Joy Division. Sean Stokes was a mod who liked The Who, The Small Faces and The Jam. Colin Murrell was a wonderfully artistic weirdo who liked Psychic TV, The Shock Headed Peters and avant garde classical music. I dressed like a cross between a mod and a skinhead and I listened to The Lemon Kittens, Twelve Cubic Feet, The Pop Group and Five Or Six. Are these punk credentials? Hardly! To criticise The Apostles because their punk rock was abysmal is the same as to criticise Metallica because their reggae is rubbish.
However, in a belated attempt to be fair and reasonable (two words not normally associated with my name), I admit that there were 2 punk bands who did contain musicians whose technical ability was impressive – but then why did they waste their formidable skills on such a ridiculous style of music? Anyway, for the record, the groups in question are The Subhumans from England and Artless from America. I also have considerable respect for Oi Polloi even though I really can’t listen to most of their music.
Finally: no, I have not bought myself a distortion pedal yet. Why would I even want one? I’m a singer (not a very good one, true) who also plays the saxophone and the drums. What possible use is a distortion pedal to me? That said, playing a saxophone through a distortion pedal might be quite interesting. I believe UJ (the leader of UNIT who plays flute, guitar and bass guitar on all our recent recordings) possess a distortion pedal or at least some sort of effects box but I don’t really know what it does. Effects pedals have never really interested me very much. If your music is of sufficient quality then such exotic gismos should hardly be necessary.
As for UNIT, if you send me an address, I am perfectly willing to send you one or two of our recent albums although since you appear to be a fan of punk rock, you’ll probably not find it particularly interesting unless you are that extremely rare breed of punk fan, i.e. a person with an open mind who is willing to investigate music, art or literature that does not conform to the rules.
2: The whole anarcho scene which you were, like it or not, associated with seemed a bit on the doom and gloom side; was it a good laugh really though? Most of the crusty doom and gloom bands I've known who have the most right on lyrics are actually just pissheads who sing the politics but do nothing else; looking back, do you think most of the early 80's anarcho bands were just paying lip service because it was the acceptable thing to do, following the crass ethos but sneaking the odd burger when no one was looking? Do you still keep in touch with any of the old timers from back then? Any good gossip on anyone? How come you always get associated with the anarcho punk scene but hardly any of your music was what you would call 'punk' in the first place? ....
Punks usually want everyone in the world to be just like them. They want safe music with safe sentiments expressed in all the right places. I can still remember that ridiculous ‘Crass Versus Exploited’ farrago (both bands were crap but I’d rather listen to an hour of The Exploited than a minute of Crass). This was really nothing more than a case of ‘my dad can beat up your dad’. It was the school playground all over again – whose gang are you in? It happened again in the 1990s with ‘Blur Versus Oasis’. (In case you wonder, yes, I was in the Oasis camp.) I was deeply shocked recently to discover that there are actually people younger than I am who call themselves punks and they idolise bands from the 1980s. At early Apostles concerts we had an Indian guitarist, John Soares (now John Travis, a highly successful record producer in America) and I’ve lost count of the number of times we endured racial abuse not only from skinheads but from people dressed as punks, usually with Crass symbols painted on their silly little jackets.
What’s relevant here is that this absurd antagonism between one bunch of mindless pop-stars and another was merely an artifice of the media contrived to create tension and excitement among fans of both groups. It was designed to increase interest in their work and thus motivate more people to purchase their records. Well, in the same manner, a similar device was employed to promote a belief in the antagonism between Crass and The Exploited only this time it was fuelled by the fans themselves. The reality was dramatically different. Wattie Buchan, the singer of The Exploited, was befriended by an American performance artist called Annie Anxiety who was also a close friend of members of Crass. Buchan visited Dial House where most of Crass lived and no doubt had tea together in a highly civilised fashion. At one of the concerts we organised in the Centro Iberico in 1983, Buchan arrived together with Ms Anxiety herself – all these grotty little anarcho-punk bands were making their usual feeble racket on the stage but in the washroom, there was Buchan backed into a corner – literally – surrounded by five or six rabid Crass fans, all giving it laldy with self righteous indignation. The poor fellow had paid his £1 to see these bands and suddenly he’s mobbed by a bunch of arseholes trying to give him grief because his band are singing from a different hymn sheet to that espoused by their black clad heroes from Epping. The irony is that Crass themselves would definitely have been disgusted by such antics and would never have condoned such behaviour by people, especially not in their name..
How could any of that have been a good laugh? Although I remained on the periphery of all that nonsense, most of the punks I encountered were miserable, depressing, grim and lamentable bastards who were generally as happy as a hospice and as merry as a morgue. I do recall one chap from Newcastle, Trev Howarth, who produced a fanzine called Have A Good Laugh which (shock horror) usually was indeed a good laugh. Sadly, he was very much in the minority. He also received far more abuse and insults than he deserved – proof that most punks have no sense of humour at all. Note: Trev made no secret of the fact that he loathed and detested the music of The Apostles and UNIT but that didn’t stop him interviewing me in a fair, interesting and entertaining manner for an issue of his magazine. There was another excellent magazine called Kill Your Pet Puppy created by a highly intelligent, articulate and delightfully annoying group of people who tried valiantly to challenge the extreme conservatism of the punk scene but again, they were very much the exception to the rule. Interestingly, these people were equally scathing in their criticisms of both the anarcho-punks represented by their black clad gods Crass and the numbskull Oi brigade represented by groups like The Exploited. They supported groups such as The Mob, Blood & Roses, Hagar The Womb and Flowers In The Dustbin, none of whom I would insult by calling them ‘punk bands’. Indeed, Hagar The Womb were rarely taken seriously by the majority of the punk scene because most of them were young women. Where’s the good laugh in that then?
