Interview with Self Abuse

Bournemouth is a small city in the south of England, which, like other coastal cities such as Brighton, Portsmouth or Southampton, has always benefited from a somewhat milder and warmer weather than the rest of the island. This added to its more than 11 km of beaches makes this city one of the favorite destinations for the English to spend the summer.

Surely the first contact with the incipient punk movement for most of its inhabitants was in 1976 from the already legendary Bill Grundy show, with the usual appearance of part of the Sex Pistols and their colleagues from the Bromley Contingent. A fact that helped to unquestionably popularize punk among thousands of young people from the islands, but which also hurt, especially the Sex Pistols, when it came to be playing and continuing as a band rather than as a funny and defiant show. Many concerts after the band’s television show were canceled, and the band reached a point where it was very difficult for them to play under his name. Almost all the concerts were canceled on the tour that came after the television show (Anarchy in the Uk tour),  being the one that was scheduled in Bournemouth on December 7, 1976, one of them. However, over the months, groups such as the clash, the Jam, eater, Sham 69 or Generation X stepped on already historical halls of the city such as the Village Bowl or the Village Concert Theater.

Anarchy Tour

It was not until 1978 that the first punk band in town, The Intestines, was born, leaving the excellent epic soundtrack “Life in a Cardboard box” as its only legacy with a double cassette with more songs unreleased to date. After its breakup, two of its components would form Butcher, with much more UK82 oriented sound, who after two eps decided to leave it. However, by 1983 a small punk scene with similar sounds had already been created, where names such as The Demented,( which later would become The Mad are sane)Confession of sin, Shock to the system, Idiom tribe or those in question in this biography-interview; Self Abuse, stood out.

Formed in 1982 by Andy Nazer (vocals and bass), Dave Brown (guitar / backing vocals), Roger “Jarvis” Smale (guitar) and Steve Ridgeway (drums) when they were all about 16 and 17 years old. Andy and Dave knew each other from high school and atypically for a punk band they met the other members in a studio in the city (Studio 95) where the owners, in addition to recording bands, gave music classes to the general public. It was in fact, in that studio where they recorded their first demo. Starting to play in small venues and local pubs, even posing as a conventional rock band, such as their first concert on October 14, 1982 at the Sloop Hotel, a regular gathering place for bikers. It was in 1982 that they released their first recording, a demo on cassette (State of mind), which already contained a first take of what would later be their greatest hit (I didn’t want to be a) soldier, all an anti- Militarist allegation in the middle of the Thatcher era and while the Falklands war was going on. In fact the band has always been related in part to the majority of anarchopunk bands of the time for their quite committed lyrics, sharing the stage with some of them, subhumans, A-Heads or Amebix to name a few. For 1983, the second demo came out on cassette with the rest of the songs that would be the bulk of his discography (Teenage cass), like in his previous demo they played one of the best second or third wave (depending on how you look at it) punk, being influenced  by bands like subhumans, demobdead man shadow or chron gen but with an eye on bands like Stiff Little Fingers or the clash, giving great importance to the melodies.

Soldier ep

With a pretty busy year playing a lot of concerts, they came to share the stage with Breakout, the samples, atrox or the punk-psychedelic Cult Maniax in addition to the previously mentioned subhumans and many others. It was then that the ep (I didn’t wanna be a) soldier came out on Radical Change Records, the label belonged the English anarcopunks The Disrrupters, reaching number two on the alternative lists of the Melody Maker “There was not a second single because Radical Change Records did not want to choose us among the options of the label, we were not happy with them either and after one or two phone calls they gave us back the contract… in pieces ”.

Despite everything, they continued adding a keyboard player to the band, Andy Rogers “I just think we wanted to try something new, Andy was a good guy… and he had a van!”

A few more gigs and the band dissolved in late 1984. Some members wanted to do something new,musically speaking (at that time After-punk hit hard in addition to the so-called UK82) and Andy, Steve and Dave started with the post punk proyect Pale Shade of Black, a much darker side than Self abuse and later they would be renamed The Dragonflys, once Andy left the band. Andy would form later bands like Inside Out, Zimmer Frames or Bad Penny.

In 2004 the band decided to get back together, recording 4 new eps and releasing a new album with Mad Butcher records, with old stuffl from demos and eps. Also, they keep playing at concerts and festivals like the Rebellion fest. We have spoken with Steve drummer of the band and this is what he told us:

Self Abuse

-Your sound has been often compared to bands such as Stiff little fingers, demob, chron gen, which band would you identify most with?

I would say both Stiff Little Fingers and Chron Gen both were favourites of ours – we used to do a version of Subway Sadist and Mindless Few by Chron Gen live. 

-Coming back to your sound, I think it´s been always ahead of the sound of the bands of your generation, giving great importance to melody, how did you record the songs for Teenage compilation, it´s credited to be at Arnys Shack?

Thank you! We’ve always liked a good tune. Arny’s Shack was a great ​recording studio run by Tony Arnold and the engineer Dennis Smith [I think he still works with Andy Summers from the Police in the USA] really knew his stuff. We recorded Teenage in one afternoon, live. A few backing vocal overdubs were added and it was mixed the same day.

​-The Intestines claim to be the first Bournemouth punk band, what other bands came from Bournemouth at the same time as Self Abuse?

