Full English Breakfast: The Dave Haystacks/Pat Townshend Interview

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(As previously noted, this interview originally was to be published in a zine I had planned, but never ended up starting. )

WARNING: The following piece is very lengthy:

The band Superyob have been at the top of the heavyweight division in the sordid world of English “punk rock/oi!” for well over ten years now, and with good reason;  it’s founders Frankie “Boy” Flame and Pat Townshend, and (more recent ‘Yob) Dave Haystacks are talented songwriters who have a wide range of views on a variety of subjects – from the changing face of Britain, to the complete lack of morals in society, they have produced four solid albums (and a handful of singles) worth of classic material.

The Concrete Gods share the vision of Superyob, mainly due to the fact that Pat Townshend and Dave Haystacks again surface in said band, but they differ in delivery. The Gods take a more power-popish, mod rock approach, and have been compared to The Jolt with vocals by Colin McFaull. Dave, who provides these vocals, has assumed a major role in the direction of both bands, which has only solidified things on both fronts.

Taking their inspiration for both bands from the sounds of east London, the swagger of Slade, the lyrical themes of Ray Davies and the backbone of Cock Sparrer meets  Generation X and The Jam, I give you the views of Pat and Dave, with occasional commentary from yours truly…

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Saturday Night: Since it’s the name of the interview, David, what exactly constitutes a FULL ENGLISH BREAKFAST? Inquiring minds want to know…..(this first series of questions are absolutely ridiculous. Skip if you are wise…)

DAVE HAYSTACKS: Everyone will have their own view on this, but there are basic constituents which have to be present – different people will adopt trimmings to have it their way. Basic constituents are fried egg, rashers of proper wide meaty bacon (unlike the scrappy scrag ends you get in the USA) and sausages. Common additions are fried bread on which to place your fried egg; fried sliced mushrooms, baked beans in tomato sauce, halved grilled fresh tomatoes, tinned skinned ‘plum’ tomatoes, chips (fires), toast and of course black pudding (or blood pudding as you may know it as). I tend to avoid fried bread as unless the oil it’s fried in is top notch and fresh you get a mouthful of grease when you bite in to it. Any liquid based portions – beans, plum toms – can lead to a soupy concoction of the breakfast which is a matter of taste – not for me. Chips I think of as a lunchtime addition and should not be for breakfast. Toast should be on the side with butter not on the plate, though plain white bread and butter is a viable option. Hash browns are obscene and should not be on a FEB – as you quaintly call it. Brown sauce – HP’s or Daddy’s – should be in attendance as should a plentiful supply of hot, strong tea with a little milk. Orange juice is not an option. Eggs should only be scrambled if considered a brunch rather than a breakfast. My ideal ramp up – 2 fried eggs, 2 rashers of smoked wide back bacon, 2 quality sausages, 2 slices of black pudding, drained plum tomatoes, 2 slices of toast and butter on the side, HP brown sauce and lots of pepper. Several cups of fresh strong tea with no sugar

Saturday Night: For my own interest, can you explain to me what exactly you do for a living? I know it’s to do with beer, but c’mon…how does one make a living off of beers?

DAVE: Not beer any more squire – that was a few years ago now. Best job I had but the pay was shite and the company finally went under because Britain’s oldest fuckin’ brewer (based on history, tradition, pride and value) went to Italy for their keg filling equipment – thus condemning Britain’s last existing company in that field to the khazi. Twats. I now work in commercial kitchen ventilation. Think domestic little cooker hood and expand beyond your wildest dreams. I work in anywhere from a temporary kitchen in a construction site to the poshest hotels and restaurants in London. Everyone’s gotta eat.

Saturday Night: How good is eel pie? I know those that are disgusted by it, but by God,let’s hear about it?

DAVE: Never had eel pie, but jellied eels are quality mate. Very much an acquired taste, but addictive really. The flesh should be meaty and not too chewy and the skin tender. Good jellied eels should melt in the mouth with lashings of malt vinegar and black pepper. Very much a London tradition. You can still get stewed eels on menus in Pie and Mash shop – with mashed potato and peas and liquor – handsome. I’ve got a mate who’s an eel fisherman so supplies are usually good.

Saturday Night: OK….I’d like to lead off with a very pubbed up question whilst wishing the lads were here: does the term “American skinhead” amuse you two? Because the cult is so decidedly British and rooted in your culture, do you think that other countries adopting the same style is a bit of a laugh or do you think that it’s good in that, larger countries carrying on the torch to see the subculture is never going to be extinct?

