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The Peace & Freedom Magazine The Volunteers Interview

Paul Rance interviewed the 1980's Wigan underground band, The Volunteers, for Peace & Freedom Magazine in 1989. Originally appeared in Peace & Freedom, Volume 6, Number 3, Autumn/Winter 1989.

Are you bigger than God, or is this a rumour? Who are you bigger than?

Yes, but onnly when he's sitting down. We're also bigger than Prince, but far less purple, and then again it isn't size that counts.

If Pte. Sponge influenced you, how come you are so noisy. He was the quiet bloke, wasn't he?

Private Sponge wasn't really quiet - he was simply repressed by a combination of Captain Manwairing and the acting skills of Clive Dunn. Volunteers are like a second-hand catharais for him. We let out the noises he really wanted to make. Actually it was a joke and you fell for it. Every Christmas the local theatre company put on a pantomime and advertises it as featuring Colin Bean (private Sponge in Dad's Army) - we desperately want that type of recognition.

Have you been played on national readio since Liz Kershaw played one of yours, and then perished?

We don't think so. Everybody keeps saying, "Peel will love this" - but he's never played it - probably our greatest disappointment so far. A mate of ours tried to give him "Bladder of Life" at one of his gigs. He said he'd got two copies, and was going to play it, but he never did. So, if you're reading this, John - make our year!

Is Wigan Vibrant, or just merely sleeping?

We've heard it use to be vibrant, but then the batteries ran out. It's really strange - you go six miles down the road to St. Helens, and there's a totally different feeling - people are interested in what each other is doing, helping each other and swapping ideas. We belong to the St. Helens Musicians Collective and get a lot out of it. Wigan-conurbaton in a coma!

Memorable moments?

How did you manage to get in "The Guardian" and "Independent"?

We sent a record to "The Guardian", but "The Independent" phoned up to inquire about the long-body - we've had quite a bit of strange press. The band is totally skint, but our manager, Damian, never misses a trick. He also beats us severely.

Has stardom gone to your heads?

Not really, except to make our hair drop out - but not the drummer - stardom's gone to his belly.

Favourite TV programme?

Collectively, we enjoy the adverts, but only for the crap jingles, then we can turn them into songs.

The music's pretty bouncy, with eccentric nuances, well, pretty big nuances. Who is mainly responsible for the funny bitz, and the straighter bitz?

Basically, everybody contributes something, and no-one's straighter than anybody else. When the band have practices, we discuss the important events in our lives, like losing a balaclava - so we set them to music, to help us come to terms with them.

Do you like politicians?

Only on toast (ha ha ha). As most politicians are about as straight as our jokes are funny - the only answer is no. However, we don't consider that we have any better answers, but we are honest about it.

Unhappiest moments?

Apart from the gig in Newton-le-Willows, probably the collapse of Red Rhino, the week they got our albums.

Biggest gig to date?

To be perfectly trite, the next one, but otherwise "Club Dog" at "The George Robey". 4-500 people, great atmosphere, and a good response - when are we coming back, Bob?