on the record with...
By Christopher Duda
From the dirtiest, filthiest nastiest nether regions of the world, The Restarts creep and slither from the gutter spreading merriment and cheer to rid your feeble minded grey matter from news of Britney’s drug addictions and Paris’s jail time. Rejoice in the heavenly sounds of the Godlike measure of Satan’s minions.
When did the Restarts form?
We formed in 1995 in Hackney, East London.
Who is in the Restarts?
The Restarts are myself on bass and vocals, Darragh on drums and vocals and Robin on guitar and vocals. Has the line up changed over the years?
Yeah we have had a few line up changes over the years, well two to be exact. Originally it was me Darragh and Mik, then Mik decided to leave in 2002 because he had different interests and we ended up on a long hiatus searching for a guitarist. We ended up with Alan from the UK Subs, as he was my roommate at the time. He recorded System Error with us, but couldn’t continue with the gigging, as he was too busy with the Subs. We then ended up with Robin, a Dutch punk living in London, who fit the bill perfectly.
Are the Restarts essentially a DIY band? And do you buy into that ideal or ethic?
We do fall under that umbrella, largely due to a lack of label interest, and a lack of us getting off our asses and asking for help. So now we find ourselves 12 years on and kind of happy that we got where we are by DIY ethics. Sometimes however people can get a bit dogmatic about the whole DIY thing. The way I see it if you are running your own operation and keeping it independent then it is DIY. Some people get a bit critical saying shit like “you can’t play there…that’s not a DIY venue!!” to those people you just have to say fuck off!
Has the computer acted as a tool for marketing the Restarts?
100% - the computer has allowed us to reach out to thousands of people around the world. The whole peer-to-peer downloading has played its part as well, because that process eliminates ANY marketing or corporate persuasion. So if you find your stuff being shared peer-to-peer it means that people genuinely like it, not because some music mag said, “hey this is the next big thing!!” I didn’t get into computers until about 1997 and then got totally into digital designing and illustrating, this then lead me to building a website for the band….but hey now we have myspace! Which does help an incredible amount!
How do you feel about the current situation in the U.S.A and has this compelled you in any way to address it in song?
Oh shit…the USA is like a free for all for lyrical inspiration. They are such an exaggerated example of what happens in the “Western World”. The UK and the USA mirror each other and constantly observe how government policies go down in each prospective country. Songs directly influenced by the American way of life would be "Double Standards" and "Age Of Fear", both which deal with American foreign policy, largely focusing on the Iraq war. With the New album, ‘Enemy’s Enemy’ find ourselves looking at the hypocrisy of creating alliances with your enemy’s enemy, referring to the USA funding and training the Mujahideen in their freedom fight in Afghanistan against the invading Soviet regime back in 1979. We were then to realize that Osama Bin Laden and the Mujahideen are more commonly known today as Al Quieda…so now their moniker has been switched from ‘freedom fighters’ to ‘ terrorists’.
Although you are not an overly in your face political band your songs touch on many social issues. What do you look for in terms of subject matter when writing songs?
We look for stuff that affects us directly as people, stuff we encounter in everyday life and ultimately things that anger us. We stay in touch with local and international politics so they also play a large influence on what we sing about. So for instance issues that deal with gay rights, immigration laws, illegal wars, social problems like violence at gigs etc…there is no real formula, its what ever is around the corner basically. You have played in many bands over the years. Armed and Hammered (Toronto), Ulcer (Toronto), Varukers.
How do the Restarts differ from previous bands you have played with?
The Restarts differ from all the others as we split the creativity equally three ways; we all write music/lyrics and contribute to the production of our releases…although I do end up with most of the graphic design duties. With the Varukers it was kind of like being a hired hand as their catalogue of material is so well established that there isn’t much room for creative input. With Armed and Hammered people kind of had their specified duties, so I just stuck with the bass playing and the odd illustration. It was in Armed and Hammered I realized I wanted to sing as well as play bass.
You don’t hide the fact that you are gay. Do you get resistance/backlash from the Punk community?
So far I haven’t had any bad feedback, I think attitudes have changed somewhat over the years. However I can still detect bullshit attitudes within the punk scene, I tend to stay away from certain ‘macho’ types of punk, as those people just remind me of the rednecks I had to grow up around…it is just now that it is NOW so fucking acceptable to ‘have a Mohawk’ that all these mainstream dumb attitudes are ushered into the punk scene unchallenged.
