Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Vice Squad - The Interview

The history of punk rock to many is nothing more than a bunch of "talentless" performers that just scream obscene lyrics resembling the dregs of humanity.  To the rest of us punk rock is one of the most influential genres of music ever.  Today's music across all genres (that includes to an extent country music even) would not exist in its current state, period.  Punk rock has redefined genres of alternative, metal and hard rock but are the only influential punk bands named "Ramones," "Sex Pistols" and "The Clash?"  Well...
 
The simple answer is NO.  No, punk rock bands have assimilated into today's music through a variety of bands many of which are known quite well like the Ramones but one of my all-time favorite punk bands isn't necessarily one that is a mainstream staple.

When the band "Vice Squad" was formed in 1978 a British punk legend was born.  Fronted by Beki Bondage (one of the coolest punk names ever by the way), the band began with Dave Bateman (guitar), Mark Hambly (bass) and Shane Baldwin (drums).  What followed was five excellent years with Bondage on vocals (she left in 1983), two iconic albums "No Cause for Concern" and "Stand Strong Stand Proud" and some of the best tracks from any band during the period.  The band continued on with lineup changes and other albums but without Bondage at the helm they just weren't the same. Bondage continued to perform in other acts but in 1998 she came back to front Vice Squad and back to the punk forefront.

I became a Vice Squad fan in 1988 when a great friend of mine introduced me to their music on a scratchy cassette.  Pumping through that old "Sparkomatic" radio and the crappy speakers in my old 1980 Ford Mustang came these lyrics "You're my little rubber scrubber, how I love the scent. I'm into wild perversions, And both of us are bent."  There is a chance that I could be slightly disturbed because when I heard those lyrics I giggled like a crazy man but the one thing I took from it was the simple brilliance that lay within.  Punk rock is about going against the grain, its about shock, and its possibly one of the most accurately angry genres of music but its also full of wit and all three of those statements fit inside those lyrics.

I watch videos on YouTube quite often and while I was in broadcasting school I would watch videos while I was programming my show and Vice Squad was always on my playlist.  During the time I was in school I played Vice Squad in nearly every show and then I decided to contact the band and ask about the possibility of an interview.  You're wondering if they agreed aren't you?  Of course they did and here it is.

THE FIRST TIME I HEARD VICE SQUAD A FRIEND OF MINE HAD ADDED THE SONG “LAST ROCKERS” ON A CRAPPY MIX TAPE, BUT IT REALLY STRUCK A CHORD WITH ME.  THE NEXT TWO SONGS HE HAD ON THE TAPE WERE “FREEDOM BEGINS AT HOME” AND “LATEX LOVE,” AND I THINK REALLY SEEM TO BE THE ICONIC SONGS I THINK OF WHEN I THINK ABOUT VICE SQUAD.  DO YOU AGREE OR DO YOU THINK THERE ARE OTHER SONGS THAT FIT THE BILL?
 
Beki: lead vox/guitar : I think those songs are seen as iconic because they were released on a major label and have ben re-released lots of times since so they’ve reached a bigger audience than the newer material, which is 100% DIY and released on our own label. I think we’ve written better songs since, which is natural because nothing compares to gigging and writing all your life so you would expect to become a better singer or musician, but also your songwriting is more authentic as regards subject matter. Singing about political issues when you are still at school doesn’t carry the same weight as when you’re fighting for survival with no safety net to fall back on.

However, the old songs were written and recorded when the band was very young and I was in my teens so will always have a certain special vibe to them as we were incapable of copying our musical heroes so ended up sounding original by default. Last Rockers and Latex Love are still in the live set now.  I think that although the original Vice Squad’s musical ineptitude and lack of studio time made us sound quite unique our back catalogue isn’t as good as a band like the UK Subs for example, because the UK Subs were adults and could construct songs properly whereas we didn’t know what we were doing! I still love some of the old songs, like ‘Out Of reach’, I’m quite proud of what we did but of course it was almost by accident and we were still kids living with our parents so had nothing to lose.

