Expect The Unexpected – Vic Godard in Dundee

Ahead of his imminent dates in Scotland including a date at Dexter’s in Dundee on Sunday 13th March Vic Godard spoke to Andy Wood.

AW –  I believe that this forthcoming date will be your first in Dundee. How come  it’s taken so long and what can a Dundee audience expect live?

VG – No, we played here in the seventies either with the Clash or Buzzcocks and also in the early eighties with the Bureau or Altered Images (or even the Birthday Party and Bauhaus-not sure). Expect the unexpected.

[AW – The excellent blog Retro Dundee – http://retrodundee.blogspot.com/ was able to locate an interview in the legendary Dundee fanzine Cranked Up with Vic when he played at the University in 1981 so it is the case that he’s no stranger to the city though this will be his first gig in quite some time.]

AW – You’ve played in Scotland quite a bit over the years and always had quite a following here. Why do you think that is and what other places/countries have taken you to heart?

VG – We were apparently the first punk group to be seen in certain parts of  Scotland merely due to being at the foot of the bill at a Clash or Buzzcocks gig, and we didn’t look like we belonged there which seemed to go down better in certain places. Other areas where we do well are Barcelona, Bristol, Hamburg, Brighton and north London.

[AW – I think Vic is being a little modest, Subway Sect were a massive influence on the Scottish bands of the Postcard era, especially Orange Juice who recorded a cover of Vic’s ‘Holiday Hymn’ before he did. The massive influence of Vic Godard & Subway Sect is acknowledged in both Simon Reynold’s excellent post-punk history, Rip It Up, and in the sleeve notes to the recent Orange Juice boxset, Coals To Newcastle.]

AW –   You’ve worked with Irvine Welsh on the musical ‘Blackpool’ and also with Edwyn Collins. Any other Scottish musicians or artists that you’d like to collaborate with?

VG – Davy [Henderson of Fire Engines / Win / Nectarine No. 9  and, currently The Sexual Objects] would be nice but we both work and do music in our spare time so that would be hard. Also Micky Slaven on a record as he is one of my favourite guitarists and have worked with him several times –he is on Nasty man off the 20 odd years collection, and we have done gigs together in the past – we did a song the year before last at  Stereo in Glasgow.

[AW – Micky Slaven was the former guitarist in Paul Haig’s Bourgie Bourgie and also a founder member of The Leopards as well as writing music for a number of theatre productions].

AW –  Gig-wise, you seem to have been pretty prolific since the release of ‘We Come As Aliens’. How much do you enjoy playing live and what do you get out of it?

VG – Mainly audience response and getting to see new places and revisit old haunts. I get a lot of confidence which can feed back into the writing.

AW – How do you feel the current incarnation of Subway Sect compares with previous versions of the band?

VG – The attitude is very similar. For all the line-ups appreciation of comedy has been crucial.

AW – ‘We Come As Aliens’ quite often comes across as a very political album, a sort of musical state of the nation address or call to arms. Was this deliberate or did the themes and songs come together over a longer period of time?

VG – Yes, it is a product of our turbulent era

AW – Do you think music can effect a wider political or cultural change still? Did it ever have such a role to play?

VG – Music along with all the arts, always moves opinion forwards and eventually helps bring about the conditions where the dam may break.

AW  – How do you feel about your role in the wider history of post-punk music? When you were re-recording the older songs that made up the album ‘1978 Now’ did you have a sense of making your role in the punk explosion more explicit or was ther emore to it than that?

VG – I was frustrated by being asked continually about the ‘lost’ album and thought if I recorded all the songs from early 78 onto one album I would no longer be asked about it and people would look at what we do now. I think it worked, and I am now about to put together ‘1979 NOW’ to carry it into my northern soul phase.

AW –  Why was there such a gap in albums of new material between Sansend and We Come As Aliens?

VG – Mainly due to line up changes. I recorded Blackpool and nine other tracks with the Bitter springs, then did gigs for the next period with a group comprising of two parts of Wet dog, then recruited Mark Laff, our drummer from 77 to record 1978 NOW. By fluke we recruited Gary Ainge from Felt at a sound check when Laff failed to materialise. It was at this point that Mark Braby [our current drummer] joined on bass and I thought it worth doing an album. This idea was knocked back when Gary had a serious back problem and had to leave, causing the emergency entrance of Paul Cook, which led to us having to re-rehearse several songs.

AW –  This possibly relates to the last question, but how do you balance being in a  band with your day-job?

VG – With lots of help from the gnu [my wife George] and being flexible.

AW – What are your plans for the future?

VG – Gigs (see my myspace/facebook) and doing 1979 NOW. Which might be another GNU inc release, our own mini label. First release was Live in Stereo (sold out) , then the Blackpool ep/cd and latest is the vinyl ‘We Come as Aliens’, available at gigs and mail order (and they’ve a few at Monorail Glasgow).

Vic Godard and Subway Sect play Dexter’s, Dundee on Sunday 13th March. Tickets here. On Facebook here. Support comes from Spectorbullets and Edinburgh School for the Deaf.

Vic is also playing shows in Glasgow (11th) and Edinburgh (12th) for the excellent Sounds in the Suburbs if you can’t make it to Dundee. 😉