fanzine - vanja
On the beginning thanks a lot for your agree to do this interview.. It was a little difficult job for me to write question's for you and I hope they are a little different from other you answer. Sorry if I made mistakes but my English in not very well.
So thanks again for collaboration, it mean's a lot to me, still Dirt is one of my favorite band's.
-On the beginning can you introduce yourself… yes, it is maybe a little stupid , 'cause everyone know Dirt, but what to ask on first. Still you can tell me something about your first contacts with punk, what you done beside Dirt, and what other member's done?
Well I'm not sure everybody knows DIRT…
I think we were a band that played an important role in a punk movement that was geared towards being positive… DIRT formed in 1980 - something like 28 years ago and I'm sad to say my memory is a little bit faded! However… having done quite a few interviews over the years I tend to get stories embedded into my head and they often crop up after a few beers!
Almost sidetracked... my name is Gary and I am the founder member of DIRT.
In 1977/78 in the UK the punk movement was gathering momentum, all press was bad and the country itself was in a mess. My own personal position was that of a loner. I had few friends and preferred my own company. I'd reached the age of 17 and the future looked bleak… well actually I'm not sure it did… I just didn't care! I was attracted to the bad press that was punk was receiving and it intrigued me more than anything to date. For the 1st time in my life I actually wanted to experience something that was going on. I went to see a few bands, (never seen live music before) I can't remember the names of the 1st few I saw but I stumbled upon the Adverts & the Damned… And I sold my soul!!!
For the next 2 years I must have seen every punk band that played… I was in clubs every night and I'd actually made friends with people like myself. The next logical step for me was to form a band.
As for the other members of DIRT… Deno had just left school. We lived in the same neighbourhood so would often travel home on the same night buses after gigs. That's essentially how we met! Fox responded to an ad I placed looking for a drummer… he was a punk rocker who sniffed glue and did all the things that gave punk a bad name! Vomit (bass) was Fox's brother… he was 14 years old and still at school.
-I know punk change all your life's…how your and the rest of the band member's?
This is hard to put into words as it's a gradual change and its not really something you are aware of at the time. Obviously looking back I can see I became very political and got into issues that suited me as an individual. I became active in social housing, finding empty properties and instead of just squatting them, dealing with the local authorities to give us a licence to use them… we formed a housing co-op that grew into a community of like minded people, I met local politicians (government ministers) I spoke at council meetings and all for non-payment… because I believed in it. I was offered work as I'd become good at what I was doing… but it wasn't about work for me…
I think looking back the positive approach punk gave me was that I could do anything I wanted and for whatever reason I felt I needed. I still to this day live by the same values… sadly it still means I have to struggle with bullshit… like buying food & paying rent!!!!
There have been a lot of people been members of DIRT over the years… I've stayed in touch with a few… and still see them on an irregular basis… they all pretty much say that their lives have been shaped by being in DIRT… and that is a positive thing.
-In 1980's it was a good scene , you said in one interview, so what do you think about scene in these year's?
To be honest… I don't know much about the scene as it is at the moment…
I rarely go to see bands… and those nights out were my way of socializing…
The only band I've seen in the last couple of years was Bleeding Rectum (Toxic Waste from Belfast) who recently reformed. Me & Deno both went and ran into a few faces from the past!!! Paco from Conflict, Jon from Active Distribution… It was really a good atmosphere, refreshing and I really planned to make a habit of going out… but alas I just don't know what is going on!
I think the scene right now is in a deep shit, when much people think just on themselves. On distribution's you can find cd's and other on big prices and I ask myself where we going today, in what we are returning? What happen with all that perception about not paying much money, if it's to much cost then steal?
Over priced CD's has always been an issue… we all know they cost fuck all to make!
However… having been in bands that sell vinyl / CD's / DVD's etc… I also know that there's more to it!
we as a band go into a studio to record… we have to pay the going rates… the mastering etc costs money. We go and play a gig… the gig is cheap… BUT as a band we have to rehearse (costs money) buy / maintain instruments (costs money) / pay for the fuel & van hire (costs money)… essentially live rough on the road… sleeping on floors!
The touring bands barely cover expenses so they are actually losing money before they set off.
I have issues with Distributions that actually sell merchandise cheaper than it should be!
From experience… we have given merch (CD's) to distro's who don't pay for it… they use it as currency to trade with other distro's… the result is the band is technically giving stuff away… and paying for the privilege.
