How crazy is it to suggest that the truest punk album available is neither the debut from the Sex Pistols or the Clash but the work of a zine editor from that time who decided to put his guitar pick where his pen was an make his own band? Emerging from a bureaucratic existence to become transformed by the punk phenomenon enough to create one of its first zines, Mark Perry made Sniffin’ Glue into a mainstay of the scene.
Mark Perry interview
by Jason Gross (February 2001)
Not satisfied to stop there, Alternative TV became his next creative outlet. Though obviously using punk as a starting point, the band extensively drew on its roots with dub, heavy metal, psychedelic and art-rock (the last three being heresy with purists). The end result was one of the strongest debut records ever heard: The Image Has Cracked, a punk milestone that says more about the scene than a pile of documentaries.
Always the iconoclast, Perry decided to take ATV into unimaginable territory that surely confused anyone enlightened enough to follow the band. After a hazardous tour with a Gong off-shot and one of the most left-field follow-up albums ever heard, the ATV brand drifted in and out of Mark’s projects and interests but never off the radar map totally. Perry recharged ATV in the early ‘90’s so that us lucky mortals had another chance to experience them.
Now with a first-ever swing into America to be followed up by a more extensive tour later this year and a new album waiting to be recorded, the world is ready for a punk reunion that puts the Pistols to shame. I spoke to my spiritual zine ancestor about the ATV story and its future on the heels of this historic first stateside tour.
NOTE: Also see Richard Mason's touching tribute to ATV and the official ATV website
PSF: How would describe your musical obsessions before punk?
I was into rock music in a big way. It wasn't like I didn't understand music (then). I would go to every show I could afford. Little Feet, Neil Young, the Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd. I was there for all that, rocking along. I just liked good rock and roll music. I've always been excited by that.
But around '75, there was a tendency that you felt that it was a bit overblown. I remember seeing the Earl's Court shows that Led Zeppelin did. It was an important show for them 'cause they hadn't played in a while. It was a storming show but it lasted too long, the venue was too big. John Bonham's drum solo was about thirty minutes long and he was playing with his elbows. What's all this about?
Then another pivotal thing was Yes at Redding for the 'Tales of Topographic Oceans' (tour). It was a nightmare, sitting in the pouring rain. You're thinking 'what the fuck is this about?' At the same festival, it was funny 'cause you had Doctor Feelgood so you had those two same things happening at the same time. The pub rocky bands playing plus what you call the 'dinosaurs' as well. Certainly, the rock scene seemed kind of distant- it didn't have anything to do with what was happening.
PSF: What do you mean?
They weren't signing about anything that seemed to be relevant. God knows what Jon Anderson was singing about. In the band, I've heard they didn't even know! Then you had Doctor Feelgood which were basically R&B. There was nothing that really spoke about anything that you could connect to.
PSF: What about the political atmosphere at the time?
We were coming to the end of the Labour government. At the time, we liked to think that Labour would be good for the country but there were loads of strikes. That's when the unions were breaking out. There was a dustmans' strike which meant that no one's collecting rubbish. There were piles of it on the street. There were dock strikes and all these other things. The country seemed like it was going down the pan. There were electricity shortages so you sat with candles, trying to entertain yourself, playing Scrabble or something. It wasn't like that the whole time but it just felt bleak.
Just felt like it was time for a change. Glam wasn't the answer. It was really an escapist thing, wasn't it? There's no reality to it. The time was right for something that was more street, more real. Out of that definitely came the punk climate.
PSF: You were working as a bank clerk at that time, right?
Yeah, I was like the archetypal board type. Going to work to pay for upkeep and the rest of it spent on records or books or gigs. I really had no prospect about doing anything else until I got into punk and that was it for me. I was just resigned to my job before that. I hated it. When you're 19, you really don't want to be there really. You got the manager telling you off and all that. I was really ripe for something to come along and grab me and shake me.
PSF: So what actually happened?
The first I heard about the punk rock movement is reading about the New York scene. That's where I remember, especially in NME through Nick Kent, hearing about CBGB's and the Ramones. It sounded very exciting, talking about things in a new way. There was connections to Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground- that was interesting. Patti Smith, her stuff about her lyrics and the French existentialists. Then the Ramones album come out, first album and it was on import. Nick Kent reviewed it and it sounded interesting. I went and bought the import copy before it came out in Britian. I was just blown away. It was like... fucking hell, what an exciting album! They had the edge over Doctor Feelgood for me. This was something special, their whole attitude.
