Zounds – Rough Trade Records – 1981

Fear / Did He Jump / My Mummys Gone / Little Bit More / This Land

New Band / Dirty Squatters / Loads Of Noise / Target (Mr Disney – The War Goes On)

In my opinion the material on this LP is of the highest standard, the music and lyrics are still a decent listen today. Most of the browsers on the site would know of this LP, any browsers that do not are in for a treat.

The debut LP’s by The Mob, ‘Let The Tribe Increase’, Omega Tribe, ‘No Love Lost’ and The Poison Girls, ‘Chappaquiddick Bridge’ were also incredible releases that were recorded and released during this fertile two to three year period in the very early 1980’s. The above records will not be uploaded on this site for the time being though, as The Mob LP has been remastered and is due for release on Overground Records very soon. Omega Tribe and The Poison Girls, I promised Penny  when I first started off with working on this site that I would not upload any studio material from the Crass / Corpus Christi labels that may be re-released in the future. So there you go…There is some more Zounds on the site if you use the search function.

Text below courtesy of Da Wikk and the Lance Hahn (R.I.P.) interview was lifted from the Zounds website zoundsonline.co.uk

Zounds were an English anarchist band formed in 1977 from loose jamming sessions around the Reading area. Originally they were part of the cassette culture movement, releasing material on the F**k Off Records tape label, and were also involved in the squatting and free festival scene. The name of the band is derived from the old English minced oath coined by William Shakespeare: “zounds”, which is a contraction of “God’s wounds” – i.e. the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ – formerly used as a mildly blasphemous oath.


The band were formed around the nucleus of Steve Lake in Reading, Berkshire and evolved from a number of jamming sessions with other musicians and friends, taking in influences from the Velvet Underground to the Sex Pistols. The band began performing gigs in 1977/78 with a line-up of Steve Lake (Vocals/Bass), Steve Burch (Guitar) and Jimmy Lacey (Drums) adopting the name ‘Zounds’, chosen from a dictionary by Burch. Soon Burch left the group and was replaced by Joseph Lawrence. After this the band slowly became more politicized due to troubles with police and unfolding events of the cold war, and became more and more involved with free festivals, alongside The Mob who they developed a close association with.


The band met up with fellow anarchists Crass when their van broke down on the road in Epping. They made their way to nearby Dial House, where Crass were based, who helped them with repairs. The two bands became friends, and although musically very divergent, they shared many common political views. After undergoing several line-up changes Zounds shortly afterwards released their first EP, Can’t Cheat Karma, on the Crass Records label (although drummer Joseph was replaced for the recording by a session drummer) in 1981. The EP featured possibly their most well known track “Subvert”, a call to arms against the grind of daily life. The release of this EP and association with Crass led to an increase in the bands profile in the embryonic Anarcho Punk scene, touring with both Crass and the Poison Girls as well as performing several squat gigs in West Berlin.


The band released their first album The Curse of Zounds on Rough Trade Records in 1981, recording and mixing the LP within five days. The cover art, by anarchist artist Clifford Harper, featured a painting of fire fighters apparently trying to put out a blaze at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. However, the picture continued onto the back cover, which showed that in fact they are spraying the fire with petrol, thus feeding it. The band released three more singles on Rough Trade, Demystification (a psychedelia influenced track backed with “Great White Hunter”), Dancing and More Trouble Coming Every Day as well Le Vache Qui Rit (initially intended for a split EP with The Mob for an anti-draft benefit in Belgium)


The band split up in late 1982, Steve Lake disaffected with the Anarchist music scene in general and the band worn out from touring. Bass player and vocalist Steve Lake and guitarist Laurence Wood continued to work together for a while as The World Service, whilst drummer Josef Porta went on to join the The Mob and later Blyth Power.


Maximum Rock And Roll Article by the late Lance Hahn


At the ULU venue in London, Zounds are tearing through their set. Songs about squatting and alienation become anthems for the choir (as opposed to sermons) as the gig is a benefit for the defendants arrested for passing out leaflets about vegetarianism in front of a McDonald’s. The audience is an enthusiastic and mesmerized stew of squatters, punks, hippies and all the gray area in between. But this isn’t a journal entry from 20 years ago. This is 1998.
Of the many bands, anarcho and otherwise, revisiting the past recently, Zounds seem especially current. This is partly because the lyrics about the aforementioned subjects are in many ways as relevant under Blair’s England as it was under Thatcher’s. But also because of their musical status as outsiders within the underground that prevented them from ever being typecast to one particular style. Of course, that same uniqueness kept them from benefiting of the recognition and success that many of their peers did. Unlike other bands also in that situation, this reunion gig was a one off affair strictly for the greater good.

Steve, “We never reformed. We just did a couple of benefit gigs for the McLibel campaign. Dave Morris the defendant was an old friend of ours. I don’t know why but I have a particular hatred of McDonalds.”

Formed in 1977, Zounds started as a nameless “jam” band of constantly shifting personnel. The one central figure that would eventually take control of the band’s direction and give it form was Steve Lake.

His parents splitting up when he was five, what little contact he had with his Dad was characterized by jazz music.
Steve, “I was abandoned to my grandparents when I was five. My mother went to live with her family in the U.S.A. She was a dancing teacher. My dad ran a jazz club. He took me along once to see a New Orleans jazz band when I was about 6, that was probably a key experience. He introduced me to the band and it just seemed such a great thing to be in a band. But ultimately I didn’t have much contact with either of my parents.”

But he had an epiphany when he first heard the Beatles and ’60s rock-n-roll. He became interested in taking part in the creative process of popular music early on.

Steve, “I was seven years old or something and heard the Beatles on the radio and I was so overwhelmed I still haven’t come down… The Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Byrds, the Who, Tamla Motown, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash. I always liked the good stuff.”

A few years later, he began learning how to play in order have a more physical connection to the music. At 15, he met a guitar player named Terry Small who gave him the right encouragement to pick up the bass.

Steve, “He and a drummer were trying to get a three piece heavy blues band together like Cream. We got on really well and he said I could play bass in their band. He said it was easy as there were only 4 strings and they were so big you couldn’t miss them. I got a bass and the rest as they say is history.”

The desire to play overshadowed the “what” and “where” as the only things more dubious than some of the music he was playing were the venues where he would play them.

Steve, “(I learned to play the bass) when I was 16. I started playing in a rock’n’roll band, doing Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran and Presley stuff in brothels and Speedway club dances.”

Like many kids at that age in that time, he felt like he had been born too late. Being born in the ’60s or late ’50s meant you were too young for the birth of rock-n-roll. You were a bit too young for mod and a little too young for the hippies. You were truly a rebel (anti-establishmentarian) without a cause (youth culture). For many people, this was the psychic swamp that bred punk rock.

Steve, “I wanted to be a hippie but I was too young so when punk came along it just fitted in with our bohemian, anti-establishment view. I hitchhiked three hundred miles to buy Anarchy In The U.K. the day it was banned and withdrawn by E.M.I.”

Growing up in Reading, Steve eventually was drawn to what local counter-culture there was.
Steve, “I am from Reading. It was a market town with a cowboy mentality. Now it’s a bland software based shopping mall type of place. I had to come to London because it was and is the centre of many things I love and hate.”

Despite that, there was enough of a scene that Steve was able to find people to play music with. This original improvised music would be the building blocks of Zounds.

Steve, “Zounds originally evolved out of a series of jamming scenes that took place between various groups of friends of mine. First of all we were based around the Reading area, which is where I come from. Circumstances moved us to Oxford where we developed a very ‘peripheral’ lifestyle that consisted of a lot of jamming, a lot of painting and drawing, an enormous amount of dope smoking, and more than a passing interest in L.S.D. and psychedelia. None of us had jobs, we were unhealthily terrified of the police, and were unknowingly engaged in the process of transforming ourselves from happy-go-lucky, harmlessly mischievous teenagers into marginalized, paranoid wrecks who had become totally alienated from the ‘straight life’. Musically we were involved in a lot of weird free form jamming that was influenced by everything from the Velvet Underground and Can to the Grateful Dead and the Byrds.”

From these “open” sessions, a proper band eventually took shape. Taking form around Steve’s organization and songwriting, Zounds was first documented in the public eye in 1977.

