I.C.H. is a relatively new band from the Colchester area of Essex, UK. The band plays a mix of styles but its heart, to me at least, lies in an 80s Anarcho sound mixed with the accessibility of modern day Punk. The band recently released its debut self-released album entitled 'You Won't Like it'. This interview is with Ed Ache, the band's main vocalist and guitarist.
..OK, for those who do not know, give us a brief history of I.C.H.
..Ed) O.K. It started with the break up of two bands. 3DSM a Colchester based Metal band that Jamie (Little Jimmy Dread) and I (Ed Ache) were in. I met Jamie on the bus to college and decided I wanted to be in his band because he seemed like he could play, he definitely had the kit and he was listening to similar stuff to me at the time. So I blagged my way in. As a band we weren't very good, we practised in a shed, and we travelled quite long distances to play to no one. It was fun. 3DSM split up when Jamie stole the frontman's girlfriend. He and I continued to play in a barn (an upgrade from the shed), but two people doesn't make for much of a band - don't tell Jack White I said that! So we hung out and waited for a bass player. The only one we knew who was any good was Tom (Tommy Ache). He was in a band called CLEAVAGE. They played a kind of funk rap crossover sort of malarky and did quite well for themselves to be honest with you. They won the Loot Music awards and played Reading - the festival not the city - and always made crowds dance. Then they imploded under their own weight, leaving the man we'd had our eye on without a band. As it happened he came to me with a little bubblegum Punk tune he'd written and wanted to do: 'Brick In The Forehead' - perfect. So Jamie and I welcomed him into the barn we'd been using, and we learned the tune. We recorded that and another four tracks at a studio in Headingham, it's not there anymore (The Studio, Hedingham's still there). Joe Murphy now from Pop-Punk band KOOPA recorded it for us in 2002. The demo is up on our website, you can listen to it for free.
We'd been playing for a while, when I got drunk and went to see the UK SUBS in Cambridge. I approached Mr. Harper and repeatedly called him a "MAN OF LEGEND" as I recall. I also asked him if my band could support the UK SUBS. To my surprise he said yes, and told me to go and talk to a Colchester promoter and tell him that we're on the bill. So that was our first gig. We played one gig as a trio and we realised that we needed another member. Rob (Roberto Bertorales) had recorded a few tracks for me in the past (and had dreadlocks), and therefore seemed like the obvious choice. After that we found Last Gang In Town who are our favorite people in all the world. They put us on fairly regularly for a long time and helped us build up our live shows and our reputation. Bless 'em. Our second demo was recorded by Rob in a little icy shoe box of a studio on an industrial estate in Colchester that belonged to a friend of ours (cheers Jeremy!). That's also available on the website to stream for free.
He also recorded the album, but we did that back in the trusty old barn. It took three weeks to record. It was fucking hot. We got to play the Green Area at Strawberry Fair 2007 going on after the KING BLUES (cheeky wink!) and a couple of gigs after that Jamie left to seek a better life in Australia. By this time Rob and Tom were playing in local ska Legends THE NEW TOWN KINGS and I'd turned my hand to doing the odd solo show. We took a year out and looked for a drummer. The only one we wanted was Lew (Little Lew Dread). We knew that. So we got a gig supporting the RESTARTS (thanks to Last Gang... yet again.). Got Lew in, and then he vanished. So we ended up playing with the RESTARTS as an acoustic three piece. That was never meant to happen, but it couldn't have gone better if we'd planned it. We got a stage diving circle pit, or something like it. Bizarre but brilliant. Thankfully we found Lew again. In June 2008 we got the album ready and we went off on tour with two local bands THE TAGNUTS and THE DEAD BATTERIES, Both of which have now split up I believe. It wasn't our fault I swear. I can see how that looks bad. From there on in with a solid line up and all of us work shy slackers it has been full steam ahead for the band. We've been playing about the country quite a bit, it's been good fun. Now we just need to record some of the new stuff.
Sorry, that's not such a brief history.
..Tell us what you believe is the reason for I.C.H’s existence. In the world of Punk Rock/ Hardcore - where does I.C.H. sit?
..Ed) The reason for the band's existence is that we write songs, and we like to play them. We play them fast and loud because it makes them sound better. What we play is just Punk Rock. There are too many musical pigeon holes in the world. I do however quite like the term Anarcho/Pop and would like to know if anyone else has already coined it as a genre.
..The band recently released its debut album, ‘You Won’t Like It’. In what ways do you feel this is a progression from your previous two demo releases?
..Ed) It's a progression because we spent more time on it. The demos were both done in a day or two; so demos is just what they are. The album however took three weeks to record and a year to mix and master. We wanted it to be done properly, and we put a lot of effort into it.
..The album was recorded in a barn yeah? Tell us a bit about the recording process and why it took so long from recording to its final release.
