How and when did MA form, and what bands were you taking influence from early on?
Con: The story really started when I left school at 16 and got an apprenticeship. With my first wage I went and put a deposit down on my first bass – a Rickenbacker 4001. OK so it was a CMI copy but it looked the bollox. I found a band called Insipid and became the bass player, yep because I had a bass. Unfortunately Insipid never got any further than the pub (the rest were older than me), where we planned our punk rock storming of the world in theory only.
Meanwhile, Paul and some friends started a band. Nobody could play but Paul now had access to a bass. Paul on Bass, Shaun on vocals, Craig and drums and Dave on guitar. The first 3 and me went on to become the Darlo Droogs and Dave played on and off for Major Accident till this very day.
Paul: I was14 and in a daft chat with schoolmate Shaun we discussed starting a band, and on a bus trip home bumped into Dave got chatting and fortunately Dave wasn’t a perv chatting up schoolboys, but a real, live punk guitarist with his own guitar!
It was quickly discovered that Paul didn’t have one timing bone in his body (and it never improved!), so when Shaun decided to jump ship, I jumped onto bass and Paul moved on to the mic. And after a couple of legendary local gigs and a long line of drummers to follow it was obvious that Craig suffered the same timing affliction as Paul, and even though it was punk, we decided it wasn’t going to work. So Craig gave up his stool and became road manager till we split up in 1986 or was it 87? So in came Col Stephenson.
Con: 77 / 78 in Darlo was a dangerous time, with most punks being 15 to 18 they were easy prey for the much older teddy boys, soulies etc who took the media at face value and decided it was open season. Punks all over the country were living with the same problem tho so we had to learn to man up, live with it and give it back.
A few other locals started up bands, The Urban Guerrillas, The Bloodclots, The Last Rockers and at one point there was a thriving scene. Then before you know it we had the “you aren’t punk enough” and “I’ve got a mohawk” divisions started. great fun times though.
Paul: It might have been a thriving scene but the only venues were youth clubs and a couple of back rooms in pubs.
Musically you guys have always had the attack and energy of UK82, as well as the melodies, sing along style and lyrics of Oi! Did you play gigs with both sorts of bands back in the day, did you feel more apart of one scene then another, and has that changed over the years?
Con: We never fitted comfortably in either. We weren’t punk enough for the punks and not Oi enough for the skinheads, and our Clockwork image added to that confusion. Musically we had a foot in both camps. We had out-and-out punk songs and out and out Oi songs, but we also had something that was completely different in songs like Brides of the Beast, Twisted Mind and Affliction. Luckily not everyone is narrow-minded (plenty are mind) and we accrued a great cult following “The Clockwork Legion”, many of who we are still in touch with til this day. And we still get old timers telling us that now.
Paul: Yeah, musically we had a listen to whatever was brought to the table, if we liked it we played it, if not it was tampered with or binned. There was no discussion about what style we should play in, we were all interested in different bands, though there were a lot of common denominators we all liked, and we were moulded in different walks of life and these are reasons why there is such a variety in what we created.
Con: We went to loads of punk and Oi gigs as punters – driving all over in my Ford Cortina, or going mob-handed in a Transit van and bedding down in it afterwards. I remember a trip to London to see The Ramones and Leeds, to see Infa Riot and the Business, and countless trips to see all the original great punk bands in Middlesbrough and Newcastle. but we seemed to play mainly with punk bands like Chelsea on our first UK tour in 82. We did have a tour supporting Infa Riot but they walked out before the first show and never turned up again. We went ahead and played 2 or 3 of the shows pretending we thought they were on the way – no mobile phones then 😉
With a career spanning 40+ years now, it’s fair to say you’ve seen some major changes in the punk and skinhead scenes. What would you say the main differences were from the 80’s to the 90’s, then the 90’s to the 2000’s?
