Zounds, the legendary anarchist post-punk band releases their second album this year ‘The Redemption of Zounds’ on Overground Records, almost 30 years after the release of their ground-breaking, seminal debut ‘The Curse of Zounds’.
Formed in 1977, Zounds was the brainchild of bassist/vocalist Steve Lake, a native of Reading who’d move d to Oxford and lived in a squatters community, their earliest influences were psychedelia and Krautrock as much as punk, this gave them an altogether gloomier and more polished sound than the abrasive crash’n’bash of their mentors in Crass. Early days were spent
mostly touring the free festival circuit until meeting Crass, whose anarchist politics had a major impact on Lake. The group cut a demo and sent it to Crass who in 1980 issued the band’s three-song debut single, ‘Can’t Crash Karma’/’War’/’Subvert’. Another single, ‘Demystification’ was released in 1981 by Rough Trade who also issued the band’s first album, ‘The Curse of Zounds’, in 1982; its claustrophobic paranoia won generally good reviews, but the record slipped under the radar of most listeners outside the anarchist punk community. The Mikey Dread produced singles ‘Dancing’ and ‘More Trouble Coming Every Day,’ appeared later that year and after one more perfunctory EP — 1983’s La Vache Qui Rit — Zounds called it quits.
Lake re-formed Zounds in 1998 and cut a benefit single, ‘This Land’, in support of Dave Morris, the man sued by the McDonald’s corporation for libel and since then the band have remained sporadically active. With Guitars in the form of Rotten Johnny, caught up with Steve Lake as he criss-crossed America and asked him a few questions…
“The Curse is beloved by many people and has a naïve charm that escaped me for years. It is sincere, but I was never sure whether we were the cursed ones or whether we were cursing others. I think the former.
Redemption is something I truly seek and need. I have sinned against everybody and everything. I have cheated, lied and stole horses. I have missed confession and got drunk on altar wine. I still don’t know what I’m supposed to be but I continue to punish my guitar, my voice and my ears. This way lays redemption (but only for me). “
Another Zounds album one day: yes or no?
“Probably not. The album form appears to be dead. Maybe there are enough albums in the world. You’ve got everything from ‘Live At The Witch Trials’ by The Fall to ‘Superfly’ by Curtis Mayfield. In between there’s ‘Electric Ladyland’, ‘Blonde on Blonde’, ‘Exile On Main Street’, ‘Forever Changes’, ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ and a million others. Maybe people don’t need anymore?
What there will be though is a whole series of Zounds 45rpm 7’’ vinyl singles. The album may be at the end of history but the single will live on even unto the time that the oceans cover the earth and the apes have taken over!”
‘Anarcho-punk’ or ‘Post-Punk’?
“Rock n roll! All the labels are for marketing and P.R. men. It’s either got soul and a good beat or it hasn’t. That’s all I try to do in music, find a good beat and express my self with soul, using as much
sincerity as I can muster.”
Rioting or peaceful protest?
“I’m the wrong person to ask, I never go out, except to do gigs or get stamps from the Post Office. I am into peace and love. That is, I love it when people give me the peace to play and write.”
Technology: liberating or repressive?
“Both! Modern technology gives everyone the chance to produce and disseminate their own art. The means of production and distribution have been widely democratised and are now available to most, which is nice. At the same time technology is invasive and controlling, in the wrong hands it could be the final nail in the coffin. So I’m still sitting on the electric fence. I wouldn’t want to go back to a world with no electricity though. I wouldn’t survive a day.”
The future: optimistic or pessimistic?
“One day the sun will burn out and the solar system will go cold and all that is solid will melt into air. It’s just a question of when, and whether anyone is around to see it. I want to live forever so the fact of my mortality is a pain too harsh to bear.”