DAVE: ‘Amuse’ is a strange choice of word here Sean – as if you’re half expecting any opinionated British skin aficionado to shoot the whole concept down in flames. Could you have meant to use the word ‘bemuse’ instead? (Editor: No, I did indeed mean ‘amuse’…) What you have to differentiate between when considering British skins is that there are those who are older and remain dewy eyed and philosophical about how skinheads would never have come into existence unless reggae and Ska had occurred and that Oi! somehow came from Jamaica; there are those like me of a younger generation who see their ‘skin-ness’ as something born from the coat tails of punk – built upon the decline in society and the need to tribe and survive with people who shared the same mores, beliefs and ways of life. There is obviously cross over between both ‘styles’ and there is certain commonality, but the US skin scene very much came from the later scene via its own early 80s hardcore scene. With any scene built upon something preceding it (especially if there has not been so much of a gap) there is a clamour for credulity and raison d’etre which becomes so overpowering that it makes it copyist, undermined and it’s own laughing stock. I think that’s how a lot of British skins see the US scene – boots, byrds, boozing, rucking, Oi! Oi! Oi! – a self parody with no individuality or thought processes other than follow the code. When we were kids it was about looking the part with the money you had in your pocket and buying records from bands you’d seen at the youth club. You ganged together with groups of your mates you went to school with and existed in your own little sub-culture which made you feel comfortable in your own little world – with external criteria moulding your points of view and helping you to mature and develop an identity which was real and based upon your upbringing, culture and external stimuli. It was not about following the formula – which the US scene, in the main, seems to be. There are, of course, exceptions to all rules, and one thing that has pleased me in recent years in ingratiating myself in the skinhead scene in the US is that it isn’t all the same formula – there are enclaves of intelligent people who embrace a wider ranging cultural philosophy of the whole genre.

If I’m honest overseas scenes within different race scenarios (Yellow Oi!, Malaysian Skins, black skinheads in the US) does not compute with the way I existed and grew up in skinhead surroundings. We were white, working class kids bonded together through our way of life and the hand which life dealt us. Alienation caused us to kick back at other social groups as a way of exerting our pride in what we were and saying ‘fuck you’ to those who looked down their noses at us. That’s not to say groups of working class Indonesian kids shouldn’t cut their hair, wear big boots and shout ‘Oi!’ a lot, but it just doesn’t work in my mindset. This is not a tarted up squinting racist viewpoint, this is an honest attempt to explain why there is a stigma to the overseas skinhead scenario.

PAT TOWNSHEND: I have no problem with overseas skinheads and I would go as far as to say I have made friends with some………… my only complaint would be that no matter how hard they try they will never become British or as some would say “authentic”……………the cults of Teddy Boy, Mod, Skin and punk came to be because of our way of life, which especially in the past was totally exclusive to these islands………. It’s best if skinheads would have more interest in their own scene………… and to the ones that quote agenda based written history to those of us who were actually there………… please don’t.

Saturday Night: (Not to harp on “skinhead” as this is not Oi! the Interview) but tell me a little bit about your experience with it growing up in England. What exactly was it like growing up with it in England?  Over there, it’s much more ingrained in the history of youth movements, the music, etc, where here it’s just bald racists…..how was it growing up with the cult?

