February 2018


Let's Talk Punk
With Steve Straughan
Of The Hi–Spitfires And The U.K. Sub
Interview By: Lisa/PunkrPrincess

I have been friends with Steve on social media & a fan of his for a few years, seeing him now rockin with The UK Subs and doing so many other great things in the music scene I thought we should tell the world what a rockin guy he is. Check all his projects on social media and if you can see a live show do it! He is living his dream and proof you can do it too. Rock On!

Hi Steve and thanks for taking the time to chat with me I'm glad we finally are able to get together now since you have so many amazing fun things going on with your career.

Punk Globe: What was the first band you were in?

Steve: The first band I was in was a band called Formal Warning. I was actually the singer of that band. We were a punk band in the early 80's. We were quite young back then so we mostly played youth clubs etc. It was a lot of fun back then.

Punk Globe: First band you saw live?

Steve: I think the first band or bands I saw live were actually local bands in my area. They were, as you can imagine, punk bands, because before that, music was there but very much in the background. Before my ears were blessed with the sound of punk rock it was just something being played on the radio or TV. I liked some of it but was not really interested in taking it any further. When I heard punk I wanted to hear more and see it live. These local bands were the start of it all. They were all bands from my city of Sunderland, north east England. Bands like The Gets who later became the Cult, not that rock band from the UK, ha ha. Also Disorder, Warsaw and Red Alert who are still playing today. The first big bands I saw were the Damned and the UK Subs.

Punk Globe: Who and/or what inspired you to be a musician?

Steve: That would have to be the band that started the ball rolling for me. The band that probably shook the world and kicked the music business up the arse and had the best guitar sound I ever heard back then, and probably still, one of the best guitar sounds today. The Sex Pistols. It wasn't that Steve Jones was the best guitarist because he wasn't. He just did something incredible with that guitar and got the best sound out of his guitar and kept the structures simple and straight forward. With the brilliant lyrics it was, to me, the perfect package. Never Mind The Bollocks to me is a wall of sound. The power is unbelievable.

Punk Globe: You are a busy guy with The UK Subs, Hi Fi Spitfires, your solo project The Last Gang can you give us details of these projects?

Steve: I have been the singer, songwriter and guitarist of my own band Hi Fi Spitfires for about seven years now. We have two albums out on cd and one of them also on vinyl. We have played up and down the UK many times and also toured Europe a lot. We normally tour Germany by ourselves but a few years ago we toured with 999. We will be touring Germany in March where we will be selling and promoting our second album Nightraid that has just been released on vinyl. Our sound has been described in the past as a combination of Give 'em enough rope - the Clash and Inflammable Material - Stiff little Fingers. If we do sound anything like those two bands I am very happy. You will have to make up your own mind with that. During my time with Hi Fi Spitfires I decided to record some solo material and called it The Last Gang. After losing a few of my good friends in the local punk scene over the years I decided to write some songs that were dedicated to them and the great times we had together. It wasn't a plan really to do anything different but it was well received and people seemed to like it so I recorded more and released it on cd. Maybe one day I will hit the road with the Last Gang and do all the songs live. As it happens, Hi Fi Spitfires liked the songs so much they asked to include a few in our set.
The UK Subs, where do I start!
I have always loved the UK Subs and on top of that had the most respect for them as being one of the most hard working and touring punk bands. You have only got to count up how many albums they have released and to count up how many gigs they play in a year to get some idea of how much work they put into it. To have been asked to play for them was a dream come true. It has also got to be mentioned that they are great musicians . We have an incredible year ahead of us with gigs all over the world. I can't wait to experience it all. Up to now I have played big festivals all over Europe with them and completed some fantastic gigs in the UK. In the beginning it was, as you can imagine, a bit scary, as I was then given flights and dates to various places in Europe to play without rehearsals. We didn't even get a soundcheck at my first gigs . Now I have toured with the guys in a van and played over 30 gigs it's brilliant. I know what the guys want out of me as a guitarist. They had been a solid unit for a long time before I joined and had some great guitarists working with them over the years. This just makes me more determined to do a great job with them.

Punk Globe: What do you enjoy most about gong on tour?

Steve: I love going on tour with a band because it gets you out of your comfort zone. You are then playing to people you don't know so it's all exciting. I love going to places I haven't been to. Seeing different venues, eating different food. I also love meeting different people. I can't describe the great feeling you get when you have done a great show and the crowd want you to return another time.

Punk Globe: Do you have a favorite place to tour?

Steve: I love every country I have played but I do really love playing Germany. Maybe that's because I have played there the most and feel comfortable there. I am sure that could change. A few years ago I played the USA and Canada with the Angelic Upstarts when I was a guitarist with them. I also loved playing there as this was my first time there. I can't wait to get back over to the USA with the UK Subs. We are playing there this year.

Punk Globe: Who are some of your favorite musicians?

Steve: Obviously I love the likes of Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, Mick Jones of the Clash, Mick Ronson of the Spiders From Mars, Ziggy Stardust guitarist. I also love modern guitarists like Chris Cheney of the Living End.

Punk Globe: What do you enjoy most about your career?

Steve: I love writing music, recording music then playing that music live on stage. I also love seeing the reaction of people in the crowd to the music we play. There's not much better in life than that. It makes it all worth it.

Punk Globe: How hard do you push yourself?

Steve: I push myself really hard but probably much harder when joining another band than doing my own stuff. I am good at learning people's material under pressure . I did this at very short notice with the Angelic Upstarts, The Lurkers and The UK Subs. I can just lock myself in my room and rehearse until the job is done. I have an amazing family that supports me in doing this.

