If you haven’t heard of UK band Serf Combat then you’re way out of touch with what’s hot in the UK underground DIY punk scene, they write zines, put on gigs and even play some pretty damn decent tunes…so here we have a few questions with the Serf Combat fellas…
I hear you are the busiest/most whoring band in the world tell us about all the various bands/zines/promos/projects you’re all involved in.
Toby: Ha ha, well we like to keep our fingers in a few pies. Erm for me as well as playing in Serf Combat, I sometimes put out The New Wave of Cut & Paste Zine, have put out the UK Zine Yearbook, put on the odd gig in Brighton and am part of the Brighton Zine Fest Collective. Jon and I also run the little label Home of The Brave Records (yes another Naked Raygun reference!) I also work in the NHS as a CBT Therapist and on the odd occasion as a Uni Lecturer. I will let the others describe their antics!
Jon: We like to stay busy! As well as Serf Combat and the label I also help putting on shows and Paul and I have put out a few zines in our time. Alf also has another band (Wegrowbeards) and has put out some records before and Paul has an electronic project under the name Project Serendipity. With a full time job and the best of my youth behind me I’m pulling my fingers out of pies these days.
Alf: Ha…. well before Serf Combat I was drumming in a band called Up The Anti we only played local shows and I really don’t recommend anyone check them out we really did suck ha-ha! Zines, well I have helped with Hey Suburbia! zine and then finally put one of my own out Perverted By Language I only made one issue but it was bloody big (in size) and took way to long, I co run a label called Boofrod Records with my buddy Dunc, I also put on shows in Dorking under the name of Dorktown Punks, also I’m in a folk/punk band called Wegrowbeards. So yeah I guess I’m guilty of being a whore!
Paul: Me and Jon also do a zine called Dance Like No Ones Watching which comes out once in a blue moon. As well as Serf Combat, I play in Project Serendipity which is my electronic stuff and am tentatively working on a brand spanking new mathrock band.. I also tour with The King Blues and Sparrow and the Workshop as a Sound Engineer. So it is sometimes quite a balancing act!
Two of you were in Heroic Doses, and Earth Dies Screaming. This is for you Toby & Jon – will you ever do a band without each other?
Toby: Good one! Well EDS started off without Jon but I needed more noise to cover up for my poor voice! I cant really imagine being in a band without Jon as it’s useful to have a best mate who can tell you when you’re fucking up (most of the time!) or to be able to argue with and know it won’t matter in a couple of days! I can’t imagine being in a band without mates as for me the best bit is an excuse to take time out from life to hang out with my mates and go driving and seeing new parts of the country with them. If it was just about the 25 minutes we play for the rest of the time would be very dull indeed.
Jon: I love being in a band with Toby! He’s the most organised and positive person I know. He’s also my best mate and being in a band with him is great as it gives us a chance to regularly hang out and catch up. I think, with this being our third band together, we automatically know each others strengths and we seem to work well together. I’m very lucky to be in a band with three of my best mates. I’ll not say that I’ll never do a band without Toby but right now I’m playing with three absolute dudes who satisfy my music playing needs!
Toby: We shall see! So far we have a split 7” with Shot Baker, a four way 7” with Southport, Offshore Radio and Achtung Everybody and a split tape with Colt Seavers- all bands we’re not only friends with but massive fans of so it’s been an incredible first year – well beyond anything we expected. As for next year, maybe a release of our own, I’m sure another split as there are so many incredible bands at the moment and there’s talk of some overseas releases too so keep an ear to the ground!
Alf: I dunno maybe do a Shermer – split up do a last show and the do the reunion show, it seemed to work for them haha! But yeah who knows maybe tour a bunch more get some more stuff on 7″s, I love records me! I also love the way Toby has plugged all our releases!
You toured with Shot Baker from the USA, how’d that come about and are there any plans for you to tour across the pond?
Toby: Well Jon met the Shot Baker lot on one of his many pilgrimages to Chicago to see Naked Raygun and I believe he struck up a friendship. We harassed them by email to come over then realized we’d have to book the tour and drive them round too! It went so much better than expected, the tour was fairly easy to book, we were treated amazingly everywhere we went and I hope to say we’ve made some lifelong friends in Shot Baker. There has been some talk of visiting them with some gigs and I hope that will happen at some point as they owe us – ha ha!
Jon: I have a mild obsession with Chicago punk rock and this took me to Shot Baker who, in my humble opinion, are bloody awesome. I saw them in Chicago and we spoke about getting them over. One of those pipedreams which soon turned into a possibility and finally a reality. It was a great two week tour. We all got on great and they were phenomenal every night. We’re so delighted to have a split out with them and hope that we will tour with them again
Alf: Yeah I’m in love with America so it would be amazing to tour there. Shot Baker are true dudes and I’m glad Jon met them and brought them into my life (laaaame) haha.
What does the line that sounds like ‘Two nuns and a fucking biscuit actually say?”
Toby: Bloody Tony from The Deadbeat coming up with that! I don’t want to ruin that line from The Buckley Era but it’s actually “Two Months and I Fucking Missed It”. Sorry
Alf; I think this is the best time for me to say to the band that every time we play that song live I sing “two nuns and a fucking biscuit” sorry lads!
What are your songs about lyrically? Do political beliefs play a part at all?
Toby: I’ll let Jon explain this more as I think I’ve only written lyrics for one (sorry been busy!). But there’s definitely elements of politics whether personal or global, we try and steer away from scene politics as otherwise I can rant about them all day!
Jon: The usual…nuns, biscuits. There are some political connotations in some of the songs. I wouldn’t say ‘beliefs’. Most of them are based on personal relationships or experiences and then bought into a wider context. There seems to be a trend where they begin quite negatively but then end up positive.
