Back to the early 80's. and post punk from Cambridge's gothic outfit TheFinal Scream. Final Scream were David Middle (Vocals), Robin Taylor (Guitar), Jon Rickard (Bass) and Richard Beasley(Drums).Connections with 13th Chime, Black Buttercups, Vanishing Point, Gary Numan and now Long Bone Trio .Let's have a talk with David (singer of Final Scream and drummer of Long Bone Trio) about his memories and the punk-era of the period.
1) Hi there. Could you please tell how punk rock entered your and your friends’ lives in days of your adolescence and careless youth? Why were you touched by this music?
It is such a long time ago, but many memories remain so fresh. Jon, Robin and I grew up in a small rural village that sat between Cambridge, Newmarket, Haverhill and Saffron Walden. We did not live in London or Manchester and we were too young to have been involved in that infamous Sex Pistols and 100 Club type period.We began to hear snippets of these Punk bands and it seemed exciting and a far cry from country life and the music and things our peers were listening too and doing. The low level do-it yourself dressing up was appealing too, the safety pins, paint, dog-collars, short hair, drain-pipes all began to appeal. But we were young and it only became real once we started to go and regularly watch bands in East Anglia and then London. It was 1978 and I was 14 years old. Jon, Robin and I went to see The Jam, then quickly after bands like Penetration, Ramones, The Stranglers, The Damned and many others. The excitement of these gigs, the music, the people, the smell, the whole “fuck-you” attitude really appealed. At this point, it took over so much of our everyday thoughts and needs. Everything was about the music and the life-style and soon we moved from being young voyeurs to really being part of it. As a consequence, so many other things in our lives were dropped or ignored.There was a lot of violence in those days too. Most teenagers in Cambridge and surrounding areas were still either teddy boys, disco boys, rugby boys, football thugs or were part of motorbike gangs. There were many military bases in our area too (British and American) that led to gangs of “squaddies “drinking in pubs. Throw in the Cambridge students and it completes the scene of the small-town England we grew up in. Whenever we went out, there always seemed to be some pointless act of violence where often we were the victims. Punks and the music was still a shock to many. However, we were far from alone and we became aware of others in our surrounding towns who felt the same. It did not take long for this growing group of people to become friends, or at least recognise each other
2) Final Scream appeared in 1980, and since 81 you were playing live. How did it all happen? Why did you choose to play such particular gloomy kind of punk? Which bands or other artistic influences inspired your sound?
After those early punk years, music began to change. The punk sound became fast food, the dressing up was becoming a uniform and that type of atmosphere did not over appeal. We began to go and watch groups likes Gang of 4, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Killing Joke and Bauhaus. I loved the bands with enigmatic front people. In Haverhill there was a local punk band called Anticx. They had an energy and sound about them. Their gigs were fun local adventures. After the loss of a group member, Anticx re-launched themselves as 13th Chime. Their music was dark and macabre and their early songs were simple and raw, but maintained those punk roots. These sounds were influencing what we trying to do as we learnt to play together and write songs. Final Scream’s songs always had a basic and raw feel (based on our punk roots), but we always wanted the overall sound to be edgy and dark.Robin, Jon and I begged and borrowed money and began to buy instruments, amps, drums, cymbals etc. Of course we had to learn to play. We practiced at my Mum’s house in either the garage or in my small bedroom. My mother’s patience was phenomenal. She has known Robin and Jon since we were all small children so maybe that helped her to never judge the growing sea of people arriving at her house that looked and dressed different. As soon as we could, we started to gig.
3) Could you please introduce other members of The Final Scream line-up? Was it difficult for you to switch between drums and vocals?
The three constant members of the band were myself (Vocals), Jon Rickard (bass) and Robin Taylor (guitar). There were three drummers we had over the years, Robert Cragie, Richard Beasley and Jolly (Simon Herod).It was always a struggle to find a constant 4th member of the band. The early gigs I played drums whilst we tried different singers, both male and female. The singer at our first gig was Gavin Langford who became the bass player for The Vanishing Point and now Black Buttercups. I enjoy playing drums and continue to do so, but I also have always loved singing and performing whenever the chance arises. I took up the challenge and loved every moment of fronting Final Scream. Many of our earlier songs were written between Jon, Robin with me both drumming and singing. So my drum rhythms and patterns were often used by whoever was drumming.
4) Final Scream have been friends with 13th Chime for a long time. How did this friendship begin? Was there a competitive element in it, in terms of art?