PSF: Is that what led you to start Sniffin' Glue?
Yeah, that was it really. It was the Ramones coming over was why I decided to do the fanzine. They came over supporting the Flamin' Groovies who were doing the 'Shake Some Action' tour and they were on Sire as well. They played the Roundhouse. It was damn rock and roll, feet on the monitors. Fantastic! Within a week, I got the fanzine out.
I remember that there was a record shop called Rock On in Soho. I just asked 'are there any punk fanzines?' They said 'Not much- do one yourself. Have a go.' So I did it very quickly. I didn't know much about the English scene at all. I hadn't been to a Pistols gig at this point. They had been playing since late '75. All I read about them, there'd be reviews of Steve Gibbons Band, Gentle Giants, Sex Pistols. Just another band in there so, oh bullocks... It wasn't like 'oh, what's that about?' it was just another name. It wasn't shocking.
The first time I remember really reading aobut them was when Melody Maker had front page story about the fight at the Nashville. 'Oh, what's happening here?' I got into it basically through the Ramones though so New York was the thing. That was the real influence of Sniffin' Glue. It was not anything to do with English punk rock. I didn't know it then.
But through the fanzine, I started getting these people who were interested in me. I was invited on to a gig with Eddie and the Hot Rods to review it for the fanzine. So I went into the van with them. Very exciting for me, being with a band then. Quite scary in a way- I was very nervous. I still had long hair then. Also in the van was Caroline Coon and Jonh Ingham from Sounds. They said 'We've seen your fanzine.' And she was writing for Melody Maker and he was writing for Sounds. All of the sudden, I'm a writer! It was really weird. You had people from Melody Maker and Sounds and Mark Perry from Sniffin' Glue! So I got the press pass and I was backstage. I was in seventh heaven.
PSF: How did you get away with this do you think?
Sniffin' Glue was the first fanzine for that scene. So Eddie must have thought 'Oh, we'll get in there, that looks good.' Rock On probably said that a lot of people were buying it and that there was a lot of interest. 'Why don't you invite Mark along?' So you pick up these kind of connections. If I hadn't visited Rock On on a regular basis, I would have never done Sniffin' Glue.
Then Caroline Coon was the one who told me about the Sex Pistols. She asked if I'd seen them and told me to come to a show. So about a week later, I saw them at the 100 Club in late July, early August. It was fucking hell, I'd never seen anything like that. There wasn't even that many people in there. I turned up to this gig with long hair, down to my shoulders, with a brown satin jacket. Caroline said 'You got to meet some people.' So I met Malcolm, Viviene and Sid Vicious, who had a shaven head and tissues hanging off him like 'who's this fucking hippie?' Caroline said 'I want to introduce you to Mark- he's done this fanzine about punk.' I remember that Sid picked it up and said 'Fuck it' and he threw in on the floor. Some hard dude that is! Later on, I realized he was a powder puff, it was just a big show.
Then when the band come on, it was just phenomenal. I had my suit ripped off 'cause of the pogo and all that. It was almost symbolic. 'Right, let's get rid of that.' Within a week, the hair had come off, just cut it all off myself.
PSF: So that really had an effect on you?
It was a life-changing experience. Within a month, I completely changed my life. I put out the second issue and it mentioned the Pistols, the Damned. I was attracting interest myself. 'Oh, here's the guy that does that magazine.' The scene was so small then. It was so easy to get into. You had to have a great idea to get into it but once you were in there, you knew everybody.
PSF: What do think was the aesthetic of Sniffin' Glue?
I suppose the spirit of D.I.Y.. I've always been into that. Have a go. Do it yourself. Amazing attitude. I look back now and I don't know how I had the balls and the sheer guts to do that. Although it lacks some writing qualities, it's got attitude aplenty. It makes up for that. It just tells it the way it is in the best way possible. It's no frills, isn't it? By the way we did it, that was our statement.
