Saturday, 22 May 2010


Bryony is the lead singer of The Sceptres and full force behind the London´s most fun DIY shows known as "Big Takeover". Check out how she takes over this interview.

I just checked your myspace profile, it says you won’t be playing shows until July, that’s a bummer for all The Sceptres fans ;). What you guys up to then

Haha thanks, I don't know how many fans we have really! We're stopping for a bit because I am going to San Francisco for six weeks to be a 'shitworker' at Maximumrocknroll, which is super exciting so I'm not too bummed and hopefully the rest of the band will have magicked some songs for when I get back. We have a tape out soon on Suplex Cassettes too.

I assume that you write lyrics, what are the issues you deal with? And what make you want to be in the band in a first place?

Yeah I write em all apart from two of the songs that Ralph and Louis did. I guess I started off being fairly blunt with the subject matter, I had a whole bunch of grudges to express when we first started and it totally shows in the first batch of songs we wrote a few of which we scrapped, which I'm glad about. I think it's more interesting if you can fit a feeling or concept into a wider story or narrative in a song than just be like 'Oh this is my experience, I'm singing about it' which is way too subjective and limiting.

As I have zero musical ability I like to think I put a little bit of extra time and effort into the lyrics, I'm not really into throwaway lyrics. I'm pretty much obsessed with puns and unnecessary wordplay in conversation and literature so I guess that probably shows!

Well I have written all the lyrics aside from two songs. They are about various different things, I try to make it clear in the lyrics sheet but some examples I guess;

Childsplay: Is about Abu Ghraib. I know that's probably a bit cliché but I still remember being totally mindblown about what had actually happened when it first came out, I suppose its more about the media reaction and the 'pack mentality' that it was claimed in many of the defense cases.

Flatline Generation: Is about the pandemic of dependency upon anti-depressants that I suddenly noticed in a social group I was moving in and the worrying effects they seemed to be having, also looking back to my grandmother's epic mental health issues that really affected me when I was a kid and what a wide spectrum of definition there is for the word 'depression' when so many doctors will prescribe SSRI drugs to young people without due care as to their effects. It's way more of a thing in the USA but you can see it here too. I guess its about wanting to help people you care about and the drugs actually making people worse.

210 (aka Spies): Is about the Alexandr Litivenko case of radioactive poisoning, written from the point of view of his wife Marina and son Anatoly. The article I took most of the facts from is here.

I really like that you actually sing rather than scream in punk rock. Did you find your voice easily? Did you have any inhibitions?
Thankyou! That's very kind. Yeah I was classically trained until I was 14 believe it or not, I didn't really push it but I guess I got big lungs or something. I am fully into the idea that you can get across radical ideas or interesting stories AND have people be able to sing along or at least understand you. I love hardcore but its not exactly instantaneous in terms of the impact in that that effect.

I had inhibitions in bucketloads. The only band I had done before was when I lived in brighton, a four-gig intentionallly shortlived all girl powerviolence band called Back Stabbath, with members of Leopard Leg. It was literally the thing that turned me from thinking I could only be an observer to actually doing stuff, a total seachange and really changed my outlook on punk. We got quite a hostile reaction in some ways, I think the UK prefers its girl bands to sound cutesy, experimental or poppy, the more straight up 'mosh' hardcore scene is prone to exhibiting some fairly hostile attitudes in that respect, or they were to us at least when we played with 108 (!!) I was screaming in Back Stabbath, which felt quite unnatural to me but made me realise I could actually DO it. Http:// We can all impact our environment and stop being bystanders. Everyone has an opinion (just look at any messageboard) so why not put it to good effect, right?