Wayne: Yes, of course Last Rockers is an iconic song as it was track 1, side 1 on one of the first, if not THE first, easily available punk rock compilation albums, Punk and Disorderly, Volume 1. It would seem to me that when we play, the vast majority of audiences want to hear that song and thats fine in the way Motorhead ALWAYS have to play Ace Of Spades BUT sometimes I think that most of the people who see us just know that one song as its something you 'just need to know' to be a punk or something. You know what I mean, cliche' lifestyle choices to look cool. As far as the older back catalogue of Vice Squad songs, there are many great songs, many fun songs to play from the band perspective too. Latex Love is always a crowd pleaser and fun to play. We have some older songs in the set like Citizen, Out Of Reach and Scarred For Life, Rock and Roll Massacre, Stand Strong Stand Proud are all mixed in with the newer material and seem to go down no better or worse than the newer songs although they do have a lot more of a hardcore edge to them played with the modern band, a lot harder hitting.

WHEN VICE SQUAD STARTED THE YEAR WAS 1978 CORRECT?  THAT WAS RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PUNK REVOLUTION THAT SEEMINGLY HIT THE WORLD, WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THAT TIME? 

Beki: We didn’t get going properly till the eighties, we pretended we were around in the late seventies to give us a bit more credibility but in truth we were still at school and living with our parents! I do recall that most of the ‘old’ Punks in their twenties were becoming Mods or Skinheads by the time we started so we caught the tail end of Punk. It was great having a record deal and being featured in the music press whilst still living at home, I had all the freedom of an adult but none of the responsibility.

BRITISH PUNK SEEMINGLY HAD THIS EDGE TO IT THAT MANY EARLY AMERICAN PUNK BANDS SEEMED TO REALLY WANT, OBVIOUSLY BANDS LIKE THE RAMONES HAD THAT ALREADY, BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK SEPARATED THE TWO COUNTRIES / SCENES? 

Beki:  I think the original US Punk bands were more Rock and Roll, assuming we’re going back to The Stooges, New York Dolls, Richard Hell etc, whereas the British bands were less rock and more political and definitely more class conscious. Original US Punk artistes like W/Jayne County were more outrageous as regards breaking gender rules and in their stage shows. The Sex Pistols were front page news just for swearing on TV and there was a lot of violence in the scene. In Britain we ended up with a lot of bands that looked ‘straight’, and whilst I think Punk is way more than haircuts and trousers I have to admire die hard punks who still get grief over their appearance.

The second wave bands started to sound more similar on both sides of the Atlantic in as much as they got faster and heavier. We were told that our first album inspired Thrash Metal, which is interesting as we recorded it in a day and thought it sounded quite excruciating!

There’s always been a fascination between American and British musicians and ideas are swapped back and forth all the time. Today many of the younger British bands tend to lean to the American sound and even sing in American accents, whereas in the eighties most singers sounded British. When we’ve toured the US we’ve been struck by how the audience copy the Old School eighties British Punk look, whereas we are attracted to American clothes and American guitars. When we first toured the states in the eighties I got the impression that American youth wasn’t politically aware but my opinion changed when we toured there again in the nineties as the people I spoke with were very informed and knew exactly what was going on.

Wayne:  Well, apart from 3000 miles of ocean, I always preferred the US bands as opposed to the UK bands. I always found the American punk / hardcore bands were faster, more melodic, had songs with more variation.  There were some UK bands I liked but a lot of it was fashion led and now I see older
TV re-runs of those old bands on British pop TV show Top Of The Pops, I see that a LOT of those bands were seemed to lean towards New Wave. Ok, excluding the Damned from this, lets compare someone like the Members' Sound Of The Suburbs  with the Dead Kennedy's or the Circle Jerks or even Minor Threat. They couldn't be more different. To me, the Members were just guitar pop, as were the Undertones and so on. There were tons of them, all sounding the same and very boring and lightweight. The US bands to me were far more exiting and dangerous!!! The UK82 period distilled down the poppy earlier versions into proto hardcore which of course was copied by countless bands too. Discharge, the Exploited and so on, you know what Im getting at. They drew up the blueprints and it influenced some bands in a positive way, they took it and expanded on the idea but some just copied it verbatim, of which I get bored of very quickly.