There's a lot of people who blow their own trumpet and you look at what they do and it's nothing. People like Bono- you're in a rock and roll band, it's been done before! Fuck off. He acts like it's the first time it's ever been done. But with the Glue, it was like 'we're on the dole, we like in counsel housing so we obviously knew what was going on.' I think that's what it was about.
PSF: In your eyes, what did you see 'punk' as really being?
Someone who was maybe asking questions about the rock scene, about lifestyle. Punk wasn't just about the music you listened to. People would experiment with the way they dress. It told you something about someone, they were connecting visually. People who were fed up with the norm, I suppose. I think punk picked up a lot of outsiders. In the end, we slagged off a lot of hippies but really punk was closer to that than people like to admit.
When we played with Here and Now (off-shoot of Gong) later on, it was almost like the most obvious thing to do. Why nobody did it before, god knows. The fact that these hippies were playing free gigs, that was totally punk, isn't it? Playing for the people, you know? That's what it was about. A punk was someone who said 'I don't want to be the same as everyone else. I want to make my own statement, I want to ask questions.'
PSF: So you didn't see it as a rebellion of everything that preceeded it?
Yeah, that's right. At the time, I think that was overdone though. People would spit on magazines like Zigzag 'cause they thought it was a 'hippie' magazine. Anyone who had long hair or smoked themselves into oblivion or listened to Tales from the Topographic Ocean (though I quite like Yes now). I suppose that it was against complacency. We saw hippies as complacent. Not really doing anything.
But let's face it, when you look back in retrospect, there was a lot worse than hippies. I'd much rather have them than some skinhead or someone like that who'll kill you. Hippies didn't want to kill you.
I felt there was a need for us to establish the rules, if you like. Otherwise, you can't really have a movement if you're wishy-washy about the rules. I think it was necessary then to say what we were about. Some of those things were maybe a bit off the mark and a bit un-necessary...
PSF: But if you just define it as everything you're against, don't you also have to say what you're for?
That's difficult to say 'cause I don't think Sniffin' Glue ever made rules, the way you should conduct yourself. If someone would have asked me, I'd just say 'see what happens.' We didn't say 'this is what you must wear.' I was AGAINST fashion. The people that saw it as a fashion, the famous Bromley contingent, bought some very expensive shit. At the time in London, if you bought something out of Sex (McLaren's shop), a pair of boots were about four or five times the price of a pair of shoes in another shop. They weren't selling for the kids. It was in King's Row, the fashion street in London. Most kids who got into punk did their own thing and I encouraged that. If I was asked, I would much more respect the kid who did his own T-shirt thing and cut his jacket up like I did myself than buy off the rack. I was certainly anti-fashion. I've always been that it's what's inside your head than what you're wearing on your head. I've always felt that.
I had an argument in the fourth issue of Sniffin' Glue where Joe Strummer is having a go at a guitarist who's wearing flares. I was like 'That's bullocks!' He had this quote 'Like trousers, like brain.' Good ol' Joe but I just don't agree. I didn't particularly have those kind of hang-up's with clothes. All I wanted to do was my own thing. I think it was like no rules. See what happens. That's what I felt.
PSF: How did you go from writing a zine to having a band?
If you read Sniffin' Glue, you see that I quickly get disillusioned with it, in the sense of a few months.
I was very idealistic. At the time, you had the Pistols, Damned, Clash, Subway Sect but there was also the indie labels starting. Chiswick, New Hormones, Stiff, doing their own thing. There were a lot of indie records coming out in the States as well. Like the early singles from Television, Patti Smith. I knew there was indie scene with labels that weren't attached to the major music industry. They were self-contained.
I felt that the next stage would have been the bigger bands actually doing that. I started getting really disillusioned when the bands started talking about signing up to this label and that label. Say you spoke to Mick Jones in '76- he'd say 'the kids that, the kids this, there's got to be a big change.' Then five monthes, it's like 'Oh CBS is not going to change us, we're going to record it on our own terms, we made sure we got a good deal.' They started as this street rock and roll band, exciting. A few months later, they're in Morris Overstein's office sipping tea and going out to lunch with him. It's got to change a person. That's why I got disillusioned.