DAVE: I grew up in a small 2 up 2 down house with my mum, dad and younger brother. We had little money to buy the fripperies of modern living and coming of age in a technologically advancing era meant it was the birth of the appalling consumerism we exist in today. My mum never worked until we were well into our teens and my dad was a fairly low paid engineer. We never wanted for anything but there was precious little ‘luxury’. I remember having no phone, having an outside toilet, bathing in the kitchen sink, watching a black and white telly and having no record player. It’s easy to drop into a rose tinted view of working class inverse snobbery here, but that’s how it was. When I passed my exams to go to the ‘good’ school I was rewarded with a record player – which is when my life properly began. Everything was about music with me and listening to the radio at the time (we’re talking 1976 to 1979 here) meant I was lucky to be developing at the same time as the music which, in hindsight, would matter most. Having been just too young to be totally influenced by the first wave of Pistols era punk I latched onto the 2nd wave and onto the skinhead scene in particular. We had a local record shop that sold what we wanted to hear and gangs used to congregate at youth clubs and in parks and on street corners just to be together with people who were the same. There was a buzz about the country as a teenager growing up as a skinhead – not only from the growing scene, but much of it from the media and the establishment seeing skinheads as an unacceptable form of teenage cult –as if there should be a ‘right’ type of cult to be in. I was too young to be ‘political’ in any way shape or form, but the wind of change of post-Southall (which I remember) and the growth of nationalist factions (which I don’t) within the scene gave the establishment a reason to repress it (rather than just being scared of it like before)  and I distinctly remember attitudes changing. Older people looked worried and other cults attacked you because you looked like you wanted trouble. Being working class, down to earth and having to struggle to survive meant that the movement was ‘ready for a ruck’ (if you’ll pardon the cliché) and so a lot believing of one’s own press went on and again attitudes morphed into something more violent and aggressive. Things snowballed, the scene shrunk and many people moved on. Factions took over different aspects of the scene for flag waving and the whole thing degenerated into the internally wrangling behemoth is probably still is today:- fighting to renounce the things which saw it divide and fragment whilst secretly wearing the badges behind the lapels. I ‘lapsed’ from the scene in the mid to late 80’s after running out of people whom I had anything in common with, moving away to university and expanding my horizons as a young adult. The fire still burns – just not as brightly as when ideals, youth and a rapidly changing world meant you wanted to explode. The whole scene developed in a way that age was no barrier. It wasn’t an ‘older kids’ type of thing – it was real to everything who had the desire to belong. There were gangs of 10 and 11 year old skins as well as those youngsters who hung around with older kids.

PAT: I don’t think that the skinhead phenomenon was as big in numbers as some people imagine (although most towns or individual areas of cities would have had at least 50 skinheads knocking around). It was the reaction of the media and authorities to this working class movement that had the real effect………… to understand any of this you have to ignore the clothes and understand who these young skinheads were the sons of working men, workers who realised that they were factory and cannon fodder with no real prospect of bettering themselves……………generations of god fearing workers who’s only reason to meet foreigners was to kill them in battle………… and of course an ingrained hatred of the upper classes who controlled their lives and of the middle classes who were totally false…………. These factors go a long way to explain queer bashing, paki bashing and hippy bashing………… all groups which were alien to young men that something to prove…………… growing up in this scene was really only about hanging around with your trusted mates………….. and then because of all the negative press having to fight to defend yourselves on a regular basis………… of course this increased the pride in being different and wearing the best clothes you could get hold of…………….. the opinion of music was different also…………. We went to all the gigs we could and didn’t care about big name bands……… it was all about going out with your mates………… of course none of us had seen a book about how to dress up or what records to buy…………… as far as we were concerned we were the first skinheads…………. It was new, it was young and it was great.

Saturday Night:  One thing I’ve been interested in for awhile, Pat, was how with several different bands, and most recently in Concrete Gods, your “vision” seems to be akin to themes and subject matter from a sort of kitchen sink point of view of British realism. Presented as is, no romantic notions, etc. Is kitchen sink stuff like that an influence? Films like Billy Liar, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Bronco Bullfrog, Kes, Look Back in Anger, stuff like that. Does the way they present British realism influence the kind of things you want to say with your band(s)?

PAT: The realism side of my writing comes easily as it’s how I was brought up……….. in South East London in a council flat, went to comprehensive school………. I didn’t have it hard but we had little money, same as everyone in our area, but by today’s standards of consumerism we would have been classed as poor………… I’ve had loads of different jobs; building, bank messenger, driver, painter, etc and I feel that I’m qualified to talk about the land I live in…………….. out of the films you mention I saw Kes years ago, and recently saw Saturday night Sunday morning……….. of course I can relate to the characters but also I believe that these film should be essential viewing for kids so that they know something about their families past………… I love a lot of old film and TV……….. try out The loneliness of the long distance runner (about Borstal) and episodes of Steptoe and son for an idea of how people used to think in those days………….. it’s not just the jokes, it’s the social comment and lack of political correctness that show what our forefathers were like…………… but the real reasons I have gone more and more into the subject of our immediate past is that our culture is disappearing quickly…………….. most Londoners have left or want to leave the capital because of violence and foreigners……………. Do you realise my favourite pie and mash shop has closed after 40 years……………… and do you know how that makes me feel ?

Saturday Night: Dave, you have been exposed to a variety of scenes as far as punk rock goes. One I’ve always been curious about is the Leatherface/Snuff/Guns’n’Wankers scene, which I know you are a fan of. Can you talk a little about how that was? Did it cross over at all into the Oi! stuff  (I’m guessing no?) How was it among that group? Any overlooked bands to recommend? Good stories?