I only think it was time and attitudes that separated the two scenes.

THE FIRST TIME VICE SQUAD TOURED IN THE US, WHO WERE YOU WITH? 

Beki: We toured on our own for some of it and did some shows with Social Distortion, Discharge, Youth Brigade, Battalion of Saints and Chron Gen I can’t remember exactly which other bands as we enjoyed the Rock and Roll lifestyle and I was off my tiny teenage head much of the time!!!! There are some flyers from that tour on our website.

LET’S GO BACK IN TIME A LITTLE, AND IF YOU COULD MAKE THE ULTIMATE BAND TODAY USING ANY MUSICIANS WHO WOULD THEY BE?  IT IS A GENERIC QUESTION BUT MY RATIONALE BEHIND THE QUESTION IS REALLY STEEPED IN YOUR FOUNDATION AS A BAND. 

Beki:  Topper Headon or Mickey Dee on drums, Eddie Van Halen and Mark Tremonti on lead guitar and Lemmy on bass.

Wayne:  Ok, I’d have Henry Rollins fronting, Scott Ian playing guitar, Charlie Benante playing drums and me playing bass. I guess that would be not so much punk as crossover hardcore but it would be fun!! But as far as mixing old punk bands together to make a Fantasy Football League type band I’d choose Jello Biafra to front, Mike Palm and Rocky George playing guitar, Harley Flanagan playing bass and Chuck Biscuits drumming. Would probably sound crap and the clash of personalities would be nightmarish but it would possibly make an entertaining show!!!

MUSIC TODAY SEEMS MORE THAN JUST A LITTLE WATERED DOWN, TALENTLESS IS AN EXTREME DESCRIPTION BUT WITH THIS SEEMINGLY ENDLESS PAP THAT THEY SHOVE DOWN THE THROATS OF RADIO LISTENERS IT APPEARS THAT MUSIC DOESN’T HAVE A SOUL ANY MORE, WOULD YOU AGREE? 

Beki:  There is plenty of music with soul, it just isn’t the music that you get to hear on mainstream TV and radio, it’s hidden away because the artistes can’t afford expensive publicity campaigns. The music industry has shrunk so there’s very little money for new ‘weird’ bands, record companies will only invest in artistes that will do as they’re told and who they think they can get a quick return from. This results in some truly nauseating saccharine shit drenched in Autotune and Melodyne fronted by individuals who stand for nothing but the accumulation of money and fame.

The music industry was always cut throat but it’s worse now, it’s full of rip off merchants and session players joining bands and leaving when they realise they aren’t going to be rock stars. I respect any band that manages to survive, because it’s ridiculously hard.

Punk is everywhere in a watered down version in fashion and music and you see tattoos, piercings and Punk hair styles on the most unlikely people, I suppose you could say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but I got a LOT of grief for my image when it actually meant something. Let’s hope they copy some of the other things Punk espouses, like Animal Rights, which is probably the most important issue on the planet right now when you consider world hunger and pollution and the unprecedented scale of cruelty in factory farming.

Wayne: From a mainstream perspective, I totally agree. EVERYTHING these days is made into a fashion or commodity / product. Anything we once had with any soul or integrity has been homogenized into a safe and sterile product you can consume. This applies to almost anything from music to tattoos, clothing, hair styles, anything. Faux hawks, same sterile black shading tattoos that celeb wannabes all have, fucking rappers wearing leather jackets all studded up with hardcore bands painted all over them, pop people wearing hardcore t-shirts because their stylist said it'll make them look edgy. Rock chic makes me want to fucking puke. Its because of these people we can’t have nice things anymore. I took no end of shit from casual / trendy / townie whatever you want to call them cunts, because of the way I looked for fucking years. Now they all take a watered down version from us to add a bit of edge to their look. Makes me fucking sick. Radio music to me is not an issue, never listed to the radio anyway so pop or stuff aimed directly at the mainstream was never a concern to me. Its McDonalds for your ears.  I saw a thing on Facebook posted not long ago about Led Zeppelin Lyrics where Planty had this poetic stream of consciousness in which you can see plainly the man's talent. This was put next to Nicki Minaj's lyrics, the words 'Stupid Hoe' repeated like 20 times.

