Interview with Roland Link, author of the book “Kicking Up A Racket (The Story Of STIFF LITTLE FINGERS, 1977 – 1983)”



Hier noch als kurze Einstimmung sozusagen meine Besprechung zu dem Buch aus dem Review-Update vom Februar 2010:
STIFF LITTLE FINGERS by Roland Link
„Kicking Up A Racket – The Story Of Stiff Little Fingers, 1977-1983” (Buch)
( Appletree Press / KickingUpARacket.com , Release Date: 26. November 2009 )
Die SEX PISTOLS hatten ihren McLaren, die CLASH hatten ihren Rhodes, und bei Stiff Little Fingers hatten zu Anfang direkt auch zwei faehige Leute die Haende mit im Spiel. Und so bloed es auch klingen mag, ohne Colin McClelland (Co-Manager der Band von 1977 bis 1979) und besonders Gordon Ogilvie (Bandmanager von 1977 bis 1983) waere es wahrscheinlich nie so gut gelaufen. Nun, mit den PISTOLS und den CLASH beschaeftige ich mich schon seit Ewigkeiten. Und da kommt ja auch alle Naselang etwas Neues in Buchform raus. Aber bei Stiff Little Fingers sah es da bisher immer sehr mau aus. Das dachte sich auch vor sieben Jahren ein gewisser Roland Link und nahm die Aufgabe einfach mal selbst in die Hand. In jungen Jahren waren die Stiffs immer seine fave band gewesen. Was als pures Fanprojekt gestartet war, entwickelte sich langsam aber sicher zu einer richtig serioesen Angelegenheit. Roland spuerte sie wirklich alle auf! Und das Schoenste ist: Sie kommen auch alle zu Wort! Herausgekommen ist dabei ein packendes Stueck irischer Punk Rock Geschichte. Das Buch ist gleichzusetzen mit der brillanten Biographie von PAT GILBERT „Passion Is A Fashion – The Real Story Of The Clash“, weil es so aehnlich aufgebaut ist und genauso akribisch recherchiert wurde. Aktuelle Interviews vermischen sich mit Statements und Gespraechen, die damals in den Musicpapers zu lesen waren. Das Ganze ist aufbereitet wie aus einem Guss. Es gibt keine Haenger, keine Seite die man ueberblaettern will. Hier werden knallhart die Fakten auf den Tisch geknallt, Meinungen prahlen aufeinander, die genuegend Stoff fuer weitere Diskussionen geben. Das alles verpackt, in einem sachlichen und voellig objektiven Stil. Ich geniesse dabei jede Seite, denn die Stiffs waren damals die Band, die neben den SEX PISTOLS und THE CLASH bei mir am meisten Eindruck hinterlassen haben. Was jetzt eigentlich noch fehlt ist eine ausfuehrliche filmische Dokumentation ueber den Punk Rock in Irland. Beim Lesen musste ich erneut feststellen, das die irischen Punks tagtaeglich echten Problemen ausgesetzt waren. Sie lebten in einer gefaehrlichen Zeit! In ihren Strassen herrschte Krieg. Ausnahmezustand! Dagegen wirkte London oder New York wie ein Streichelzoo. Ganz zu schweigen von den deutschen Grossstaedten. Die irischen Punks hatten einfach die absolut haertesten Bedingungen. Punk brachte es tatsaechlich fertig, dass die Kids der verfeindeten Gruppierungen friedlich zusammenkamen. Das Interesse an der Musik war staerker als die Herkunft. Das kann man einfach nicht oft genug erwaehnen! Das Buch hat mich dermassen begeistert, das ein Interview mit Roland Link in Planung ist. Soviel darf ich schon mal verraten: Roland arbeitet bereits an einem Photo/Memorabilia-Buch, ebenfalls aus der Zeit um 1977 bis 1983. Arbeitstitel lautet: „What You See…Is What You Get“. Fuer einen kleinen Vorgeschmack hat er aber auch schon in diesem Buch gesorgt. Zwei Fotostrecken von zuvor nicht veroeffentlichen Material findet man auf insgesamt 32 Seiten.
( * * * * * * )

Die Fotos auf dieser Seite stammen exklusiv von der Buch-Lesung/Vorstellung in Belfast, wo u.a. die beiden Schlagzeuger Brian Faloon und Jim Reilly anwesend waren.

