1.. Right from the start, Crisis seemed to be interested in shock tactics, of making things happen and getting up people’s noses. Is that a fair summary?
No. The idea Tony and I had was that Crisis would be deadly serious and that our politics were to be taken seriously. That, in itself, turned out to be shocking enough for some people so inevitably we did get up some people’s noses – especially in the mass media. But, that wasn’t our raison d’etre.
2.. What was the Canio Club in Chertsey?
The CANLO Club was a sort of Youth/Community/Sports Centre that was about 2 miles from where Tony Wakeford lived. Tony had somehow managed to get the hire of it when it was closed on Sundays for almost next to nothing so the rest of us travelled there and we rehearsed and wrote most of our early songs there. Weirdly enough in late 1986 after I had split from my long term relationship which had started in 1976, just before I got involved in the Punk thing, I ended up living within spitting distance of the club for a few months. That was always a bit like a constant reminder of what had been!
3.. The story I’ve heard is that the Roxy’s management (I’m presuming Czezowski here) wanted to become your managers, but you, alone in the band, resisted. Again, is that the truth of it? Any strong memories of the Roxy? Was it really a toilet?
Andy Czezowski had left The Roxy by the time Crisis played there. The new manager of the club Kevin St. John, who was also the bookings manager for Sham 69 at the time, liked us – especially Phrazer our lead singer, and for the grand price of a Tequiller Sunrise each we agreed to him being our booking agent. I didn’t stand in the way of that at all as it guaranteed us getting gigs at The Roxy on a regular basis and even one with Sham 69 and Menace in our home town of Woking. He was basically one of London’s gay gangsters and we were always wary of him but we did okay from our relationship with him. Years later I saw Kevin St. John’s face on the front cover of London’s leading newspaper – he’d been found floating face down in The Thames probably as a result of a gangland hit. He had a criminal record as long as your arm. I was surprised when I read about all of his convictions etc. He was far worse than we’d imagined! In comparison to some of the clubs I’ve been in over the years The Roxy wasn’t so bad and definitely had its moments. I always liked the way the clientele mixed up the restrooms so you’d often see girls peeing in the Men’s urinals in a completely unabashed way. I also have fond memories of turning up way too early on a Sunday evening and Crisis walking into an upstairs packed with elderly gay gangsters dancing and partying together. There were pink shirts and leather trilbys everywhere! It was a great gay gangster party!! But our presence was definitely not appreciated and before we got to see too much one of their minders quickly escorted us downstairs where we were told to “fucking stay ‘ere”. He slammed his revolver on the bar as if to emphasize the point! My partner Jack and I talking to Captain Sensible about Marc Bolan having been killed in a car crash earlier that same day also is a poignant memory of The Roxy. He later got up with Dave Vanian and did an impromptu Damned set which was brilliant.
4.. What’s the truth behind you getting electrocuted at an Anti-Nazi Rally?
The truth is that I touched a live mic at this huge Anti-Nazi Rally open air music festival in London where The Clash were headlining and I got electrocuted! I didn’t realise there was any other truth!! I remember all my muscles tensing, only seeing blackness with kaleidescopic colours mixed in, a noise like a jack hammer going mad inside me and realising that my heart was beating so fast it couldn’t keep up that pace for very long. Luckily I fell back into the drum kit which knocked the microphone out of my hands and I survived. Loads of people clapped because they thought it was all part of the act but the 2 or 3 First Aid guys around me knew better. I felt as high as a kite and brilliant for the rest of the day although I was told to take it easy and I couldn’t walk very well after. My legs were like jelly.
5.. The Acklam Hall gig in 1979 – That sounded like real blood and thunder stuff. Do you think standing up to the NF physically was as important as it was politically? Or was there an element of ‘getting off’ on the violence on either side.
At that moment in time we did think it was important to stand up to the NF on all fronts but we certainly never got off on the violence that was involved with being a Punk rocker, regardless of whether or not it was ‘politically’ inspired. In truth, that violence wore us down and it was another good reason for abandoning Punk in 1980. Acklam Hall was something else. That whole riot might have had elements of the NF thrown in – on both sides of the conflict – but it was probably mainly lads who wanted a fight with Punks that night which was a problem everywhere you went in the UK.
6.. Any particularly strong memories of supporting the Ruts, the tour of Norway, etc?
One review of the show we did with The Ruts which read; “Crisis blew The Ruts off stage and The Flies (the other support group) off the face of the earth” has never left me. Norway seemed to be a month of one fight after another with drunk Norwegians who wanted to have a go at the English Punk rockers. Luckily we all had over 2 years of street fighting experience and luckily most of these guys were completely pissed out their minds so we returned to England relatively unscathed. But, it’s the only time I have ever been homesick as I was so tired of it all. However, it was in Norway I read about Joy Division and when we returned in September, 1979 they were the first group I made sure I saw performing in London. I knew it was only a question of time for Crisis to be over.
