STORY of ZOUNDS
In 2007 Zounds reformed. Steve Lake recruited Paul O'Donnell (bass) and Paul Gilbert (drums) from The Evil Presleys, a "primal rock n roll" band that they were in together (with guitarist Andy Parker). The reformed Zounds then played sporadic gigs over the next two years including "The Feeding of the 5000" at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London and the Carling Academy, Birmingham (both with guitarist Dominic Dominion).
In 2010 the band began playing more extensively across the UK and Europe, completing two short European tours: the first was for a week in April (Holland and Belgium) and the second was from 17th September to 3rd October mainly in Germany, plus gigs in Holland, Poland and Italy.
They have now completed a new album, The Redemption of Zounds, which was available for download from 10th July 2011, on CD from July 26th 2011 on Overground Records and on vinyl in the US on Brokenrekids from Sept 2011.
PARANOIA'S KILLING ME
Story of Zounds
By Lance Hahn
in Maximum Rock-n-Roll
"I don't think we ever thought about why we did it. Career was
a dirty word to us. Playing music was something we did like eating and
drinking, breathing and shitting. It seemed to be a natural function."
Steve Lake, singer - bassist
At the ULU venue in London, Zounds are tearing through their set. Songs
about squatting and alienation become anthems for the choir (as opposed
to sermons) as the gig is a benefit for the defendants arrested for passing
out leaflets about vegetarianism in front of a McDonald's. The audience
is an enthusiastic and mesmerized stew of squatters, punks, hippies and
all the gray area in between. But this isn't a journal entry from 20 years
ago. This is 1998.
Of the many bands, anarcho and otherwise, revisiting the past recently,
Zounds seem especially current. This is partly because the lyrics about
the aforementioned subjects are in many ways as relevant under Blair's
England as it was under Thatcher's. But also because of their musical
status as outsiders within the underground that prevented them from ever
being typecast to one particular style. Of course, that same uniqueness
kept them from benefiting of the recognition and success that many of
their peers did. Unlike other bands also in that situation, this reunion
gig was a one off affair strictly for the greater good.
Steve, "We never reformed. We just did a couple of benefit gigs for
the McLibel campaign. Dave Morris the defendant was an old friend of ours.
I don't know why but I have a particular hatred of McDonalds."
Formed in 1977, Zounds started as a nameless "jam" band of constantly
shifting personnel. The one central figure that would eventually take
control of the band's direction and give it form was Steve Lake.
His parents splitting up when he was five, what little contact he had
with his Dad was characterized by jazz music.
Steve, "I was abandoned to my grandparents when I was five. My mother
went to live with her family in the U.S.A. She was a dancing teacher.
My dad ran a jazz club. He took me along once to see a New Orleans jazz
band when I was about 6, that was probably a key experience. He introduced
me to the band and it just seemed such a great thing to be in a band.
But ultimately I didn't have much contact with either of my parents."
But he had an epiphany when he first heard the Beatles and '60s rock-n-roll.
He became interested in taking part in the creative process of popular
music early on.
Steve, "I was seven years old or something and heard the Beatles
on the radio and I was so overwhelmed I still haven't come down
The Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Byrds, the Who, Tamla Motown, Hank Williams,
Johnny Cash. I always liked the good stuff."
A few years later, he began learning how to play in order have a more
physical connection to the music. At 15, he met a guitar player named
Terry Small who gave him the right encouragement to pick up the bass.
Steve, "He and a drummer were trying to get a three piece heavy blues
band together like Cream. We got on really well and he said I could play
bass in their band. He said it was easy as there were only 4 strings and
they were so big you couldn't miss them. I got a bass and the rest as
they say is history."
The desire to play overshadowed the "what" and "where"
as the only things more dubious than some of the music he was playing
were the venues where he would play them.
Steve, "(I learned to play the bass) when I was 16. I started playing
in a rock'n'roll band, doing Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran and Presley stuff
in brothels and Speedway club dances."
Like many kids at that age in that time, he felt like he had been born
too late. Being born in the '60s or late '50s meant you were too young
for the birth of rock-n-roll. You were a bit too young for mod and a little
too young for the hippies. You were truly a rebel (anti-establishmentarian)
without a cause (youth culture). For many people, this was the psychic
swamp that bred punk rock.
Steve, "I wanted to be a hippie but I was too young so when punk
came along it just fitted in with our bohemian, anti-establishment view.
I hitchhiked three hundred miles to buy Anarchy In The U.K. the day it
was banned and withdrawn by E.M.I."
Growing up in Reading, Steve eventually was drawn to what local counter-culture
Steve, "I am from Reading. It was a market town with a cowboy mentality.
Now it's a bland software based shopping mall type of place. I had to
come to London because it was and is the centre of many things I love
Despite that, there was enough of a scene that Steve was able to find
people to play music with. This original improvised music would be the
building blocks of Zounds.
Steve, "Zounds originally evolved out of a series of jamming scenes
that took place between various groups of friends of mine. First of all
we were based around the Reading area, which is where I come from. Circumstances
moved us to Oxford where we developed a very 'peripheral' lifestyle that
consisted of a lot of jamming, a lot of painting and drawing, an enormous
amount of dope smoking, and more than a passing interest in L.S.D. and
psychedelia. None of us had jobs, we were unhealthily terrified of the
police, and were unknowingly engaged in the process of transforming ourselves
from happy-go-lucky, harmlessly mischievous teenagers into marginalized,
paranoid wrecks who had become totally alienated from the 'straight life'.
Musically we were involved in a lot of weird free form jamming that was
influenced by everything from the Velvet Underground and Can to the Grateful
Dead and the Byrds."
From these "open" sessions, a proper band eventually took shape.
Taking form around Steve's organization and songwriting, Zounds was first
documented in the public eye in 1977.
Steve, "The first incarnation of Zounds must have formed and started
doing gigs in 1977 or '78. Lawrence was around then but wasn't in the
band. We didn't meet Joseph until a couple of years after that. The idea
of recording demos never crossed our mind. We were absolutely alienated
from the world of record companies and mainstream 'cultural business'.
We were complete outsiders. I don't mean in the sense of some Hollywood
Rock 'n' Roll leather jacket version of outsider. More in the sense that
we had become social cripples, barely able to function and interact with
anyone outside of our particular bohemian cesspit."
In fact, it was the guitarist that preceded Lawrence who came up with
the band's name.
Steve, "Steve Burch, our original guitarist found it in a dictionary.