Steve, “The first incarnation of Zounds must have formed and started doing gigs in 1977 or ’78. Lawrence was around then but wasn’t in the band. We didn’t meet Joseph until a couple of years after that. The idea of recording demos never crossed our mind. We were absolutely alienated from the world of record companies and mainstream ‘cultural business’. We were complete outsiders. I don’t mean in the sense of some Hollywood Rock ‘n’ Roll leather jacket version of outsider. More in the sense that we had become social cripples, barely able to function and interact with anyone outside of our particular bohemian cesspit.”

In fact, it was the guitarist that preceded Lawrence who came up with the band’s name.
Steve, “Steve Burch, our original guitarist found it in a dictionary. We always mispronounced it to rhyme with ‘sounds’. It’s an exclamation; a corruption of the phrase ‘gods wounds’ which we thought was appropriate at the time. Though I grew not to like it pretty quickly and am still not keen on it. Actually God’s Wounds would have been a better name. I could start a Zounds tribute band and call it God’s Wounds.”

Though still in a sort of psychedelic funk, the band was aware and interested in punk from more than just a sociological perspective. The result was that their first gig was supporting a local punk band.

Steve, “Yes, the first gig was as a three piece and we didn’t have the name Zounds at that point. We supported a punk band at a village rock club near Reading. At that point the line up was me on bass, Steve Burch on guitar and Jimmy Lacey on drums.

“Then we added Nick Godwin on guitar for our second gig. This was at Oxford Polytechnic supporting Australian psychedelic fruitcake Daevid Allen who had previously been in Soft Machine and Gong. We were still doing a lot of improvising and free form stuff at that point but they were really dynamite gigs, full of fire and power and energy. The Oxford Poly gig was the first time we played ‘Can’t Cheat Karma’ and Steve Burch came up with that great way of playing that riff. It was the best performance of it really. They were great gigs but you would have had to be there to get it I think. Tapes don’t do those kinds of events justice.”

While being self-described outsiders, the normal band activity of recording a demo tape was ignored. Despite not having an easy way to expose their music to promoters or booking agents, the band still managed to gig and the line-up continued to evolve.

Steve, “We just didn’t bother with demos. Despite our fragile, broken egos we were supremely arrogant and felt if the world deserved Zounds they would have to seek us out, we were not going to chase after anything. In our childish, fantasy world we regarded it as inevitable that the world would beat a path to our door. And at first things progressed in that way. Our fourth or fifth gig was reviewed in the New Musical Express, which at the time was pretty much the main voice of youth culture. It wasn’t a great review but it made us think we were on the map and recognized. It wasn’t really until we moved to London and got Lawrence in that I started to think we were going to have to make a record and somehow pursue that notion, as nobody was coming forward to offer us the chance to make a record.

“Anyway, after Steve Burch left and Lawrence joined, the band deteriorated terribly. We became directionless and plodding. It took us a lot of playing and a lot of gigs to get good again. Which we did.”

With the band’s music evolving from jam sessions and free experimentation into more conventional song structures, there had to be a new concern about the process of lyric writing and what was to be written about. In writing about his surroundings, there was much fodder for angry expression in late ’70s Britain as it’s economic and therefore political climate was a weather vane for what would become Thatcher’s England.

Steve, “Well my music and my songs have always been born out of my experience of living in and observing the world around me. As I said, we were pretty alienated from mainstream society, and consequently mainstream politics, including traditional radical left politics. But our experience was that the world of work was oppressive, tedious and destructive and offered us nothing but drudgery and boredom. We had constant hassles with the police for looking like freaks; it was becoming really difficult to find affordable places to live. We really started to understand that we had ‘no future’. At first we would not have even recognized this position as being political. But things were really hotting up in England during 1978/79. The ‘right’ were starting to exercise a lot of muscle and becoming noticeably and violently more of a presence. The National Front were gaining ground and the Conservatives were following them to the right. Ditching the old post-war consensus and preparing the way for hard Thatcherite, Corporate, market economy.

“At the same time elements of the police force were completely out of control. The S.P.G. in London, the West Midlands Crime Squad. Unemployment was rising and race relations were becoming a potent issue.

“On top of all of this we were becoming aware of the massive build up of nuclear weapons by the U.S.A and the Eastern Bloc, which led to the reactivation of C.N.D. and various environmental groups. No sensible, intelligent person could fail to see what was happening and how bad things could become. We couldn’t fail to become more politicized and see how political power was impinging on our lives.

“That is why things like Rock Against Racism and the Anti Nazi League started. We started to see ourselves as enemies of the state just because of the way we thought; we weren’t activists in any sense of the word. Yet we felt we were under attack by the forces of society. These things affected everything we did, how we lived, what we ate, who we slept with. And ultimately the songs we wrote and the way we played them.

“We were never attracted to the organized left with its infighting and dogma and rules. We were instinctively drawn towards anarchy. Not because we had much of a clue as to what it was about, but we just wanted to be left alone to pursue our own weird trip and not have people tell us what to do.”

While much of the anarcho punk movement at the start was referred to as being “hippy punk” or “peace punk”, the terms usually were meant in defining ideology and practice. But within the traveler scene that had been developing for some time, there were musical bridges being created with punk bands like Alternative Television and hippy bands like Here & Now. For Zounds, the mesh of musical ideas had more to do with the psychedelia of the ’60s rather than the acid rock of the ’70s.

Steve, “The very earliest incarnations of Zounds were really in to psychedelic San Francisco bands. We were also in to Can, the Velvet Underground, lots of weird stuff, the early Mothers of Invention. The Byrds, the Beach Boys, the Beatles… We were really into music. That was always the thing with us. I really got into Patti Smith early on, things like “Piss Factory”. The early punk stuff that was inspirational was stuff like the Fall, ATV, Patrick Fitzgerald, Buzzcocks, and American stuff like Pere Ubu and Television. But we were never trying to emulate anybody; we were trying to find ourselves through music… I think Robert Smith was also kind of marrying the weird and unusual with a pop sensibility, which I think characterizes Zounds in many ways.”

But Zounds were coming to both musical camps without prejudice to either side. While many eventually identified them as a punk band, their connection was one of camaraderie rather than of punk’s rank and file.

Steve, “We never saw ourselves as anything. But I personally felt very connected with the concerns of punk. The day Anarchy In The UK was banned and withdrawn by EMI I hitchhiked 300 miles to buy a copy. It changed everything and at last people had the courage and audacity to just get up and say, yea we are fucked up, but it’s our world too and we are going to do what we want, even if we’ve got no resources. It wasn’t unprecedented but at last people were sitting up and taking notice.

“I was never into the ramma lamma, identikit punk thrash sound that soon took over punk and was very tiresome and unimaginative. What was good about it was the scenes that started up all over. The metropolitan London glam-punk scene was nothing really. Just the usual old trendy, fashion crowd trying to get their pictures in magazines. That is the current official media history of punk; that it was all about these London trendsetters. But, there were more interesting things happening at the margins as usual. Us in Oxford, the Mob in Somerset, The Astronauts in Welwyn, The Instant Automatons in Hull… A whole load of weird, idiosyncratic bands creating their own lives and scenes and music.”
The Free Festival scene of the ’70s in England was the perfect incubator for Zounds. Drawn to the scene both by the politics and the desire to play, they found themselves entrenched in that gray area of hippies, punks and activists.
Steve, “Well Here & Now were doing Free Festivals and free gigs and seemed to be much more politicized than other bands, this of course was slightly prior to punk. There was a kind of radical hippie tradition that included Hawkwind, Gong, and The Pink Fairies centered around Ladbroke Grove. The Pink Fairies were influenced by the radical politics of The MC5 and Jerry Rubin and the Yippies. A lot of future punks lived amongst this Ladbroke Grove hippie scene. Joe Strummer lived next door to Here & Now and there were people like the Slits. Everyone was getting into Reggae at that time and there was a lot of interest in Rasta.”

As the punk scene began to grow, they became more and more involved with the Free Festivals setting up tours and carrying on the tradition with other punk bands.

Steve, “Here & Now championed the free tours and us and the Mob dug the idea and met each other through them. We carried on the free tour idea by starting the WEIRD TALES tours, Zounds the Mob and the Astronauts, and of course the legendary Jonathan Barnett who was an inspiration to us all.”

Through the free festival scene as well as Here & Now who were very involved in the regular details of those events, Zounds were introduced to the Mob, a band they would tour with and develop close ties with.