So you had all of the old bands going that way and you had all of the new bands coming up and they weren't interesting. It just fucking sounded like the Sex Pistols, it's boring, what are you saying? They're having a go at that but they haven't got any talent. Like 999. They're older guys saying 'we're going to be a punk band now.' The Vibrators the same- they had a couple good songs but that's all they had. They're great blokes but how they got so much mileage is extraordinary.
There was this interview with Morris Overstein where he was saying 'We would sign ANYBODY.' Anyone would get signed. If you had a couple of half-decent songs and you looked the part, you'd get signed. Polydor, EMI, Island, they were all after bands.
PSF: What was the big turning point for all of that?
EMI, the Bill Grundy incident, Anarchy in the UK tour... They must have sussed by that time, the labels, that this was going to be big. Before that, they were thinking that it would go away soon. Just a bunch of non-musicians. But when the heavyweights wanted a piece of it, get one up on EMI, that's what it was all about. You had A&M with the Sex Pistols saying 'we'll sign 'em, we can take 'em, we can handle 'em.' And they were with them for even shorter than EMI. Ridiculous really.
Every record industry A&R man is always going to be a gambler, right? You're trying to predict what's going to be the next big thing. Chris Perry from Polydor missed getting the Clash. I was with him once and he was picking my brains 'What do you think the Clash are going to do?' Trying to get the inside info. I remember that when Siouxsie and the Banshees signed to Polydor, I had a quote like 'What a fuckin' awful record company. They shouldn't have done that.' Then I was at a gig and Siouxsie came up to me and said 'What's wrong with Polydor?' She was concerned like I knew something! Extraordinarily really, isn't it?
But Chris Perry couldn't get the Clash so that's why he ended up with the Jam. The rest is history- they were much more successful in Britian. They were the great singles band of the late '70's, early '80's.
PSF: So how did that lead to ATV?
Right, well I was disillusioned with the way the old bands were going, the bands that were coming up were a lot of crap basically. I just thought 'Let's have a go myself.' I tried as early as '76, got together with Tyrone who joined me in ATV and we did the New Beatles. We just jammed a bit and I shouted. It was rubbish.
Then I decided to do me own band, thought I'd have a go at it. There's probably a few people saying 'Oh, you'd be a good singer.' Then I met Alex Fergusson, a good guitarist, and we wrote songs together. We rehearsed at Genesis P-Orridge's studio, did a lot of work with him and he helped us. Once we saw we could do this, we did our first gig in May '76. We did a couple of Roxy dates. By that time, I thought 'Oh, that's what I want to do.' It was just coming up to the 12th issue.
The funny thing is, I'm talking about these big labels and Miles Copeland (later with the Police) is managing ATV and I was doing the label with him (Step Forward), he was backing it. I was doing it 'cause I thought I could do better than the other labels. I would get out there, find the bands and encourage them, like an A&R guys does. It was a very busy time and I just thought it was time to stop the Glue.
We'd been invited by EMI into their studio at Manchester Square to do a demo. I was dead against it. Miles Copeland wanted me to do it. I thought it would look bad if we went there with EMI. He convinced me to just go and use the time and the studio. We went in there and recorded four tracks: "Love Lies Limp," "Lies," "How Much Longer" and "You Bastard." EMI said that they weren't interested 'cause all the songs had so much swearing. It was too political or something. But they told us that we could have the tapes as freebees. So we put out the flexi-disc ("Love Lies Limp" including in an issue of Sniffin' Glue). It was a way of saying 'That's what I did and this is what I'm doing now.' So those tapes got released as our first singles.
PSF: The first ATV album was unlike anything you'd expect a punk or rock album to be. Was that done consciously as sort of a statement?
Although ATV started as a punk band, I quickly started putting my pre-punk influences in there. Believe it or not, the instrumental piece ("Red") is actually from Black Sabbath Volume 4. The guitarist does something with a lot of reverb so it was from that. No one knew though. I was a rock fan and I liked good music. I wasn't going to say it was shit just for whatever. The Zappa influence was definitely in there with cutting live tracks and studio tracks. I was also into this thing about happenings, just spontaneous. That's why when we did the live show, we did that soapbox thing ("Alternatives") and invited members of the audience up. We only did that once, for that recording.
I almost had a bit of row with Miles Copeland to get that in. He was very supportive that I was doing some exciting stuff. He realized the potential and didn't say 'Oh god, it's too weird.' He just thought we didn't program it right. His idea would have been to start with "Action Time Vision" and maybe have "Alternatives" at the end. But I said 'We want to make our statement and say we're different right from the first note.'
