I thought it was time to get out of my comfort zone and attempt another one of my rare interviews so I decided to bombard former Dr And The Crippens bassist Wayne Elliott (aka Wayne Crippenski) with a bunch of questions and he was kind enough to undergo my interrogation.
Dr And The Crippens were a hardcore punk band from my hometown of Lancaster (England) who were active in the late 80's at a time when punk seemed to be fading away though they still managed to impress John Peel enough to get invited to record a couple of well received sessions for his show. They also attracted a decent following, no doubt fans enjoyed the various costumes and props such as exploding cabbages and giant papier mache heads. So without further ado........
Though we didn't know each other back then, we both grew up around the same time in the same part of North West England. I went pretty much overnight from a young teenager who would listen to the likes of Abba or whatever else was played on the radio to a rabid punk fan thanks to being exposed to John Peel, Sounds & the NME music papers and to the local indiepndant record shop, Ear 'Ere. What was it that shaped your musical tastes and who were your favourite bands?
I liked bits of things I'd heard such as seeing The Vibrators do Automatic Lover on TOTP or The Jam doing David Watts but the real turning point was a friend giving me a C60 with tracks by The Clash, Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, The Lurkers and The Boys. This was around September 78 and from that point on pretty much all my pocket money went on records. .. It still does ! First band I really loved was The Jam. I thought Weller's lyrics were fantastic and coming from a council estate they had a huge impact. Seeing The Ramones in 1980 made a huge impact. To this day probably my favourite band... sheer genius their early stuff and laid down a blueprint so many adapted.
Living in Lancaster, being in a band was something I never thought would be a possibility (my complete lack of any musical ability was also always going to be an obstacle!). How did you go from music fan to band member?
I had a mate with a guitar. He had been in a couple of bands that fell apart and I was always pestering him to form another. He said buy a bass and I'll teach you how to play it and we'll form a band. So I did and he showed me a few bits and pieces but then backed out. I tried with another mate but I wasn't good enough and he joined another band instead. I hung around with them, wrote some lyrics and started planning my own Ramones style band. Eventually their drummer Ben Robinson left and we put the first Crippens line up together with Andy Fox a bloke he worked with on guitar and vocals.
How did the John Peel session come about? Did you get to meet him? What was it like recording a session and did it's success lead to larger sacks of fan mail and record company people camping out on your doorstep?
Well after we did the album we thought that was it but at least we got a record done. We didn't expect it to sell or for Dave to do any gigs with us. But Peel loved it. We got offered a session so Dave came back up to Lancaster and we rehearsed 12 tracks as we wanted it to be a decent length in case Strange Fruit put it out. Was great doing the session, proper studio and engineer and all that. We worked really quickly got the whole thing down live mostly in first takes. Loved it. We didn't meet Peel then but I did meet him a few months later when he did a student gig in Lancaster. Thanked him for the support, shook his hand and gave him a t shirt. His support changed everything. The session and airplay led to gigs all over Europe and press and fanzine attention. We did have a couple of other labels interested but stayed with Shane as he'd taken a punt on us in the first place.
What happens on tour stays on tour but it's been a while now, have you got any tour stories, especially if they involve big names?
nah - every body was lovely ! ha ha..
Dave's last show was in Gent in December 1991 and Green Day opened. However it was a such to do with ferry times as anything else.. There were no egos on either side. We enjoyed them and we had encountered them earlier on the tour when their clapped out old transit had broken down and they were staying at a squat we played in Germany. They were teenagers at the time .. no inkling of what was to come... really nice folks . You'll never catch me dissing them.. They paid their dues long before success happened. They did a lot of small shows prior to Dookie. Believe me if they were Dicks it would be common knowledge but you never hear anyone who's played with them dissing them. They have made a good living out of their music and fair play to 'em.. is very hard to do.
We also played with Mesuggah in their home town of Umea on that tour. Although hardly known and local they insisted on headlining. The place was packed and the gods were smiling on us that night because it was one of the best shows we ever played. They couldn't follow us, went down poorly and people drifted out of the venue. At the time we questioned there insistence at headlining an International Punk Fest. In their own town, but now I think it is exactly that sense of self belief and entitlement that has helped them become a hugely successful metal band.