In the early 1980s there was a massive all day event organised by Crass, Conflict, The Mob and various others in which we squatted an abandoned concert venue called the Zigzag Club in west London. We lent our assistance (at the request of Andy Palmer of Crass) so this was the one occasion where Crass and The Apostles actually worked together (this unlikely and frankly bizarre situation must be like Alex Jones inviting Condoleeza Rice out to a restaurant). Anyway, all the big names were there – Cornflaked, Flux Of Punk Idiots and so on. During the early evening, 5 skinheads entered the building – yes, just 5 fascist thugs. How many anarcho-pacifist punk rockers were in that gigantic hall at the time? It was estimated to be between 500 and 600. These skinheads literally shoved their way to the front of the stage and then, predictably, there was some kind of commotion. I am notoriously near sighted so I was unable to see what was happening but Dave Fanning realised that these 5 insults to evolution had surrounded a young Asian lad and were giving him grief. Do you find that offensive? Yes, so do I – but not nearly as offensive as the fact that all the anarcho-pacifist punk rockers who surrounded these skinheads actually backed away and formed a little circle around the fracas – not a single one of those disgusting little cowards attempted to go to the assistance of that young Asian lad – not one of them lifted a paltry finger to help him out. Dave, to his eternal credit, joined me as we boldly marched towards these thugs – please bear in mind that this was over 4 years before either of us took up karate. When we reached the scene of the incident, we saw Colin Jerwood of Conflict plus a couple of other stalwart chaps grab hold of these skinhead thugs and eject them from the building. This is probably just as well since I’m not sure exactly what either myself or Dave could actually have done about the dreadful situation in the absence of their timely intervention. Now, where was the political commitment of all these punks? It was hiding on the floor until someone else had dealt with the matter. These are the same kind of people who continually criticised, ridiculed and insulted The Apostles for nearly 8 years. Where’s the good laugh in that then?
Besides, most political protest music is futile anyway. Rock music does not frighten governments – it is violence and lots of it that makes those bastards sit up and listen to what we have to say. That’s why punks, pacifists and protest singers like Billy Bragg are tolerated with such indulgence by the media bag – because they do not threaten the status quo; they will never arouse any revolutionary fervour among the people likely to challenge the hegemony of the State. My favourite groups are The Red Army Faction and The Angry Brigade because they played the only kind of music the State ever noticed. It is they who managed to slam American foreign policy and its acceptance by European governments onto the table of parliamentary debate, for example, and they achieved that through force of arms, just like those feudal lords in the 12th century. It’s unfortunately the only language governments understand and respect because it’s the only language they have used against us since 1066.
Do I keep in touch with any of the people from that ridiculous punk scene? Och, come on, pal, you have to be joking! When I left The Apostles in 1989 I severed what few tenuous links I had with that abysmal scene, bought myself a shell suit and joined the rave crowd – which doesn’t say much for either my intelligence or credibility, admittedly, but nobody is perfect. No, I certainly do not – but then was I ever really ‘in touch’ with them initially? Not really; most of them wrote to Dave or Chris Wiltshire (the drummer who replaced Chris Low) rather than myself. The Apostles was really Daves’ band anyway. Certainly he contributed more time, energy, money and effort into it than did I. No, Andy Nunn (the Birmingham poet with whom I have remained in contact since 1987) has occasionally sent me excerpts from a couple of ‘punk’ websites where these tired old middle aged punks are arguing about who supported whom at The Moonlight Club in 1983. They dig up old grievances or, worse still, loll about in a nostalgic stupor as they reveal that really they want it to be 1984 again when their insipid little lives appeared to mean something. Dear God, why would I ever want to concern myself with such sad and wretched creeps? It’s 2010 and we’re here to go. I don’t think it is a coincidence that nearly everyone with whom I now mix is under 30 years old. That most of them are also Chinese or Vietnamese may or may not be relevant.
This next part of your question is actually mildly insulting. Do you really think it likely that I would indulge in or even be remotely concerned with gossip of any kind? Behave yourself! Oh, I could type a few facts and figures about this or that person but what would be the point, especially since I am hardly beyond criticism myself? Remember also that I never really knew most of the people involved so any opinion I did venture would probably be of dubious merit.
As for the final part of your question: at last – an intelligent observation or at least one to which I can respond with some enthusiasm. This is actually a fair comment since it does seem odd at first. I believe the association was generated because I was a member of Class War and on friendly terms with the London Autonomists and Little @ Press (an anarchist printers where myself and Dave worked for a while). I also knew Ian Slaughter of Pigs For Slaughter magazine; this was a revolutionary anarchist publication that had nothing to do with either music or punk rock. However, because the punks adopted anarchism as their chosen slogan for a while, because Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were trying to decide which part of the world to carve up next and we lived in the shadow of possible nuclear annihilation, because the independent music scene in Britain was very small in the 1980s (compared to the vast, deeply fragmented scene we have today) and, perhaps most pertinently, because we released our own records, it was unfortunately inevitable that we would come to be regarded as being associated with the punk scene. This did us no favours at all, of course but we had no control over who attended our concerts or purchased our records. Also, because much of the playing on our early recordings was so amateur and inept, perhaps we sounded more ‘punk’ than we actually were.