..Ed) I've kind of covered this in the first two questions I think. It was four sweaty men in a large barn in the middle of summer 2005. It was fucking hot. There is a little description of how it all happened in the inlay to the album. It seemed like the world was conspiring against us. It still does sometimes. It took a long time to come out partly because our drummer left we all had other things on and inertia set in, but also partly because we'd never made an album before and we wanted to do it right, and partly because we're downright lazy layabouts who take forever to do anything.
..Did you try to get any already-established labels interested in releasing the album? Any overseas labels showed an interest in releasing the album?
..Ed) We've not approached any labels nor have we had any labels show interest. So far distribution is us. You can find them for sale at our gigs on our website, or our myspace or from any of these places - All Ages Records (Camden), The Punker Bunker (Brighton), Billies Bikes (Cambridge), Last Gang in Town (Cambridge), Callum @ Running Feart Zine (Scotland), Trev Howarth @ Negative Reaction Zine (Co. Durham), Andy Cactus @ Bald Cactus Zine (Leeds), Under Bite Records (Joe Sousa, Berkley MA)
..The influence of 80s UK Anarcho Punk proliferates the whole album, with the sound of both CONFLICT and, more specifically, SUBHUMANS being very apparent. Just how did a band born in Blair’s Britain end up sounding so indicative of 80s Anarcho Punk - and what do you think you have added to that sound to make it sound so fresh and vibrant today?
..Ed) Do we sound like the SUBHUMANS? It's not intentional. I don't know... take a little bit of CONFLICT and a little bit Hellcat and a little bit of Asian Man, throw in some CARTER U.S.M and S*M*A*S*H records (or any good 90s rock), a dash of MISFITS, T.V SMITH to taste... Blah blah blah. We all have very broad listening tastes, so we kind of draw in anything in our firing line. Metal, Folk, Anarcho, Pop Punk, I even tried writing a diddley dee Irish folk number. It turned out to be the same as all my other songs.
..Reading the lyrics of the album, it’s clear you are a very socio-political band but without being preachy. How important to you is making an issue with your songs?
..Ed) I'm not making an issue. I'm generally just complaining. Often the things that affect your daily lives and fuck things up for you are social and political things, but if you look at it like that every thing's political. I write songs about the things I know, Songs that are personal to me; sometimes the personal and the political cover the same territory. I like to sing songs I enjoy singing.
..I’d just like to talk about a couple of the songs on the album, starting with ‘Another Song About Being Fed Shit And Enjoying It’. It comes across as a pointed attack on the junk food industry (an attack that I whole-heartedly applaud) and specifically the meat industry. With all the evidence of what additives are put in today’s fast food, are you surprised that there is still an obesity problem of epidemic proportions – and what more can be done to fight it? Are you vegetarians?
..Ed) I'm not, Rob is, and I think that Tom and Lew dabble here and there. To be honest with you, that song came about because Rob spotted the term 'Mechanically Separated' on the back of a can of chicken soup and found it to sound deeply dubious. At the end of the day it's about knowing how what you are eating has been processed and making your own choices. Do I want to buy a shitburger, or make my own? I have no idea what can be done to fight an obesity epidemic. If I did I'd be a very rich man. I hear that healthy eating and regular exercise are a good start.
..What about ‘Oh God Your All So Ugly’? It clearly states your disdain for the likes of Anthea Turner and Carol Smiley with the suggestion of some kinda Stepford breeding ground for shallow TV presenters yeah? What’s your gripe with them - and who/what would you like to see in their place?
..Ed) It's not Anthea Turner and Carol Smiley specifically. They were from a time when people on television looked like people. It's more about the cast of Hollyoaks, and the presenters you see on television now. They all look the same as each other. So my suggestion was that they were being cloned from the likes of Turner and Smiley, and maybe Philip Schofield. It was a joke. As far as what I'd like to see in their place, how about some well made television programmes, with good story lines, that have had an amount of thought and effort put into them... That would be a nice change.
..I was interested to read on your website the statement that you are ‘not a political band’ when, reading your lyrics on the album, every song touches on a social or political issue - just in different ways. What makes you want to state that you are not a political band and what makes you think that I.C.H. isn’t a political band?
..Ed) Ha Ha. That statement was written by someone not in the band, but I stand by him. The thing that makes me want to state that we are not a political band is that I know very little about party politics and I wouldn't want people backing me into a corner about issues I know nothing about. As I have already said, everything is political, the personal is political, and you can't write anything without there being some kind of social comment. I just rarely set out with politics as my main focal point.The lyrics for 'The Corporation' which probably sounds like the most righteous song on the album were all lifted from a film of the same title. I just thought it was funny. At the end of the day I love Punk Rock, not politics.
..I believe you guys are playing at the Rebellion Festival this year. What are your expectations of that?
..Ed) I have no expectations but I hope it goes well. I've got a solo set too.
..Has I.C.H. played any shows in Europe yet? Tell us what can be expected from a live I.C.H. show - you do any covers?