Steve, “We had met the Mob and had done a couple of tours with them and some other bands. And through them we met Joseph. We met the Mob at a thing called the Dursley Seventh Vale festival. And a guy called Jonathan Barnett put a tour together with us, The Mob, the Astronauts and the Androids of Mu. We all kind of were on the fringes of the Here & Now free music scene and were under the influence of their ex-drummer, a guy called Kiff-Kiff who was an amazing guy and went on to limited fame in England with a band called World Domination Enterprises. He and Jonathan Barnett put together this outfit called Fuck Off records, and us and the Mob put out tapes and stuff through them. We all hung out round Ladbroke Grove and Shepherds Bush. There were loads of gigs at the Acklam Hall and round West London. Then we did these mad free tours. During which we met Crass and Zounds dwindled to just Lawrence and myself.”

As much as with Crass, Zounds would forever be linked with the Mob from then on.
Steve, “I think we met in 1978. We toured with them, lived in houses and buses with them, had the same drug dealers and slept with the same people. Despite that we were never really close.”

Another band at the time were the Astronauts. More closely merging the musical ideas of punk and hippy, the band still maintains a bit of a folk edge mixed with anarchist politics.

Steve, “The Astronauts were a weird band who had a very punk sensibility but didn’t play punk music as such. They still do a lot of do-it-yourself/fanzine type gigs. I sometimes play on the same bill as them at the more alternative venues we do. Us and the Mob were always big fans of the Astronauts and they were the other main band on that scene. A lot of the other bands were kind of noise terrorists, like the 012 who later became World Domination Enterprises. Yea all those early tapes were on Fuck Off records or one of its illegitimate offspring.”

An engine breakdown on the last free tour led them to their first meeting with Crass. While operating separately in the same small ideological and physical space, the two groups had never met despite similar ideas and practices.
Steve, “While on tour we kept playing places where Crass had just played or were about to play. And people kept saying we should meet them because they detected some sort of similarity in something.

“So we were playing near their house and we thought we would just visit them. But our bus broke down and we walked to their house across this weird submarine tracking station and they entertained us, we got on like a church on fire and they came and fixed our bus. They liked us, though I think they saw us as quite naive, naughty children who had their hearts in the right place.”

Whether or not that was the case, the meeting had a huge impact on Steve and Zounds. Crass deeply impressed him as people and how they lived. It ultimately would give Zounds a direction that had previously been missing in lieu of the comparatively casual path they had been organically following.

Steve, “Well I was tremendously impressed by all the people in Crass. They were really funny, very intelligent and had very powerful personalities. I admired their analysis and commitment and knowledge. But generally I remember just going round to their place and chatting about stuff and having a laugh. I liked them a lot, and am very fond of my memories of them.”

That night ended with discussion of possible future projects together. While mostly talk, it left Steve and Lawrence with the idea that they would record a demo tape to send Crass. But by the end of the tour, they as well as the Mob were somewhat defeated by the grind of maintaining that type of idealistic free tour.

Steve, “Apart from meeting Crass that last ‘Weird Tales’ tour had been grueling. The Mob split back to Somerset and Zounds lost a guitar player (Nick Godwin) and decided to chuck out the drummer. After we did the demo we asked Joseph to join, he had followed the Mob up to London but didn’t follow them back. Joseph had been playing in a mod band at the time but we liked him and knew he was committed to playing music. He sort of looked like a punk too, which Lawrence and I didn’t. Anyway Crass liked our demo and asked us to do the record on their label.”

Joseph, “I joined just after they met Crass, and were presumably streamlining the band accordingly. I was drumming with a band called The Entire Cosmos, which featured members of Here & Now’s road crew, and we did some of the Weird Tales gigs.”

With this new lineup, condensed to a three piece, the side of the band that lent itself to open-ended jams fell to the wayside and the more song-oriented material became the make-up of the band’s set. While in some ways it was turning the band into something new, it was also working on material more suited to the new lineup

Joseph, “I moved to London to play music. I’d been drumming for Attitudes for about a year when Zounds asked me to join… All the jamming stuff ended then. It was pretty much down to short sharp songs, a lot of which were never recorded.”

At this stage, the band was living in the squatted area of Brougham Road. The block of squats would become home to them and eventually the Mob. But like many of these situations, it had a self-determined time limit.

Steve, “Zounds lived in Brougham Rd which was a squatted scene peopled by old anarchists. They started to move out so we moved the Mob in and soon after came hoards of teenage runaways and the whole thing deteriorated as these things always do. It was really no different to all the scenes all over the country/world.”

With a new set of material worked out, the band met with Crass in the summer of 1980 to record their first single. Spending time with them out on their farm became an eye opening experience for Joseph who was still developing his own political ideas.

Joseph, “I had no intellectual concept of anarchism when I joined Zounds. I had a vague awareness of a lot of slogans, and a great fondness for cannabis resin. Steve on the other hand, while endorsing the latter, had a better grasp of the former. I didn’t care. I just wanted to be in a band.”

Oddly enough, it was the discipline of Crass’ anarchism that made an impact on Steve.
Steve, “We were in a different scene entirely. Much more untogether. We were all a quite a bit younger than most of Crass. Us and the Mob, the Astronauts, the Androids of Mu, Here & Now, the Fuck Off Records crew, Grant Showbiz (who went on to produce the Fall and Billy Bragg and work for the Smiths). There were gigs on the Portobello Road, Ladbroke Grove. A lot of free festivals (which is another huge story in itself). Crass and Poison Girls were quite insular and very much in control of their scene.”

The recording process became as much Crass’ project as Zounds’. Their control over the production work on the record extended to having a session musician brought in to play Joseph’s parts!

Joseph, “Simple. I wasn’t any good. While I was with Attitudes, they kept my drumming disciplined, but once free of that, and into the more laid-back atmosphere of Zounds, I regressed into a clattering nuisance. Penny, who cared passionately about production, didn’t want to release a record with out of time drums on it. He was right.”

Years later, Joseph is surprisingly ambivalent about his replacement on their debut record.
Joseph, “None at all. It’s one less gruesome skeleton in my cupboard.”

For their first proper recording session, the band was in for an odd experience.
Steve, “It was a bit weird. We did it at Southern Studios, which was owned by Crass’ business manager John Loder. At that time the studio was in his house and the control room was in the garage.

“Was there any pressure internally or externally to conform to a sound or style of Crass? They chose the songs from our repertoire. We played it and Penny and John did all the recorded and produced it. To some extent they directed the performances, particularly my vocals. Crass the band, and the Crass label were both Penny’s babies really. He was the man with the vision. They made us use a session drummer who played Joseph’s part. That was difficult to take as authenticity is quite important to me. After the recording they mixed it without us there and brought it to us for approval.”
The resulting record was “You Can’t Cheat Karma”. Released in early 1980, the three song EP starts with the mantra-like drone of “War”. It’s repetitious bass and guitar riff are more reminiscent of the first Modern Lovers record the UK punk. Like “Pablo Picasso”, the song becomes hypnotic and the list of war torn countries becomes a rhythm of it’s own.
This song leads directly into what could be the bands most known track, “Subvert”. Upbeat but with a very clever guitar part for a verse, the song is a cross between the Minutemen and “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” by the Cure. Lyrically, it’s a shopping list of small daily acts of subversion.



If you’ve got a job
You can be an agent
If you work in a kitchen
You can redistribute food
If you are a policeman
Ordered to arrest me
You don’t have to do it
You can refuse


The title track was probably the most unique song of the bunch. With a sing-song vocal pattern, the monotone vocals make for a twisted children’s song about ennui and paranoia.


But I just don’t know what I can do
You don’t trust me and I don’t trust you
I bet you wish you did
Cos I know I do
Why have you got secrets?
Well, I know you have
If you’ve got something to hide
Then it must be bad


The layout for the record was a simple black and white (like most of the Crass releases) with typewritten text and inked images including a fold out poster.
Steve, “Crass were a band who wanted things done a certain way. They had a vision and they were not into compromise. Which is not to say they were unreasonable, but if you wanted to work with them then obviously it was on their terms. Nobody forced us, or anyone else to do it. And anyway we liked them and dug what they were doing. We were happy to be associated with them. So they designed the cover, wrote the blurb and we wrote the songs and played them. Lets face it the main reason it sold so many was because of the association with them. If it had just come out anonymously maybe it would never have been heard.

“Ironically I think that Crass were an early example of what is now very fashionable and significant in western culture. And that is the whole total corporate identity. They were one of the first to have that sense of ‘total image’.”
With the release of their first record on the label run by one of Britain’s premier punk rock bands of the time, Zounds found themselves playing out to a much more enthusiastic crowd newly made aware of the band by the one single. The band also began connecting more with the young anarcho punk scene by playing gigs with Crass. The cross pollination would continue with the Mob eventually recording for Crass as well.

Steve, “After the record came out on Crass we did some gigs with them. They were great live. Especially when they had all the video monitors and banners and stuff. But actually it was more like a cross between some dubious political rally and a dark Brechtian theatre. Much better than on record.

“But our scene was less earnest and less developed. People coming to our gigs were kind of more bohemian than a lot of Crass’ audience. Other squatters and hippiefied punks. When we got our record out it expanded the audience, and outside of London there was a lot more working class kids who lived with their parents coming to the gigs.”
Joseph, “We didn’t see them often, but they were always very friendly. I was too young really to understand most of what was going on then though, and probably too stoned as well to take it in.”

While always a bit cautious, Zounds found themselves apart from the traveler / hippy scene that they came from and in the middle of the anarcho punk scene. As is well documented, attempts at merging the two scenes had mixed results.
Joseph, “We almost played Stonehenge in about 1980 or 1981. We were just getting onstage when Bikers took over the generator, and decided to ban Punks from the stage. That was crap – that was the reality of Anarchy in the UK. Stonehenge was just about taking lots of drugs. That’s the only reason most people went there.”

But even in their new scene, Zounds found themselves in a scene at times more anarchist by propaganda then by deed.
Steve, “Ironically there was a very strict hierarchy in the Crass camp that was acknowledged but accepted. Crass at the top, Poison Girls were their second in command and Zounds, Flux and the Mob were favored subjects. But in all honesty that was about right because Crass were phenomenally popular far beyond the Anarcho scene. Their significance has never been fully realized to my way of thinking.

“Outside of the Crass thing when we were gigging a lot with the Mob their was a lot of sharing and co-operation and working together. But I think there were definitely less benign forces at work below the surface. There were definitely jealousies and petty backstabbing going on. But I prefer to remember the good things, though that can be difficult sometimes.”

The band continued to exist mainly as a live act. Tours with Crass and the Poison Girls made them take more concern about their actual performance and the result was some of their best gigs.

Steve, “The Acklam hall in Portobello Road was a legendary gig and Zounds and the Mob and the Astronauts did loads of free gigs their. That was where we really got it together as bands.

A short tour with Crass and Poison girls and Zounds in 1980 really inspired me. I realized we were just fucking about until then. It really made me think a lot more about how we should be on stage. Zounds always loved playing in Holland and Belgium most though and the best was playing in 1981 in Berlin in the heart of the anarchist/squatting quarter called Kreuzberg They were brilliant gigs, fantastic audiences and we were really happening on stage at that point.”

With the one off single with Crass helping to establish the band nationally, they struck a deal with Crass’ old label at Rough Trade. This relationship would last the band through most of its recording career.

Steve, “Geoff Travis made all the decisions about who was signed and what was released. They tried to run all other aspects of the company like a workers co-operative. Which led to all the usual decision making problems most workers co-ops seem blighted with. Plus the banks wouldn’t deal with them in the way they would with a ‘normal’ client. Which led to cash flow problems. Geoff was an absolutely beautiful guy who I still admire and respect very much. I used to get a bit intimidated by the others though. Even the warehouse staff seemed far more trendy than us and use to regard us with something like disdain.”

Despite a lot of speculation about the Crass record being recorded afterwards (“I think when I was putting the cover art together I was so stoned I put the wrong year on it,” Steve), Zounds then went into the studio to record their one and only full length LP. “The Curse Of Zounds” was recorded and mixed in five days, which, oddly enough, sets it apart from the Crass style of recording that often would go on for months.

These time limitations forced the band to work intensely on the recording. Despite the contrast in recording styles from that with the Crass camp, the band remained thrilled with the process.

Steve, “Weird but very exciting. We were pretty out of it most of the time but we worked pretty hard on it.”
Their one and only studio LP turned out to be a classic unlike anything else at the time. An incredibly dense and claustrophobic record, it captured the paranoia of the post-hippy counterculture and feeling of outsider status and it’s personal affect on the human psyche. Songs like “Did He Jump” reinforced the specific nature of society’s reflected paranoia. It startles in its poignancy amidst the superficiality of most “punk” from that time.



Who was that on the window ledge
Did he jump or was he pushed
He left a note which no one read
In desperate hand the note just said
Didn’t turn my back on society
Society turned its back on me
I never tried once to drop out
I just couldn’t get in from the very start


“Dirty Squatters”, which was one of the more direct anthems on the record, was also one of the first direct acknowledgements of that scene and it’s connection with the underground.


Some dirty squatters moved into my street
With their non-sexist haircuts and their dirty feet
Their dogs and cats, political elite
They may have beds but they don’t use sheets
Furnishing their houses from the contents of skips
Things that decent people put on rubbish tips
They look quite harmless sitting out in the sun
But I wouldn’t let my daughter marry one


Steve, “Well paranoid is definitely a word that rings true with me, I think I have always been a paranoid person, and I don’t mean that metaphorically. I think I really do have clinical paranoia. For example I never fly (which means I will probably never return to the USA even though most of my family live there). I almost always avoid going in lifts, I hate the underground (subway) and many other things of that nature. I have always been terribly fearful of the police, though I have never really been involved in anything illegal. I am also something of a hypochondriac and worry like mad when my kids come home late. So in many ways it is no wonder that this tends to surface in my music.
“Claustrophobic is a great word to describe the album. And that’s the way I felt at the time. I think that is why I responded so well to going to Berlin. The way it was this small island surrounded and walled in by an ‘alien regime’. I still have tremendous nostalgia for the cold war. I know Joseph does to. It’s not because I think the cold war was good, but because it echoes my state of mind. When we did the album I felt we were existing in our own little world, closed in and only in contact with similar scenes dotted randomly around Europe. I hated it when we were thrust into contact with the wider world. Everything seemed hostile to me. Not just the big global things like nuclear war, government corruption, corporate greed and media brainwashing, but even the everyday world of supermarkets, family life, little Hitler bosses, aggressive and insensitive teachers.

“I think that really comes through in the writing on ‘Curse Of Zounds’. The way in something like ‘This Land’ I try to take the narrative from the big global issues of ecology, pollution and environmental breakdown to the very personal, microcosmic, local world of the streets in which we walk and live.

“‘My Mummy’s Gone’ is similar in that it is about the anguish and fiction of monogamous, nuclear family life expressed through a very personal experience.

“‘Target’ wasn’t just a tirade against nuclear war, but about the effect of the nuclear build up on people who had to live near the bases. It was a very significant feature of Zounds songs that the so-called political issues and social landscape was always related to the everyday ways in which we lived. I think that’s the attraction for many people of Zounds, that it is not just sloganeering, but is born out of the frustration and powerlessness we actually felt (and still feel) everyday, and how that affects our personal behavior and personal relationships. I love the songs of American folk singer Woody Guthrie for much the same reason. Though of course I would never compare my own limited talents to his inspired genius. As Leonard Cohen said of Hank Williams, “he’s 100 floors above me in the tower of song”. Probably thousands of floors actually.”

Released in 1981, the record was like a film noir that starts off with unease and paranoia and ends with a collapsing world much worse and larger than first imagined. It was perfect that it would start with “Fear” and end with a revamping of “War”.

Steve, “Yes, we wanted it to be cohesive. We tried recording it in the order we wanted the tracks to appear, which is what happened with one or two slight changes. It had to start with ‘Fear’ as it set the whole context for the rest of the album. As you pointed out it is the worldview of someone blighted by paranoia, and the rest of the songs are very from the perspective of someone scared shitless by everything. It ends with ‘Target/Mr. Disney’ and a snatch of ‘War’ (re-titled ‘The War Goes On’). Because what ever was going on was existing in the shadow of the impending Nuclear threat and U.S. cultural and military imperialism, in particular the positioning of cruise missiles in the English countryside. At the time this was of massive significance in Europe and we all felt very close to the issue. Many people believed that we were heading for a nuclear catastrophe and so it was very much an overriding concern at the time. Ending the album with the reprise of ‘War’ and letting it fade out in full flight was just to emphasize that war was not just an historical fact but an ongoing aspect of the human condition and that we shouldn’t forget that and needed to do something about it fast. The revised title refers to a song Scottish folk singer Donovan used to play called ‘The War Drags On’, I don’t know if he wrote it but I liked it a lot. It might be a Tim Harding song, I’d like to find out actually.”