DAVE: I’ve always tried to look inside scenes, styles and genres to try to find the songs at the end of it all. After becoming a musician myself I discovered that I listened to things in a different way and from a different perspective – from the inside. I discovered melody and I began to understand what I wanted to do as a musician. I’ve wandered through all genres as I thing any discerning intelligent person with an interest in music should, but I’ve always come full circle and walked headlong into bands with big guitars, tunes and songs. This can be seen as being ‘un-punk’ in some eyes, but at the end of the day you play what you like in a style you like to an audience you associate with and respect. I don’t want to wander into a critique on the history and philosophy of popular music, but if you dumb yourself down to play something because that’s what you think you should be doing then why bother.

When I got into the bands you mentioned I was probably looking for something at that time. Late 80s saw the decline of Indie and the early 90s was a bit of a wasteland for someone looking to be challenged and motivated by new powerful music. I always read the music press and cut out bits which mentioned bands I liked the sound of. I’d stopped being interested in Oi! once there were weekly releases of Oi! This and Oi! That, and once out of it I didn’t come into any contact with the early 90’s scene – Hammer Records and the like. I was a rabid record shop peruser and simply started buying the records of bands which I’d decided I liked the sound of – simple and a bit boring but true. Snuff bore forth a generation of like minded individuals and bands and Leatherface took it to a whole new level – both are 2 of my favourite 90s bands. One of my best ever live experiences was seeing as near as it can be now to an original Snuff performance last year in a small club completely unexpectedly. Simon and Duncan and another bass player left the whole place nigh on speechless with what they played – I shed a tear or two I can tell you.

Saturday Night: Dave, tell us a little about what bands you kicked around in, and then how you got involved with Frankie Flame and the subsequent formation of Superyob, a great band with a decidedly English viewpoint of oi! mixed with pub rock, glam, etc. How did this come about?

DAVE: I’d learnt guitar at university hanging around with a load of hippies who could play all the Led Zep and Rush catalogues blindfolded and I remember saving up to go get my first Spanish acoustic when I first came home from uni. (My brother later broke the head of it). I developed a taste for acoustic music because of this and it took a while to shake this – although Neil Young (whom I know you worship Sean) will always be with me. I bought an electric guitar kit with mini amp when I went back to uni after me and a mate got thrown down the stairs out of a party and ended up in the stairwell battered and bruised in a pile of mail. We started opening letters and we both opened two similar envelopes together – one had the bank card and the other had the PIN number – we were rich. He bottled it and I sent a couple of days relieving some rich foreign student of his pocket money until the bank ate the card. Things I remember buying was a new pair of trainers, my electric guitar kit, a Husker Du video, a Bob Dylan cassette of his first 2 albums and shed loads of beer. Who says crime doesn’t pay. Now electrified things took a subtle shift towards heavy metal and dodgy Indie. My main influence though was Billy Bragg – how could a bloke who couldn’t sing and could play the same easy guitar chords as me make such good records. He was a little bit folk and a little bit punk – which I liked too.

After Uni, the first band I played with was a pseudo rockabilly band which I started managing and then eventually joined because they needed someone who could play. This went backwards and forwards for a few years in the late 80s and early 90s – with the style becoming country and western to psychobilly to folk to a bit world music now and then. It was no rollercoaster of a ride but it was what I call sound musical development for someone trying to carve a niche. It was always something more acoustic based and I never really flexed my electric muscles again until much later. I’d have the occasional rehearsal room session with mates which never got off the ground.

I finally formed my own pop punk band Strumpet in the mid 90s and wrote about 16 incredible songs in about 48 hours – purely because we didn’t have any of our own. I’ve never had to write anything since because I’ve never had to again. If I ever have to then out they’ll tumble.

I’d first met Frank when he was doing his pub show on the piano at the Goose and Firkin pub in Borough in South London. This would have been about ‘87/’88 I suppose. It was just quality entertainment and it featured songs I’d grown up with from the Oi! scene as well as the traditional songs my childhood had taught me and also classic nuggets of British rock and roll that had worked their way in to my head from my transistor radio under the sheets at bed time. Although I was out of the Oi! scene pretty much by then and although he used to get loads of skins coming down and singing old Cock Sparrer’ songs it didn’t really inspire me to do anything – even though I was a musician myself by then. I’m a bit surprised by that – thinking back about it now.

