Paranoid Visions: We have always been under scrutiny, we are just a dateWritten by Eva Csölleová, Vítek Formánek
I was put in touch to Peter Jones from Rotatorvinyl by kind help of Pete Hollidai from The Radiators from Space. I then realized he is a founding member of anarcho-punk band Paranoid Visions who were put together already in 1981 and I have never heard about them. So, it was nice chance to make interview.
I have never heard about you (sorry) and know nothing about you. Did you pick up the name Paranoid Visions as reflection to then cold war or as reflection to drugs and herb which bring people into such state and you are against it?
The name came in 1981, there was no specific meaning or inspiration... we just kind of liked it!!! We felt it would probably reflect the lyrics and outlook we may have or the outlook that most people have even if they don’t realise it.
You formed in 1982. Were you part of Dublin punk scene from early years and became second wave band after likes of Rudi, The Radiators from Space, The Undertones demise and you felt like keeping punk alive your own way?
We didn’t really feel we were doing anything to keep the scene alive, we were punk rockers in a punk rock band and we loved the music, politics and culture. So, we just carried on our own way and kept going as long as we felt necessary. There was no real feeling that the first wave had ended and it was up to us to keep it going, we never felt that the first wave had ended at all...bands had just split up or moved on, while others like us continued.
What was the punk scene in Dublin in mid70´s? As healthy as in Belfast or less influenced by presence of British troops hence less-tighter-bonded with no Good Vibrations shop to escape to?
It was always pretty bad. Ireland is a small place and with Dublin or Cork being epicentres there was a much smaller gene pool of musicians to form bands with. That´s why most of the punk bands that have come out of Ireland sound nothing like bands anywhere else in the world...the musicians are all into different types of music or favoured different types of bands to each other so those influences always came through. Belfast had a scene and a place to congregate like the Harp Bar, we didn’t...after someone got stabbed at a Radiators gig, all the venues turned their backs on punk bands so all the bands either split up or moved to the UK.
You had and have seven members in line-up. Is it musically necessary, or you were part of one community, so were more of brothers in arms than skilled musicians?
It is necessary, really, we like the twin guitar approach and like the visual impact of two vocalists. Stereo adds inserts so that when we play live, we can have a continuous show with no breaks.
You had your own label Fuck Off and Die. Was it a must since no one would let you make records in Dublin or your choice to be totally independent and free? How did it work? You made only records for you or also helped some other less fortunate mates from the area?
FOAD Music was the name we adopted to release our own records. From the start we never felt we wanted to go to another labels, it just wasn´t the type of band that we were / are. We always felt we could and should do it on our own. FOAD has released records by many other bands...Rubella Ballet, The Lee Harveys, Project, The Black Pitts, Jobseekers, I Am A Car Crash, Liz is Evil and Vulpynes being the ones over the last few years.
U2 JUST BOUGHT OUT COMPETITION
In 1987 you started campaign FOAD2U2 which was against U2. Could you reveal more about that? I am not their fan but thought they are heroes at home in Ireland.
U2 and their management started putting a stranglehold on the Irish music industry back in the mid 80’s. It was cynical bully boy tactics to many levels, a clique of people who pandered to them and excluded others. When they became famous a lot of punk and new wave bands started to copy them and record labels came over to sign any band who they thought could be the next U2. Then U2 started to sign any band who could become the next U2 to their Mother Records label and for the most part, the bands were never heard of again...buy up the competition! That´s the thing that annoyed us, the fact that bands were selling their soul for a shot at fame by copying another band is something that we felt was wrong, and the level of control record labels were bringing was everything we hated about music. So, we just made a thing about it and took the piss!
I found out you had Beano in line-up who played probably in every existing band in Europe. I heard he is seriously ill, any news about him?
He has MND, but is in good form. He’s one of the best musicians I know!
You split up in 1992 and reformed in 1996 to support reformed Sex Pistols on tour. It doesn´t make sense to me. You anarchists got together to support punk band who got together only for money. How did you get in connection with them, they could have chosen any existing 1977 punk band so why not existing anarcho band from Dublin? Did you support them on whole tour or only in Europe? Were they acting as fucked up stars?
I have always been a pistols fan, the gateway they opened for a million bands is massive, the music is stunning and the destruction they levelled into the music industry was huge, which for a band of teenagers, is remarkable. I don’t think they cynically started the band in order to make money... personally I think that was more of a Clash thing to be honest... but when they announce they were reforming for a tour I was delighted to think we could get to see them. We were releasing a back catalogue album at the same time coincidentally and had approached a promoter about putting us on for a gig, and she came back and asked if we wanted to play with the pistols in Ireland instead. Lydon was the one who made the decisions apparently and he approved us straight away. We had met him some years earlier in London at a 999 gig were playing at and got along really well. He’s a very funny person, and was great fun to hang around with for the night. I’m not sure of he had remembered us or not, but I’d like to think he did! And that night he didn´t act like a star at all, actually he said something pretty caustic and I asked if he really meant it and he said: “No, of course not, but people have an expectation of the type of thing I am going to say, and sometimes I can’t help myself and I say it anyway.” I’ve met Matlock and Cook also and they are also very nice people.
