Tuesday, 12 August 2008
I met May at my very first hardcore show in England. I think she was stage diving and grabbing the mic singing along to one of the Knuckledust's song. I thought she was awesome. Since that I got to share a love for hardcore, dirty dancing and cheesy pop music with her.
I haven't met a band who wouldn't know May or have never heard of May. She's been around and active in the hardcore scene for a while and I was more than happy to do the very first interview with her.
Hey May so how did you get into hardcore? What was the first show you have ever been to?
Everyone I know is so bored of hearing this story but its my favourite.. I always loved music. One of my earliest memories is dancing around my living room with my father to Abba and Boney M (yes I am THAT old haha). I loved Metal and Punk in my teen years, and once I started going to gigs, I realised that there was nowhere in the world I was happier than when I was stood in a crowd of people watching a band play that I loved. I got barred from the Astoria in London in 96 for stage diving, and there was a show happening that night that I really wanted to go to. One of my friends saw how upset I was and suggested that I went to another show happening at the Garage.. A band called Agnostic Front were playing and he thought that I might like them. So being a broke 17 year old kid with NO money, I stroll up to the venue early and approach the first dude with a laminate that I saw (i was a cocky teenager hah).
"Hi are you in Agnostic Front?"
"Heres the deal. I have no money and I want to go to the show tonight. Can you get me in?"
"Yeah. You like AF?"
"You want the honest answer?"
"I have never really heard you guys"
"You into hardcore?"
"I have never really been to a hardcore show. Im more into Punk and metal".
He put his hands on my shoulder and said "this is the first day of the rest of your life".
It was Vinnie Stigma. The line up for that show was incredible It was AF, Maximum Penalty, Vision, and Morning Again. I remember walking out of the show with the stupidest grin on my face, and going home and telling my brother how awesome it was.. The atmosphere was incredible, the people were so welcoming, I mean, i was some loser kid in trousers that were far too big for me.. and I have never looked back.
When did you become active in the hardcore scene and why?
When I was 18, I moved to Southampton to go to University. I guess we are terribly spoilt here in London as not only do we have the local shows going on, put on by people like Rucktion Records, but the majority of touring hardcore bands come through town. We average out at least a show a week here. Being out there, there was nothing at the time. There was an amazing DIY punk scene but I missed hardcore shows.. so when two of the punk girls that I lived with asked if I wanted to help out put on Knuckledust, I jumped at the chance. They ended up pulling out, but Ninebar played and "Shark Attack" which was just Peachy from Six ft Ditch singing covers with the rest of Ninebar.. Once we did that, I got the bug and never wanted to stop. And never really have. That was roughly 10 years ago now.
What was Ninjafest? What are your best and worst memories of the festival?
Ninjafest started out as a fest that Rachel and a guy called Jamie were putting on. We were at Goodlife fest in 2002 sitting outside our tent one morning and Rach suggested I get involved as I could secure a venue which they didnt have and book more bands. The next year, we realised that it wasn't really working with Kemo as he lived too far, so we put on the fest ourselves and it built from that. A couple of years after that, we enlisted Louise to do it with us as well. We have sold the fest out for the past 5 years now. The last one being last year as myself and Rachel always promised each other that once one of us left, the name would go with them. But I am doing a fest the same weekend, at the same venue called Running Riot Fest. I do find myself still referring to it as Ninjafest but I think once this year is done, the name will stick and we can finally put the Ninjafest name to rest.
My favourite memory has to be in 2003. Me and Rach had spent months stressing about the fest, and things were going smoothly. Damage Control from Norway were onstage, and I was stood on the floor to the side with kids kicking off all around me, and I looked up at Rach and mouthed "what the fuck" and she gave me the biggest grin. I think that was the first moment that I knew that the fest was going to be a success.. and the looks on everyones faces at that point made all the stress worth it.
I dont really have any bad memories. I tend to get pretty stressed out and take it out on a few unsuspecting people, and I am now making a public apology to them. You know who you are.
When and where is Running Riot festival taking place? What can we look forward to?
Running Riot is going to be held on the 25th/26th October. The initial line up is on www.myspace.com/runningriotfest but I still have 7 more bands to announce, plus there are going to be some awesome "surprise" break bands (anyone that was at Ninjafest last year will know exactly what I mean). Its going to be awesome. We have kids from as far as Russia coming out and the line up isn't even complete yet. And its the return of BillyClubSandwich to the UK which is guaranteed be amazing.