..Ed) No we haven't been to Europe. We've done England, Scotland and Wales and that's it. At a live show you get everything we can give and we come off sweating and broken. At present we do no covers but we are working to rectify that.
..I believe you do some solo acoustic shows too, Ed. Tell us a bit about those - you released anything solo yet?
..Ed) Yes. I play the Ukulele, and the acoustic guitar. I play a few I.C.H tunes and anything else I fancy. I'll have a go at a cover or two, play tracks that haven't made it into the band yet, and stuff that the band don't like doing. I do them sitting down generally. It's a bit calmer, but I still usually come off all sweaty and broken. I've got a lot of tunes recorded but nothing professionally pressed. I've got a load of songs up on the band's website, you can stream or download for free. They are here
..So, tell us a bit about life in Colchester. It’s the oldest town in the UK if I recall - with a University also yeah? What’s it like as a place for a Punk to live? Much of a scene there? The only band of any notoriety that I can recall from there is SPECIAL DUTIES - which is not exactly a recommendation!
..Ed) I asked Tom to answer this question as he is the only member of the band who actually lives there and his answer was "It's shit."
..Your song ‘Smells Like Community Spirit’ quotes your home town, Ed, of Sudbury - a typical small-town England ‘burb. So many British bands seem to actively avoid writing songs about specific places in the UK - why do you think that is? The song questions what the Goths and "8-yr-olds in Slipknot shirts" are rebelling against. Tell us what you are rebelling against.
..Ed) I aint rebelling against naffink guvnor. Nothing but the crap watered down shit that gets pumped down our throats every day. I had no idea most bands avoid writing about places in the U.K; I do!
..There’s an army barracks in Colchester also yeah? Is there ever much trouble involving the squaddies? I remember playing a show at Fagin’s Den in the early 90s and they trashed the place. You find you get much antagonism from them - or any other member of society? And what about hardcore Punks? You get much grief for the mass of dreads you fellas sport? Your song, ‘Look Ma, I Got My Shitkickers On’ suggests you are more than aware of random acts of town-centre violence.
..Ed) We've only played a handful of shows in Colchester, and they're usually fairly sparsely attended, The Niceboys (who are a skate crew from Brightlingsea) always make it worth our while though. I've never had any problems with squaddies in Colchester, but then I don't actually spend that much time there. As far as getting grief from 'Hardcore Punx' about the way we look, I think that most Punks have grown out of that mentality now. People generally expect us to be a Ska band, and are a little surprised when we're not, but then that's half of the point. Surprisingly the theft and random violence referenced in 'Look Ma...' all happened in Cambridge where I lived for a while.
..What do you make of the UK Punk scene at present? A lot of the UK bands of late seem somewhat more politically vocal than of the last few years - that something you agree with? Could this have anything to do with the heightened prominence of the 80s Anarcho scene via Ian Glasper’s ‘The Day The Country Died’ book/DVD, Steve Ignorant staging ‘Feeding Of The 5,000’ and the fact that stalwarts like CONFLICT and SUBHUMANS are still at it?
..Ed) I don't know. There's a lot of good bands out there. I'm pretty sure not all of them spend all day listening to the SUBHUMAMS and CONFLICT back to back. If anything Ian Glasper's book made me feel a bit despondent about it all, as all the bands seemed to say "Aaaaahhh well, all good things come to an end." To be honest the best Punk bands around at the moment have so little to do with the 1980s Anarcho scene it hurts.
..So, coming off music for a while, what do you make of Gordon Brown’s Labour? In what ways do you think it is different from Blair’s? I had high hopes for it with Brown being more of a traditional Labourist - as opposed to Blair’s Tory-dressed-in-red ideals.
..Ed) Again, I don't know... What alternative is there? A shit or a giant douche as South Park so eloquently put it. It's Nick Griffin that I worry about. Fucking tosser!
..Explain what is the best thing about British culture and/or society, and what is the one thing you would change about it?
..Ed) Antiques Road Show/ The Weather.
..So, what’s next for the band? You have any plans to record anything more yet? Would you say you are a prolific band of song writers?
..Ed) We hope to record some more at some point, we have a whole load of new songs, maybe even an album's worth at a push. We just need to raise the funds and the inclination to get round to actually doing something... Maybe after Wasted (sorry - Rebellion) festival. I wouldn't call us prolific at all. I'd call us lazy. Douglas Adams and John Lloyd wrote a dictionary of made up words called 'The Meaning Of Liff'. In it they coined the word 'Ible' meaning - intelligent/capable but lazy. I think that's the best description of us as a band...Finally - just what the hell does I.C.H. mean? I’ve Cool Hair maybe??
..Ed) Yes that is correct...Anything you want to add or tell us about?
..Ed) The album is available from our myspace. Thanks very much for taking the time to send us some questions, my apologies if the answers aren't exactly what you had in mind.