Note: while I accept that Thatcher ultimately became an odious despot, initially she was elected at just the right time for Britain. She was the first politician with sufficient courage and strength to confront the Marxist leaders who infected our unions and crush them utterly – for that she deserves credit. Britain was subjected to daily power cuts (the electrical workers were on strike), the streets were piled high with rubbish and refuse (the garbage men were on strike) and the army were required to take to the streets to douse fires (the firemen were on strike). Thatcher gave these bastards the bashing they so richly deserved and rescued the nation from the clutches of these sick socialist scum-bags. It was also her government that abolished the repugnant and utterly barbaric practise of corporal punishment in our schools in 1986. Unfortunately, after that, it all went pear shaped and she lost the plot entirely. The rest is history and if she dies alone and in agony, my sympathy is liable to be distinctly muted.
3: Looking back over your recorded output, you put so much of your inner workings out there that it seems almost everything you ever thought is documented, contradictory to itself at times, so much of you is laid open and brutally honest that you’re bound to leave yourself open to criticism, so here it is: you come across like a right miserable cunt! Apart from Roman Polanski all tied up in string what are your favourite things? I hear from a reliable source that you’re a film buff? What films that may have slipped under the radar are worth tracking down? What do you make of this 3D trend, you buying into it? If the only films that people will watch are 3D and £200,000,000 to make that’s a sad state of affairs for independent film production, isn’t it? ....
Yes, I accept that over the years I have attempted to confront what I regard as the sins and iniquities of the world in a huge swathe of articles and essays that probably make me appear thoroughly unapproachable – or at least not the first choice of partner for a rave or a good night out. However, throughout the 1990s I also wrote an even larger series of articles and essays on science and history, all of which were published in Smile magazine. Actually it was my desire to have an enjoyable time, celebrate parties and have a good laugh that motivated me to enter the rave scene with such enthusiasm, at least initially until the gangsters took it over and it all became a chemical parade. The Roman Polanski quote is actually from a song by Jess Hopkins of The Iron Brotherhood (a power electronics outfit from Edinburgh). I wrote lyrics that were about what happened to me, about what happened to people I knew and about the state of the nation at the time. I was never restricted by politics – thus I was able to promote ideas with which other people sympathised but were too cowardly to state openly. Because I have never been a socialist – indeed I am known for being a supporter of Rock Against Communism during the 1990s – I was never obliged to be governed by any of the odious tenets of political correctness that now currently afflict our nation. This disgusting concoction of socialist garbage was formulated during the latter half of the 1980s and I predicted that it was too preposterous ever to be taken seriously by anyone outside a few loony left wing councils – how wrong I was!
If you believe I exaggerate then consider this. I worked at Elizabeth House Youth Club in north London for nearly a year but I was eventually sacked. Why? Part of their ‘educational programme’ was to hold a series of debates once a week to encourage young teenagers to confront prejudice and bigotry. Well, that sounds grand, doesn’t it? Just a moment, though, there’s a catch. We were informed by the management that there were certain beliefs and ideas it was our duty to teach these adolescents. (What didn’t help is that I was still a teenager myself at this time.) One of the concepts we were told to promote was that homosexuality was a ‘natural and normal’ aspect of human existence and therefore we should not be prejudiced or bigoted against faggots – sorry, I mean gays. What about people who genuinely believe that homosexuality is neither normal nor natural? All right, I accept it is ‘natural’ in the same manner that cancer or mental illness is natural but it still merits research into finding a cure for it. How could I teach young teenagers that homosexuality was ‘normal’ when I emphatically believed it was nothing of the sort? I was thus being encouraged to lie to young people in order to promote a political ideal. I refused – I simply refused to do it. Because of that, I was sacked from the youth club. I explained to the youth workers that being queer myself I also would welcome any medical research that led to its cure so people with my affliction would not need to suffer the same misery with which I had become acquainted. Their response was surreal – they actually had the audacity to tell me I ought to be ‘proud’ to be gay. Oh splendid – so if I am afflicted with muscular dystrophy I should be proud to be confined to a wheelchair. Note that not one of these trendy left wing rat-bags was homosexual themselves.