So, jetzt aber endlich zum Interview:

 

   “Go For It”  



What gave you the idea for writing a book about STIFF LITTLE FINGERS, Roland?
SLF have always been my favourite band and I wanted to read a book about the band’s original time together. No one had written one so I started researching and a long time later I ended up with ‘Kicking Up A Racket – The Story of Stiff Little Fingers 1977-1983’

How did you get in touch with the band?
I got in touch with the band members/managers in different ways.
Ali McMoride (bass player), Henry Cluney (guitarist) and Dolphin Taylor (third drummer) I tracked down via the internet.
Jake Burns (singer/guitarist) I met after an SLF show.
Jim Reilly (second drummer), a friend of mine, Ian Templeton (who writes for Record Collector and several newspapers) tracked down for me.
Brian Faloon (first drummer) I contacted through a Belfast friend. Colin McCelland (original co-manager) I honestly can’t remember. Gordon Ogilvie (SLF manager) I contacted via Colin McClelland.

left to right: Brian, Roland + Jim



How long did it take you to write (and research) for the book?
About 7 years. Early on a lot of the time was spent in newspaper and film libraries. Later on I spent many hours tracking people down and then arranging to talk with them. Some people were happy to talk straight away, others I had to convince that I was serious and genuine.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing your book?
While researching and writing the book I was always trying to track more and more people down. The more I researched the more people came into the story. Most of the people I set out to find I found and most of them were happy to talk.
Sometimes I found myself with almost too much to do, which was great! At other times all leads just seemed to dry up and I didn’t know what to do next to move forward; that was difficult. However, something always seemed to turn up and away I went again.
The most difficult part re the research was trying to piece together the guys’ early days, there first bands and the very early SLF shows.

How did you write? Longhand or directly onto a computer, straight off or with lots and lots of editing?
The actual writing of the book I did on computer. When I interviewed people I made notes longhand and recorded the interviews. While in the newspaper and film libraries I also made longhand notes.
I was also always writing down ideas and things that I needed to sort out that came to me when I was out and about. Most of these were jotted down on beer mats, backs of envelopes, scraps of papers, letters; anything that came to hand.
From the very start the book was always being edited, basically because as I found people I dropped them into the story in the correct place.

What is it that you find so vibrant, interesting and compelling about STIFF LITTLE FINGERS?
I love Jake Burns’ voice and his song writing. With and without Gordon Ogilivie I think he has always written about important issues. From the very start the band has also always incorporated melodies, harmonies and choruses in their songs. ‘Inflammable Material’ might be a fantastic punk rock album, but it’s also a great guitar pop record. They’ve never lost that vitality and energy.

Jim + Brian



Any critics out? Do you read them? If so, have you been pleased with the responses to your book? Have you learned anything from them?
There have been quite a few reviews in the UK (Record Collector, Classic Rock, The Big Cheese, The Big Takeover, various fanzines and local newspapers). Apart from the Classic Rock review, which was written by a guy who was out to attack the book long before it was finished they’ve all been pretty good.
I do read them, but don’t really bother too much what they say. I know I did my best and I’m very pleased with the way the book came out.
When all is said and done all the reviews give the book publicity and as they say, ‘All publicity is good publicity’.
I just want SLF fans to know the book is out there. I’ve actually had quite a bit of feedback directly from SLF fans, either via the internet or at the shows, and they’ve all been really positive.
Have I learned anything from the reviews? No not really, I know that if I read a book review about a new Clash book and the reviewer says its rubbish I’ll still go and check it out for myself and make up my own mind.

What do you do when you are not writing?
Go to work! Meet mates. Go for curries. Go to the cinema. Go for walks. Play guitar badly. Swim.
I also go and see quite a few bands. My mates play in the Clash tribute band Take The 5th, when they play that’s always a great night.