We always mispronounced it to rhyme with 'sounds'. It's an exclamation;
a corruption of the phrase 'gods wounds' which we thought was appropriate
at the time. Though I grew not to like it pretty quickly and am still
not keen on it. Actually God's Wounds would have been a better name. I
could start a Zounds tribute band and call it God's Wounds."
Though still in a sort of psychedelic funk, the band was aware and interested
in punk from more than just a sociological perspective. The result was
that their first gig was supporting a local punk band.
Steve, "Yes, the first gig was as a three piece and we didn't have
the name Zounds at that point. We supported a punk band at a village rock
club near Reading. At that point the line up was me on bass, Steve Burch
on guitar and Jimmy Lacey on drums.
"Then we added Nick Godwin on guitar for our second gig. This was
at Oxford Polytechnic supporting Australian psychedelic fruitcake Daevid
Allen who had previously been in Soft Machine and Gong. We were still
doing a lot of improvising and free form stuff at that point but they
were really dynamite gigs, full of fire and power and energy. The Oxford
Poly gig was the first time we played 'Can't Cheat Karma' and Steve Burch
came up with that great way of playing that riff. It was the best performance
of it really. They were great gigs but you would have had to be there
to get it I think. Tapes don't do those kinds of events justice."
While being self-described outsiders, the normal band activity of recording
a demo tape was ignored. Despite not having an easy way to expose their
music to promoters or booking agents, the band still managed to gig and
the line-up continued to evolve.
Steve, "We just didn't bother with demos. Despite our fragile, broken
egos we were supremely arrogant and felt if the world deserved Zounds
they would have to seek us out, we were not going to chase after anything.
In our childish, fantasy world we regarded it as inevitable that the world
would beat a path to our door. And at first things progressed in that
way. Our fourth or fifth gig was reviewed in the New Musical Express,
which at the time was pretty much the main voice of youth culture. It
wasn't a great review but it made us think we were on the map and recognized.
It wasn't really until we moved to London and got Lawrence in that I started
to think we were going to have to make a record and somehow pursue that
notion, as nobody was coming forward to offer us the chance to make a
"Anyway, after Steve Burch left and Lawrence joined, the band deteriorated
terribly. We became directionless and plodding. It took us a lot of playing
and a lot of gigs to get good again. Which we did."
With the band's music evolving from jam sessions and free experimentation
into more conventional song structures, there had to be a new concern
about the process of lyric writing and what was to be written about. In
writing about his surroundings, there was much fodder for angry expression
in late '70s Britain as it's economic and therefore political climate
was a weather vane for what would become Thatcher's England.
Steve, "Well my music and my songs have always been born out of my
experience of living in and observing the world around me. As I said,
we were pretty alienated from mainstream society, and consequently mainstream
politics, including traditional radical left politics. But our experience
was that the world of work was oppressive, tedious and destructive and
offered us nothing but drudgery and boredom. We had constant hassles with
the police for looking like freaks; it was becoming really difficult to
find affordable places to live. We really started to understand that we
had 'no future'. At first we would not have even recognized this position
as being political. But things were really hotting up in England during
1978/79. The 'right' were starting to exercise a lot of muscle and becoming
noticeably and violently more of a presence. The National Front were gaining
ground and the Conservatives were following them to the right. Ditching
the old post-war consensus and preparing the way for hard Thatcherite,
Corporate, market economy.
"At the same time elements of the police force were completely out
of control. The S.P.G. in London, the West Midlands Crime Squad. Unemployment
was rising and race relations were becoming a potent issue.
"On top of all of this we were becoming aware of the massive build
up of nuclear weapons by the U.S.A and the Eastern Bloc, which led to
the reactivation of C.N.D. and various environmental groups. No sensible,
intelligent person could fail to see what was happening and how bad things
could become. We couldn't fail to become more politicized and see how
political power was impinging on our lives.
"That is why things like Rock Against Racism and the Anti Nazi League
started. We started to see ourselves as enemies of the state just because
of the way we thought; we weren't activists in any sense of the word.
Yet we felt we were under attack by the forces of society. These things
affected everything we did, how we lived, what we ate, who we slept with.
And ultimately the songs we wrote and the way we played them.
"We were never attracted to the organized left with its infighting
and dogma and rules. We were instinctively drawn towards anarchy. Not
because we had much of a clue as to what it was about, but we just wanted
to be left alone to pursue our own weird trip and not have people tell
us what to do."
While much of the anarcho punk movement at the start was referred to as
being "hippy punk" or "peace punk", the terms usually
were meant in defining ideology and practice. But within the traveler
scene that had been developing for some time, there were musical bridges
being created with punk bands like Alternative Television and hippy bands
like Here & Now. For Zounds, the mesh of musical ideas had more to
do with the psychedelia of the '60s rather than the acid rock of the '70s.
Steve, "The very earliest incarnations of Zounds were really in to
psychedelic San Francisco bands. We were also in to Can, the Velvet Underground,
lots of weird stuff, the early Mothers of Invention. The Byrds, the Beach
Boys, the Beatles
We were really into music. That was always the
thing with us. I really got into Patti Smith early on, things like "Piss
Factory". The early punk stuff that was inspirational was stuff like
the Fall, ATV, Patrick Fitzgerald, Buzzcocks, and American stuff like
Pere Ubu and Television. But we were never trying to emulate anybody;
we were trying to find ourselves through music
I think Robert Smith
was also kind of marrying the weird and unusual with a pop sensibility,
which I think characterizes Zounds in many ways."
But Zounds were coming to both musical camps without prejudice to either
side. While many eventually identified them as a punk band, their connection
was one of camaraderie rather than of punk's rank and file.
Steve, "We never saw ourselves as anything. But I personally felt
very connected with the concerns of punk. The day Anarchy In The UK was
banned and withdrawn by EMI I hitchhiked 300 miles to buy a copy. It changed
everything and at last people had the courage and audacity to just get
up and say, yea we are fucked up, but it's our world too and we are going
to do what we want, even if we've got no resources. It wasn't unprecedented
but at last people were sitting up and taking notice.
"I was never into the ramma lamma, identikit punk thrash sound that
soon took over punk and was very tiresome and unimaginative. What was
good about it was the scenes that started up all over. The metropolitan
London glam-punk scene was nothing really. Just the usual old trendy,
fashion crowd trying to get their pictures in magazines. That is the current
official media history of punk; that it was all about these London trendsetters.
But, there were more interesting things happening at the margins as usual.
Us in Oxford, the Mob in Somerset, The Astronauts in Welwyn, The Instant
Automatons in Hull
A whole load of weird, idiosyncratic bands creating
their own lives and scenes and music."