Look, this attempt to impose limits on what words we are allowed to use and what beliefs we are permitted to promote is a device invented by the arbiters of political correctness. Now the concept of political correctness was created by socialists; I am not a socialist. On the contrary, I have never made any secret of my intense opposition to Marxism in all its forms. Therefore I am not obliged to be governed by any of the absurd tenets of political correctness. In any case, I ceased to concern myself many years ago with the opinion other people hold of me. Based on the amount of people I have so far encountered, it really looks as if the majority of human beings in the world are utter scum anyway. We know about all the wealthy heads of multinational companies, the kind of people featured in Fortune 500; you hardly require me to explain why they deserve to be placed in death camps. The aristocracy are beyond contempt. Their only possible use to society would be either if their bodies were donated to medical research or used as fertilizer, preferably the latter. Concerning the working class, in Britain they voted for Thatcher once – fair enough, that was entirely understandable after the way the nation had been held to ransom by Marxist led unions for nearly 2 decades. Then they voted for her again; that was astonishing. Then they voted for her a third time; that was simply incredible. In 1997 they voted for Blair – that did shock me since it was perfectly obvious to me what an odious little despot that upper class twit would be, given the opportunity. Well, the dim witted working class afforded him that opportunity and now the rest of us had to suffer for it. Then they voted for him a second time – for reasons known only to God or at least to decent psychiatrists. Then they actually voted for him a third time – by then even God himself must have given up and finally had to admit defeat. ‘Yea, verily I have created a race of people who genuinely enjoy being trodden on, abused, bullied, robbed, cheated, lied to and kicked up the arse.’ I mean, how was that possible? How was it possible for a nation to vote in a government led by an upper class religious crackpot who had already made their lives miserable for 8 years? What the bloody hell was going through the tiny, despicable, fetid little minds of the British public when they entered their voting booths?
Ah yes but no matter to what obscene levels of depravity certain elements of humanity may descend, there is always Ludwig Van Beethoven; there is always Johann Von Goethe; there is always William Shakespeare; there is always Bertrand Russell; there is always Jacob Bronowski. In Nazi Germany during world war two there were ordinary Germans helping to smuggle Jewish families out of the country. Amid the disgusting horrors of the apartheid system imposed on the invaded people of Palestine, there are Jewish peace protestors opposed to the brutality of their own government. On the other hand, at the risk of sounding like a whinging wet liberal, I do acknowledge that it wasn’t a nigger, a Chink, a Paki, an Eskimo or a Red Indian who invented the atom bomb, the hydrogen bomb, anthrax or McDonalds for that matter. There may be many poor black people involved in drug related gang battles in America and England but it is hardly ever black people who bring those drugs into the country initially. When the Chinese invented gunpowder, they used it to make fireworks – it took the Europeans to adapt it for use as a weapon of mass destruction. However, I refuse to accept one iota of responsibility for what obscenities the governments of white people have perpetrated in my name. I never locked a Jap in a camp. I never gassed a single Jew. I never made a black person a slave. I never invaded another country. My conscience is clear and no snivelling socialist is going to tell me I must feel guilty because of the colour of my skin.
No, political correctness is merely a pernicious form of mind control created by Marxists to stop intelligent people thinking for themselves. Who the hell are these wretched little socialists to dare to tell us what we may say, do or think? Anyway, it doesn’t solve the problem. If political correctness is made compulsory then that simply means you have all these rabid racists going underground; they’ll just invent codes to preserve their right to be as insulting and obnoxious as possible. It doesn’t prevent people possessing the desire to be racist. I don’t want to deliberately cause suffering to another human being on the basis of his or her ethnic origin. On the contrary, I want to avoid doing so where possible. In any case, what is a prejudice exhibited in another person but a point of view not our own? Of course, you might argue that prejudice is the triumph of blind feeling over reasoned consideration. But let’s consider our local chav, Wayne. Now if Wayne is a racist then making it illegal for him to use the word ‘nigger’ will not stop him being a racist. What is required is a course of action that makes it undesirable for him to want to be racist – and I don’t mean that we employ a group of Pakistanis to club him over the head every time he uses a racist word. That doesn’t stop him being racist – if anything it will merely strengthen his resolve to hate anyone who isn’t white. If you want Wayne to cease being racially prejudiced then you need to discover what motivates his racial prejudice and address that. Besides, human beings are naturally racist. I don’t say that’s desirable – on the contrary, I find myself unable to invent a single useful function served by racism. Besides, I suspect it has outlived any purpose it may once have served – merely that it is an aspect of our genetic heritage. It originates from the time when we were suspicious of neighbouring tribes who constituted a threat – maybe they were after our food supplies or our hunting grounds.
It is deeply offensive to try to force people to adopt a uniform belief system, especially when it is propagated by a government responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of innocent dark skinned people in the Middle East. We have to ignore the policy of political correctness expounded by New Labour; that has nothing to do with any attempt to challenge racism. On the contrary it is actually racist, only this time against white people. Actually, it’s racist against non-white people as well because it implies they are incapable of representing themselves without the intervention of a bunch of middle class, public school prigs who sit in the House of Commons and try to impose their obscene values upon ordinary, decent people. Blair desired an increase in immigrants, particularly from eastern Europe, first as a source of cheap labour and second to artificially inflate property prices. However, because Blairs’ mob seek to portray all Muslims as potential terrorists in order to legitimise their intended policy of anti-terrorism laws, they have to disguise the inherent racism in that policy by exaggerating their pretence at being dedicated to a multicultural society. This multicultural society simply means New Labour have access to people of all races who are willing to work in substandard conditions for less wages than they deserve. Their intended imposition of anti-terrorist laws is merely a cynical excuse to erode what few freedoms the British people have managed to retain. The election manifesto of New Labour is nothing but a withered garland of mawkish pap.
