Interviewed by Joe Blitz.
"Things like the image of the British bobby being a nice, friendly policeman and the best in the world has completely gone out the window. because the rest of the world has seen just how authoritarian they are and how they can be used as a tool of the State even in a so-called civilised country such as England."
The Neurotics (formally Newtown Neurotics) are
Steve Drewett - guitars & vocals,
Colin Dredd - bass & backing vocals
Simon Lomond - drums & percussion.
MRR: Do you play outside of the UK much? Might you tour the US someday?
Steve: We have played Jersey (a UK island) We've played France twice.
Steve: Belgium three times, Holland twice Switzerland twice.
Colin: East Germany.
Steve: East Germany we did last summer. We are going to be playing there again in February.
Colin: West Germany.
Simon: Most of the countries in Northern Europe.
Steve: We'd like to come over and play the States and hopefully we might be able to do that in the future. We're coming over for a cup of coffee around your place when we get in.
Colin: Root Beer.Tell your mum to get the kettle on and get the sandwiches ready.
MRR: Why have you switched record labels to Jungle Records recently? Is it an Independent label? Does the band have any upcoming vinyl scheduled for release?
Steve: As far as record labels are concerned - we were originally on Razor. The reason why we switched over to Jungle is because Razor was not interested in putting any singles out anymore and that actually led to us very nearly not having a release in 1984. We had to switch from Razor to Jungle to be able to bring out the "Suzi" 12inch single (7 inch as well).
Not only that but the artwork and things are of higher quality on Jungle Records . We can actually do a better product overall with them. It is an independent label. I'm not sure if you're aware from your letter, of the fact that we recently just had a 7 and 12inch single out called 'Living with Unemployment' recorded live - very well recorded I might add, at a gig we held.
The 7 inch has 'Living With Unemployment' & 'Airstrip One - an Attila the Stockbroker song plus 'My Death'. The 12 inch is the most important one. That has 'Living With Unemployment' on one side and 6 live tracks on the other. That coincides with our latest LP 'Kickstarting A Backfiring Nation' which is also live and has got a lot of old stuff, new stuff and things that you've heard before. That has a very long running time as well. It's got many, many tracks on it. These releases have just come out in the last few months (Early '87 - joe).
The new album is also available as a cassette which also includes the 'Repercussions' LP and 'Suzi' and that retails for the same price as the LP so you get 2 LP's and 12 inch singles for the price of an album.
MRR: Judging by the availability of your records (or lack thereof) it doesn't seem like the Neurotics are exactly a household name over here. Is that due to poor public relations or what?
Steve: First off, it's an indisputable fact that indie record labels have poor distribution. So it's very difficult if you have got a record out on an indie label to actually get the records into shops all over the world unless you're a very,very popular indie label band like maybe the Smiths were. They've gone to EMI now but they were on Rough Trade for a long time. Apart from that, we're not a really huge band, so it's those two things coupled together.
In every county of the world, including England, people have to go out of their way to search out our records. It's just one of those things. To have our records in the majority of shops in England and around the world we'd have to be on a major label and we're not because major labels are just concerned with putting out a lot of old rubbish. It's just one of those things we have to put up with and hope that people do get to hear us - will have the energy and intelligence to track down our releases . That's exactly why we like to do fanzine interviews or interviews in the music papers because it makes people aware of just what is available and try to seek some of it out.
I noticed in your letter you wanted a discography, I'll give you a quick rundown on that.( or click here for a comprehensive list of the band's releases spanning their entire career)
As far as LP's are concerned we've had
- Our 1st single was called 'Hypocrite' and the B-side was 'You Said No' on No Wonder Records. That is now deleted.
- We then had 'When The Oil Runs Out' with the B-side 'Oh No' on No Wonder Records and that one is also deleted.
- We then had 'Kick Out The Tories'/Mindless Violence out on CNT Records. That has been deleted.
- We had 'Licensing Hours' and 'No Sanctuary' on CNT Records - that has been deleted. Although you can find 'Kick Out The Tories' and 'Mindless Violence' on a CNT compilation album called 'They Shall Not Pass' (Abstract Records). You might be able to find a copy of that.
- Then we had 'Blitzkrieg Bop', a 3 track single on Razor Records which has now been deleted.
- Then we had the 'Suzi' 7 and 12 inch single on Jungle Records which is still available.
- Then as I mentioned just now 'Living With Unemployment' 7 and 12 inch single.
MRR: I love the song 'Living With Unemployment' but to me working a steady job isn't exactly a pleasurable experience, to say the least. Why do you guys extol full employment as such a significant goal? Do you want to go beyond that?
- 'Beggars Can Be Choosers' on Razor Records and this is still available.
- 'Repercussions' which is on Jungle Records is still available .
- And our new one 'Kickstarting A Backfiring Nation' also on Jungle.
- Apart from that we've also got a track with Billy Bragg called 'Africa' on an LP called 'Not Just Mandela' which is a compilation of different people including Attila the Stockbroker and the Housemartins. All the proceeds from that go to the anti-apartheid movement. That is also on Jungle Records so look out for that as well.
Simon: First of all it depends what sort of job you're doing. Working a steady job can be an enjoyable experience if it's one that you want. Unfortunately, people are put into a position where they have to work a steady job to make a living. I've done many jobs that I've loathed - that I've had to do just to make a living.
As for as extolling full employment, everyone should have the right to work. The position we're in at the moment with four million unemployed, with so many people that want to get out and make a decent living, they should have that right. Twenty years ago, if you didn't like the job you were in you could leave the job that day and find a new one. These kind of opportunities should still exist today.