SUCCESS IS MEASURED BY THE INDIVIDUAL THAT HAS IT BUT IF YOU WERE STARTING OUT TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS?  CONFORMITY TO THE LISTENERS SEEMS TO BE THE NORM FOR PEOPLE WITHIN THE R/&B, HIP HOP, POP MUSIC CULTURE AND TO AN EXTENT IN THE “METAL” SIDE TOO FOR THAT MATTER, DO YOU THINK THAT MUSIC IS SUFFERING BECAUSE OF THE CONFORMITY. 

Beki:  If I was starting again today and wanted success then I wouldn’t be playing music professionally because it’s nigh on impossible to achieve success in the sense of financial stability in the music business. If you define success as doing something that you love and constantly improving what you do then music is great, but if you want better than a breadline existence then it probably isn’t for you. Like I said before, there is great music with soul out there you just have to search a lot harder to find it. The cake is getting smaller and the gatekeepers are fighting hard to hold onto the crumbs!!!
 
You can’t really blame some of the bands for conforming to a certain sound and style, some of them believe that if they can get a little success they will be able to do their own thing, and the entire business is based on bullshitting bands into thinking that tomorrow they will get THE gig that will get them THE deal etc etc if they just do as they’re told today.

I know European agents who have built their whole careers on this, there’s never a shortage of bands willing to schlep round Europe in a van playing for door splits in the hope of making it big one day. I’ve been there and done it, all you do is go without sleep and food and spend your earnings on commission and diesel. You’re usually too burnt out to perform well so in effect you’re cheating the audience, and the whole point of playing is to give 100% to your audience. Don’t get me wrong, if you do it for a laugh and get drunk every night it can be fun, but don’t kid yourself that you’re building a career.

If success is measured in scratching a living doing what you love and expressing yourself through music then I’ve been successful, but I’ve had to be the manager, agent, accountant and general dogsbody to achieve it!!!

Wayne:  I wouldn’t try to find success, I’d play music I wanted to play, purely for my own enjoyment. To which I’m led to believe is what you are supposed to do, right?  Anything else that comes with that, great!!!

This is quite funny anyway as there is PLENTY of conformity in the punk scene as well. I was commented on once by an audience member in Nottingham a few years back that I couldn’t be punk as I didn’t have a mohawk. I just have black cropped hair. To this I replied, that if the haircut makes the man, then that’s the day I quit.

I see that many bands try hard to fit in or follow a certain path to sound like what they think they are supposed to sound like to gain acceptance from their peers, to fit into a certain scene or for success / popularity. That kind of contrived effort can be seen from 100 paces. It turns people straight off and throws any integrity you may have had, straight out the window. I tend to like bands I feel have an organic quality to them!!! Dosen’t matter if they are tiny punk bands or major label bands, if a band has gotten to where they are by not compromising their music or stance then all power to them. Love them or hate them, as an example, Slayer never softened up to sell more records.

I couldn’t care less for trying to sound a certain way. I always preferred a confrontational approach anyway. I have been in three punk bands who made an effort to piss people off!!!

Do what you do to make yourself happy. If others like what you do as well, bonus!!!!

THIS IS ACTUALLY A QUESTION THAT IS DEBATED QUITE OFTEN IN THE STATES:  WHO REALLY WAS THE IMPORTANT BAND FROM THE “BRITISH INVASION”?  WHAT BRITISH BAND DO YOU THINK WAS MORE IMPORTANT IN THE WORLD OF MUSIC?  THE WHO?  THE BEATLES?  THE KINKS?  SOMEONE ELSE?

Beki:  All of these bands were enormously influential, plus later there was Led Zeppelin and The Clash. I would guess that for sheer quality of songwriting and the ability to progress their sound it would be the Beatles, but the Beatles were in turn influenced by the Beach Boys.