How did you end up playing with Jayne County and the Electric Chairs?
Alan from the Subs does a lot of session work, he had been asked to play with Jayne County and at the last minute the bass player cancelled, so I was asked and of course said yes! Which was great fun. It was supposed to continue but her parents are very ill down in Georgia so she finds it hard to leave for any extended period of time.
You had an altercation with Sean Lennon at one point. Where was that and what actually transpired?
Oh my god…it was so stupid, but someone tipped off the Sun newspaper and they made it a bigger deal that it was. He was performing with Yoko Ono at All Tomorrow Parties festival in Camber Sands UK. At about 3 am I was staggering around the complex looking for someone to drink with, and ran into a circle of teenage girls sitting in a circle. There was no one else to drink with so I stopped in to say hello and was immediately insulted by this tubby little longhaired wanker saying “how long do you spend doing your hair every day?” Blah blah. He obviously thought I was encroaching on his little harem of prepubescent girlies. I didn’t even realize that he was Sean Lennon…so I asked him when was the last time he took a comb to his hair? Then before I knew it some bystander (hating Sean Lennon) jumped up and attacked him screaming “your old mans dead quit living off his name you WANKER!!!” that’s when I realized his sad little round glasses and the disheveled look and messy hair. Then some security stepped in and that was it. But then the Sun said …Tattooed Mohicaned bass player from the Electric Chairs gets into altercation with Drunken Sean Lennon who “wouldn’t give Peace a Chance” …fucking hilarious.
Are you still pursuing your artwork?
Yes I am freelance illustrator and designer .
You do all the design for your cd’s and t-shirts. Have you done other stuff for other bands?
Yeah am starting to do stuff for other bands but usually smaller bands and people that are friends or people I exchange work with, like if you help us with mastering I will do some artwork for you etc. It seems in recent years that every punk band has reformed. It would probably be easier to list the bands that have not reformed.
Is there any U.K bands that have reformed that are still relevant today and not just a nostalgia show?
Well yeah I think so, but the problem is that if you haven’t been playing for 20 years you obviously have different priorities so it makes it impossible to become an active touring band again. I have a lot of respect for TV smith from the Adverts as he plays everywhere and is very prolific. I also saw the Partisans last year in Amsterdam and they were amazing!!! Full of passion and emotion and very tight! But they don’t play too often, as he is busy with family life or whatever else it is that he does. I think there is a fine line between relevance and nostalgia, and I’m a bit critical of older bands. I thought Sham 69 were good when Pursey got back on board.but now he’s quit…I wouldn’t recommend them now. English Dogs played in august with the Mad Dogs EP line up and were phenomenal!! The singer Wakey is mad as a hatter, speaking of which he showed up on stage with bags of hats, which he made everyone in the audience wear, wedding hats, top hats, cowboy hats you name it he had it! So you have to picture gangs of punks pulling wedding hats on over their Mohawks and then hearing note for note “Psycho killer on the loose again, demented brain in constant pain…” Priceless!
You have toured Europe, The States and Canada with the Restarts. Have you played with any interesting bands of note? I believe you played with the Accused? and the reformed Adolescents?
Yeah that was a great gig in Seattle, and was certainly a good introduction for ourselves to Seattle, as we had never toured the west coast before. We ended up staying with Blane from the Accused, he was a great guy! Touring with Hard Skin (piss-take skinhead band) was quite a highlight, as they are like the comedy troupe of punk rock! I also enjoyed playing with Dr Know in SF, as I’m an old school fan of theirs, that’s all I can think of for now.
Are there plans for another North American tour?
Yes we are hoping for Spring 2008.
How do you feel about the progression of the Restarts output?
I think we are getting more control over it now, as we did this last record ourselves, recorded mixed etc plus all production design, packaging etc. so we should become more prolific I hope!!!
When is the new cd coming out?
It’s out already beyatch!!!! June 1st 2007.
Is it true you were voted the best punk ass in 2006?
Depends where you heard that…maybe ass hole??? Hmmm that sounds even dirtier…lol
Thanks for the interview