The Free Festival scene of the '70s in England was the perfect incubator
for Zounds. Drawn to the scene both by the politics and the desire to
play, they found themselves entrenched in that gray area of hippies, punks
Steve, "Well Here & Now were doing Free Festivals and free gigs
and seemed to be much more politicized than other bands, this of course
was slightly prior to punk. There was a kind of radical hippie tradition
that included Hawkwind, Gong, and The Pink Fairies centered around Ladbroke
Grove. The Pink Fairies were influenced by the radical politics of The
MC5 and Jerry Rubin and the Yippies. A lot of future punks lived amongst
this Ladbroke Grove hippie scene. Joe Strummer lived next door to Here
& Now and there were people like the Slits. Everyone was getting into
Reggae at that time and there was a lot of interest in Rasta."
As the punk scene began to grow, they became more and more involved with
the Free Festivals setting up tours and carrying on the tradition with
other punk bands.
Steve, "Here & Now championed the free tours and us and the Mob
dug the idea and met each other through them. We carried on the free tour
idea by starting the WEIRD TALES tours, Zounds the Mob and the Astronauts,
and of course the legendary Jonathan Barnett who was an inspiration to
Through the free festival scene as well as Here & Now who were very
involved in the regular details of those events, Zounds were introduced
to the Mob, a band they would tour with and develop close ties with.
Steve, "We had met the Mob and had done a couple of tours with them
and some other bands. And through them we met Joseph. We met the Mob at
a thing called the Dursley Seventh Vale festival. And a guy called Jonathan
Barnett put a tour together with us, The Mob, the Astronauts and the Androids
of Mu. We all kind of were on the fringes of the Here & Now free music
scene and were under the influence of their ex-drummer, a guy called Kiff-Kiff
who was an amazing guy and went on to limited fame in England with a band
called World Domination Enterprises. He and Jonathan Barnett put together
this outfit called Fuck Off records, and us and the Mob put out tapes
and stuff through them. We all hung out round Ladbroke Grove and Shepherds
Bush. There were loads of gigs at the Acklam Hall and round West London.
Then we did these mad free tours. During which we met Crass and Zounds
dwindled to just Lawrence and myself."
As much as with Crass, Zounds would forever be linked with the Mob from
Steve, "I think we met in 1978. We toured with them, lived in houses
and buses with them, had the same drug dealers and slept with the same
people. Despite that we were never really close."
Another band at the time were the Astronauts. More closely merging the
musical ideas of punk and hippy, the band still maintains a bit of a folk
edge mixed with anarchist politics.
Steve, "The Astronauts were a weird band who had a very punk sensibility
but didn't play punk music as such. They still do a lot of do-it-yourself/fanzine
type gigs. I sometimes play on the same bill as them at the more alternative
venues we do. Us and the Mob were always big fans of the Astronauts and
they were the other main band on that scene. A lot of the other bands
were kind of noise terrorists, like the 012 who later became World Domination
Enterprises. Yea all those early tapes were on Fuck Off records or one
of its illegitimate offspring."
An engine breakdown on the last free tour led them to their first meeting
with Crass. While operating separately in the same small ideological and
physical space, the two groups had never met despite similar ideas and
Steve, "While on tour we kept playing places where Crass had just
played or were about to play. And people kept saying we should meet them
because they detected some sort of similarity in something.
"So we were playing near their house and we thought we would just
visit them. But our bus broke down and we walked to their house across
this weird submarine tracking station and they entertained us, we got
on like a church on fire and they came and fixed our bus. They liked us,
though I think they saw us as quite naive, naughty children who had their
hearts in the right place."
Whether or not that was the case, the meeting had a huge impact on Steve
and Zounds. Crass deeply impressed him as people and how they lived. It
ultimately would give Zounds a direction that had previously been missing
in lieu of the comparatively casual path they had been organically following.
Steve, "Well I was tremendously impressed by all the people in Crass.
They were really funny, very intelligent and had very powerful personalities.
I admired their analysis and commitment and knowledge. But generally I
remember just going round to their place and chatting about stuff and
having a laugh. I liked them a lot, and am very fond of my memories of
That night ended with discussion of possible future projects together.
While mostly talk, it left Steve and Lawrence with the idea that they
would record a demo tape to send Crass. But by the end of the tour, they
as well as the Mob were somewhat defeated by the grind of maintaining
that type of idealistic free tour.
Steve, "Apart from meeting Crass that last 'Weird Tales' tour had
been grueling. The Mob split back to Somerset and Zounds lost a guitar
player (Nick Godwin) and decided to chuck out the drummer. After we did
the demo we asked Joseph to join, he had followed the Mob up to London
but didn't follow them back. Joseph had been playing in a mod band at
the time but we liked him and knew he was committed to playing music.
He sort of looked like a punk too, which Lawrence and I didn't. Anyway
Crass liked our demo and asked us to do the record on their label."
Joseph, "I joined just after they met Crass, and were presumably
streamlining the band accordingly. I was drumming with a band called The
Entire Cosmos, which featured members of Here & Now's road crew, and
we did some of the Weird Tales gigs."
With this new lineup, condensed to a three piece, the side of the band
that lent itself to open-ended jams fell to the wayside and the more song-oriented
material became the make-up of the band's set. While in some ways it was
turning the band into something new, it was also working on material more
suited to the new lineup
Joseph, "I moved to London to play music. I'd been drumming for Attitudes
for about a year when Zounds asked me to join
All the jamming stuff
ended then. It was pretty much down to short sharp songs, a lot of which
were never recorded."
At this stage, the band was living in the squatted area of Brougham Road.
The block of squats would become home to them and eventually the Mob.
But like many of these situations, it had a self-determined time limit.
Steve, "Zounds lived in Brougham Rd which was a squatted scene peopled
by old anarchists. They started to move out so we moved the Mob in and
soon after came hoards of teenage runaways and the whole thing deteriorated
as these things always do. It was really no different to all the scenes
all over the country/world."
With a new set of material worked out, the band met with Crass in the
summer of 1980 to record their first single. Spending time with them out
on their farm became an eye opening experience for Joseph who was still
developing his own political ideas.
Joseph, "I had no intellectual concept of anarchism when I joined
Zounds. I had a vague awareness of a lot of slogans, and a great fondness
for cannabis resin. Steve on the other hand, while endorsing the latter,
had a better grasp of the former. I didn't care. I just wanted to be in
Oddly enough, it was the discipline of Crass' anarchism that made an impact
Steve, "We were in a different scene entirely. Much more untogether.