Perfectly suited was the cover art by Clifford Harper. Known for his anarchist oriented woodcuts, Harper’s artwork both captured the urgency of the times as well as playfulness with the wrap around cover being utilized for comedic purposes.
Steve, “Love it. Love the joke and I have always been keen on comics so it was just right. Cliff had originally done it for a cover of a magazine called ‘Anarchy’ and redrew it for us. He did it during the fireman’s strike of the late 1970’s. We thought fireman were heroic in that they did a dangerous and selfless job and were drawn from well-intentioned working class people. I think he ripped off the concept from a cartoon in the right wing London newspaper the Evening Standard. Lawrence and I helped publish a book of Cliff’s work and biography called ‘The Education of Desire’ which I still think is one of the best things I’ve been involved with.”

In the process of recording the record, the band involved themselves with Adam Kidron who was given production credits although his job was more a glorified engineer.

Steve, “We had a guy engineering called Adam Kidron, he was the millionaire son and heir of the Socialist publisher who owned Pluto Press. He was really funny and we were very naive and impressed by him. He talked us in to giving him producer royalties when we didn’t even know what royalties were and we thought we were producing the album ourselves. We recorded the album in the order we wanted the tracks on the final album, though we did revise the order slightly. I thought it was really important that it was a coherent record where the track order had some sort of internal logic. Adam hated guitars so we ended up with a far less powerful guitar sound than we would have liked. We were a guitar band after all.”

With Rough Trade behind the record, publicity and reviews were prevalent including a full color poster campaign in London.

Steve, “It got some good reviews and some not so good ones, but it didn’t get us known much beyond the anarcho scene.”
The band did their part by playing live as much as possible though they quickly went from proper channels to DIY methods.

Steve, “We just tried to play all the time. Rough Trade’s agents booked us some gigs but they were all wrong for us so we just got fans and likeminded individuals to book gigs at community centers and such places. We hated getting involved with music biz types and promoters and agents and the rest of the hangers on.”
Yet, by the time the record was released, the band had grown sour on it. Their concerns about the mix, they felt, were confirmed with the final product.

Steve, “We thought it sounded great when we did it, but as soon as it came out we went off it I think. We thought the guitars weren’t big enough and it was all a bit lightweight. When we first met Geoff at Rough Trade Joseph told him we wanted to sound like the Dead Kennedy’s and I think we would have been happier with that sort of powerful sound. In retrospect though I think it is probably better the way it is. But I’m speaking as someone who feels they have heard enough rock guitar to last several lifetimes. That’s why I no longer have a guitar in my band.”

Just prior to the LPs release, Rough Trade issued the “Demystification / Great White Hunter” single, recorded at the same time as “Curse Of Zounds”. At the time, they described the record themselves as “Velvet Underground meet white liberal guilt”.

Steve, “I can’t remember whether it was Joseph or I that came up with that, but we would both have shared that point of view. We were nothing if not self aware and self-critical. A lot of my songs tended to be about striving and failing and not making it, not being brave enough, not being able to live up to ones own expectations.”
Though recorded at the tail end of the session that produced the full length, the band insisted that the tracks from the single not be on the LP.

Steve, “We recorded ‘Demystification’ and ‘Great White Hunter’ at the end of the album sessions, by which time I think we were starting to get the hang of it. I would have liked to have started the whole thing again at that point. We never wanted the single on the album. Partly because of my slavish devotion to rock n roll folklore. When I was a kid the Beatles and Stones and such groups never put singles on albums. We associated it with the rip off tactics of the music biz. Selling the same thing twice. I always thought singles were cool and something different from albums. I don’t know why it came out before the album. Probably something to do with Rough Trade’s clever strategic marketing policy, which also remained a mystery to us.”

As strong as anything on the LP, ‘Demystification’ in this context does stand out as a single. Almost reminiscent of an even more depressed ‘She’s Lost Control” era Joy Division, the record is quick paced with an effectively memorable chorus. The b-side, which they described as a “hot dance number”, took advantage of the rhythm heavy mix using it to sparse advantage. If anything, it was more reminiscent of Quine era Lou Reed than the Velvets. In some ways, it was the band’s most accessible record. But that wasn’t necessarily a plus when coming from a scene that mostly drew hardcore punks. Joseph, “(the anarcho’s reaction was) blank incomprehension.”

The record cover wasn’t your typical anarcho fair either instead using a black and white photo staged to convey the song’s idea rather than constructed, message oriented collages.

Steve, “Lawrence is very visually oriented and the concept was his. Just the idea that we are all ‘mystified’ and can’t see what is really going on in the world. So everyone is blindfolded except for the central figure who is tearing off their blindfold and has a look of horror at the harsh reality of life. We trooped off down to Kings Cross Station with a friend of ours called Googy Pete who was to be the Demystified star. We stood him on some sort of plinth and took the shot. When Lawrence did the artwork painting the blindfolds on to the crowd it became apparent that Pete didn’t have the right expression on his face. But in the corner of one of the shots was me making the right sort of face in an effort to will Pete to do it right. So Lawrence got busy with the paste and scissors and put my head on Pete’s body. A situation neither of us would have liked in real life.”

While a greatly underrated record, the songs still stand the test of time especially well.
Steve, “Well there was no peak for me. We never made a record I was really happy with. Our live gigs in Berlin were the experience that has stayed with me more than anything else from the Zounds period. My favorite Zounds record is ‘Demystification’.”

1982 started with the band still gigging and touring on the continent not knowing that it would be their final year as a band. The touring motivated the band as well as eventually, like so often is the case, burned them out.

Joseph, “It was fun most of the time. Playing in Holland allowed us to binge out without fear of arrest, which was pleasant. Low points must include a tour of the UK in which the only cassette in the van was the first UB40 album.”

The year also started with the release of their third single. ‘Dancing / True Love’ marked the first use of outside instruments on a Zounds record with the addition of keyboards. On ‘Dancing’, it introduces a Brechtian circus bounce that would make Kurt Weil proud.

Steve, “Well I wrote Dancing on a friend’s keyboard. It wasn’t even meant to be a Zounds song. Jonathan Barnett from Fuck Off Records asked me to do a solo thing for a tape he was putting out called “Folk In Hell”, which I’m told is quite sought after now.

“When Lawrence and Joseph heard it they wanted to do it with Zounds and thought it would be a good single. When we played it live though it was very different. More like a kind of Neil Young and Crazy Horse tune. When Geoff Travis of Rough Trade heard us play it at a gig he was keen for us to do it as a single. We got Brian Pugsley, a friend of ours who lived in our house in Brougham Road, to play keyboards on it. We were keen to develop our musical ideas so we approached it completely differently and got him playing all that nice piano. As he was in the studio with us we thought he might as well play on ‘True Love’ as well. I have to say Joseph was completely against the whole thing. He was much more of a purist punk than us. We could have carried on churning out 300 mph guitar stuff like ‘Subvert’, but we were more adventurous than that. I’m not saying we were adventurous in the way Can or Faust were, but we didn’t want to be an identikit punk band. ‘Dancing’ is a very dramatic song and we wanted to conjure up that dramatic, dark, nightmarish and sad world of living in a fascist state. We wanted it to be Teutonic with a whiff of Berlin Cabaret about it.”

‘True Love’ on the other hand was an upbeat track with enough detached irony to find its place welding Gang Of Four’s ‘Anthrax’ to any of the Buzzcocks’ singles going steady. The song was as much a critique of the process as it was a reflection of the protagonist’s predicament.

Steve, “As with most of these things it was a bit of both. It was a difficult time because we were all intellectually against sexual jealousy and possessiveness, but emotionally we were not very good at handling it. So while there was a lot of sexual freedom and experimentation going on, people were getting very fucked up about it. This coincided with my girlfriend getting pregnant and me having to face up to the fact that I was going to be responsible for another life. I wasn’t really mature enough to handle it, and in fact I am still not, and I’ve got three kids now.”

