Interview: Ian Murphy - Section 13

SECTION 13 is a relatively new band, taking inspiration from the original wave of US Hardcore.  The band's debut release, 'A Demonstration', has been released on Boss Tuneage Records and features eight blasts of excellent HC.  Former DEPRAVED and VISIONS OF CHANGE frontman, Ian Murphy, fronts the band and this is what he had to say...

..Usual opening question: tell us when the band formed, how you all met, what inspired the formation of SECTION 13 and what your long term plans are for the band.
We got together back in May 2007. Si and Jay had been planning to get something together doing old school US Hardcore sort of stuff and they'd asked Dave to play bass, but they were looking for a singer. They asked my while I was flat on my face in Dave's tattoo studio getting my back tattooed – talk about being vulnerable! I jumped at it! To be honest, I'd been thinking about doing something myself. I wanted to capture what I'd felt when listening to / watching the original HC bands. As for long-term plans, there weren't any. We thought we'd do a few gigs for the crack but we pretty quickly got beyond that and wanted to do something more.


..Most of you have been in previous bands of note, be it GASH or, for yourself Ian, THE DEPRAVED and VISIONS OF CHANGE. What are you hoping that SECTION 13 will achieve that those previous bands didn’t?
I'm not sure that we think of it like that. We enjoyed what we did in those bands and they all ran their course in different ways. What we're doing now is for us, now. I'd like to think we're old enough to be a bit wiser about things but I know we still get caught up in the excitement of it all.


..Why did your bassist Dave leave? Why did Matt move from guitar to bass instead of recruiting a new bassist? Did Matt find the transition from guitar to bass strange?
Dave is a full-time tattooist and runs a tattoo studio. He just couldn't commit the time needed to gig outside of Leamington, which was something that we really wanted to do a lot more of. Matt has been a bassist more than he's been a guitarist so for him there was nothing strange about dropping onto bass. We did try out a couple of other people but they weren't right. As soon as we played as a 4-piece with Matt on bass, it felt right. The energy and sound were better than we'd had before.


..The band recently released its debut album, ‘A Demonstration’. Given the benefit of hindsight, is there anything you would consider changing about the record?
It's a good representation of us at the time, so I wouldn't really change that. There are things that aren't right about it but, hey, we're never gonna be perfect!


..The album is released on Boss Tuneage Records - how did you hook up with Aston? Is it just a one-off deal at the moment?
I'd been talking to Aston for some time about the DEPRAVED and VISION OF CHANGE re-releases. He got to hear the SECTION 13 stuff and really liked it. So we took it from there. We haven't planned anything more but it's been good working with Aston and Julie. We'd said it'd be great to find someone who was interested in putting out what we'd recorded and not trying to influence the recording or output and as if by magic, they appeared.


..I’d like to talk about a couple of the songs on the album, starting with ‘Newspeak’. While it states the enemy is already with us, it also states that the future is coming after you/us. Is the enemy the State (hence reference to ID Cards) – and what are your predictions for the future? Will it be worse than it is now – especially in terms of covert surveillance?
I wrote the song from the perspective of the State. The excuse that there is an 'enemy within' has been used a lot in recent times by security agencies and governments to justify actions such as the introduction of ID cards and other methods of restricting our freedoms. The chorus is my/our warning on how the future could be going. I'm not very optimistic about things, to be honest. I think that as people become more comfortable, they will accept restrictions/allow things to happen as long as they don't take away their creature comforts. I do see us heading towards a society that's even more controlled and monitored than at present.


..And ‘Trophy Wall’ – it suggests, if I read it correctly, that politicians force-feed us lies and you’d be happy to provide the means to mount their heads on a trophy wall? That correct? Noble sentiments! Explain the wider ideals behind this song.
You've got this one! I enjoy ‘Dexter’ and the idea that someone can use their psychopathic tendencies for good :) That thing of someone who's outside of the norm being the only person who can get the truth out of an MP is darkly funny. I think a lot of politicians would be improved by having their heads removed. They all end up speaking the same generic lies in order to get to a position of power anyway – they may as well be just heads with the same messages playing over and over again.


..I note on your website you have a whole bunch of downloadable USHC covers + a couple of originals not on ‘A Demonstration’. Why didn’t you include a couple of these on the album – even as a hidden bonus track?
We talked about putting one or two of the covers on but in the end we thought we'd just stick to ours. It's cool to put those songs out for people to hear without having to pay, too. The other originals weren't recorded at the time ‘A Demonstration’ was being put together, so they couldn't have been included. Maybe next time.


..I assume you play a mix of the covers live yeah? You have any plans to do like a ‘Stars on 45’ of USHC in the future?
We started off with quite a few covers but now we only do one or if people want them, two, covers. We might do a covers set at some point, which would be a real laugh, but for our usual gigs I wanna be playing our own stuff.