13th Chime was a brilliant band. Their gigs were special and we were first and foremost real fans. We like many others watched them play at fairs and venues all over the East of England and London. Their three self-financed singles are classic tunes that have a place in our hearts. In the early years, the members of 13th Chime and Final Scream were often at the same gigs watching other groups. It was a small world. When we played Haverhill, members of 13th Chime would be at Final Scream gigs. It seemed quite a natural progression when Final Scream supported 13th Chime. Certainly many of the same people would go and watch both bands.Final Scream had died when Robin decided to move on. Shortly after, Mick Hand left 13th Chime to go travelling, Gary O’Connor and Ricky Cook came to my flat in Cambridge and asked me to join them and Terry Taylor as a new singer/front man. Sadly, it was clear the spark and life that was so important to them had gone and after a few months, this new look 13th Chime also died.The friendships really blossomed after both Final Scream and 13th Chime died. We all remain good friends today. We all went off to live in different towns and have new adventures. Gary, Ricky and I moved to London.To this very day, we have all continued to share musical adventures. Between us we have continued to collaborate, write and release some wonderful innovative, raw dark rock and roll based tunes.There was never any competitiveness between the bands. 13th Chime was first. They were influencers to Final Scream. We were fans and then friends. One thing is for sure; I believe both Final Scream and 13th Chime could both have been “bigger” than they were. Other bands that came along went much further, such as UK Decay, Southern Death Cult and Sex Gang Children. Don’t’ get me wrong, these bands were great, but arguably Final Scream and 13th Chime had many similar qualities.
5) You shared stage with bands like Charlie Harper, Action Pact, Conflict, Chameleons, 13th Chime, Vex… Which ones were the most memorable for you? How can you describe the atmosphere during your gigs? In those videos on YouTube we can see your striking perfomance leaving an impression you were being possessed, while some guys from the audience were throwing toilet paper and flour in you. What does it mean?
Final Scream played with many different style bands. They were usually punk, gothic or alternative type bands. The audiences could be mixed too, punks, goths and skinheads. A guess this was sign of the times really. Our gigs were usually sweaty affairs, where the crowd was a mix of leather, studs, black, bleached and red hair and smoke.The best gigs were always to a crowd that was digging what we were doing. The worst would be to crowds who clearly did not. Some of the later type gigs had their scary moments. I think sometimes that front man persona you describe helped me do what I needed to do regardless of the nature of the crowd.
6) One of your songs called Our Fragile Art is about some incident with the nazi lads. Since I belong to the Russian punk generation which faced a harsh confrontation between Far-right fans and chavs’ movements, it would be interesting to compare our experience in 2000’s with the experience of the British youth in 80’s.
One night, we did a gig in Peterborough. This night is surprisingly quite fresh in my memory. There were 4 other bands on the bill. They were Conflict, The Destructors, Chaos UK and Vex. There was a sizeable and mixed crowd. There were the anarchist punks for Conflict, punks and goths and then a large number of skinheads who had travelled from London to watch Chaos UK. Sadly this night, the skinheads took an instant dislike to our performance and expressed themselves by doing on-going nazi salutes and ultimately leading to an enormous skinhead getting on the stage who threatened Robin and then stalked me around the stage. This was quite an unpleasant experience. By the end of the night, a full blown riot had kicked off. Bizarrely, we signed our record deal after this gig! It would be interesting to hear your own stories and experiences you mention. The song Our Fragile Art came from the feeling and the mood we felt after that night.
7)You recorded an EP in 1983 but it was never distributed. It was pretty cruel to the fans of Positive Punk and Root Goth, because, in my opinion, Final Scream is one of the best bands in these genres. Why did it all happen like this? And one more question here. You started making music very early, played with lots of bands. Chances are big that you’ve influenced many bands which shared the stage with you. But for a long time your music was known only to the eyewitnesses of the original afterpunk movement. How did it feel like to observe goth and punk subculture after your band broke up?
Thank you for those kind words. I don’t know if we influenced anyone, but I know that the people I know or meet who came and watched, always talk fondly of us. That is enough. The growing influence of social media has led to a community of musical disrupters and DJ’s making contact enjoying our few recorded songs. It is not easy to get them. This is so exciting and humbling. Guys like you, who have a passionate love for the old school of gothic tunes continue to find old underground and niche bands, like Final Scream, who did their thing before the Internet went global.
Final Scream were offered a record deal with Obsession Records. It led to the band spending a couple of mad days (with friends in tow) in Crow Studios in West London recording 4 songs. This was the first and only time the group spent time in a studio. Money was non-existent and we were naïve to the workings of the musical business.Unfortunately, only two test copies of the 12” single were ever released. I have one. Not sure who has the other. It was 1984 and Robin wanted to leave the group and do music in a different direction. Jon and I could not carry on without Robin, who remains a life-long friend. This meant the record company would not release the single.
8) In 84 things turned bad for the band, Richard left to play with Gary Numan, then Robin wanted to play another kind of music, you left to play with 13th Chime. What do you think of the events of that period?