We were all a quite a bit younger than most of Crass. Us and the Mob,
the Astronauts, the Androids of Mu, Here & Now, the Fuck Off Records
crew, Grant Showbiz (who went on to produce the Fall and Billy Bragg and
work for the Smiths). There were gigs on the Portobello Road, Ladbroke
Grove. A lot of free festivals (which is another huge story in itself).
Crass and Poison Girls were quite insular and very much in control of
The recording process became as much Crass' project as Zounds'. Their
control over the production work on the record extended to having a session
musician brought in to play Joseph's parts!
Joseph, "Simple. I wasn't any good. While I was with Attitudes, they
kept my drumming disciplined, but once free of that, and into the more
laid-back atmosphere of Zounds, I regressed into a clattering nuisance.
Penny, who cared passionately about production, didn't want to release
a record with out of time drums on it. He was right."
Years later, Joseph is surprisingly ambivalent about his replacement on
their debut record.
Joseph, "None at all. It's one less gruesome skeleton in my cupboard."
For their first proper recording session, the band was in for an odd experience.
Steve, "It was a bit weird. We did it at Southern Studios, which
was owned by Crass' business manager John Loder. At that time the studio
was in his house and the control room was in the garage.
"Was there any pressure internally or externally to conform to a
sound or style of Crass? They chose the songs from our repertoire. We
played it and Penny and John did all the recorded and produced it. To
some extent they directed the performances, particularly my vocals. Crass
the band, and the Crass label were both Penny's babies really. He was
the man with the vision. They made us use a session drummer who played
Joseph's part. That was difficult to take as authenticity is quite important
to me. After the recording they mixed it without us there and brought
it to us for approval."
The resulting record was "You Can't Cheat Karma". Released in
early 1980, the three song EP starts with the mantra-like drone of "War".
It's repetitious bass and guitar riff are more reminiscent of the first
Modern Lovers record the UK punk. Like "Pablo Picasso", the
song becomes hypnotic and the list of war torn countries becomes a rhythm
of it's own.
This song leads directly into what could be the bands most known track,
"Subvert". Upbeat but with a very clever guitar part for a verse,
the song is a cross between the Minutemen and "Jumping Someone Else's
Train" by the Cure. Lyrically, it's a shopping list of small daily
acts of subversion.
If you've got a job
You can be an agent
If you work in a kitchen
You can redistribute food
If you are a policeman
Ordered to arrest me
You don't have to do it
You can refuse
The title track was probably the most unique song of the bunch. With
a sing-song vocal pattern, the monotone vocals make for a twisted children's
song about ennui and paranoia.
But I just don't know what I can do
You don't trust me and I don't trust you
I bet you wish you did
Cos I know I do
Why have you got secrets?
Well, I know you have
If you've got something to hide
Then it must be bad
The layout for the record was a simple black and white (like most of
the Crass releases) with typewritten text and inked images including a
fold out poster.
Steve, "Crass were a band who wanted things done a certain way. They
had a vision and they were not into compromise. Which is not to say they
were unreasonable, but if you wanted to work with them then obviously
it was on their terms. Nobody forced us, or anyone else to do it. And
anyway we liked them and dug what they were doing. We were happy to be
associated with them. So they designed the cover, wrote the blurb and
we wrote the songs and played them. Lets face it the main reason it sold
so many was because of the association with them. If it had just come
out anonymously maybe it would never have been heard.
"Ironically I think that Crass were an early example of what is now
very fashionable and significant in western culture. And that is the whole
total corporate identity. They were one of the first to have that sense
of 'total image'."
With the release of their first record on the label run by one of Britain's
premier punk rock bands of the time, Zounds found themselves playing out
to a much more enthusiastic crowd newly made aware of the band by the
one single. The band also began connecting more with the young anarcho
punk scene by playing gigs with Crass. The cross pollination would continue
with the Mob eventually recording for Crass as well.
Steve, "After the record came out on Crass we did some gigs with
them. They were great live. Especially when they had all the video monitors
and banners and stuff. But actually it was more like a cross between some
dubious political rally and a dark Brechtian theatre. Much better than
"But our scene was less earnest and less developed. People coming
to our gigs were kind of more bohemian than a lot of Crass' audience.
Other squatters and hippiefied punks. When we got our record out it expanded
the audience, and outside of London there was a lot more working class
kids who lived with their parents coming to the gigs."
Joseph, "We didn't see them often, but they were always very friendly.
I was too young really to understand most of what was going on then though,
and probably too stoned as well to take it in."
While always a bit cautious, Zounds found themselves apart from the traveler
/ hippy scene that they came from and in the middle of the anarcho punk
scene. As is well documented, attempts at merging the two scenes had mixed
Joseph, "We almost played Stonehenge in about 1980 or 1981. We were
just getting onstage when Bikers took over the generator, and decided
to ban Punks from the stage. That was crap - that was the reality of Anarchy
in the UK. Stonehenge was just about taking lots of drugs. That's the
only reason most people went there."
But even in their new scene, Zounds found themselves in a scene at times
more anarchist by propaganda then by deed.
Steve, "Ironically there was a very strict hierarchy in the Crass
camp that was acknowledged but accepted. Crass at the top, Poison Girls
were their second in command and Zounds, Flux and the Mob were favored
subjects. But in all honesty that was about right because Crass were phenomenally
popular far beyond the Anarcho scene. Their significance has never been
fully realized to my way of thinking.
"Outside of the Crass thing when we were gigging a lot with the Mob
their was a lot of sharing and co-operation and working together. But
I think there were definitely less benign forces at work below the surface.
There were definitely jealousies and petty backstabbing going on. But
I prefer to remember the good things, though that can be difficult sometimes."
The band continued to exist mainly as a live act. Tours with Crass and
the Poison Girls made them take more concern about their actual performance
and the result was some of their best gigs.
Steve, "The Acklam hall in Portobello Road was a legendary gig and
Zounds and the Mob and the Astronauts did loads of free gigs their. That
was where we really got it together as bands.
A short tour with Crass and Poison girls and Zounds in 1980 really inspired
me. I realized we were just fucking about until then. It really made me
think a lot more about how we should be on stage. Zounds always loved
playing in Holland and Belgium most though and the best was playing in
1981 in Berlin in the heart of the anarchist/squatting quarter called
Kreuzberg They were brilliant gigs, fantastic audiences and we were really
happening on stage at that point."
With the one off single with Crass helping to establish the band nationally,
they struck a deal with Crass' old label at Rough Trade. This relationship
would last the band through most of its recording career.