It may just be because I started getting into different kinds of music (Wedding Present, Dinosaur Jr, Pixies.... ) but I always look back on the time you were active as a band as being a period when interest in punk was in danger of fading away. After the initial buzz of the late 70's and early 80's and before the revival led by the likes of Bad Religion, Rancid, Green Day etc there was a few years when nothing much seemed to be going on. Did you ever wish you'd been together a decade earlier and how much different do you think things would have been for you had had access to likes of Facebook, Youtube and Bandcamp?
Well when we first started our template was Ramones/Adicts/Eraserhead later we started to try and add stuff we'd heard on the Repo Man soundtrack, DK's , Bad Brains etc. We had no idea there was a UK scene emerging. When Malcolm in Ear Ere played me 'Peruvian Vacation' I couldn't believe it ! Here was another band in the UK who seemed like us to be trying to mix Ramones style lyrics with HC style speed and riffs. That led to me sending a tape to COR which eventually became Manic Ears. I started buying anything on COR and soon realised we were not alone. Through buying trips to Alan's and Action I picked up zines and flers and soon knew about Electro Hippies and the NW/HC scene emerging around Planet X and The Den. Jailcell Recipies formed soon after and we gigged with them loads. I loved that whole network and the tape trading, zines, flyers, DIY gigs etc. - these days the access is amazing instantly able to hear bands from all over the world. However that is a two edged sword as the cup runneth over and it is harder to interest people in something like the Pulsebeat shows. Back when Peel was the only game in town we all avidly listened live, often to a lot of rubbish, waiting for something we liked. Now we press like and move on..
Why did Dr And The Crippens split? Boss Tunage recently released the mammoth 32 track Cabaret Syle compilation, did you consider a reunion gig to coincide with that release? What did you do after Dr And The Crippens?
Dave left and the dynamic of the band changed. Tom and I couldn't agree on anything. The UK HC scene had pretty much collapsed. A lot of the venues had gone, a lot of the bands had split and many of the ones remaining re cast themselves as metal bands. I wanted to lose the cabbages and costumes, keep the humour in the lyrics and get back to a sound closer to the original 3 piece line up. I started working on songs for an album called Back To The Circus. Tom wanted to keep the costumes and cabbages, lose the humorous lyrics and write more complex songs in a No Means No, Pixies style. We wrote some decent stuff that was somewhere between these 2 views but it took time and although I like most of the demos thar came out last year I do think it is the sound if a band pulling in different directions at times. We did talk about a reunion .. All of us are on good terms these days and Tom put a lot of work into remixing the studio tracks for 'Cabaret Style'. Time and distance is the main obstacle but never say never... After we split I teamed up with Dave again. We both worked at Plastic Head for a while and did some gigs and recordings as Brainless. That ended when Dave moved to Holland. After I left Plastic Head Distribution I pretty much dropped out of the punk scene until Boss Tuneage approached me about the re issues. I was amazed there was still any interest in us. That put me back in touch with Dave and we started the Global Punk Network FB page as a resource for bands, promoters, labels etc worldwide to share their stuff. We also broadcast shows on there via Mixlr. You do your Just Some Punk Songs show once a week and I do Pulsebeat. It's good to share new music with folks and I enjoy the community spirit in the chat rooms. There are so many great bands around... I am more interested in that than any notion of revisiting my own old music.
On the subject of Pulsebeat, I know you put a lot of time and energy into searching for music to play on the show. I know how keen you are to try and introduce new bands to a wider audience, who would you say are the best of these new bands?
You can find links to those bands below and if you want to check out Wayne's Pulsebeat show he broadcasts at 9pm (Gmt) on Wednesdays
All his shows get saved here : http://mixlr.com/wayne-elliott/showreel/
Global Punk Network : https://www.facebook.com/groups/stenchofhardcore/
Many thanks for the interview Wayne
Here's a Dr And The Crippens song to finish with, this is Zombies In Disneyland.....