Yes, Richard left and still drums for Gary Numan even today. Jolly played drums for us for the final year or so, but it was all over when Robin left. It was a sad period in many ways. We had grown up together with a shared love of music in our hearts. In some ways, it was like losing your first love. However, all good things must die in the end and we quickly learnt to enjoy celebrating those wonderful times. We all remain strong friends and we continue to share our lives with each other.
9) far as I understand you were playing in 13th Chime when it was on the brink of break-up. Please tell something about those last days of the band.
13th Chime should have made it. In 1984 again, my involvement with 13th Chime was on paper an exciting prospect, but in reality those guys had already reached their time. It was also sad, but right for 13th Chime to retire. The best thing of those months was that it cemented my friendship with Gary, Ricky and Terry.
10) One more remarkable project of yours was The Vanishing Point. You’ve had lots of gigs, there are also stunning tracks on Youtube. Please tell a bit more about this project. Where is it possible to find more stuff of it?
The Vanishing Point is another unknown and under rated underground band that I joined as the frontman after 13th Chime had ended. It was likely 1985. Vanishing Point gigged extensively in East Anglia and London. They did far more gigs than Final Scream ever did. The other members of the band were Gavin Langford (bass) and the brothers Martin (guitar) and John Cornell (drums). We played with many bands that included bands like Fields of the Nephilim and Balaam and the Angel. There is one track called Displaced Man on You-tube. It was 1 of 3 songs that were recorded at The Enid’s lodge studio. I can send you these tracks. It was the only real recording we did. There are many working demo tracks recorded over the years on small porta studios. I don’t have these, but Gavin likely does. I can ask him to send you some over? I think some can be found on an old Myspace site (www.myspace.com/theoriginalvanishingpoint).We did many memorable gigs, but the one we did one Sunday afternoon in a hospital to a crowd of delightful special need patients was bizarre!I had moved to London, but the rest of the band remained in Cambridge. Sadly, I decided that it was time for me to move on and do other things. We all remain friends and see each other often
Today, Gavin, Gary (13th Chime) and I are playing together in a new band called Black Buttercups. The musical merry go round continues.
11) Please tell about the projects Clydes Gang and Dinky Fish.
Gary and I had moved to London and were looking to do something new musically. We formed a quirky “pop” band called Clydes Gang. Terry Taylor from 13th Chime joined us. Initially we gigged using drum machines and then we were joined by Robert Cragie (an ex Final Scream drummer) and his brother Steve (2nd guitar). We did maybe a dozen gigs or so, mainly in London clubs and did a number of unreleased recordings. A particular memory I have of a Clyde’s Gang gig was supporting Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols) group. Ten Pole Tudor was in the crowd and very drunk. He dominated the dance floor throughout our set. Clydes Gang ended due to a number of personal reasons and challenges we were all having. It was real fun whilst it lasted.Ricky Cook from 13th Chime, Steve Cragie (Clydes Gang above) and I lived near each other in South London. Steve was an old friend from the punk days who I had met at a Final Scream gig. We began to write some basic unfinished tunes which we took to studios with guest guitarists to then go with the flow and record whatever came out. These mad weekends of recordings were such fun. The songs were recorded under the pseudo name of “Dinky Fish”. Dinky Fish was never a working band, just collaboration.Again, all the member of these bands remain good friends today.
12)What were you occupied with in 90’s?
I still did some music in the early 90’s. Nothing special or anything I think back on with real pride. I think I had become disillusioned a little and focused on doing other things in my life. I went back to College to study and I focused on what I needed to do to actually earn a living wage.In the mid-90’s I started to drum for a London based brit-pop group called Giantene. One CD EP was released and some tracks can be found on Youtube. Giantene had a fine set of pop tunes, reminiscent of Magazine really.At this time, I met my wife Jacqui and my three children (Tom, Hannah and Louie) were born in 1997, 1998 and 2001. They all remain an inspiration to me and help keep me sane in a mad world. They continue to tolerate my musical past times.
13) In the late 2000’s you, Gary O’Connor from 13th Chime and Robin Taylor from Final Scream formed a garage band called Long Bone Trio and released a 7’’ and a full-length album. Seems like you were keen on the sound of the bands like Cramps and Gun Club, and it sounds great. Why did you decide to form a band and play such kind of Swamp? Is Long Bone Trio still active?There were a number of years now where we all created little new music. In 2000, me, Robin, Gary O’Connor and Terry Taylor from 13th Chime went to see a Sex Pistols Jubilee reunion gig in Crystal Palace. After that gig, it was Gary and Robin who initially decided to form a low-fi, swampy rock n’ roll band. The roots of this music would be old rock n’ roll riffs, dark blues, punk, coupled with our shared love of all things Cramps. It took a couple of years for this embryo to settle down and grow.