Another way of looking at it… which makes it easy for me to digest is…
I will go into a bar and drink a few beers… the cost of 3 beers is more than a CD.
I will put diesel in my truck & go 'joy riding'… the cost of fuel is more than a CD.
I will go to the store and 'rent' a DVD to watch on TV (I don't even get to keep it)!!!
Sometimes I value the CD / DVD as something more than just a product that should have a price on it!
-You said punk gave you a confidence, direction and sense of belonging…what was before that, who were you before punk?
Like I hinted earlier… A loner at school with no idea of a future.
I never really had anything in common with class mates, rarely socialized. In the early – mid 1970's there was no internet (actually there was fuck all in the way of finding out anything)! Academically average. Thank fuck for punk!!!
- Just few months after you start playing you had first gig and after a few gig's you played in front of few hundred people, how was the feeling then? That's hard to say… I guess it was a great feeling a the time… but having played a hell of a lot since I've become removed from big or small crowds… I preferred the smaller set ups as they are/were more personal. Of course the best thing I suppose is that a lot of people were showing that they were into the same scene as we were… which gave us the belief we must be on the right track!
- What about the gig in the church hall? I am very interesting in that gig! Can you approach me a little more that gig , 'cause I don't know much about it?
From the outset we were never really into playing the established venues… we took pride in creating every detail of the creation.
We (me & deno) were part of a small collective (actually there were only 3 of us – the other was a guy named Richard)… that regularly put on punk gigs in pubs & church halls. We would hire the venues, hire in a sound system and book the bands. Richard was the front man as 'me & deno' preferred to keep a low profile… of course the 3 of us did all the work, put up the bands and paid the financial losses!
I think the church gig you talk about is the one we rented as if it was for a wedding party!
It was hard to put on shows in some areas and we saw it as a challenge! We approached a few church halls… and managed to secure a quite a few!!!
- I am sorry if I am improper, but I must ask you about your families, kid's wife's, husband's , do you have them, and how they respond on your past and present… are they part of the scene?
Well we all have families… I guess when we were younger (28 years ago) our families were not supportive of what we were doing… issues of work, lifestyle, money, politics would always cause arguments for pretty much all of us.
I remember when I first dyed my hair & spiked it my mum went mental… Later when it turned into dreads she commented that spiked looked better!
All members of the band ended up in relationships with people from the scene… some lasted some didn't. When the band finished and people moved on with their lives we invariably met people who had never heard of us! NO ITS TRUE… SERIOUSLY!!!!!!!!
As an example… 7 years ago I met a girl in a bar in Brooklyn, NY. It was a punk rock bar and most people knew me… I introduced myself as the king of punk! She had never heard of DIRT… my story that was backed up over the following evenings… we are still together & have 3 children! She is intrigued by my past and often motivates me to start some new projects! The funny thing at the time was that when she told her friends back in Israel who I was… they had heard of DIRT… and impressed – so I'm told!!!
Part of the scene… as much as I am… but my boys (3&5) do have Mohicans!!!!
-You are a vegetarians seens you 14., or not, but you were, if I am not wrong… What do you think about nowadays banners like this one:￼ ?
I've been vegetarian since 1979/80… deno was vegetarian from a much earlier age.
I became vegetarian once I became aware that there was such a thing!
This banner… what can I say????
Vegetarian/Vegan is a personal choice… when I 1st became Vegetarian I would try to convert everyone I met… I would quote facts & figures and it was like a mission!
I also ran into people who were more vegetarian/vegan than me! They would challenge my understanding of E numbers / preservatives… which company had shares in whatever… It was no longer OK to believe in being Vegetarian and actually being One… there was always something else to aspire to! Being punk & leather jackets & boots… lifestyles were questioned.
My partner is Vegan & our kids are vegetarian. My partner speaks at schools on behalf of Animal Aid… talking about such issues. We often have discussions with other parents about how we are 'mistreating' our children by not allowing them to eat meat! We point out the fact that they are poisoning their children with bacteria from dead flesh (leaving out the moral issues)… and they just don't see it! We made a decision not to make a big deal about it… but we often have a dig!!!!
Back to the banner… the world is made up of all sorts of beings!
I feel superior to others because I'm vegetarian! Vegans no doubt feel superior to me!
- When Lou left Dirt , did you try to find replacement or you simple knew it was the beginning of the splitting?
I think we knew it was coming to an end… we had achieved more than we had expected… I don't think we saw ourselves as a band anymore… Lou leaving had no impact. We had just reached a point where enough was enough.
