Martin Hewes Interview October 2003
1 - to what extent do you think 'music' can influence peoples political attitudes?
and what was his experience in the redskins like? was it 'preaching to the converted' or more of a roller-coaster ride of dialectic?

The best thing about music is that it lets you get inside someone's head. I think the best music manipulates emotion but you need to create a context for the emotional response. This is what the Redskins was all about. The music was a delivery device for getting peoples attention. Once we had got their attention it was possible to draw people into a debate about politics. The real difference between us and other political bands was our involvement with the SWP. Being members of a political party meant that we were accountable and couldn't just waffle on about 'personal issues'. Consequently, we always connected our ideas with a world that existed outside and independently of youth culture. This is why we were never 'preaching to the converted' because the SWP would have had a membership of 50,000. As for the dialectic.............

2 - Was there? and if so - what happened to that touted 'second album'????? (details plz....)

As far as I know there was no second album but I have no idea what Chris and Paul did after I left the band.

3 - "Neither Washington Nor Moscow" was IMHO one of the best albums of the 80's, the best political manifesto too, it made the struggle dance...which bands/artists have what it takes to 'sing like the supreme, and walk like the Clash' these days? and does it matter?

To be honest, my knowledge of today's bands is minimal to say the least. However, it matters now just as much as ever. We have got a right wing Labour government that is only interested in maintaining the difference between rich and poor. They harp on about social justice and meritocracy and then abolish grants and create tuition fees for university students!
At the moment the number 1 record is 'Where is the Love?'(Black Eyed Peas). I suppose the message is a bit 'small p political' but it is political. This suggests that the people who are buying records from the 'mainstream' are concerned about the kind of world we are living in.
If the mainstream audience is prepared to buy political records then you can more or less guarantee that there is a wider demand for music with a politicised lyrical content!

4 - could he describe the redskins creative process? the 'sound' seems to have been fully formed early on, and is distinctively redskins.....and it affects, and works.

The creative process was relatively straightforward. We would jam around riffs and chord structures to make arrangements based on guitar, bass and drums. As songs began to take on a definitive structure, Chris would write lyrics and work out the vocals. The idea of using a brass section was initiated when we did our first Peel session. We were listening to a lot of soul and funk at the time and we were also really into the Jam circa 'Town Called Malice'. Consequently, we thought it would be a good idea to see what a brass section would sound like with our music. It worked so we stuck with it!

I think the other important issue with the band's sound was that we really put our hearts into our performances. At the end of the day there is really no substitute for passion. We were not particularly good musicians but no one really seemed bothered because we put all our energy into live performances. Also, and maybe most importantly, it was obvious to people who came to see the band that we actually meant the things we were talking about.

5 - What are you currently listening to?

I listen to lots of different music but my favourite stuff is 70's dub / reggae / funk, 60's soul / r'n'b and Punk. I am very retro and do not listen to much new music because I suppose I am lazy. Also, I teach music and after a long day listening to student rock bands and techno tracks, music is the last thing that I want to relax to!

However, if I had to make a choice of modern listening material I would probably choose electronic music because I feel it is a lot more progressive than most rock.

6 - Are you currently writing and/or performing music?

I write quite a lot of music but it is all computer based. It would be good to play in a band again but I have had certain health problems that make it problematic for me to perform live music. Hopefully I will be better one day and can escape my computer!

7 - Are you aware of the Ken Stanton Archive?
If so, what is your considered opinion of it?

I am not aware of the Ken Stanton archive. What is this?

8 - Are you still an active SWP member?

I have not been a SWP member for a number of years now. I still call myself a socialist but have lost contact with the party. In some respects this was a conscious decision because I got quite disillusioned with certain people in the organisation. However, this is a personal experience and I would always suggest to anyone who is serious about socialist politics to join the SWP because in reality there is no credible alternative.

9 - What advice would you give a young band trying to question global privatisation and corporate monopoly?

The best advice I could give would be to enjoy the experience. The Redskins, at the end was in danger of becoming a contradiction. That is why I decided to leave the band. However, that should not detract from what we achieved. From my perspective, the band operated best when we were out doing benefit gigs and live performances. If we had stuck to that and not got caught up in 'the record industry' it is very possible we might have still been together.

In reality it is not possible to bring a constant diet of Marxist politics to the mainstream of music. However, it is possible to keep working as a musician and support those that are struggling to create a better society. Musicians have a workplace the same as any other group of workers. However, the place that you can actually make a difference is in the concert hall because the audience is in a position to question and criticise your ideas. Consequently, you have to live up to your convictions.

10 - What's the best cover version of any Redskins song you've ever heard?

The best ever cover version of a Redskins song that I ever heard was the 3 Johns version of 'Red Strike the Blues'. I doubt this was ever recorded so unfortunately it is lost for all time except in the mind of John Langford, creative genius!

11 - How did you feel when Joe Strummer died? Was 'Take No Heroes' any kind of solace?

Joe Strummer dying made me feel sad because there is no one that can replace him. There is nothing wrong with putting individuals on a pedestal if they inspire us to do something positive. Consequently, Joe Strummer deserved all the acclaim that he got because The Clash showed us all that it was possible to make music with a strong political message.

12 - What are your five favourite Redskins songs?

I don't really know. Here is a list but it would probably change if you asked me at another time.

Don't Talk to me About Whether
Lean on Me
Unionise
Red Strike the Blues
Keep on Keepin' On

13 - Have you kept up with the Edwards brothers' musical careers with the Jazz Warriors, Aswad, Jazz Jamaica, and others?

I have not. However, I went into a pub in Hackney about a year ago and saw Bryan's name on a list of future performers. I told the landlady that he used to play sax for a band I was in a long time ago and that he was eversuch a nice chap. She agreed!

14 - What's Nick King doing these days?

I have no idea. However, when I was working as a bike courier I overtook him on the Brighton road and waved to him. He just gave me an odd look because it was probably hard to recognise me in full leathers and crash helmet! Anyway, I hope he is doing well for himself.

15 - How did you get on with Billy Bragg when you toured together - both politically and socially?

Mr Billy Bragg was a decent bloke. We spent most of the time taking the piss out of his politics but he gave as good as he got. We had a good laugh together and most importantly, I enjoyed his company. He is one of the 'good guys' and there are not too many of them about.

16 - Just how many different colour harringtons did Quiffhead had?

Probably about 10. He tended to accumulate more as he took himself increasingly seriously. By the way Tim, you still owe me 30 for that sheepskin I 'sold' to you!

17 - Why were you nicknamed Bumly? (questions 16 & 17 were from Tim Wells from the Anti Social Workers & Blaggers ITA).

The only person that called me Bumly was Swells. This is because he was the only person who knew my real name. Enough said.

18 - When Chris Dean wrote for the NME he used the name X Moore. But did he use any other names? As I have an article by someone called Nick Martin which I have been told is actually Chris Dean. Is this true?

As far as I know, Chris only ever used X Moore.

19 - I have an article from a music mag from 1986 which mentions a film called "Like A Red Machine" which it says features the Redskins acting and playing live. Does this film actually exist?
And if so where can I get a copy from?

This is obviously some urban myth. At any rate I am not in it!

20 - What is Chris Dean/X Moore up to these days? And has he done anything musically since the Redskins?

I really have no idea. The last story I heard was that he was living in Paris.




I would like to thank Martin for his time with the interview.



 

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