​They probably were! We were a few years younger, a couple of us had their record ‘Life In a Cardboard Box’ and some of their tapes. Dave Brown did get to see them at Poole Arts Centre with the Mob, Null & Void and The Revue [Taf from Disorders previous band]. Actual Bournemouth bands who were playing at the same time as us that spring to mind were Butcher[ex-Intestines], The Mad Are Sane, Parasites, Confession of Sin. Also, from outside Bournemouth from nearby towns or villages were Idiom Tribe [Sway/New Milton], Shock to the System / Atrox [Dorchester], Barbed Wire [New Milton], Admass / Madmass [Weymouth]. 

– What do you remember as your best concerts ( self abuse playing) then and now?

They were all mostly fun from what I recall! The Capones [Rooftop Hotel] gigs in Bournemouth were always good.  One of the gigs we played best was at the Trinity Hall in Bristol, the crown were disinterested but we belted through a great fast set that night.

Since we returned, I would say the couple of times we supported Stiff Little Fingers and Subhumans in Bournemouth. 

-Did you attend to London concerts at the time? How was that? Did you like more the first punk wave or did you like more the second wave punk bands?

​Yes, but only a couple. I originally grew up near London [Cheam, then Wimbledon] and moved to Bournemouth in 1978. I still had a friend in London and did go to an Anti Nowhere League gig at the Lyceum in 1981 and myself and friend Rich caught the train there and back from Christchurch to see the Mob at the Fulham Greyhound in 1983.

As for liking one or the other of the punk ‘waves’? – I liked them both, difficult to say as one rolled into the next and the next etc!

-How is it playing at Rebellion festival? You have doing since it was called wasted

Good fun – difficult to keep up though, as there are so many bands to see, friends to catch up with and if you like a beer or three, it can get a bit blurry haha! 

-Sometimes Self abuse has been included into the anarchopunk scene because of the lyrics etc, but did you just consider yourself a punk band with some social consciousness lyrics or did you get well with such label?

​I considered us a bit of both, would rather have been lumped in with Anarcho than Oi! for example, but I think you are right with the ‘punk with social consciousness’….but we liked/like a laugh too!

-Do you think that you could have fitted in Crass records? What did you think about Crass at the time, and the Dial house? Did they influence you not in a musically way but in their lyrics and art etc ?

Maybe, difficult to say if we would have fitted? Crass Records put out a varied amount of different stuff didn’t they? And Penny had a lot to do with other bands on the labels production. Always liked Crass and their view on things and the way they operated from Dial House. Wasn’t a fan of everything they put out but they encouraged others to do so much, like setting up their own record labels like Flux of Pink Indians, The Mob, Subhumans, Conflict etc, so their influence filtered down through so much in many ways, be it music, art and lyrics.

-Do you think that the band could have been bigger if the was a better promotion from Radical change records at that time with “I didn´t wanna be a soldier” ep? Do you have any contact with any of The Disrupters(owners of Radical Change Records) members nowadays?

​Perhaps. They did well with distribution [Backs], but we only ever received test pressings of the Soldier EP, we had to buy our own copies from the record shop of the actual EP with covers! 

They wouldn’t have made a lot of money [if any] from it as it only sold for £1.00, we paid for the recording ourselves, it’s not like they were a major label, although Backs Distribution were operating up to around 2008. 

John Peel played it on his BBC show, so a copy made it to him somehow [maybe we sent it?!]

Steve from the Disrupters was in contact with me when we first got back together [2004], but we’ve not heard from him since. 

– Back in the days you couldn´t never play in London, do you think that time has made some justice with the band?

​We’ve still never played in London! Maybe one day.

-Did you have any problems with the far right at the time, specially with songs like “soldier”, and with the Falkland Islands conflict happening at that time?

​No, we were quite lucky. I think it was quite an insular scene, good people – there didn’t seem to be any bother in that respect

-How were the concerts at that time, speaking in terms of attendance, violence etc?

​They were well attended DIY affairs, good turn-outs and no security, there was a couple of incidents with seats being broken in a couple of larger venues, of course that had to be paid for and they only down-side of that was we or any other ‘punk bands’ couldn’t play those venues again. 

-Is there a new generation of young punks discovering your songs nowadays? I suppose that your main audience today is a combination of old and new faces.

​I hope so! Be nice to think youngsters are into our songs. Yeah, nowadays it’s a mixture of both old and new…and sometimes in between!

-It seems that we are having a worldwide comeback to conservatism, even right wing, how do you see the current situation in England with Brexit etc.? what differences do you see between Boris Johnson and Margaret Thatcher era?

I really don’t like this whole Brexshit thing, it’s divisive, a con, backwards thinking and nasty in general, people are being sold a lie and they’ll pay forever more.

Difference between Thatcher and Johnson era? Well, it’s just more of the same shit – he’s only been in power for a short time but I would say that he and the Tories are continuing her legacy and it’s continually getting worse. 

-You have released a compilation for Mad Butcher records, with songs from demos the soldier ep…, is there any old stuff still to be released?

​Yes, there is more early stuff, Antitodo Records in Spain [who re-released the Soldier EP in 2017] are hopefully putting out a demo we never released fom 1982, the State of Mind demo and the 3rd demo we did in 1984 along with some live tracks from that same year on two 12″ records.

-There is also a new ep , are you planning future recordings, any chance to see you in Spain? Do you know any band from here?

Yes, we have a new 4 track 10″ EP called Blowing A Fuse coming out imminently on our own Abused Records label.

We generally tick along and see what comes up with new material in a when and if scenario, once we’ve got enough for another single or EP we’ll start doing some recording.

I have to be honest and say in my ignorance that I’m not aware of any Spanish bands…any recommendations?!

Thanks for the interview Mario.

All the best,

Love and peace [maaaan!]



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