Who are your favourite music writers? What is/are your music favourite book(s)? And why?
I don’t really have favourite music writers, but I have got loads of favourite music books.
John Robb’s Punk Rock - An Oral History
Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain’s Please Kill Me – The Uncensored Oral History of Punk
I think these two books are written in similar ways. Both let a number of the people who were involved in the punk scene tell their stories. John’s book is about the British punk explosion, Legs and Gilian’s book concentrates on the USA side of punk. Both great books, which I couldn’t put down.
Sean O’Neill and Guy Trelford’s It Makes You Want To Spit – The Definitive Guide To Punk In Northern Ireland 1977-1982
This is a great book about Northern Irish punk and includes lots of the less famous bands. A fantastic book to dip into and read about certain bands. Lots of great photos and info. I know Sean and Guy and I know the book was a labour of love. Totally recommended.
Horace Panther’s Ska’d For Life
I really enjoyed reading this book about the Specials. A truly legendary band and this memoir by their bass player was another book I couldn’t put down.
Motley Crue: The Dirt – Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
A friend of mine lent me this. I’ve never listened to Motley Crue, but this book was hilarious. They shagged all the girls, took all the drugs and drank all the booze. Total rock ‘n’ roll excess.
I could go on and on. I’ve read lots of great music books: including most of the ones on the Clash, the Ramones, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and the Sex Pistols.

Do you think that in the near future your book will be translate for the German book market?
If I’m honest no I don’t think it will be translated. I don’t think Stiff Little Fingers had a large enough following in Germany for the publisher to spend the money getting it translated and published in Germany.

Jim



Are you also a record collector? If so, could you remember to make a real good bargain for a very rare STIFF LITTLE FINGERS record, you were looking for years?
I’m not really a record collector. I do have all the original SLF LPs and singles and a couple bootlegs (‘Broken Fingers In Aberdeen’, ‘Live In Sweden’) on vinyl. I also have a lot of bootlegs on CDs and tapes.
I know that the original ‘Christmas Album’ on vinyl is probably one of the most sought after by collectors, and I know a couple of guys that get a lot of pleasure from collecting all the acetates, demos, promos and records from different countries that they can get hold of.
Personally though, I’m more into listening to the music than having lots of records in plastic cases.

What question would you like to be asked in interviews, but you are never asked? And what is your answer?
Question - What are your favourite colour socks? Answer - Pink
I just made that up. I can’t think of a proper answer. Sorry!

What is the best sentence you have ever heard, that someone has managed to get into a song's lyrics?
Beat on the brat with a baseball bat

Which record could I find in your CD-player or at your turn-table?
I find answering questions like this almost impossible. I always forget to mention absolutely classic records, but if I had to choose one record it would be the Clash’s ‘White Man In Hammersmith Palais’.
You’d also definitely find all the Clash LPs, all the SLF LP’s, The first nine Ramones’ LPs, The Specials first LP, A ‘best of’ King Tubby LP, the last four studio LPs by Social Distortion, Ed Kuepper’s ‘Character Assassin’, all the Ruts’ records, both of the Gaslight Anthem’s LPs and the ‘Senor and the Queen’ EP, lots and lots of punk rock, Fifties rock ‘n’ roll and Sixties stuff.

What are your favorite punk sites on the web?
The ones that include ‘Kicking Up A Racket’!

Jim + Roland



First record you ever bought yourselves? What did you grow up listening to?
Probably the first record I bought would have been a Sex Pistols single off a guy who was a little bit older than me and who lived close to my family.
I grew up listening to Elvis Presley’s rock and roll records, because my mum loved his early stuff. As I got into my teens I bought, swapped, borrowed and stole lots of punk records. Punk to me was just faster, louder, harder rock ‘n’ roll.

Now, that the book was published, do you know how many have sold? Is a second press in the pipeline?
3,000 were printed and quite a few have already been sold. I don’t know exact numbers at the moment, but it’s selling steadily. I think a book like this sells mainly through ‘word of mouth’.

How far do you have control over your book?
I had complete control over how the book turned out. The publisher, Appletree Press, trusted me that I knew about my subject matter and published what I submitted. I’m very grateful to them for that. I would have hated to have had to have changed any part of it or cut parts out.

In general, what do you see wrong with music today?
I think the death of small independent record labels is a bad thing. In Britain, I think the fact that people like Simon Cowell and shows like ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and ‘Pop Idol’ are so powerful and popular is terrible for music.
As the Jam sang, ‘…the public gets what the public wants, but I want nothing this society’s got I’m going underground.’
There is still a lot of great music out there and of course the internet is giving the big record companies a few problems, which is always good!

Anything you would like to add?
I’d like to thank you for your interest in ‘Kicking Up A Racket’ and wish you and your readers all the best. For those that buy the book I hope you enjoy the read. Drop me line at www.kickinguparacket.com

Thanks very very much, Roland!!!

Interview: Ralf Real Shock (March 2010)