Fatal Microbes, Donna & The Kebabs, EMI...


'I WAS really unhappy with the last couple
of singles. EMI were trying to manipulate me
and I was getting so depressed. I just
thought it was a pile of shit for ages."

Honey Bane stares miserably down at the floor. Her tone is
little more than a whisper, as if she's wrestling to decide
exactly how much she should confess. Her scuffed pink boots
tap idly together.
"It came to the point where I just had to tell them to sod off."
She looks up. Her face is pale and devoid of make up and
the hair, once immaculate, is black and lank. She looks like
an incontinent magpie.
It's all a far cry from our last encounter. That was some ten
months ago just prior to the release of her first EMI single,
'Turn Me On Turn Me Off'. I had been confronted by an
explosion of colour that bubbled like a bottom in a bath. She
was nervous with enthusiasm and her painted eyes sparkled.
"I don't mind if they exploit me sexually," Honey had told me
gaily. "What's the point? I mean you might as well enjoy
what they're gonna do!"
Her vitality had been contagious and she'd left me full with
optimism. It seems things were quick to sour.
"After 'Turn Me On. . .' it all changed. I did Top Of The Pops, something I'd always wanted to do, but it was no big deal. I don't remember much about it actually, I was too drunk. I was so stoned I could barely move! EMI's attitude became, 'Well we've got one hit single - let's make damned sure we get another one'. That was their whole outlook on it. I never agreed with them. I didn't think something had to be commercial to be a hit. Just different."
The follow up single was certainly that. it was a straight version of 'Baby love' and quite frankly diabolical.
"It sold quite well though, " says Honey. "It got constant airplay and went to about number fifty-four in the chart. Not bad but not brilliant. Then the last one went to number one hundred and one so I thought hold up, let's do something about this."
We lounge about a toilet of a rehearsal room that crouches unnoticed in a sprawling, rusting trading estate. Honey's boyfriend cum mentor John Moore sits close by, prompting whenever she dries up and the band watch in detached silence. Only Pete Hughes, the lead guitarist, has much to say for himself.
"Before Joining up with Honey we were a band in our own right, " he tells me. "We were . . . well we still are .. . called Ritzy. We were based up North. Our keyboard player, JB Sloane. used to play with Billy J Kramer. " (No, I've never heard of him either.)
I learn that the group have just acquired the talents of bassist extraordinary Nigel Moore, once of Fulham s favourites The Lurkers. A treasure indeed. Nige later shatters me completely with the revelation that his old pal Ho ward Wall, the Lurks vocalist, has settled down quite happily to life as a postman. Howie the postie! Imagine that if you can. As we talk I become aware of a curious rift between Bane and band. Both seem determined to hold onto their own identities.
"There's not really a split between us," says the guitarist, "it's just that we're new to each other. We started out treating it all a bit tongue in cheek, we thought, well it might be interesting. But it's working out really well. We're really into it. " Hughes doesn't sound all that convincing.
"If it takes off then we'll have to forget about Ritzy. At the moment it looks as if we'll become The Beautiful Pictures. Honey Bane And The Beautiful Pictures."

THERE CAN BE little doubt that Honey needs the band. "I'd been
working with a load of session musicians and it was really boring.
The guys would turn up and only be interested in the money
they'd collect from the session. They couldn't get into what I was
doing. I couldn't stick that. I had to have a band I could rehearse
with, so that there'd be a real feeling there.
"The record company wouldn't let me have a band at all at one
time. It got really bad. I found myself at the point where I had to
say There's no point in doing anything unless I've got a band.' I
had to play live. "
She gives me an exasperated glare.
"It was a terrible period. I couldn 'i write any songs for about a year.
I felt totally uninspired. After I signed to EMI I lost all the inspiration.
I used to have."
As it turned out artistic rejuvenation came not through music but
theatre. Enter current beau John.
"He directed the play i did down at the Arts Theatre. When it came
up I'd lost all interest in singing and stuff. At the time Richard
(Jobson -
The Skids) had already been cast and they were
having trouble filling the two remaining women's parts. The writer
saw my picture in one of the music papers and invited me to do a
"Actually I wasn't that happy with the way it all turned out. It tried to
be very working class but was too wordy, y'know. But I'm glad I did
it � just for the experience."
Er, Honey, wasn't there a certain scene in it which attracted quite
a lot of attention though?
"Oh that bloody nude scene!" She grins at last. The sullen mood
"It was taken out of all proportion to the play itself. I didn 't even
know about it until the opening night (likely story!). Anyway it was
necessary for the story. " (Ho. That's a good un!)
But didn't all the publicity attract the wrong kind of audience?
Y'know spikey young her berts after a slice o' erotica? She laughs.
"There was nearly a riot on the first night! We had the theatre type
people in their minks sitting down the front and they were
surrounded by all these punks and skins.  The catcalls and
screams I got! It was good though. I found it a bit embarrassing
on the first night. I didn't know if I could actually go through with
it or not. It felt weird. "
Director John Moore, obviously impressed by what he'd seen
(artistically speaking of course!) approached Honey � they've
been together ever since. Or as the lady so romantically puts it:
"We sparked each other off creatively."
Sounds pretty filthy to me.
"I found being on stage very exciting. It's so different, you need a lot of self discipline and concentration to go on stage and act. It looks as if I might have a part in a new film called Scrubbers'. It's all about a female borstal � sort of like a female 'Scum'. It's in the casting stage at the moment so I'm hoping. "
You 've had experience of such institutions first hand haven't you?
"Yeah, that's right. That's
why I think I should do it. It would be a personal thing for me. And I want to be in it for creative reasons � . . inspiration. It was at that period in my life when I used to be able to write songs every ten minutes or so. l can't do that any more more like every ten       months. "