PSF: On "Alternatives," you actually come out in the end and sort of berate the audience, saying how much you love them but how they piss you off sometimes. Is that how you really felt at the time?
It makes me cringe, that bit. What that track is supposed to be is a snapshot of what it was like. In retrospect, I was over-emotional, over earnest about it. I should have given myself a break. Then again, it stands as a great document of that feeling, that passion. 'Cause who am I to say? I was always very passionate like that. I wasn't telling them what to do but I cared about things. I think it's a track that a lot of people might have their own ideas about, why we did it or whatever. That's what I like about Zappa- he never thought 'Oh, if I sing that song, I might be offending.' Bullocks! If that's what they want to sing, let 'em sing it. That's why he's the most enlightened musician of his generation. Of course we also did a Zappa cover on there as well. So I'm covering someone who's considered the establishment or the old school. For "Nasty Little Lonely," one of the reviews said that we sounded like Black Sabbath with that riff that goes on and on.
It was marvelous. You have the lyrics, which is like sheer poetry and then you have the emotion where we say 'we told you what happened and this is what it felt like.' The last bit is all that anger and pent up stress about the situation.
PSF: Was "Action Time Vision" meant to be kind of an anthem?
Yeah... I don't think I really sat down and thought that I'd write an anthem though. But it flowed and came out. It was sort of a statement. 'The chords and notes don't mean a thing, listen to the music, listen to me sing.' Yeah, it's some sort of statement of what we were about.
PSF: Are you pleased with the way that the first record balanced out and came out as a whole?
Yeah, I don't think I'd change anything on that album. Maybe a little but not overall. It's pretty impressive as a debut album. I'm quite pleased with it.
PSF: Any of the other tracks have any kind of special meaning to you?
In a way, yeah, because some of the songs are about (the time) before punk. Like "Good Times" is saying 'I come from this real tough street thing but I'm different now and I'll go back there and it's really horrible, really dangerous.' And then going through different experiences with bands in the second verse. Someone's saying 'it's good and we're doing rock and roll' but I'm older and it's fucked up. "Still Life" is about Steve Nicolette who helped me out with the Glue so I'm singing about the Glue past.
I really feel that on the second half, there's an element to it. The first half half deals with the punk issues and the punk rhetoric in its own way as alternative stuff. 'Come and have a go' and it all ends in tears and bullocks. The second side definitely points to the future more. 'Cause the songs (have) a development lyrically. They're not about punk, there's no mention of it. They're more sophistocated lyrically I think. I've never written anything like "Nasty Little Lonely." Very, very personal song. "Splitting in Two" as well- a statement of my emotions at the time.
PSF: When you say 'the image has cracked' (in "Nasty Little Lonely"), what do you mean?
What I and the band were is cracked. This image you have of us, this idea you had of what we were is cracked. It's broken. What are you going to do now? It's trashed.
PSF: With some of the early ATV music, you were obviously into reggae.
I always saw reggae as an interesting music. It was always big in London really 'cause we used listen to listen to ska hits like "Double Barrell" and "The Upsetter." The Tighten Up compilations on Trojan. Because there's such a big West Indian population in London, you'd always get a lot of import reggae. I used be in Big Youth, Bob Marley, the toasters who you call rappers now. At the time, Virgin were putting out great compilations of U Roy and I Roy. I really enjoyed that sort of music and I felt that I wanted to put that (out). The Clash did it before us though.
PSF: Why do you think there was this bond between punk and reggae?
I felt that we saw reggae as being very similar to what we were doing. It didn't sound like it particularly though. We felt that they had the same connections as us. Let's face it- an unemployed, working class white youth is really the same as a black youth in the same situation except for the color. We're all in the same shit. I think we identified with the protest element of it. I look back where they used to review Prince Far I in Sounds. Nowadays, I hate the stuff that they're coming out with. I don't like reggae know except for the reissues on Blood & Fire, that's great stuff. As soon as they start coming out with all that dance(hall) nonsense, I'd had it.
PSF: By the time of the second album, it seemed that ATV had changed a lot. How did you see that?