That’s why the British National Party needn’t worry about the immigration problem; before long, Britain will be such an unpleasant place to live that the majority of them will return to their own countries anyway, along with thousands of British people who seek to escape from the squalid arbiter of misery this nation has become. This New Labour government is an exemplar of control, a control that is itself controlled by its virtually psychotic need to exercise that control over the rest of us. These bastards so are so desperately obsessed with the acquisition of the power to control every aspect of the lives of ordinary people that they’d bring the nation to its knees rather than relinquish one iota of that power. Why do they do it? I mean, seriously, what motivates all this dreadful behaviour by people like George Bush and Tony Blair? Is it because they need power? Well, surely not – have they not proved already that they have access to more power than any sane, rational person could ever use? Is it because they need money? Again, surely not – have they not revealed already that they possess access to more money than any normal human being would ever need even in 3 lifetimes? So what reason can they possibly have to be such arrant bullies? Why do they continually inflict this incessant parade of oppressive laws against us? Because they’re a bunch of bastards, that’s why. It’s as pure and as simple as that. They are complete bastards. They are cowards, bullies and utter blackguards. Nine men in ten are contemptible; the management of men which we call politics is a contemptible business. You see, men have two contradictory desires: one is for freedom, the other is for order and security. They would appear to be mutually exclusive.
Where I work I come into contact with all manner of different people on a regular basis. Surely you’d think I’d encounter at least one person brave enough to admit they once voted for Blair – but so far I’ve never encountered a single person who has done so. The British public are generally thick, stupid, greedy and selfish. So why the hell should I care what they think of me? If the law of posse cometatus still existed today, I bet you’d find plenty of willing participants who’d require no coercion to hunt down innocent people whose only crime was to defend the rights and freedoms of decent people. I find the same niggardly mentality among Radio 4 land, these wretched oh so respectable ordinary British people who claim not to be racist but they’d rather not have their sons and daughters marrying black people; they tend to be slightly less intolerant of Asians because of course they’re good at making money and they know how to grovel to their white masters. Those darkies, on the hand, the West Indians in particularly, have never learnt how to grovel to whitey so they’re never going to be socially acceptable among respectable middle England. Christ, 93% of the world population is comprised of black, Asian and Oriental people so, naturally, 93% of the world resources ought to be owned by those same people – but is that in fact the case? Is it hell! No, we find whitey in possession of the lions’ share of the oil, the land and the water. Do either of you recall an album by Public Enemy that came out in the 1990s called Fear Of A Black Planet? What an absolutely superb title for an album!
Anyway, I was sufficiently perspicacious to appreciate that if I was completely open and honest about who I was and what I did (fake accent aside) then it would be impossible for anyone to subject me to blackmail. I wrote works that I wanted other groups to create only they never did. Where were the pieces in 5/4 or 7/4? Where were the ballads about real people who achieved magnificence? Where were the fast, heavy rock instrumentals? Where were the songs about science and discovery? Where were the anthems that celebrated working class culture? You see, when we encounter the lyrics of (for instance) Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand or even Radiohead, there’s really no emotional substance there; they could have been written by a computer programme. So much contemporary pop music is outrageously predictable and conservative. Why add to that atrocious bilge with more of the same crap? Also, because I am not governed by political correctness I am able to have tracks by Ice T, NWA, Ornette Coleman and Skrewdriver in my CD collection without any concern for contradiction or hypocrisy.
Now let’s move onto your observation concerning the modern film industry. My God, you’ve actually expressed a sentiment with which I agree! Yes, this current obsession with the 3D fashion and the penchant for American films that cost enough money to pay off the national debt of Zambia does exhibit a sad indictment of not only the film industry but also the state of audiences around the world. Actually, it is related to a trend that became apparent in the British television industry during the 1990s. Style was favoured over content; it was assumed nobody possessed an attention span greater than 3 minutes. Linear editing became de rigueur for most programmes and suddenly, decent intelligent scripts were no longer a natural prerequisite for a programme; the special effects budgets frequently exceeded that allotted to directors and set designers. Television companies had to contend with the internet for the attention of the public. In Britain there was a period (approximately 1960 to 1980) known as the ‘golden age of television’ when producers took risks, where writers and directors experimented and the public were assumed to possess at least a bare modicum of intelligence. Corporate control of all the television networks gradually eroded this situation until by the end of the century, I was obliged to hurl my television down the stairs (literally) in disgust and I have not owned a set since 2002.
American cinema has always possessed a difficult (and ultimately unfeasible) relationship between creativity and financial incentives. The corporate concerns involved in the finance of films dictate their content. Thus when you see an American action film, you know there will be a young male hero who will not die; you know there will be an attractive young woman who will form a relationship with this dude and at least kiss him well before the final reel. She also will survive but only after being rescued from peril by the male hero. There will be a massive fight or series of explosions near the end of the film – always. What happens when the Hollywooden industry tries to go all cultural and sensitive? Disaster, that’s what! It’s not always the fault of the directors or actors, either – although they must be prepared to accept at least some of the blame for their participation in the sodden morass of mawkish pap that constitutes 90% of American films. Admittedly I enjoyed the Aliens trilogy and Jurassic Park but as I said earlier, nobody is perfect.
I am not a total snob. Among my absolute favourite films are the Peter Jackson directed The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and all 6 of the Harry Potter films released so far. However, I assume you don’t simply want me to list all my favourite films without at least some form of qualification so I’ll provide reasons for my choices.