The irony is that the Irish gigs were cancelled so we just played our own gig, as did Iggy Pop!
After you got together you became musically more active than in first phase and recorded 5 albums and 12 singles. What led you to such artistic activity- new blood in new members or then situation in society and better possibilities to make and sell records around the world by internet?
A mixture of everything really. When we reformed it was much easier to get access to studios, and better recording facilities, and a lot cheaper to do so. And the internet is a great marketplace. We were always quite quick to write songs, so it´s been great to rewrite, record, release and start the process all over again.
HE CHARTS ARE RIGGED
How did you get tied with Steve Ignorant? Did you approach him or he was looking for the band to play live Crass songs so you came his way? Was it a dream come true for you to be with him and play Crass songs which influenced thousands of people?
We got to know Steve during the Last Supper Tour as we played support in Manchester and Dublin… we promoted the Dublin show too...and were meant to play in New York, but it was postponed, and we did the last of the shows in Shepherds Bush. After that gig we were chatting and I was saying I couldn’t understand how he could sing so fast and get that amazing delivery of lines and said we had a song we were struggling to get right as we wanted that type of delivery. So, he said he would do it with us if we wanted. So, one song became two as we had a single to do for Louder than War Records too. Then after we had recorded them, we went to a pub and chatted and he said if we ever wanted to do it again, he would be interested. So, we decided to do an ep, which became an album. Then one gig turned to several gigs and a second album. Then we suggested a special gig doing stuff from his 40 year´s career (from Crass to Conflict to Schwartzenegger to Stratford Mercenaries to us) and to ask Rebellion if we could do it as a special one off. But then everyone wanted us to do it again and the next thing we know we are doing the show in Japan and America!
And yes... for me it was a dream come true to play a handful of Crass songs in a set with the singer from Crass!!! Sometimes when we were doing a song on stage, I’d be like... FUCK, I’m playing Banned From The Roxy!!!
I read they your records entered Irish charts as high as on No.6. Incredible for anarcho- punk. Where do you see the key for that?
The charts are rigged, and there´s a special method that takes a long time and a lot of effort to get yourself in a position where they need to accept your sales figures. I spent a lot of time figuring out how they did it, and then did it myself just to piss people off and cause a stir. So, the single Outsider Artist hit number 6 in the physical charts, the album Now and Then hit number 6 in the national charts (at one stage that week Green Day were number 1 and we were number 2!!!) and we also had a number 2 download chart placing and a 5 or 6 physical chart placing for Politician. I was laughing about it with the manager of a record shop one day and saying that it´s was all just a scam really, and he said yes it was... every album in the chart is there due to a scam of sorts, so we did nothing different, and that week we genuinely did sell more records than the boyband JLS!
I feel that current world and society is more fucked up, greedier, and more corrupted than ever before and we are going to hell. Forty years ago, it wasn´t as tangible and close to my everyday life as today, with use of technology, I feel like lab rat under microscope. How do you view it as someone who was in anarcho movement from word go?
We have always been under scrutiny. It´s virtually impossible to disappear off the grid, but now our digital imprint is much larger. We are all data. Data to be used, sold, profiled and marketed to. Everything and everywhere we go is available to be seen. That being said... it´s all so transparent and obvious, that if anyone really wanted to to disappear, it would be a lot easier than forty years ago as you would just need to void your social networking and mobile phone and digital imprint, and if necessary, set up new ones. Also, just because all our data is available for people to see...it doesn´t mean they bother looking at us. Having studied how digital marketing works, I’ve found that for the most part all that data under scrutiny is just an ISP address rather than a person, so it´s our computers and phones that are the lab rats!
Your album Beware of God got on the list of the most important Irish albums. Does it point at religion which always led and will lead to violence and killing and Muslims are prime example for that in current Europe where they kill and decapitate peaceful, innocent people?
No not at all. All religions are responsible for oppression, wars, violence, intolerance and divisions. Muslims are as dangerous as Catholics and fanatics who bow to a higher power are all as dangerous as each other. The album title Beware of the God was a play on the phrase Beware of the Dog that people put outside their houses to warn postmen.
You set up Rotator company to print books and press records. Is it you way how to earn living in friendly and known area outside grinding capitalist machine?
Yes, I reached a certain age and was in a job that was causing me a lot of stress... I had effectively been making massive money for other people for decades and I had enough of it. So, I set up Rotator as I felt there was a market for record pressing for small and independent artists and labels who deserved to be treated with a lot more respect than they were getting off other similar companies. I had always worked in printing, packaging and marketing so I also do that sort of work, but I’m doing less of it as time goes on. During lockdown I completed my book Too Old To Die Young and decide to publish it myself and it has worked very well. I then helped another collective with their book and am just about to release the book Rub Me Out by The Cravats frontman The Shend.
You can see what I do on: