(Sham 69. From left to right, Al Campbell, Tim V, Ian Whitewood, Dave Parsons)
Apart from the Buzzcocks, Singapore has not had the privilege of playing hosts to any of the original wave of English punk bands that emerged in the late 1970s. Well, that oversight will be partially corrected when Sham 69 roll into town to play a one-night-only gig at Home Club (virtually the ‘go-to’ place for all things indie in Singapore). However, as with many bands still rocking on from the 60s and 70s, personnel changes are inevitable and only Dave Parsons remains from the original lineup. Completing Sham 69 circa 2010 are Tim V (vocals), Ian Whitewood (drums) and Al Campbell (Bass Guitar). In an email interview, lead singer Tim V, got upfront and very personal with the Power of Pop.
Why is Sham 69 still playing and recording, after more than three decades?
SHAM 69 has always primarily been a live band and a band that shunned the Art school crowds that emerged during the birth of Punk. The inner city kids that couldn’t afford to buy clothes from Malcolm and Vivienne’s shop had what I would could call more earthy and sincere reasons to rip up burn and destroy…as they still do today. The thing is most of the urban kids could identify with the music and the lyrics like myself I grew up on the streets of South London and unless you stood your ground you’d be trodden on. So having a band like SHAM 69 shouting the odds was a good shield and being a fan like I was I had faith. So with all the shit that has gone down with SHAM and Punk N Oi over the last 30 years it’s still relevant. Things had to change and like with most things attitudes and sincerity in the band slipped for a bit, but now its back on track and 100% boots and braces. In the cities of the UK theres still shit and a lot more cultures settling in the UK and with that comes ignorance and racism. For me its about saying to those..dont be divided by this bullshit its not about Race its not about whos won the fucking X-Factor or Pop Idols its about Rich n Poor..thats where the fight is and that’s where SHAM 69 will be…that’s why we are still here and still making music!!!!
Former singer Jimmy Pursey was probably the face of Sham 69, how is the band able to convince audiences that this is still Sham 69 even without Pursey?
HAHA well he ain’t anymore I AM!!!!…HAHA..No Jimmy is the face that everyone ‘remembers’ is more the point. There’s one thing that everyone seems to have either ignored or just became blinded to and that’s the ‘punk’ ideal. Punk was never about idols never about creating false gods…it was about having the right attitude to evolve to create and destroy falsehoods and stagnant systems. The bad things that happened to SHAM 69 in the 70s was that like with many bands, they got mesmerised by fame and fortune…haha probably more fame than fortune…oh ok FAME THEN!!!…but with that it’s easy to lose the point and whilst the rest of the band were preening in front of magazine cameras and TV appearances Jimmy was also commanding the press limelight…take a look at most of the bands covers and press…its all Jimmy. What had happened is that Jimmy fell into the fatal trap of believing his own hype and the fact he went on a one man mission to jump on every bandwagon since from Alternative dance to Agit prop proves he’s a glory seeker…sad but true. The car crash that was SHAM 69 finally ground to a halt when fans were leaving in droves smashed to pieces by what they saw as fakery and bullshit. It took a lot of soul searching by the rest of the band to say let’s reform and Dave did that in 1983 along with Ian Whitewood who’s still the drummer today…Jimmy came back after he tried to front the Sex Pistols…which didn’t work and so the circus that is SHAM 69 carried on but it wasn’t long before things fucked up again. So I’m not saying I’m the new messiah cos I fucking ain’t, but with me what you see is what you get. After getting booed in the early days and then now having people saying I’m the best thing ever to happen to SHAM…I’m both flattered and angry. The reason is that those critics that say we want Jimmy.Which are no more may I add..half of them are too young to have even seen Jimmy and those others never ever saw him before. I’m not Jimmy I’m MEEEE!!! As such I have given my heart to a band that is a MOVEMENT not a platform for fucking wannabees….
Sham 69 was formed in a very different musical climate in the 70s, how does it continue to be relevant in the fractured music scene of 2010?
GOOD QUESTION….well as I said it was a lot different then as it is now…nowadays Punk and Oi go more hand in hand, but the scene can be fractured at times and bitchy…but that’s human nature it happened then and it still happens today. Mind you in them days it was easier to get on than it is today…labels then were 10 a penny, now they are harder to get deals with and don’t last long. There’s a lot more heart I think today with labels starting up through pure love rather than money and DIY promoters…but the scene is tough as quick as it’s up its crashing down. The thing is SHAM 69 has evolved NOW and we are pushing the boundaries with new songs and new ethics you have to but above all we live in the same streets living the same fucking shit…so it cannot help but be relevant. The thing is the very same system that peddles out shite like Take That and other crap has in turn swallowed and now controls a huge portion of the mindset of nations…like ‘ you see those chimps banging biscuit tins with boxes over their head, well there’s the next big thing’..and so a nation goes in droves to buy the new CD…that is the power we are dealing with…a subliminal mind fuck. The commercial powerhouse works in many ways and it does in the alternative scene with shite like EMO and what I like to call catalogue anarchy…but as things have been exposed with the world’s financial climate and things becoming more costly for everyone…I think kids are seeing through things a lot more and becoming more cynical. I don’t think people see Avril Lavigne and Good Charlotte as radical….haha.