Years rolled by and I just kicked my heels buying music rather than seriously playing it. Strumpet did bits and pieces and my old rockabilly band got together occasionally for bits and pieces. I started doing guitar lessons, and the husband one of my pupil’s (she now plays in new Brit Oi! band Code 1) said some friends of his were looking for a guitarist to complete their band. He gave me the first 2 Superyob albums to listen to and I was surprised to see Frank involved. We met up and then hit the studio for a session. I realised I probably knew Pat as he was local and we later found we’d been to lots of the same gigs together when we were younger. Having learnt 15 new songs in about 4 days I didn’t think I’d have to teach them to Sid too when he turned up….but that’s how it went. I liked the ‘Yob CDs and it brought a bit of the old Oi! scene back to me. I’d had no preconceptions because any Oi! after about 1986 was new to me. The music was good and embraced things that I liked and could work with both style wise and message wise, and the rest is history.

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Saturday Night: Pat, I know, is a big fan of the glam stuff (I miss that section of the website where Pat recommended various stuff that included glam, etc) and how did that figure in. Pat also ran HAMMER records, was in Straw Dogs, etc. How did you guys meet up? Were you hitting Straw Dogs shows, and involved in the Hammer skinhead stuff at all?

DAVE: As in the previous question – Oi! pretty much ended for me in about 1986, so the subsequent scene was alien. The only occasional dabble I had was with The Business as they were local and my mate Verne knew Fitzy and bummed free CDs off him. Micky Drummer (now in Superyob) lived a couple of doors up from me and the old Business lads used to occasionally come down my local for a pint. My only vaguely Oi! gig for was an all dayer in Sheffield that I went to with Fitz and Drummer….Peter and the Test Tube Babies played I remember, a band called Violent Affray (very Oi! that lot – I remember this big skinhead fella who was singing with them took grave offence because someone had the audacity to say they were a punk band: ‘We’re a fookin’ Oi! band man’. Ha ha ha.)

I’d always held the Sweet in very high regard – still do in fact – and they are a major influence through my life in music. I really don’t know why it was just them and no other glam bands – it’s kinda weird thinking about it now. I’ve obviously re-visited the genre in subsequent years and enjoyed that voyage of discovery but I don’t know why other bands of that era didn’t feature more.

I had no knowledge of Hammer Records or of the bands on the label – except a couple by name maybe – and it was only after joining Pat in Superyob we realised our paths had undoubtedly crossed in previous years and in previous incarnations. We had the same friends and spoke about the same things. As a band we soon realised we shared common musical influences so it wasn’t difficult to forge a partnership in what we were doing.

Saturday Night: Along the same lines, tell us the Aceface/Concrete Gods story. What’s happening with that band these days? You’re singing lead. How do you like that?

DAVE: I don’t like it. I don’t mind singing live and being a ‘front man’ type figure but hate the sound of my voice and recording as a singer. I fell into Aceface as a bass player to fuel Pat’s mod/punk/’79 leanings in style and songwriting. It was with Rob of Straw Dogs and Antonella of Klasse Kriminale. Frank was away working for long periods of time and Sid was till playing with Section 5 so there were periods of inactivity. Pat had tried various things in indie bands and other punky bands but had struck upon the ’79/Mod/Punk thing as a way of exploring the style of lyrics he had waiting to put out. It quickly fell apart as Aceface with Rob and Anne missing gigs and not being that into it and eventually moving to Italy to live. We finished the Aceface album with them and just about started the Concrete Gods album with them before they went. Pat simply explained to me that it was now just him and me and I had to finish the album (Anglo-Centric Generation)….Pat has this sort of way of presenting things like that. All the songs were part recorded in the wrong key and we weren’t gong to start again – so that’s why the vocal is all over the place on the album unfortunately. I ended up dong all vocals, most of the guitars and bass. I really like the sound of the end result but it could have been better with the quality of the songs present if we’d have started again.

The Concrete Gods now exist as a cohesive live unit with 2 friends of mine drafted in on bass and lead guitar – I’m just singing and playing rhythm guitar now. We’ve doe about a dozen gigs including a few big festival shows and the sound is definitely starting to take a grip. We’re writing new stuff that I can do justice to vocally (leave the music to me!!!) and we’re putting on angry shows that people talk about. Recording starts again soon on the 2nd Gods album and the songs will be excellent – again with the common them of how our British culture has eroded away.

Saturday Night: I see alot of old or former skinheads hanging around the “casual” scene. What do you think of that scene and the rise of the chav? What exactly is it about that scene that attracts the masses? Was the casual scene alot different in the 80’s? Myself, I like the clothes in alot of instances; is there room for crossover there?