The recording, especially on ‘Dancing’ was especially creative. The openness of that song and its minimal percussion can directly be linked to some of the dub ideas brought in by producer Mikey Dread. Known for his work with the Clash on ‘Sandinista’ as well as his work as a DJ in Jamaica, what on the outset seemed like an odd choice for a producer worked to the record’s advantage at least in the mixing stage.

Steve, “It was bizarre because it was going to be produced by Mickey Dread, a Jamaican DJ who was quite well known at the time and worked a lot with the Clash. He hardly ever turned up and when he did he spent the whole time on the phone. I didn’t know that many Jamaicans at the time and I don’t think I ever understood a word he said. His accent was so strong. We wanted to build up the drum track by laying one drum at a time so it didn’t sound like traditional kit playing. Joseph despised this approach and walked out before we even got to doing “True Love”. In the end the drums on “True Love” were played by a guy called Tim who at the time was playing drums for the Mob, he was Mark’s sister’s boyfriend. He just came down the studio to check it out and ended up playing on it. It was an incestuous little scene at times. I wasn’t there for the mix. My girlfriend’s pregnancy meant she was under a lot of pressure from her parents to get married. So I did the decent thing any working class boy with my upbringing would do and ended up getting married on the day we mixed “True Love”. No wonder I was writing an anti-love song. I don’t think Joseph ever got it, it was supposed to be an anti-love song that sounded like a conventional poppy love song.”

Not having played on half of the record, Joseph still involved himself with the cover art drawing of a scene somewhere between a ball and a battle.

Steve, “That was great. Joseph drew it. I love Joseph’s drawing. I don’t know if he did it especially for the cover or whether I just saw it and thought it was great and really appropriate. We use to give out these posters that Lawrence and I made up by cutting up loads of covers and sticking them back together like a big collage. I ended up with thousands of the posters and I tried to get my kids to use the back of them as drawing paper. The trouble was my kids were frightened of the picture and wouldn’t use them. In the end I threw them all away.”

The follow up single would be their last for Rough Trade. ‘More Trouble Coming Every Day / Knife” came out that summer and Joseph calls it his favorite “by a mile”.

Oddly enough, this record represents the only documentation of the five-piece lineup Keeping Brian on as keyboardist, they decided to also keep Tim on as bassist with Joseph back on drum duties. But the mood was already sour.

Steve, “Deteriorating. In an attempt to save the band Joseph suggested we get Tim in to play bass and I move on to guitar. So we did that and Tim was promptly sacked by the Mob for being in both bands. And then they asked Joseph to drum for them, it didn’t seem to matter that he was now in both bands. Tim was a great drummer though, really powerful, not to take anything away from Joseph but Tim was a virtuoso musician who was great on loads of instruments. He was not only better than Joseph on drums but he was better than me on bass and better than Lawrence on guitar. He did that one record with us and a couple of tours and then we split up. I never really considered him part of the band. He was just along for the ride. Zounds was just me and Lawrence and Joseph.”

‘More Trouble’ was a great juxtaposition of anguished lyrics with upbeat, pop music. The infectious, tune mixed with the brood was a great mixture that was more reminiscent of the old New York punk scene especially Television or the Talking Heads. The coarse rhythmic structure and almost funk bass part of ‘Knife’ put that song way ahead of it’s time preceding certain musical ideas utilized later and across the ocean by the Minutemen on ‘Double Nickels’.

Steve, “Well we got Brian to play keyboards on it again and it made it a lot lighter than the way we played it live. I liked the 60’s pop feel of it. It’s a bit of a clichéd chord sequence based on quite a common 4-chord turn-around. We probably did think it was commercial, but we didn’t concoct it to be. It was just teenage angst really. I wrote it because I loved the phrase ‘more trouble coming everyday’. The line ‘the smell of burning…etc’ refers to the riots that were going on in England’s major cities at the time. More knowledgeable listeners would know immediately that I ripped off the title from a Frank Zappa song, which I think is on Freak Out, his first album.”

Again, Joseph supplied the cover art.
Steve, “Joseph drew the cover to “More Trouble” as well. I thought it really complemented the song, a scruffy bored teenager. The P.R. people at Rough Trade hated it. Joseph really should have stuck with the drawing; he’s good.”
By October of that year, the band was just about done. With one last tour of Europe, the band released a final record that had all the signs of a band split. A mish mash of different recordings, the record seems like a last effort to collect some remaining songs.

Steve, “‘La Vache Qui Rit’. By the time that came out I had pretty much lost interest in Zounds. It is undoubtedly our worse record, I wish in some ways it had never come out. Its genesis and history is actually more interesting than the record itself.
“It was put out by a very, very good friend of mine who is a beautiful guy and still a close friend. Originally it was supposed to be a double release with us on one side and The Mob on the other, and it was supposed to be a benefit record for a draft resistance campaign in Belgium (my favorite country by the way). The Mob was going to do a version of “No Doves Fly Here” in French. That would have been good; Mark always had a lot of style for a farm boy. (In fact as I perform a lot of songs in French myself now I have considered covering it that way).

“Anyway the Mob never got it together and I don’t know what ever happened to the draft resistance angle. We went ahead and did it anyway.”

‘Biafra’ starts the record off on a promising note. Its upbeat and catchy tune again, is undermined perfectly by a much more sordid lyrical tale. It could have been seen as advancement on the idea that sparked ‘More Trouble’.

Steve, “No, sadly the band had lost all direction at that time. We always had a bit of a pop sensibility. It was a fun song to play but I don’t think it was so much fun to listen to. It was basically the riff from the Elvis Presley record ‘His Latest Flame’ married to my synopsis of a short story by one of my favorite authors Kurt Vonnegut.”

‘Not Me’ follows with a relentless riff that is reminiscent of the opening Coltrane-derived sequence on the Byrds’ ‘Eight Miles High’. The noise could easily also be equated with a ‘White Light, White Heat’ outtake.

Steve, “Yes that is an interesting observation. The riff was one of Lawrence’s and I just put lyrics to it. I had never noticed the similarity to “Eight Miles High” before but I see what you mean. “Eight Miles High” is one of my favorite records and the Byrds are still one of the groups I listen to. I was really in to 1960’s psychedelia, in all its forms. A lot of people involved in Punk were into that. When Caroline Coon (ex manager of the Clash and founder of Release) said Punk was the hippie’s revenge I don’t think she was far from the truth.”

The flipside of the record features an updated version of ‘Fear’ and an old track called ‘Wolves’ both recorded live.
Steve, “It wasn’t planned. On our final European tour someone recorded the gig in Leiden in Holland. And the guy who was putting the record out asked if he could put two live tracks on and make it an E.P. We just said do what you want. So he did. I was really ill at that point. Just exhausted by everything. We were cold all the time. We were staying in squats with no water and inhabited largely by speed freaks who never slept. The van kept breaking down. The whole Zounds/Mob scene was riven by petty jealousies, conspiracies and bad blood. I had just about had enough of it all. The song ‘Wolves’ on that EP was a really old song we had done before Joseph was in the band. Tim who played bass with us on that last tour and persuaded us to play it. God knows why. I was past caring.”

In that kind of atmosphere, it was obvious to all parties involved that there was little remaining interest in the band internally. Burned out by the grind of touring in harsh conditions was becoming a drag. The high points of touring at that stage were equaled by the lows.

Joseph, “Cheap and Nasty, from Leiden in Holland were pretty unforgettable. The Androids of Mu were friends – I think – of Here And Now. I know their drummer, Susie, was one of Here & NOW’s singers at one point. We also toured with Theatre of Hate, which was pretty awful…”

Steve, “On that final tour of Europe. Lawrence just said to me one day that he thought it was all a bit of a drag and he and I should do something else that was musically a bit more adventurous and a bit more fulfilling than churning out “Subvert” for ever more to people who really didn’t want to hear anything different. Anarchists can be a conservative lot I’ve discovered. Flux Of Pink Indians had the same problem. I went along with Lawrence and when we got back we spoke to Joseph and it was clear he didn’t want to do the same kinds of things as us and was much happier playing with his old mates from the Mob.”