Wayne: The Beatles. They seemed to blow the doors open for everyone else to come through. They were the clean cut, nice boys most apple pie Americans didn’t mind letting into their homes via the TV. The Stones were marketed as the bad boys with their drug and sex scandles. To which we all know how American Christian mainstream types get all hysterical about record burnings etc etc etc !!!  . Don’t really know enough about the British Invasion. Saw some BBC documentary about it some time ago which was entertaining but it would seem it was the Beatles.

THAT QUESTION REALLY IS KIND OF LOADED IN A SENSE BECAUSE THE BEATLES REALLY WERE MORE “POP” AT THE TIME AND THE OTHERS WERE ROCKERS AND GOOD AT IT TOO FOR THAT MATTER.  ALONG THOSE LINES WHO WAS THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BRITISH PUNK BAND?
 
Beki: I would say The Clash, just because they were big in the US so people actually got to hear them plus they had a pretty eclectic style, e.g. the first album sounds raw and aggressive where as London Calling is far more polished. Rancid, for example, have a large streak of Strummer in their sound.

Maybe the second wave of UK Punk influenced American Hardcore, I’ve been told that our first album ‘No Cause For Concern’ influenced both Hardcore Punk and Thrash Metal.

Wayne: I’d have thought the Sex Pistols. From an all-round perspective, the Pistols.

I LOVE YOUR MUSIC SO FOR ME THIS QUESTION IS KIND OF SKEWED BUT WHERE DOES VICE SQUAD SIT IN PUNK HISTORY?  DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN INFLUENTIAL?

Beki: I don’t know where we sit in Punk history but we’ve had some influence, we’ve played shows with 3 or 4 female fronted support bands who all sounded like early Vice Squad, which was very flattering , and we’ve definitely influenced some Hardcore bands as the band members themselves have told me they were inspired by us.

Wayne: Well it’s obvious that Vice Squad was and is influential to many punk and bands. As we travel the world we hear stories of how certain Vice Squad songs or records have started bands or in one extreme case, started a scene!! I Medellin, Colombia, No Cause For Concern was either tape traded, bootlegged or a copy smuggled in and apparently (so we were told at a press conference) it was the first punk rock record to make it out to Medellin. This was then mass taped and spread around causing bands to form and a scene to start which is still healthy today.

I have absolutely no idea how many female punks have looked to Beki as an icon or whatever, of any age. We have seen female fronted or all female punk bands cover Vice Squad songs which is great fun to see!!!!

As far as punk history is concerned, I think you already know the answer to your own question. We all know Beki is considered the first punk pin up and is largely thought of as the first lady of punk. Although there were actually quite a few British female 'punk' icons, they ALL had way more media exposure than Vice Squad and were ALL more pop / new wave.

Siouxsie Sioux was an influence on Beki, she told me years ago but again, the Banshees were more goth / new wave / pop to me than punk.

If anything, I think Vice Squad was fucked over and SHOULD have had way more media attention back then and sit way higher in the pantheon of British punk as it was so pioneering!!!!

THE LAST US TOUR WAS IN 2009 I BELIEVE, HOW DO YOU LIKE TOURING IN THE US?  MUSIC SEEMS TO BE FULL OF MUSIC FESTIVALS NOW, IN FACT THERE IS A “BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL” THAT HAPPENS ABOUT FIFTY MILES FROM HERE AND IT HAS THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE THAT ATTEND IT, DO YOU WELCOME INVITATIONS TO PERFORM AT PUNK FESTIVALS?

Beki: Playing festivals is good because you get to reach a lot of people with one gig so if you’re on form it’s great.

Wayne: Personally I loved touring the US. Best life experience I ever had. Loved it. I’m sure I was born in the wrong country!!!

Festival invitations?? I don’t think we get enough of them!! Festivals, on the whole can be great fun to play. Sometimes its a bit of a pain in the ass with stupid crap here and there, but on the whole, it’s fun. That’s what it should be, otherwise what’s the point??

