Rave-Up Fanzine (U.S.A.) Issue 9 - 1984
Interview and Photography by Devorah Ostrov
I've interviewed Stiv Bator many times over the last eight years or so, and he's always provided some very entertaining conversation. This interview with Stiv and the other Lords Of The New Church was extra special because it was done on their home turf, Portobello Road in London, England.
Rave-Up: I'm so used to talking to you guys in hotels and backstage, it's weird to actually see you outside during the day, in public...
Stiv: We actually sometimes go out in the streets!
Nicky: We're usually shopping for haddock or something, grapenuts...
Rave-Up: The last time you played in San Francisco there were all these 13 and 14 year old girls at the front of the stage. Is that the influence of MTV showing "Dance With Me?"
Stiv: I think so.
Rave-Up: And then they all ran away when they saw what you guys were really like!
Stiv: Did they? You're that ugly Nicky! No, it must have been Dave kicking the girl in the face. Scared the shit out of 'em!
Rave-Up: Are you going to do more videos?
Stiv: Yeah! We're supposed to do one with just a...I won't even say. Godley and Cream...but he mentioned someone...I don't know. Don't ask me.
Rave-Up: Earlier Nicky was telling us that you want to open for some big heavy metal act when you come to the States next time...
Stiv: Yeah, that would be fun! We could reach a bigger audience for one thing. America isn't as diversified as it is over here. Over here heavy metal kids won't go to punk shows. . . The only difference between punk and heavy metal is the haircut, anyway. They dress the same. And now everybody's growing their hair long so...
Rave-Up: So, tell me about the album you're working on (it's called "A Method To My Madness" and was released in October). I've heard it's going to be much more over the top than your last one. Were you getting slagged off for being too commercial with "Dance With Me?"
Stiv: Yeah, in a way. It was too diversified. This next one's going to be sort of like Donovan, you know songs about peace and love and flowers
Rave-Up: Yeah, nobody will buy that one!
Stiv: We'll be in the Guiness Book of World Records as the band who sold the least albums. It's us and Wind in The Willows (Debbie Harry pre- Blondie) right now. Naw, it's gonna be much more rock 'n roll...
Rave-Up: More like the first album?
Stiv: Yeah, but even more so rock 'n roll. The first album still varied off a little. This one's based around a lot of guitar riffs. The eternal E cord!
Rave-Up: Will it be as political as the first album? Or more personal songs?
Stiv: I don't know yet. No there won't be personal songs 'cause nothing happened in my life this year. It's been boring . No tour.
Rave-Up: You lived out at Stonehenge for awhile. That must have been exciting. . .
Stiv: Yeah, that's true. It was! Stepping in cow shit, you know. . . I just decided that some stuff is okay personally but unless you read into it, and it really conveys the emotion, it gets boring. It's really just self-satisfing. Politically, you gotta watch what you say too. I've already said a lot and I don't want to repeat myself. So I don't know what the Hell we're gonna write about!
Rave-Up: The first time I interviewed you after you formed the Lords, you said that England was anti rock 'n roll bands and you felt that the Lords would have a hard time making it in England. Has that changed in the last couple of years?
Stiv: Yeah. We thought... Well, we were playing places like the Marquee and not even filling it. When our first album came out and we went on tour, we wouldn't even play London. About a year later we played the Hammersmith Palais with the Damned. We thought we might fill it, you know? And it ended up that they turned away 3,000 kids! And most of them that came to see us had Lords T-shirts on. We didn't even know where to get the T-shirts! It really surprised us. We see the trend now moving away from techno pop. It's like everybody's growing their hair. . .We didn't realize how many people are into what we're into. We thought we were going to get all these punks and skinheads coming to see us, but it was all these kids that are into leather now and have grown their hair. They're the ones into the Stooges, and the Dolls and Alice Cooper. I didn't realize that there were so many here!
Rave-Up: All you need now is the press...
Stiv: Yeah, good PR. In one way it's good that it didn't happen before because it would have been too early maybe. See, a lot of bands get a lot of press in the beginning with their first album, and they're just a flash in the pan.You get everything they've got and that's it. They're gone. The Stones didn't really do it till their 10th album. People don't realize that, but for a long time they only had a cult following. That's how we prefer to do it, build on a grass roots following.
Rave-Up: Are the Lords bigger in Europe than Britain?
Stiv: Oh, yeah! We were voted #1 band in Finland
Rave-Up: Weren't you voted best singer as well?
Stiv: Yeah, that was second for best song...
Brian: Best live band in Spain.
Rave-Up: Does that surprise you?
Stiv: Yeah, it does! In France we're almost like the #1 new band...
Rave-Up: Why is it though that rock 'n roll is so much bigger in Europe than England?
Stiv: The English kids follow the press too much They're confused, they don't know what they want. They're like sheep. The journalists more or less choose the trends and program their way of thinking. The kids in France and Finland, and all that, are more suppressed. They're more like the Mid-West in a sense - they're not like that, but you know, in a way - they don't have these music papers coming out every week telling them what to listen to.
Rave-Up: Isn't it also true that the English kids weren't into the Lords because all of you used to be in other groups?
Stiv: In the beginning, yeah, the press gave us a real hard time about that! Outcast bands, and all that shit. But then they did an about face 'cause we had such a strong grass roots following. The kids demanded it! So now we're getting real good reviews and they're taking us seriously. They thought we'd break up after one album. They thought we were just getting together to make a buck. But now they see we're serious.
Rave-Up: Weren't you getting flack about being a "punk rock supergroup" as well (Stiv was in the Dead Boys, Brian was in the Damned, Dave was in Sham 69 and Nicky was in the Barracudas)?
Stiv: Yeah, but they've stopped doing that. They see us as the Lords.
Rave-Up: In a way it's good that you've done it without the support of the press.
Stiv: Yeah, in a way it's good. It's sort of anti-press in a way (sarcastically). Plus our PR agent was great! Never got us any interviews or nothing. That really helped us out! We're with IRS (Illegal Record Syndicate) now, you know the PR company which doesn't exist!
Rave-Up: So you kinda get interviews on your own?
Stiv: Yeah. Did you ever call the office and try to set up an interview?
Rave-Up: We were going to call them and get directions on how to get here...
Stiv: They wouldn't even know...
Rave-Up: But we couldn't find their phone number in any phone book anywhere!
Stiv: Yeah, it's a secret organization - and we're their best kept secret!
The Lords of the New Church Logo and Dagger Design used with permission