15 – Royston Tan. This is a film made in Singapore by a young Chinese director plus scenes created by some of the teenage participants in the story. I call them ‘participants’ rather than actors because the film is concerned with the lives and exploits of a group of 15 year old boys from the poorest part of Singapore, all of whom are Triad gang members. Most of the events and incidents depicted in the story actually happened. Both Luc and UJ have seen this film and been deeply disturbed and affected by it. It is currently available on DVD and if you only watch one film out of all these I list, please make it this one.
The Offence – Sidney Lumet. America produced this British made film and Lumet is one of the few American directors I genuinely respect and admire. This intense and deeply disturbing study of mob mentality, police brutality and paedophilia remains one of the most powerful films ever made and it also boasts absolutely superlative performances from Sean Connery as the tortured police sergeant and Ian Bannen as the prime suspect. I can also recommend 3 other superb films he directed: 12 Angry Men (with Henry Fonda), The Hill(with Sean Connery, Ian Bannen and Harry Andrews) andEquus (with Richard Burton and Harry Andrews).
Men Behind The Sun – Mou Tun Fei. I worked in Hackney Chinese Community Centre from 1998 until 2006. I met so many elderly people who still retained a deep suspicion of or even an actual hatred for the Japanese, even though most of them realised such a response was inappropriate at the end of the 20th century, that I became intensely curious. At school we learnt in history lessons about what was done to the 6 million Jews in the concentration camps at Belsen, Dachau and Auschwitz. Nobody ever taught us what happened to the 2 million Chinese, Korean and Russian prisoners who were held in the Japanese concentration camp run by the Manchu 731 squadron led by Lieutenant Colonel Ishii at Ha Bin in north east China. This film tells the story complete with factual accounts and statistics. Note: Ishii was captured by American troops after the war but the military high command elected to do a deal with him – if he agreed to hand over to them all the results of his experiments on human guinea pigs conducted during the 2 years the camp operated, they’d allow him to go free – and that is precisely what happened. Ishii was the Japanese equivalent of Heinrich Himmler.
The Quatermass Experiment, Quatermass 2, Quatermass & The Pit and Quatermass – Nigel Kneal (writer). These 4 superb films represent how science fiction should be filmed – hardly special effects to interfere with the narrative but instead excellent stories, superior scripts, high quality acting and diligent attention to scientific accuracy.
Tiger Cage – Yuen Woo Ping. I complained earlier about the thoroughly predictable nature of American (and British) action films. This 1988 story from Hong Kong (which features Cheung Hok Yau, Yen Chi Tan and Yam Tat Wah) provides a superb example of why I embraced south east Asian cinema in the early 1990s and remained an ardent enthusiast ever since. Cheung Hok Yau (better known in the west as Jackie Cheung) and Yam Tat Wah (Simon Yam) may be known to some readers for their roles in the Ng Woo Sum film Bullet In The Head while Yen Chi Tan (Donny Yen) has become fairly well known for his martial arts epics.
Hajime No Ippo – Joji Morikawa (writer) & Satoshi Nishimura (director). This refers to the Japanese television series now available no DVD, not the inferior cinema version. This magnificent anime is the perfect introduction to anyone not yet familiar with this curiously attractive Japanese cultural phenomenon. Some of the music featured is by Shocking Lemon, the best Japanese rock group ever and anyone who disagrees with me is simply wrong!
Scum – Roy Minton (writer) & Alan Clarke (director). Alan Clarke is my favourite television director. He made very few cinema films but no matter. Scum exists in 2 forms: an earlier television release and a later cinema version. I can thoroughly recommend both as each one, though slightly different, contains features that combined comprise a powerful indictment of the brutality of borstals, i.e. penal establishments for teenage boys that are a typically British invention. The British government actually banned the television version so you know it must merit your attention.
Battle Royale 1 & 2 – Kinji Fukasaku. These remain not only my favourite Japanese films but also rank among the top five greatest films I have ever seen. I assume most readers are sufficiently familiar with them for any further comment by me to be superfluous.
Young & Dangerous – Benny Chan. This trilogy of films from Hong Kong that follow the trials and tribulations of young Triad gang is glorious violent nonsense that still manages to convey some interesting social commentaries. For once the Triad members are not portrayed as mindless, evil thugs. Note: many of my Chinese friends are or were members of the 14K, probably the most ubiquitous Triad gang in London. In Manchester and Birmingham it tends to be the Wo Sing Wo who are in charge. They gave me somewhere to live and supported me when I was in trouble. This is a level of support and friendship I never received from anyone in the bloody punk scene.
What are my other favourite things then?
Easily the most important of these is the company of UJ, Luc Tran and Wong Yin Kit, the other members of UNIT. In response to an earlier remark you made about people who want to believe I am a Nazi – well, I invite such critics to ask these young Chinese lads whether or not they consider me to be a Nazi. You can contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also review our work on our website www.unit-united.co.uk....
. We have just finished our 14th album, Facta Non Verba. Note: UNIT is most emphatically not ‘my group’. Indeed on some of our albums I only appear on barely half the tracks. It is run by UJ and without his presence the group simply could not continue to function. Nobody else in the world creates music like us – at least nobody I have yet encountered. I can think of no other group who record and release pure pop songs, progressive rock, avant garde jazz and free improvisation all as integral aspects of their work. Come to think of it, how many pop groups outside China feature mainly Chinese members?....
