This is a pretty lengthy interview I did through the mail with Andy from the Instigators. He sent out letters to various fanzines prior to their US tour in 1986 to get interviews and spread the word they were coming over. Needless to say, I was way beyond stoked. They toured with the Detonators (Redondo Beach, CA) and played at the Velvet Underground in OKC on August 4, 1986. Still one of the best shows I have ever seen. Easily in my top five. The local openers were 151 Black Bats, which I believe had members from Brown 25. Anyway, Nick Toczek also toured with the Detonators and Instigators. First spoken word performance I ever experienced. The Detonators were amazing. I remember they ended one song, and the drummer kept raging away. The singer turned and had to physically get him to stop. Then the Instigators took the stage and absolutely destroyed!!!
From stop to start they were an intense mass of energy. The bass player kept jumping from the stage and standing on the floor while everyone circle pitted around him. Andy, the singer, prowled back and forth on the stage belting out song after song. At the end, he climbs on to a speaker, jumps into the air, and goes through the drop tiled ceiling. The tiles come crashing down, and a huge cloud of dust follows with it. Andy slowly looks up and everyone is going crazy.
This interview ran in Schizo, and was the longest I had ever done at that point. Most of these questions are pretty lame, and I can't believe Andy even took the time to answer them, looking back. But I was stoked. Obviously, I've held on to that letter/interview for over 22 years now. Crazy...
Who are the members of the Instigators, and how long have you been around?
Andy : Instigators are: Simon Mooney - guitar, Andy Turner - vocals, Steve Curran - drums, Andy Turnbull - bass. Instigators, as a band, have been around since 1981, but this is the line-up, although only being together for about a year have been very active playing nearly as many times in twelve months as the old line-up did in about four years.
What has become of the ex-members of the Instigators?
Andy : The first one to leave, Semi, the old singer, who quit last May just as the LP was released, is now trying to fit into the monotony of small town life, not wishing to overstep the lines drawn by his peers and his friends. One of the reasons he left/was thrown out (it's debatable) was the hold his girlfriend had over him, which caused a lot of ill feeling among the old line-up. Both Tab (the old bassist) and Hammy (ex-drummer) quit at the same time, but for different reasons. It was at a time when Instigators were beginning to get serious and were making the transition from being something done in their spare time to being a full time working unit, geared to touring. Hammy couldn't take the pace and was relying heavily on alcohol and his private life was really getting fucked up, so he needed time to get his shit together and thought he wouldn't be able to do it by remaining in Instigators. He's the only one of the people who quit that's still active in bands. He's regretting leaving, and is now singing for a band called Civilized Society. Tab felt he needed the security of his day job - something he would have had to give up to take on the band full time. The crux of it is me and Simon had faith, the others didn't and now they're stuck in the same old rut as all the people around them. They're on the heap. Tough shit!
What are some of your songs about?
Andy : They relay personal feeling towards various thing, we don't start out with a set pattern at writing lyrics, so we don't get bogged down in the same old cliched traps as the safe zone punks do, we don't feel the need to force ourselves to write 'punk' lyrics (I'm not saying these are irrelevant, but too many bands see things like nuclear war as being an easy way to let people know they're a 'punk band'- we're more into honest feelings, too many people just re-hash various pamphlets. I like lyrics that confront and provoke thought). We touch on various subjects, far too many and widespread to explain. Lyrics are what you make of them.
Where do you get the ideas for your songs?
Andy : Again, it depends on the song. We're inspired by what we feel and what we see around us. Things we feel strongly about, or things we feel need to be conveyed to more people who perhaps are unaware of some of the injustices that are happening right under their noses.
What made you decide to start Instigators?
Andy : I can't really answer that because I only joined the band a year ago.
What songs do you enjoy the most?
Andy : I can only speak for myself, but I enjoy playing all the songs we play live. If any of us didn't really like them, then I don't think we'd do them.
How long do your shows usually last?
