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Stefan Cush (1960), vocalist and guitarist of The Men They Couldn’t Hang, is the perfect example of gentleman. He refuses to take a seat on the sofa and proposes to be interviewed in the bar. “Just like old times”, he says with a confident smile while relishing a small glass of wine. The experience gained over the years doesn’t fully hide the naughty spirit that distinguished the early years of the band.
Question: You’ve been playing for 30 years…
Answer: Next year 30 years, yes.
Q: …How do you stay motivated to keep on playing music?
A: It’s passion and enjoyment. We’ve got a big fan base and we are friends that know each other before we formed the band. It’s mutual kinship, we respect our music and what we do is our art, is our gift. It’s a duty to ourselves and to each other to continue making music, plus if it’s something that we all enjoy. It doesn’t pay a great deal of money but money has never been the key point. It helps, obviously. You have to make a living but we are very passionate about what we do. That’s what we’re here for.
Q: After all this time, do you think you have listened it all or you can still learn new things from other bands?
A: We’ve always listened to a huge range of different music, from soul to reggae, country… music from all over the world. And certainly we don’t incorporate every genre in what we do, because we can only do what we are comfortable with, and that’s what we should do. We know intrinsically for us what works and what doesn’t. We have our own musical direction and I can honestly say that there are no many bands that sound like us. We’ve ben influenced by people, but we sound different. But yeah, I think there is a lot of new music, like urban street music that is self-generated, and it’s progression, it’s quite ferocious. You’ve got hip-hop and rap or dubstep and it’s not like conservative folk or anything similar by any means.
Q: During this the music has also changed in terms of storage. First was the vinyl, then audiocassettes, the CD revolution and now we have the cloud and the streaming. How have you adapted yourselves to all these changes?
A: Personally, I’m a bit of a technophobe, I don’t spend a lot of time in front of the PC or doing Internet or media generated stuff. But as a way to get your product to the masses is crucial, especially bands. Everyone is in; the social network thing is vital. It’s amazing to think: ‘How did we manage before, twenty years ago?’. But saying that, we are comfortable with the rebirth of the vinyl as a tangible product, you can feel and hold the artwork. Stuff about the download things where you get something free in your PC, your iPod or your phone… it’s not the same. But it’s important that people can access to your stuff. It’s so much easier than the whole thing of going to the record shop and buying. So technology is wonderful. It’s how you use it, it’s up to you how to operate. I’m not an aficionado or a techno techno expert. Other guys in the band are a little bit more adapted. I’m not, but it doesn’t matter. It works out.
Q: I’ve read that you supported David Bowie in the 90s…
Q: …How was that?
A: It was great. It was just one festival. I can’t remember exactly how it came about but it was fantastic. Lovely character. We were gonna do work with Mick Ronson [David Bowie’s guitarist] as a producer in one of our albums, but that didn’t materialise. The David Bowie thing came after that. Of course we were grateful and we were handsomely rewarded financially. He was a really nice guy. We were all massy fans of David Bowie, we grew up in the 70s and he was the iconic shape shifter in music and he still is. He’s an awesome piece of creativity.
Q: How would you define your music?
A: It’s turbocharged folk rock with influences of country and attitude, basically. It’s rock and roll with some acoustic instruments, but it’s on fire. It’s our personality through music, that’s what we do.
Q: What is your opinion about yourselves?
A: I think we are an entertaining force. Sometimes we’re misunderstood, people don’t get the irony and the comedy that we impact on what we’re doing. A lot of people take us too seriously because of the political element and the canons of our musical catalogue. But we are five different people with different ideas about various things. We’ve got a common interest about humanity, socialism and care, nurture, not just financial gain and profit. We are a humorous band and a humourists band.
Q: What can you tell me about the myth of sex, drugs and rock and roll?
A: If I told you, I would have to kill you (laughs).
Q: Then tell us and kill me.
A: (laughs) No, I won’t kill you, honestly.
Q: A band you admire?