Alf: Yeah this is Jon’s scene, but the way I hit my drums has political meaning…….
What are your musical / band aspirations/goals (and don’t say you’ve already achieved them – think bigger!)?
Toby: Sorry T but we really have gone beyond our idea of a handful of gigs and a tour, I mean two records including a split with Shot Baker and Southport (and the others!) I mean we have a split record and have made friends with Simon from Snuff’s band – come on! We’d like to put out a record of our own, tour Europe, Japan and America and fully intend to do them all!
Alf: yeah Toby really sums it up, but unlike him I’m aiming big, I want loads of money, cars and a big house ohh and a butler called Giles Bidder…. just having people sing along at gigs makes it for me!
How long doyou reckon you’ll keep this all up for?
Toby: As long as people keep humouring us! But from past experience as long as everyone is still friends and the band doesn’t cause any tension between us and as long as we still love playing the songs.
Alf: I’d pack it all in tomorrow if I could get out of the contract they made me sign ha ha but I guess it all depends until we all get pissed off with each other but its kinda hard to pissed off by guys who are your best friends (cant beat a bit of bromance).
Which other bands would you recommend people check out?
Jon: Well, we got it pretty good in the UK right now. Some of my favourites are Above Them, Apologies I Have None, The Arteries, Bangers, Big City Plan, Break The Habit, The Cut Ups, Colt Seavers, Calvinball, The Dead Beat, Emergency Bitter, The Grizzley Ends, The Magnificent, Only Until, OK Pilot, Offshore Radio, Rooftops, Southport, Wonk Unit and loads more. Check out The Bomb and Shot Baker from America too! Some of my favourite bands of all time are…Naked Raygun, Pegboy, The Doughboys, The Freeze, Articles of Faith, Government Issue, Samiam…
Alf: oh my there seems to be another chance for me to plug my new band soooo yeah I’d totally check out WEGROWBEARDS they’re dead good! But yeah I’d say: Ghost Knife (Ben Snakepits new band), Killing Pablo, Chalk Four, Blank Generation, Dinkle and Torn Strings.
Paul: The Replacements.
Toby: Well the others have pretty much covered it for me UK band wise I think! I guess I can recommend some older UK punk bands you might want to check out – Sleep, Skimmer, The Sect, Heresy, The Joyce McKinney Experience, The Stupids and er Bruce Springsteen – seriously start at the first album and work your way up from there.
I guess as two of you write zines you probably read zines as well, which ones are your favourites?
Toby: Ooo! Sorry for lists but Zonked, Rum Lad, Morganmuffel, Mujinga, Lights Go Out and my all time favourite Gadgie! There’s also a real wealth of zines coming out of Australia that I’ve just discovered, some amazing ones like Robots vs Dinosaurs, Good News for Bad Times, You and The Erinsborough News.
Jon: Actually I think all four of us have written zines. I like a bit of Artcore, Suspect Device…
Alf: The funny thing is although I’ve done two zines I really don’t read that many zines! sorry… I just don’t have anytime to!
Paul: That reminds me, I need to get buying some new zines, one of my favourites was Zineophobia, I loved the Dischord family tree and they’re 10 steps to be a better hardcore band. Serf Combat have been following these steps religiously.
Which one band in history would you love to be on the bill to play with?
Toby: Sorry to be clichéd but without a doubt Bruce Springsteen and The Street Band (with Dillinger Four, They Might Be Giants and The Magnetic Fields also supporting!)
Jon: The Clash, Naked Raygun, Minor Threat, Black Flag, Descendents, the Doughboys, Pegboy…
Alf: Easy… Bruce Springsteen, Hot Water Music or Journey!
Paul: Hot Water Music circa 1999.
I know it’s a cliché question, but where did the name Serf Combat come from?
Toby: Either from our thoughts about the political upheaval associated with the peasant worker movement or…a Naked Raygun song with one letter changed.
Which towns are the most fun to play and which place has been the worst?
Toby: All gigs are great but it’s nice to get out of our home towns, so I’d say the best so far for me has been Sheffield where we played Above Them’s album launch – everyone was well up for it and it was just such a great community atmosphere. Cambridge with That Fucking Tank and Skimmer were very close behind but Paul couldn’t play those so they drop a lot! Worst? Well I honestly can’t think of any bad gigs, we do so few that we’re quite lucky in picking pretty good ones! I mean we’ve played some dead gigs and we’ve played shit at a few but there’s always fun to be had!
Jon: Kingston and Brighton are always good fun. As are Southsea, Cambridge and Sheffield. I like to be shaken out of my comfort zone and play random shows off the beaten track. We may have played poor in certain places but there’s been no particular place that’s been poor to us. Every gig has its merits.
Alf: Yeah I’d have to go with Toby on this one Sheffield is the place to be, Not Shy Of The DIY have got their shit tight!
About bands being online: Do you feel that it’s important for bands to have a Myspace page? What do you think you gain from having one? Also how about Facebook, is there a Serf Combat page up there? Do you feel it’s still relevant to have your own website still any longer?
Toby: Personally I wish we had no online profile because I’m a pretentious twat and like a bit of mystery with a band but we have a myspace and facebook and to be honest we’d have not done half the cool stuff we’d done without them – I mean through them we’ve been on a compilation CD as the only UK band on a US comp, been on a Big Cheese CD with Gaslight Anthem (and Slipknot!) so can’t really complain! Website wise I still really love it when a band has a proper website, you can make it however you like and can customize beyond myspace. It means most of the shit ones have gone and the ones left are usually quite exciting.
Check them out online at: http://www.myspace.com/serfcombat
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Posted on: Thursday, January 20th, 2011 at 9:17 am
Posted in: Online Exclusive