Steve, "Geoff Travis made all the decisions about who was signed
and what was released. They tried to run all other aspects of the company
like a workers co-operative. Which led to all the usual decision making
problems most workers co-ops seem blighted with. Plus the banks wouldn't
deal with them in the way they would with a 'normal' client. Which led
to cash flow problems. Geoff was an absolutely beautiful guy who I still
admire and respect very much. I used to get a bit intimidated by the others
though. Even the warehouse staff seemed far more trendy than us and use
to regard us with something like disdain."
Despite a lot of speculation about the Crass record being recorded afterwards
("I think when I was putting the cover art together I was so stoned
I put the wrong year on it," Steve), Zounds then went into the studio
to record their one and only full length LP. "The Curse Of Zounds"
was recorded and mixed in five days, which, oddly enough, sets it apart
from the Crass style of recording that often would go on for months.
These time limitations forced the band to work intensely on the recording.
Despite the contrast in recording styles from that with the Crass camp,
the band remained thrilled with the process.
Steve, "Weird but very exciting. We were pretty out of it most of
the time but we worked pretty hard on it."
Their one and only studio LP turned out to be a classic unlike anything
else at the time. An incredibly dense and claustrophobic record, it captured
the paranoia of the post-hippy counterculture and feeling of outsider
status and it's personal affect on the human psyche. Songs like "Did
He Jump" reinforced the specific nature of society's reflected paranoia.
It startles in its poignancy amidst the superficiality of most "punk"
from that time.
Who was that on the window ledge
Did he jump or was he pushed
He left a note which no one read
In desperate hand the note just said
Didn't turn my back on society
Society turned its back on me
I never tried once to drop out
I just couldn't get in from the very start
"Dirty Squatters", which was one of the more direct anthems
on the record, was also one of the first direct acknowledgements of that
scene and it's connection with the underground.
Some dirty squatters moved into my street
With their non-sexist haircuts and their dirty feet
Their dogs and cats, political elite
They may have beds but they don't use sheets
Furnishing their houses from the contents of skips
Things that decent people put on rubbish tips
They look quite harmless sitting out in the sun
But I wouldn't let my daughter marry one
Steve, "Well paranoid is definitely a word that rings true with
me, I think I have always been a paranoid person, and I don't mean that
metaphorically. I think I really do have clinical paranoia. For example
I never fly (which means I will probably never return to the USA even
though most of my family live there). I almost always avoid going in lifts,
I hate the underground (subway) and many other things of that nature.
I have always been terribly fearful of the police, though I have never
really been involved in anything illegal. I am also something of a hypochondriac
and worry like mad when my kids come home late. So in many ways it is
no wonder that this tends to surface in my music.
"Claustrophobic is a great word to describe the album. And that's
the way I felt at the time. I think that is why I responded so well to
going to Berlin. The way it was this small island surrounded and walled
in by an 'alien regime'. I still have tremendous nostalgia for the cold
war. I know Joseph does to. It's not because I think the cold war was
good, but because it echoes my state of mind. When we did the album I
felt we were existing in our own little world, closed in and only in contact
with similar scenes dotted randomly around Europe. I hated it when we
were thrust into contact with the wider world. Everything seemed hostile
to me. Not just the big global things like nuclear war, government corruption,
corporate greed and media brainwashing, but even the everyday world of
supermarkets, family life, little Hitler bosses, aggressive and insensitive
"I think that really comes through in the writing on 'Curse Of Zounds'.
The way in something like 'This Land' I try to take the narrative from
the big global issues of ecology, pollution and environmental breakdown
to the very personal, microcosmic, local world of the streets in which
we walk and live.
"'My Mummy's Gone' is similar in that it is about the anguish and
fiction of monogamous, nuclear family life expressed through a very personal
"'Target' wasn't just a tirade against nuclear war, but about the
effect of the nuclear build up on people who had to live near the bases.
It was a very significant feature of Zounds songs that the so-called political
issues and social landscape was always related to the everyday ways in
which we lived. I think that's the attraction for many people of Zounds,
that it is not just sloganeering, but is born out of the frustration and
powerlessness we actually felt (and still feel) everyday, and how that
affects our personal behavior and personal relationships. I love the songs
of American folk singer Woody Guthrie for much the same reason. Though
of course I would never compare my own limited talents to his inspired
genius. As Leonard Cohen said of Hank Williams, "he's 100 floors
above me in the tower of song". Probably thousands of floors actually."
Released in 1981, the record was like a film noir that starts off with
unease and paranoia and ends with a collapsing world much worse and larger
than first imagined. It was perfect that it would start with "Fear"
and end with a revamping of "War".
Steve, "Yes, we wanted it to be cohesive. We tried recording it in
the order we wanted the tracks to appear, which is what happened with
one or two slight changes. It had to start with 'Fear' as it set the whole
context for the rest of the album. As you pointed out it is the worldview
of someone blighted by paranoia, and the rest of the songs are very from
the perspective of someone scared shitless by everything. It ends with
'Target/Mr. Disney' and a snatch of 'War' (re-titled 'The War Goes On').
Because what ever was going on was existing in the shadow of the impending
Nuclear threat and U.S. cultural and military imperialism, in particular
the positioning of cruise missiles in the English countryside. At the
time this was of massive significance in Europe and we all felt very close
to the issue. Many people believed that we were heading for a nuclear
catastrophe and so it was very much an overriding concern at the time.
Ending the album with the reprise of 'War' and letting it fade out in
full flight was just to emphasize that war was not just an historical
fact but an ongoing aspect of the human condition and that we shouldn't
forget that and needed to do something about it fast. The revised title
refers to a song Scottish folk singer Donovan used to play called 'The
War Drags On', I don't know if he wrote it but I liked it a lot. It might
be a Tim Harding song, I'd like to find out actually."
Perfectly suited was the cover art by Clifford Harper. Known for his anarchist
oriented woodcuts, Harper's artwork both captured the urgency of the times
as well as playfulness with the wrap around cover being utilized for comedic
Steve, "Love it. Love the joke and I have always been keen on comics
so it was just right. Cliff had originally done it for a cover of a magazine
called 'Anarchy' and redrew it for us. He did it during the fireman's
strike of the late 1970's. We thought fireman were heroic in that they
did a dangerous and selfless job and were drawn from well-intentioned
working class people. I think he ripped off the concept from a cartoon
in the right wing London newspaper the Evening Standard. Lawrence and
I helped publish a book of Cliff's work and biography called 'The Education
of Desire' which I still think is one of the best things I've been involved
In the process of recording the record, the band involved themselves with
Adam Kidron who was given production credits although his job was more
a glorified engineer.