7.. Crisis played a number of songs live which were never recorded – ‘SPG’, ‘Waiting For Reaction’, ‘Garbage’, ‘With Everyone I Disagree’, ‘Assault’ and ‘Search And Destroy’. Do these exist in any taped form anywhere?
“SPG” (Special Patrol Group) and “Search And Destroy” were certainly on the tape we sent to John Peel the BBC radio DJ that secured a session with him and some of the others were probably as well but, that tape was never returned and I don’t know of any copies so,……Those tracks are almost certainly lost forever unless someone finds them in his famous barn where he kept his thousands of demos etc. Since he died just over a year ago it’s possible someone may catalogue all of the stuff he’s got so they might turn up one day?
8.. OK – the subsequent debate about whether you and Tony ‘crossed the floor’ and the the various allegations of exploiting Nazi imagery. I don’t know enough about Death In June and your subsequent projects to pass judgement – though I have read some of Stewart Home’s comments . But I will give you space to make an uncensored statement here if you wish.
After Punk there was no floor to cross as far as Tony and I were concerned. The floor had been shit on and destroyed. We were both sick of our very real involvement with far left politics and realised that established politics no matter if they were from the left, right or centre did not work. And, that’s what I still believe in. Home makes an attempt at a career from his memories as a 15 year old following Crisis around and seeing some early Death In June shows. His experiences around us obviously had a huge impact on his life and he’s gone on to write ad nauseum about them in one way or another whether it be in so-called critiques on the internet or his books. I have to say I’ve never yet read one all the way through but the overall tone I understand from them is that he resents me/us. But, in truth without those experiences he wouldn’t have anything to write about. At all! We gave him source material to last his lunch time.
Some additional information that was also given to the journalist in question:
Crisis formed in about Spring 1977 and did their first recordings in a terrible studio somewhere in South Wimbledon (tracks MILITANT, KILL KILL KILL & PC 1984 on Holocaust Hymns). The engineers were the bog-standard hippies associated with the music ‘biz’ at the time and hated us.
Probably due to our constant local gigging/reputation the opportunity somehow arose in 1978 that we got a free day in the Music Department’s recording studios of Surrey University in Guildford. Tracks 18/19 form part of that session which we also sent to Step Forward Records (home of Chelsea, The Police, ATV etc) to see if they were interested in signing us.
On the strength of that Nick Jones, the A&R guy there gave us a free day at Surrey Sound Studios in Leatherhead Surrey. Step Forward decided they’d pass on us but gave us the 1/4″ tapes which we immediately sent to John Peel. There was a lot of material on these but neither Tony nor I kept any copies wrongly assuming they’d be handed straight back.
However, on the strength of those particular tapes we did get the very important Peel session broadcast in 1978.
Also in 1978 a guy called Peter Bibby had seen us play on the back of a truck at a Right To Work demonstration. This, and perhaps a few other gigs, had impressed him (along with the first single by Scritti Politti which detailed how to release a record on your own with lists of printers, vinyl manufacturers, costs etc) and he then approached us to record a single for a very specific cause – to try and stop the destruction of the existing Southwark Town Hall and the building of a new one.
At first we didn’t think he was serious but after his continued persistance we agreed, seeing it as our chance to finally release something. Tony wrote the song NO TOWN HALL specifically for this but, due to one screw up after another including the aweful sleeve which was printed back to front, it eventually came out on Bibby’s Action Group Records.
In 1979 we issued on our own Ardkor Records the 7″ single UK 79/WHITE YOUTH the recordings of which which we had bought from the BBC session.
1980 we released on Ardkor the Hymns Of Faith mini LP – within the space of 3 days Rough Trade Distribution had sold nearly 5,000 copies – it sold extraordinary well in a very short time frame. On the verge of a commercial breakthrough we then split up!
In late 1981 Ardkor, due to popular demand, decided to release ALIENATION/BRUCKWOOD HOSPITAL 7″, the 2 remaining tracks forming the 1978 Peel session.
Demand for Crisis material was still unabated especially from Europe so at about the same time a 12″ entitled HOLOCAUST-UK was issued by Ardkor featuring the deleted first 2 singles. This was sold mainly to European distributers and so not widely available in the UK.
After a lot of umming and aaaring (the idea for the project had begun in 1994 when Stewart Home had written the introduction to the proposed CD) about our past Tony and I eventually agreed to a Crisis CD compilation entitled WE ARE ALL JEWS AND GERMANS eventually being issued in 1997. The title was inspired by a 1968 French situationist poster featuring the German Jew student leader Danny Cohn-Bendit (now a member for The Greens in the German Parliamant and evidently according to Stern & Spiegel magazines a DIJ fan!!) who was a contemporary of Tariq Ali of the International Marxist Group etc. Due to my legal dispute with this CD’s distributer in 1999 it was then deleted.
Late 2005 once again due to popular demand sees the issue of HOLOCAUST HYMNS.