PUNK PIONEER: NICK PAUL of THE MACHINES interviewed by LUCY HELL
THE MACHINES are: Nick Paul (vocals, guitar), Stephen Reddihough (bass), and Steve Machine (drums).
Lucy: Okay, letís see. I know you played in London back in 77. What were those punk classic days of The Roxy and The Vortex clubs like?
Nick: From Summer 1976 to Spring 1977 was one of the happiest times of my life. The Roxyís first few months were so exhilarating, it was worth going there whoever was playing. It was just so upbeat. From about the middle of 1977 till its demise in 1978 it was a grim depressing bear pit of a place. Very similar at the Vortex, it came in with a bang and left with a whimper.
Lucy: Punk was kind of scary for the mainstream, back then, wasnít it? How were you treated by the squares?
Nick: There were so few punks in the early days I think they were pretty much ignored. You have to remember that in 1976 about 90% of the audience would be hippies or students or both.
Lucy: Whatís the scariest haircut youíve ever had?
Nick: A number 3. Thatís about a quarter of an inch all over. The man next to me in the barbers was having it done and I thought it would be fun. My ex-wife disagreed.
Lucy: ďTrue LifeĒ is a great song to dance to and drink and spill beer to. Tell me about writing that song.
Nick: I canít remember writing it. I suspect I had been doing too much dancing and spilling too much beer! It was one of my first songs for The Machines and was most likely written as part of a batch of 2 or 3. Probably took about as long to write as it takes to listen to.
Lucy: Where can our mysterious readers get a Machines disc today, right now?
Nick: Well if anyone wants one Iím sure it could be arranged. We always carry some spares. Also there are free downloads available on our sites.
Lucy: Is it true that you bled during your shows? Tell us about that.
Nick: My guitar style was rather brutal and quite often the blood would flow. The worst time was when a screw came lose and stuck up through my strings. Every time I hit a chord I must have hit the screw but I didnít notice until the end of the set when I looked down and my white guitar was covered in blood. I was quite proud of it (a noble wound) and left it there for months.
Lucy: Are you going to write/record new music in 2008?
Nick: Yes, there are always more songs to be written and we have already been adding new songs like "With the Machines," "Rocket Red," and "Denmark Street." We are also about to introduce another new song "Mainline" so yup more new stuff will continue. Not sure when we are recording as weíd like to move up from good quality demos to excellent quality full-length albums and that costs serious cash. Any recording company out there looking for a red hot band?
Lucy: What kind of food did you guys eat/live on back in the early punk days of England?
Nick: Ginsters pasties, curry and baby penguins. Same as we do now.
Lucy: Hmm. How important was Iggy Pop to you kids picking up guitars in the 70s?
Nick: Iggy and the Stooges were vital. The Raw Power album changed my life, heavily influenced my guitar style and provided one of my first steps down the primrose path of rock n roll. James Williamson is a god and thatís official!
Lucy: Your favorite Machines song?
Nick: Probably one of the newer songs "Girl in Black" or maybe "With the Machines." Hell it's hard to choose, they are all so good, he said modestly.
Another good one is: "Don't Be Fooled"
Lucy: Your favorite non-Machines band?
Nick: Television. Marquee Moon set the bar. An album without a single second of slack. I even named two of my children after the guitarists. My daughter loved Verlaine as her middle name but my son wasnít so chuffed with Lloyd (after Richard Lloyd). Tom Verlaine is a god too. Now if only he would make an album with James Williamson!
Lucy: Give us a funny/scary concert story.
Nick: A scary one. I once saw a person at a festival stick their hands into a fire when they were souped up on super strength acid. His friends tried to drag him from the fire when suddenly he leapt up and grabbed this burning log and started attacking his friends with it. All the time he was screaming like a banshee. Nearly put me off my acid!
Funny in dreadful kind of way story. I was at another festival and people at the back were throwing empty beer cans towards the front. Some were hitting people but no injuries were caused. One man gets fed up with it and stands up and starts shouting at the people at the back when "bang!" next second he gets hit on the head by a full Party 7 (thatís a giant tin holding 7 pints!) He dropped like a stone.
Lucy: Did you guys ever play in the States? Any plans for an American visit with the new line up?
Nick: We get plenty of US radio play but have yet to plant our feet on your fair soil for gigging purposes. Iím out in Richmond, Virginia in October and hope to get something going then. We also have USA buddies like Choking Susan (great band) and it would be good to get something going with them to. Any US promoters get in touch!
Lucy: What were the punk girls like in the 70s, early 80s, compared to now, any difference?
Nick: The first wave of punk girls (summer 1976) were very arty and image conscious, the early 80s were aloof and fashion conscious and those now are just unconscious! Only joking! The ones we meet now seem incredibly dedicated to keeping the flag flying. Sophia at Noisy! magazine and Alison who runs Bubblegum Slut magazine are fine examples of the new breed.
Lucy: Thanks for keeping punk real. You guys still have an incredibly honest sound.
Nick: And thank you for some thought provoking questions!
Lucy: No problem. We'd also like to thank Steve for taking the time to set the interview up. Thanks, Steve!
Visit The Machines @
The Official Machines Website: the-machines.com
and @ the Official Machines MySpace: myspace.com/77machines