A: Ian Dury & The Block Heads, The Clash, loads of people. Chuck Berry, Johny Cash, lots of reggae stuff, U-Roy, and a lot of soul, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack. Old stuff, I like loads of things. Also Kanye West or Ennio Morricone. You can hear something and say: “Oh, that’s great”. It’s all out there. It’s all in the wind. What would we do without it? If we had no access to any sound, any music, any rhythm patterns, anything, life would be fucking dim. It would be not worth living. It’s part of the human condition.
Q: A perfect album.
A: Ian Dury’s New Boots and Panties is one of my favourite albums all the time. Also Neil Young’s Harvest Moon… But I’ll say New Boots and Panties by Ian Dury.
Q: Your favourite song.
A: ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’ [by Ian Dury].
Q: The song you enjoy the most playing.
A: It depends on what night, but if we do it right it’s ‘Shirt of Blue’. It’s my cathartic moment in the night, when everything comes to focus.
Q: A present band that will leave a mark in the future.
A: The Disputes. They’re a new band, they’re gonna be huge and my son Stan is in it so… yeah.
Q: An overrated band.
A: I don’t really wanna go down that route. I don’t wanna be vindictive with other bands because you never know when you’re gonna meet them. I don’t know. Pussycat Dolls (laughs). No, no, no, I don’t know.
Q: A genre you hate.
A: I don’t really hate any. There’s always something to find that is positive. If people like it, I can’t really go to a teenager, skater, punk or whatever and say “Your music is shit and I hate it”, because they can go exactly the same way and say: “Well, who are you to tell me what to like?”
Q: An anecdote.
A: (thinking for a long while)…
Q: Is it that boring?
A: No, no. My mind is so blank… and I don’t wanna say anything to incriminate me (laughs). Oh, yeah, I remember once when I went to have breakfast naked in a hotel in Germany because they wouldn’t let me our room service. So I took my clothes off and went downstairs, in the breakfast room naked. And then they said: “No, I think maybe you can have breakfast now in your room”. And I said: “Oh, thank you”. It was quite a long time ago.
Q: An advice for new bands.
A: Keep the faith in yourselves, listen to advices, take advices, work together as a group. Don’t let egos overpower your vision or where you should be going. The power of everyone else rather than the power of one. And don’t argue about money: sort it out from the beginning. And be honest.
Q: What does The Joiners mean for you?
A: Every city of this size with everything cultural going on needs places like this any places putting on local music and talent… Live music is essential, is crucial. Just because it has been here for so long —I came here before even having a band, in the 1980 or something like that—, it should never die.
Q: Is there anything else you want to ask yourself?
A: No, I think you’ve covered everything. I just would like to say that we’re grateful for having a fan base supporting us for 30 years. I know sometimes we’ve been a little bit off, but at the moment we’ve got our 30th anniversary coming out and we’re back in form again now, and you can look at the stuff we’re doing on the Internet and you see that the days of us staggering around and being like drunken buffoons are over. We are in a new mission now.
Tour The UK This April With New Album
Attack! Attack! release their 3rd studio album , long road to nowhere, on April 1st. The album was written just after the bands successful tour of Australia as part of the soundwave festival.
Singer Neil Starr said “It was amazing to go to the otherside of the world and get such a fantastic response, it certainly gave us as a band an extra lift before we went to record the new album”.
Originally the band only planned to do 2 headline shows in the UK when the album came out but the Cardiff show sold out within a matter of days so a full UK and mainland European tour has now been put together, running through April and May 2013.
The band have played as support to many great acts over the past 5 years such as Alkaline Trio, Lostrpophets, Funeral For A Friend and You Me At Six.
In 2013 it is Attack! Attack!’s time to headline and show their fans what they are all about!
Be sure not to miss Attack! Attack! on their UK tour:
Friday 26th April Bridgend Hobo’s Saturday 27th April Andover The George
Sunday 28th April Newcastle O2 Academy
Monday 29th April Norwich Waterfront
Tuesday 30th April Manchester Sound Control
Wednesday 1st May Leeds Cockpit 3
Thursday 2nd May Cardiff Undertone
Friday 3rd May London Garage 2
Sunday 5th May Southampton Joiners
Friday 10th May Burnley Sanctuary
Saturday 11th May Leicester O2 Academy
For Tickets - www.joinerslive.co.uk