Both Gary and Robin played fuzzy guitars and I joined them to play drums. We decided that we did not need a bass player. We called ourselves Long Bone Trio. We are really proud of our time playing in Long Bone Trio. It really got going about 2005 and ended about 2012. We played sometimes a lot, sometimes never. We did many gigs and many more we cancelled due to a range of reasons. I really regret a gig we blew out supporting a reformed New York Dolls.We (the Bones) gigged in London, the South East and a range of other cities and clubs who were inspired by our pretty raw sounds. Long Bone Trio released 500 copies a 7” vinyl single called “Oscar Flies in the Face of Reason”. Our remaining love of all things vinyl really drove this. Gary did the sleeve art work and words which for those who have the 13th Chime vinyl singles will see similarities. We went to a wonderful studio called “Old School Studies” in Bury St Edmunds. In essence we recorded our LP in just over a day, often finishing songs as we went along. The album came out in a CD format and is called Chainey Pieces.I am glad you like the Bones, as again I think they remain a little known secret and some of the songs I believe really hit the mark.
14) Please tell about your new project with Gavin Langford from The Vanishing Point called Black Buttercups, you released an LP “Your so Bony, But Your My One and Only”.When Long Bone Trio ended, Gary and I wanted to carry on our musical adventures. Gavin Langford from The Vanishing Point joined us on bass. We called ourselves Black Buttercups, which is also a track on the Long Bone Trio album.Black Buttercups builds on the Bones rawness and has added a new dimension to it. The songs remain even more rhythmical with the addition of the bass guitar and the new songs keep their punky roots whilst showing a mature structure to them.My brother-in-law, Pablo Clements used to be in the Psychonauts and UNKLE. Post UNKLE, he owns and runs the legendary studios in Brighton called the Toy Rooms. In recent years, Nick Cave and many others record here with Pablo.Pablo gave us the keys to the kingdom for a weekend late 2014. Ben Thackeray (producer of the The Charlatans) joined us and we recorded our debut album called “Your so Bony, But Your My One and Only”. It has been released for digital download and 500 vinyl copies of the LP are due back to us from the factory in June 2015. This LP is very personal to the 3 of us. The artwork for the LP is special. Best seen really rather than described.
15) Recently there’s been a lot of fuss around 13th Chime, seems like earth began shaking over this forsaken tomb again. I mean these splendid Scared Bones re-releases. Now we are expecting to see the band live during its European tour. This forthcoming appearance in the Continent is wrapped in glory of a phantom ship; no one knows where it moors, but all the music nerds are waiting forward to see your revival and to be its eyewitnesses. You take part in the current 13th Chime line-up, so maybe you could reveal some of its plans and hopes.
I was so pleased when Sacred Bones released the 13th Chime tunes. Over the years I had owned all this unreleased material and it was just too good to not be heard by others. I know Mick, Gary, Terry and Ricky were delighted.Earlier this year, Mick Hand decided he wanted to launch a re-incarnated version of 13th Chime to play the best of those old tunes, whilst adding some new material. Original members, Terry Taylor (bass) and Ricky Cook (drums) have other interests, but were supportive of Mick’s drive.Gary O’Connor is already involved with Black Buttercups and has other commitments which mean that to date he is not going to be involved.Mick wanted to recruit people to the band who knew and were in their own ways part of and understood the original 13th Chime heritage. Jon Rickard and I (from Final Scream) agreed to be the rhythm section. Of course, I had joined the original 13th Chime back in the day. Rob Shawl who had played keyboards for 13th Chime for a gig or two at the end was the guitarist in the Wynd-Ups completes the line-up. The Wynd-ups were the original punk band Terry Taylor played in before joining 13th Chime.The focus for the 2015 13th Chime is to enjoying playing the earlier tunes to a crowd who want to hear them that really set the scene for the band. Without much publicity, gig offers have arrived, New York, Poland, Russia and Germany to name just a few. No doubt some will happen and some will not. Poland in October 2015, with an appearance at the Return to the Bat-cave festival is already booked and 100% on. A gig in St. Petersburg in September 2015 is being finalized now.The feedback from a select few to a recent un-published and un-announced London gig is that this line up really works and audiences are in for a musical treat. Mick Hand’s voice is as strong and distinct as it always was.
16) There’s a chance I missed something important, in case it’s so, you can cover those aspects I neglected. In return, I’d like to thank you very much for the time you spent to answer my questions.
Vadim, I would like to thank you for your interest in Final Scream. It is delight to have shared these stories with you and hopefully we will really meet in the near future.
interview by Vadim Barsov