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The Peace & Freedom Magazine Blammo! Interview
Paul Rance interviewed the popular Sheffield-based band in 1989 for the Autumn/Winter issue of Peace & Freedom (Volume 6, Number 3).
Blammo! have been gaining a reputation for live performance, supporting the likes of The Three Johns, and even being described as "Sheffield's best band." Recently hit the music press headlines with their flexi single, made to raise money for the Football Supporters Association against the ID card scheme, "Drastic Plastic", c/w, or same side to you, "Perfect Pat" (about Pat Nevin). The first is a jaunty sing-a-long, with some nifty keys, enchanting, with an authentic cheer at the end, even. The "Pat" number contains some very Joy Division guitar, and that epic line, "When the girls see Pat they go 'cor'/'Cause he's better looking than Martin Shaw." It's available from the band for £1 & SAE. The band have been on Radio (national) - Johnny Walters, or John to you, and on BBC World Service, an anguished Phil tells me. Tracey is a bloke? Answers by Phil, I think.
Right, a brief history of the band?
Phil, Tracey and Bromwen formed The Viaduct, a band that couldn't play music. Paul was found collecting train numbers, and we convinced him to give up keeping hamsters to take up the keyboard. Thus Blammo! Two weeks later, we made a tape called "Blammo! Or Bust!" We're only just learning to play on these and we've been gigging for a year. We made another demo, two tracks of which we used for the flexi, "Drastic Plastic".
You seen to have been well-received live - is that your favourite medium?
Phil likes Mystic Meg, but Tracey's favourite is Doris Stokes. Ahem. We are a good turn and we like showing off and making fools of ourselves. It's nice to get an audience, who've never heard you, involved in the set. There's not much better than leaving an audience with a smile on its face. Things tend to happen at our gigs - like exploding amps and drum kits. Philip was once attacked by a member of the audience who thought the song was about him!
How did the Three Johns Gig come off, and what other "name" bands have you appeared with?
Luck. Bronwen is a high-powered portable toilet salesperson whose pushiness on the phone sometimes pays off. We've played with Eat and The Cardiacs via this route.
Who had the idea for the FSA flexi?
Philip's. Football and music are his favourite hobbies and it just seemed a natural thing to combine the two. The injustice of the ID cards is an issue that concerns us because it is part of a larger affront on our culture. We're considering a "Bring Back the Pound Note Campaign", too.
Is the Paul Thompson, who produced the flexi, the same one of Cure fame? Have you produced your own stuff in the past?
If it is, he's keeping it quiet. We tend to make up songs as we go along recording them, which is a bad idea, because a month later we could do a much better version... but we're learning.
Who thinks up the classic titles, a là "Norman the Doorman", "Sharron Wilson (Had Big Lovebites)"? Are they based on reality, or from a disordered mind?
Phil writes the songs and gives them titles that no-one else in the band uses. Most of our songs are based on people we've met or known, or things that have happened. "Sharron Wilson" was co-written with Bronwen and Champions, an old school friend of hers, who taught her all the important things like how to burp and spit, and had a collection of marvellous tales of how she was born in a toilet, and her cure for love-bites - a dollop of ultrabrite toothpaste. Not all the songs are as literal as this, but they're all from weird life, because its weird. Everyone's weird - except me.
Why no bass?
We don't need one. Paul emits the equivalent (but stranger) frequencies with an instrument he calls The Smegmatron (Deluxe Bowelshift Grungethruster) (Umm. -Ed.).
Despite the humorous side, you seem to have quite a few messages to convey. Do you think humour is a better weapon, when making people think, than stone-faced preaching?
Yep. It would be patronizing, pompous and pointless to tell people about things they know just as much about as us. If the songs have messages, they're on a personal level. We write about the only world we know about, and play it in the only way we know how. It' about entertainment. As for weapons - if some nutter wants to knock your block off, what do you defend yourself with? A quote from Oscar Wilde or a baseball bat?
Being from Sheffield, what was the reaction of people there to Hillsborough, and to some of the local police comments?
I think everyone in Sheffield was genuinely shocked and upset. I think the police simply did what they've been doing for years - that is, treat football supporters as cattle and every situation as a potential riot. Very sad. The blame lies with the authorities that control football - government, police, clubs, and the Football Association.
Is Bronwen a genuine name?
She thinks it is.
Most embarrassing moment(s)?
We sort of suspend our perception of shame when we play live, which doesn't mean we don't do embarrassing things. The time we went on stage at a packed Adelphi in Hull, and Tracey spent fifteen minutes trying to work out why the amp wasn't working, only to find it wasn't plugged in, just about takes the biscuit, though (nothing funny about that, I do that every other day - Ed.).
Is Sheffield a good area for gigs, and where have you played there?
Sheffield is pretty bad, really. The Leadmill is a good place to play, but it takes nine months to get a support slot. The University and Poly venues vary, depending upon who's the Ents. chairman. The other venues are The Hallamshire pub - atmosphereless, and The Take Two Club - inwvariably empty, but nice place.
Ambitions? Particularly in the near future?
Paul wants to:
Bronwen wants to:
Philip wants to:
Seriously, we'd just like a chance to record our material properly, and reach as many people as possible.