Steve, "We had a guy engineering called Adam Kidron, he was the millionaire
son and heir of the Socialist publisher who owned Pluto Press. He was
really funny and we were very naive and impressed by him. He talked us
in to giving him producer royalties when we didn't even know what royalties
were and we thought we were producing the album ourselves. We recorded
the album in the order we wanted the tracks on the final album, though
we did revise the order slightly. I thought it was really important that
it was a coherent record where the track order had some sort of internal
logic. Adam hated guitars so we ended up with a far less powerful guitar
sound than we would have liked. We were a guitar band after all."
With Rough Trade behind the record, publicity and reviews were prevalent
including a full color poster campaign in London.
Steve, "It got some good reviews and some not so good ones, but it
didn't get us known much beyond the anarcho scene."
The band did their part by playing live as much as possible though they
quickly went from proper channels to DIY methods.
Steve, "We just tried to play all the time. Rough Trade's agents
booked us some gigs but they were all wrong for us so we just got fans
and likeminded individuals to book gigs at community centers and such
places. We hated getting involved with music biz types and promoters and
agents and the rest of the hangers on."
Yet, by the time the record was released, the band had grown sour on it.
Their concerns about the mix, they felt, were confirmed with the final
Steve, "We thought it sounded great when we did it, but as soon as
it came out we went off it I think. We thought the guitars weren't big
enough and it was all a bit lightweight. When we first met Geoff at Rough
Trade Joseph told him we wanted to sound like the Dead Kennedy's and I
think we would have been happier with that sort of powerful sound. In
retrospect though I think it is probably better the way it is. But I'm
speaking as someone who feels they have heard enough rock guitar to last
several lifetimes. That's why I no longer have a guitar in my band."
Just prior to the LPs release, Rough Trade issued the "Demystification
/ Great White Hunter" single, recorded at the same time as "Curse
Of Zounds". At the time, they described the record themselves as
"Velvet Underground meet white liberal guilt".
Steve, "I can't remember whether it was Joseph or I that came up
with that, but we would both have shared that point of view. We were nothing
if not self aware and self-critical. A lot of my songs tended to be about
striving and failing and not making it, not being brave enough, not being
able to live up to ones own expectations."
Though recorded at the tail end of the session that produced the full
length, the band insisted that the tracks from the single not be on the
Steve, "We recorded 'Demystification' and 'Great White Hunter' at
the end of the album sessions, by which time I think we were starting
to get the hang of it. I would have liked to have started the whole thing
again at that point. We never wanted the single on the album. Partly because
of my slavish devotion to rock n roll folklore. When I was a kid the Beatles
and Stones and such groups never put singles on albums. We associated
it with the rip off tactics of the music biz. Selling the same thing twice.
I always thought singles were cool and something different from albums.
I don't know why it came out before the album. Probably something to do
with Rough Trade's clever strategic marketing policy, which also remained
a mystery to us."
As strong as anything on the LP, 'Demystification' in this context does
stand out as a single. Almost reminiscent of an even more depressed 'She's
Lost Control" era Joy Division, the record is quick paced with an
effectively memorable chorus. The b-side, which they described as a "hot
dance number", took advantage of the rhythm heavy mix using it to
sparse advantage. If anything, it was more reminiscent of Quine era Lou
Reed than the Velvets. In some ways, it was the band's most accessible
record. But that wasn't necessarily a plus when coming from a scene that
mostly drew hardcore punks. Joseph, "(the anarcho's reaction was)
The record cover wasn't your typical anarcho fair either instead using
a black and white photo staged to convey the song's idea rather than constructed,
message oriented collages.
Steve, "Lawrence is very visually oriented and the concept was his.
Just the idea that we are all 'mystified' and can't see what is really
going on in the world. So everyone is blindfolded except for the central
figure who is tearing off their blindfold and has a look of horror at
the harsh reality of life. We trooped off down to Kings Cross Station
with a friend of ours called Googy Pete who was to be the Demystified
star. We stood him on some sort of plinth and took the shot. When Lawrence
did the artwork painting the blindfolds on to the crowd it became apparent
that Pete didn't have the right expression on his face. But in the corner
of one of the shots was me making the right sort of face in an effort
to will Pete to do it right. So Lawrence got busy with the paste and scissors
and put my head on Pete's body. A situation neither of us would have liked
in real life."
While a greatly underrated record, the songs still stand the test of time
Steve, "Well there was no peak for me. We never made a record I was
really happy with. Our live gigs in Berlin were the experience that has
stayed with me more than anything else from the Zounds period. My favorite
Zounds record is 'Demystification'."
1982 started with the band still gigging and touring on the continent
not knowing that it would be their final year as a band. The touring motivated
the band as well as eventually, like so often is the case, burned them
Joseph, "It was fun most of the time. Playing in Holland allowed
us to binge out without fear of arrest, which was pleasant. Low points
must include a tour of the UK in which the only cassette in the van was
the first UB40 album."
The year also started with the release of their third single. 'Dancing
/ True Love' marked the first use of outside instruments on a Zounds record
with the addition of keyboards. On 'Dancing', it introduces a Brechtian
circus bounce that would make Kurt Weil proud.
Steve, "Well I wrote Dancing on a friend's keyboard. It wasn't even
meant to be a Zounds song. Jonathan Barnett from Fuck Off Records asked
me to do a solo thing for a tape he was putting out called "Folk
In Hell", which I'm told is quite sought after now.
"When Lawrence and Joseph heard it they wanted to do it with Zounds
and thought it would be a good single. When we played it live though it
was very different. More like a kind of Neil Young and Crazy Horse tune.
When Geoff Travis of Rough Trade heard us play it at a gig he was keen
for us to do it as a single. We got Brian Pugsley, a friend of ours who
lived in our house in Brougham Road, to play keyboards on it. We were
keen to develop our musical ideas so we approached it completely differently
and got him playing all that nice piano. As he was in the studio with
us we thought he might as well play on 'True Love' as well. I have to
say Joseph was completely against the whole thing. He was much more of
a purist punk than us. We could have carried on churning out 300 mph guitar
stuff like 'Subvert', but we were more adventurous than that. I'm not
saying we were adventurous in the way Can or Faust were, but we didn't
want to be an identikit punk band. 'Dancing' is a very dramatic song and
we wanted to conjure up that dramatic, dark, nightmarish and sad world
of living in a fascist state. We wanted it to be Teutonic with a whiff
of Berlin Cabaret about it."
'True Love' on the other hand was an upbeat track with enough detached
irony to find its place welding Gang Of Four's 'Anthrax' to any of the
Buzzcocks' singles going steady. The song was as much a critique of the
process as it was a reflection of the protagonist's predicament.