IN NORTH AMERICA THERE IS A MUSIC FESTIVAL CALLED “RIOT FEST,” ITS HELD IN DENVER, CHICAGO AND I BELIEVE TORONTO TOO, ITS WELL OVER A 100+ BANDS RANGING FROM THE CURE, SOCIAL DISTORTION, SLAYER, JUST TONS AND TONS OF GREAT ACTS, IF YOU WERE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO PERFORM AT THIS FESTIVAL DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD?

Beki: Yes!

Wayne: Er..... gee, let me think........yeah I reckon so. For fucks sake, YES... duhhh !!!!

OBVIOUSLY THE BAND HAS UNDERGONE CHANGES THROUGHOUT THE YEARS, HOW EASY IS IT FOR YOU TO WORK AS ONE BIG COHESIVE UNIT UNLIKE EARLY BANDS?  DOES EXPERIENCE AND AGE MAKE UP FOR ANY YOUTHFUL ANGST?  DO YOU THINK THAT EXPERIENCE HAS MADE VICE SQUAD AND ITS MUSIC BETTER?

Beki: I could write several books about the struggle to keep a band together over the years, it’s never been easy. It definitely makes your songwriting better as all the angst comes from the heart, and of course you can spot dud musicians, chancers and slackers a bit more easily. There have been occasions when sheer desperation has forced us to work with wankers but on the good side we’ve also worked with some amazing people who were 100% into us. We’ve certainly had some characters in the band, good and bad, over the years, and lots of fun to temper the bad times.

I think we’re better musically now, but it would be strange if we weren’t! It helps that both Paul (guitar) and Wayne  (bass) are ex lead singers who have personal experience of trying to hold a band together and Django (drums) is really keen and loves playing.

It’s easy to join a band when you’re a kid and just pack it in and become ‘normal’ when things get tough, so I respect those who’ve stayed with it. In my case the angst I felt as a teenage girl is a lot worse now as I haven’t become part of the ’normal’ world or become comfortable.  My feelings about the state of the world are a lot stronger than they were when I first became Punk so my songwriting is a lot stronger too.

Wayne: Yes, I think it has. We are like an engine right now. Everyone knows their role and how to play it. We never sink below a certain floor of performance quality, which is nice!!

It’s definitely experience that makes it the unit we have. It could be a lot better too though. There is ALWAYS something you can improve on. Fuck youthful angst, fuck that. Just anger or aggression in delivery can kill that!!!

Of course you get better as you carry on. It’s inevitable!!

On our day, we are like a fucking tsunami. Unstoppable energy!!!

I’M NOT A YOUNG GUY, I’M 46 BUT AFTER I GOT HURT ACTING AS A VOLUNTEER I HAD TO RE-INVENT MYSELF, HAVE ANY OF YOU DONE THE SAME THING?

Beki: After my second band ‘Ligotage’ disbanded I had to re-invent myself as a Rock singer to earn a living, there was no way I was going to do anything other than music and as a tattooed pink haired person I wasn’t employee material so couldn’t have done anything else even if I’d wanted to. I knew I had a voice inside me and I used it to get gigs and earn a  small crust playing the ’Toilet Circuit’ in the UK. If you can play to a room full of pissed up hecklers you can play anywhere. I started again right at the bottom playing on Monday nights for whatever money was put in the ‘hat’ by the audience, this was then split 5 ways between me and the other band members.  It enabled me to build a voice and keep gigging and writing songs. We had a very knackered old transit van called ‘Bertha’ and a little 8 track studio and we were entirely DIY.  It was very hard but we had some laughs, which included attempting to make a video in a scrap yard balanced on piles of crushed cars waving exhaust systems at the camera.

Wayne: Not really. Im 43, spent most of the 80's racing BMX. I still ride and recently broke my collarbone / left clavicle casing the upside of some doubles with my shoulder. Its much better now, Ill be back on the bike in no time. To stop is death. Unless its major medical reasons then no, I would not stop or change.