What advice would you give to the kids who want to organise a show/ festival? What should they be aware of and take care
FLYERS. Do not only promote your shows with myspace/messageboards/word of mouth. That is never enough.
Do not go beyond your boundries. Dont make promises you can't keep with money.
And don't charge too much for shows. You will have more kids turning up the lower the ticket price.
What do you think about the really young promoters which keep multiplying. Do you think they're doing a good job?
I think a lot of these kids have their hearts in the right place. We have ALL made mistakes putting shows on, and hopefully they will learn from them. My only beef is that here in London we have far too many kids that are willing to put on the Avocado booked tours (some of the bigger american hardcore bands) but when a smaller european band comes through or even a smaller american band, like, say, the Mongoloids, we miss out which is a real shame. Places like Brighton have the right idea and it would be nice for these kids to break out of their shells and do this. We miss out. And it sucks. If I had more disposable cash and not as much debt, I would totally be doing smaller shows again but at the moment this is not an option.
What is London Calling? How long have you been this site running for? Why did you decided to create this site?
London Calling is a site for London Hardcore. www.londoncalling.cjb.net
The site started out as a fluke. Me and a lot of kids used to post during working hours on a site called Yo London. One day, creator Tom, decided that he didn't like what the site had become so decided to shut it down, giving us about a days warning. I was working an awful job in Payroll, where we literally were waiting to be given work every day from HR, and the prospect of having nothing to do all day was too daunting.. and I knew that it was one of the main places that I found out about shows..
So on a free messageboard site, i set something up. About a year later, I expanded the site to the blog, the myspace page for shows (www.myspace.com/ldnlove) and a list of promoters/ veggie and vegan restaurants amongst other things. I had worked with people that designed sites for Ninjafest and knew that it was a pain to get content uploaded as most were terribly busy, so I figured there were enough resources on the net for me to be able to do it via free sites. So it is how it is today.
The reason I expanded the site was that it was much easier to direct people to one place when they asked about shows and promoters than having to list them every time. It made it easier for everyone, myself included.
I guess I probably have far too much spare time on my hands.
Tell me more about your radio show.
Its called "May and Mates" and is on Saturdays from 12pm-3pm on TotalRock (www.totalrock.com). There is also a hardcore demo podcast up on the site that features a bunch of UK and some Euro/US hardcore bands that you can stick on your mp3 player.
I love my main show. Its basically not a hardcore show, although the majority of what I play is hardcore.. I get my friends to come in and present it with me whilst I run the desk and it just a lot of fun to do. Its also request show, and also means I can bother people with my terrible secret love of Nu Metal and Pop Punk haha. I wouldn't be able to play hardcore for 3 hours straight anyway, and I find that people are more inclined to listen if its not a specialist show.. they may then like the stuff im playing.. My best radio moment was when a kid emailed in saying that he had never heard of Knuckledust before, and that I had announced they were playing right by him, and he liked what he heard on the show, so he went to check them out, and was sat there emailing me in his Knuckledust shirt. It was so awesome.
What is your background? Have you ever been to your country of origin?
My parents are from Iraq and moved to England the year before I was born.. I went back to Baghdad once when I was 9 and once when I was 10 and haven't been back since due to the situation there. We went just after the Iran/Iraq war ended and just before the first Gulf war began. Despite it being where my parents are from, London is home for me and there is no place I would rather be. I am terribly proud of my heritage though.. I speak fluent arabic.. and have a deep interest in Middle Eastern politics although its not something I discuss with people regularly.
How did the current war affects you and your family (on the personnel level)?
My parents both come from fairly large families. I have many aunts and uncles and LOADS of cousins. When we went back to Iraq, it was awesome as I met loads of relatives that I had never seen before.. they were all in one place.. Now the majority of them are disperesed around the world as they all had to leave because conditions were too bad out there. Some of my older aunts have had to leave the only life they knew to live in a foreign country because they couldn't survive. I have lost family members, luckily none through war, but both my mother and father never had a chance to properly say goodbye to their brother and sister and thats upsetting.
I could go on, but I would rather not, as I will end up ranting.
Do you have any clashes with your parents?(about religion, lifestyle etc.)
Haha I often have to remind my mother that she can't expect me to live like she lived in Iraq 30 years ago. I am pretty lucky though. My parents were smart and realised when they first moved here that I would be part of british culture but they also wanted me to never forget where I came from. They don't have a problem with me going out or anything like that so it's not a big deal.
What should people do to make the world better place?
Show more love to one another. Simple answer but so true.
Thanks for your time May!
Get in touch : firstname.lastname@example.org