Con: Definitely the overpowering difference is the violence. Back in the 80s, it was rare for it not to kick off at gigs, but when we reformed and started playing in the 90s everyone was older and thankfully more sensible and realized we shouldn’t be fighting each other cos there’s plenty of other shit to focus energy on. Into the 2000’s it got even mellower. Still a few kickoffs but nothing like the old days.
Bands were different in the early days as well. A lot were very stand-offish, with quite a bit of punk snobbery. We did a tour with the Vibrators and they never spoke to us once. They were stars and we were kids. On the other hand, we did bump into the Clash outside the venue in Middlesbrough and they brought us in for the soundcheck.
Some of the younger bands were cool but there was still animosity or whatever. You would often go into a dressing room and one band would be abusing another through the media of graffiti on the wall.
Nowadays it is one big punk rock family. Everyone has been through the great punk rocks wars and came out the other side older and wiser. Happy days.
Paul: Definitely a big reduction in the amount of trouble at gigs. Also an improvement in venues. Early days for us it was back rooms in pubs and we had to hump our own basic PA system with us, but later the pubs that put bands on had in-house PA’s next it was proper venues. We were pretty poor in the early days and even had Stu the drummer heat up a tin of soup over a candle in the back of the van, it was nice in later years to have food provided by promoters, At most of the later gigs, we were wined and dined which was a treat.
If you had to pick, what are say the 5 most memorable gigs and why? As a rule of thumb, which towns/countries have been a good time for you guys?
Con: Memorable gigs are a knotty one cos mainly the ones that stand out are for the wrong reasons. We had a particularly bad night in Belgium in 97 when a gang of Paris skinheads ran riot. It was pretty scary and afterwards, the bar looked like a saloon scene from a John Wayne western. Rumour had it that someone had died and when we walked outside the venue a dozen riot vans of cops had about 30 skinheads all facedown on the floor handcuffed with snarling German shepherds straining to get at them. But the good memories far out way the bad ones.
I wouldn’t like to say which countries or towns have been best for us because there are so many. But memorable gigs include our first ever at Skerne Park Youth Club, Darlo in 78. A mob of youngsters all crammed in a Portakabin, no stage and only about 4 or so of our own songs and a handful of covers – White Riot was covered at least 3 times that night and Terrorist Gang went down a treat.
Of course, CBGBs is on every punk band’s bucket list and it didn’t disappoint, particularly the legendary toilets ;-). Conne Island in Leipzig, Germany never fails to disappoint and then of course there is Rebellion, which is always a great weekend away on the lash. There don’t seem to be any crap gigs these days. The shows are put on by music lovers that want toggle the bands a good night, unlike the sharks of the 80s that would disappear with the takings, after providing 4 cans of lager, no food and no accommodation.
Paul: A Few gigs that stick out to me; Earl 80’s the last gig of our tour of Holland was in a town called Groningen. The guys who were ferrying us around were joking with us saying it was in bumpkin land and the locals still wore wooden shoes. At least we thought they were joking until we arrived at the town where the locals did wear wooden shoes! The venue was on the edge of a run-down industrial park and looked like a portacabin that had been used as a canteen. We thought no one would be turning up that night.
A couple of hours before doors opened, cars, vans, minibuses and even a couple of coaches started to arrive. There were people from all over Holland, a lot who had seen us throughout the tour and had come to see the finale of the tour. The place was packed. There was a low stage at one end of the hall that was accessed through the crowd. It was a great night but once we’d played our set and a couple of encores we tried to leave the stage, unfortunately, the only way to the backstage area was through the crowd, and they weren’t letting us go!!! We carried on playing until a stage invasion, one of several that night, where the neck on Cons bass got snapped and speakers were sent flying and we couldn’t carry on. If that hadn’t happened we’d probably still be playing there today.
Another gig was the Santa Monica Civic Hall, not because it was a good gig but because the stage was bigger than any venue we’d played in before. Definitely a WOW moment. The gig a couple of nights later in Fenders was a much better night.