WHEN I WAS HURT, THE BUSINESS I STARTED ENDED SO I DECIDED TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL AND GET REEDUCATED THIS TIME IN RADIO BROADCASTING AND I HAVE A FEATURE IN MY SHOW I CALL “WICKED WEDNESDAY” WHERE I PLAY A COUPLE OF SONGS BY A BAND THAT I THINK IS GREAT BUT I ASK THE BAND WHAT TWO SONGS OF THEIRS ARE THEIR FAVORITES AND THEN EXPRESS WHY THEY ARE THEIR FAVORITES, WHAT TWO VICE SQUAD SONGS ARE YOUR FAVORITES?  WHY?

Beki: Good for you!  You have the right attitude for survival in the entertainment industry!!!

‘If I Knew what I Know Now’ and ‘Hallelujah Karma’. (Both songs are on ‘Cardboard Country’) The first because it encapsulates extreme youth and the rush to grow up in 2 and a half minutes and I like the tune plus it gets people dancing at gigs. The second because it’s unlike anything VS has done before but sums up the state of the UK at the moment. Basically much of what our ancestors suffered blood, sweat and tears for is being destroyed while an ignorant public allows it to happen. I say ignorant but it could be that they are well aware of what’s happening and don’t care, which means they lack compassion, which is worse than being ignorant!
 
Wayne: If I had to choose two, I'd choose one old one and one new one.

First being 'Citizen' as its a good uptempo, pounding aggressive song with a great strong chorus and good melodic content and its always fun to play.

Second but new would be 'Spitfire' for the same reasons. The Spitfire demo I thought was badass actually so the rare occasions we do play it, I tend to lean towards the demo backing vocals for some reason.(This version of ‘Spitfire’ is the last track on an album entitled ‘Unreleased’ ) Its only my opinion but its the version I prefer.

FOR THOSE THAT READ MY BLOG ( musicallead.blogspot.com ) WHERE I WILL OBVIOUSLY POST THIS INTERVIEW ALONG WITH A LITTLE BACK STORY ON THE BAND, WHERE CAN THEY GET VICE SQUAD MERCHANDISE?  MUSIC?  DO YOU HAVE AN ONLINE STORE THAT THEY CAN BUY FROM?
Beki: Yes we have CDs, vinyl, t-shirts, vests and dresses available at: http://vicesquad.co.uk/punkrock/

WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT VICE SQUAD?

Beki: That we’re 100% DIY and 100% sincere about our music.

Wayne: That its still alive, healthy and going strong. Its a great band with genuine approachable people who dont subscribe to the pop star / diva attitude school of things.

I COULD ASK THE STANDARD HOW OLD ARE YOU ALL, MARRIED, KIDS, ETC., BUT I THINK THE ONE THING THAT SEEMINGLY PEOPLE MENTION THE MOST TO ME ABOUT THE BAND IS ABOUT BEKI.  ITS FAIRLY COMMON FOR PEOPLE TO ASSOCIATE BEKI WITH SOME TYPE OF ‘80’S HAIR METAL BAND AND NOT PUNK BECAUSE SHE IS VERY BEAUTIFUL, IT SEEMS THAT THEY ASSUME ANYONE ASSOCIATED WITH PUNK CAN’T BE ATTRACTIVE, DO YOU GET THAT IN THE UK OR EUROPE?

Beki: We’re not associated with Hair Metal in Europe or the UK, there’s not enough hair in the band for that and we’re too noisy and not very glamorous!

We do have some very beautiful fans so some of the people associated with Punk are definitely attractive.

I’ve never considered myself beautiful and used to get called unflattering names by the old band, but
music is very sexy so anyone in a band is always deemed to be a lot more physically attractive than they really are. And let’s be honest, a Gibson Les Paul beats a handbag as an accessory any day!