I must also mention the companionship, kindness and support of Malcolm ‘Scruff’ Lewty, Andy Nunn and Fabien Fritze, all of whom stood by me with friendship and solidarity when everyone else and their mother fell over themselves to try to make my life a misery during the late 1980s. They are among the very few genuinely intelligent and liberated creative individuals it has ever been my pleasure to meet. These 3 stalwart souls are definitely among my favourite things.
Almost of equal importance to me is intellectual discourse on any subject where that discourse is not inhibited by political correctness or other Marxist bilge. I learnt politics and history from intelligent people who, abetted by their erudition, were sufficiently free from the restrictions of political doctrine, were free to explore every and any possibility. Marxists don’t encourage intellectual discourse unless it results in the defence and promotion of Marxism.
Mind you, while we are plagued with the loony left here in the Brutish Isles, you poor sods in Yankeeland are inflicted with an even worse curse: fundamental Christian God botherers. Such scum simply should not exist in a world that has discovered penicillin. The next time some rabid evangelist accosts you in the street to tell you the Good News that JESUS Is ALIVE etc, tell him that you are disgusted by the slave trade so therefore you are equally disgusted by such a repugnant defender of slavery as Christianity. In Romans, Chapter 13, it tells us that every soul must be subject to higher powers and, worse still,‘the powers that be are ordained by God’ and that whoever opposes or challenges such powers ‘resists the ordinance of God and they who resist shall receive to themselves damnation’. There’s another disgusting sentiment inColossians, Chapter 3, which states ‘servants, obey your masters in all things according to the flesh’ and so on. The same risible phrase appears in Chapter 6 of Ephesians. Worse still is the statement in Chapter 21 of Exodus which baldly announces ‘exhort servants to be obedient to their own masters and to please them well in all things’. Oh and there’s a really offensive one in Chapter 2 of Peter: ‘submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lords sake, whether it be to the king, as supreme, or to governors.’ Even if your masters are complete bastards you’re supposed to obey them. Later in the same chapter of the same book, Peter states ‘servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle but also to the forward’. That was the device used by the landbergers of Austria to enslave the Swiss during their occupation of that country in the middle ages and it was no doubt dredged up again by every tin pot despot in feudal Britain.
I also enjoy the company of people who light up cigarettes in pubs, bars, snooker halls and betting shops because every time these people light up, they strike a match for freedom from political correctness and the disgusting tenets of national socialist Britain. I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t take drugs but most of my pals do – because I find these straight edge types are generally such boring, tedious, self righteous sons of bitches – they’re just like religious crackpots or the KKK. Everyone in the world has the right to alter their state of consciousness by whatever means they choose and no government anywhere in the world has the right to deny us that freedom.
The Japanese groups Shocking Lemon, The Asian Kung Fu Generation, Ellegarden, Special Others and the mightySiam Shade all deserve to have their names appear on your site because people should investigate them if they have any interest in contemporary Japanese rock. That said, anyone who tries to track down Shocking Lemon records (all now deleted even though they were only released between 1998 and 2007) will encounter a severe problem. They hardly ever turn up on amazon, gemm or e-bay. I obtained my discs from one of our fans in Osaka shortly before they were all sold out. I think there are a few tracks available to download although I don’t have the addresses. I also have a sneaking regard for the American groups Blink 182 and Yellowcard but not their more punky offerings. If anyone is unable to find any tracks by these Japanese bands and wants a selection of their works, send me a CDR and I’ll do the business for you. I am unable to upload the tracks via the internet because I am not sufficiently adept with the technology. However, if you do this and enjoy some of the music then I urge you to purchase the CDs if you can since while it is perfectly acceptable (or perhaps even desirable) to deny huge profits to record companies, it is not permissible to deny a basic income to the musicians concerned.
Manowar – the only heavy metal group for whom I have any time or respect. Oasis – for a brief period the best British pop group of the 1990s – but for the love of God, unless you enjoy vomiting, ignore everything they did after 1997! A special shout out must be awarded to Jin Au Yeung, the Chinese American rap artist who gave a voice to Chinese youth in America. LMF– the only genuine counter-culture rap outfit to come out of Hong Kong. They are defunct now unfortunately but their 2 albums are well worth checking out. Gentle Giant – they were the greatest progressive rock group that ever existed. I have every track they ever recorded and if you listen to any of their tracks you will realise why I refuse to regard punk rock with anything other than complete contempt. Deus Ex Machina – the best contemporary progressive rock group in the world – they’re Italian and they prove that quality rock music didn’t end when Kurt Cobain shot himself.
Cricket – both playing it and listening to commentary on test matches on the radio. Americans often claim to find cricket a mystery. Look, everyone finds cricket a mystery, including the people who play it. It has to be the most daft and absurd sport ever invented – that’s why it’s so wonderful. Baseball is cool, I do enjoy that, but most of its rules are logical – they make sense. Only cricket is able to breach the constrictions of logic and sense so that everyone is able to indulge in 4 days of utter nonsense, be paid for it and give its audience a thoroughly entertaining time. As part of my committed attempt to confront my disability I forced myself to endure cricket practise on a regular basis throughout the 1980s until I was able to bowl an accurate line and length and also catch the ball from any direction. I became a reasonable spin bowler and a creditable fielder. I joined the Bangla Boys Club in 2002 (a local cricket team where I live; it was comprised mainly of young Bangladeshi lads) and in 2006 I was awarded a trophy for the highest number of wickets taken in a season. That trophy sits on my shelf and remains the only award I have ever received. Alas, I never achieved any ability with the bat whatsoever. There are only 11 batsmen in a cricket team and the worst batsman usually plays at position No.11. Well, if there was a position No.15 in the batting order, that’s where I’d play.
