Vic Godard- Vocals/Guitar of Subway Sect
Emerging from the 100 Club punk scene of 76, Subway Sect debuted alongside their contemporaries The Clash and Sex Pistols. With Rob Symmons on guitar, Paul Myers on Bass and Paul Packham on drums, their garage sound and sense of melody set them apart from the usual run of the mill punk acts that joined the conveyor belt that year. By the time their first album ‘What’s The Matter Boy?’ was released, the line up had changed five times. The influence of The Black Arabs and the Chimes brothers on this Lp produced a poppier, soulful sound.
In the 1980s Vic got together with musicians whose talents allowed him to experiment with Jazz, Swing and Motown beats. Beginning with the ‘Songs for Sale’ Subway Sect – Chris Bostock, Rob Marche, Sean McLusky and Dave Collard. Then recording ‘Trouble’ with Working Week and Pete Thomas’s Jumping Jive.
The 90’s saw the beginnings of some fruitful collaborations-With Motion Records-Twenty Odd Years 1999, Sans End 2002 and Singles Anthology 2005. We Oppose all Rock and Roll (1996) was the first of three successful releases on Overground Records, followed in 2007 with 1978 Now and in 2010 with the well received We Come as Aliens.
Close ties were forged with Edwyn Collins, who produced three albums for Vic- Long term Side Effects and In Trouble again in 1998 and End of the Surrey People in 1993).
And with Douglas McIntyre and the Creeping Bent Organisation. Vic and the Sect have been playing with Davy Henderson’s band the Sexual Objects, on their annual visits to Scotland for the past few years) and Vic sang with the Sobs at ‘Love’s Rebellious Joy’ at the Edinburgh Book Festival in August 2011 see here!
And the associations continue today, Vic is singing with the Sobs on a Marc Riley session and a 4 night mini tour at the end of this year.
Vic has started recording the next album, 1979 Now (two tracks done), a collection of songs originally written for The Black Arabs on their first tour supporting Dexy’s in 1979.The songs were also performed at a Subway Sect gig in early 1980 with Bob Ward and Paul Myers reuniting as the rhythm section.
When Gary Ainge had to retire in 2010, it broke up a great live combo with Kevin Younger on guitar/keyboard and Mark Braby on bass. Gigging continued with Mark Braby moving to drums and Dan Ashkenazy (Bitter Springs) temporarily joining the Sect on bass, followed by Yusuf B’layachi. In October 2011 Paul Myers and Paul Cook agreed to join the live line up for a number of gigs, as and when available, with the multi talented Mark Braby moving to guitar, Kev staying on keyboard/guitar and Vic on vocals.
Vic and the morphing Sect continue their ‘5 Year Tour’ in 2012 after 27 gigs in 2011, with stalwarts Kevin and Mark and a moveable feast of guest musicians in the live line up- Dan Ashkenazy (Bitter Springs); Yusuf B’ Layachi (Dear Thief), Joe McKechnie, paul Myers and Paul Cook. Upcoming dates: London, Manchester; Newcastle and Glasgow. More dates to be confirmed.
The 5th limited edition on Gnu Inc, Vic’s own micro label is a compilation cd released at the end of 2011- ‘Subway Sect Live and Rare Vol 1, Vol 2 due out in the autumn of 2012. It follows ‘Live in Stereo’ (limited edition live cd, no longer available), ‘Blackpool’ epcd (based on a collaboration with Irvine Welsh and performed by Vic and the Bitter Springs as well as the vinyl edition of We Come as Aliens. All available from the website as well as Gnu Inc’s first download only single Better Not Turn On.
01 How did you first get started in music?
When we were at Shene College we used to go in the music room at lunch time and make a racket.
02 Where did your obvious love of film and visuals originate from?
I went on a school trip to Russia when I was thirteen and was inspired by the hoardings and I’d always been into films through my family being avid cinema fans.I was more into American TV as a kid.
03 Who were your major influences and inspirations and who do you despise?
Lots of those, but I will say European Romantic Lit, Johnny Rotten, Debussy, The VU, and The Tough of the Track: Alfie Tupper. I wouldn’t vote for Putin.
04 What drove you to make this type of music?
I don’t stick to one type. I had always had tunes in my head but never had a way of using them so I learned to play a guitar and piano in a rudimentary way.
05 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows then & possibly even now?
It would totally impossible to say without knowing which Sect the four piece and the five piece are quite a different kettle of fish.The first are a bit more Northern Soul inspired,whereas the four piece are more spur of the moment and off the cuff.I am also doing some gigs soon with the Sexual Objects who are a different sound again. The set lists vary from group to group.
06 What frames your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?
Any theme or subject is possible.They have also varied through the years.The theme isn’t always apparent when the song is initiated and can hold up a songs completion for years or even decades.
7 How did your music evolve since you first began playing?
We learned to write songs with minor chords when touring with the Buzzcocks.Then more and more chords via Dylan and the a few jazzy ones.The tunes have always come but the rest is hard work for a group.
08 What has been your biggest challenge? Were you been able to overcome this? If so, how?
Learning to drive and five attempts to pass test.
09 Do you play any covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?
We don’t currently,but on our latest CD Live and Rare Volume 2 we have a live version of Born to Lose with Scottish group Shock and Awe.I used to do I’m Set Free about eight years ago. I would like to do New York New York.
10 What do you love and hate outside of music?
Eton Rifles and Hi Viz Army, hate and love.
11 Who would you most like to record with?
The Subway Sect [not joking-want to get on with album 1979 Now]
12 Your thoughts on the current state of art and music?
Looking forward to this Pre-Raphaelite show as I have been into that since the seventies-my art taste is a bit old as is the music taste. Apparat are a modern group I like.There are a multitude of talented local groups out there and they are musically more diverse than ever.
13 Your thoughts on the current state of culture?
Not an easy climate for creativity to thrive in but we are benefiting from a constant influx of different influences from Asia Africa and Europe.
14 Would you share a book, a film, and a painting that you love with us maybe?
The book My Phantoms by Theophile Gautier, three of the tracks on 1979 Now borrow heavily from it. The film would be Le Grand Meaulnes (The Lost Domain), and the painting might be Work by Ford Madox Brown as the Pre-Raphs are back.
15 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?
Our micro label Gnu Inc will be releasing Live and Rare Volume 2 in a few weeks. We’re recording 1979 Now, with Edwyn Collins producing, also hoping to record a couple of new tracks for a single at some point. I’m doing a mini-tour starting with a Marc Riley, session singing with Davie Henderson’s group The Sexual Objects end of November/early December.
Photos by: Nigel Bailey and Peter Stevens