Kitchen The Night Away.
The Buzzcocks play the Arena on Saturday.
The last five or so years have seen Queensland blessed with visits from such notable first wave punk acts as The Sex Pistols, The Damned, and more recently the late Joe Strummer stopped over at the Big Day Out with his band The Mescaleros. And yes, they threw in some Clash tracks. Now you can complete your set as The Buzzcocks, Manchester contribution to punk rock, real punk rock, make their Australian debut. Albeit a quarter century years after their auspicious 1977 debut.
Somewhat ironically, The Buzzcocks inked their United Artists recording contract the day Elvis Presley shat himself to death on his Graceland toilet. The King was dead, and a new wave of musical invaders were beating down the gates, reclaiming music for the masses and revelling in the simplicity of three-chord rock. In four years the band released the now classic Another Music In A Different Kitchen, Love Blues and A Different Kind Of Tension and the singles collection Singles Going Steady before imploding prior to heading into the studio for what would have been their fourth real album in 1981.
After a decade of rumours of a reformation, The Buzzcocks returned with a new rhythm section to release the acclaimed Trade Test Transmissions in 1993, since followed up by All Set (1996). Now they’re heading this way, fans can rejoice.
“I’m full of Sake, Guinness and God knows what,” Diggle chuckles down the phone, just a few hours before he has to get back out of bed for an overseas flight. “There’s a taxi coming at three in the morning so I can go to Spain for a week. I figure when we get back from Spain it’s four days before we come to Australia, so we’re kind of following the sun. It’s a bit cold at the moment, so I’ve got to get out of the way for a week. Anywhere with sun is fine, even Spain…”
Spaniard bashing aside, Diggle gets stuck right into the current status of the band, and, touch wood, the holiday mishap that recently saw him sidelined.
“I’ve been out of action for about a year and a half, because last time I took a holiday I busted my wrist on a scooter in Greece. So we were out of action for a year. It was very difficult. It was my left hand, so I couldn’t make chords on the neck of the guitar or anything. I had the plate taken out three months ago, so it’s just getting better. I’m still have physio on it now, but it’s a lot better. It was really worrying about a year ago. I was wondering if I would ever be able to play again. But it’s back in action, and it’s enabled us to get back and record an album and get on the road touring again.”
A new album on the horizon?
“We were recording a new album in September, and everything is just now falling into place in terms of record contracts and everything,” he confirms. “It always seems like a natural thing, playing with the Buzzcocks. It just felt like the right time, because we’ve never really worked to schedules or forced things out. Even back in the early days when we had a bunch of songs we’d just record and go, ‘well that’s the single’, but they’d end up being double A-sides. Just put them all on, you know.”
“I think we could have just put a load of rubbish on the B-sides,” he laughs. “Doubled the hit quota. We never did that because we were always pretty prolific in terms of having lots of songs around. So we never really felt pressured.”
Surely the weight of the band’s history would add some pressure to the writing process. Do the Buzzcocks look back at tracks like Ever Fallen In Love? or Orgasm Addict as a benchmark for their current work?
“We don’t compare things to the older ones. It’s a snapshot, a moment in time, you know? It’s the feeling at that time, all that kind of thing, you know. Otherwise you’d be worrying and it takes the spontaneity away. I don’t think Picasso ever woke up in the morning and thought ‘if I go into this blue period, I might have a hit painting…’ He just got up, had a cigarette and a glass of wine and painted. We’ve always approached things like that. We’re tried to stick to our guns in terms of not trying to make commercial hits.”
“One of the real punk ethics was to like, be yourself. Do it yourself. All that kind of thing. There was a more solid artistic thing about it, rather than trying to be some commercial hit machine. We had seven or eight hits in the old days, but it was because people appreciated what we were doing, not because we were trying to see them something.”