DAVE: This is all bollocks. The ‘chav’ scene is now an illiterate, lazy sub-culture with no desire to work, no morals and no future due to successive generations of crap parenting, soft social discipline and the nanny state. Community is gone and young people do not seem to care. Don’t mix this up with the casual scene- something which is a melting pot of ex-cult members from all walks of life who have ended up in the same bland recipe whose only binding ingredient is football.

Young kids in Britain now talk like black people by the time they are 12 years old and it sickens me that their only grasp of culture and history of their own country is that of MTV, insane shangri-la multicultural experiments, crime wave reports on the news on the telly and that all you need to survive is to be a criminal and/or sponger because our state will look after you and let the honest working person go under. That is what chav is so don’t think it’s a chirpy new yoof cult – it isn’t – it’s the product of years of downward social spiralling.

Chav’ actually comes from ‘chavvie’ – which is a slang term for gyppo or pikey:- people who’s live revolve around theft, deceit, scrounging, nonchalance and lack of respect for anyone else.

PAT: Chav has nothing to do with skin………… it’s true that a lot of ex skinheads became casuals and got into the football thing………. Sadly many became the enemy of skinheads…………. But the Chav thing is really what is happening due to the decline of the working class communities around Britain………… Chavs are basically the scum who have lost all idea of morals and manners and think that getting in a gang and bullying the neighbours is how to live…………… yeah a lot of chavs are influenced by retarded rap music and that doesn’t help with their behaviour……………… The casual scene in the 80’s in London was very smart (but shit) clothes, expensive haircuts and soul music…………. We generally called them soul boys and we didn’t get on at all.

Saturday Night: Dave, since we’ve had the chance to hang out a few years in a row in Boston, what’s your take on colonial America versus England? What are the glaring differences and what do you miss when you’re away from home?

DAVE: Like a lot of people I had pre-conceptions about the US– mostly borne from TV versions of slanted reality where ‘Live is a Beach’, burgers are for breakfast, dinner and tea and the sun always shines on my big fat ass in my bermuda shorts.

Fortunately Boston is nothing like this, and I’m glad to say I’ve warmed to the Bostonian/New England way of things and have been fortunate enough to do my travelling in the States in a way which means I’ve met, stayed and shared time with similar like minded people. I enjoyed touring and seeing small places and ordinary people – I desperately wanted to blow away the ‘Gee Marsha – little old England has some warm flat beer’ trains of thought and also the ‘there’ll all fat, loud and arrogant and their beer is weak as piss’ things which reciprocate.

I want and need to travel more in the States to continue to make my mind up for myself about the vast differences which occur within such a large country. I’m slowly building a network which will hopefully allow me to do that in coming years. I need to burst the Boston bubble as that’s sheltering me from taking more in and travelling further afield.

I love the snow in New England but I also welcome the warm rain of England. I like the food just enough and I like the beer more every time I go. I sometimes find the people Stateside a bit too intense but I like to get away and take on people I haven’t met before. Before I first went to the States I wasn’t looking forward to the task in hand but now it’s a comfy pair of socks…..trouble is that it’s become a bit too comfy now and I need to mix it up a bit more in pastures new.

Saturday Night: — As proud Englishmen, do you buy into the notion of the English stiff upper lip? What makes the British remain so stoic in the face of hardship? Or are they? Many times, I’d say such reserve is to be admired, but at times, it seems a little….constricting, to have to bottle it up all the time like that? Can you explain?

PAT: The stiff upper lip is very real although it is something that refers mainly to the ruling classes………… the children of the well off would be sent to boarding schools and stripped of any love of their parents………… when commissioned into the armed forces their lack of emotion was very useful in a tight spot when their comrades were getting butchered around them…………. All good British people have the ability to put a brave face on a bad situation…

DAVE: I’m not sure I can comment on it. It’s only a modern phenomenon I’d say – since Victorian times. The stiff upper lip is more associated with the upper echelons of society where grooming, posh school, a career in the military or in the bank and a general lack of realisation of what goes on in the real world leads towards an immunity to any passion. At the other end of the social scale I think it’s bred from having to make do, face up to hard times and knowing that you can’t really go any lower. Call it blind tolerance or willing ignorance – maybe? I think several centuries of cultural divide have created different sets of criteria which, to the outside eye, may seem to result in the same trait.

Saturday Night: As a London resident, how has London changed over the years since your youth? From listening to stuff like the Kinks and reading George Marshall stuff, I take alot of heat (and deservedly so) for such a romanticized, fairy-tale expectation of England; going there would probably be nothing like I’d imagined. What do you love about it, and what is not so hot these days?