I think after what we did on The Image is Cracked, I knew that I didn't want to make another out and out rock album. A big influence in that period, middle '78 I think, was the tour we did that summer with Here and Now. They were a hippie band that had come out of Gong and that crowd. They invited us to play Stonehenge with them for a festival. It was really for the English type of hippy, living in a bus, huddled together around a lentil stew. 'Hey man, what a bummer.' Like Neil from the Young Ones. They were all like that.
That impressed me. They said 'Why don't you come on this tour 'cause we like what you're doing.' So I thought 'why don't we try that?' My manager didn't like that but I tried to convince him in an economic way that it would be a big audience. Why should punk put off all these people? It's potentially a really big audience out there who want to listen to good music.
So we went on tour and that was a big change for me. Being around people who were from a different angle and really opened my mind up. There were different aspects and possibilities. We played around the country, at universities, all for free. We travelled in this big bus. For someone like me, from a working class background, it was really refreshing. Scary at first... I'd come out of my tent ask where the bathroom was. Everybody'd laugh at me. I'd have to use a ditch over there! No organization at all, just a generator and a stage and a couple of veggie burgers. Very primitive.
PSF: Sounds scary.
Well, the thing that really scared the shit out of me was that the Hell's Angels turned up, as they do. They formed this area in the middle like when the cowboys circle the wagons. They pulled their bikes around and you weren't allowed to cross them, they were right in the middle of the place, their territory. Those horrible gits. Probably weren't as bad as the American ones you have but they were still these nasty people. All they'd did was drank crates and crates of beer. I remember this big argument 'cause they had these beef burgers and the hippies were telling them how uncool it was 'cause it was veggie only (there). They didn't want to hear it. These hippies would get themselves all worked up and get the shit kicked out of them by these Hell's Angels. By the end of the weekend, there would be a pile of beercans as tall as you. Could you imagine? And the hippies were worrying about cleaning up the site.
And then during our sets, we'd hear 'you can't fucking play! Get off the stage!' 'Cause they wanted real rock and roll, not Hawkwind or something. It was a really fun time.
PSF: So how did that have an effect on you?
It changed me a lot. I came off that tour and I was thinking 'we got to do something new.' I'd been listening to jazz and other stuff. I said 'let's get rid of the rock and roll drums.' That was sort of way of changing it. Trying to just experiment really. We did a couple of songs for John Peel sessions, before Vibing Up the Senile Man was done, and released as the Good Missionaries. We got a really good response from them. They said it was interesting stuff and blah, blah, blah. I didn't think they represented how extreme Vibing was going to be. 'Cause in a way, they're the two most accessible tracks. On "Galleries," I was trying to get an audio version of what it's like walking down a gallery. Each sound you hear is a different exhibit. DOINK and then you walk around and it's DINK. I didn't explain this so I'm just going along with this. Some reviewer said it's the sounds of people hitting and banging things. I just went for it, really.
Miles Copeland just felt that I needed to get that out of my system and (then) I was going to get back on the straight and narrow. But I never did get back really.
PSF: So what happened?
By that time, the Clash was into their second album, which was even more like American rock. The Pistols thing had gone horribly wrong, not only Lydon leaving but that horrible business in Rio. All the skinheads were turning up at the punk shows and there was always the possibility of getting the shit beaten out of you. It wasn't fun anymore. I was very disillusioned. It lost its way. It just seemed to be as if punk never happened. I just didn't want to have anything to do with it really. I just wanted to play me music by that time.
PSF: What do you think went wrong?
I think basically what went wrong as far as I'm concerned is they all got signed up too quickly. Everything moved too fast. I don't think the bands really had time to grow, develop. I think there was a lack of new bands coming through- they all sound(ed) the same as the next band. There was no one who was really willing to experiment.
And I think the biggest problem was is that we were very idealistic at the start. But we were club-goers, we were into rock, we were into music. But the trouble with punk was that because of its stance, it attached the wrong sort of person. The reason that people didn't want to go to punk shows (was) 'cause there was a chance that you'd get jumped on and people would come and fight. It got very heavy and violent. If you went to a Sham 69 show, it wasn't nice. That was it really.