Steve’s growing disaffection with the anarcho scene or any of Zounds’ audience for that matter was also a heavy factor.
Joseph, “Basically, Steve’s measured and intelligent approach to anarchism, and life in general, was lost on the anarchos, who didn’t understand Zounds at all. I think Steve got fed up with that. My involvement with The Mob was turning me into a bit of a prat as well, and in the end I think we were all relieved when he decided to call it a day.”

Steve, “I seemed to be getting older and the audience seemed to be getting younger. The whole Zounds trip had been so exciting and brilliant for me in the beginning but it was becoming a dull routine, and very unpleasant. We never had any money, my girlfriend was having a baby and I was musically very unsatisfied. I always liked loads of music, pop, country, psychedelia, Krautrock, just loads of stuff. The thing about the punk scene in the beginning was that it had been really open and fresh and interesting. But it had become stagnant and formalized and predictable. I had to move on in my life.”
The band finally just ceased one day at the end of 1982.

Steve, “We were supposed to go to a gig in Colchester and none of us could raise the enthusiasm to actually go. We phoned them up and said the band had split up and we were not coming. Our name is still mud in Colchester. There was a bit of a falling out with Joseph after that, but it all got sorted out and I have nothing but respect and admiration for him and loads of fond memories of the times we had together. We still do the occasional gig together, in fact the last time we were on the same bill I sang “Dancing” with Blyth Power, which was great.”

By 1983, the band was completely done. As a last release, Rough Trade encouraged them to license some songs for an Italian only singles collection. Base Records released the LP using much of the same dubious practices they’ve used for years with punk and jazz records.

Steve, “Just after we split. Rough Trade suggested we do it and they arranged the licensing. Joseph refused to have anything to do with it, which is why he is absent from the cover. It was supposed to be limited to 1500 copies, though I know a couple of distributors that took as many as 4000 each. They do things differently in Italy. It goes without saying that we saw no money from it.”

At the same time, Steve and Lawrence had started a new band called The World Service. Something of a continuation of Zounds, the band was quick to record for Rough Trade.

Steve, “It was the name of a band that Lawrence and I formed with original Zounds member Nick Godwin. This was immediately after Zounds split up. We released one record called “Celebration Town” on Rough Trade. The B-side of that record was fantastic actually, it was called “Turn Out The Lights” and would probably been the next Zounds single if we had continued.”

But that band soon collapsed leaving Steve on his own. Before the end of the decade he had put out two solo records as well as numerous compilation and live appearances. It wasn’t until the ’90s that Steve played music in a band again, this time with a group called the Relatives.

Steve, “That was a band I was in in the 1990s. It started off as a drab anonymous indie band but after a while we went acoustic and became England’s greatest ever country band. We had Eric Mingus (son of jazz legend Charles) on bass for a while. A very beautiful guy.”

When that band ended, Steve went back to being a solo artist though his coming to terms with his musical frustration did allow for him to want to do the reunion gigs in ’98.

Steve, “I’ve always been artistically unsatisfied. Though what I am doing now is finally getting close to what I want to do. For years I found Zounds cringing-ly embarrassing, but I have come to terms with it more now.”
While a remaining benefit single for the McLibel campaign is still in the works as well as a possible live record, there’s no looking back or nostalgia with Zounds.

Steve, “No. That is it. It would not be possible. I am a different person. I’ve learnt to love Zounds but I can never go there again, it just fucks it up.”

“…Mind you our life was like a 24-hour art workshop. When we were not playing we were painting, writing, clay modeling, making ecologically unsound plastic structures that we would set fire to and pollute our lungs, brains and living environments. People would come round to our house in Oxford and be amazed that every bit of space was covered in paint, paper, clay and musical instruments. It was such a groovy scene. Our life was our art, but we would never have seen it like that at the time.

“…Well in a lot of ways it was the most exciting time of my life. We just had such great times. It all got a bit much by the end but generally it was a great time. Essentially I still believe most of the stuff and ideas that informed those records. I still am deeply suspicious of capitalism, Christianity and religion, consumerism, the family, the education system, the whole thing that in my childhood was called the military industrial complex. I wasn’t as good a lyricist then as I am now. But the words had a simple, naive charm and they were from the heart. The music I am less sure about. There are some good moments, but we didn’t really have much clue. If you stand it next to Can or Tom Waits or Captain Beefheart or the Byrds or whatever it doesn’t really stand up for me. But it touched a lot of people so something must have got through. John Lennon said he was never a Beatles fan and I guess I am not a Zounds fan.”




  1. Nic
    January 26, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Are you sure he wasn’t thinking of the Chaos UK first LP, Penguin (the one with the ‘On the Bag’ production)?

  2. Nic
    January 26, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    That reminds me – I’m sure most of the browsers here will be extremely excited to know that 2 of their favourite groups (Disorder and Varukers) are playing in Birmingham this Saturday as part of a ‘Punks Alive’ weekend…

  3. Stewart
    January 26, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    *feels a bit of himself die*

  4. Nic
    January 26, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    I know, Stewie, I know – it’s positively gutting to be missing it…
    My thoughts go out to you…

    But at least you can take solace from the proof positive that ‘Punk’ is indeed’ Alive’!

  5. Jay Vee
    Jay Vee
    January 26, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Didn’t know Chaos UK were put in that same pigeon hole as ‘anarcho punk’ – just clarifies how naive I was / am / ever will be 🙂

    Still life in the fast lane with a target on my back, and I ain’t a f***ing Mod either must mean I was some form of Punk meself at some naive view point in my life…

    Anyway, to further browsers excitement or not, and for the technical amongst you that consider Conflict the band being of the ‘anarcho punk’ genre, they have a gig planned for 10th April this year, (be a wonder if it doesn’t get cancelled though eh?)

    Disorder with one original member left doesn’t quite whet the appetite Nic old boy, and if I want to see Varukers these days, I go to a Discharge gig mwuha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaa

  6. Nic
    January 26, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    How true, Jay…

    I’ll be giving it a wide berth and opting instead for a bit of the American take on Black Metal (Wolves in the Throne Room, backed up by some ‘Good Rockin’ Tonite’ from Taint ) on the Friday night, and singing along with the ‘Ubermeister of Fatherlounge’ Frank Sanazi and the Iraq Pack on the Sunday evening…

  7. Jay Vee
    Jay Vee
    January 26, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    I can’t afford any outdoor activities this weekend Nic, I’ve found a new way to fool people that I’m a Punk – Playstation 3 Home Network – create your own avatar / cyber punk with ‘real’ mohican or perfectly spiked punk rocker – but my favourite is to socialise in there as plain as can be and super baffle the cyber folks that herald themselves as real punks, by perplexing them when I know a ‘little bit more’ (excuse the Zounds pun) than them…

  8. Nic
    January 26, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    I’ve never played a computer game, Jay, but I get the gist…

    I sported a bright Blue cardboard mohican at the first 2 Napalm Death concerts in 1982: it didn’t go down too well…

    If you’re in the house and need a break, here’s a link to a wonderful resource with all sorts of great films to watch gratis:

  9. Jay Vee
    Jay Vee
    January 26, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    … at this point, I think it appropriate to mention Steve Lake’s ‘New Band’ for browsers of old and new that have learnt or know of what an awesome classic album ‘The Curse Of Zounds’, and indeed band that Zounds was…

    He has a new band called Evil Presleys…


  10. Jay Vee
    Jay Vee
    January 26, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    That was always the annoying aspect of actually ‘being’ a punk wasn’t it, way too fickle; like either getting slated for looking tooooo punk, or if you didn’t look UK82 ish or Oi punk enough, or Casualties enough (bringing it up to date) you didn’t get acknowledged as much as a punk!!! Which was what was so magnetic about the ‘anarcho punk’ scene at the time, you got more merit on your lifestyle rather than the punk ‘image’… either way it becomes the regime it was rebelling against *sigh*

    I do like arty films Nic, and I’ll have a look sometime when I’m in a dark room with a big screen, and some warm bodies 🙂

  11. Stewart
    January 26, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    I must have missed something then… Maybe I was nodding out. In fact, I probably was, which is very sad in retrospect. BUT – wasn’t ‘punk’ always about attitude? And political beliefs? And personal and political exploration? Surely if ‘punk’ was about anything, it was about not judging people by the way they looked? However they looked? I can only talk about what I experienced, but I remember ‘straights’, ‘hippies’ and ‘skinheads’ as part of our ‘punk’ community, and we were all in it together… Wasn’t that the point???? (Or at least part of the point?) 🙂

  12. Chris
    January 26, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Actually, I met up with my old spar Ramsey Kanaan of AK Press last year and he said he has been working on the Lance Hahn book himself and it will definitely be published in the hopefully not too distant future.