DAVE: There is little left to love about London except the history:- museums, architecture, old pubs and theatres. There is no soul any more. Cultural dilution has turned it into a ghettoised wasteland of crime and ethnic shambles. Parts of England may still excite you Sean – but I don’t think the London that you think you’ll see will at all.

PAT: Don’t bother it’s a shit hole………….. apart from theatres and museums it’s totally soulless and the Londoners are all but gone.

Saturday Night: Dave, give an overview of what you think of American punk rock? What groups/scenes do you particularly enjoy and what ones do you shake your head at? What bands make the Haystacks “classic” list? What bands out there today do you dig?

DAVE: To be honest I don’t really know a lot about American punk rock – I know bands that I like and some that I don’t. I just know that there is an entire sub-culture of US punk that I wouldn’t get a handle on unless it was recommended to me or copied and sent my way. From what I’ve heard of hardcore I don’t like it – it seems to be more of a stance than something I could listen to. What I know of US Oi! has only come from people like you, RonnIE, Matt Kelly and others who have steered me from the chaff to the wheat. I know there are different schools of different genres of punk/Oi!/hardcore mostly based around geography but I can’t make out what they are. What makes a So Cal punk band different from a NYC punk band? I don’t like the recent wave of MTV style ‘punk’ bands though the Brit equivalent (funny how it goes round in circles – we copy the US who invents MTV Punk after the original Brit punk which came from the US glam/psych new/no wave) like Busted and McFly are actually quite good. My old love of melody and songs steers me towards more EMO bands occasionally, though some of my favourite bands of yesteryear cold have been the EMO of their day….Hüsker Dü, Smoking Popes, ALL, Descendants etc. I like newer bands like Get Up Kids, Gameface and Alkaline Trio too…though that may raise a few eyebrows in certain circles. My most listened to/seen live bands are probably Bad Religion and No Use For A Name, and I did dabble in the Fat Wreck sort of thing for a while but soon grew out of it. I know I need to explore more, but the older you get the lazier you get – I need to start becoming a record nerd again and hassle people for what might make good listening.

Saturday Night: Pat,  I used to dig your recommendations on the Superyob page – do you have any bands out there that you’d recommend people check out? Any new up-and-comers or old, overlooked classics?

PAT: That was a bit of a confused list,but I’d like to think that I have the suss to know a song that has something to offer when I hear it……….. the following are down to personal taste of course (and it’s no secret that I find most of today’s punk clichéd) my preference being for stuff that sounds like or has influence from Britain 1966-1969 and 1976-1980 …………… basically mod/punk/new wave………… the good thing is that British bands seem to have a knack for listening to old stuff and then sounding fresh, probably because of our built in need to up the attitude and inventiveness because of the lack of technique (apart from rich kids we are generally self taught)…………. Suggestions………. Although they have quickly become quite naff I would recommend punky mod album Over the Counter Culture by The Ordinary Boys………. A recent Jam style debut by The Rifles – No Love Lost………..  The Yo-Yo’s punk/glam album on sub pop Uppers and Downers……Punk/indie style debut by 3 Colours Red – Pure………. And punky/Britpop future classic The Big 3 by The 60FT Dolls ………….. I think that’ll do for now.

Saturday Night: Dave, along the same lines, who in England is making waves in the Haystacks household? Who do you enjoy going to see?

DAVE: I play so much now I don’t concentrate on going to as many shows as I should. I gave up reading the NME a long time ago so don’t have the handle on what’s new really. I try to pick up flyers when I’m out and listen to bits of bands which grab my eye…I’m also experimenting with downloading shit at the moment too. I actually think I’d enjoy going to see the bands I play in which is a strange answer I know. Within Oi!-ish circles I still love seeing Resistance 77 live as they get better with age. Runnin’ Riot still crack it out and having witnessed Argy Bargy again recently I would say they still have a potent live show. The band that impressed me most recently was Crashed Out – absolutely brilliant. A much underrated band is The Vas Deferens – check them out. I hate all the old shite that gets trawled out at festivals and the like – Anti-Nowhere League, Sham 69, GBH, PTTB….awful really, because event organisers don’t give any breathing space for newer bands to come along and challenge the old ones. I’m going to Blackpool this year for the first time (only because I’m playing) and I’m dreading how bad it’ll be.

Outside of Oi! circles I haven’t much time to see anything, as I said. Hopefully some more gigs with the Concrete Gods will expand my horizons a bit.

