One of the most legendary bands coming from U.K.’s Punk scene, one of the bands that has always kept a low profile, avoiding publicity and interviews, the mighty Partisans are hosted at Metal Invader. Crack a beer, listen to “Police Story” and read what Spike told me about the band’s past, present and future!
Hello! This is Elpida and I welcome you to Metal Invader! Thank you for agreeing to do this interview, means a lot to me / us. Simple things first, is everything well? Are you getting prepared for your upcoming gig at Vive Le Punk at Athens?
Hello. All is well thanks! We’re as ready for the gig as we can be, and we’re really looking forward to playing Athens again after a long time away.
I’ve noticed that you avoid conducting interviews for the band, so thank you for taking the time for this one… Why? Aren’t they an additional means of conveying your messages to your fans?
We’ve never been great at publicity. I think there’s something to be said for keeping a low profile. If we push it, we’ve allways be worried people may get sick of us. Today is different, the internet and social media almost does the job for us. Andy has put in a lot of work on the social media side of things and that keeps things ticking-over.
The Partisans have been around – well despite the break up – since 1978. It’s 2018. What has changed in reality in terms of music, shows or you as individuals? Is then or now better and in what way?
I guess the biggest change has been the line-up. We’re still close friends with Louise and Shark as well as Phil Stanton (who helped write some of the earliest songs) and a guy called Savage who was the very first bass player. We were all good mates at school and we’re all still close to each other.
Andy and I have stuck it out the longest, being the main songwriters, along with Magnus on bass. Andy has lived in Sweden for maybe 25 years where he met Magnus who introduced him to a new circle of musicians. Charlie from Anti Cimex is with us on drums now. It’s still the same band to us. We all share the same politics and interests. We’ve developed as musicians also, but that’s just down to years of practice and playing together.
Of course we all work for a living now and a few of us have kids, but we are still the same people as we were back in the day – just a lot older!!
I’ve always wanted to ask you… why “Partisans”?
Back in the late 70’s in the UK unemployment was high and a lot of the working class became disillusioned with main stream politics. One effect this had was the rise of far-right political groups that we’re active on the streets. We chose the name because of its association with rebel groups fighting fascism during WWII.
Despite the several hits and successful shows, you decided to call it quits. What led you to this decision?
We never had the conversation to say ‘we’re splitting up’, we just lost interest in rehearsing and writing songs. When Dave Parsons gave up his bass to join Bush, Shark left to go work on oil-rigs, so Andy and I were left not sure what of to do. Punk had evolved and mutated and seemed to have lost it’s momentum by that time. We both kept playing music together but it was ‘Partisans music’. Then Andy met a Swedish lady and went to live in Sweden. At that point it became impossible to carry on as we were.
What made you reform in the late 90s? Whose idea was it in the first place, what steps were followed in order this reunion to become a reality and to what end? What acted as motivation?
The internet got us back together. Andy got into web design early on and as personal project he set up a Partisans web page to practice his programming. He started getting emails from promoters and people who were into the band, so he got inspired and wrote a couple of new tunes, ‘Hysteria’ and ‘So Neat’. He suggested maybe doing a gig in Sweden with Magnus on bass and a mate of theirs called Gustaf on drums. We were surprised at how many people came along to the gig and it went down really well, so from that point we decided to do another gig, and here we are today.
In just a few years after the Partisans’ formation, the band’s reputation rocketed, fans’ numbers were constantly growing, dates of shows were frequently added along with other respected bands and so on… Did you anticipate such a warm embrace by the crowd when you firstly formed the band?
By the time we started playing again, the punk scene had started to grow once more and the we noticed some of the audience was younger and really enthusiastic. Our first big festival was in Morcombe in the north of England, a precursor to the Rebellion festivals. We realized then that this was a new era so we decided to keep playing, but only occasionally, as before. We’ve been really surprised at how things have developed and the support we get. We never thought we’d still be paying today. The support has been inspiring.
I’ve always believed that a band’s main driving force is performing live. The passion and affection of the fans must be immensely precious. Is that the case for The Partisans, as well or is there another feature that motivates you?
We try to choose gigs carefully and it’s a group decision where and when to play. I think that keeps our enthusiasm and energy. Our gigs can be a bit chaotic which adds to the excitement of playing. Because the band lives in different countries now, Sweden and Wales, we don’t get to see each other much. Despite this we’re all close friends so it feels like a family re-union every time we do a gig. Each gig feels fresh to us because we never actually get to rehearse together.
Your last album was released in 2004. Quite a long time has passed since that happened. Any chances for some new material or are there any new tracks in your arsenal? What does the future hold for The Partisans?
We released a couple of demo tracks online maybe 5 years ago and they’ve got a good reception. We’ve got some ideas for new material but getting together to record them is a nightmare. I’d like to think that there is still an opportunity to record a couple more demos and release them for free on-line.
What have you prepared for the Greek crowd? What should we expect from The Partisans and what are your anticipations for the show?
We’ve not got any fire-works or pyrotechnics! Just 3 guitars, a drum kit and the hope that everyone will have a good time. Business as usual!
Alright! That’s all from me for the time being! Thanks again for taking the time to answer everything; much obliged! Last words are yours… Any messages for your fans in Greece?
No problem, thanks for asking the questions. The Greek working class have been through a lot of shit in recent years because of scum bags like Goldman Sachs and their allies, so we’re coming back to show some solidarity, and have fun in the process.