-You have samo problems and disagreements in band when you start to work on "MOTHER/RIPPER" 7" before splitting. And this 7" never released. So, why didn't you released it when you start again to play?
We all felt DIRT was a live experience rather than something you could listen to on vinyl. ( I only just realised CD's didn't exist at this point)!!! Southern paid for the recording sessions… and they retained the tapes… when we started to play again… it was with new members and it didn't seem something we needed to do!
- What was actually been with that situation when you borrowed the money for "JUST AN ERROR"?
If my memory serves me well… we were doing gigs as a band with the new line up and we decided to record the material we had written and were playing! We borrowed money / recorded / released… and SPLIT UP!!!! Result being a bix box of records and no band! And paying back the loan!!! Involved interest being added… so we lost even more… still Mustn't grumble!
- You had a big US tour, even twice in the same year, so can you tell me what was alike to be on the stage every day, sometimes not had place to stay, or money for food, playing with bands like Naked Aggression, Aus Rotten?
FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC… for the 1st time ever we were actually on the road… aware that we were losing money (big time) and not caring! We'd bought our airline tickets and friends had lent us a van & equipment… it was weird in the sense that – in the USA most gigs take place in all ages venues – houses – basements & garages! Normally starting about 6pm and over by 10pm… very weird!!!
We were blissfully unaware of the scene in the USA and it was a real eye opener that such bands existed… and with such a passion! It made us feel that we were part of something new… even though it was an extension of something we were already doing and been part of for god knows how many years.
Being on stage everyday seemed natural… on days off we were somewhat lost!
When we traveled across from the east coast to the west we found a lot of shows were cancelled or didn't actually exist… so any money we had accumulated got eaten up on fuel and food en route! BUT the experience of the whole affair pushes that into insignificance. (apart from the fact that we had to camp out… and I HATE CAMPING).
- Did you had a problems with money when you had a tour's and gig's? How you resolved that problems and had it any influence on relations between members?
Not really… we knew in advance that we had to buy plane tickets or rent vans & pay fuel. I always took on the roll of banker and borrowed or begged and the others never got financially involved. So it was never an issue.
- Stacey was in Dirt when you have a last tour in USA. What was with Deno then? Stacey was in MANKIND? in the same time? How she done that in the same time?
Deno did the tour in the USA. It was the European tour that Deno decided that she had 'had enough'! Stacey came to Europe to play with DIRT (to cover for Deno) not in the USA….
- I read about you relations with CRASS, you tours with them, feeling's, friendship's…
But I wanted to know how it was to play with Sedition, Antisect, Doom? What is you proficiency with them?
Sedition… I think we only did 1 gig… Doom 1 or 2 gigs… but me & Stick became best mates and he joined DIRT… (he still loves me)!!!!!!!
Antisect… we did a couple of tours with them. We had a house in London and they came to live with us! Deno & Lippy became partners… and when that fell apart Lippy moved in with me… well not actually me… my friend Liz… you get the picture… it was al very incestuous!!!
-Dirt is a legendary band and you were part of it, how do you feel about it and what do you see when you look back in you past ?
28 years on… I now kind of take on the role of a legend!
A legend that no one knows!
I use it in a humorous way!!!! King of punk etc… even my web site is tongue in cheek.
I love my past… it made me what I am now… I met lots of beautiful people with ideas and ideals that are still important now.
DIRT played a part in re-shaping a generation!
One thing I do find amusing… I see people wearing DRT t-shirts and I try to strike up a conversation with them… they don't know who I am… and they don't want to talk to me!
-What is the first thing you think on when you read or hear DIRT?
-What you life look like now? What do you doing now? I think you are part of some band? Tell me something more 'cause I don't know much about...
I ain't been in a band for 7 years now… I was I the Stratford Mercenaries… and when that finished I stopped playing/performing & writing!
I spend most of my time either working on web sites… martial arts… or baby sitting!
- Do you sometimes think to actuate DIRT ones more for the last time and do the last tour over the world?
This is weird… I got a phone call yesterday asking DIRT to play in Antwerp Belgium in October! I never said a definite NO!!! oh the dilemma!!!!
- What is the situation in United Kingdom about punk scene now?
Sadly I have no idea…
-On the end thanks again for cooperation, and can you tell something on the end, anything you want…All the best, and take care….
I hate the blank space to fill…
You have one life… its yours… live it!