Saturday Night: What does the future hold for you, Dave? Band-wise and life in general?

DAVE: I’ve just joined the East End Badoes too so am at the busiest I’ve ever been band wise…which is good. We’ve just started recording Superyob album number 4 (Editor: it’s out now. “QUALITY STREET” and IT IS EXCELLENT) and Concrete Gods are winding up for some more studio time too. Badoes should also be recording soon too. A variety of gigs are spread out over the remainder of the year with each band and Strumpet still tread the boards occasionally too (next time will be for my 40th birthday in January). Exciting times. Work floats between relaxed and manic and when it’s the latter I do struggle to hold everything together and be a dutiful husband and homebody too. Elaine gives me shit about doing the house up but it doesn’t leak and she hasn’t quite filled it up with clothes and shoes just yet so she’s okay. She’s just been diagnosed with MS, which means she has episodes where she can’t do much for herself – so I have to work extra hard to look after her too. I’m never bored, but there are still extra things I want to do and get into – more new music, some PC programming skills, setting up home entertainmant shit, DIY, catching up on my reading…modern life IS rubbish.

Saturday Night:  OK, I’m going to toss out a few subjects and you gimmie a quick answer:

1. Lager and lime? For pussies or decent drink?

PAT –  traditionally a poffs drink.

DAVE: Rather old school in a charming retro way, but fairly gay.

2. American beans in a can…?

PAT : Coz they are only good for making you wanna piss (and I aint no heavyweight drinker)….(PAT SURELY THOUGHT I MEANT BEERS, HUH?)

DAVE: Never tried ‘em – I’ll take your word for it.

3. Suedeheads: what the hell?

DAVE: Confused of England he say – get yer bleedin’ hair cut!!!

PAT: Before my time really but as I read it in a book there must have been at least one bloke doing it.

4. Best English comedies ever?

DAVE: Rab C Nesbit (though that’s Scottish), Steptoe and Son, Blackadder, Porridge

PAT: Steptoe and Son, Citizen Smith and Whatever Happened to the likely lads (the last one is really a time capsule of social change and you should watch it from episode 1)

5. New Bond: yes or no?

DAVE: No…..to all of ‘em

PAT: All Bond is boring Bollocks.

6. Pete Doherty: genius or waste of life?

DAVE: I’d guess his weight and pull the handle no bother mate.

PAT: A wanker!

Anything you want to rant about?

DAVE: Yes, loads probably Sean – but not now. Ranting makes me angry and then anger makes me feel tired and impotent.

Anyone you want to thank? You now have free reign!

DAVE: Bit cheesy this – I could do a Frankie Flame and thank everyone in the universe, but in this context I’ll just thank you for giving me the forum to go on a bit…..

PAT: (added this in an email to me post-interview, worth sharing if interested in Britain): Alright Sean, Flicked over the tele the other day (don’t watch much normally) and came across a show that would interest you……… It was called DISAPPEARING LONDON (I think) and was presented by Suggs………….. the reason I thought of you is that they mentioned eel pie……………. As it turns out the pie and mash pies were made using eels but due to a shortage they started using beef and of course still do………… it didn’t say why there was a shortage or in what year but this would explain why me and Dave had heard of the fabled pies but had never seen or tasted one. I suppose most stuff comes out on DVD but this shoe is pretty new………… don’t know of a particular British history DVD………… a lot of BBC stuff used to be good but sometimes it’s got an agenda……….. there was a series called secret histories that was good (and unusual)…………. Great series on at the moment called LIFE ON MARS about a copper who ends up back in time in Manchester in the 70’s…………… not a great idea I hear you say but it’s really well done, the details good, nice cars, good music and a funny/serious script and not bad attempt at being sexist, etc in the trad style (although tame really, otherwise it wouldn’t of got shown). Yeah Britain has changed big time but I suppose it’s still worth a visit if you avoid the obvious………….. I suppose you’d have to pick up alternative information as to where to go………….

——————————————————————————————————————————————

So there you have it. The longest punk rock interview EVER. I’d like to thank DAVE HAYSTACKS and PAT MCVICAR TOWNSHEND for their good humor and in-depth answers and views throughout. A great interview to kick off this blog with. Thanks again.

COMMENTS Welcome. Tell me how much you hate it, you fags.

One Response to “Full English Breakfast: The Dave Haystacks/Pat Townshend Interview”

  1. Blue Iris Says:

    You forgot to ask Dave about the omnipresent pencil behind the ear!!!

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