Saturday, April 20, 2013

THE VARUKERS interview

by michela a.

Nothing's changed. These “angrier older men” are still around and it seems like nothing can grind ‘em down. On stage since '79, THE VARUKERS shaped punk since its birth and gave life to some of the best known (and still alive) UK punk groups, nothing less than Discharge, Doom, Vile...
We had the chance to have a chat with Rat and Stick some months ago in Milan at Arci LO-FI, just before The Varukers’ gig organized by Vampata and...well, time has passed since that night (my fault!) but finally I had the time to stick our talk on what the “older angrier men” have to say and judge by yourself how UK punk feels like today.

gan: How is it going here? Ready for tonight?

Rat_ Yeah, good! Much Show!

Stick_ Well...we’ve beer so...we’re ready!

Rat_ We haven’t been playing for a while so...last time was...August maybe?


Rat.: September!

gan: When was your last time in Italy? I saw a video of you playing at la Scintilla, in Modena…

Rat_ Yeah la Scintilla! That’s right...I think it was 3...4 years ago... A squat place...Good place, good people, supporters...Cool!

gan: What about The Varukers’ current line-up? I saw you had many changes... 

Rat_Well...we had but not really. I mean, not so many if you consider that we have been playing for 25 years...

Stick_ Well, I was in the band 17 years ago...

Rat_ We didn’t change that much, just people going into the stuff and then out cause lots of people just get bored, you know, and want to do other things...

Stick_ Well there’s nothing bad in playing in the The Varukers!


Rat_ But I mean...I’m speaking about music in general you know...some friends have their jobs out...I wish they never left us at all but you know...we made a choice.

Stick_ You have to be dedicated...

gan: And you Rat, you’re also playing with Discharge...

Rat_ Yeah! 10 years next year...

gan: Wow! And you have to be quite busy playing and touring with your bands...

Rat_ Well not really! And I play in the Vile too! We can’t do a lot touring ‘cause...some have children now...Long tours are out, it’s just festivals, a couple of days here and there, you know...we do what we can...In the ’70, ’80 it was easier!

gan: “Nothings changed”...the title of one of your seven that related to The Varukers’ attitude?

Rat_ The title refers to us. Well...actually things do change...but when we put out that record we had just reformed so...we wanted to say that we were still the “No worries ‘cause nothing’s changed!”

Stick_ Well...the lyrics are more about...that in the World there are always the same problems...

Rat_ Yeah...the lyrics mean that nothing changed for The Varukers and the same the World nothing has changed too... same troubles and paradoxes...

gan: So same problems...And what about the lyrics? Do you think we have new enemies to fight against today?

Rat_ Well there are more! Governments of course, but also banks...people now are more exposed...well, we always knew they were but today normal people they realize that life cheats them they say “Hang on! I’ve worked all my life long and...”

Stick_ ...and the banks got all their money...

Rat_ ...and people realize they’ve been shafted!

gan: UK punk scene has traditionally been divided in 2 waves: ‘77, ‘ you agree with that? I mean, is there a division? Could you identify a kind of “boundary line”?

Rat_ No, not at all actually...

Stick_ Well it’s more and more divided!

Rat_ Ahahaha

gan: But what happened after '82?

Stick_ '83?!

All_ ahaha

Rat_ Well...the scene cannot be divided... We are all the same, and still wear same clothes,’s not about periods... when my friends say ”I’m a punk” they mean ’77 punk, you know. That’s what one chooses to do...Look at my jackets it’s ’90s and I wear skinhead boots you know...but I’m a punk!! Oh! In the way I dress am I a woman!?!

Stick_ Yes…

gan: What about current UK punk bands?

Rat_ The Vile! The Vile!

Stick_ Oh no! No!

gan: Any band you recommend?

Rat_ The Vile!

Stick_ No, the Doom!

All_ Ahaha! That’s it!

gan: What about Italian punk-hc bands?

Rat_ Wretched! Love them!

gan: Cool! So I think you will enjoy the sound after the show ‘cause one of them will play some music tonight!