Skunx club in London. We’d travelled down to London for the gig only to get there and find it hadn’t been advertised! The gig posters and fliers were still under the bar. Fortunately, when we were unloading the gear a passing skin asked who was playing and went and got his mates. I think there were six of them in that night, but they had a great time. Probably the smallest crowd we played to.
How’s both band a civvie life in Darlington these days? Having churned out bands such as Last Rough Cause, Gimp Fist and more recently Boilermaker, there’s clearly something in the water….
Con: Work took me away from Darlo in 86 and after a stint in London I now live in a small town called Pickering (Small Town England). It’s about 70 miles from Darlo, one of the main reasons we never get together as a band anymore. I still get through occasionally for a pint with Paul and when times were better we would get to a gig if Boilermaker, LRC or the GImps were playing. The Struggle were around for a short period too.
In the old days, we played pubs and attics and had to travel to Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Leeds to see bands cos there were no proper venues in town. Now we have the Forum, which is a great venue, so we get decent bands and a great night out. And it has a proper bar n all!!!
Paul: Life’s too busy at the moment with work, so we haven’t done anything for a few years now, but maybe when retirement comes we can get to do something if our bodies and brains are still functioning!!!!
Once you’re able, where are the first ports of call for the band both home and abroad?
Con: Sorry to say we have no plans to go anywhere apart from the pub. We never say never but it looks like the Warboots are very close to being hung up for good.
Paul: We still get offered many gigs and festivals around the globe, we were actually looking at playing several interesting ones in both Europe and the States but these were knocked on the head when our drummer got married and wasn’t allowed out to play. With busy lives, we didn’t have the time to look for or rehearse with a new drummer. But maybe one day when our lives become less busy we will return and take up some of the offers we’ve had.
What are your favourite current bands that you’d recommend giving a listen? (anything from say last 10 years to now).
Con: Another tricky one. Obviously, the Darlo bands mentioned previously. We are very proud of the Darlo legacy and to see such talented bands coming through is fantastic. But I listen a lot to bands like Knock Off, The Young Ones, Flogging Molly (OK not that new), Haymaker.
Paul: I’m a bit of a music recluse so unless someone suggests something (and it’s usually Con that suggests it) I don’t hear of it. So it’s mostly old stuff that gets listened to. Flogging Molly are good and they were one of Con’s suggestions, and we managed to get to see them play in Leeds which was a great night. Bouncing Souls have had some great tracks. One album I recently have been listening to is Wolf Bites boy.
Have you heard many Canadian Oi!/street punk bands, and if so what do you make to them? (Alternate Action, No Heart, Bishops Green, True Grit are all recent years, whereas there are older classics like Subway Thugs, Vacant Lot, The Discords etc)
Con: Love listening to all those bands, particularly Bishops Green and I always liked DOA early doors and more recently bands like the Real McKenzies, Propagandhi and The Flatliners. Was Paul that got me into the FLatliners and I bet he didn’t know they were Canadian. To be honest I didn’t even know any of them were Canadian except DOA. The internet has made for a much smaller world, where great bands are available everywhere and you don’t have to track them down to their stomping grounds. Maybe that’s not such a good thing as we lump every band west of the pacific as American. Not in a derogatory way – just the way we were brought up. Shit, I’m digging a hole for myself here. We love ALL Canadian bands!
Paul; Eulogy was the first Flatliners track I heard and loved it, yeah Con’s right, I didn’t know they were from Canada for a long time. I think I’ve become lazy as you can just stream music and save what you like, it’s not like the old days where you bought a record and read the sleeve notes over and over.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these – anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Con: Yep. A couple of words from your humble narrators – Thanks to Last Years Youth for not giving up the ghost. Thanks to everyone who ever bought or enjoyed any Major Accident music. And thanks for being interested enough to read these words from a couple of starry vecks!
Paul: Eat, drink and be merry! Oh and listen to a lot of good music.