I recently had a trans-Atlantic chat with visual artist Pete F. Davies, ex-label runner, as well as ranter-in-chief and sometimes drummer of the West Yorkshire post-punk band Gad Whip, who just so happen to have a new cassette out on Arachnidiscs Recordings. We talk about the West Yorkshire music scene, DOA, Mark E. Smith, John Cooper Clarke and Brexit.
Jakob Rehlinger: So. West Yorkshire. What’s the music scene like there?
Pete F. Davies: Pretty good to be honest, Leeds is only 20 minutes so I tend to go there for the majority of gigs. There’s some good venues, Wharf Chambers being my favourite which is a run as a cooperative, so you get a good bunch of promoters using it, plus they do excellent food at very reasonable prices. Huddersfield is even closer, like five miles away, and the scene there is pretty good.
Jakob: What kinds of bands are forming in that area? Similar to Gad Whip or are you on your own?
Pete: All kinds of stuff really, straight up punk, garage punk — Nosebleed are really good. There seems to be a lot more crossover of post punk / psyche / experimental stuff going on. Leeds has a long tradition of DIY, so very kind of band you can think of, there’ll one in Leeds. Cowtown and Cattle are another couple of favourites, then of course there’s Hookworms.
Jakob: Oh yeah, those guys. Not a lot else seems to make it over here. Are people happy enough in their local scene?
Pete: I think so, there’s always the problem of bands not being paid enough, you know. If you’re lucky enough you get to go over to Europe where they treat the bands a lot better. Two sides of the coin and all that haha!
Jakob: Yeah, it’s the same for local bands here too. Would love to get treated right in Europe but can’t afford to go.
Pete: A lot of bands seem happy enough just to get the chance with a decent crowd and to play.
Jakob: Is Brexit going to make that harder to get over to Europe as well?
Pete: Not sure with Brexit, personally I still don’t think it will happen, but then I’m the eternal optimist! It could make it more difficult with the possibility of needing visas and making travelling between countries more difficult.
Jakob: Brexit appears to have already made it tougher for Canadian bands to play in the UK. I know a woman who was detained for 51 hours and turned back and she had a valid visa.
Pete: Wow that’s crazy, is she a musician?
Jakob: Yeah, had a tour booked and everything.
Pete: Blimey that was a bit tough on her, I’ve heard of UK bands being refused entry to the US. I know some who do it as a ‘tourist’ thing as well.
Jakob: Ironically, if she’d snuck in as a tourist probably she’d have been okay. I believe she raised money for another flight and it all worked out in the end. But I wonder if there’ll be more of that kind of thing.
Pete: Glad it turned out OK in the end. Yes possibly there will be more of the same thing.
Jakob: You say you’re hoping Brexit won’t happen. What’s the feeling on the street? The news we get about it seems like no one wants it. But, of course, being part of my progressive internet bubble, all the Brits I know online are against it.
Pete: The majority of people I know are against it, the whole Brexit referendum ‘Out’ campaign was built on lies and fake news. Everyone was shocked when the result came in, and I think the current government don’t really want it. It just drags on and on like some soap opera!
Jakob: It sells papers for Rupert.
Pete: It certainly does, the old toad that he is!
Jakob: That’s unfair to toads.
Pete: Yes, sorry to all toads!
Jakob: You mentioned to me before you’re working on a new album. Trapped In A Pin Hole Camera is a lot different than the 12”, can we expect a change in sound/direction again?
Pete: It’s going to be the same line up as the 12″ — although all the demos that we’ve done thus far for it have the Trapped In A Pin Hole Camera sound so it will be interesting to see how that translates over. Back to the four-piece so the idea is playing the songs live should be more straightforward.
Jakob: I can see that. I feel like a happy medium between the two could be perfect. Do you play drums as well as sing live?
Pete: Yes that’s what we’re hoping! I do sometimes. We’re recording the album at Lee’s , he’s converted part of his house into a fully functioned studio. He played drums and guitars on the 12″. So we’re going to have time to try a few things out, like we’re both drummers so why not try two drum tracks? We may have to draft in another guitarist for live stuff (that would be Jim who played on Pin Hole) but it keeps it all sonically interesting.
Jakob: Like Pigface!
Pete: Yes, Pigface! Are they still active?
Jakob: I think Atkins is still using the name. Or something. I followed him on twitter and he sent me an automated reply about buying his eBook. So fuck that guy. Two drummers live would be a great show. You should do that.
Pete: Yeah, we’re planning to do that. It gives the whole thing a lot more edge. Cattle, the band from Leeds I mentioned have two drummers and it’s so great to see.
Jakob: Way better than a guy with a laptop holding a lager.
Pete: Haha, oh those Sleaford Mods comparisons never go away! I agree with you!
Jakob: Well, you’re all sons of John Cooper Clarke. Is it a thing over there now? A John Cooper Clarke resurgence?
Pete: Yes indeed, the bard of Salford. Yes maybe, he seems to appearing on more mainstream TV shows and did that covers album with Hugh Cornwall where he actually sings. Did you hear that? I was quite into it, it’s all the stuff that influenced him in his early years. I think that stuff stays with you forever.
Jakob:Sings? I dunno if I want to hear that. I actually assumed he was dead! A man that skinny surely starved to death years ago.
Pete: Ha, yeah I was put off initially then heard some on the radio. He likes his drainpipes!
Jakob: I did read an article about your influences. But what records stayed with you forever?
Pete: Minutemen – Double Nickels / No Means No – Wrong / DOA – Hardcore 81 / Big Boys – Lullabies Help The Brain Grow
Jakob: That’s a lot of music from my hometown, roughly! NoMeansNo and DOA. I suppose that makes sense, in a way, since Manchester music is so important to me. Wrong is certainly one of the finest records ever made though.
Pete: You’re from the Vancouver area? What Manc stuff are you into?
Jakob: Vancouver Island. An hour and a half north of Victoria where NoMeansNo were from. Just the usual old Manc suspects. The Fall, Smiths, Joy Division, Stone Roses, etc.
Pete: Ah cool, my daughter is a big Manc band fan, Joy Division being her favourites! Yeh The Fall, always difficult to pick a favourite album of theirs. Took me a few years to get into them initially.
Jakob: Me too. Once they clicked for me I realised The Fall are the best rock’n’roll band to ever exist. Hex Enduction Hour is my nominal favourite, but how to choose?.
Pete: I agree and I think the line up of the last ten or so years was actually one of the best I’ve seen. Imperial Wax Solvent is currently top of my list, but yeh that’s always changing.
Jakob: An unprecedented consistency. I’d love to have a discography like that. But then you’d have to be Mark E. Smith. Probably not worth it.
Pete: Yeah I think so, guess you can’t have one without the other.
Jakob: I think I’d mellow too much after the first 15 years of being drunk and miserable.
Pete: Absolutely. I gave up drinking almost three months ago, even the thought of it makes me feel sick.
Jakob: I managed to not drink for about six or eight months about a decade ago. That was a good time. But I haven’t gone back to binge drinking since. I can’t even fathom being properly “drunk” now. Plus at my age more than two pints gives me a hangover.
Pete: Yeh I don’t miss it one bit and I feel a lot better physically. No beer gut! Also have a lot more energy which means I can get more stuff done.
Jakob: I think it’s definitely worth the trade-off. Plus not having to be Mark E. Smith.