Last Updated on March 5, 2023
Originally published in Beat Motel issue 8
The Inner Terrestrials were a band whose name I’d heard bandied about all over the place, it wasn’t until they played at the Red Flag all-dayer at the Steamboat in Ipswich in summer 2007 that I actually got to see them. It was the end of a VERY long day and going on last can be a pretty thankless task but The Inner Terrestrials got the people on their wobbly feet pretty fucking fast.
The way they switched between spaced-out dub and fast punk without so much as a breath out of place really impressed me. On top of that they came across as the most laid-back bunch of blokes I think I’ve ever drunkenly rambled to, I think that comes across in this interview (and the photos) really strongly. I caught up with singer J by email a few weeks later. The photos on this page were taken by yours truly at that very gig.
Cheers for taking the time to chat with us, first up can you introduce yourselves and let us know if any of you have any superpowers the world should know about?
I’m J, lead singer and lyricist, guitarist and whistle player, and using my special powers I can perform Shaolin white crane kung fu with my eyebrows and boil water in under 5 minutes using only a kettle/pan and a simple stove…
There’s Fran the bassist and backing vocalist whose dreads have mastered steel wire technique, he also has the chest hair of chuck norris..
Then there’s Paco the mighty drummer, who can smoke 40 fags and hold down a conversation or rehearsal or even drive a truck in a state of deep sleep. he can also maim a man at 50 paces with his savage improvised puns…
Does Paco still get a lot of attention because of the Conflict connection, how does he feel about this do you think?
Pax does get a lot of attention and rightly so. he was the best musician in conflict and has influenced drummers far and wide since the early 80’s, he was also the only one that kept playing in bands- Experiment, Fear of Fear, Riot/Clone and others and promoting underground gigs. he never gave up to do anything else.
I know he only wants to be part of Inner Terrestrials now and that’s where his heart is so he doesn’t like to talk about Conflict in interviews and stuff, but he has made a lot of friends and been given a lot of respect over the years through all his musical exploits. none of it’s ever stopped him from being the most down-to-earth and genuine person you could ever meet.
I have a similar situation with a mate of mine who was in a band called the Stupids, he really hated being thought of as some sort of figurehead, I guess it goes against the whole no heroes punk thing. You obviously wear your hearts on your sleeves, do you find being so open helps or hinders you as a band?
I suppose the fact that we’ve always spoke against the majors or any other pure business corporation doesn’t help with the money and promotion side of things, but at the end of the day we have to sleep at night, anyone can sell their arse, but that’s not why we got into music.
I have to say though that every tour/gig we do we’re filling the van up with fossil fuel or flying to the continent for a festie, we all have an impact on this world and we all have involvement in the dark side. Otherwise, you’d be searching for us in the woods to do this interview and scribing it all on a bit of bark with a stone! (not such a bad idea, actually, it may come to that soon enough…:)
Would hero worship water down what you have to say? Was the message part of the motivation for forming the band?
Hero worship is a dangerous thing, always questioning authority in any form, even “right on” or anarchist and making our own observations and decisions are vital to any kind of search for freedom and understanding for anyone.
I learned to play guitar before starting to write lyrics and was gigging from the age of 15 and it’s the same for the others. when I started putting pen to paper it was natural to express the things I was passionate about and I found that was the only way I could write songs. being the sole songwriter in the group the messages you hear are my passions and experiences, which happen by coincidence to be rabidly anarchist..ya see?
I agree, it worries me how daunting activism can seem to the outsider when in reality either changing the brands you buy (or rejecting brands entirely) is grassroots activism. There’s a world of action between boycotting Nestlé and supergluing your face to a policeman! What do you think first turned you onto these issues, do you have an ‘active’ family? There are several mentions of travellers in your lyrics and live performances, is there a family connection? Incidentally, when you recently played in Ipswich you challenged the crowd after getting very little reaction to announcing that a song was about travellers, sadly we haven’t seen any travellers in these parts for years.
Weeell i was only winding them up cos they were a young crowd who’ve probably been told loads of negative stuff about “pikeys” and don’t know about the travelling connection with the punk movement and festie scene, I wasn’t being serious I’ve been on the road on and off for years, both with the band and, when we return from tours, calling benders, trucks, derelict buildings, trailers and trees home. that’s the connection so no mystery there. Protest sites are the most full-on taste of freedom/anarchy in action, you know you’re alive when you’re on the frontline. I’d recommend living it to anyone as long as you’ve got a gut of iron! (the hill of tara needs volunteers, see tarapixie.net if you want to have it with these fuckers. Don’t be put off by the waffle about druids, they know how to chat breeze and take credit where it’s not due…)
What’s a Bender?
A bender is a kind of tent made of hazel (willow, ash and chestnut are ok too) poles driven into the ground and woven into a strong structure, covered with blankets for lagging then tarp. you can have a wood burner in a tent like this and it is a warm home in any winter. when building a tree house you first build a platform then usually use the same principle for the dwelling.
How did the Suicide Bid stuff come about? Are you pleased with it and do you think it’s got a future?
It’s a collective of mates from lots of bands really. It’s good stuff in my opinion, and there’s no pressure so it’s definitely got a future. Jon lives in the states at the moment so we don’t do many gigs. He’ll be back sometime in the spring so you’ll probably see more of suicide bid in 2008
I’ve just seen the footage of you lot on the ‘underground party broadcast’ DIY punk internet tellywatch programme do-dad. What were your impressions of that evening?
It was a bit of fun really. People making their own thing happen diy style. they’re nice people with a good attitude
It looked like everyone was having a great time, would you like to see this brand of warehouse show become a bit more widespread or do you think its success is down to the underground unpublicised feel of these events?
Dunno really. It’s just cool to see people getting on with it; that’s the beauty of all this free bandwidth available now. you don’t need money or distribution deals to show your films or gigs to anyone in the world. Where it goes from there is another issue
Well it’s been smart chatting but I guess we ought to draw this to an end. Do you have anything you want to add before we go our separate ways?
Cheers andrew, nice talking to you. I suppose I should mention something that’s been on my mind recently; the uk scene is growing again, I’m meeting a lot of new crews around the country putting on gigs or doing small labels and distros and it’s great to see. There’s also alot of new faces coming to the gigs, alot of young punks. it would be nice to think that people bring what they expect to find to the scene, I want to remind people that shocking/upsetting people for the sake of it was already done by my dad’s generation more than 30 years ago, so let’s curb the snotty attitude and “chaos punk” bullshit, look out for each other and try to create the kind of world we want to live in. Punk is a state of mind not a fashion! – j