We are seeing more kids getting into old school and more kids starting up bands with the ethic of bands like SHAM 69 and that’s great. It’s when you see interviews like the one in the UK national newspaper THE INDEPENDENT when they interviewed the JONAS BROTHERS about what music they like and they said SHAM 69….that’s when things are getting bad…haha
Where has the re-constituted Sham 69 performed since the split in 2006, and what has the response been so far?
CHRIST…it’s a case of where we haven’t been…the MOON?? We haven’t been to the MOON……now there’s an idea…do you think they’ll like us there..I’d imagine some prefer we’d stay there…NO SERIOUS…well the first thing is that we have played places that SHAM 69 have NEVER EVER BEEN TO before such as Singapore. The most poignant for me was to play Belfast as since the song ULSTER the band wouldn’t go there for the fear of reaction….fuck that says I…no I said we must and sing that very song…we did and they loved it…so there you go…goes to show that 30 years on what was the worry. No I think places like China, Brazil and Russia have stood out a lot but we have done sold out tours in most places like Japan, USA…we have covered three-quarters of the globe in what many have hailed as a huge step for SHAM 69. The audiences have been mad and it’s been too mad at times but the usual stage invasions still take place but we try to be ready for them. The thing is wherever the band plays you have to expect the unexpected. However we ain’t 18 now, we are older so we take things more seriously. But one thing that I am very passionate about and that’s the fans sees us as sincere..I ain’t a fucking rock star and I respect them as much as they respect me. I wanted to bring the SHAM 69 back to a grassroots politic and I think I have done that. The band has toured extensively around the world and in that time we have rebuilt many bridges and a lot of new ones.
How did the opportunity to perform in Singapore come about? Are you surprised to be playing in Singapore in 2010?
Well though it pains me to say it the reason why we are playing Singapore was it was originally part of a Asian Tour where we was to take in China, Indonesia and Malaysia and Singapore. The thing is that the geezer who was promoting and co-ordinating the tour turned out to be a shyster and a conman…and so many who had put a lot of effort and time and more important their own money had lost the lot. It was through the efforts of Wan Shah from the band Generation 69 (WEST HAM SHIT)..HAHAHA…no Wan had all but given up and then out of the ashes he said could we still do a Singapore show for this year…so he and a guy called Tony Feizal have been working to get to this point. Yes as I sit here in London I’m looking out the window at all the snow and ice and thinking…well its Millwall at home Saturday and Singapore next Saturday…life is sweet!!!
What can fans in Singapore expect from the Sham 69 gig on the 11th December? Do you have any message for your fans?
WHAT CAN THEY EXPECT…HMMM that’s a tough one!!! Well apart from seeing the best looking guy on the planet….pause for vomit…no…serious.. Well they can expect a fucking great night. We will be doing all the old stuff as well as songs from the new album..the major thing is like many fans say after the shows that ‘we came here expecting bad and left feeling glad’ and I can only say that is the feeling pretty much everywhere we always put 110% into the show and we WANT the fans to have a great time and let rip.
A MESSAGE: Well a message…all I will say is this…I’ve been in the biz for 35 years and I’ve been there and bought the t-shirt I’ve shared a bed-sit with Sid Vicious and got pissed with movie stars..but one thing I’ve learnt is that education is king. Never believe the hype or the lies unless you’ve faced it head on. Find and seek the truth and above all have total respect for yourself first before you respect others, if you don’t your never gain peace of mind..if you don’t have that you don’t have nothing…I’m looking forward to meeting and greeting the fans as I am them and they are me….see ya down the front!!!!!
Tim V xx
Limited Pre-sale tickets of SGD $38 will only be sold until Thursday 9th Dec 2010 at 8pm at these outlets:
1) Home Club, Clarke Quay, The Riverwalk, #B1-01/06
2) Ignite Productions, 73 Bussorrah Street
3) La Vanita, 3 Coleman Street, #02-25, #02-36 Peninsula Shopping Centre
After that, you can get it at the door for SGD$45.