JUST HOW important was meeting John then? It sounds to me like you were in a bit of a state.
"Oh it was very important. This band is very much a co-creative effort between us. We work together on all the ideas. This is an attempt to reflect what we want to be, what we think about. "
The last couple of singles have lost you a lot of ground. . .
"I know. I can only go out and perform, be honest with myself  The stuff we're doing now is just so much stronger than the likes of 'Baby Love'. I think even EMI realise that now. So at least it's not as if we have to go out and fight them as well as the audience. "
How did they react when you spun around and said I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take any more' then?
"I really didn't know what their reaction would be.
I just said I'm not releasing any more records like this. Then they turned
up at our first gig down at Dingwalls and they were really bowled over.
They liked it. In fact I think they much prefer it. They can see that it's
quality stuff."
What it transpires to be in fact is dark and elegiac punk. I'm
momentarily taken aback by the ponderous weight of the sound as
Honey and Co introduce me to the set. Great looping bass-lines and
squealing guitar illustrate lyrics rich in gruesome imagery. Morgues
removed from the banal pop of the singles.
There's 'Save Us', a tortuous lament to the Neutron bomb, the macabre
'Dead Dollies' and the autobiographical 'I Wish I Could Be Me' All
striking songs which the band try desperately to come to terms with.
Tunes are fluffed with appalling regularity and Honey is never far from
her little red notebook of lyrics. It's a mess, there's no two ways about it
� but just beneath the confusion something rather interesting is
forming. There's hope in the maelstrom. It was with surprise that I noted
the inclusion of 'Violence Grows' � her debut single from years back.
"Well I've never really done it live properly before," I'm told later.
"I think it's still very relevant, perhaps even more so today. It's a lot
more violent out on the streets now than it was in '78 . But I don't do
any of the EMI singles live. As far as I'm concerned they don't have
any importance to what I'm doing now."
It  might look to some that you're doing little more than regressing. .
"No I'm not. I'm much more experienced now and creatively I'm a lot
stronger. What I'm doing now may have the same energy but it's a
different sound  I'd say I'm progressing.                      
"The last year has been awful. I never thought I'd be able to write
another song again. I just got bored with the whole scene and didn't
wanna do anything. I was completely uninspired, it was a really
depressing period. Basically it was John who made me continue, he was
the knight in shining armour on a white horse."
She laughs.
"I feel alot better now. The reaction to the gigs has been a stunned
silence. I think people have been really moved by us. Like when we
did the 'Woodstock Revisited' thing at the Rainbow, with the Angelic
Upstarts. There was a feeling of imminent riot in the air. We thought
hell, what's gonna happen? They were ail standing like this (she grimaces) ready for blood. Then we came on and it shut them right up.
"It's all a much darker image now. It's not a bouncy poppy thing. I've brought a lot of make-up into it, I never used to wear much on stage before and I dressed all in black. It's much more exciting. I think musically I'm after a cross between Public Image and the Talking Heads. "
She glares like a tigeress.
"You must remember, it's not a little girl up there any more!"
The tape machine grinds to a halt and the singer quietly empties a can of lager. I begin to wonder if she's aware of the amount of work to be done, if the band and her have enough confidence in each other to really gel together.
Our last meeting left me with optimism, this one leaves me with doubt. If only she'd smiled a bit more. OK then boys, shall we try again. Eyes down, cameras rolling: Honey Bane wins out . . . . take two . .

ZIG ZAG 1981
Honey-moon over with EMI (DC Collection)
Honey at Woodstock North London way 1981 (DC Collection)
Honey with EMI 1981 (Courtesy of Joe Donnelly)
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