Steve: In the 60's there was a large feeling about going against the work ethic and seeing how silly the work ethic is. Fortunately, at the time there were plenty of jobs to turn down. If you felt like the 9 to 5 routine of a job was stupid and something that people shouldn't have to be involved with, then you didn't have to involve yourself with it and if you changed your mind after a while you could start a job.
Or, as a lot of people used to do. They used to work for a few months of the year, collect some money together, then go off abroad and when they're running out of money come back and get another job.
Unfortunately in England, in this day and age, it's so difficult to get a job , so many people are denied the right to work - that we've been shown the other side of the coin.
It's all well and good going on about how stupid the work ethic is but when you're not even given the chance to work if you really want to, if that opportunity is taken away from you, and you are forced to not work - to try and live on public assistance (some very small amounts of money) then you realise, unfortunately, that the work ethic then becomes amplified into something of greater importance than it's ever been. The ability to be able to work if you want to becomes something like a dream - a goal in life.
It has blown the work ethic up into something bigger than it's ever been before which is wrong - but we're saying , as Simon pointed out, that people should not be denied work if they want it.
It should be like the 60's, where there's enough employment for people who want to do a 9 to 5 job or if people only want work occasionally they can do that as long as the opportunities are there to work.
The work ethic has definitely had an opportunity to be destroyed if resources were used properly in this country. That means by using new technology to be able to free people from the slavery of a 9 to 5 job - where the technology does the work and the majority of the people don't have to work 5 days/40 hours a week. They would only have to work a small part of that week and the economy still benefits from exports and things and the income of the country as a whole is healthy.
Therefore, new technology could be used to dismantle the work ethic. But the new technology and mass unemployment has been created to make a slave labour force. Where the fear of being unemployed and never being able to get a job is such that it forces down all the rates of pay in the country and everyone ends up working for next to nothing. The increased profits made through cheap labour are then pocketed by the people who already have more money than sense and too much power. So you see it's a bit different from America. You haven't felt the devastating effects monetarism and the creation of 4 million unemployed.
Colin: Which would be something like 16 to 20 million in the US - a helluva lot. And also an unemployed person in this country takes in about 30 pounds a week which is about 40 - 45 dollars, and it's just a ridiculous amount of money to expect anybody to live on. So, as Steve says, we're not extolling work so much as the right to be able to have a job if you want to have one and just simply have the readies in order to be able to live on anything other than just the subsistence level.
MRR: Have you ever played clubs with groups stuck under the anarchist label? Am I correct in feeling that you view the UK anarchist scene as a bunch of "Hypocrites" who "just agree with the loudest voice".
Steve: Yeah (laughter). Basically, we just feel that these people are very silly. And we don't have much interest in them.
MRR: Are any of you involved with outside projects along the "Agitate, Educate and Organise vein?
Simon: Outside the band and after work our time is very, very limited. Our involvement is the band basically. That's what we do to educate people, enlighten people.
Steve: And doing fanzine interviews.
Simon: Making records, doing benefits. We've done countless benefits for a countless amount of causes between anti-apartheid.
Steve: Miners Strike in 1984.
Colin: Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Simon: - well what ever they bring on. We've done them all (laughter). So that's where we get our involvement.
Steve: We've also, in one area or another, involved ourselves in community activities and local government activities within our town to create a better environment. What we say in our songs and what we say in our interviews, in the media as a whole, has always been linked in with issues and support for different areas and stuff we've done on television in England has been connected with that sort of thing. So within the group context, we've been very, very busy in those areas.
MRR: When will the next election for England's Prime Minister be held? Do you expect Thatcher to be re-elected again? Is there a limit, as there is in the USA (though Reagan wants to change that law) to how many years she can remain in office?
Simon: There will be an election this year (1987). Do we expect Thatcher to be re-elected?
Steve: We hope not.
Colin: It's very hard to say at the moment. The opinion polls are changing every week. The Tories are in the lead at the moment.
Simon: You can never be sure. We get such a distorted view in our own media of actually who is ahead in the opinion polls. They change so rapidly I don't think they mean very much.
The head of the party who is in government can stay as long as they want to. They don't have to be replaced after two terms.
Colin: No, as long as the people want them.
Simon: I wasn't aware that Reagan was trying to change that in the States. That's a new one on me.
Steve: We've been working ten years to get people to see the insanity behind supporting a Tory government. We're all keeping our fingers crossed hoping beyond hope, that the Labour Party can get in here very soon because there's going to be - there has been - many, many evil things happening in this country due to the Tory government. The more terms of office they get in, the more powerful they become. It's a frightening thought to think of another term of office for the Tories.
Steve Drewett on stage in Antwerp, Holland Colin: Since the Tories have been in (for 10 years) we've gone through a war, two of the longest strikes ever, our National Health Service has been run down slowly but surely, education has been cut, grants have been cut, unemployment has risen by 2-3 million. Give us another 5 years of that and we won't be here to answer these questions anymore.
Steve: Not only that but soon after Margaret Thatcher formed her government in '79 there arose massive street rioting all over the country. Where the poverty and frustration levels in ordinary people had gone to such an extent that the only way to vent that frustration was through rioting. Things like the image of the British bobby being a nice, friendly policeman and the best in the world has completely gone out the window. because the rest of the world has seen just how authoritarian they are and how they can be used as a tool of the State even in a so-called civilised country such as England.
MRR: What address can people reach you at?
Simon: No Wonder Communications, 154, Bishopsfield, Harlow, Essex, England
All: That's the Interview. Thanks very much for the questions. Bye!
Copyright: No Wonder Communications