Over the course of your career, how has your live show changed?
It’s become faster and louder but also more varied in some ways. It takes years of hard slog to become a confident performer and know which songs suit your voice and know the strengths and weaknesses of songs.
What’s the benefits of keeping the band’s DIY approach? Is it a case of following a punk ethos or is it down to keeping control of your music and image?
A bit of both I think. It’s good to have control over your music etc but it does mean that you have to do all the work and take all of the financial risk. I have had to be tour manager, warehouse woman, accountant and lawyer as well as singer, songwriter and guitarist. Most of my time is taken up with non-creative things which is very frustrating sometimes.
Do you think this DIY approach is harder in 2020 than it was in the early days of Vice Squad or easier? Why?
We weren’t DIY for very long in the old band, we paid for the recording of our first single but we got management and signed to EMI soon after. The original guitarist Dave Bateman booked the early gigs. Home studios were few and far between back then so from a recording perspective it’s easier to be DIY now.
How did you write and record Battle of Britain? Did it require a different approach to albums recorded at other stages of your career?
I think we’ve finally mastered the art of recording and production for this one, which is the main difference. Other than that we took the usual approach of writing and recording songs, keeping the ones that suited the album and discarding the others or using them for EPs. It’s actually quite difficult finding time to concentrate on recording when you are the person booking gigs and running the band, you’d be surprised at how much trivia has to be dealt with just to get 4 musicians and a driver in the same place at the same time. Some of the songs came very easily and we only struggled with one ‘You Can’t Fool All Of The People’, which was initially a lot faster than the version on the album. It took me a while to find the right ‘feel’ for the voice.
What’s the Beki and Lumpy show and where did it come from?
It’s an unrehearsed part-scripted mish mash of music, psychiatry, quizzes and comedy. A sort of sweary ‘Loose Women’ but more ‘Loose Marbles’. We were showcasing other band’s videos as well as our own but that’s becoming difficult due to Facebook muting stuff, they even mute our songs and we own the copyrights!! We’ve done a Spinal Tap quiz, a Drummer Quiz (Hence the title ‘Disaster Mind’) and we’ve done Men’s Sweeney Fashion Tips and The Yorkshire Psychiatrist. It’s all good chaotic fun!
How has interacting with your fans changed over your career?
There’s far more interaction now, but it’s via the internet. It used to be just hanging out with people after shows and signing stuff, but now it’s something that happens every day because people can contact you on various social media platforms.
I’m actually quite reserved off-stage so it was quite strange for me at first.
What’s your current rig? Does this change much?
It’s a Marshall JCM 900 Hi Gain Dual Reverb 50 watt head and 4 x 12 Marshall cab, I got them from Eric Lindsay’s in Catford for the princely sum of £400 about 10 years ago. They’d made a mistake with the price on the website and forgot to add the cost of the cab but were good enough to let us have it at no extra charge. I occasionally use a Peavey 5150 but it’s usually the Marshall. Our lead player Paul was trying to get me to use a modelling amp when recording a track for the album and was even asking me to choose between vintage mics and placements, after about 10 minutes I said that they all sounded wrong and insisted that we use my Marshall, which instantly sounded ‘right’ to me. I drive it quite hard live, it goes to infinity…….
What’s next for Vice Squad?
We are recording a new album entitled ‘Vice-O-Lation’. The songs are weird and wonderful re-workings of previously released Vice Squad material like ‘Princess Paranoia’ ‘Water’ and ‘West End Stars’. We got very lucky with the video for ‘Princess Paranoia’ in that Paul filmed me miming to the song in my front room and our drummer Ant was able to edit in a 1930s Jazz band and grunge the whole thing up so it looks vintage. We started recording tracks during the first lock down and made a few videos at home, we’ve had a fantastic response.
We also have a surprise EP in the pipeline and we’re hoping to play a lot of the ‘Battle of Britain’ material live if/when live shows become possible.