Resonance – the greatest radio station in the world – and not just because it was the first (and for a while the only) radio station to feature tracks by UNIT on many of its programmes. Although it broadcasts locally on 104.4 FM it is available to hear on-line at www.resonancefm.com....
. People featured on Resonance since we first discovered it in 2004: Penny Rimbaud, Jello Biafra, Boyd Rice, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Ward Churchill, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now), David Barsamian (Alternative Radio) and Ian Bone of Class War. There’s also a magnificent radio presenter called Rob Simone who presents one of the most thoroughly entertaining and interesting programmes (called Headroom in the UK) I’ve ever heard. His show, though broadcast from Los Angeles, is syndicated to Resonance and it is the only programme broadcast by Resonance that every member of UNIT enjoys. I urge readers to check out his website: www.robsimone.com....
As for literature, well, I mainly read science fiction (Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov and John Wyndham in particular), the prose of Frank Key and the novels of the Scottish writer Angus MacVicar. I have The Lord Of The Rings and all the Harry Potter novels because not only am I a nerd, a geek and a sad anorak but I don’t even have the decency to be ashamed of it. I also enjoy The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer and theMetamorphoses by Ovid. I also read anything and everything by Richard Dawkins, the most important scientist in the world today.
The best 2 television documentary series ever made areCosmos by Carl Sagan (and its related book) from America and The Ascent Of Man by Jacob Bronowski (and its related book) from Britain although Bronowski was originally a Polish Jewish refugee who came to England during the war.
I possess a huge collection of DVDs, mainly of television series and serials from the 1960s and 1970s, the best of which are I Claudius, The Caesars, The 6 Wives Of Henry VIII, The Sweeney, Grange Hill, Blakes 7, Survivors and (of course)Doctor Who – and in case any Whovians out there want to know – yes I much prefer the contemporary version of the show to the classic series. I know Tom Baker was big in America and everyone loves his quirky eccentricity but David Tennant is the best Doctor Who ever – deal with it!
The Sky At Night is a monthly British television programme on Astronomy and space research. The first edition of this programme was aired in April 1957. IT IS STILL BEING BROADCAST EACH MONTH WITH THE SAME THEME MUSIC AND THE SAME PRESENTER: PATRICK MOORE. It is in the Guinness Book Of World Records twice for being the longest continuously running television programme in the world and for being the longest continuously running television programme in the world with the same presenter. I first saw this programme in 1969 and that was what inspired me to study astronomy assiduously ever since. Patrick Moore is now 87 and has no intention of retiring. He is one of the very few people still living who met Orville Wright, one of the American brothers who made the very first manned flight in an aircraft in 1903. He also played the piano for Albert Einstein when he visited America as a teenager. In 1969 he met Neil Armstrong and the pair of them talked about the Wright brothers and Einstein. So there.
Finally, let me say something nice about America – because in the 1990s I wrote some vitriolic (but unfortunately necessary) essays about American foreign policy which may have given people an unfair impression of my opinion of the nation. UNIT releases no more than 2,000 of each album – it’s all we can afford since we release all our work ourselves. Stuff record companies! Nearly a third of those are purchased by people in America. Most of the others are sold in Europe and Japan. About 15% are bought by Britons. In all the years of our career (i.e. since 1991 if you count the Academy 23 incarnation), not once have we received racial abuse or homophobic insults from any Americans who have written to us, e-mailed us or purchased our gear. That is most certainly not the case from people who have contacted us from Britain and Japan. The Japanese used to be most enthusiastic about UNIT – until the Chinese members joined in 2000 whereupon many of them were motivated to send us abusive letters and e-mails. Evidently they wanted UNIT to remain a white rock group – how bizarre!
Yes, the USA gave us Ronald Reagan –
but it also gave us Malcolm X so it can be forgiven.
Yes, the USA gave us John Wayne –
but it also gave us Harvey Keitel so it can be forgiven.
Yes, the USA gave us Colin Powell –
but it also gave is Mohammed Ali so it can be forgiven.
Yes, the USA gave us Elvis Presley –
but it also gave us Ornette Coleman so it can be forgiven.
Yes, the USA gave us The Grateful Dead –
but it also gave us Creedence Clearwater Revival so it can be forgiven.
Yes, the USA gave us The Doors –
but it also gave us Jimi Hendrix so it can be forgiven.
Yes, the USA gave us Boyd Rice –
but it also gave us Ice T so it can be forgiven.
Yes, the USA gave us Walt Disney –
but it also gave us The Simpsons so it can be forgiven.
It gave us the Apollo moon space programme, the Hubble telescope, Alternative Radio, Democracy Now and the mighty Alex Jones, a role model for us all. It also gave us Rob Simone, the most entertaining radio presenter in the entire world...so never let it be said that I am ever anti-American – just please, please, please, do something about your bloody television programmes. You can start by blowing up the Fox network!