Andy : It really depends on the atmosphere. It can vary between our standard set of about 30 to 35 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, when we couldn't get off stage in Germany. We prefer the shorter sets as things tend to get boring the longer it goes on. We hit hard and fast, and what happens next is up to the people we're trying to impress.
About how many songs do you play in your set?
Andy : Usually about twelve, with some left over just in case we get called back to do more.
Are any of you straight-edge?
Andy : No, none of us are. But that doesn't mean we all drink to excess either. We know when to stop, we don't need some moral majority type organization to tell us what we can or can't do.
How do you usually deal with problems in your life?
Andy : That depends on what the problem is really. I could become irrational or sit and think it out, depending on my mood or situation. At the moment we have very few major problems to deal with.
What is your opinion on the American government?
Andy : Who actually runs America? Is it Reagan and his circus, or is it multi-nationals like Coca- Cola? I'm not really in a position to judge, you'd better answer for me. After all, you have to live there - we only have a government that does all America's dirty work.
Do you think metalcore, speed metal, or whatever that mixes punk with heavy metal, will ruin punk?
Andy : I think apathy on a grand scale, like what we're suffering here in the UK at the moment, is far more of a problem. We should all be open-minded enough to listen to anything, but too many people are insecure and feel the need to belong to some group of people. They seek sanctuary among all the things they're supposed to be breaking down. All these little cliques are a drag though. Whatever happened to unity and open-mindedness?
Are any of you vegetarians?
Andy : Well, three of us don't eat meat and one does, but that's no big deal. We don't try to pressure people into anything, you can't do that, people have to see for themselves, you can't force them.
What is your favorite food?
Andy : Our favorite tour food is most definitely pizzas, so when we roll into Moore, OK you'll know what to stock your freezer with, as well as the Budweisers won't you Matt?
Do you have a favorite movie?
Andy : I have a few favorites; Apocalypse Now, Blues Brothers, Cabaret. I thought Gremlins and Ghostbusters were both fun, and there's more, but I can't remember them at the moment.
Who is your favorite band and what's your favorite song? Why?
Andy : Real hard! I don't have a favorite band, but here's some bands I like at the moment, the reasons are pretty different bit the main link is they appeal to me. Bands like Husker Du, DOA, Toxic Reasons, MC5, Rolling Stones, The Cult, Agent Orange, Patti Smith, Iron Maiden, and many more.
Any ideas to bring about world peace?
Andy : Eliminate greed.
What are your feelings towards religion?
Andy : Religion, in the same way as politics, should be a very personal thing. I've grown to despise people trying to ram something down my throat. If people need something to believe in, then who am I to take that away from them. I personally don't need that. I don't need all the shit that goes with it. The wars, the hatred, the repression. the petty morality that goes hand in hand with it.
What are your feelings on racism?
Andy : The same as I feel towards sexism. People have no right to judge people by the amount of x chromosomes or the colour of their skin. Think hard about it, it's so fucking childish. It's like kids at school getting at the fat kid or the girl with glasses. Some people never grow up. After all, what kind of a person runs round at night wearing a sheet and a pointy pillow-case on his head? Real people can handle the real world!
Who was the first punk band you saw in concert?
Andy : It was Siouxsie & the Banshees at the Huddersfield Polytechnic in 1978. The week after I went to Victoria Park, London to the big Rock Against Racism festival with the Clash, Tom Robinson Band, Xray Spex, and more, with 80,000 people. Great stuff!
Do any of you have jobs besides the band? Do you like the idea of holding down a job?
Andy : No, none of us have enough spare time to work outside Instigators. None of us could hold a job down full time due to all the touring we do. I don't really want to work for somebody else. I don't believe in the work ethic. I'm not lazy, but I don't wanna slave to line someone elses pocket.
What cities are you looking forward to playing here in the USA?
Andy : I hope to be able to make it to places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, Memphis, Anchorage would be nice. Anywhere would be nice. The more places the better.
How many shows do you have set up for the tour so far?
Andy : I don't know. Juan from the Detonators is organizing the tour. He'll let us know when everything is sorted out.
