THE LURKERS – Interview
Hi, Arturo and welcome to Metal Maniack magazine. First please tell us about The Lurkers vast history. Who had the idea to form the band and why?
The Lurkers formed in West London in mid-1976, playing our very first gig at Uxbridge Technical College in December of this year, supporting Screaming Lord Sutch to an audience of just ten. At a time where American bands, such as the Ramones and the New York Dolls, the British beat boom of the sixties and Glam Rock acts like Slade and Sweet, we quickly forged their own identity by taking on some inspiration. It is this unique brand of punk tunes, with lyrics encompassing subjects such as social unacceptability and personal politics, which launched us as one of the pioneering punk bands to play live in the first few months of the now-legendary Roxy Club in London.
The original line-up consisted of Pete Stride on guitar, Pete ‘Manic Esso’ Haynes on drums, vocalist Howard Wall and Nigel Moore on Bass. Nigel was very soon replaced by myself, Arturo Bassick, becoming the line-up that most punk fans are familiar with.
You have witnessed the birth of a culture, punk rock. In your opinion, how did it happen and why do you think happened?
The punk ‘scene’ started in the UK because of Malcom McLaren, who wanted to shake up the fashion and music industry. It happened at a time when young people in the UK wanted excitement, change, and rebellion – and it worked.
Please tell us how do you seen and felt the first years of punk rock. What was special about punk rock back then? It’s still is to this day, or not anymore?
It was a special time for those of my generation because we were young, and we all experienced the onset of punk in the UK together – this will never happen again. The punk scene is still great today, but that first wave and the excitement, and shock that came with it, will never come again.
You were the first band released by Beggars Banquet Records. How do you get in touch with them and why they signed your band?
They saw us play at the Roxy, loved our music, signed us, and put out our debut single, ‘Shadow’. This single was voted by John Peel listeners as the twelfth best track of 1977’s Festive Fifty: The B-side, ‘Love Story’, voted at number 31. We then recorded four sessions at Maida Vale 4 Studio for John Peel at BBC Radio 1, and appeared on Top of the Pops, as well as various other media shows.
In 1977 you left the band. Why and what you did until you join again The Lurkers?
After penning the B-side to the second Lurkers single, ‘Freak Show’ / ‘Mass Media Believer’, I left the band to form Pinpoint for whom I played guitar and vocals. Dave Allen was on bass and vocals and Hugh Griffiths on drums.
We released our first single, ‘Richmond’, with ‘Love Substitute’ as the B-side, in 1979, on Albion Records, which achieved ‘Record of the Week’ in Sounds Magazine, and was later covered by German punk giants, Die Toten Hosen.
Following the success of our debut release, Pinpoint went on to put out a further two singles, ‘Yo-Yo’ / ‘Drowning In The Wave of Life’ in 1980, and ‘Waking Up To Morning’ / ‘Floods and Trickles’, also in this year on Albion Records. Our one and only album, ‘Third State’, was released later that year and featured a techno sound which was to become popular in that decade. It was perhaps because of this very album that just three shows after the album release, the band separated. I blamed the producer, Martin Rushent, for using Pinpoint as guinea pigs for his next project: The Human League.
After finding myself at a musical loose-end, I formed The Blubbery Hellbellies in 1983, recruiting Slim whom was in The Boothill Foot Tappers with my sister, Wendy May, and Lloyd Trip from The Vibes. A first gig supporting the Boothills at The Hope and Anchor in London netted us further gigs, leading to ex-Lurker, Esso, coming in on snare drum. We referred to our style of music as ‘cow punk’.
Of being a Blubb, I have fond memories of performing an average of 200 gigs a year, an experience which was ‘mad, pissed-up fun’. Our first mini-LP, ‘At Large’ was released on Upright Records in 1984, followed by a further LP on the same label in 1985: ‘Flabbergasted’. The band’s recording success did not end here, however, as we went on to release ‘Cafe Blur’ on Flicknife Records in 1986, and ‘Shootin’ ‘N’ Steamin’ in 1988. Throughout our years of heavy gigging, recording and not forgetting drinking and eating, the band had many additions and line-up changes, owing largely to the sheer volume of shows we were playing and the commitment this entailed.
This was not, however, the last I would see of The Lurkers, as in 1987, I had a chance meeting with the hugely successful German punk band, Die Toten Hosen, and discovered that they were Lurkers super-fans, willing to finance a comeback album. ‘Wild Times Again’ was released in February 1988, launching The Lurkers once again back onto the live punk scene. This friendship with Die Toten Hosen saw us supporting the band in huge stadium gigs across Europe, myself coordinating the Hosen’s 1991 ‘Learning English’ album in London with a series of well-known punk artists of the time.
The Lurkers is a legendary band, at least for punk rock. How do you feel to be a part of this band history and a part of punk rock history?
I suppose I should be proud to be a part of it, but I don’t really think about it: It doesn’t really concern me.
How do you see the present punk rock scene, and what are the differences between the past punk rock scene and now scene?
It still seems to be alive and kicking, there’s not the same excitement as there was at the onset, but people still do turn out to support us which is great. Some of the same familiar faces still circulate the scene. I suppose apart from that, there’s not much difference – the PA systems are a lot better now!
I’m sure that over the time you share the stage with another punk rock legends. Which are these bands and with what band do you like to play the most? Same thing for tours.
We don’t really care who we play with, we are all musicians. We have played with lots of bands however: Generation X, The Stranglers, Slaughter & The Dogs, Die Toten Hosen, and loads more.
What are your band biggest achievements in over 40 years of punk rock career?
What are your plans for the future? Any new material or tours?
We are always playing live most weekends and we do a few short stays abroad, largely in Europe. We have a 4 day Swiss tour coming up in a few weeks. We don’t have any new material planned at the moment but we won’t say never.
What do you think is best The Lurkers album and why do you think that?
‘Fried Brains’ or ‘Ripped n’ Torn’ – I just think the songs are great on those records.
Please choose from vinyl and cd and tell us why.
CDs are great for convenience, but vinyl is best for nostalgia.
In your free time what you like to do?
I have 5 dogs, of which 3 are rescued, so I spend a lot of time caring for and walking them. Drinking beer, seeing live music.
What is your favorite food? How about your favorite drink?
Indian food (curry) and… beer.
If we talking about booze when and where do you got really drunk last time?
Last Friday when performing with 999.
If you will be your country president what are first 3 things that you’ll do?
Kill all politicians. Kill the Royal Family. Kill all killers.
Please tell us about something that nobody cares but you do.
I care about dwarves.
Do you have any guilty pleasures? Tell us about them.
No, not at all – nothing to feel guilty about.
Please tell me one crazy thing that you did.
I once walked naked along a narrow window ledge on the 10th floor of a building, whilst very drunk, just to knock on the window of the drummer when he was sleeping.
Thanks for the interview and if you have to add something please do it!
Cheers n beers!