South Shields original punks, Angelic Upstarts, have been sticking it to the man for over 40 years. To mark it’s 40 year anniversary the band will be playing their ‘Teenage Warning’ album in full for the first time at Sunderland’s Independent. We caught up with guitarist Neil ‘Newts’ Newton to find out more.
We’re over the moon that you’ll be playing ‘Teenage Warning’ in full for the first time ever, what was your thinking behind this decision?
It’s to mark a 40th anniversary. Keen eyed fans will no doubt point out that the album wasn’t released until 1979, however, all of the songs on Teenage Warning had been written by 1978 so the decision to play the album in full was more to reflect the anniversary of their original conception, than the release of the actual album.
Being a band who’ve always been forward-looking, has revisiting the album felt against your natural instincts, and if so how what have you needed to do to be okay with pausing for a moment and looking back?
I don’t only happen to be the Upstart’s longest serving (I think) guitarist but I’m also a long time Upstart’s fan. I loved punk from the moment I first heard it but I didn’t understand punk until I heard the Upstarts. I grew up in South Shields, where the Upstarts are from, I knew about Liddle Towers and had seen and later experienced, hassle from the local coppers, so the Upstarts slid everything into view for me and helped instil a ‘question everything’ attitude, which is no bad trait to carry with you through life. So yeah, Teenage Warning helped shape my world view, outlook and approach to life in general not only in the past, but also in the future. Take a look at the track listing on Teenage Warning, are the songs still relevant today? I’d suggest they are.
Can we expect your show in Sunderland to be a one-off or will you be taking Teenage on the road as part of its 40-year anniversary?
The Sunderland show will be the first of a number of UK dates where we’ll be playing it in full.
Any plans for a re-issue of the album or a boxed-set with extras for the 40 year anniversary? Well, you never know, it’s not something that can be ruled in or out 😉
Looking to the future, have you been working on new material, and how’s that been progressing?
Me personally, I’d love to do another album. I’m a songwriter so it’s only natural to me to want to write songs, which I have been doing and continue to do so. I remember something Ginger Wildheart said about songwriting, that “your best tunes are always ahead of you”. A fucking good philosophy! As for if there will be another album following 2015’s ‘Bullingdon Bastards’? Well, the answer to that lies with Mr Mensforth.
Finally, what do you think of the current punk scene? Does it still provide as much inspiration to you as it did back in 79?
I believe the punk scene is still very healthy, there’s new bands and relatively new bands popping up all the time like the Barstool Preachers, Chaos 8, System of Hate, Gimp Fist, Evil Blizzard and Dirt Box Disco to name but a few. Then you have the promoters who graft hard for the scene and are invaluable for getting new bands exposure and/or building up their profile and fan base. People like Stu Taylor, Dave Hindmarsh and Jon Connor for example, all invaluable contributors to helping keep the scene vibrant and healthy.
Of course there’s still the ‘old guard’, which I think is a very unfair label to tag veteran bands with. For example, I saw the Damned in Leeds very recently and they were excellent, then you have UK Subs who consistently deliver the goods live, the Buzzcocks, SLF and, if I may be so bold, the Upstarts are none too shabby live either. Some of the original members are in their 60’s, even 70’s and while they’re writing recording, touring and performing, many in the same age group are fussing about their garden or pottering around in their greenhouse, wearing beige!
The one crucial difference between the current era and back in the day though, is that there are fewer and fewer venues to perform in. The constant attack on music venues and unprecedented numbers of closures of said venues is evidence of that. Bristol’s
Bier Keller being the latest victim of, what I believe, is a deliberate policy of planned closures by cunts in suits. Plenty money for funding opera and fucking ballet though! I reckon guerrilla gigging, pop up punk shows would be a great way to counter this, proper DIY caper and giving the finger to ‘the man’ as the Americans would say. Would love to see that take hold! Punk isn’t just genre of music, it’s an attitude or ideology and long may it continue!!
Angelic Upstarts will play The Independent in Sunderland on March 30.