Steve, "As with most of these things it was a bit of both. It was
a difficult time because we were all intellectually against sexual jealousy
and possessiveness, but emotionally we were not very good at handling
it. So while there was a lot of sexual freedom and experimentation going
on, people were getting very fucked up about it. This coincided with my
girlfriend getting pregnant and me having to face up to the fact that
I was going to be responsible for another life. I wasn't really mature
enough to handle it, and in fact I am still not, and I've got three kids
The recording, especially on 'Dancing' was especially creative. The openness
of that song and its minimal percussion can directly be linked to some
of the dub ideas brought in by producer Mikey Dread. Known for his work
with the Clash on 'Sandinista' as well as his work as a DJ in Jamaica,
what on the outset seemed like an odd choice for a producer worked to
the record's advantage at least in the mixing stage.
Steve, "It was bizarre because it was going to be produced by Mickey
Dread, a Jamaican DJ who was quite well known at the time and worked a
lot with the Clash. He hardly ever turned up and when he did he spent
the whole time on the phone. I didn't know that many Jamaicans at the
time and I don't think I ever understood a word he said. His accent was
so strong. We wanted to build up the drum track by laying one drum at
a time so it didn't sound like traditional kit playing. Joseph despised
this approach and walked out before we even got to doing "True Love".
In the end the drums on "True Love" were played by a guy called
Tim who at the time was playing drums for the Mob, he was Mark's sister's
boyfriend. He just came down the studio to check it out and ended up playing
on it. It was an incestuous little scene at times. I wasn't there for
the mix. My girlfriend's pregnancy meant she was under a lot of pressure
from her parents to get married. So I did the decent thing any working
class boy with my upbringing would do and ended up getting married on
the day we mixed "True Love". No wonder I was writing an anti-love
song. I don't think Joseph ever got it, it was supposed to be an anti-love
song that sounded like a conventional poppy love song."
Not having played on half of the record, Joseph still involved himself
with the cover art drawing of a scene somewhere between a ball and a battle.
Steve, "That was great. Joseph drew it. I love Joseph's drawing.
I don't know if he did it especially for the cover or whether I just saw
it and thought it was great and really appropriate. We use to give out
these posters that Lawrence and I made up by cutting up loads of covers
and sticking them back together like a big collage. I ended up with thousands
of the posters and I tried to get my kids to use the back of them as drawing
paper. The trouble was my kids were frightened of the picture and wouldn't
use them. In the end I threw them all away."
The follow up single would be their last for Rough Trade. 'More Trouble
Coming Every Day / Knife" came out that summer and Joseph calls it
his favorite "by a mile".
Oddly enough, this record represents the only documentation of the five-piece
lineup Keeping Brian on as keyboardist, they decided to also keep Tim
on as bassist with Joseph back on drum duties. But the mood was already
Steve, "Deteriorating. In an attempt to save the band Joseph suggested
we get Tim in to play bass and I move on to guitar. So we did that and
Tim was promptly sacked by the Mob for being in both bands. And then they
asked Joseph to drum for them, it didn't seem to matter that he was now
in both bands. Tim was a great drummer though, really powerful, not to
take anything away from Joseph but Tim was a virtuoso musician who was
great on loads of instruments. He was not only better than Joseph on drums
but he was better than me on bass and better than Lawrence on guitar.
He did that one record with us and a couple of tours and then we split
up. I never really considered him part of the band. He was just along
for the ride. Zounds was just me and Lawrence and Joseph."
'More Trouble' was a great juxtaposition of anguished lyrics with upbeat,
pop music. The infectious, tune mixed with the brood was a great mixture
that was more reminiscent of the old New York punk scene especially Television
or the Talking Heads. The coarse rhythmic structure and almost funk bass
part of 'Knife' put that song way ahead of it's time preceding certain
musical ideas utilized later and across the ocean by the Minutemen on
Steve, "Well we got Brian to play keyboards on it again and it made
it a lot lighter than the way we played it live. I liked the 60's pop
feel of it. It's a bit of a clichéd chord sequence based on quite
a common 4-chord turn-around. We probably did think it was commercial,
but we didn't concoct it to be. It was just teenage angst really. I wrote
it because I loved the phrase 'more trouble coming everyday'. The line
'the smell of burning...etc' refers to the riots that were going on in
England's major cities at the time. More knowledgeable listeners would
know immediately that I ripped off the title from a Frank Zappa song,
which I think is on Freak Out, his first album."
Again, Joseph supplied the cover art.
Steve, "Joseph drew the cover to "More Trouble" as well.
I thought it really complemented the song, a scruffy bored teenager. The
P.R. people at Rough Trade hated it. Joseph really should have stuck with
the drawing; he's good."
By October of that year, the band was just about done. With one last tour
of Europe, the band released a final record that had all the signs of
a band split. A mish mash of different recordings, the record seems like
a last effort to collect some remaining songs.
Steve, "'La Vache Qui Rit'. By the time that came out I had pretty
much lost interest in Zounds. It is undoubtedly our worse record, I wish
in some ways it had never come out. Its genesis and history is actually
more interesting than the record itself.
"It was put out by a very, very good friend of mine who is a beautiful
guy and still a close friend. Originally it was supposed to be a double
release with us on one side and The Mob on the other, and it was supposed
to be a benefit record for a draft resistance campaign in Belgium (my
favorite country by the way). The Mob was going to do a version of "No
Doves Fly Here" in French. That would have been good; Mark always
had a lot of style for a farm boy. (In fact as I perform a lot of songs
in French myself now I have considered covering it that way).
"Anyway the Mob never got it together and I don't know what ever
happened to the draft resistance angle. We went ahead and did it anyway."
'Biafra' starts the record off on a promising note. Its upbeat and catchy
tune again, is undermined perfectly by a much more sordid lyrical tale.
It could have been seen as advancement on the idea that sparked 'More
Steve, "No, sadly the band had lost all direction at that time. We
always had a bit of a pop sensibility. It was a fun song to play but I
don't think it was so much fun to listen to. It was basically the riff
from the Elvis Presley record 'His Latest Flame' married to my synopsis
of a short story by one of my favorite authors Kurt Vonnegut."
'Not Me' follows with a relentless riff that is reminiscent of the opening
Coltrane-derived sequence on the Byrds' 'Eight Miles High'. The noise
could easily also be equated with a 'White Light, White Heat' outtake.
Steve, "Yes that is an interesting observation. The riff was one
of Lawrence's and I just put lyrics to it. I had never noticed the similarity
to "Eight Miles High" before but I see what you mean. "Eight
Miles High" is one of my favorite records and the Byrds are still
one of the groups I listen to. I was really in to 1960's psychedelia,
in all its forms. A lot of people involved in Punk were into that. When
Caroline Coon (ex manager of the Clash and founder of Release) said Punk
was the hippie's revenge I don't think she was far from the truth."