There was more male crumpet in hair metal than in punk, but that’s because there was a lot of hair and makeup, it’s a lot harder to look cute with a shaved head and no makeup! I think a lot of the hair metal guys looked like punk girls: spiked long hair, heavy eyeliner, fishnet, ripped clothing etc. Both Punk and Metal blurred the lines between the genders, which I like because conforming to gender stereotypes is restrictive and boring. I used to get a lot of grief about having tattoos and blue hair so I can easily empathize with men who wear makeup etc, in fact I think it’s natural as the male of the species is the ‘Peacock’ and men’s clothing didn’t become ‘dowdy‘ (un)til the 19th century. Let’s be honest, a guy wearing make-up sporting a blue Mohawk is being a lot more challenging in his appearance than a guy in a Fred Perry with tidy short hair, we know which one will get threatened with violence and which one will get the nice safe job.

As for beauty, it’s in the eye of the beholder and the character of the person. I’ve always been wary of ‘respectable’ types in suits as often they’re about selfishness and greed so I tend to find beauty in Punk Rock. The most beautiful thing a human being can possess is kindness. No matter how physically beautiful you are you are repulsive if you’re cruel. I am most definitely Punk because I question everything and will always be a rebel, but I’m a Rocker too.

Wayne: Well, of course, its Beki's band!! She is the front of it all. Without her name on the posters or tickets, none of us would be here!!! You could say the same about the Subs or Motorhead as far as the frontperson gets a lot of attention, that’s the way the cookie crumbles!!!

Now as far as hair metal is concerned (funny you should mention) you have it quite backwards. I wasn’t in the Bombshells (which was Beki and Paul's 80's attempt at hair metal) but I’m told, many many times, that Beki was not accepted in the pop rock / hair metal scene because she was known as a punk so was kind of ostracized because of her punk background.

Who knows??? As far as being attractive in punk, I think that’s down to the individual who thinks whatever is attractive... eye of the beholder and so on, blah blah.

WHERE DO YOU THINK VICE SQUAD SITS IN THE HISTORY OF PUNK?
Beki: Probably quite low, we were teenagers when we first started to get noticed and I was incredibly naive so messed a lot of things up, as did the rest of the band. I often think Vice Squad would have been a lot more successful if we’d been older.  Also, I get the impression that because I’m female our contribution is discounted or we’re seen as a novelty band. We sometimes find ourselves lower down the bill than 4 men in polo shirts who are still singing about ‘The kids’ in their 50s and living very comfortable lives that are far removed from Punk Rock or any type of Rock for that matter. It’s hardly an injustice on the scale of factory farming or third world poverty but it’s still an injustice.

Wayne: NOT FUCKIN' HIGH ENOUGH THAT’S WHERE!!!!!

ANY NEW MUSIC COMING OUT?  IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING WHETHER IT BE BRAND NEW OR FROM YOUR LAST ALBUM I WOULD WELCOME PLAYING IT ON MY SHOW!

Beki: We have a new album available on our own Last Rockers label called ‘Cardboard Country’.

Wayne: New album out late last year, CARDBOARD COUNTRY so go check that out !!! Recording two new tunes at the mo, got to go put some bass down very soon actually. This is why we think the band is healthy, new stuff on the go instead of the nostalgia trip of only playing old stuff entirely.
 
END OF INTERVIEW
 
When I decided to ask the band Vice Squad for an interview I was a little nervous if not merely for the reason that I am a fan but more importantly I wanted you to see the band on another level.  The interview as I presented it was from an email from the band and I decided that it would be important to not change the interview at all, with a few misspellings corrected and some small formatting changes being the exception.  I wanted you to see the interview as I did and more importantly I wanted you to see the depth and intelligence of these two members of Vice Squad, Beki and Wayne.  I loved reading the interview myself as it give insight into a movement in human history, not just music history, whereby artists that many would have merely discounted had the balls and the skill to make their message heard worldwide.  I live in Illinois for heaven's sake and I have never seen the band live but their music impacted my world, and that by itself should be proof to the importance to the band Vice Squad on the history of punk music.
 
Every word they sent was refreshing and enlightening and I thank them for spending the time to provide me with this opportunity.  Look for Vice Squad online at: Vice Squad  or on Facebook at: Vice Squad on Facebook.  Join the band on Facebook and tell them I sent you!  Take some time and find Vice Squad music because I would guess that you too will hear what I did and become their newest fan. 

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