Punk Globe: What advise would you give to a musician starting their career?

1-Learn your craft and put 100% into it
2-Be confident, play and sing with conviction.
3-Go and see as many live bands as you possibly can. You will learn quickly by the stars who shine or the arseholes who suck which is your path you should take.
4-You can be positive and even a little cocky but don't become an arrogant prick, there's nothing more off putting
5-It's very important to have a bit respect to the bands playing after you on stage who have possibly given you this show. By this I mean don't be taking the piss by playing longer than your given time to play. That time obviously gets deducted from the bands after you. I have seen it happen so many times. The end result is that you never get to play gigs in the future, the word gets round fast.
6-Don't always expect to just use other peoples equipment just because you think you can. Punk rock has some of the best people involved but don't take the piss. That equipment has to last the full tour for a band which could mean a month or more . Obviously sometimes it's unavoidable and most of us are happy to help.
7-Don't just play your home town, don't get lazy. Get off your arse. When you have completed that objective do it again and again then go to other countries. You will love it and already you will see the rewards even if it hasn't paid you in money you will be rich with experiences etc.
8-If you are lucky enough to have gained something from playing live remember it wasn't just you who put you there. Its never too late to give something back. By this I mean, go and see some bands in your area and give a little back. It's never going to grow if we don't support the scene. Often I also see people in cover bands just taking and taking all the time, bleeding the scene dry of any money to be given to original bands who write their own music. There is a place for cover bands, I get it, I understand. The problem is, I don't see many of these fuckers at gigs giving a little back to the scene that they steal the songs from. This does piss me off a lot.
9-Don't lose the ability to communicate with your band members. Being in a band, arranging gigs, tours, rehearsals etc is very time taking. That person doing it has lost time from his or her family or activities, don't be a prick, help by just communicating and staying in touch.
10-Don't always expect to see your musical equipment in one piece or at your destination after flying.

Punk Globe: Whats a side of you the public doesn't see?

Steve: I am not religious at all, never have been. I love animals. I am not in any hurry to meet musical or any other heroes as they kind of shatter your illusions. I do like meeting nobodies with ambition and other times just plain old nobodies. I do however love working with professionals who have worked to be that way. I love the countryside but really don't see it enough. I have cats that I love. When I am too old to be touring I think I will get a dog as well.
This to me was when I played for a band called Holy Racket and we supported Rancid. Things have just got better and better since then.

Punk Globe: What are the most positive things about the music industry? and negatives?

Steve: The most positive things in music is the people, the ones playing the music. Mind, when I say people I mean people who are real and not stuck up there own arses. The people who have still got their feet firmly on the ground and got time for others. The negatives to me is the business itself. I think it's a sea of sharks. Vampires who want to suck the blood out of anything living that can make them richer than they already are. I don't really trust many people in the business. I know hard working musicians who are permanently scarred by it.

Punk Globe: Is there anything you feel we can do as a whole to better the music scene?

Steve: Yes, I certainly do. I think if promoters for festivals have not got the time to go out and see brilliant up and coming bands that would be well received at concerts they should employ musical scouts to do it for them. Inject some new blood to the scene. Keep the good old bands on at these festivals but bring the new to the table. Some promoters are learning and starting to do this which is good. Others should learn by this. I ain't in any way saying just put any band on. Ask for cds to be sent, listen to them and go off recommendation. Get out there people and see what's happening, open your eyes and ears. I am constantly blown away by some of the new bands. Punk was never about standing still and becoming stagnant.

Punk Globe: What has been your biggest challenge as a musician? and have you overcome this?

Steve: The biggest challenge for me was definitely joining The UK SUBS at short notice and not being able to rehearse due to big distances in where we live. We live very far apart in fact Alvin, our bass player, lives in France. This made it impossible to get together before gigs. Mind, I have to say the brilliant true fans of the subs were very supportive. Now, after being on a proper tour, night after night playing, I am where I want to be with the band. A very big thanks to the band and the fans for giving me that bit time to get comfortable.

Punk Globe: Do you get nervous before a performance?

Steve: I always did get a little nervous in the past and from time to time still do a little but I don't think that's a bad thing. To me it means your still taking it seriously and still have your feet on the ground.

Punk Globe: What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?

Steve: I would tell them to change that nervous feeling into excitement.

Punk Globe: Tell us a memorable music moment.

Steve: It's kind of strange because you tend to remember one of your first great music memorable moments, not because it's your favourite but because it was one of your first and a big step in life and to know you were doing the right thing. This to me was when I played for a band called Holy Racket and we supported Rancid. Things have just got better and better since then.

Punk Globe: Thanks so much for the interview and keep rockin!

Steve: Thanks for letting me take part in this

Punk Globe: Link to Steve's projects here

Hi-Fi Spitfires- http://hifispitfires.weebly.com/

UK Subs- http://www.uksubs.co.uk/

Also check out some of his band Videos-
HI FI SPITFIRES double crossing blues video- https://youtu.be/YK8D9BpZuro
Hi Fi Spitfires - Cover Up- https://youtu.be/MLCW4O3s-_s
The Last Gang Far Away- https://youtu.be/petr76ZlJ8U
The Last Gang by 'The Last Gang' https://youtu.be/U6Z4FGBWHH0

Photo Credits to-
Will Binks Photography
Sally Newhouse
Steve Iles
Fishbones Glover