Rat_ Wowwwww!!!!

gan: Now let’s go back to The Varukers: you put out about 20 releases in 33 years...but you do not seem to be tired!

All_ Oh no! Not at all!!

gan: Any new project you are working at...?

Stick_ Yeah, a new album...

Rat_ Well, we live far apart and it takes us longtime but next year (2013) we’re gonna start really working on it. I mean, me, Stick and Brian have done some tracks, about 5, 6 songs and we just put the base for Brian and the idea is there...we just have to put it all together…and we hope to do it next year! Definitely!

GAN.: So a new album for 2013?

Rat_ Possibly! Yeah...well we need to, we want to... We all know that, we say it every year but now we really have 5/6 riffs...just need the “final thing” and put it together.

gan: I read about a concert in California, in 2006, which ended rioting...the British Invasion. What the hell happened there?

Rat_ Well...I wouldn’t say it was a riot…It was in a big hangar and the guy promoting had kept outside, you know, bands playing inside, and one white-power-guy came and punk kids attacked him. He took his knife off and beat ‘em up! Police came, one police car, and they started throwing cans at the police car, so the police attacked. The whole was converged down by cops as they took us the venue. There were young kids you know, 17, 18, America’s young scene having good time and police took us at the venue...and closed the what do you expect?
I was really ail as I drank much the day before and I was laying down and I saw these kids running from the venue and I asked “What’s going on?” “What’s going on?” they say “look at that” I saw a young kid coming out, his eyes were burning he wanted some water...they started attacking the police cars and I saw these cops walking on me, and...I would feel ashamed if I were their commissioner or in charge of, you thing is a riot. But there...nobody knew what the hell was going on...there could have been a fire and everybody simply wanted to get out soon. They made a mess and took us the venue…

gan: What about Nazi punks? Unfortunately in Italy there are some right-wing, well, fascist punk groups. They’re a few but they exist. What about UK?

Rat_ Nazi punks? Hopefully they will change...growing up. And on their own choice. In UK actually...they could exist but...that’s not popular, nor widespread, you know, there has always been lot of immigration in UK so, racist people are easy to blame. There’s good and bad in everybody...hopefully they will change.

Stick_ Yes, I think that racist punk bands would have their troubles in facing the majority of punk bands, left-wing punks and their ideals...they wouldn’t let ‘em play at the same venues so...they wouldn’t be able to grow. I think they will disappear.

Rat_ Yes, there’s no way they can grow. Hopefully they will wise up and change their mind…GET A LIFE KIDS!

gan: I totally agree with you! Let’s change topic now...Which are the differences (if any) in playing in US and playing in Europe? 

Rat_ Well, everybody ask me that but I cannot answer cause every gig is different: I enjoy wherever we play. Which is the best place to play? I really cannot answer that... Mexico is good, Brazil is good, Europe is good, America is good...We do not always have good gigs but we try to do a good gig all times, I mean, ‘cause we enjoy them. The gig is one event, next one will be different. Really, honestly I cannot answer where I like best play. If I could I would...

Stick_ There are too many, the sound is crap or nobody turns up ‘cause there’s another gig on, or another venue down the road and...

Rat_ But also a small crowd, can make it a good gig…there are too many facts and one gig is one occasion while a record is playing and a gig you can never reproduce. You can never reproduce the same gig.

gan: And do you see some differences in the crowds? Compared to the past? 

Stick_ I think that in Europe, crowd is a lot younger...while in England it’s still the old men...ahaha! All 30-40 at least!
Sometimes today it’s like playing to my children!

Rat_ WelI but that’s good! If you can appeal to young got a future! That’s the way it should be. They still can grab what you want to say...We, the 50 guys...well that’s what we sang and we still believe in...and...if young kids can still relate to that, well, that’s good!

Stick_ Nothing’s changed...

Rat_ Yeah, people say “I’m an older and angrier man”...Well I’m still angry but I’m OLD and angry...but they ARE young and angry! I WAS young and angry...

gan: And keep staying angry! That’s all for us! Thank you for your time! So Let’s go inside and see how old and angry the crowd is tonight!

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