..We swapped a few emails, Ian, talking about the state of UK Punk at present. While Punk has always been politically vocal, it does seem that UK bands are becoming more politicised of late - you agree with that? Why do you think this is? Is it just a generation pissed off with Tony Blair and his allegiance to George Bush and the War in Iraq?
I do think there's been an upsurge in political awareness with bands being prepared to talk politics within the UK Punk scene recently. I think that mirrors what's happening in the wider community at large. This winter is going to be a real winter of discontent cos there are strikes planned over the place. The unions are trying to re-establish themselves ahead of an election, Labour is trying to show that they can do as good a job as the Tories of controlling them, while the Tories and the other further Right parties are looking at what they're going to do when the Tories get back in – recipe for an interesting winter! I think we're further on than Blair and Bush. People recognise that Blair wasn't what we thought and Brown is a walking joke. The anti-political atmosphere in this country could go one of two ways – people wanting to get a State where they are more locally in control but globally aware or turning off and leaving a void for any and all manner of extremists to get in.


..Could the renewed interest in Anarcho Punk also be attributable to this politicisation? There was Ian Glasper’s ‘The Day The Country Died’ book and DVD, Overground Records released a four-volume set of Anarcho CDs, then Steve Ignorant staged ‘Feeding Of The 5,000’. Do you think this could have influenced those who missed the original wave of Anarcho Punk, or do you think these were primarily of interest only to those who lived through them?
I think people are re-discovering all forms of 80s Punk (it's weird to be part of the nostalgia generation!) but I hope they create their own politics and work it in their own way. What happened in the 80s is, of course, of real interest to those of us who were there but I also see people at gigs who are too young to have lived through that and are obviously influenced and are trying to rebuild that DIY scene that was so strong back then.


..Talking of Ian Glasper, I believe both THE DEPRAVED and, more specifically, VISIONS OF CHANGE are featured in his latest book based on UKHC. Tell us a bit about that. Have you seen the final VOC chapter?

..Ian) The book, Trapped in a Scene, is a really good read; again maybe of greatest interest to those of us who were there but Ian does a great job of laying out what was happening. He's stuck to the format in his earlier books of having regional chapters and there's a great section on the Leamington scene that included VARUKERS, DEPRAVED, VISIONS OF CHANGE, JOYCE McKINNEY EXPERIENCE, BAD BEACH and more. There was such an active, politicised scene going on and we had some superb nights here. To get close to that again would be something.


..What are your thoughts on bands reforming after years apart? THE STUPIDS are back with us, FLUX OF PINK INDIANS, ANTHRAX (UK), NEW YORK DOLLS not to mention a host of others - including SHAM 69 and DEAD KENNEDYS without their respective singers. Cash-ins, good, bad, indifferent? Will we ever see VISIONS OF CHANGE back together at Rebellion??

..Ian) I'm not convinced but all power to those that do it. We played with SUBHUMANS recently and they were as good as ever – Dick's lost nothing. There won't be a DEPRAVED or VISIONS OF CHANGE reunion as far I can see. It's been suggested for a good few years but we're all very anti. Besides Lee's doing stuff with SNUFF and I'm with SECTION 13 so we've got current bands to work on. But maybe, if Daz offered us enough money...


..You’re in your mid-40s now Ian yeah? What differences are there between the Ian Murphy who fronted THE DEPRAVED and the Ian Murphy of SECTION 13? Does the fact that you are now married with kids have any effect on your world view?

..Ian) Jesus, what a question! I'm older, still as opinionated, but less sure of things and less in yer face about them. Being married and having kids definitely changes your view. I've done things and been through things that I look back on now and realise how much of an idiot I can be and what I stood to lose. But unfortunately, I’m not great at learning from my mistakes and I still end up in the same place; knowing that I should know much better. The main thing with having a family is that it adds another aspect to your view on things. When I was younger I saw family as something that was always there (especially me brother) but I didn’t feel that deeply about it. I’ve learnt from my wife and kids and I can now apply what I know and feel about being a family when I’m reading about/thinking about issues affecting other people – it’s not all easy theory any more. I realise that there are lots of grey areas where I used to think things were completely black and white (should I break into a Monkee’s song here!). My world view's pretty much the same, though. I still believe strongly in human and animal rights and it's good to see my kids picking up on some of the same.


..Looking back, what differences do you see between the UK Punk scene of the DEPRAVED/VISIONS OF CHANGE era and that of today?

..Ian) There was a definite feeling of community back then and a sense that something different, an alternative, was being built – that's not really there now. There are pockets of the scene where you feel that but it mostly feels more like it's an entertainment. It was also much harder to get places for gigs back then so when you got them, you tried to make the best of them. Batch Place in Leamington was a good example – it was a community venture that became a great place for independent gigs drawing plenty of people. Nowadays you only get those numbers for big bands at recognised venues. I think people are a bit spoilt. One thing's for sure, though, this is still an underground scene, despite some bigger bands crossing over to the mainstream.


..What did you do in the time between VISIONS OF CHANGE ending (early 90s?) and SECTION 13 starting? Were you involved in music? If not, what drew you back to being in a band - and especially something like SECTION 13?