It just left a bad taste in the mouth really. There were more interesting things happening in other places. What we were doing was influenced by punk but we were moving away. Bands like the Pop Group were coming up and Joy Division and Wire was still doing their thing. And you had Prag Vec and the new wavey bands coming up. The Raincoats, the Slits. It was a great scene but it wasn't really punk anymore. It moved on. So, there was still a lot happening. The scene wasn't dead but it wasn't punk.
PSF: Did you see any kind of lasting legacy or anything positive coming out of it though?
One opinion is very positive- it opened the way for losts of new musicians to come in and refresh the music industry in a way. Like the great ideas that come out in fashion and the way that music was written about came out in punk, in a sort of punk writing. You could say it was quite an important scene.
But on the other hand, I just feel that when you think of... the biggest band in the world in 1980 was the Police. Now what's that all about really? It's as if punk had created this monster. In America, you had all these awful new wave, power pop bands and they'd almost be called punk. American new wave was different than what you had in England. Like you'd say that Prag Vec was a new wave band but in America, it would be something like the Cars or something. All it was is that they were young musicians, they dressed slightly different and they didn't do many guitar solos. The whole MTV thing came out of that and that sort of stuff. You gotta look at it and say 'maybe that's what punk's for.' I don't know.
PSF: How did ATV return to the fold?
For years, I got out of punk 'cause I wasn't really interested in it. Throughout the '80's, nobody wanted to know about an ex-punk band really. Like a lot of people at the time, I was very influenced by some of the American bands. Like Sonic Youth, they almost out-punked punk. And Mudhoney, I was really into that.
ATV actually reformed in about '86, '87, influenced by Sonic Youth and Jesus and Mary Chain. We played a totally new set without any old songs at all. We had small audiences but we had a little scene going. We used to play Alan McGhee's Living Room club. We actually got a track on the first Creation album and it's not punk at all. We were trying to recreate ourselves in a way.
This carried on 'til the early '90's. Then about '95, someone said 'there's this big punk festival and lot of people are interested in it so why don't you reform the band?' So that's what we did. We did this one-off and it was such a good reaction 'cause suddenly we were playing in front of 3000 people. 'This is good and the songs are good- let's do this for a few years.' The more we've been doing it, the more great the reaction's been.
In the old days, I never wanted to do old songs. But I've actually sort of reconciled that. I thought 'Look, I wrote the bloody things and I still love singing so why not?' There's people out there who want to hear them so let's do it. I still do new stuff. I did a new album called Apollo about a year and a half ago. So I still do new material as well. I just feel that I'm older now. I was really stubborn in the old days about playing old material.
Nowadays, I take my time and I'm much more considered in my judgments. I quite enjoy doing it now. Coming to New York is exciting 'cause there's a bunch of people over here that are into the records and they've never seen us. So it's not like 'Oh, they're playing the same old set.' If we were just a bunch of old guys just mucking about... but we're not. Most people see that we can really give it some. We got the energy, we got the passion so we might as well keep on doing it.
In a way, it's a sad reflection of the music industry in Britian especially that there's so much interest in old punk. It's a shame that there's not more younger bands.
PSF: But doesn't that also mean that the older material still has something to it?
Some people see the shows and they love the songs and say 'who did the originals you're playing.' I tell them it's our songs! I guess that's a credit to us.
I said to the lads before about where it's going to go, new audience, bigger halls... I mean, steady on now! I think it's limited what any older band can do. Let's face it- no bunch of 40-year-olds, it doesn't happen to then. Maybe we could be the first to do it, take America by storm! Just lie about our ages and cut our hair.
I don't know what's going to happen in the future. We're just taking each day as it comes and seeing what happens. Out of this tour, we're going to do a live album. We've been recording every show. Maybe one of the younger punk labels might put it out, like Epitaph or Go-Kart, they're interested in our stuff. Of course, that could be used as a promo for when we come back. Get the vibe going.
The problem with us is that we always end up getting interviews 'cause of the Sniffin' Glue connection. We got that sewn up. The opportunities are there for us to have a good year and get a few bob in our pockets and entertain a few people. I think it is important that if we are to continue, we've got to start writing new material. It's no good just doing the same old thing 'cause even you'd get fed up with us. 'Oh, they're still doing the same thing, we're the new stuff!'
See some of Mark's favorite music
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