The flipside of the record features an updated version of 'Fear' and an
old track called 'Wolves' both recorded live.
Steve, "It wasn't planned. On our final European tour someone recorded
the gig in Leiden in Holland. And the guy who was putting the record out
asked if he could put two live tracks on and make it an E.P. We just said
do what you want. So he did. I was really ill at that point. Just exhausted
by everything. We were cold all the time. We were staying in squats with
no water and inhabited largely by speed freaks who never slept. The van
kept breaking down. The whole Zounds/Mob scene was riven by petty jealousies,
conspiracies and bad blood. I had just about had enough of it all. The
song 'Wolves' on that EP was a really old song we had done before Joseph
was in the band. Tim who played bass with us on that last tour and persuaded
us to play it. God knows why. I was past caring."
In that kind of atmosphere, it was obvious to all parties involved that
there was little remaining interest in the band internally. Burned out
by the grind of touring in harsh conditions was becoming a drag. The high
points of touring at that stage were equaled by the lows.
Joseph, "Cheap and Nasty, from Leiden in Holland were pretty unforgettable.
The Androids of Mu were friends - I think - of Here And Now. I know their
drummer, Susie, was one of Here & NOW's singers at one point. We also
toured with Theatre of Hate, which was pretty awful
Steve, "On that final tour of Europe. Lawrence just said to me one
day that he thought it was all a bit of a drag and he and I should do
something else that was musically a bit more adventurous and a bit more
fulfilling than churning out "Subvert" for ever more to people
who really didn't want to hear anything different. Anarchists can be a
conservative lot I've discovered. Flux Of Pink Indians had the same problem.
I went along with Lawrence and when we got back we spoke to Joseph and
it was clear he didn't want to do the same kinds of things as us and was
much happier playing with his old mates from the Mob."
Steve's growing disaffection with the anarcho scene or any of Zounds'
audience for that matter was also a heavy factor.
Joseph, "Basically, Steve's measured and intelligent approach to
anarchism, and life in general, was lost on the anarchos, who didn't understand
Zounds at all. I think Steve got fed up with that. My involvement with
The Mob was turning me into a bit of a prat as well, and in the end I
think we were all relieved when he decided to call it a day."
Steve, "I seemed to be getting older and the audience seemed to be
getting younger. The whole Zounds trip had been so exciting and brilliant
for me in the beginning but it was becoming a dull routine, and very unpleasant.
We never had any money, my girlfriend was having a baby and I was musically
very unsatisfied. I always liked loads of music, pop, country, psychedelia,
Krautrock, just loads of stuff. The thing about the punk scene in the
beginning was that it had been really open and fresh and interesting.
But it had become stagnant and formalized and predictable. I had to move
on in my life."
The band finally just ceased one day at the end of 1982.
Steve, "We were supposed to go to a gig in Colchester and none of
us could raise the enthusiasm to actually go. We phoned them up and said
the band had split up and we were not coming. Our name is still mud in
Colchester. There was a bit of a falling out with Joseph after that, but
it all got sorted out and I have nothing but respect and admiration for
him and loads of fond memories of the times we had together. We still
do the occasional gig together, in fact the last time we were on the same
bill I sang "Dancing" with Blyth Power, which was great."
By 1983, the band was completely done. As a last release, Rough Trade
encouraged them to license some songs for an Italian only singles collection.
Base Records released the LP using much of the same dubious practices
they've used for years with punk and jazz records.
Steve, "Just after we split. Rough Trade suggested we do it and they
arranged the licensing. Joseph refused to have anything to do with it,
which is why he is absent from the cover. It was supposed to be limited
to 1500 copies, though I know a couple of distributors that took as many
as 4000 each. They do things differently in Italy. It goes without saying
that we saw no money from it."
At the same time, Steve and Lawrence had started a new band called The
World Service. Something of a continuation of Zounds, the band was quick
to record for Rough Trade.
Steve, "It was the name of a band that Lawrence and I formed with
original Zounds member Nick Godwin. This was immediately after Zounds
split up. We released one record called "Celebration Town" on
Rough Trade. The B-side of that record was fantastic actually, it was
called "Turn Out The Lights" and would probably been the next
Zounds single if we had continued."
But that band soon collapsed leaving Steve on his own. Before the end
of the decade he had put out two solo records as well as numerous compilation
and live appearances. It wasn't until the '90s that Steve played music
in a band again, this time with a group called the Relatives.
Steve, "That was a band I was in in the 1990s. It started off as
a drab anonymous indie band but after a while we went acoustic and became
England's greatest ever country band. We had Eric Mingus (son of jazz
legend Charles) on bass for a while. A very beautiful guy."
When that band ended, Steve went back to being a solo artist though his
coming to terms with his musical frustration did allow for him to want
to do the reunion gigs in '98.
Steve, "I've always been artistically unsatisfied. Though what I
am doing now is finally getting close to what I want to do. For years
I found Zounds cringing-ly embarrassing, but I have come to terms with
it more now."
While a remaining benefit single for the McLibel campaign is still in
the works as well as a possible live record, there's no looking back or
nostalgia with Zounds.
Steve, "No. That is it. It would not be possible. I am a different
person. I've learnt to love Zounds but I can never go there again, it
just fucks it up."
Mind you our life was like a 24-hour art workshop. When we
were not playing we were painting, writing, clay modeling, making ecologically
unsound plastic structures that we would set fire to and pollute our lungs,
brains and living environments. People would come round to our house in
Oxford and be amazed that every bit of space was covered in paint, paper,
clay and musical instruments. It was such a groovy scene. Our life was
our art, but we would never have seen it like that at the time.
Well in a lot of ways it was the most exciting time of my
life. We just had such great times. It all got a bit much by the end but
generally it was a great time. Essentially I still believe most of the
stuff and ideas that informed those records. I still am deeply suspicious
of capitalism, Christianity and religion, consumerism, the family, the
education system, the whole thing that in my childhood was called the
military industrial complex. I wasn't as good a lyricist then as I am
now. But the words had a simple, naive charm and they were from the heart.
The music I am less sure about. There are some good moments, but we didn't
really have much clue. If you stand it next to Can or Tom Waits or Captain
Beefheart or the Byrds or whatever it doesn't really stand up for me.
But it touched a lot of people so something must have got through. John
Lennon said he was never a Beatles fan and I guess I am not a Zounds fan."