Interview: Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks – "I don’t really listen to music, that’s what most people don’t expect. Statistically speaking I hate music because the amount that I do like is so small."
Fri, 18 Jun 2010 13:15:25
The Buzzcocks are one of the founding fathers of the late 70’s nascent punk scene. Back in North America with their 'Another Bites' Tour, the band will be performing their first two classic albums Another Music In A Different Kitchen and Love Bites in their entirety!
Pete Shelley sat down with ARTISTdirect.com Elena Castro for an exclusive interview about The Beatles, how television inspires him and keeping the punk fellowship alive.
What influenced you to choose your first two albums for your tour?
Our old A&R guy with United Artists decided to go through the vaults to put together the double CD packages and so we thought if we are ever going to play the songs, now is going to be a good a time as any. The first album is only like 35 minutes long, well Love Bites is too, because they’re both toured in 1978, so they have a lot in common.
How did you meet your opening tour band Images?
I think it was about 2004. We played in the car parking lot at Angel Stadium and while we were playing there were some kids out in the front and they were singing along with everything. So afterwards, we got them to come back stage and that’s when I met James [of Images]. Over the internet, we kept in touch over the years and he said he wanted to be in a band and everything and it started and we knew what was going on with them. So when we played, I think it was 4 years ago in Anaheim we decided we might as well have them up there back with us.
It sounds like there is a strong camaraderie between you and Images.
It was when we first started with the punk scene, all the bands were supportive of each other. There were some people in bands and all the rest were just ordinary bands who had no interest at all and so we all had to sit together closely. But the encouragement you can give to people has to do with what their dreams are, which is an important part as well and what punk was about. So we try to maintain that as much as possible [with Images].
What was the best experience you’ve had on this tour so far?
Detroit was really good, and also in New York, we had the bomb scare. We were told we had to carry on playing because they didn’t want people leaving the building. There was a suspect car with gas canisters in the back just outside the theater, but apparently it was a guy who did landscape gardening and he had the gas cans to drive his lawnmower. So there was no real threat at all, but I had to read out a message asking for the owner of the car to make himself known to the police [laughs].
Going back to the albums, is there a song on these 2 records you’re particularly proud of?
Besides “Ever Fallen In Love,” which has been good to everyone over the years, one that really surprises me is “Late for the Train.” That was never played live because it was just an instrumental. It’s been good actually playing songs because they were on the album rather than just because, “I wanna play that one.” You get to see what the album is, then you get a bit more of an insight into how everything fits in together at the time. So, yes, I suppose “Late for the Train.” I mean some songs I’ll play all the time and some songs I’ll never play. After we finish doing this tour then that’ll be it for some of the songs and they may never see the light of day again. But then we got plenty more albums to re-run through if we ever run out of ideas. But, the plan is to record an album next year.
A ninth album? Is there a title for that yet?
‘The Joy of Life’ is the working title. We’ll be starting recording in the fall after we finish this [tour]. After that we’ve got some festivals in Europe and then hopefully, with fingers crossed, we’ll be going up to China. Last year we played in Qualm, Lumpur, Singapore and Bangkok. Maybe we’ll get some more gigs out there. And in South America later in the year, doing Brazil, Argentina, which we’ve done before, Peru, and Chile, so that’s some new places and to people who like our music and get a chance to see it. It’s always exciting.
Which records and bands shaped you?
I was always interested in the Beatles, but during some mid-60’s my aunty came back from Australia, she emigrated but didn’t like it, and on the way back she stopped in Hong Kong and she bought a transistor radio for me and my brother and it was just at the time the pirate radio stations were happening. We called them pirates because they used to broadcast on ships on international waters and stuff and they used to play pop music 24/7, and so it was a great time to listen to music. It was when singles reigned supreme. There was music whether it be from Motown, the Beatles or Rolling Stones, and it was a great time for music. It was a great time for short singles.
How do you feel about vinyls compared to radio? I love records way more than CD’s.
There’s a certain thing about them. Having said that I moved about nearly 6 years ago and I packaged them all away and the record player went underneath the bed and it’s never been out. So, it’s a nice idea. I’ve asked a lot of people how they found out about the Buzzcocks, because they’re quite young, and they said, “Well I was in the garage or in the attic and we found all these records and this record player,” from when they were growing up and so that’s how they got into it. It’s good in that way as a novelty item.
What inspires or influences you to write a song?
Sometimes you just see something on TV. On the last album there was a song called “Credit”. I had written the tune, but I hadn’t got any words, and I was watching a business channel and they were talking about credit, people being in debt, really. And so the word credit was under tuned in my head. And I got this idea of credit, then added the idea of people buying stuff they don’t want and the “video phones with all the latest ring tones.”
What do you have on your mp3 player right now you’re embarrassed about or something no one would expect?
There’s nothing I’m embarrassed about because I only put things which I like. What would nobody expect? I don’t really listen to music, that’s what most people don’t expect. They expect to be a musician you want to listen to music all the time. Statistically speaking I hate music because the amount that I do like is so small. The music I don’t like actually makes me create the music which I do like. So there’s a lot more I don’t like than what I do like.
What kind of music do you listen to? Are there any bands that you would suggest to fans?
There’s this band called Red Track from Southhampton, England and they asked me and this producer Dave Allen to work with them about 18 months ago and they turned out really well. I enjoyed what they did. I think they’re about to release their album. But usually the problem is you like a band and then next time you come around they’re no longer there. Such is the pressure of life.
Well that’s not the case with the Buzzcocks.
Well no because we don’t have a life [laughs]. This is our life.