  13. Nic
    January 26, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Chris: MP3s of the ‘Kilt by Death’ 3 x CDr, first 6 Minute War ep, and The Partizans (Birmingham) single – you want?

  14. Jay Vee
    Jay Vee
    January 26, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Punk became a fashion like Hippy used to be, but it ain’t got a thing to do with you or me…

    quite true, but I’m inclined to see Punk as more of a fashion than Hippy used to be (still to this day) Hippy was more always about the philosophy, the ideology. Punk rebelling against government and authority in general, became that which it wanted to change, Skinheads conversely at the turn of the 1980’s became the nemesis of it’s Jamaican Ska roots, NF British Movement etc. – and skinheads treating hippies with respect can only be experienced on a close encounter basis, which naturally puts people in a position to generalise and define culture groups…

    Anarchy ain’t a fashion you can turn to overnight… oh it all get’s like experience really does shape an individuals outlook on the whole youth culture thing, and on the subject of punk still being alive through the growing nostalgia if anything else… difficult to label punk or skin or hippy or greebo, metalhead, etc. as a youth culture anymore eh? (goth and ’emo’ for those that need to see the words)

    But nice to see we’re all of an age where we do accept eachother for who we are as individuals, and not as the image we portray, and an excellent example to be able to set to the next generation, and the generation after them etc.

    But we still have a long road ahead… “I have a dream!…”

    Anyway, I think ‘anarcho punk’ achieved more than people realise, this dropping of violence at gigs and the tie at work, I like to think that genre had more to do with waking people up to the fact that we are as Stewart pointed out ‘In this together’… well Ali G pointed that out as well on his first DVD, but y’all get the gist 😉

  15. Stewart
    January 27, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Yes, but I think you’ll find Ali G was quoting me… 🙂

  16. John No Last Name
    John No Last Name
    January 27, 2009 at 1:46 am

    hmm come to think of it I don’t think I can remember ever seeing Ali G and Stewart in the same room at the same time. Stewart is you… ?

  17. alistairliv
    January 27, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Chris – that is great news about Lance’s book. Please pass on the best wishes of the KYPP Collective to Ramsey/ AK Press. We want the book and we want it…We want the book and we want it …….NOW (sound effect of Jim Morrison’s scream).

    PS Or do I mean that bloke out of Southern Death Cult?

  18. Jay Vee
    Jay Vee
    January 27, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Ian Astbury and Ali G are currently working on a duet as Ray Manzarek has run out of joss sticks for the next tour of The Doors…

  19. Chris
    January 27, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Nic!! Oh Yes!! Great stuff! By-the-way, is there some problem with getting messages on your facebook? Sure i sent u a msg a while back about that “Pinker” Rondos/Tanderstickorshocks film which appeared to have been shown at some Spanish Film Festival last year.

  20. Stewart
    January 27, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    John – lol!
    PS Everyone – I don’t ever remember all these stupid labels. They must have happened whilst I was occupied elsewhere. Punk was punk, it was never divisive in the way you describe when I was involved, in fact it was the complete opposite. I can’t be bothered to post stuff I’ve already posted before, but it was about unification and common ground rather than division. We were a self-supporting squatting community who looked after our own regardless of race, gender, sexuality, age or any other fucking thing – admittedly we had a shared set of values, and people who didn’t share those values weren’t part of our commonality (by definition) so it was socially divisive in that sense, but – as I’ve said before – we WERE challenging the status-quo and we WERE in it together. What sort of unity would we have had if we’d split into Straight Punks, Queer Punks, Black Punks, Cross-Dressing Punks, Queer Black Cross-Dressing Punks, Old Punks, Young Punks, Old Cross-Dressing Transexual Punks, Punk Dykes, Straight Punks That Look A Bit Dykey After A Beer or Two in a Funny Light, Hippies That Aren’t Punk But Hell They Can Get Good Blow, Skinheads Who Look The Part But Actually Are As Soft As Shit And Actually Quite Fancy Being Fondled By Another Bloke etc???? I’m proud of what I was, who we were, and what we achieved. As far as I’m concerned, there was only one label that summed us all up in all our infinitesimal colourful beauty and individuality and that was: Punk.

  21. Jay Vee
    Jay Vee
    January 28, 2009 at 2:00 am

    Take a chill – pill maaaaaan!!! – you might be able to get some chill pills from a Raver That Isn’t A Punk But Hell They Can Get Good Chill Pills 😉

    This is all very evocative of the wonderful comics created by Pete Loveday – noteably ‘Big Bang’ comics with the main character being ‘Russell’ – unfortunately there’s not much about Pete Loveday and his comics on the internet, that could often be bought at festivals such as Glastonbury et al during the 1980’s, but you might like them Stewart as they include most every aspect of sub culture, especially travellers and feminists and punks etc. One fictitious punk band sketch in one of the issues of ‘Big Bang’ was called… ‘The Vomit Encrusted Chip Butties’ ha ha, wonder when a real band will emerge to call themselves that after reading this…

    To help anyone that’s intrigued about the comics I’m talking about, they were rather on a parr with the ‘Freak Brothers’ comics, if that helps the old memory…

    Here’s a link to Big Bang with other interesting links¬


  22. jock
    February 23, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    went to see zounds on sunday night, well the latest incarnation of them, funny watching all the young punks who i’d be old enough to be their dad, having a good dance.
    steve lake kept saying ‘we are a pretty crap band’ for some reason, looked like he was just going thru the motions, didnt see him smile once, maybe he got out the wrong side of his bed that morning?
    still was good to hear those old songs, and better still, this time no nazi skins trashing us and the venue!

  23. DavidM
    February 23, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    This was the Manchester show right… with Autonomads, Andy T., and one of London’s current finest Hello Bastards?
    Caught the guys most recently at the Feeding show, and as much as I love Zounds (Curse still stands as one of my absolute favourites of the period), gotta say I was quite disappointed.

  24. jock
    February 23, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    yep thats the one, his heart didnt seem into it, just wanted to finish the set and get off, shame really, maybe he was under the weather.
    i also ended up missing andy t cos he had to leave early apparently.no stamina these old anarchos!

  25. luggy
    February 24, 2010 at 11:18 am

    They always were a funny live band, music sounded great but didn’t click with the audience too often.

  26. jock
    February 24, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Yes, sounded great but poor old steve, whats up mate ?, noticed most other dates are just steve doing solo acoustic set, maybe he doesnt like being in a band anymore.
    andy t emailed me and said one of the other bands who played, who i also missed, sounded just like early Napalm Death, wish i saw em, nic,you got a lot to answer for spawning these types! 🙂

  27. Andy T
    Andy T
    February 25, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Sorry to hear they were a bit off form, I do recall they could be a bit hit & miss, way back when too. These moody talented types?

    I went on about 6.30 – 7.00. I had to leave early as my bassist wasn’t feeling too well and I’d only had him 3 days and wanted to look after him. My regular [we’ve only done one gig] bassist couldn’t make it, so we had to quickly find a replacement. Most of the people who’d come to see me had to leave early too, because of work and Sunday train timetables.

    Hoping to see Steve play in Bradford weekend after next at the 1 in 12.

    There’s a couple of clips of my bit on YouTube filmed by Kez from A Touch of Hystersia. I’ve posted them on my facebook profile thing too. Technology eh?

    Enjoyed the other bands I did get to see. Some of them were at University with one of my kids. I felt old, she said you are old, Dad. Life is good.

  28. Andy T
    Andy T
    February 25, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Hi David,

    Thanks for posting the links, shame they didn’t capture the full set.

    I’m fine and dandy at the moment, thank you for asking. Enjoying getting back out there again. Got a gig coming up in Kendal, Cumbria with A Touch of Hysteria on the 8th of May. Hopefully more in the pipeline and some recording coming up too.

    Hopefully someone will offer us a gig down south somewhere sometime in the not too distant.

  29. DavidM
    February 25, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Some recording? That’s great news indeed Andy. In what form should that appear? Still digging ‘Weary Of The Flesh’.

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