Do you think there will ever be a nuclear war or World War 3?
Andy : I hope not, but it's hard to believe there won't be. I hope I never live to experience it.
What are your views on punk?
Andy : It should be something flexible, a state of mind. Not a style of music, not a dress code, but a positive attitude. Something to do with changem with trying to better yourself without having to submit to all the petty rules and regulations. Control as much of your destiny as possible.
Is there a lot of violence in the scene where you live?
Andy : Not really. But that's mainly down to the fact there isn't really a scene at all!
What is the neighborhood like that you live in?
Andy : Typical of most Northern towns and cities that were built around the prosperous wool / cotton industries that flourished at the end of the last century, but suffered after the second World War. Rows and rows of terraced houses, very gray, very industrialized, a major driving force behind getting away and hopefully never coming back.
What kind of people live on your street?
Andy : Most of our street is made up of Asians who work bad hours, but unlike the more densely populated areas, Blacks, Whites, Greens, etc, all mix okay. Because they all work weird hours (bus drivers, taxi drivers) there's no pressure on us to turn the noise down. That's good.
I gotta mention our next door neighbours, Jeepers Creepers and his wife who's expecting her first baby and they look after our cat, Marvin, while we're away.
What are some of the things you hate?
Andy : Apathy, boredom, golf, meat, jerkoffs, football fans (the ones who live up to the stereotypes), snooker, winter, the time between tours, frustration, and more.
Is there a club that you particularly enjoy playing?
Andy : I don't really know, I don't think the place plays a big part. It's the situation and the atmosphere that makes it memorable and places here in Europe don't usually last that long anyway.
I've been told that the TV show, I Love Lucy, is shown all over the world. So, is it shown in England?
Andy : Yes it is. sometimes. But it's really unfunny. The Munsters, and Adams Family are much better. Lucille Ball is so boring!
Describe a funny experience that has happened to you while on tour.
Andy : What we may think is funny might not be the same to you. There's a lot of in jokes, but things like Steve hiding in a cardboard box in Stockholm that I thought had a TV in, and then scaring me to death when I opened it. Or the tappings I heard in the hotel in Alkmaar, Holland, or all the band doipng the encore in Ffeuzheim, Germany in our underpants for a laugh. We do get pretty childish on tour.
How does your family treat you since you're in a band? Do they ever ask you things like why are you doing it, or when will you grow up?
Andy : They've gotten used to it. At first it used to piss them off that I didn't have a 'real' job. But now they realize it's what I want to do, and they don't mind. All they've got to do it look around them and see the people I went to school with sink deeper and deeper, and go nowhere.
What are some of your bad habits?
Andy : Biting my nails, drugs (in moderation), drinking wine, still getting enthusiastic about playing, becoming obnoxious with people I don't want to talk to, cravings for Jack Daniels, and watching terrible TV soap operas.
What compilations have you appeared on, and what songs did you put on the comps?
Andy : We've been on too many tapes to start to mention, some we don't even know about. So I'll stick to the records; "Monkey Man" and Old Soldiers" were on "Bollocks To The Gonads" LP, "Dine Upon The Dead" is on "We Don't Want Your Fucking War" LP, and "The Blood Is On Your Hands", "53rd State", "Free", and "Wrong Word" were on Pushead's "Cleanse The Bacteria" LP. We have tracks coming out on a few more compilations soon.
What is the legal drinking age where you live?
Andy : Eighteen, but no one adheres to it.
When was the first time you performed?
Andy : Me and Andy were in a band called Xpozez, and our first gig was here in Huddersfield on St. Valentine's Day (14th, February 1980). It seems like ages.
How do you feel about life?
Andy : I enjoy it. I have a rule that if I don't enjoy something any more then I cease to do it. The same goes for life.
Do you have a favorite recipe or joke you'd like to tell?
Andy : We can't cook anything here as we had our gas cut off at Christmas, so we have no favorite recipes. We live on pizzas and sandwiches. Didn't anyone ever tell you that anarchists had no sense of humour?