What’s the Big Takeover? How did you come up with the idea? Can you tell us a (his) story behind it? What were your aims?
Yeah! I had been putting on shows in brighton fairly regularly with my friend Ralph and on my own, mainly at the Cowley Club the social centre there. We did a fest called Between the Lines that was all UK bands and teamed the best bands with workshops and practical sessions with the aim of linking up a de-politicised/complacent punk music scene with the vibrant activist community there which seems to only be into world-Beat and Dubstep haha ;) It was really fun. I left it a year or so after moving up to London before I realised that every bloody gig I was going to was at a hipster bar or an old man pub, and I saw people around me replicate the classic modes of interaction prevalent in these spaces – the fact that these might be punk bands playing seemed to have no significance.
The first Big Takeover was a ridiculous disaster and an amazing success at the same time. The main mistake I made was not really realising how popular it would be. 200+ people showed up to a Railway arch in London Bridge (sadly run by a crazy christian creep who ripped me off for £500) And the second mistake was thinking that giving the guy £500 deposit wasn't totally mental! I was just desperate to see it happen. A friend (it would have been easier if he'd been someone I didnt know really) got really wasted and for some crazy threw a drum stand into the crowd, it hit a French guy whos first show in the UK it was in the head, blood spraying everywhere, the guy was almost unconscious, i'm locked in a toilet with him and my friend jen and I can actually see his skull ugggh flashbacks! Anyway, I called the ambulance as you would, and the venue guy had a MASSIVE go at me shouting saying I was putting the venue in trouble (it turned out he didnt have alive music license and obviously thought he could make a quick buck) and that I shouldnt have called an ambulance, should have left the guy presumably to bleed to death or something! Crazy! Anyway, I kind of put the idea to bed after that, felt like I failed, but then went to the US straight after that, on tour with Shitty Limits and logic Problem from North Carolina, and got to see how many amazing cool spaces that are independent and not shitty rock venues they use, how that is like the dominant paradigm in the USA where there is generally more room, and a culture of garage and house shows. It will never be like that here, and we shouldnt' try to copy but find our own sustainable alternative to just being some niche annex parasiting the 'entertainment' industry -I want to see more imagination happening with punk gigs in the UK. Why shouldn't we have generator gigs in skateparks too, you know!?

You like to choose untraditional venues (no bars, or venues) for your shows preferably squats and social centres. Unfortunately the situation with social centres is heartbreaking, many are getting evicted. Do you find it hard to find a place for the shows?

Its always intensely challenging, much moreso than in other countries I think, to find interesting autonomous spaces for gigs. I had to use a bar for the last one or the show wouldnt have happened, with a bouncer who was funny about letting people in with tracksuits on, so awful. They were really nice in a way and did let me have the place for free but its not what I want this to be about, and did prove my hypothesis that people have less fun in traditional spaces, it was everything that I hate, reminded me why I wanna keep doing this even if its a struggle.

The second BTO was a lucky chance to use the Rampart just before they got evicted, I feel privileged and I only wish Id known about it sooner really. The gig went off without hitch and I was able to make it a benefit for Rape Crisis. I think its really important to reestablish the link between social justice projects and DIY or independent music, and these shows are one way of doing that. I guess it seems kind of obvious as a concept (mixed bill benefit gig) to a lot of people who are already involved in squatting or social centres but these gigs are also a really good way of exposing kids that go to shows that theres this whole other world of possibility where you call the shots, in the widest sense possible.
What if I want to get involved, like do the sound at the show etc?
Just drop me an email, anyone can and should get involved! As I'm aaway in San francisco this month, the next Big Takeover is gonna be organised on the night by a group of friends and I am hoping to expand it into more of a collective thing, I hope we can do more that way! I wanna get as many people who are committed on board as possible – especially women!

What are the plans for the Big Takeover?

Like I said further up top, more fun benefit shows in cool spaces - There is PUNCH ( and Comadre touring in July on the 12th, dont' have a venue for that yet so anyone with any ideas get in touch! I would like to start having a bi-monthly meeting where people who wanna help can discuss ideas for this so that the pressure is off me a bit too!

Any cool art, bands, zines that you can turn us into?

BAND - I'm about to go to Chaos in Tejas festival and the band i'm most excited to see is Arctic Flowers from Portland, Oregon – amazing Anarcho-sounding 'peace' punk with female vocals -

ART – My friend Emma is currently working on a festival that aims to chronicle the idea of 'camp' as a strategy for representation and visibility. It's entitled Tender Parodies and will be happening in Berlin, I think they are working on funding right now, I'm definitely going!

ZINE – Perhaps obvious, but still the best. I have the dubious privilege of handling the UK distribution for subscribers of the best hardcore zine in the world, it is called Distort. Here's a link to some information about it

Thanks very much, Pettybone must play a BTO over the summer! Bryony x