..Ian) I was completely fed up with music to be honest. I was completely uninspired by the Punk stuff that I was hearing – it all seemed to be the same and bland. I know now that there were some good bands I missed out on but I just felt that the scene I loved had fizzled out. I did really miss being in a band but I couldn't see any way that would happen again. But then the guys asked me to give it a go and, as I said earlier, I jumped at it!


..I note on the recent DUNCAN REDMONDS (SNUFF) album, ‘Bubble And Squeak’, that you sing a song. How did that come about - were any other tracks recorded?

..Ian) We just did that one song. I think Dunc like the old VISIONS OF CHANGE and DEPRAVED stuff and he wanted to do a song with Lee with me singing. So Lee wrote the tune and first draft lyrics and I took it from there. The recording was a blast. Lee and Dunc had done the backing track so the three of us squeezed into this tiny studio that Dunc was using and him and Lee just pissed about for hours while we were doing it. The two of them are hard to stop once they get going! I really like the song. Me bro's a bloody good songwriter and Dunc knows how to get the best out of a tune, so it was just up to me not to fuck up the vocals (just about managed it!).


..Coming off music, you mentioned him earlier, but tell us your thoughts on Gordon Brown’s Labour Party. I thought that as he was more of a traditional Labourite than the Tory-dressed-in-Red that was Tony Blair, things may actually improve under his guidance. Given what he inherited from Blair, how do you think he has managed so far?

..Ian) I'm not convinced. I think he's a career politician like so many others. My dad was a union convener and I saw the people who made a career out of that who appeared - at first sight - to be highly principled left wingers. Maybe we expect more of people coming from the left – the same as we do bands coming from the Punk scene – but I'm really disappointed in him. I think he'll do what he thinks he has to in order to stay on but the Tories will get in and we'll be in a right mess in a year or so.


..Swine Flu – a serious disease that could become a pandemic or just a few cases blown out of proportion by a media that has too little to focus on and that knows fear sells?

..Ian) I'm not a disease specialist! Haha...  My own opinion is it's all of what you've said. It is a serious disease but it's been blown out of proportion by all parties who used to suit whatever agenda they have.


..We spoke about Leamington Spa, UK earlier. Tell us about life there. Have you ever used the town/ local references in any songs? Is the town a good place for a Punk to live? Much in the way of crime?

..Ian) It's a pretty typical middle England town, really. It's very comfortable for most people but it has a violent rep. I've not specifically referred to it yet but I have a song on the go that uses Leamington as a base. We've always had a pretty decent Punk scene in Leamington. There have always been people putting on gigs – there are four different groups of people at the moment, for instance. And it's bred some very good bands.


..If you could change just one thing about British society today, what would it be?

..Ian) Eradicate racism.


..A fun question: You are in the final of Britain’s Got Talent. Simon Cowell is there, there’s a huge TV audience watching and you get to do your act first. What would you perform and, given the opportunity, how would you sabotage the show?

..Ian) I'd have us do one of our songs – ‘Honest Man’ – cos it's about the state of our politics and have a gang of mates in the audience rush the stage and slam it. In the ensuing chaos, I'd set a fire that would start of the sprinklers and empty the venue so that none of the other acts could perform. A sub-machine gun might feature somewhere, too!  Haha!!!


..A theory states Punk is born of frustration, anger and contempt – be it at a society that should know better, cops, bigots, bullies, the mainstream… whatever. Do you think Punk can ever be born from someone totally happy with his/her place in life?

..Ian) Y'know, I really struggle with the positive side of life – and I've got a good one. I do think people who get into Punk are generally people with a bitter outlook. I get told I'm a positive person but I think that's because I try very hard to overcome the shit that's inside of me! I know I can't write positive lyrics – I keep trying, and maybe I'll get there, but it just sounds so trite when I try.


..So, what’s the next plan for SECTION 13? Any more releases coming up, tours etc etc? Would you say you are a prolific band of songwriters?  I believe Boss Tuneage is going to reissue the VISIONS OF CHANGE albums!!  Chuffed - can you tell us a bit about that?

..Ian) We've got plenty of new songs and do want to record more. That'll probably be late in 2010 now. We'll have tracks on a few comp CDs in the meantime, I think. No tours booked at the moment but we wanna get to Europe next year if at all possible. I think the guys are prolific. At one point they were coming out with a new song every practice. It's me who can't keep up – I take ages to settle on lyrics.

Yes, Boss Tuneage is looking to do both a DEPRAVED and a VISIONS OF CHANGE reissue. I don't think it'll include the last VISIONS OF CHANGE album, though, cos we all thought it was rubbish. There will be some good unheard stuff though.


..Excellent – I always thought VISIONS OF CHANGE was one of the most underrated bands of that era. Anything you want to add?

..Ian) Sorry this has taken so long! I'm out of practice at doing interviews but I have enjoyed this one, so nice one!


Section 13 

Boss Tunage Records

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